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).

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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.

Linking up:
PoCoLo

GPP for dadding and life

GPP = General Physical Preparedness

For most folks this is all we are training for – we want to be generally physically prepared for life.

I actually prefer the phrase generally physically useful as I think it more closely describes what we’re aiming for. We need to be useful to those around us. It may be old school, but in most families it is the dad that will be expected to lift, carry, chase, rescue and fight if necessary – so we should be able to those things.

I think there are four parts to this:

  • Be strong
  • Move well
  • Don’t get tired
  • Don’t get injured

Be strong
This is number one because it’s number one. It forms the base for every other physical attribute you will look to develop and helps keep you stable and healthy as you age.

Move well
Life is not lived standing or sitting. The real fun is had in the middle, on the floor, under things and over things. That’s where your kids are and that’s where you should be able to get to as well. Be able to get up and down from the floor with your kids all day and climb up a tree to get them down if they are stuck.

Don’t get tired
Your kids don’t so you can’t. A dad should be a superhero to his children. Strength helps us do impressive feats, endurance is the other side – the ability to just keep going.

Don’t get injured
It’s very simple, you are not useful if you are injured. All of the rest is worthless if you damage yourself in training. There is no need to train like you’re in the SAS or preparing for your MMA debut – that is not why you are in the gym. There is no shame in a bit of moderation to keep yourself safe. Don’t wrap yourself in cotton wool but remember that the principle of do no harm applies to you too.

New toy and birthday burpees

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It was my birthday yesterday and my wife bought me this awesome new toy. She understands that I’m a big kid at heart and I love her dearly for it.

The board feels a lot smaller than the last one I rode simply because 1) it’s smaller and 2) I’m a lot bigger. It’s great fun though.

I also continued the birthday burpee tradition. 33 this year, or at least it would have been if I didn’t lose count and ended up doing a handful extra.

They all felt good though, or as good as burpees ever do. My strength was fine throughout, it was only my lungs that slowed me down.

Juggling, your brain and keeping playful

I’m still on the juggling kick. It turns out that as well as being good fun, juggling is also great for keeping your brain healthly.

Juggling has been the subject of a couple of studies that have shown it can help improve brain neuroplasicity.

Neuroplasticity is essentially the brain’s ability to reshape itself and create new pathways as you learn new skills. Unlike what was thought a few years ago (and what your elder relatives might tell) this doesn’t stop as you age. Your brain continues to develop throughout your life and the only thing stopping you learning new skills is not trying to.

This is a big deal. Life doesn’t have to stop expanding once you ‘grow up’ and we don’t have to end up stuck in our ways. It seems ridiculous that this thinking often begins at the same time as trying to teach our children as much about the world as possible. It’s understandable – with kids, jobs and all the life admin that comes with it, time is short and slotting into a routine is the easiest way to get through it. But keeping a sense of exploration and play is a great  lesson for children to have, much better than being too busy to try new stuff.

There is also something about pursuing an unnecessary activity simply for the joy of it. This is play at it’s purest and is something worth making time for.

I’ve recently finished reading the excellent book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown. I highly recommend it if this is something you are interested in. Here’s how important he thinks it is:

“When we stop playing, we stop developing, and when that happens, the laws of entropy take over… (We) become vegetative, stating in the same dot, not fully interacting with the world…. When we stop playing, we start dying.”

“The most significant aspect of play is that it allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves….. When enough people raise play to the status it deserves in our lives, we will find the world a better place.”

And a classic:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Current training – June 2013

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – well not too much at least.

Not a lot has changed this month – maybe the whole consistancy idea is finally sinking in!

I’m not being too rigid with the routine. I will do all of the things listed below at some point during the week but might move things around to take advantage of the good weather. I’m exercising outside as much as possible at the moment. The sunshine is a rare and welcome thing in my litttle part of the world so I want to spend as much time outside as possible.

Work is pretty crazy at the moment as well so a walk at lunchtime is out of the question. Most days when I finish I just want to get out in the park and run around for a bit (once my girls are in bed that is!).

Saturday – rest

Sunday – run (longer 6-8km)

Monday – home

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, 16kg Goblet squat & curl, 16kg Windmill
  • A1:Windmill – 16kg x 5/5, Turkish get up, 20kg x 1/1, 24kg x 1/1
  • A2: Goblet squat – 16kg x 8 (plus 3 curls at bottom of last rep), 20kg x 6-8, 24kg x 6-8
  • B1: KB deadlift, 48-65kg – 3 x 5-8
  • C1: KB clean & press – 20kg x 10-20 reps, sets vary
  • C2: Hang from bar – 10-30sec between c&p sets
  • D1: Farmers walk – 24-28kg each hand
Tuesday – run 3-4km (maybe)

Wednesday – park workout

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, run to the park
  • Run around the park stopping off for a few:
    • Push ups
    • Pull ups
    • Dips
    • Rows
    • Crawls

Thursday – Movnat/playing in the morning, swim in the afternoon

Friday – park workout

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, run to the park
  • This session is more playful:

The importance of floor movement

There have been a few pieces flying around the interwebz in the last few months about the importance of floor living.

My kids live on the floor, they are up and down off of it and crawling around constantly. Something happens as we get older – we stop playing, worry about being ‘dirty’ and start to avoid being on the floor, and pretty soon it becomes difficult. This is wrong, we shouldn’t abandon moving around the floor just because we are ‘grown up’.

Most of what I’ve seen written recently has focused on the basics of sitting on the floor, getting up and down and crawling – which are fundamental. It can also be taken a bit further and be much more fun.

Where to start?

Start at the start. Ask yourself – when was the last time you sat on the floor for a decent amount of time?

Dan John made a great suggestion in a recent post: “Watch all the television you want, but you must be on the floor sitting when you do.”

Then practice getting up and down off the floor any way you can. Think about how you are moving and try to make it as easy as possible.

  • One way to do this is practice Turkish Get Ups without weight.
  • Roll on the floor and try some basic crawls – I highly recommend you check out Becoming Bulletproof for more on this.

Once you become more comfortable on the floor you can add variety into the ways you get up and down off of the floor, try different crawls and maybe start to add weight to the movements.

This article on the MovNat site has some excellent examples of how to do this.

And then…

Then take it beyond the fundamental and useful. Get playful and add additional complexity to how you move. Doing so will also bring additional confidence in your ability for floor-based movement.

I’ve mentioned Ido Portal’s floreio work and the book Capoeira Conditioning before and both are excellent examples of how to take this stuff further.

It’s also worth looking into basic tumbling – forward and backward rolls, plus cartwheels. Tumbling Drills is a great resource.

I put some of the basic stuff into my warmups and do more complex movements on my ‘medium‘ days. I think this kind of movement can really help people stay healthy as they age – the more comfortable you are moving around the floor the less you will fear being or falling onto it.

Give it a go – you’ll learn a lot about your body and have a loads of fun.

Here’s Ido Portal showing where you can take this stuff

The joy of juggling

My most recent hobby-project is juggling. I have been meaning to learn for a while as it looked like good fun, and it turns out it is.

I finally got round to buying some balls a couple of months ago and have just about got the hang of a three ball cascade, which is the basic three ball juggle. My current record is 62 throws in a row.

I’m going to get a couple more balls and some clubs to start working on some more difficult tricks, and also so there are spares for the girls to play with. They have a great time with them too, but now I’m consistently using all three balls they feel a bit left out.

I love it – it’s pure purposeless play, and that is a very good thing.