"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
A dash of spice here, a mix of ingredients there, and we are whipping up something tasty. Now you may not associate cooking with being adventurous, but that where you could be mistaken. Some of the easiest adventure to have on a weekly basis are with food. I recently read an article that said children that are encouraged to eat more adventurously will, in turn, take that adventure out into their lives. Which for me is a definite parenting win and enough to make me want to get them trying new thing when we cook or when we decided to eat out.
So how do you become a more adventurous eater? Well, no need to go crazy straight out the gate. Adding some cauliflower into your mac and cheese or putting some turmeric in your scrambled eggs can be a great small start to change it up. At our house we all sit down for breakfast on Saturday morning and before even writing a grocery list decide what kind of food we want to eat the next week. One day Indian curry, one day pizza, one day Asian stir fry and so it goes until we have all our days filled up. Then with some google researching we jot down our ingredients and head out to the grocery store.
When we are eating out we try to look for places to eat that might be different skipping burgers for curry or fish and chips for sushi. Why not try that new vegan restaurant that just opened up in town (all the food in the picture below is a vegan restaurant in Banff). Maybe it's not even the food that's really different but the way you eat it, only using chopsticks or eating with your fingers.
Now, like I say, back in your own kitchen if you are just starting out then maybe try switching it up one day a week, then two, then three. Don't be afraid to change up recipes you find to make them more your own. Our girls find some Indian curry to hot so I leave out the chili or just add a little. Now they love putting in the colorful spices and mixing everything up then gobbling it down once its ready. You see, at home, it's not just the eating of this food that's adventurous. The making of it is usually different as well. We learnt how to make sushi from a you tube video. So now our girls love picking out what to put in their own rolls. Sometimes their combinations actually make us more adventurous for trying them.
If its one meal a month to inject some adventure into your world then do it. You might find it leads to big changes in your kids and your own outlook. So why not switch a meal this week for something new or turn that Friday night cheese pizza into a Greek pizza. It could be the start of a new adventure for all of you.
1. Raising Brave Girls, Encouraging Adventure By Caroline Paul
2. Teaching Girls Bravery, Not Perfection by Reshma Saujani
3. Lets Raise Kids To Be Entrepreneurs by Cameron Halt
4. 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do By Gever Tulley
5. For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar By Jennifer Senior
I recently saw a post by a new dad (1 month in) who was feeling debilitated by the lack of sleep he was getting. It made me think of my first months as a dad and coping with the combination of little sleep and having to function as a dad and a member of society. So I thought it would be good to put down some the the things I used to help push through, and come to terms with that period of sleep deprivation.
1. Be A Team
You don't have to do it alone. If you are offered help don't try to be a hero. Usually the people offering the help have been in the same position as you and know what it feels like. If no one offers then ask for help. Taking help even for an hour can give you chance to rest and regroup. You will be surprise how much better you feel.
2. Short Naps
Don't be afraid to take power naps. When you are sleep deprived taking a 20 minute nap can feel like you slept for days. Don't be afraid to sleep wherever too. I have slept on the floor of airport terminals, in the car at lunch and in a toddlers bed. If the opportunity arises take it, you can even trade off between you and your partner to grab a short snooze. Why should you be the only one enjoying the comfy floor at gate 23, terminal 2. Lastly, try to sleep when your baby sleeps. So if they're going to bed at 7, you go too, and try to grab some catch up sleep.
3. Eat Smart
Eating is a great tool to combat sleep deprivation. A good breakfast with protein, whole grain and fruit will give you a good start. Try to stay away from to much high sugar or high caffeine food or drinks. When you'r feeling tired its easy to grab them but the short term high is followed by a long low that will make your tiredness even worse. Try eating smaller balanced meals and often. Avoiding large heavy meals will stop you getting into a food coma. We got a toasted sandwich maker. throw in bread and a filling and close it. In a couple of minutes you have a sealed snack that you can eat on the go. It was a literal life saver and to this day is one of the best parenting hack i have been given.
4. Forget The Extras
A big cause of unneeded loss of sleep is taking on too much. If you are already stretched out with a new child and lack of sleep don't take on extra tasks. Stick to what you have and whats important right now. There will be time to do lots of extras when you are more rested and sleeping more than a couple of hours a night (if you're lucky).
5. Get Out In The Sun
If you're feeling sleep deprived sunlight is great. So put you baby in a stroller get out for a walk for while. If you are at work try to eat your lunch outside or take a five minute walk. If it's winter bundle up and still take that walk you'll be glad you did.
6. Don't Use The Snooze
This is the hardest one for me for sure. If you have somewhere to be and set and alarm to wake you up DON'T USE SNOOZE. You will feel better just getting straight up, partly because and half sleep after snooze probably won't help you and mostly because there is nothing worse than being stressed because you are late when your are already low on sleep. The physical and mental stress of sleep deprivation is enough, don't add an extra layer.
7. Stay Hydrated
Just like eating, staying hydrated is important. Keep a water bottle around and drink from it often. Don't wait to feel thirsty, by then it's already a game of catch up.
8. Chunk Your Time
Time chunking is something use a lot when i'm sleep deprived. For me thinking about the end goal can be an extreme strain mentally. If I have a bigger project I try to chunk it down into task that are mentally manageable. Then after each task take a break drink eat maybe and move to the next task. This
9. Fake It Until You Make It
Sleep deprivation is miserable, but thinking about how sleep deprived you are, is even worse. Decide to accept the misery and move on. Try to stay positive and work around your tiredness the more you do it the more chance it will stick.
10. Train For It
One of the best ways to push through sleep deprivation is to be comfortable with it and to get comfortable you have to put for that situation. I can say from personal experience, if you train yourself to cope with sleep deprivation before you really need it, it is definitely not as big a shock to the system. Now, I don't mean you have to sign up for hell week at the navy seals but definitely combining some late nights with early mornings, and planning tasks for those early mornings is a great start. The more you learn to perform even simple tasks in a semi sleep deprived state the easier that third baby change will be a month in at 2am.
'What do you want to impart to your children as they grow up ?'
This was a question I was recently ask. I answered that I hoped to teach my girls to be strong and confident and not to be held back by other's perceptions of limitations. That night and for the few days since I have thought about the question and my answer and if it could be boiled down to one words. Finally last night I realized that the word I was looking for was adventurous. I would like my girls to be adventurous.
Now adventurous can mean a host of things. When we think of the word adventurous it conjures up images of mountain top flag raising or deep sea cave diving usually but for me its not just these amazing feats it always boils down to a simple equation, Curiosity + Bravery = Adventurous.
Now this seems like maybe a strange way to describe someone who is adventurous but let's think about it. First curiosity, now I always encourage both Lucy and Tilley to ask as many questions as they want about things they see, feel, or experience. In turn, being able to learn from these things makes them want to do more, feeding their curiosity. However sometimes they come up against things that make them feel a little 'scared' or 'uncomfortable'. Maybe they want to slide under the sofa but can only just fit and don't want to get stuck, or we are traveling in a new country and there is a different type of food they haven't tried, or they want to see what's at the top of a hike but are getting tired. Now this, for me, is where the next part of the equation comes in, bravery.
So what do I mean by bravery? Well when we talk about bravery it elicits powerful ideas of extraordinary feats but in actuality I think people can be brave everyday. Taking the plunge to try something new, to me, is being brave. Starting a new healthy diet or exercise program is brave. Speaking out when you don't want do something is brave. Trying a new food for dinner is brave. So when my girls are feel apprehensive about something new, giving them a little nudge and some support is actually helping them to be a little more brave each time.
So how does curiosity + bravery = adventurous. Well some people show bravery everyday, like firefighters or police officers, where others are deeply curious, like scientists. But, the combination of curiosity and bravery leads to adventurous discoveries. Now putting them together, having a question like 'can I squeeze under that tight gap in the sofa' or 'could I go skydiving' or 'I wander what Thailand looks like' and then acting on it by trying, going, experiencing, well, to me that sounds a lot like being adventurous. Adventurous people can simply be people who ask the same questions as everyone but after they ask them they decided to take that brave step of answering those question. So next time you or your kids come up with a question, maybe think about the equation and throw an extra little bit of adventure into your life. You never know, you could start with a trying a dragon fruit and end up skydiving, adventure can take you anywhere and that's one of the things i'm hoping to impart to both my daughters.
The smell of paint, the whiz of a drill and a sprinkling of sawdust can only mean one thing. Our back yard climbing wall project is going full tilt, and it's excitement all round. As an avid climber and having worked as a climbing instructor for many years obviously I love it that my kids are into climbing to. So this weekend we decided to upgrade a small climbing wall in the back yard to a cool double wall. I though it would be awesome to write this post in case anyone out there was thinking the same and needed a little inspiration or guidance. I also threw in a few money saving tips because who doesn't like a deal.
Step 1: Getting Materials is the first step to any project. We are using two sheets of outdoor plywood, paint, bag of 100 3/8 t-nuts, climbing holds (or things to stick on the wall), screws (to put the wall up), bolts (sized to t-nuts)
Next the tools. In this project I used a tape measure, sharpie, drill, 1/2 inch wood drill bit, small roller, paint spreader, hex key set and a hammer
Step 2: We used a a primer first then a stone effect paint/paste to cover our climbing wall just to give it some extra grip and also Sheena wanted it to look nice in the back yard almost like a architectural design piece in the corner.
Money saving tip: If you don't want to buy a stone effect paint you can use outdoor paint and mix in sand. Usually it's good to add in a cup of sand at a time to avoid the paint mixture getting to thick.
Step 3: After the your paint is dry its time to mark out where your holes will be. We put our wall on a fence that has a gap every 9 inches so ended up measuring our a grid of holes 5 rows high a 9 rows wide that would line up with the gaps on the fence.
Technical Tip: If you drill your holes in a grid pattern with more holes than you need, it leaves you open to change the position of hold anytime you feel like it. This can keep it fresh and fun plus adds to the ongoing excitement.
Step 4: When drilling the holes I usually go from front to back to avoid damaging the coating on the front. once they are all drilled flip over the sheet and hammer in your t-nuts.
Technical Tip: T-nut that fix the hold on are usually 3/8 inch and if you use a 1/2 inch drill bit the thread part goes in perfectly. If you find they are coming out I sometimes use glue to fix them to the back of the wall.
Step 5: Putting the climbing wall up can be done in loads of different ways. Depending on what you're fixing it to really instigates how it's done. For us, it's to the fence, so we don't have to worry about clearance when the bolts for holds are to long. If you're fixing it to a flat will you will need to use batons to give you the same clearance.
Money Saving Tip: Starting your wall 1-1.5 ft above the ground gives you more height and you will spend less on materials. These first 12-18 inches are rarely used by kids anyway.
Step 6: The best part of the whole project. Picking which hold goes where! You can either throw them all on randomly or use the colours to make routes to climb up. Our kids love picking out the hold from our box and making routes to climb. The more they are involve in this part the more they want to climb on it.
Money Saving Tip: We have climbing holds that you can get online or from an outdoor store but our first wall only had very few of these and lots of fun around the house part. We used door knobs, handles, hockey pucks, bits of wood and just screwed them or bolted them on. Its a cheap way of filling up your wall with hold and extremely fun to climb on.
So if you've been thinking of build a little adventure into your back yard, why not give it a go. Its endless fun and can be done in a weekend and last for years. If you are thinking of something indoors or more advanced then Metolious Climbing do a how to guide for more styles of climbing wall (click the link for the PDF) which is pretty comprehensive. As always if you have any question either head to the comments or shoot me an email. Good luck and happy climbing!
"bump, bump, whooaa, hahaha" Lucy laughs as she rides around the garden center sitting on the flat cart pretending to fall over. It's a beautiful summer day and as we stroll through the plants looking and smelling lavender for inspiration Lucy pipes up 'A Butterfly' and points to a small glass butterfly on a stick. She is memorized and the decision is made. This year we are planting a little butterfly garden.
Every summer in our small back garden we fill planter boxes with something interesting. Some years its strawberries, some years herbs and some years just flowers but this is the first time its been a butterfly garden. Now, I'm not a gardening expert by any means so grabbing someone who works at the garden center is my first step. The lady we talk to is unbelievably helpful and gives me a list of plants the should attract butterflies to our garden (I will list the plants at the end of this post don't worry). We meander through the rows of plants searching out the names, with Lucy and Tilley smelling each one that goes into the cart and analyzing the picture on the labels poked in the dirty.
With the car loaded with plants and potting soil we head back to begin our planting. Lucy gets her garden tools and Tilley just uses her hands to mix up our potting soil with some of the earth that's in the planters already. Each of the girls pick out plants one at a time to put in, and we scoop out holes, remove the plants from containers and place them in to the soil. Both girls pull the earth mix around the base and give it a little pat then onto the next one.
We fill the three planters with everything we have in the containers and stand back to admire our little project while Lucy waters them all. The girls have one last look and smell, then we all wash our hands under the chilly outdoor tap and sit down for a picnic on the deck by our new garden. Honestly I hope it brings some beautiful butterflies to our house, but really, even if it doesn't, our garden smells great and I got to spend the day having fun outside with my daughters. So for me the butterfly garden is already a huge success!
Just in case anyone was wondering, here are the plants the were suggest to me:
- Cotton Candy (buddleia Podaras)
-Butterfly Flower (asclepias incarnata)
Home and away its always really important to get lots of good fluids into your kids. Unfortunately sometimes its hard to get the right kind in. With it getting harder and harder to avoid sugary drink I though I would put down some things I use while travelling to keep my girls (1 &3) hydrated and happy.
One of the biggest things that I found has made my girls want to drink more water is something I would never have guess. Having a unique water bottle. We have a lifestraw one but there are loads out there with their own cool thing that can inspire kids to drink more. Lucy and Till will literally be clambering over each other to have a go at drinking from it when I take it out. Its also handy when we travel to places that the water might not be to good as well so double win!
Next we try and make drinking water a routine. Every time one person has a sip everyone has a sip or everyone drink a certain amount every time we eat (even snacks). When we are out hiking its every time we stop, even for just a minute everyone has a little drink. It gets not just the kids but also us into a routine of drinking more water, which is good for everyone.
Juice is a good change up especially as a breakfast treat but not good for the whole day so we try and go with hydration sachets. There are loads to choose from some taste good and some taste so salty its like a mouth full of ocean water. After trying a few i'm a fan of hydralite, it doesn't taste of salt or anything to much, obviously depending on how much water you mix it with. I mix a sachet with a liter and there is the faint taste of a flavor, just enough to know its there.
At the end of the day weather its water, juice or even milk getting and staying hydrated is one of the most important thing for ourselves and our kids to have a good normal day or vacation. So lets all drink up and get out there.
Scoop, pour, fill, stuff. Click, Click, Click. I snap the tops on the mini Tupperware boxes filled with different foods for the girls lunches. Fruit, one with olives and carrots, crackers, hummus and then a little bigger one for their main lunch. I'm definitely not a nutritionist but I am a dad, and what I pack up plays on my mind like a Rubik's cube of ingredients i'm trying to solve constantly.
Lucy and Tilley have been heading to school/daycare full days. This means navigating the treacherous waters of packed lunch. Am I packing enough food? Am I packing to much food? Am I covering the food groups? Are the teachers going to see that I was exhausted last night and just made Mr Noodles and added a dollop of pasta sauce. Even though for the most part I try to plan the girls lunches pretty well these things still go through my mind as I look down at their lunch and analyze what it contains. I will say some days I do just have to trow together and whirlwind lunch that probably could be better but that's the joy of parenting I guess and in my book as long as i'm not doing it everyday, who cares.
Our family eats mainly vegan diet and has done since a few months after Lucy was born. You would think this would make it harder to put together a balanced lunch for the girls but I'm seeing quite the opposite. Things that I see in the grocery store packaged up for kids lunches in snack size container with cheese and meat slices or covered in sugar aren't available to us any more. So I don't have to think about the nutritional value of a snack-able treat or pour over the back of the label to see whats in it. In fact most of the thing in their lunches have just a few ingredients at most. When I think about it i'm sure its easier packing vegan than not, at least for our family. I know countless none vegan or veggie families who rock a balanced lunch too, so don't take offence. As far as I'm concerned we are all looking out for our kids health whether its meatless, gluten free, meat full or just feeding them three square meals of cabbage (although I probably wouldn't suggest only cabbage). Kids that get fed are happy kids that have the energy to play and learn, and really that's all I want for my girls. To give the the fuel to get on with getting on.
Just in case you fancy trying a meatless, dairyless, eggless lunch for your munchkins here is how I pack my lunches. I try to stick to this simple plan for each lunch and seems to be going pretty well (also the mini boxes really help me portion out the right amount for the girls so that little if any of their lunch comes back home).
'Del Monte Quality, Guatemala, 4011' Lucy switches her gaze between me and the label she has peeled of the banana she is slowly devouring. After finishing she looks back up at me, stuff that last piece of banana in her mouth and with an 'OK' goes back about the business of being a 3 year old.
When Lucy was getting ready to come into the world, Sheena and myself were trying to devour copious amounts of information about child development and giving your kid a good start. From Brain Rules for Babies to The Wealthy Barber Returns we read, or listened to, as much as possible to help plan educationally, financially and emotionally for our kids arrival. When it came to talking it seemed like most places were throwing out 30,000 words a day for a toddler to hear which is around 12 million words by the time they reach the age of three and they are doing well.
So whats the plan? how many words is 30,000. Well its cat in the hat 18 times but that could get tedious. What about reading more adult books. Yes, but sometimes when i'm reading those its nice to just do it as my own time. So this is how we decided to do it. When Lucy was young, to young to talk we narrated everything. Cooking dinner, driving the car and even grocery shopping (yes we got many weird looks while having a conversation about bread with a baby). As she start to get mobile anything she brought to us we would read. The canned beans, the flyer from the newspaper and the label on an avocado. It was weird at first but then became a habit. I found myself unable to stop, 30,000 seemed like a breeze now. The best part was that because we were reading labels and flyers and pretty much everything to her, she was hearing an abundance of new words that we most likely wouldn't have used otherwise. This was, of course, on top of our nightly reading as well. As Lucy got to the stage where she was talking and beyond she loved and still loves a good read. There are weekly visits to the library to get new books and we sit down once a day (at least) and meander through a story or two. I think partly due to the amount of reading we put in early Lucy and now even Tilley will sit down to be read to over any TV show.
When about 6 months go we had a family member stay with us for a few months and I laughed when she had been out with Lucy a few times and described it as 'Life Narrated by Lucy'. Inadvertently we had turn Lucy into a walking tour guide. If she new the word or how to describe it she was tell you and still does. which is great for her young sister now (although sometimes I can see Tilley's wandering if Lucy is ever going to shut up). Lucy still bring me random things to read and I still jump on it, i'm never one to turn down a good read of where our bananas came from or what exactly are all the address' of Ikea in Canada.
I'm a dad trying to pick out a path through fatherhood one step at a time.