A few summers ago, my daughter (then 5) broke her arm falling off the monkey bars.
When she got the cast off and had fully healed, she asked me if I could lift her up to the monkey bars and try again. I didn’t hesitate. Absolutely.
I mean, shouldn’t she work on her monkey bars skills so she doesn’t fall again? (By the way, have you tried the monkey bars as an adult? Really hard.)
And I have tried to never say to my children, “Don’t climb up the slide. It’s only for coming down!” in that sing songy voice. They should climb up it – as long as someone isn’t coming hurtling toward them. Who made this “no climbing up the slide” rule anyway? A jungle gym should be climbed, swung on and conquered.
And the other day, when I was at a playground with my kids, they looked up at this gigantic hill and said, “Can we roll down that?”
This time I did hesitate, because there are no hills in South Florida and I knew it was a garbage landfill under that hill. But I finally relented to their pleadings.
“Okay, let’s go roll down it!”
And as the sun set, they rolled again and again with shrieks of joy and not one sibling squabble. It didn’t even smell. I have no idea how that’s possible. Landfill magic.
This is what children are meant to do. Not spend hours and hours and hours sitting. But yet, we constantly try to demand that of even young children. According to Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and author of “Balanced and Barefoot,” “Elementary children need at least three hours of active free play a day to maintain good health and wellness. Currently, they are only getting a fraction of this time.”
This week, I spent over an hour trying to help my 6 year old son learn his spelling words. They were just too hard for him. He struggled with tears in his eyes as he misspelled them again and again. I was frustrated and impatient. He felt not-so-smart. I finally said, enough.
“You have done great Chase. You have mastered a bunch of words. Not all of them. But you will learn them in time. We will work on them one by one. Now go out and jump on the trampoline.”
And that’s what he did. I really believed it restored his emotional balance.
Our education system may be demanding unrealistic things from our children. But I don’t have to. I don’t care what he got on that spelling test. I want learning to be a fun experience (he’s in first grade and he adores his teacher!). And then he needs to be free to move.
Hanscom says in a Washington Post article that occupational therapists like herself are trying to get kids wiggling again.
“We encourage children to go upside down, to jump off objects, to climb to new heights and spin in circles to give them a better sense of body awareness. All of these rapid and changing movements shift the fluid around in the inner ear to develop a strong vestibular (balance) sense. A unifying sense, the vestibular system supports good body awareness, attention and emotional regulation. These skills are fundamental to learning in the classroom.”
The truth is kids spend way too much time sitting… from school to the car to homework to sedentary activities. And when they can play, adults are always trying to limit them.
“We say things like, “Get down from there, you are going to get hurt.” And, “Stop spinning, you are going to get dizzy.” We keep children in an upright position for the majority of their day. This does little to stimulate and challenge the senses. Its no wonder our kids are fidgeting like crazy, crying at the drop of a hat and slumping over their desks like rag dolls,” says Hanscom.
So get dizzy. Fall over. Swing on the monkey bars. Climb up the slide.
Let’s stop telling kids “to be safe” and start telling them “to spin.”
Their health depends on it.
This post is sponsored by Luvs.
I can’t remember when I learned about the idea of gratitude. But the importance of it, has always stuck with me.
Even on our worst days, we can all come up with things to be thankful for – it could be the smallest thing in the universe. A Gilmore Girls Reunion. The fact that the Halloween candy still hasn’t run out. My 3 year old blowing me a kiss. Finally locating the remote. Or finding a $5 bill my pocket.
Because $5 will totally buy one of those frozen yogurts that come in the way too gigantic cups. I mean, take a look of this photo of when Cash was a baby… What’s bigger – my baby’s head or the cup?
Hard call, right?!
I know in high school I was grateful for Sun In and diet soda and that my asymmetrical haircut finally grew out. And best friendships. And when a crush liked me back.
And in college, ladies night at our favorite bar. And my make-me-laugh-so-hard friends. And the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving which always seemed to be the most fun night ever.
And after college, I was grateful for a job.
And later on, the city of Manhattan with its energy and grit and never ending promise of opportunity.
And then finding a person who definitely made me a better version of myself.
And then these children. Who are beautiful. And inspiring. And so talkative. With so many opinions.
I look at my 3 year old son (our 5th child) and I’m so grateful for his spirited existence in this world even if we never really saw him coming.
Although he STILL refuses to accept Daylight Savings and cheerfully awakes every morning at 5:30 AM. I just love his sweet face, even as I am pleading, “GO BACK TO SLEEP. IT’S DARK. NO ONE IS UP. GO BACK TO SLEEP. I AM SO OLD. PLEASE.”
He doesn’t care at all (in case you’re wondering).
Luvs (the diaper company) just did a poll of moms across the country to take a look at parenting like it really is and here’s what they found out…
50% of moms value having an uninterrupted phone conversation and I’m absolutely positive that if I ever have one, I’ll appreciate it too.
53% of mothers value watching TV shows and movies that aren’t cartoons. (Yes, I still shudder about the time our cable was stuck on one of the kid channels for over 24 hours.)
And 81% of moms would prefer an entire day off from housework than dinner with their celebrity crush.
Moms, and I speak to all 81% of you…
I would be happy to dustbust my minivan for 12 hours straight if I could then kick back and dine with my super hot celebrity crush. I would tell you who he is – but you might dustbust your minivan for 12 hours and steal him from me.
You know what else parents are grateful for? Diapers that doesn’t leak. Luvs just introduced the new and improved Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™. If you’re still in that diaper stage of parenthood (which lasts somewhere between two years and 10 billion years), you need to try these.
They are absorbent, affordable, easy fastening and offer ultra-leakage protection. What more do you want parents?! (I mean other than for your kid to finally get used to that Daylight Savings thing and sleep past 5:30 in the morning.)
And Luvs is offering a $1 print-at-home coupon. Just click here.
Saving money? Yeah, I’m always grateful for that.
Join the #WhatULuv Twitter party hosted by @iConnect and @Luvs, on November 29th, 9-10pm EST to share what you value as a parent.
This post is sponsored by Luvs. All ideas are my own.
Last weekend, my husband and I were out to dinner at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant called, Coconuts. All the staff wear shirts that say, “Be nice.” Seems like a perfect mantra in a post election world.
We bought one of the t-shirts because couldn’t we all use a bit more “be nice” in our life?
The next day, on the way to school, I was telling my kids about the restaurant and the t-shirts when my daughter Summer said, “Look at that car.”
And there it was. A sticker on the back that said, “Be nice.”
How funny. Sometimes the universe just points a certain way.
The following day, I pulled into a parking lot. Right next to me – another car with a sticker that said, “Be nice.” I was staring at it when the owner of the car came back. I asked him, “Where did you get that sticker?” He told me where and then said, “Have a great day!”
“You too!” I responded.
Well, I never even had time to buy one of those stickers because shortly after, I was at another event in Fort Lauderdale, and someone was handing them out. For free. I took one and now it’s on my car.
The universe wasn’t just pointing me in a direction. It was hitting me over the head.
I always try to be nice. Although I’ll admit I’ve had complete moments of failure when I’ve been waiting at a doctor’s appointment for a ridiculous amount of time and I start stressing about traffic and school pick up and well, it can cause one to lose their patience and their “be niceness.” But I always apologize, forgive myself and then try again.
It was my husband who taught me how to take nice to a whole new level. For example, instead of just saying hello with a smile to the security guard at your school – you can know his name, whether he has kids and you can mention how much you appreciate the long hours he works.
That’s the kind of nice that makes such a difference. It’s something to strive for whenever humanely possible. In a world where we often feel powerless, we forget how much our small positive actions can change the story of someone’s day.
This past week, I drove my kids to their piano lesson. All four were at the lesson and my 3 year old was asleep in the car. I was leaning against the car and breathing a moment of calmness. Finally a second to read a funny article that a friend had sent.
And at that very moment, this older women starts walking towards me on the street.
“Hi. I need to meet my friend at the movies but I don’t know how to get there. I’m told I can use my phone but I don’t know how to do it,” she said to me.
She even handed me the movie tickets to prove that she was indeed going to the movies. I wondered how she got the tickets without going to the theater but I didn’t ask. I only had 15 minutes until my 6 year old son would be done with his lesson.
“Sure, I said. You have a car, right?”
She did, around the corner.
So I explained how the maps app on her phone worked. I turned on her location services. I put in her destination and wished her a great trip to the movies. She said thank you and left.
And then my 3 year old woke up.
And a few minutes later, my 6 year old emerged from his lesson.
It was time to go to the playground while the others finished their lessons. I never did read that funny article.
But I like to think that woman went to the movies, met up with her friend and said, “There was this woman who helped me get here today. She was really nice.”
About a month ago, I heard Louis C.K. was coming to Miami and I asked a friend if she wanted to go.
She said, “Sure!”
I bought tickets and then a few days later, she asked her husband, “So what kind of music does Louis C.K. play anyway?”
Smooth jazz. Obviously.
In case there is one more person out there who doesn’t know who Louis C.K. is (I’m really only talking to my mother here), he’s a comedian. Although maybe he plays smooth jazz on the side. I’ve never investigated.
But I love that my friend had no idea who he was and she was all, “I’m in.”
I want to be all in, as often as I can.
It doesn’t always work out. Oh definitely not. I had a night of going to see the Neil Diamond cover band “Super Diamond” that I still deeply regret.
And I saw a production of Henry the VIII that was roughly 17 hours long.
And I remember once going spelunking (which is basically when you descend into deep dark caves to explore just how claustrophobic you are) and I remember thinking, that I was really better suited for eating sushi in New York City than wondering how I was going to get out of this holy crap scary Montana cavern.
But in general, you get more out of life if you just go for it. Whatever it is.
It makes life more interesting, more layered, more fun really.
And yes, at some point you will find yourself in a grungy off off off broadway basement theater, watching some kind of 3 hour alternative performance art and you will curse me. But the rest of the time, you’ll think I’m a genius.
Oh, we get overwhelmed. Or I do anyway. By work and laundry and lunches and mess and constant needs. And how could I possibly go do anything when there is just so much to do. But here’s the thing. It never gets done. Not really. Pull out an old to do list and I swear, there is something on there that didn’t get done.
I still haven’t sent out my thank you notes for when my son Cash was born. The boy is 3 1/2. Those cards aren’t going out. I’m sorry. If you sent us a gift, we really really liked it.
So if it never all gets done, then why not stop checking things off for a moment, go out and experience something.
My 3 year old son is the ultimate “all in” kind of kid. I let him play outside a few minutes before school this morning. Within 5 minutes, he had sprayed himself with a hose and was covered in mud. This child was most certainly not worried about “Get to school” on his to do list.
He just went for it.
Life is short. Getting shorter by the minute. Let’s get out there.
I’ve recently been obsessed with the life of Nora Ephron. She’s the late director/screenwriter that brought us movies like, “When Harry Met Sally” and reaffirmed in funny essays what we highly suspected – aging does truly suck.
I’ve always loved Ephron for her writing, her wit and her understanding of human nature. I really can’t read her list of things she will miss when she is gone (which of course she is) without tearing up. Things like her kids, pie and coming over the bridge to Manhattan.
But Ephron passed away 4 years ago, so why am I so focused on her right now?
I think because I’m trying to get a little break from our current political climate.
The American Psychological Association just did their annual stress survey and found out that 52% of Americans (regardless of political party) are stressed about the election.
And my first thought was, only 52%?!
Everyone I talk to is focused on the election.
Everyone is worried about the election. You can’t scan social media or the news sites or even have lunch with a friend without hearing about. I was at my kids’ dentist office and they were talking about Trump and Hillary and oh my gosh, as if people don’t already hate going to the dentist – now you get to hear about politics too.
The thing is… I love politics. I loved working for campaigns. I loved covering campaigns. I love the horse race. And the campaign rallies. And the passion of the candidates, no matter which side they are on.
But this election feels so divisive. And people can feel it.
So what do we do about all the stress? Other than binge watch old Nora Ephron movies. The American Psychological Association has some ideas.
Limit your media consumption. Like take a break and walk your dog or something.
Avoid discussions about the election if you think the discussions might escalate.
Channel your concerns into something positive. Go work for a campaign or an organization you support.
Vote. You might even be able to vote early. Like now. Go vote now.
And remember whatever happens on November 8th, life will go on. The APA says, “Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government.”
And I also like to remember what Ephron said in a 1996 commencement address when talking about whether women could have it all.
“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: You can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”
So imagine that Ephron is talking about the election.
It will be messy. It will be complicated. But in four years, as a nation, we can always change our mind.