Need help getting the kids outside?

So Zoe and I rode our bikes to a movie theater last weekend to see “The Lorax.” When we came out, my bike had been stolen. Aside from being extremely inconvenient, that suddenly made it harder for me to get Zoe to spend time doing physical stuff outside.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are a lot of other obstacles that keep kids inside: [Read more…]

Does it matter whether you’re smiling while you change that diaper?

Great article by Tara Parker-Pope in the NY Times Magazine this week. It talks about whether women like childcare more than men. The answer, according to the researchers is, Yes.

But here’s my question: What the hell difference does it make whether you enjoy it or not?

Guys are doing more and more around the house—more than double what they were doing in 1985. The stats show that women are still spending twice as much time with the kids than men are. But those studies are notoriously flawed. They don’t take into account that men spend an average of 7 hours/week more than women commuting to and from work. They don’t count playing with the kids at “spending time” with them, and they usually don’t count the many other tasks men do in the general service of the family: plumbing, lawn mowing, dish washing, etc.
That said, the Times article raises some interesting points. Some excerpts:
“Researchers from the University of Virginia recently asked 181 academics with young children how much pleasure they experienced from various child-care tasks.”
“On 16 out of 25 child-care tasks — like changing diapers, taking a child to the doctor or getting up in the middle of a night to attend to a child — women reported statistically significant higher levels of enjoyment than men. The only parenting issue that gave women less pleasure than it gave men was having to manage who does what for the child. Over all, women’s scores were 10 percent higher than men’s.”
The whole article is here.
In addition, you can take the quiz yourself here.

Want smarter kids? Have them play with dad.

One of the most classically dad things is playing–physically–with the kids. Now along comes another study that proves that imaginative play with dad is good for kids’s brains too. When you encourage your children’s imagination, their vocabularies are larger and they do better in math.

What’s unique about this particular study, which was done at Utah State University, is that the researchers went to the trouble of, gasp, including dads. Most previous play studies had looked at mom-child interactions.

So how do you boost the amount of imaginative play? Start by encouraging make believe and fantasy. Then, when your reading stories, don’t be shy about acting out some parts or talking about what’s happening in the illustrations or why particular characters are doing what they’re doing. Plopping your kids in front of the TV (or even watching silently with them) or reading books straight through from beginning to end without any commentary won’t help.

A bit more detail on the study here:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=19524630&title=study-shows-playtime-with-both-parents-crucial-to-child-development&s_cid=queue-6

 

Is there a perfect time to have kids?

21 years ago, when I was a young, first-time dad I thought it was a perfect time to be a parent. A few years later, when my second was born, I thought that was a perfect time. And then 10 years after number two, that was perfect too. I was right all three times. And wrong.

First time ’round I may have had better knees and backs and can bowl their kids on the slip-n-slide faster and farther than older dads. But I was preoccupied with career, scraping together down payment money in the insane Bay Area housing market. As I got older, my relationships with the kids changed. By the time my youngest was born I wasn’t as worried about career and money and could actually take time to just watch all the amazing things she did. We still do plenty of physical things together, but we also spend a lot of time just playing–board games, Barbie–yes, I admit it, I have actually brushed Barbie’s hair and slipped her out of her tennis togs and into an elegant evening gown).

Still, a new study from UCSF found that overall, parents think the 30s are the ideal time. What do you think?

Interesting piece on the study here: http://news.yahoo.com/best-age-raise-kids-older-parents-30s-161601262.html

Fitness equipment for kids? Naaa

We often talk about how important it is for kids to get enough exercise–60  minutes every day–but what they really need is play. What’s the difference? According to Dr Tony Okely, associate professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia, “Exercise is defined as physical activity that is structured, planned, and repetitive with an aim of increasing one or more components of health-related fitness.”  The problem is that a lot of parents get their kids all sorts of mini exercise equipment–stuff like treadmills and weight benches. But what they really need is to be sent packing to ride their bikes with their buddies around the neighborhood, or to just go to a park and run around like loons.

Reminds me of what a dog trainer once told me: “A tired dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is an obedient dog. Same goes (well, almost) with kids. A tired and sweaty kid is a healthy kid. What they need to be doing is having fun. gym memberships are over the top.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/play-not-exercise-for-fit-kids-20120307-1uk01.html#ixzz1ogeahcT9

Does your child really need fitness equipment–treadmills,

A Bird, a Plane, SuperDad

Dear Mr. Dad: A good friend of mine, Rich, is a single father of a 4-year old boy, Max. Before becoming a dad, Rich had never spent any time around kids, and he has no idea what to do. He’s very serious and says it just isn’t any fun getting down on Max’s level and playing. At the same time, though, he feels bad that he isn’t spending enough time involved with Max. Any suggestions I can pass on?

A: The best “cure” for what you’re describing is for Rich to get out of his work clothes the moment he comes home. Did you ever watch Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? If so, do you remember how he started every show? He’d come in, take off his nice jacket, hang it up, and put on a sweater; take off his dress shoes and put on sneakers instead. No question that what you’re wearing affects your behavior (think of Superman and other superheroes who change out of their work clothes and into their costume—can’t very well go around saving the world in a fancy suit and tie).

Once Rich is in play mode, it’s time to start rolling around on the floor. It may feel weird for a while, but he’ll eventually get used to it. And even if doesn’t like that kind of play, there are plenty of other ways for him to spend quality time with Max. But the most important thing is to jump in. Rich may be feeling the need to entertain Max all the time and that could be what’s keeping him away. The reality is that all Max really wants from his dad is to be together. It hardly matters what they’re doing, just as long as they’re doing it together.

If you’re looking for some specific ideas, check out the winners of our Seal of Approval program at mrdad.com/seal. Browse the lists–there are some really terrific games/toys/activities that Rich and Max will have a ton of fun doing together.

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve been divorced three years, and have had a couple of serious relationships. My 11-year-old son, who lives with me half time, has met these women and a couple others, and seems pretty indifferent when the subject of my dating comes up. My ex thinks it’s reckless and harmful for my current girlfriend to be in contact with him. For now, I’m respecting her wishes. Still, I worry about this pattern continuing. For the record, in three years I’ve had a woman stay over exactly once when he is with me.

A: My advice is to keep kids and new partners apart until the relationship can be truly considered “serious.” Of course, that means different thing to different people. The problem is that kids form attachments very quickly (even if they, like your son, seem indifferent), and the last thing your son needs now is yet another breakup. I know it’s a tough situation–you don’t want to feel that your ex is running your dating life. But think about it as something you’ll do for your son. The fact that you’ve only had one girlfriend spend the night means that you won’t have to make any big changes. Could you confine your dating to the days your son is with his mom? When I was a single dad, I tried to do exactly that. That way, when my kids were with me, I could be there 100 percent for them, and when I was with a girlfriend, I could be with her 100 percent (or close to it).