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3Episodes

A Daily Parenting Advice Podcast. Non-Pretentious. In less than 3min a day!

August 25, 2019

S5-Ep241 - Make Some Memories Today

 A snowstorm hit the other day. And I had come in the night before to 6” or so, and rallied my car through the berm created at the roadside, and drove down the driveway, and parked it. I rested knowing that another 10” was on the way and I’d get up and snowblow it all in the morning. And I did, and with 16” on the ground, it was taking a while, so I wanted to get it done. But I talked myself down and asked myself what the kids wanted and kids are pretty simple at this age – They wanted to help. So as painful as it was to stop, I went and got some ear muffs and plopped them on my kid and we walked down the drive at a fairly slow pace and snow-blowed.

And there are quite a few memories of me helping my father that are stuck in the memory bank as well. I don’t know if that’s because they’re really impressionable moments or what I’m thinking of right now, but I’d venture to guess that a majority of our most imprinted memories are of our interactions with people. The people that are the “many” the “close” and the “Powerful” as I talked about in an earlier episode. And in raising girls, which I admittedly have no clue about, I would say do the same, give them the knowledge, the power of driving the big snowblowing (or lawnmowing, or whatever) machine this year.

So make some memories today. Or as I usually say, get in the habit of making memories. Let them help you on something. If you’re a visual person, reward yourself by taking out your phone and snapping a picture. I wish I could have had a photo of my 5 year old today when he was done helping and I got down on a knee and I asked him if he enjoyed it and man o man, that smile. Authentic. A great age. A great memory.

August 24, 2019

S5-Ep240 - Downtimes aren’t a dress rehearsal

 I took my son to Hockey practice, as I usually do, and it was the normal 10-15 minute get dressed routine. I had to get my son focused a few times as 5 year olds have a way of looking at the world as it’s new. Probably because it is. And I have to remind myself of that a lot when I’m in a hurry or want them to walk faster. But overall – normal day. And third of the parents leave. And a third pull out there phones. And the other third talk amongst themselves. 

 But it’s the parents with smaller kids, younger siblings, that have to be entertained for an hour that I get the most interest out of watching. And what I get from a lot of these parents with the younger siblings, is that they don’t want to parent.

 Some of the kids are running amok, mainly the chatting people. And most, to all, of the people there probably don’t care that there is a 2 year old running around. I really don’t. But life is not a dress rehearsal. And in this moment of downtime, when no-one cares ---- no one cares. When the next shift of skaters comes in, in 15 minutes, there will be bags and sticks and doors and tight spaces. And that’s when people will care when a 2 year old decides he wants to see what’s on the other side of that door. And the other side is snow and a parking lot. It’s for those moments that I make sure my kids aren’t running amok. Those downtimes, to me, aren’t a dress rehearsal. Because you never know when ‘real life’ is going to happen, when that child decides to explore, or a fire alarm goes off.­ And kids for certain don’t know what’s a dress rehearsal and what those moments are when you want to impress someone and your kids just won’t listen. Parenting is a full time job, that a lot of people want to take coffee breaks from. Even while toting around a 2 year old. And unfortunately it’s the parents with multiple kids that give it a bad name. The parents of one – over attentive. And the parents of multiples – indifferent. That middle ground is what you kid needs. A tether – and eye on them, but allowed to look and learn and interact where safe.

August 23, 2019

S5-Ep239 - Becoming a Parent Made You a Hypocrite

 Yesterday I went on a tiny tirade of how acquaintances go through their college years as dumb drunks and then lead companies or teams of people later in life. And as a person whom has a special dislike for hypocrisy, I had to mention it, yet acknowledge that we all have to find a middle ground in parenting no matter who you are or where you fall in that spectrum. Saint or Sinner.

 But when it comes down to it, I have to admit that we all probably became hypocrites the seconds our Sons and Daughters were born.

   So this is meant to be a retrospective. A place where we can look back and laugh on some of the preconceived notions that we all bring into parenthood.
For example, I was watching a youtube video on this couple with a tiny home in Australia. 530 square feet – made of shipping containers, and ultra modern and very clean everything. They said they weren’t going to have a nursery –fine, but then she said she’d keep all of the baby changing and nappys behind this closet door where the washer and dryer were at.” And of course there’s no room except on top of those things. And I laughed and laughed because she thought that she’d “be able to close the doors and keep everything tucked away in there”.

Poor suckers.
But I guess its best said that “before we were parents, we weren’t.” 

What were some of your preconceived notions that you were so certain of before you were a parent, and how off were you? – Share the answer on social to your friends, ask them what they theirs were, use it as a conversation starter. We’d love to help them out too.

August 22, 2019

S5-Ep238 - Don’t Pretend That You’ve Changed After You’ve Had Kids

 I went to a nice university when I was 18 to 22. And I made some good friends, had some good times, and got a good education. But anyone, college or not – that’s not the point – has known someone who has gone through a crazy spell. Maybe drinking, maybe drugs, maybe women or work.

In my case, my wife (mainly) still tells stories of her college friends who were stupid drunks at one point in their lives. People who are now in positions of law, and responsibility – whom if you met them 15 years ago – you would be certain they would not hold any sort of prestige. And here they are; Leading supposedly respectable jobs and lives on FB and Instagram.

 And a lot of them are parents, who now “preach the gospel”.

   And I don’t mean gospel like it sounds, and I don’t preach that you should preach something specific, but the point I’m getting to is to not be a hypocrite. Don’t be that drunk girl, then have kids, and pretend it didn’t happen. Luckily the people I see do this aren’t in my circle, and I view them from a looong distance. But what I’m telling you is that people who know them, don’t respect them. They know the truths, and hypocrisy kills respect.
So as a parent, don’t go to one end of the spectrum and befriend your children with similar hellion stories.

And don’t go to the other end and say, “Do as I say, not as I have done!”

And that’s a tricky middle ground where you can’t rule with fear and you rule with bargaining.

You aren’t their dictator and you aren’t their friend. You’re a parent. Find that middle ground and reconcile it with who you truly are.

 

August 21, 2019

S5-Ep237 - Running Your Own Race

 I’m not sure where today’s “Internet reference” comes from – it appears to just be some wiseguy on the internet, and there are many versions of it, It’s titled: Everyone is running their own race, in their own time. Google it (after this podcast – you can wait 2 minutes – practice some restraint people!), or check our show notes on our website.

It says:

New York is 3 hours ahead of California. But that doesn’t make California slow.

Someone graduated at the age of 22, but waited 5 years before securing a good job. Someone became a CEO at 25 and died at 50, while another became a CEO at 50 and lived to be 90. Someone is still single, while someone else got married.

 Everyone in this world works based on their time zone.

People around you might seem ahead of you, while some may seem behind you. But everyone is running their own race, in their own time. Do not envy them and do not mock them.

 

   And I think that this is one of the hardest things to do. Jealousy is real. And I’ve rarely been affected by it. I consider it a blessing, and a curse. I could care very little what others think of me, as long as I know why I’m doing it … but I wouldn’t say I have many friends. I have some strong views on parenting – but my kids will never be the most popular or the most successful at all points in their lives.

And for all of the mothers and fathers out there worrying that your child is behind in reading skills, or ice skating, soccer, or healthy eating habits; you all are on your own race. Note; It doesn’t mean stop racing! It doesn’t even mean take your foot off the accelerator, but I believe it means that you will get it in your own time.

 

So Relax, You are not early. You are not late.

You are very much on time.

August 20, 2019

S5-Ep236 - My Kid got in a Fight the Other Day

 The teacher seemed a bit shocked. As she called my wife, and told her about what had happened, she was a bit surprised, but mainly by the fact that she’d never really had kindergarteners fight. I was shocked when I’d heard this story because I am still working on letting go of this image I have of my 5 year old hiding behind my legs when we went to a birthday party a few years ago. He was always a watcher – a kid who was reserved until he got into the groove and comfortable with the situation. I, like a lot of parents, try to hold on to images or perceptions of our kids – and this is great and it’s normal. It helps us understand how we should parent in a variety of situations, if we can have some basic assumptions about our children to apply in new situations.

 But this fighting? What was I to do? How was I to parent?      

  And to be clear, this ‘fight’ was mainly wrestling, which I think my 5 y/o is actually ok with. When he’s in the situation, he doesn’t appear to back down or be timid or cry … as long as he believes in it. But there may have been some body blows by the other kid from what I hear. Anyway, not a knock down drag out, but worrisome because I preach that what our kids do today will be amplified tomorrow.
But I’m here to be real and to be honest, so you guys and gals get to see what I see.

To the men out there, it should be clear that if your kid gets hit, hitting back is acceptable. No one gets to bully our kid. And we’ve all thought about wanting to have a conversation with our kid about going back to school and popping the bully in the nose – ending this once and for all.
But for now, discretion is the better part of valor. And valor is important. So they say. So my wife and I went with the “Walk away” speech, and we’ve had to repeat it a few times for it to sink in. You have to walk away. Even if we think the way to win the battle is one action, the war is more important, and while it doesn’t always feel like it; doing the right thing, kindness, humanity always wins in the end.

August 19, 2019

S5-Ep235 - A Controlling Parent (is a good thing): As Long as we Control Ourselves

When people find this podcast from the outside world, they're shivering and worn after spending what seems like a lifetime buffeted by the storms of parenting. They feel like their lives are out of control, and that other people, big and small, are the ones deciding their fate.

But If I could sum up perfect parenting in one word, it would be “Control”.

  And that's an odd word because I never thought I'd use it here. But while controlling kids is bad. I'm not talking about controlling kids. I'm talking about controlling ourselves. Controlling our minds.
And like any good journalist, I won’t focus on the good things that we do … though there are many that I’m sure you do. Most parents make decent decisions most of the time. But people hate focusing on the good. We all love the bad.

  So the bad for me is controlling my attitude. Being better would be being in control of my on/off switch when my son wipes his mouth on his sleeve for the one millionth time. I know I’ve given advice on how to stop these things – and I can’t do it myself – I’m a horrible person. I think it shows how strongly we’ve reinforced the ‘default position’ that we choose for ourselves.

  The bad part for others is controlling their time. We spend a few minutes here, a few minutes there …. Then an hour on the couch ‘relaxing’ after a hard day’s work. But we know that the more time we can engage with our kids (even if it’s not constant engagement – maybe just getting them started on coloring for example), the more time we can do that, the better. But it’s controlling our desire for “us time” which is hard.

  And the bad part for others is controlling their self-restraint. For some people it’s a beast inside of them and who am I to judge since I don’t see through that lens. But know your maker. That’s about all I can say. We’re big on self-awareness, and later, if you put the right steps in place, self-discipline can follow.

August 18, 2019

S5-Ep234 - Body-Check; Mind-Check; Now Indulge?

 Over the past few days we’ve been talking about the body and the mind and how important it is to keep them both in shape if we want to be good people and parents. And I’ll let you kind of take it where you want to – whether that’s reminding you to take care of yourself, or maybe it’s imparting these lessons on your kids so that they grow up with good habits on the body and mind. Where you take it is up to you, no judging here.

 So we have done all we need to, right? Now we can indulge some? Right? treat-yo-self. Right?

Resolution: Sorry. Can’t. At least not yet. The last thing you probably want to hear is more Mr. Money Mustache advice. And admittedly, he can come off a bit smug, but you have to at least acknowledge a few things that I believe are hard to follow life lessons.
And one is that daily hardship and learning is important. He says,

  • if you are not sweating and learning and doing something difficult and solving problems, you are not living fully. Find a way to scale back the pampering and achieve more with your own body and mind.

-- And it’s interesting that he uses the words “scale back” because in times of overwhelmingness, we often don’t need to do more, we need to prioritize more. And I think a good way to prioritize both learning and parenting is to listen to a podcast on learning parenting!!!

And the second thing is finally to indulge. Finally right?! Sort of. 

  • Indulge, but only with Moderation and Self-Mockery: this country is rich enough that you can become wealthy even without perfect self-discipline – even on minimum wage. But the moment you think you deserve or need whatever indulgence you are currently treating yourself to, you have lost the game. Luxuries and treats are just short-term pleasurable distractions, like any other drugs.Indulge if you can afford them, but you’re not missing one ounce of happiness if you choose to go without at any given moment.
August 17, 2019

S5-Ep233 - Then Mind

 Yesterday we talked “Body First” and said that if we don’t take care of our body then the pyramid that we’re building on has a poor foundation and it’ll make the other things for a happy life harder. First, I want to say I worked out for almost 15 years, and then took 4 off while I raised some children. I get it. Judgement free zone if you’re in that window too. But knowledge is power and we hope to help you here.

 So after body, then mind.

   And I’m not talking learning a second language or those brain training websites. That is actually another episode. No – the Mind is more about mental health. And this is becoming more clear as I struggle through winters and the darkness of it. And it’s becoming more clear as I see more and more people affected.
And this is about the only case where I’d appreciate having a psychologist on board, because all I can really tell you is to practice mindfulness, whatever the hell that means, and do some reading, and mediate daily which I’ve never done in my life, except for maybe one birth class with my wife.  But keeping on top of your mental health, whatever your issue is  --- and we all have something – don’t let anyone fool you, keeping on top of it is a priority because you don’t want to be that rich lottery winner who has lost it all because they basically went crazy – and we definitely don’t want to do that – without even winning the lottery – which is just saying – normal people have issues too.

And parenting wise – Just keep on the lookout for some of the signs in our kids as well:

Signs include:

Persistent aggression

Depression

Hyperactivity or fidgeting

Constant worry or anxiety

Well finish up – tomorrow where we figure out if after all this mind body work – we can indulge a litte:

And a final note: I want to thank you for being on board and taking us with you wherever or whatever type of parent you are. We appreciate it!

August 16, 2019

S5-Ep232 - Body First

 New Year New Me!  I mean, I sort of jumped on this bandwagon. Sure it was mid December when I started to Podcast. It was technically last October when I started doing running again. But overall I’m happy that I’ve created, and stuck with some good habits. It has enabled other things in my life.

-Detour here – Good habits are more than just motivation, so if you get to the end of this episode and feel like you have that final push to take care of your body, don’t. Get your habits built up that can sustain this first.

-Back on the path here. So now I want to transition into Mr. Money Mustache and why he’s important to the next part of this.

The quick story on Mr. Money Mustache is that he’s one of the original FIRE movement guys. If you don’t know what FIRE stands for, Google and we’ll see you tomorrow after you’re done with that rabbit hole.  Otherwise, he is a parent, he’s in his mid-thirties, but he’s technically retired. Which means he still works, but on what he wants to.  

 So why do I bring him up? 

   Because he’s really an expert on happiness, and taking care of yourself and your time when you have a lot of life to go, and a lot of time to spend how you want.

He says, “Physical health first”. And this is important because plenty of rich people with no need to work have gone off the deep end of drugs, alcohol, and mental problems. Here’s a guy explaining how not to do that.

He says, “Your brain, and the rest of your body is just a system of meat and tubes.” “The whole system will only perform well if you place its wellbeing first. Before anything else. Salads and barbells every day.” (pause)

Now my analogy: I liken it to a car. Even if the engine is strong; if the suspension is weak, there’s a good chance it breaks down while taking you somewhere. 

And finally, on parenting. This is why we need to keep our kids active and building healthy physical habits. Sure, we can make them play outside all the time, and they’d be happy to do it. But teach a man to fish you know – keep in mind that it’s important to teach them that healthy activities enable them to do other things, like focus in school, and sleep well at night. I’m going to tell my kids that today; I’d recommend you do the same.

Ok, we’ll cover MMM’s habits that follow physical health – tomorrow.

August 15, 2019

S5-Ep231 - Scheduling Parties – And Downtime

 Yesterday we talked the craziness that is kids’ birthday parties; whether it’s at bowling alleys, or jump centers, or a local restaurant. Add in cake, and one older kid into the mix and you have a recipe for some yelling, jumping, and a whole lot of running.

For my kid, getting this kind of stimulation is important. He has a brother, and they get plenty crazy, but our house isn’t so crazy. It’s got a fairly low energy.  

  But how do kids learn to come down from this over stimulation?

   And I think the answer is practice.

Now I bet that the ‘pre-kid’ you would have had a lot of answers to “What will you practice with your boy or girl when you have one?”. Catching a baseball, some gymnastics or sommersaults. Tying shoes. But no one ever thinks they’ll practice coming down off of friend fueled sugar highs.

But I think they need to. I think that we, as parents, need to schedule coming home afterwards, and “letting them figure it out for themselves” They need to remind themselves how to entertain themselves after that.

Because life will be full of stimulation as adults. TV Commercials. Stressful work days. Beers with friends and riveting conversations. And we have to keep ourselves in check as adults, and the best way is to have done it. So I say have a blast at your next birthday party, but when it’s over, head home; keep the tv off, send them to their room, or just tell them to have fun and play. And see what happens next.

August 14, 2019

S5-Ep230 - The Kids Rule the Bowling Alley

 I was at a birthday party over the weekend, and it was at a bowling alley. It was a small bowling alley, 6 lanes wide, so probably not the mega one you might be thinking of. And it has space for a few tables behind the lanes, and a side area where there are arcades, as well as your typical bar. The place is pretty popular with birthday parties, and this day there were 2 going on side by side.

  So when we stepped away from our lanes to eat cake and snacks, I noticed two kids, probably 6 and 4 which had taken up bowling on one of the two lanes that we were on.

 But I am pretty good about putting myself in other people’s shoes over the years, and I naturally thought to myself; What would I be doing if those were my kids? Would I let my kids just walk over to another person’s lane and play?

   And the answer is a clear no. Never in a million years would I want to use something that other people are paying for. So I thought, well the parents must not be watching, they’ll notice soon. And sure enough, the father (I never did see the mother), did notice … and he came over and promptly decided to bowl with his kids.

And he continued to do this even as me and my kids walked up and bowled on the lane beside him.

So I don’t know. Case of mistaken birthday party – I don’t think so.

And it just went crazier from there.  Over the hours it just got louder and louder and by the end the kids were just running everywhere. No regard for adults or chairs in their way.

All of these things are over my line in the sand – when my kid makes adults walking by dodge the kids – then I’ve had enough. And when they were jumping on the booth seats, that’s also tearing up the bowling alley’s stuff. So I understand that kids with birthday cake are kids, but come on people – don’t let your kids rule the bowling alleys!

Where’s your line in the sand when out in public?

August 13, 2019

S5-Ep229 - Attack the Behavior and Assure the Person

 Now I’m not quite taking a victory lap here on this one, because its’ the fool who gets struck down immediately after bragging about themselves. But I was feeling pretty good about one aspect of my parenting over the weekend. And that was that I pulled my kid aside and said, I don’t appreciate the taking of your brother’s toys, but I still love you, and I think you can control yourself better the next time you get the urge to snatch something from him.

   And there is no followup on whether he was better or not, that’s not the point. The point is actually about me. I felt like I handled it well. I felt like I conquered one of my foes for a minute. I felt good about parenting. And that’s why it’s not bragging, it’s just that feeling of a job well done. It can feel good to parent properly.

 And what it comes down to – that foe that I felt like I conquered. Is anger. Every damn one of us has gotten angry at a child for taking his brother, daughters, or a friends toys. This episode is one way to help deal with that real anger.

  So sometimes we have to say the same thing but differently. Because every one of us will have a different phrase or story that straight up resonates in us like the liberty bell. My hope is that this helps someone – but maybe not everyone.
And the phrase is “attack the behavior and assure the person”. I’m not sure of the source. I doubt I wrote that down as I thought of it, but for type A and similarly driven people the word attack is a great starting point. If we, as parents, are in attack mode – be it for use of curse words, hitting, or simply not listening to us, we have a tendency to attack the tiny person performing these actions. But assuring the person after our scolding can help us teach ourselves what that middle ground is in parenting that we’re all in search of. Those magical, non-existent words which immediately stop the behavior, but don’t make our children whimper and pull away in anger.

The next time you go to solve a parenting problem, think of this phrase and take that next step to assure the person, to believe in them, and to remind them that you’ll always love them.

August 12, 2019

S5-Ep228 - 3 Things to do with Your Child Today

 I always like to try to help with actionable advice.

 And today I want to offer up 3 things that you can do with your Child today. Now I don’t know what motivation you need: A giggling child. A sense of accomplishment at the end of task or before bedtime, or rewarding yourself with some Netflix should you get these done – pick what works for you, but tell yourself that you can do it; tell yourself to stay engaged with however long these take – and not check your phone in the middle. And if they take 20 minutes – great, give yourself some time afterward. But you may just get really into it and find yourself heading to bed not realizing where the time went.

  

  • Play the matching game. The most simple is to get a pack of cards and line them up in a pattern. This is actually teaching and you didn’t even know it. Start by having them line up 3 wide and 3 tall. Then count them. Then count the bottom 3, then the middle 3. 3+3=6. Then 6 plus three = 9. And then just end with the statement that 3 rows of 3 is 9; the number we just added to. And leave it at that. You’re not here to teach multiplication, but one of these days, should you keep doing things like this, it will click.

    1. Ok, now build on the pattern. 4x4 (no need to work on adding or math here), just get the cards to about 7x7 and the rest wherever.
    2. And try to get matches. If you don’t get a match then turn them back over and it’s the next person’s turn.
  • Ask these questions. How did you help somebody today? How did somebody help you today?
    1. These important because a lot of people get focused on serving others. Most of the time they think this is the way to becoming a better person. To be selfless is a virtue – so we’ve been told. But being able to accept help is a learned trait too. And you may not be accepting help from the person you gave help to – but this teaches the circle of life (sorry that sounds so cliché), but it really is it. We are social creatures who help some, and get helped, and life comes full circle.
  • Tickle time.
    1. This physical contact is pure love. Kids who get too many kisses or hugs, and pull back because it’s “too much” physically feel this, and they don’t forget it.
August 11, 2019

S5-Ep227 - (Guest Post) Children Can Own Their Future.

 I hope this is a recurring feature. And the feature is a Parent of a Parent – someone who has already done this. someone who has been in the trenches …. And totally forgotten what they are like. That being in the trenches and forgetting that parts of parenting suck. (Sorry, that’s how I feel some time). But the parents who have come before us remember THE important parts. Parts that are important and that we should learn from.

First guest – my father. So it will be my voice, but my fathers words. He wrote it, I’m just reading it.

He writes:

There may not be 5 a.m. calls to milk cows or eggs to gather but it’s as important as ever to offer a child an age appropriate responsibility that makes a connection between the individual and the greater benefits of being inside a family.

 

It’s a natural development by mid-teens for them to assert some independence toward becoming the person who they will be. I’ve been there. I’ve raised 3 kids through these teenage years. It’s coming. Just know that. And what you do early on, 100% affects those sometimes tougher years. As parents you need to encourage steps toward self-discovery. Imagine you’re teenager is an astronaut; free floating in space, but of course you have built that tether (over the past 15 years) which is their lifesaver. That tether provides so much security to move away from the mother ship when they know without a doubt that at the slightest danger they can reel themselves back in – or be pulled back if needed.

 

We all feel more loved, more important when we are valued. And to have something of value to offer is the key to feeling loved.

 

This is the family unit that’s so bluntly called out in heath class. But it’s undeniably important. That phrase or understanding, “You are part of our family and that doesn’t come free.” I want to offer these ideas on how you do that.

 

A four year-old can be taught to fold some clothing and help organize a drawer. The parent can drop the clean laundry on the bed and emphasize that it is the child’s contribution to the family.

Find time during your busy weeks to have as many meals together as possible. First, it’s a primal bonding ritual where to gather for a meal. There’s that. Secondly and more practically, meal prep offers many opportunities to contribute. The old standard is setting the table. It becomes very visual that no one can eat until they have a plate and cutlery. In other words, thank you Susie for setting the table. If you hadn’t done it, we’d be eating from the placemats.

Children need to experience added value as a contributor to the mission of family rather than being treated as ornaments hung on the family tree. Ornamental kids often tarnish and fall off in their teen years.