Turn Toothbrush Time Into Story Time

I hate going more than 10 seconds with nothing but my own thoughts to entertain me. When I walk three blocks, I listen to a podcast. I read Twitter while I pee. What I hate the most is brushing and flossing. I can't hold my phone, I can't talk, I can't admire myself in the mirror because I'm foaming at the mouth. I can't stand it as an adult, so imagine how hard it is for a child.

Photo by Loren Kerns

If your kid gets antsy when brushing, try a trick that I tried on myself: Read them a book. My wife and I tried this out on each other, to squeeze a little more reading time into the day. We made it all the way through A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 10 minutes a night during our whole bathroom routine, like a codependent book club. If it weren't for that book, I never could have stuck to flossing.

Kids' chapter books are already crafted for this kind of attention span, even for adults. We've used the same method with Anne of Green Gables, The Phantom Tollbooth and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Short story collections work great too. Just steer clear of plays; they get confusing real fast.


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