Did you know there are 171,476 words in the English dictionary? Or that there are 6,909 different ways to say them?
In our world, words matter.
As an infant, we talk to babies the second they are born. They can’t understand what we’re saying, but every word we say matters.
Before you can respond with words, we gave encouragement so you could act. First, it was trying to help you roll over. That gave way to grabbing a toy just out of reach. The grand finale of your first year was taking that first step. You can’t imagine the encouragement we gave. If we had them, we would have been jumping up and down with pom-poms!
There is no way you can remember those words. But imagine, what would have happened if we never gave a single word of encouragement? Worse yet, what would have happened if we did the opposite and told you over and over that you couldn’t do it?
Every parent hopes your first words are “Mumma” and “Dadda.” There is no sweeter sound as a parent. It fills you with joy.
This phenomenon never changes. A person’s favourite word is their name. They will hear it a million times, but it will never get old. The small act of remembering a name will earn you more respect and gratitude than you could imagine.
“Please” and “thank you” are good ones, too. In one breath, these words send a message to the world. They tell the other person you are polite and respectful – or the complete opposite.
Words have the power to change. They can transform a person into a better version of themselves or they can send someone down a dark hole.
Growing up, my family, friends, coaches and mentors were always encouraging me. It’s impossible to say what I would have achieved without those words of support. I may not have consciously paid much attention to those words back then, but I can see the importance of them now.
There was a famous experiment by a Japanese scientist, Masura Emoto. He wanted to see if the energy of words had an impact on water. When pure water freezes it creates a beautiful ice crystal. If there is pollution in the water, it will form an ugly clump.
In his experiment, he took pure water and poured it into a container with labels that read “I hate you” or “fear”. A day later that frozen water was a grey blob, not a beautiful crystal.
Then he took polluted water and put it in containers labelled “I Love You” and “Peace.” A day later the frozen water showed off a perfect crystal shape.
If words can have such an impact on water, what can they do to us? And don’t forget, we are all made up of 60 per cent water. (Side note: you can see more about this experiment in the movie What The Bleep Do We Really Know!?)
By focusing on positive words you can have an unimaginable impact on yourself and others…
In life, I’ve found you only speak to two different people. The first is yourself and the second is everyone else. When it comes to yourself, I’m talking about that inner voice. The voice that tells you something looks great or something looks dumb. The voice that says you can crush a challenge or the one that tells you there is no way. Whatever you tell yourself, you are going to listen. We all believe what we continue to hear, regardless of where it comes from.
I’ve met plenty of people out there that don’t want me to succeed and will say things to tear me down. It can be hard to ignore them. The good news is I always have a friend in myself. I try to always be on my side. I try to always be my biggest fan.
Whenever I was in doubt about a job or task I had, I would give myself a pep talk. And since I was doing all the talking, no one could talk back. I would remind myself of all that I’ve done to that point. I would tell myself that I can do this.
I see now that I can create any image I want of myself. I may not get encouragement from others, but I can at least get it from myself.
You have to look out for negativity. It is a cancer. I try my best to push anything negative out of my life. That could be worry, negative habits, negative people, negative thoughts or even my own negative words.
The opposite is true as well. By focusing on positive words you can have an unimaginable impact on yourself and others.
Words can take someone that is on the verge of quitting and push that one extra step. Words can help teams unlock creativity and achieve more than they could alone.
As humans, we love to talk. Words come fast and easy. This can be a good thing or bad. There are plenty of times I’ve said something I immediately regretted. Benjamin Franklin sums it up this way: “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
Since this lesson is about words, I want to leave you with a few more. I want you to know:
You are capable
You are strong
You are confident
You are honest
You have integrity
You are respectful
You are adventurous
You are gentle
You are persistent
You are funny
You are beautiful
You are caring
You are hardworking
You are intelligent
You are a great friend
You can achieve anything you want
The words slammed into me like a baseball bat. Shocked and shaken to my core, I quietly sat; not daring to say another word. I could feel the words still floating around the room – watching me, waiting for me to say something else so it could remind me again. A voice, deep inside spurred me, poking me: “Come on, man! Fight back! Do it for love… do it for you!”
But I remained silent.
I’ve always found it odd how there are times I can’t recall what I did in a single day, yet I can remember back to a single moment in my past and recall it in such vivid detail. Maybe it’s because of the impact it had on me, or that I still carry around the invisible scar these words left behind. Or, maybe I’m making too much of it, and it’s just how our brains work. But I will always remember this day – this conversation, for the rest of my life.
It was Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010. My wife of almost a year had just levelled me with the same impact as what I assume a punch from Mike Tyson feels like. Luckily, my wife does not hit like Mike Tyson, or anyone for that matter, but her words… that’s another story altogether.
If you know anything of women from New England, you won’t find it that surprising. Most people from that area have a certain something about them, in their speech and delivery, that can put you on dream street (not in a good way) real fast. On top of that, my wife is highly educated, so confidence is not in short supply.
We were watching MSNBC, and they were discussing the news that former Vice President Al Gore and his wife of 40 years, Tipper Gore, were divorcing. I was floored; saddened at the thought of love losing yet again. I exclaimed I couldn’t believe this was happening; they seemed so in love. How could you be in love with someone, high school sweethearts, and then wed for 40 years, and just quit?
And then it happened. My wife of 11 months, the woman I just returned home from celebrating a delayed (but worth it) honeymoon in Barbados with, said something, that looking back now, definitely contributed to everything that would transpire over the next 8 years.
“Uhhh, so what?!? Love is not enough!”
Delivered with a heavy dose of matter-of-fact, a smidgen of annoyance, a pinch of dismissive attitude and sprinkle on some insulting laughter for taste, and VOILA! You have a husband, emotionally reeling on the couch; questioning everything he knows… or thought he did.
But that’s OK, because she wasn’t talking about us. We had love. Our love was enough.
I have always been a bit naive when it comes to matters of the heart. I will be the first to admit, I’m a hopeless romantic, and before I met my wife, I was more hopeless than romantic. I was never one to have much luck with woman. I have never been assertive or confident. I was never the guy who walked up to a woman and hit on her. But on the occasions that the universe found fit to bring love into my life, I was in… all in.
It was no different with my wife. I fell fast, and hard… she did not. I respected that she wanted to take things slow. She shared stories of past relationships where she was hurt, and didn’t want to have that happen again. It also made sense the more I got to know her. She was calculated; almost methodical in her thought process before making a decision… it made choosing what she wanted to eat, or movie to see, super-fun, let me tell you.
She eventually said she felt what I felt; though, I have always had my doubts. I can’t say I really ever felt love “from” her; at least not the way I loved her – true, deep, passionate, to-the-ends-of-the-universe love. But, I also understand that I’m a very open kind-of person; almost gregarious in a way. Some might find it smothering. The amount of love I send out in a relationship is only rivalled by the amount I’m looking for in return – an unfortunate side effect of a child raised by an emotionally/mentally abusive mom. That’s a tall order for anyone to fill – and unfair, too. It definitely took its toll on my wife, and for that I am sorry.
You keep thinking that love will be enough, until one day, you turn around, and it isn’t…
Don’t misunderstand me; I do believe my wife loved me, but it always felt, only so much. Like she was rationing it out. I guess the more apt thing to say would be that I’m not sure she was ever “In love with me”. But, it was going to be OK, because…
We had love. Our love was enough.
Life together eventually found us uprooting from where we met; my home of 30 years, San Diego, CA, and moving all the way across the country to a place neither of us had ever lived – Washington DC. I didn’t want to move. I wasn’t ready to leave my life behind, but I didn’t want to lose the woman I had fallen madly in love with… and I knew she was going, with or without me. I feared what each day would bring. How long could I hold off the depression? Would I be able to make it out here in DC? No friends, no family, no idea about anything. I just had one person… and she was quickly growing tired of my leaning on her. But, it was going to be OK, because…
We had love. Our love was enough.
You keep thinking that love will be enough, until one day, you turn around, and it isn’t. Or, at least you think that, because the person you love, constantly reminds you your love is not enough. Allow me to clarify…
I’m in no way saying my wife walked around every day announcing my love wasn’t enough. In fact, there are plenty of times she boosted me up, and supported me. Hell, that’s the main reason I really wanted to win Dad Blog of the Year at Mom 2.0; I wanted to thank her… she was my first fan, and that will always mean a lot to me.
But, eventually, you start to notice the feeling of love is just a little bit less than it was the day before. The annoyed tone in how you talk to each other seems to be increasing. Bickering has turned into exchanges of mean comments. You notice their level of tiredness has increased, and bedtime seems to always come right after the kids are in bed. You don’t share the same laughs together anymore. Date nights are all but a thing of the past. At least when they do happen, you make sure to post on social media how happy you are; you know, to fertilize the grass and all.
Then things go to another level. The mean comments become hurtful stabs. Someone uses something from the other’s past to shame them. Someone makes a hurtful comment about the other’s appearance, or makes constant jokes about the other’s family.
We did all these things to each other, and more… but why? Why wasn’t love enough then? Why did love fail us when we needed it most? Maybe she was right: love isn’t enough. Maybe it never was.
That’s not fair. This isn’t love’s fault. Love didn’t insult us. Love never told us we were unworthy of it, or unlovable. Love didn’t prevent either of us from getting the help we needed early on, or abandon us when we needed it the most.
No, love was always there, and it still is. When my wife said those fateful words, all those years ago, she was wrong, but she was also right.
Love isn’t the be-all, end-all of a relationship. Just like the day you get married is not the end of the race. It’s not the goal. It’s the starting point. Everything else was training just to get to the starting line. Love is the foundation; the slab if you will, that your house (relationship) is built on. It’s enough to be what you need it to be. If you want to build that house, cool… but you have to put in the work. If you want to stop at the slab, that’s cool…you’re just gonna be cold outside. So keeping each other warm and safe will take work too. It’s all work. It takes tons of work.
Sometimes the house burns down, but that’s not the slab’s fault. The slab is there to tell you, “Hey, sorry about your house, but I’m still here. I’ll always be here, just in case you want to start over. I’m enough.”
But, what happens when the slab gets damaged? Sometimes it’s a little damage, and sometimes it a lot of damage. And you have to decide if you really want to fix that slab. But, it’s not that slab’s fault. It did its job… it was enough.
Our slab broke about six years ago, and unfortunately, it seems we weren’t honest with each other about the amount of work we were doing to repair it – or, sadly, the desire to even try and fix it. And over that time, we did plenty of more damage. But, everything would be OK, because…
We had love… oh, wait.
April 11th, 2018. I said the words I never thought I would say. I told my wife I wanted a divorce. It was the hardest thing I have ever said in my entire life. I’m crying right now as I type this. We no longer had love. Our foundation had become nothing but rubble, and it was clear to me, my wife had given up on me.
I don’t know where to go from here. I literally have no idea what I’m doing. I person I fell madly in love with (to me) no longer exists. And while I can only speak for myself, I assume she feels similarly about the person she loved all those years ago.
The weeks since I said I was leaving have been… well, strained at best. There are moments of peace, but more often than not, it’s a lot of tension. But, that’s to be expected.
I’m sure people will ask why now. The reason is… I’m 40 years old, and I have come to realise that I don’t love myself. In fact, I have a very low opinion of myself. And a great deal of that is because the person who said they would love me forever and convinced me that it was OK to trust and love again when they met me, gave up on me… and when they did, they went the same route that others had when they too tired of me. Some of that I get; I had not been doing the work to take care of myself, until the last couple of years… but I guess it was too late. I just wish she would have told me sooner – or continued to believe in me like I always have in her.
In case you find yourself wondering if I have any regrets. The answer is no. Because, although it may sound cheesy, I truly believe I am the person I am today (stronger, wiser, in better shape), because of those very hurtful situations. Plus… my kids came out of those too… and I love those two like no tomorrow.
Although, I will say if there is one regret, it’s that all this will make Her feel like she was right. No, not her…Her. The Her, before she became Her as well.
The Her that left the following message on my cell phone the night before I was married:
Hello Michael, we hope your wedding day is beautiful tomorrow, even though you have chosen to abandon all your “real” family for those people. That’s right; we’re your real family, and you know it. So, enjoy this time. Enjoy these moments, because they won’t last. You’ll never be one of them. They don’t even like you. She’ll throw you away like the trash you are, as soon as she’s done with you.
Mum always did have a way with words.
But, she’s not right. Well, some of it was right… but not the important parts. I am not being thrown away; I refuse to let anyone have that kind of power over me anymore. My wife may have given up on me, but I’m the one leaving. I’m closing this book in my life… not just a chapter, but the entire book up this point. Because I let everyone else write it, and in doing so, allowed them (including my wife), to tell me who I was, and what my worth was, or how little it was.
I’m starting a new book… a better one. One where I can say I’m proud of me; where I alone determine my own worth. Where I surround myself with people who actually want to be in my life, but most importantly… where I’m happy.
Thanks for reading all this. I hope you are still here for the next journey because something tells me… it’s only going to get better.
Mike Cruse is the man behind the popular blog Papa Does Preach (The Ramblings of a Father Just Making It Up As I Go Along). This article has been republished with permission.
To read The Dad Website’s interview with Mike, click here.
One of the things we talk about my Dare2Dadgroup workshops is that we only have 168 hours in a week. Nobody gets more time, nobody gets less. We all have the same. Therefore, it is important that we are intentional with our time and our attention. Whatever it is that we give our attention to, grows. Whenever I start focusing on something, it seems like that very thing grows along with my inner voice. That little voice that may start to assume, react and create stories that are far from reality. If we could truly understand how powerful our minds are, we would never feed it another negative thought, ever again.
My favorite motto has become: We don’t own our first feeling, but we do own our first action.
Here’s an example – this is usually how it begins for me…
Let’s say I have this great idea to buzz out to Vegas! Hang in a pool cabana, bet some games in the sports book, have a great dinner and play some Blackjack. Immediately, I start having a conversation in my head that my wife Lisa will say, “Who’s going to watch the kids? Or are we already committed to taking them there?”
And then I answer her back – in my head! “Oh really, we can’t figure this out? Someone else can’t drive them to practice?”
And it goes on and on… inside my head.
Next thing you know, I start to feel angry. I am actually mad. I drive home, mumbling to myself, how Lisa never wants to do anything. I walk in the door and Lisa asks, “Hey, how was your day?” and I slam past her and say something like, “Ugh. Fine. But YOU never want to do ANYTHING.” Understandably, she is floored because she wasn’t part of the conversation in my head. But that feeling I was having, well, that was completely real.
Here is what I have learned. First and foremost, I need to honor that emotion – because it was real. But I can, and should, act my way out of that feeling. I don’t have to act upon it. I’ve started to do something called, “Opposite Action to Emotion”. And it works! If I go down this type of rabbit hole, I can act my way out of the feeling by doing the exact opposite. If I feel anger towards my wife, I find gratitude in her. Or if I feel ashamed about something and want to hide, I just blurt it out and own it.
If I have fear, I force myself to face it. And it actually changes the way I feel.
Remember, I talk to kids, athletes, parents, entrepreneurs, leaders, etc.. about this all the time. And I know it is so easy to say, but really hard to do. What I realized, is that it is hard only if you don’t take the time, in that moment, to honor your feelings.
I’ve started to do something called, ‘Opposite Action to Emotion’. And it works!
The other day, Lisa and I were in a little spat. Nothing huge, but again, I got angry. Coincidentally, I had just finished a workshop where I told the 10 participants that the next time they were angry, to make a grateful list about whomever they were angry at… and I bet it would change their emotion. So here I was, upset, and I knew I had to use opposite action to emotion. So I started to think about what I was grateful for Lisa for. But I kept coming back to, “No! I was right… I want my way… I don’t want to make a grateful list… I want her to tell me she’s sorry and that I am right!”
I sat there in my car… and I stewed… and I stewed… and each time I tried to redirect to gratitude, I just came back to anger. And so I stayed angry. For about 15 more minutes. And it was good, and it felt right, to honor my feelings. But then when I got home, I knew I owned my first action. So there in the driveway, I thought: “I am grateful for Lisa because she is always taking care of the house. I am grateful for Lisa because she is so loving towards our kids. And I am grateful for Lisa because she loves me unconditionally.”
And then it happened: I was no longer angry. I felt my feelings and I owned my actions. And it was tough. But by both honoring my feelings, and introducing opposite action to emotion – I was able to just, let it go.
Things like this take time – they take practice. How we’ve behaved and reacted for 40-plus years doesn’t change overnight. But you can start to improve daily. Be mindful of your feelings and how that affects your first action.
How do you deal with your emotions or the voices in your head that may assume the worst?
D.J. Rezac is a dad of five (including two sets of twins!), keynote speaker, parenting author and blogger and president of Dare2Dad, whose forums provide the motivation and tools dads need to win at home.
Becoming a parent for the first time simultaneously elicits so many different emotions. Pride, unbridled joy and optimism are feelings which new parents frequently cite, and it’s easy to understand and celebrate such positive sentiments.
But at the same time, new parents often state that they also become preoccupied with anxiety and fear. For the first time in their lives, they are entirely responsible for the wellbeing of a small and vulnerable person. While having a basic understanding of first aid does not guarantee that accidents won’t happen, it will give you the confidence to act in an emergency instead of merely panicking.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and all parents should go on at least one CPR course in their lifetime. CPR is used when someone is found to be unresponsive and not breathing, or they are found unresponsive and breathing abnormally. The aim is to preserve brain function and delay tissue death in the patient until professional medical help arrives. CPR is done through a combination of chest compressions, to restore a partial flow of oxygenated blood to the heart and brain, and artificial ventilation, where the person providing the CPR will exhale air into the patient’s nose or mouth or use a device that manually pushes air into the patient’s lungs.
CPR is modified for babies and small children. If you discover that your child or infant is unresponsive and not breathing, you should immediately call the emergency services and begin CPR.
Assess the baby’s response – if there is no response to your voice or touch, the baby is unconscious.
Clear and open the airway – turn the baby into the recovery position on the side and sweep one finger through the front of the mouth to remove any solid or loose matter.
Check for breathing – look for movement of the chest and listen for escaping air from the baby’s mouth or nose.
If the baby is NOT breathing normally – find the middle of the chest and identify the notch where the ribs meet in the centre. Mark this notch with your index finger and place two fingers just above it.
Compress the sternum – keep your fingertips on the chest to exert downward pressure through the sternum without any pressure on the rib cage, maintain these compressions at the rate of approximately 100-120 per minute until 30 compressions.
Rescue Breathing – take a small breath in and seal the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth. Puff gently into the baby’s mouth until the chest rises. Remove your mouth from the baby’s face and turn your head sideways to listen to the escape of air and watch the chest empty. When the chest is empty, repeat these steps one more time to give a total of two puffs, allowing about one second for each one.
Resuscitation should continue until:
the baby recovers
qualified help arrives and takes over care of the baby
an authorised person pronounces that life is extinct
the first aider is unable to continue, usually due to exhaustion
Get the right gear
Dads love nothing more than getting their hands on new gear. Whether it’s fishing tackle or gadgets for the car, there’s something inherently fun about purchasing expert equipment. Take this preparedness and desire to be up-to-date and organised and apply it to your own home and children by getting family First Aid kits. It’s a good idea to have one smaller, more compact kit to keep in the car, and a larger, extensive kit that you can store at home. The best retailers will provide a Family First Aid bundle type offer, that usually consists of two car kits and a large house kit. This way, you’ll always have a supply of essentials like bandages, swabs and saline close to hand for cuts, bites and other common accidents.
Learn how to deal with choking
While you can’t get a child to eat a piece of broccoli, just watch how quick they are to put Lego or rocks (or basically any foreign object!) into their mouth. Learning how to respond to your child or baby choking is an invaluable piece of First Aid knowledge.
If the choking child is conscious, bend them well forward and give five firm (but not harmful) blows with the heel of your hand in between their shoulder blades. Check to see if the object has become dislodged after each blow. If unsuccessful, give five chest thrusts by placing your hand on the middle of their back for support, and the heel of your other hand on the lower part of their breastbone. Check to see if the object has become dislodged with each thrust. For a conscious choking baby, place them on your lap or forearm with their head lower than their body and administer back blows with less force than you would use on a child.
Survival Emergency Solutions is one of Australia’s leading providers of first aid products for the home, workplace, vehicle and outdoors. Their Emergency First Aid Handbook is the only book to win the Australian Design Award and has sold over two million copies.
As a psychologist, father and The Genius of Play expert, I love what I do and feel blessed to see kids show me who they are, what they feel, and what they are learning through the manner in which they approach play. Through their innocence, children’s actions during play can be an expression of their inner selves or what they have seen in their environment.
What I often observe in my work with families is that parents want to correct, steer, punish or even ignore what their child may be offering through the language of play. I encourage parents and caretakers to observe and participate in playtime. According to The Genius of Play, a national movement to encourage more play in children’s lives, research shows that play is not only critical to healthy child development—it’s an important teaching tool. Through play, kids build physical skills, improve cognitive abilities, learn communication and social skills, process and express emotions, increase creativity, and more.
One of the biggest challenges I see is that parents don’t really know how to play with their kids, and dads especially, can fall into the rough and tumble, sports, or teasing category and not be sure how to move beyond that. It’s important for fathers to be involved in their children’s playtime and here are a few tips:
Allow your child to lead the activities while observing how he or she interacts and taking note of recurring themes and favorite forms of play.
If issues or conflict presents itself in their communication to you, see if you can help them find solutions.
Most importantly, let their imagination run free, be fully present in the moment and enjoy your time together!
Playing games is another great way for dads to interact with their children, as it allows you to gain a better understanding of how your kids approach life. Games provide insight into your child’s persistence, resilience, values and sense of fairness, impulsivity and planning ability while letting you model the behaviors you would like to see from them. Furthermore, games are a way to teach life lessons about taking risks and reaping rewards or consequences of those risks, through planning and observing, anticipating the moves of others, and even winning and losing with grace, honor and dignity. For even more info on all the benefits that games provide check out this article I wrote for The Genius of Play.
As your kids grow older, it may take creativity on your part to keep them engaged, but you never have to stop playing. The games may change, but the relationship can keep growing and the memories will last a lifetime.
About Dr. Erik Fisher is The Genius of Play Ambassador, licensed psychologist, author, media consultant, and public speaker. “Dr.E” has helped thousands of adults, children, families, and couples develop healthy life perspectives and relationships. You can follow him on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, and The Genius of Play on Facebook.
National Grilling Month kicks off in the US on July Fourth! But before you throw on the burgers or light that sparkler, here are some grilling and fireworks safety tips to help you enjoy the holiday weekend even more.
Practice Good Grilling Habits
Keep a distance: Set your grill up at a safe distance away from structures and overhangs, including your main building, shed, garage, trees and other potentially flammable objects. Don’t set up your grill inside, under a tent, outdoor awning or carport. Doing so can pose a serious fire hazard and potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re using a gas grill. Also, be sure to light your grill using special long-length lighters or long matches to avoid getting burned.
Always keep an eye on your grill: Never leave an actively burning grill unattended. Wait until it has completely cooled off before you cover, store or walk away from it. If children are near, be sure to keep all ignition sources out of the reach from them to ensure no one gets hurt.
Keep your grill clean: Be sure to regularly maintain your grill and clean thoroughly as this will reduce flammable buildup inside.
Be Aware of Proper Charcoal Grill Safety
Limit how much charcoal you use: Don’t pile too much inside since it could cause ashes and sparks to become airborne, possibly catching nearby objects or even your home on fire.
Use starter fluid only as necessary: Be sure that your starter fluid is specifically designed for charcoal. Only apply it to cold coals before you grill. Do not add extra fluid once the grill is lit as flames could get too high, resulting in possible burns or an uncontained fire.
Dispose of your ashes properly: Empty your used ashes only when they have fully cooled and never store or dispose of them in a garbage can or leave them on a deck. It’s best to dump them on garden soil or contain them in a metal receptacle for proper disposal.
Use Your Gas Grill Wisely
Before anything else, open the grill lid: Opening the lid before lighting is important as this allows oxygen to escape and reduces the risk of fire or a potential explosion.
Check the grill’s gas line and tank fittings for leaks: You can do this regularly by brushing soapy water around these areas. If you see bubbles emerge, there could be a leak somewhere. Be sure to replace any damaged or leaking parts and make any other needed repairs before using the grill.
Turn off your grill correctly: Always turn off your grill using the controls first; then close off the gas line at the tank. Doing so will help ensure that any excess gas can escape safely.
Firework Safety for Kids
Supervise children: Do not let children light their own fireworks or play near fireworks alone. Always remind children to tell an adult if they see another child breaking the rules as this can result in an accident.
Point sparklers away: Hold sparklers away from the body and away from other people.
No touching: Do not let children touch firework pieces on the ground, even after they explode.
Pet Fireworks Safety
Prepare ahead of time: Prepare a cozy crate or room where you can close the door and know they’re safe during fireworks. Also, be sure your phone number is visible on a tag and keep your pets microchipped with updated information in case they do get scared and manage to run away.
Play before the party: It’s a good idea to play with your pet ahead of time that way, they’re ready to relax when it’s time to crate them.
Do not disturb: Tell any guests not to disturb your pets, their crate or their room. Put a sign on doors as a reminder.
Ask a vet: Consult your veterinarian if you need options to sedate your pets if you know they are high-strung.
Additional fireworks safety tips are available through here.
Nothing spoils outdoor plans like cold, blustery weather, particularly for kids who thrive in an open-air environment. When considering how to keep your children occupied while indoors, sitting them in front of the computer may be the last thing on your mind — especially considering statistics suggest kids are already spending two hours a day on their mobile screens as it is.
However, the internet is a virtual goldmine of fun, yet educational activities for mind, body, and spirit. Who knows? You just may be able to change the way kids utilize their screen time even when the weather conditions are perfect.
Making Math and Science Fun
Unless your kid is a true enthusiast, math and science are rarely associated with the word “fun,” yet it’s not an impossible concept to grasp once textbooks are swapped for engaging projects and experiments that showcase reasoning applicable in everyday life. For example, a lesson plan that educates young girls about world-renowned female architects while giving them the tools and knowledge to design their version of Barbie’s dream house. Or, you can put together a simple science experiment that involves making a glass of lava. The purpose of these activities is not to replace school education. Instead, these projects make it easier to understand the subject matter, as it’s presented in a more relatable manner.
Head to a Virtual Summer Camp
Kids and summer camp go hand-in-hand, especially in the US, but there’s no reason to wait until the warmer temperatures kick in to enjoy many of the activities that make the experience both fun and educational. Virtual camps make it possible for youngsters to partake of enriching activities such as coding (think making their own emojis and GIFs), hands-on art classes, music tutorials, food exploration (a good one if you have either a picky eater or aspiring chef), reading, and much more. While some camps are free, others have a fee — but it’s a good investment, as your kids can get some mileage out of it for more than one dreary afternoon alone.
Learn a Foreign Language
There are copious benefits to learning a foreign language at a young age, including improved test scores in core concepts, elevated abilities in their native tongue, increased ability to empathize, and prevention of age-related cognitive decline. Learning a new language also trains the ear to learn music better, improves career opportunities (and salary) down the line, makes traveling more fulfilling, promotes cultural awareness, and increases out-of-the-box thinking. Along with the language itself, online courses teach kids about people, places, and cultural nuances that make a country unique.
De-Stress with Yoga
Make no mistake: Yoga is not just an adult activity. In fact, given its stress-busting benefits, it’s perfect for kids, too. Along with obvious stressors like homework, school, and peer-related issues, other factors that have children frazzled include divorce and world news. The YouTube yoga videos geared towards youngsters are shorter, easier, and less “Zen-like” than those for adults, but the benefits are still the same.
Transforming the way your kids view the internet can feel like a challenge at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you may find that it’s easier to do than making severe restrictions on their usage. Encourage them to become inspired by what they see online versus becoming completely absorbed by it. For example, perhaps they can compose a song, develop a hobby, or be a part of the conversation in a positive way by live-tweeting about a cause that’s close to him or her. The breadth of information your kids have access to these days is both a blessing and a curse, so make a dubious effort to steer them in the right direction. You’ll also notice that your efforts come in handy during the summer on rainy days.
Chances are you’re among the many who have thought about switching to a smartwatch. And fair enough, too.
It can send emails and tell you what the weather will be next Tuesday. It can tell reveal your current heart rate and whether you need to walk a few more laps around the office in order to make your daily step count. Yet, although your smartwatch might make you appear more tech-forward, many would argue it is not doing anything for your personality or first impression.
A white paper released by the University of Lancaster and York, UK, which compared personality traits between individuals that wear conventional wristwatches against ones that do not, raised some interesting points. The results showed that those who wore traditional watches not only showed higher levels of conscientiousness but also arrived significantly earlier to appointments.
But how can this be?
With all the exciting features, you would assume that increased productivity would be a given. This, however, is not the case. Due to all the distractions that having a watch connected to your social media accounts brings, smartwatches have been shown to decrease productivity. In addition, due to their poor battery life, many people found their devices dying on them when they needed them most. Meaning, many waste time charging their accessories just to tell the time.
So why is everyone buying them, you ask? Well, they’re not.
Although wildly popular when entering the market, it didn’t take long before the early success stories began to disappear. Often labelled as “underwhelming and overpriced”, the main reasons for the quick disinterest could be linked back to bulky size, high price and that the functionality was too limited for what you were paying for. The sales of smartwatches, as reported by the International Data Corporation (IDC), have dropped by 32% on a year-by-year basis, whilst the sales of Fitbits have dropped by nearly half in the last quarter, from 5.7 million to 3.4 million devices.
Traditional watches are back!
The good news? Traditional watches are back! And not only will they get you to your meetings on time and catch the eye of your boss, but they also will not restart on you, need an iOS update or tell you to get up from your desk to ensure you hit that daily steps quota. What else could you want in a watch?
Adina Watches’ General Manager Grant Menzies argues that while smartwatches have changed the watch-making game, there is a notable resurgence of traditional and analogue watches. “Smartwatches have been growing in popularity over the last few years, but this has actually benefited us to a degree – people are now looking for unique timepieces with a strong story in order to stand out from the masses,” he says.
“We’ve always been handcrafting our watches and have even produced industry-specific watches that cater to deep-diving, mining and even extreme mountaineering. And, on the back of this, we have actually had the opportunity to produce three bespoke watches that accompanied the Ascent Himalayas Team on their Mt Lhotse and Mt Everest ascent last year. Tell, me how many smartwatches can claim that?”
A smartwatch, if you flick your wrist in just the right way, may tell you the time and how many unopened emails you have backed up. However, many, including Mr Menzies, would argue that they will never live up to the aesthetic style and character analogue watches bring when worn.
So next time you find yourself in the market for a new watch, remember to ask yourself what it is actually for before you rush toward the latest gadget watch. Do you really need another hi-tech distraction or just a time-iron, in which case, there is not much that can stand up to a good old quality watch. Tick-tock!
Although my husband and I both have disabilities, we still make it a point to be active so we can be positive, healthy role models for our two wonderful children. We’re very fortunate that we’re a team and can therefore trade off kid-watching duties when one of us wants to squeeze in a workout.
Unfortunately, many single parents – regardless of their abilities – have to work a little harder to fit in some exercise.
Whenever the topic of exercise comes up, single parents throw their hands in the air and say, “I would love to, if I could only find the time!”
Does that sound like you? If so, then we know how you feel. Raising kids takes tons of time and loads of energy, leaving you short on both when the day is done. But never fear. In this post, we’ll share proven ways to squeeze an energizing workout into your schedule.
Turn Your Work Commute Into Aerobic Activity
Take a tip from top fitness trainer Monica Vasquez and run to and from your job. Monica gets so wrapped up in helping others to stay fit that she finds herself starved for workout time. So she stuffs her essentials into a fanny pack and jogs back and forth instead. Not only does she get a great workout, she often shaves time off her commute!
Or, Turn Your Walks with Fido into a Workout
Commuting to and from work by foot isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you have a dog, you can’t neglect taking him for daily walks. By adding a few calorie-burning moves into your outings, you’ll squeeze in a quick and fun workout. If you don’t have a pup of your own, you could even consider offering dog walking or dog boarding services to your neighbors. You can earn a little extra money while getting in a daily dose of exercise, and it’s an easy activity to get your kids involved in to help keep them in shape.
Sneak in a Run During Nap Time
A jogging stroller is a great way to get in a brisk workout while your little one snoozes, according to Runner’s World. Here are some tips for choosing the right model:
Look for a unit with a wheel brake. This feature is especially useful in you live in a hilly area. It can protect your child while removing stress from your downhill trek.
Make sure the stroller has an adjustable sun canopy to protect your little one’s skin from the sun.
Consider buying a model with a turning front wheel if your route winds around curves.
Recruit Your Kids Into Your Own Private Fitness Camp
One option for finding time to exercise is to involve the kids in the project. Have a touch football game in the backyard, throw a flying disc, or put together an outdoor obstacle course. Make the activities fun as well as invigorating. This is a great way to enjoy a little togetherness while getting in shape.
Redeem Your Lost Time
Tally up how much time you spend during the average day chatting, casually surfing the net, and staring at a TV screen. Each of these activities represents time you could put to another use, such as exercising. Give it a try, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much time you actually have. Or you might combine your workout with another activity you enjoy. Using a door-frame pull-up bar while listening to music is one idea.
Make Your Lunch Break a Time for Fitness
Here’s an idea from the health experts at the Mayo Clinic: get together with some co-workers and turn your lunch or dinner time into a fitness break. Set a group objective, such as losing “x” number of pounds by a given date. If you reach your goal, then treat yourselves to a nice dinner or some spa time. This is a great way to stay motivated while you shed the pounds.
Use a Fitness Tracker
Wristwatch-style fitness trackers are all the rage these days – and for good reason. These products can record your heart rate, monitor your blood pressure, and even reward you with a virtual “attagirl” or “attaboy” when you meet your targets. There’s no better way to make the most of your fitness time. Many smartwatches incorporate key features of fitness trackers while offering added services like on-demand music and full Web access.
Choose an Active Hobby
Everyone needs a pastime to stimulate the mind. Why not give your body a little stimulus while you’re enjoying your hobby? Options like basketball, bike riding, and ballroom dancing can build coordination while doing wonders for your physical health as well.
Exercise is one of the smartest investments you can make. You’ll find yourself with more energy, a brighter outlook, and a clearer, sharper mind, all great qualities for a parent to have. So make some time today for physical activity, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Ashley Taylor is a mother of two and founder of DisabledParents.org, a website that provides information and resources to other parents with disabilities.