Techie toys, talking and respect

I love technology. I’m writing this on my phone sat on a train travelling to work, impossible without the joys of technology and the internet.

But it’s not all good. Using my own experience as an example, we do seem to suffer from ‘notification mindset’ where everything requires immediate attention. The result is attempts at pointless multitasking, sometimes conflicting with basic manners and respect.

This is not helped in our house by the huge number of ‘tasks’ created by three children and the fact we both have blogs to fill and Twitter about.

Example: I’m going to start talking to you while switching on the blender even though you’re upstairs in the shower.

Well that’s just not going to work is it?

Granted that is an extreme (and made up) example but my point is that while we were multi tasking we were also complaining that our children’s communication was not as good as it used to be.

Person 1: They don’t bloody listen to a word I say
Person 2: Sorry what was that? I was reading something on my phone.

I’m sure we’ve all done it, started a conversation and then drifted off into phoneland – but, honestly, isn’t that just totally bloody rude? I still do it and I think so.

We realised that to expect respectful communication from our children we must communicate in a way to that shows respect. So we set a little mini-rule to prioritise face-to-face conversations over virtual ones, and that you have to see and look at the person you are talking to before you speak. It seems like the most obvious thing in the world but sometimes that is what gets lost in the midst of children, chores and other stuff.

It’s all part of teaching the little people to treat each other with respect and have a healthy relationship with technology.

Do we do it all the time? Of course not, we’re not perfect and sometime shouting “Throw some socks!” up the stairs is necessary.

What about you? Do you see this in your home? How do you juggle the draw of blogs, Twitter and the like?



Becoming a healthy inspiration – taking baby steps

Convenience is one of the most important things in making exercise a sustainable part of a parent’s life.

The are a million and three exercise regimes out there that all say they are the best for reasons x, y & z. They might be right, but if it doesn’t fit into your life then it’s worthless.

There’s a phrase out there – the best workout out is the one you actually do. The point is that the details are far less important than consistency. As a parent, to be consistent we need to easily fit it into our already busy days.

So how can you do that? Firstly get away from the idea that special equipment or people are necessary to get healthy. This idea is a barrier to getting started. All we really need to do is move more today than we did yesterday.

By starting small and adding a bit at a time we can build little health habits that are much easier to maintain. One of the simplest ways to add more movement to your day is extra walking:

  • Take the stairs at work instead of the lift. If going all the way to your floor is too much, start with how ever many floors you can and add a floor each week. The most is important thing is to walk the stairs first then get the lift, you are far more likely to keep it up that way.
  • If you take public transport for a small part of your commute, walk it instead. It’ll probably be quicker than the time you would have spent queueing, pushing and having armpits in your face.
  • On non-work days, if you can walk it in under 30, then walk it. This is the hardest one. Let’s face it, transporting children, their associated ‘stuff’, shopping etc on foot is not easy, but that’s also kind of the point. You get exercise pushing, carrying etc, they get to walk, run and scoot. It’s good for everyone.

None of this is particularly innovative. The main point is to take a journey you would have made while sitting/standing in one place and walk it instead.

It takes a while but eventually you will build a habit of walking instead instead of the lift, bus or car. I started taking the stairs at work a few years ago and it took about two weeks before I went to the stairs without thinking.


How about you? Any other ideas of how to sneak easy extra movement into busy parent’s day?



The Dadly work challenge


Ours is like I imagine most houses – the start and the end are the noisiest, most stressful parts of the day. But those are usually the only bits I get with my whole family during the week, so I cherish them nonetheless. Currently my work is taking more from me than I would like and cutting into both of those times, especially the end of the day.

Career-wise it is great and all the stuff I do at work is ultimately for my wife, girls and boy. My desk is covered in pictures of all five of them and their smiling faces help me through what, at work, we would describe as “challenges”.

It’s a bizarre exchange we make as dads. So often an increase in our ability to provide for the people we love the most takes us further away from them.

I’m not particularly comfortable with it but feel there is no immediate alternative. We already live pretty frugally (or at least middle-ish class frugal) so to simply reduce my hours would leave us without enough money to pay the bills. To switch roles with my wife doesn’t make economic sense and means the children lose time with Mum instead of time with Dad.

So we make a sacrifice to pay for things the children barely notice (but are essential – food, clothes etc), and they pay for it by missing something they want and need – time with a parent.

The real challenge is to make the very best of the time we do get, which I do by making sure each of them gets some focused time each day, even if only for a few minutes. You can tell they want more, and I know I want more too.

Obviously this isn’t just a working Dad thing, but an issue for any working parent. What do you think? Any thoughts or experiences you can share? I know there are some stay at home Dad’s in the blogosphere, it would be really interesting to hear your view.

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Family Friday

What do I mean by healthy inspiration?

It’s been a couple of weeks since I brought this blog back to life and I figured it would be worth explaining exactly what I mean by the “healthy inspiration” in this site’s tagline.

If you had stumbled across this blog a few years ago* then you could be forgiven in thinking I only cared about the physical side of health, which is actually very far from the truth. That is part of the reason I’ve started writing again, to change the content of my little bit of internet from fitness bore to a better, more well rounded, view of what I actually think.

Yes, I think healthy bodies are important, but no more so than healthy minds (no less so either).

So what does that look like?

Healthy bodies:

  • To make physical exercise a welcome and enjoyed part of daily life.
  • To desire and enjoy a diet made up predominantly of real foods.**
  • To be able to recognise real foods and prepare a variety of meals made from them.

Healthy minds:

  • To have an open mind, accept and listen to ideas different from your own.
  • To take life and the challenges in it no more seriously than is strictly necessary.
  • To treat others that share this world with decency and respect.
  • To know that fueling your body with good food is important but not worth obsessing about. A life without occasional pizza and cake is a sad one.
  • Most importantly, to laugh a lot.

* A quick review of my visitor stats suggests this is highly unlikely but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
** Basically just plants and animals.

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A few of my favourite parenting books #PoCoLo

There are millions of parenting books out there. These are a few of my favourites, each of them has helped in a different way, at different stages of the parenting journey (none of the links are affiliated btw).


Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg
If I could only recommend one book to people expecting their first baby it would be this one. The EASY template (eat, activity, sleep, you) gave us the perfect amount of structure to get the important things right during the crazy hazy days of early parenthood.

How to Calm a Challenging Child, Miriam Chachamu
This book helped me see life from the child’s point of view. It teaches that challenging (read tear your hair out frustrating and rage inducing) behaviour is often due to a real or perceived need not being met. Meet the need = happier kidlet.

Raising a Thinking Child, Myrna Shure
We all want our children to grow into thoughtful little people that can make their own decisions. We’re also then pretty quick to do all the thinking for them giving instructions on what to say and how/when to do this/that. This books provides a framework to help them do their own thinking and find their own solutions.

Play, Stuart Brown
I love this book. It’s an amazing study of the role of play in learning, building relationships and relieving stress. It really highlights how children use play to explore and understand the big strange world they’re growing into. You also find out quickly that playing is awesome and wonder why you stopped just because you’re a grown up.

How about you? Do have any other favourites? Books that have carried just the right message at just the right time. I’d love to hear in the comments.

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