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May 18, 2010

It’s No Myth – Kids Have Boundless Energy

The Fitbit Experiment data is in and the winner is the Little Man in a landslide.  After compiling data for three days, I had to say uncle.  It is no myth, kids in fact do have boundless energy.  In case you missed my last post (The Fitbit Experiment), last week I set out to try to catch lightening in a bottle and measure the energy of a seven year old. I figured, “hey, I live in New York and walk just about everywhere, I can hang with this kid.” I though that maybe it was just a myth and we adults move just as much as these kids. After three days, the results (steps and Fitbit Active score) looked like this: 

  Little Man Dad
Day 1 20,897 steps (1848) 11,865 steps (1073)
Day 2 18,359 steps (1290) 11,900 steps (1102)
Day 3 14,818 steps (1124) 7,682 steps (721)

You can see from the numbers that those little feet are moving.  It is even more telling if you look at the Fitbit graph that they keep for each day to show you activity in five minute increments.

 

I guess I’m not surprised by these results, but at the same time, they are startling in how clearly they show the constant motion and boundless energy of kids.  If only we kept it as we aged… 

May 13, 2010

The Fitbit Experiment Day 0 (Kids In Constant Motion)

Have you ever been around small children and thought to yourself, “that kid never stops moving, I wish I had their energy!”  Of course you have, everyone has.  As parents, we recognize kids’ boundless energy as a universal truth like gravity or stinky French cheese. 

Let me take you back to November 2009 when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal (Fitbit Sees How You Run, Walk and Sleep) that was about a new gadget (Fitbit) that tracks both your activity level throughout the day and your sleep at night.  A bit like a pedometer, but better because it can track and calculate much more than just your number of steps and distance traveled.  I was intrigued, so I ordered two, one for me and one for Who’s Your Mommy.

Fast forward to today and a few weeks after getting our Fitbits (they had a serious backorder).  It’s been an interesting exercise to see how far we walk each day and how much (or little) we sleep each night.  And we’ve joked, wouldn’t it be funny to put one on the Little Man and track his boundless energy?  Is measuring that kind of energy even possible or is it like cold fusion, a scientific myth?  Would this be like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters and result in “total protonic reversal”?  I say, let’s find out!

So consider this the first entry in a not so scientific experiment to measure the boundless energy of a seven year old and compare it to the not-so-boundless energy of a forty year old dad.  We’ll be using Who’s Your Mommy’s Fitbit and run the risk of loss or destruction of that Fitbit in the name of science.  I’ll track the following data:

Daily Activity
Number of Steps Taken Per Day
Fitbit Activity Score (see here for explanation)

Sleep Activity
Hours In Bed
Times Awake

So check back later this week for my first report!

May 4, 2010

Technology Baby!

Dads love technology.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the gadgets, whether cameras, iPods, GPS, etc.  I love to have the latest and the greatest and now that the Little Man is getting older, I’m looking at many of the giggle products in my rear view mirror wondering, where was that when I had a baby?  Here are four of my favorite technology products for baby that I wish I had when the Little Man.

Mobicam Digital Wireless Video Monitor  Keep an eye on baby from any room in the house, including sound and night vision.  Can you say awesome?

Flip Mino HD Digital Video Camera   I have the regular old school video camera and I never take the thing anywhere because it’s just too big.  Enter the Flip Mino HD that allows me to drop in my pocket and catch video clips of all those great kid moments.  Check one out here if you want to see some actual video (although taken with the non-HD version so yours will look even better).

Babysense Infant Movement Monitor   If the Mobicam isn’t enough and you want to know about baby’s every move, then the Infant Movement Monitor is for you.  Sleep easy at night knowing that Babysense is on the case and keeping baby safe.

Supergoop! SPF 30 Sunscreen Swipes   I’m sure you’re a bit perplexed why sunscreen is included in a technology post.  If you’ve ever tried to put sunscreen on a toddler then you’ll agree this sure feels like a technical advancement.  Being able to apply sunscreen to your little one just by wiping them down with one of these is a dream.  I can also admit that they come in quite handy for adults as well.

April 29, 2010

On The Road Again…

No matter if you’re a working parent or stay at home parent or somewhere in between, there will come a time where you need to hit the road.  Be it for business, pleasure or some combination, it is great to get away, but also sometime excruciating to leave little ones behind.  With Who’s Your Mommy on the road this week, it got me to thinking about how we try to keep it together when one of us is on the road.  Here are a few things we do in our house to make travel easier on everyone:

  1. Web Video – with webcams in every laptop it is even easier to stay in touch while you’re on the road.  Web video is an easy way to say hi face to face from anywhere in the world.  For little ones, you can play peek-a-boo and old kids can share their days, projects, stories, etc.  Skype (www.skype.com) has been a major tool in our house for all travel (and staying in touch everyday with extended family).  See some video chatting basics from the Wall Street Journal at With Video Chatting, It’s a Small World After All
  2. Local Photos – Your iPhone or Blackberry has a camera in it, so use it.  Take a photo of yourself in the city you are visiting and email it back to your kids.  It is a great way for them to feel connected to you while you’re gone. 
  3. Local Weather – Ask older kids to check your local weather each day.  When you talk on the phone, let them tell you your weather.  It is a great geography lesson and also keeps them connected to you. 
  4. Gift Ritual – Frequent travelers can make it a regular part of coming home to bring a small gift that relates to the city or country you visited.  Try to keep it small and if you’re always rushing, perhaps even something you can get at the airport.  Landmark souvenirs, keychains, dolls or local snacks all work great. 
  5. Direct Flights – It seems obvious, but sometimes a direct flight that is a few dollars more will save you a ton of headaches and time from missed connections, weather delays and disappointed kids. 

Happy travels, but get home soon.  Your kids miss you.

April 28, 2010

Take Help – Stay Sane

"Wanna Party?"

 Having a baby enter your family is one of the greatest joys I have known. We talk all the time about how we can’t even remember life before the Little Man. Then five years goes by and you think to yourself, “When was the last time we went out?” Before kids, the concept of “Date Night” was completely foreign because every night was date night.  Before kids, you and Lionel Richie partied “All Night Long” right? 

Well those times may be over, but as parents, you can’t lose your identity as the couple who started the whole thing. Hold on too tight and you will squeeze the fun out of parenthood. If you are lucky enough to have family and friends willing to help out occasionally to give you some “me” time or “us” time, I strongly suggest you take it.

Your family or friends may not do it exactly as you do. They may give an occasional treat or let bedtime slip by a few minutes, but your child will survive. We all did. Look at it as broadening your kids’ horizons while keeping yours from shrinking to the size of a nursery.

April 22, 2010

Common Sense (From Phineas & Ferb via My Seven Year Old)

So Who’s Your Daddy had big plans for you in this next post.  I had visions of a hilarious viral internet video speeding around the globe.  I’ll spare you the dirty details but the high level was that I planned to make a parody video of “Pants On The Ground” from American Idol fame.  I enlisted the Little Man to help me film my masterpiece and once he understood what I was planning, this conversation ensued:

 “Dad, are you sure want to do this?” he says.

 “What do you mean?  This is going to be hilarious!” I answered.

 “Ok, but remember, once you put it on the internet, it stays there forever.”

 [Dramatic Pause]

 “Where did you learn that?” I curiously asked hoping he would reply that it was my sage advice coming back to me in some cosmic boomerang.

 “Phineas and Ferb taught me that” came the deadpan reply.

 And there it was.  Irrefutable evidence that cartoons may have occasionally redeeming value beyond mom and dad getting a few precious minutes of extra sleep.  Consider my world rocked.  See the PSA here to find out about Internet Safety for kids from Phineas and Ferb.  And this is what it has come to, getting common sense reality checks from my seven year old.

 The video project remains on hold…

April 14, 2010

Get Out! (Outside That Is)

Last week I was talking about sunscreen and warm weather morning routines (read it here).  You can tell by the theme of my posts that is that time of year where those of us living in cold weather states start to emerge from our houses and apartments rubbing our eyes like a grizzly coming out of its cave after a long winter of hibernation.  It is so great to feel the sun on our faces (with sunscreen on of course).  My love of spring intersected with an article I read in the Wall Street Journal this morning about Pushing Kids to Play Outside

 The article sounded a bit like Who’s Your Daddy in lamenting how kids just don’t play outside like they used to in the “old days.”  Parents are of course battling safety concerns that our parents were confronted with.  Add to that video games, cell phones, tv, internet, iPods and the list goes on.  There are so many distractions inside it’s hard to get this iGeneration outside. 

 As parents, we need to make sure our kids don’t miss out on the adventures that wait out the back door.  I have such fond memories of exploring my own backyard and even as I got a bit older, exploring trails around our house.  I sure hope I can convey this sense of love and wonderment with the outdoors to the Little Man.  Some suggestions (some from Pushing Kids to Play Outside):

  • If both parents work, encourage your babysitter/nanny to get the kids outside
  • To help alleviate safety concerns, share supervision of kids outside with neighbors
  • Choose day care that makes outdoor play a priority
  • Occasionally skip the gym in favor of a walk with your kids
  • Encourage kids to help with outdoor projects and yard work
  • Make up games or challenges for outside like counting animals in your yard

It’s a bit ironic to think that we expect our kids to be green and save the planet from behind a computer screen.  Get them outside for everyone’s sake, but mostly theirs.

April 8, 2010

Sunscreen Or Else!

 Now that the warm weather has arrived in New York, I’d have thought our morning “get ready for school routine” would be much simplified.  No more getting on coats, hats mittens, boots and trudging through snow and freezing rain to get to school.  Sounds logical, but I’m wrong again!

 The last few days of blissful sunshine have reminded me of the warm weather morning scramble.  Now I’m trying to drag the Little Man into the bathroom to not only brush those teeth (most of which still need to fall out – go figure), but we need to get sunscreen applied and find an agreeable hat.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Wrong. 

"We're going to need more sunscreen!"

 Anyone who has ever applied sunscreen to a child knows that you’d have an easier time wrestling alligators than trying to get a kid properly lathered up.  It’s like the perfect storm of parenting.  You’ve got no gold at the end of the rainbow like the beach, water park or pool to justify the sunscreen, you’ve got a tighter timeframe to get to school than Jack Bauer trying to save humanity and you’ve got a unwilling participant who’d rather be playing Lego Star Wars with those precious morning minutes. Tick tock.

Parents, please remember to take the time to get that sunscreen on your kids.  They’ll thank you in thirty years when the dermatologist isn’t explaining what carcinoma is to them.   Fortunately for me, the Little Man has come to accept that there is no escaping dad with a Supergoop Quickstick.  Jack Bauer has nothing on me…

March 17, 2010

Did You Use Your Brain?

As parents, we’ve all had moments where our kids pull a stunt that we simply can’t believe. Anywhere from a playground “incident” that ends up with a kid having sand somewhere they shouldn’t and you profusely apologizing to some angry parent to the time you find yourself standing at your front door talking to a police officer about your teenager (not that my parents would know anything about the latter). While you’re knee-deep in the cleanup of the aftermath, you’re thinking, or perhaps even saying to them, “didn’t you think about that before you went ahead and did it???”

Before today, I always thought that babies, kids and teenagers are mostly products of their experience and education, so hopefully by the time they’re out of the house they’ll have some sense. Of course their bodies, including their brain, are developing along the way, but that is more for learning stuff, right? Turns out, some of the silliness and bad judgment might not be totally their fault.

While at the doctors office today, the doctor and I got off on quite a tangent and she mentioned how our brains are still developing into our twenties, yes I said twenties. She alluded to how some of the stunts our kids pull is just because they haven’t developed the ability to fully reason yet. I was surprised and of course immediately thought about how I could have used that as an excuse all through high school. I had to know more.

After some research, it turns out (not surprisingly) the doctor was right. I’m not an MD but the basic idea is that as we develop from children all the way to our early 20s, the brain continues to develop in significant ways. The latest one to the party is the frontal lobe which is the part of the brain that, among other things, controls reasoning, including evaluating the consequences of actions. So basically as our frontal lobe develops, so does our ability to make thoughtful and logical decisions. Before that, the amygdala is more actively involved in decision making resulting in more gut reactions.

Think about this and imagine a world where it was reversed and our frontal lobe fully developed first. Then came all the other stuff, including puberty. Our jobs as parents would be so much easier! But then again, high school would have been so boring without all those gut reactions. Either way, next time you find yourself looking at your child of any age wondering, “what were you thinking” just remember when they look at you with a sheepish look on their face and say “I don’t know”, they’re probably telling you the truth.

For More Info:

March 9, 2010

Too Much Dad?

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “that’s just ridiculous! It’s impossible to think that there could be too much ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ coming at me. Stop that crazy talk!” Just cool your heels there my friend because I know that is crazy and not what I’m talking about.

I’ve been wondering lately about the balance of “involved dad” vs “over-involved dad” (in my case in sports) and where that line might be. I’ve coached the Little Man now for his first two soccer seasons, plus a season of indoor soccer plus being a de facto coach for his first year of little league. I’m now signed up to actually coach his second year of little league and this raises the question, “too much dad?”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy coaching and the Little Man seems to enjoy having me as his coach (most of the time). But I worry that it might be getting a little too comfortable for him and if he can learn as much from me. In my experience so far, it seems that your kids (especially father and son) sometimes have a hard time taking coaching or advice from their parents. This was never more evident to me than last summer when the Little Man became truly interested in golf. Almost every attempt to help, fix or coach by me was completely rebuffed. When he took a lesson, the exact same information from the golf pro was taken without question.

As with everything else, there is a balance there somewhere. So I ask you, could we be entering the territory of “too much dad?”