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3Episodes

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

August 10, 2019

S5-Ep226 - ‘Toxic’ Advice

 I want to summarize yesterday’s podcast for anyone who wasn’t able to catch it. It’s a good one, so I’d recommend going back and listening to all 3 minutes of it, but it was that there’s a body of evidence for piling you plate with fruits and vegetables, (and I’ll throw in whole grains and nuts in there too). Just pile the plates high with them. There’s a whole body of scientific reasoning out there that supports this, no matter what McDonald’s says.

But today I wanted to cover a list of other dos and don’ts, some of which are food related, but all will fall into the household related.

 These are easy things, the low hanging fruit, which could help reduce your child’s environmental exposure to toxins. Again, just a list if you were looking for ways to improve. I’m not judging you on what you do or don’t. Just keep an open mind:

 

  • (FOOD) Buy fresh produce in season. Organic if possible. There’s a dirty dozen list. I’d recommend checking our show notes for it, or googling it on your own. For example, I don’t buy organic banannas or Most anything with a shell that I peel off and don’t eat. It isn’t worth it for the toxins. For the environment – maybe but we’re talking toxins today.
  • Wash produce well – kind of obvious but did you know that a lot of the germs washed away in hand washing aren’t from the soap, but from the act of running water over rubbed together hands?
  • Avoid microwaving in plastic containers. Something has to be happening when you burn this stuff in the micro.
  • Barbeque in moderation. Charring food isn't good. And probably worse for smaller humans.
  • (HOME) Minimuze pesticide use.
  • Wash insect repellent off after kids come inside.
  • Test for radon. This is something we did recently. And now we are working on a fix for it, but knowledge is power.
August 9, 2019

S5-Ep225 - Food: What’s healthy and What’s Not

 I thought we’d continue on the ‘food train’ and since this is a self limited podcast, I try not to babble on and on about all the nuances of which plastics are bpa friendly and which yogurts are the least processed. I do try to condense all the information I have down into a really reasonable level.

 Why believe me on nutrition?

  First, I’ve read a lot. I’ve tried to find scientific research on various ‘health topics’, and science based studies on foods. Second, I try to give a weight of about 1% to any study I read. This means you need 100 studies before you can really see a 100% view of a picture on health or nutrition, or exercise, or medicine. And that’s good, because you start to develop a “body of work”. In the nutrition and the medicine sciences, there’s never been a study that has proved without a shadow of a doubt that cigarettes will kill you. Isn’t that amazing. Never has a study proven this. This isn’t physics, where a ball thrown in the air comes down. But there’s a body of evidence which says you’re more likely to die of lung cancer when you smoke than non-smokers. And we believe this because there have been so many studies which say it’s “likely” to be true.

So a body of evidence is multiple people, and likely multiple generations of work, and that’s really powerful to me. And the body of evidence that I see: I can boil it down for you in two words: Fruits and Vegetables.

Yes, this was a long way to lead you to try to get some more vegetables on your kid’s plate. But that’s all it is a lot of times. It’s the offering of foods (and the no thank you bites) we talked about in step one (Episode 43) and the preparation we all need to have (Ep 44), and the simple science revealed here; it’s getting more fruits and veggies on our plates because people are getting fooled every day, and the answer is incredibly, incredibly simple.

There is a consensus on food. (Despite what you’ve heard)

August 8, 2019

S5-Ep224 - Food Prep

 Today’s episode is a continuation of yesterday. Yesterday we started into food, just a little bit, and shared a trick that has worked for us. The no thank you bite.
And since our kids are fairly good eaters, we don’t judge others if they’re not, but we’ve been working on this for years at this point. Starting no thank you bites at age 3 had its challenges. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I pushed myself to let go of the control freak in me and let it be for a night.

So let’s take the possible outcomes again and keep going.

  One option is they like the food. And they eat it. Cool. Everyone is happy. Podcasts are amazing.

Option two is your kid says he doesn’t like it and immediately asks for her go to end of meal cookie request. You’re being played.

Option 3 is they really don’t like it. Well that’s great that you’re able to interpret your child’s communication and suss this out, but now you have to come up with something. 

   And I think you can go into a few directions, but it’s all prep work. So before implementing it, let’s go through a new routine you may have implement.

The hardest thing about cooking is preparing for these scenarios, so the simplest way is to start with half a plate of food they like and add on some “experimental” foods. Some bok choy, or sprouts. Then you can fall back on the “liked” food if they need more.

Option two, if your new main meal is pretty much the whole meal, and this happens a lot in my house, where it’s pretty much the only option. Maybe there’s bread or a side veggie. The answer is to have something in your fridge that’s healthy. In our house it’s carrots and a bit of ranch. If the kids would rather eat carrots than the dinner. Cool with me. They’re allowed to eat unlimited amounts of vegetables. So keep carrots, hummus, green peppers, whole grain toast in the house. And on nights where you’ve poured your heart into a new meal, you don’t have to sweat the backup.

And if they don’t need that backup – send some carrots and peppers in their lunch tomorrow – school age kids have an amazing ability to decide if they’re hungry – they’ll eat it at school. Without other options, and without you there, they take care of their hunger.

Ok, so many good tips. We hope they helped!

August 7, 2019

S5-Ep223 - No Thank You Bites

 Yesterday we tried to help by giving tips on calming kids down. While I’m hoping you remember just yesterday’s episode, you may have been up since 4am this morning or something, parent-ish. But the point was NOT the essential oils that we mentioned. That was a dry joke, the point was the 1 thing. 1 thing you can see, touch, taste, smell, feel. That engages kids externally in their time of need.

Today I just wanted to share some more. Share some things that work for us. I don’t know if they’ll work for you, but as we have said before. Just try, See if it works for you. Modify if you need, or stop. That’s mindfulness. Trying, adjusting, and repeating.

 One area where we hear a lot of parents struggling is in the food department. It’s a tough thing. And all honesty here: we barely struggle with it. We have good eaters, by a lot of definitions, but that has it’s own issues too.

 If you’re struggling with getting your kid to eat more or eat better, here’s the trick that we use.

   No thank you bites. So if you set a pile of asparagus in front of your child and he looks at it with disgust. Not a problem. We ask our children to take two no thank you bites and then we can talk about something else for dinner.

Now there’s some nuance here.
First, How do I know my kid isn’t just playing me for a fool and holding out for mac and cheese? The answer is parenting. You have to decide. You know your kid best. You have to make the call whether or not their face scrunched up or remained deadpan. And some nights I’ve said ‘I’ll make you something else’ and some nights I said, “I just think you’re hungry for something else.”

And the second point is

Trying – just the act of trying – is often enough to get kids over the hump. They’ve told themselves they won’t like it, but they have no idea. And children are fairly honest and open. Let’s say it a different way: Kids don’t lie very often. If they like it. They’ll tell you and if they don’t they’ll tell you.

I want to take a minute and say, If we’ve helped you out in any way, please share with you bestie or your bro. We’d really appreciate it!

And because food is such a big topic amongst parents, I think we’ll just get back in here  … tomorrow.

August 6, 2019

S5-Ep222 - Calming Kids Down

  Our 5 year old can get worked up at times. I’m not always around a lot of other kids, in their natural environment, their homes, so I don’t know about yours, but I think it’s pretty common for parents to be like “Ok, are you over this yet?” “When can we move on?” And our 5 year old now says, “I can’t calm down”, and I’m not sure if it’s an excuse for continuing or what, but I think we all need some help in assisting our kids through their emotional times.

 So here are 3 things. One of which is the main point. One of which is the one thing you can do to calm your child. (at least it’s our one thing).

Now here me out, I don’t always use these. I’ve been known to do some tough love at times too where I just send my kid to a separate area to cry, but if you need to get ahold of one of these moments. Here’s what happens in our house.

  

First idea: “Essential Oils. Frankincense and lavender is the new time-out.” HA! False.  (There is a real website that I got this phrase from!)  We do not do this. We don’t think oils can solve polio, and we do think that they can be a nice upper class nicety to make your house smell a little fresher. I’m not sure what you think, I don’t tell you what to think, but me, I just can’t buy it. 

Idea 2: When our children were younger, singing to them worked wonders. Since we still have a 3 y/o this is still in our repertoire. Even if you singing voice isn’t good, do it. Small children love the sound of your voice. My wife has soothed a few car trips with this. It’s sweet.

Idea 3: This is it. This is ours. Credit to my wife for finding this.   When our kid is mid meldtown over a piece of toast we ask him 1 thing you can see/ 1 thing you can hear/1 thing you can touch/smell/taste. Go through these with your kid and they have no option but to engage and move their mind from internal to external. That’s the value here. Internal to external. Take it try it out, and we’ll try to help more, tomorrow.

 

August 5, 2019

S5-Ep221 - Fessing Up – I Don’t Want To

This is basically the episode that I didn’t want to write. And a good rule in life is often, “If you are having trouble getting started on it, and are actively delaying it”, then it’s probably important for you to do. It’s likely important because you’re holding yourself back, not because it’s hard.
In fact, saying the words, “I’m sorry” are often the hardest to say. And I’m at the top of that list of people who have difficulty. And when I try to count the times I’ve modelled this “I’m sorry” behavior, I come up pretty short.

 But today, I’m going to take my son aside and tell him I messed up. Back in Episode 38, I told a story about losing my temper when he growled at me. I know, sounds silly, but I’m sure I’m not the only one to lose my shit over something small.

  

And I want to note that I’m not doing this because I want to. Yes, I have a desire and am trying to raise productive citizens who reach their full potential, and modelling the behavior of apologies and admitting when we’re wrong is the correct way to do this. I understand all that. But in this case, my own selfishness gets in the way of a goal I know is better. I only apologize because I had some notes in my episode log that Fessing up when you blow it is the best way to show your child how and when they should apologize. And I’ve made my kids apologize a lot of times.

But sometimes that’s the way it works – We expect to listen to some podcasts, read some articles and then we will happily follow all advice given, as if we’re transformed by an article or two.

Not the case.

Sometimes we just have to do it, and maybe eventually we’ll start to be better at it. It’s very much like exercise. No one wants to go out in the cold for a run, even though we all know it would be good for us. But if we step outside our comfort zone and do something that’s hard, we stand a better chance at success. What’s hard for you guys and gals out there? Ok – now work on that, if you can.

 

August 4, 2019

S5-Ep220 - Fearlessness

 The third lesson on failing is that they will find out what they love to do.

How did you end up where you’re at today? Without being able to hear the answer, I’m going to say that a majority of us, have meandered, wandered. Tried a few things out over the years. Personally, I’ve worked plenty of restaurant shifts, valet’d cars, but I’ve also had internships at some neat companies making auto parts, bulldozers, and software. And the ability to try out different things has helped me figure out that I didn’t want to be that steel worker out in the cold, pounding cold bolts into a newly formed building. Much respect to those people, but I wanted a desk job.

 So trying things out is key. And the millennials (a group I put myself in), have come up with a fair share of fear. Fear of failure really.

   

But Lots of people suck at lots of things. But whoever they are – they’re probably good at something.

So I say go fail at a lot of things and figure out and continue do the things that you love. And for our kids: Let them try. And let them fail if they aren’t good at it. And support them when they do fail. Tell them that you’re proud of them trying, and ask them how they felt about it. Sometimes they may surprise you. Older kids may say, I know I came in last in that race, but I sure enjoyed it! And you can pivot them into racing RC cars instead of using their legs to race. And you can always tell them that you look up to them for their fearlessness. That fearlessness is what’s missing in a lot of people. Most of us, me especially, spend so much time protecting against failure that in the end we lose out on a key life trait.

August 3, 2019

S5-Ep219 - Obsessed with Losing

 Yesterday, we talked about losing a battle. In our household, I got growled at, something that set me off for some reason (I’m sure there’s something deeper there), but in that podast I said, “In fact I need to be over the top, maybe obsessed with losing”

  Why would I say this? What did I mean? And what are some examples?

   So Why would I say this: Well, I said it because it applies to so many areas of our kids lives.

Let’s start out small. Holding a spoon. I think most of us spend about 10 seconds trying to help our kids hold a spoon and then, in my case, I have to spend the next 6 months holding myself back from cleaning up all the messes. In this case, we can’t teach them to use a spoon by hand feeding them. You have to let them do it. And in those instances, it seems natural (minus the messes). It something our kids want to learn, and we want them to learn it. But the water muddies come kindergarten when his lunchboxes don’t come home for days, and your getting tired of sending the backups. A lot of parents are worried about what it would look like if their kid came to school with a variety of plastic baggies instead of a nice tidy box. But now is the time to do it. Now is the time to fail. There is no better time to fail then today. Because the price of failure tomorrow is always higher. Tomorrow (and I’m talking 5 years not tomorrow) tomorrow it might be forgetting his sports bag every day and you have to leave work and drive it to him. Or 10 years it might be forgetting the car registration, and getting pulled over and his car impounded. These things grow, only because they weren’t allowed to fail earlier in life. And this ties back to helicopter and bulldozer parenting – all are areas where we as parents tried too hard to help. And not letting them lose today has higher costs tomorrow. So next time your child leaves his lunchbox at school. Tell him it’s no problem, but you aren’t going to send a sack, he can use his backpack, until the other one comes back home. 

August 2, 2019

S5-Ep218 - Losing Some Battles

 The other day, my 5 year old was putting some action figures in jail. Unfortunately for him, a few of those belonged to his little brother. As you can guess, an argument ensued. Of course this doesn’t happen in a vaccum, and in this case we were already 3 arguments or so deep. The best response would probably have been to ‘not react’ and take away the figures from the 5y/o. But perfection doesn’t happen in this house. Hell, most of the time there is disdain in my voice and I often raise my voice to boot (and that’s not what I’m trying to get across here). Anyway, I kept it reasonable until he growled at me. Then it was on.

So I lost this one. I lost the battle and the war. The battle was his growling, and the war is when our kids are all grown up.
And when I get to write about it here, I realize I should be fine with the losing. In fact I need to be over the top, maybe obsessed with losing.

 So what would I want to lose? And why?

  Well, losing, in this case, is a test. My 5 y/o has been testing us a bit more lately, and this is a good thing. Because him testing, and more importantly our reactions, is the precursor for everything that happens as a teenager to. So if I react over the top to these things now, my son will be very clear on what’s going to happen should he gain a rebellious streak when he’s 14. He will literally have the button to my anger and be able to push it at any point. Some might say that’s not a bad thing – he knows what he’s not to do. But we’re in this to win the war not the battles. And we might win a few with fear based tactics, but let’s flip the script for a minute. If we’re calm. And in this case I simply tell him that I’m adding time to his time-out due to the aggression, and walk away – well there’s no point in yelling back. In fact, he may try out bargaining, or pleading, or god forbid – even learning a time or two in that time out chair.

So I have some work to do. Maybe you’re like us, and have some too. Hit subscribe in your favorite app or rate us on Apple Podcasts – that would be awesome! And we’ll talk, tomorrow.

August 1, 2019

S5-Ep217 - Next Time … (I swear!)

 I heard my wife say, “Next time you dig your elbows into me ….” And the words “next time” rung like a bell in my head. Now my son was just getting up from the couch, and he has this habit of using his elbows to push himself up. I don’t really know how that’s even possible, but that’s at least what it feels like. The old elbow to the ‘most sensitive part of your body’ – all at the crack of dawn.

 And here’s the thing. In our house – there is always a next time. He’ll do it again. And I pick this example because it’s not like he’s hitting his brother with a hockey stick. It’s not that egregious. We’ll come back to this point in a minute.

 So, if we combine all of our "next times" then it' probably a pretty big number. And kids learn this. They learn that for some simple things, it’s just a warning – and they probably want to do better – but memories man. Short.  So what to do about all these ‘next times’?

   Let’s take it to the extreme and see what we come up with. If the rule is always - 100% - never fail - never ambiguous - then kids will automatically know what happens when they hit someone or do something wrong - and that's great for us as parents. If I had a scenario like that, I could just kick back and have a beer, because the parenting is self-sustaining at that point. Right? When our kid messes up, then as parents we can just say, sorry you know that time out is coming (back to that not-reacting thing earlier).  And in this case - "non-parenting is good".  If they know a specific reaction is coming, we can go on autopilot. What it’s doing here is putting kids in control of their behavior.  (Right? They know the next step in this … we hardly have to parent!)

  And the reason I give an example of the elbows in the belly is because the punishment doesn't have to be harsh, (punishment might even be a wrong word here) but it should be consistent. And that's really really hard. There’s no one writing books on it, because it sucks. But I think it’s worth it to try and become a ‘non-parenting’ parent. For my kids to know the reaction coming to their action.

What’s one area you could be more consistent in? If your "consistency" is just you and your partner getting on the same page - great. If it's using potty words - great. Ours is getting those elbows out of our bellies.

July 31, 2019

S5-Ep216 - Bowling Bumper Lanes

 My five year old has been a bit more rowdy the last few months. Typical stuff really. But a departure from the more reserved, observant style that had been his previously. Now we’re onto the latest silly words picked up a school. Everything is smack. Smack this. Smacky that. You’re smacky – whatever that means. I think it’s a substitute for a potty word or phrase, and that he thinks he’s getting away with something. So that, and a lot of high pitched screaming, is what’s going on in our household. 

 And I was trying figure out how I could approach this in a different way. To get a reign on him more. To come up with a brand new solution.

   But after talking with my wife, I was reminded of a few points.

  • We have the tools to deal with this. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and we can fall back on some of the lessons I’ve started to share with everyone here. Be calm. Don’t get riled up when he does. Be consistent on our expectations. In the case of the screaming – and he’s totally having fun when he’s doing it – he’s just expressing it in his own way – in that case, I need to go back to an old trick, “That’s fine that you are screaming, but you’re hurting my ears – please go do that in your room”. That’s a good one for all of us control freaks out there. That screaming stuff rattles my brain, but disparaging him for it isn’t the goal (And we’ve talked about how negative that can be without even thinking it it). It’s that there’s a time and a place. And back to the past day’s “failure” episodes. So he failed – and he’s learning that he needs to go somewhere else to not fail. Just a change in location is all we need sometimes.
  • And after looking inward – realizing it’s not about keeping kids who they were – Control is futile and often no fun. But giving him the bowling bumper guards and letting him weave in his lane. As long as he’s going the right direction, we should be ok with it.

 

July 30, 2019

S5-Ep215 - Marie Kondo – Don’t believe the Hype

 If you believe everything you see on the internet; you’re a fool. And no one is like that. But the more dangerous thing out there is believing in what we want to believe. And Marie Kondo is that. We want to believe throwing away the correct 6 things will create our magic space, and make us feel in control of our house! And when it comes from a tiny, unblemished skin, dark black hair Asian lady – well then it must be possible if it made her this perfect.

 But perfection isn’t possible. And we have to keep telling ourselves that because deep down, we all want to believe it is possible with a little spring cleaning. I struggle with this perfection thing every day – so I’m used to working through these feelings. But my wife: She’s all into the purging thing. Here’s how it’s working for us

One item – and all credit to my wife for it – was treasure boxes. About a year ago she bought a plastic Tupperware style container for them. It’s only about 10” x 6”x6” so it’s not big. And whatever they want to keep in there, they can. But if it doesn’t fit, they have to swap something out or get rid of it. I’d recommend this. This has been great – This is one of those things where “it’s no longer our fault when we say no”. This is one of those “it’s the rule” kind of things and our kids don’t realize that we’re saying no – but not saying no – it’s the rule of the treasure box! Ok, so what’s in my kids treasure box: Three Rocks. One bird feather. Some baseball cards. 4 bracelets (what’s up with kids liking bracelets so much?), a small piece of pottery from a paint the pottery class with his grandma, and a few birthday cards written by his friend. We’ll see you all, tomorrow.

July 29, 2019

S5-Ep214 - The Same Page as Your Partner-Part 2

 Todays episode is a do and don’t list.

The idea is to help you be on the same page as your partner because it’s key to parenting.
So many keys – kids won’t play mom and dad against each other. You’ll back each other up and celebrate successes together. You’ll fight less and kids will have less stress by not seeing all of that. The list goes on but let’s get into the dos and don’ts.

Check out our show notes for the great list by Alyson Schafer.

DO’s

  1. Expect Parenting Differences:
  2. Maximize the Opportunity of Differences: If one is better at getting bedtimes to go smoothly, and another is calmer helping with homework, divide your tasks up to take advantage of those different strengths.
  3. Support Each Other: Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye, you should support the actions of the other parent.
  4. Whoever Starts the Discipline – Finishes the Discipline:  (I’m guilty of jumping in for sure)
  5. Talk Later: If you didn’t like how your partner handled a situation, discuss it at a family meeting or when you are alone.

DON’T’s

  1. Undermine the Other:  If mom said “no” to treats today, don’t undermine her by sneaking a treat to your tot when mom goes to work.
  2. Fight: If you disagree, talk about it in private after the fact.  
  3. Pity or Compensate: If one parent is harsh, don’t feel sorry for the child and compensate by “making it up to them” by being extra-lenient.
  4. Worry About Consistency Between Parents: Kids only need consistency in each parent’s own behavior – that you act consistently from day to day, not that you act the same as your partner. Are your reactions predictable? That’s what matters.  They can understand, “Mom doesn’t allow splashing in the tub, dad does.”  

 

July 28, 2019

S5-Ep213 - The Same Page as Your Partner

 It’s been said that every marriage is a cross-cultural experience. And I think that’s a great way to put it because we each bring something new (and a lot of history) to the table in a marriage. And getting on the same page brings it’s own stumbling blocks, ones that we never thought to bring up or discuss before we had kids. And I may be a control freak in my own life, but I realized early on that you can (and should) prepare as much as possible – but you will never be 100% ready to have kids.

 So if we can’t be 100% prepared and we are going to have to reconcile the alternative views of our partners – then are we just setting ourselves up for an argument?

   I say no. But it’s going to take a few steps of walking before we can run here. First, I recommend making sure your partner is in a calm mood before talking over any specific thing. No one agrees to anything unless they feel safe in their environment. You know your partner the best, there are likely plenty of nuances which you can work in as well

Second, understand what your core values are. If you list the benefits of these values, you may be able to find common ground. If you compromise on those values, then what are you? You’d just be a sheet, blowing in the wind.

Third, be willing to accept influence. Compromise never feels perfect. So if you’re getting 100% of what you want – then you’re not compromising. There may even be a thing or two you learn. But this is a good point to bring this up: If you feel that you’ve benefited in any way from these podcasts – or had ideas brought to you which you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, then it’s a great time to ask your partner if he or she would listen to an episode or three and then you could get their feedback on that episdode and discuss. Episodes are only 3 minutes long, so time shouldn’t be an issue.

Part of being on the same page is hearing the same information and then hashing out everyone’s view points on it. As we said before – everyone brings in their own culture to the marriage – and discussing a common topic (like one of our podcasts) can be the communication that’s gets you to a better place. We’re on itunes, Spotify, google play, and stitcher! Thanks.

July 27, 2019

S5-Ep212 - The Challenge of Our Time

 Since we’re on the topic of screen time, I want you to know that this is the challenge of our time. Parenting kids with technology – screens and phones is the defining issue of our time.
Part of that reason is that we have no sets of data on how children turn into not just adults – but go through adulthood after being given screens and eventually social media at a certain age. So when our children reach 50, everyone will look back and judge – should have done this/should have done that.

My best guess is that screens aren’t the enemy - our brains may become better in sync with the use of technology to make us more efficient.  But the social side of things is a different story. Socially, there are a lot more kids committing suicide than before, so I think it’s already starting to show itself.

 While that got a little deep there for a second, my main goal was to help you get your kids off the ipads. Everyone has a different level, and though my time limit on screens is really low, all of us realize that it has to end sometime. And often a meltdown occurs. So how to stop the meltdown?

  Now there’s a lot of MDs weighing in here, but I think common sense plus one extra level of thinking gets us there. The question I pose is ‘why’. Why is your kid having a meltdown. You probably say – he doesn’t want to be done. Yes, but why is he having such a hard time being done? And the answer is that he’s really into this world. It doesn’t take a PhD to see that these games are designed to suck your kid in. So getting them out of it is going to have to be a step beyond giving them a timer. You’re going to have to interact with them. 5 minutes before you want them to be done, you have to sit next to them and ask them to explain what’s going on in the game. This helps them bridge the gap between reality and game. And yes,  you need to tell them that there’s a timer and they will be done soon – but you have to hold their virtual hand and get them back to reality.