"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
I'm standing at the cooker, potatoes boiling over, Tilley tugging on my trousers 'uppie, uppie' and Lucy melting down over not being able to get her princess dress on. I slide the potatoes to the side, pick up Tilley and tug on a princess dress as Lucy's head pops through the top and she happily wiggles her arms into the holes. I grab my trusty mini speaker from its place on top of the fridge and scroll through my playlist. The music flows out of the speaker and the girls dance around and play while I go back to burning the potatoes.
We all have our 'panic buttons'. Things we use to defuse situations that are spiraling down. For some people it's TV, others it's reading or coloring. For me, when the sh*t's about to hit the fan (or already has) I turn to my playlists.
My three year old daughter appears at the bottom of the stair's dressed in a bright blue princess dress. Every time we make beer together it's a must. She pulls a chair up to the table. Hot air rises from the mash tun filling the house with the smell of malted barley. Carefully she takes a spoon and scoops up the citra hops in to a small container my wife has placed on the scale. Filling the container to the correct weight and emptying it in to a cheese cloth waiting to be tied up and dropped into our brew later.
I know what you're thinking, this seems like a blog for the brewing section but there is more going on here. In the time we spend brewing together Lucy learns about cleanliness, accuracy, timing and a host of other life skills. As she measures the hops into the container she practices focus and accuracy. As we add them during the boiling she learns about timing. As she helps to adjust the water through the wort chiller she learns about thermodynamics and when the yeast is finally added she is hearing how it converts one thing into another. Although she may not understand everything that is going on, her mind is being opened up to new ideas, and ways of thinking.
Deep down I hope that by teaching my daughters about brewing and alcohol from a young age it will help them in later life. Maybe to make more good decisions about drinking responsibly and even have some resilience to pier pressure by removing the the mystery around alcohol.
So if you are looking to do something with your kids that could be educational, fun and let you end up with some good beer, why not have a go. The knowledge you could be imparting might be used by your kids for the rest of their life but even more importantly your are learning these things together, in a way that's fun and those memories will definitely last forever.
Tilley reaches her chubby little arm up into the air, stretches out her fingers, then balls them up into a fist and repeats. My wife and I leap from our seats, after months of practice, Tilley has thrown up here first sign, and its 'Milk'.
Even before we had our first daughter my wife and I agreed that learning two languages is a great exercise for kids. Not only does it give them an extra skill but helps them with adaptive thinking. There was just one problem, neither of us was fluent in any other language than English. Yes, between us, we had taken French, German, Spanish and even Russian classes but we were definitely not fluent. Then while researching second languages for kids we fell upon baby sign language and then ASL (american sign language). After looking into ASL for kids it seemed to fill all the things we wanted to impart to our children and more. As well as them learning a second language, it would help with dexterity and possibly provide them with a way of communicating long before they found their words.
As a parent reading this post you are all to well aware of the importance of a solid nap, both for kids and parents a like. Last year we took a trip to Scandinavia and learned something new for nap time. Our children are both full of energy and nap time is a here and there occurrence in our house and most times it is short lived
A few couples we talked to said that it is the norm to leave their sleeping kids out in the cold to nap. Obviously bundled up in the right clothes not just PJ's though. All the couples reported that their children seemed to sleep longer and wake more rested and energetic after a nap in the cold, than if they were to nap inside, in bed.
Needless to say we were intrigued. Armed with this new knowledge we set to work thinking of how we could apply this at home without getting arrested for leaving our kids outside the front door during a Canadian winter.
For our kids the usually time they will fall asleep in the day is during a drive as you can see in the picture above. This gave us an opportunity, we decided, instead of transferring them to their beds post drive we would open one window and leave them in the garage where the temperature is a few degrees colder than the house (our house is usually set at around 17 celcius). After a few months of doing this we saw great success! Nap time had extended and we definitely saw that the girl were very well rested when the woke.
Jump to 8 months later and this is a regular occurrence at our house. In fact as I write this blog both girls are fast asleep in the garage with all the car windows open. I know its not quite as extreme as the Norwegians but a cooler nap time has really worked for us.