Friday, May 29, 2015

Leaving the house without your phone

Last week while my husband was traveling I took my son out on a date (which means he got to pick dinner and then we went out for dessert). As I was answering his questions over ice cream, he asked me about nitrogen (because that is what five-year-olds are into these days). I went into my purse to get out my phone to look up more information, but realized it wasn't there.

And I was OK with that.

I told him we'd look it up when we got home, and we spent the rest of our time together having a lot of fun. I wasn't worried about people not being able to get in touch with me, or about missing out on something else. I wasn't even bummed out about not being able to take a picture of him. I was just focused on having fun with my son.

Which is how life used to be for so many parents before cell phones came around. So, here's my challenge to you: Pick a day and leave the house without your phone. And see how you feel about it.

Let me know how it goes in the comments.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to speak the language of Mom

Mmmmmmmmm....mah...mah...mah! Mmmmmmmmm....mah...mah...mah!

That is an approximation of the sounds I often made at my son when he was about four months old. As I made those sounds, I gave him a big smile to show him how much fun it was to make those sounds.

Then, at seven months, when he came crawling toward me, saying his first word (mama), I was beyond thrilled.

It's not a shocker that Moms and Dads communicate with their children differently. But it is interesting to read the latest study by researchers at Washington Spokane University, which concludes that Moms change their entire way of speaking and Dads make almost no changes at all. The study found that:

  • Moms speak at a higher pitch; Dads speak at their normal pitch.
  • Moms sing children's songs; Dads sing rock n roll songs.
  • Moms talk for longer periods of time and using more words; Dads talk for less time overall but use a bigger variety of words.
Researchers are quick to point out that babies like both types of communication, so neither gender has to make a change. As long as they are both talking, baby is very happy.

What was your baby's first word? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do you tell your cat your secrets?

As I type this, my cat is on the floor next to me. She is 14-years-old, in relatively good health and she still loves me. She follows me around the house when I move from room to room, she taps at me when she feels like I need to stop typing and pet her, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to find her trying to sleep on top of me.

She also loves my son. I will catch her in his room as he plays...just sitting there next to him. And almost every day she rubs up against him to tell him that he belongs to her.

So, it should not be surprising that I often talk to my cat. And most of the time, I imagine her responses back to me. Lately, I have heard my son talking to her as well. (This didn't really surprise me as he is a bit of a talker.) But then I read about this study done in the U.K. which found that children were more likely to tell their pets their problems than talk about them with their siblings.

Two important things about that study on the above link:
  1. The study was linking children's relationship with their pets when faced with major adversity in their lives such as divorce, illness, death or separations.
  2. The study doesn't delve into why children turn to a pet rather than a friend or sibling.
I am betting that children talked to their pets more often - not just when facing major problems at home. And I also suspect we can take an educated guess as to why children turn to their furry companions when things are bad. Pets are in the same boat as children - needing the help of others to survive. But more importantly, pets will never tell our secrets.

Did you have a beloved childhood pet you confided in? Share your story in the comments.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Stick to dancing in the kitchen

First position: Plié, two, three, four; relevé, two, three, four; pas de bourrée. Now, second position...

Ah ballet class. My Mom once told me she enrolled me in ballet for the simple reason that I walked everywhere on my tiptoes. (Turns out that most children do.) But I stayed in ballet class for years, all the way to my first year of en pointe. By then, I had had enough and asked my Mom if I could quit. She agreed.

I have fond memories linked to ballet classes - the time spent with friends walking to class after school and watching the older dancers' lithe bodies do incredible flips and stretches. But the classes themselves were mostly boring - there was a lot of listening and stretching and not a lot of movement.

And the lack of overall movement at a young age is a problem. When outfitted with accelerometers, researchers found that young children did not get as much physical activity in ballet class as they did with other kinds of dance classes. Parents who are enrolling children in ballet for exercise may not realize that most of the class time is spent listening, stretching and learning the steps. The data changes however, for older children (who already know the steps) - their ballet classes fulfill the minimum amount of recommended daily activity for children.

If you want to make sure your little one is getting exercise in a dance class, then enroll them in hip-hop. As for me and my little guy, we dance in the kitchen.

Did anyone out there want to be a ballerina when they grew up? What did you end up being? Share with me in the comments.