Monday, October 16, 2017

Gaming your exercise routines

I gave up on my fitbit a long time ago. At first, I loved it (especially my sleep data), but after more than a year, it made me feel bad about my life. When I did not meet my step counts for the day, I felt like I let myself down. In the end, I recognized that the fitbit wasn't a good exercise accountability partner to get me to move more, so into the drawer it went.

I know that I am not alone with those thoughts, which is why I wasn't surprised to see some researchers change the way families use their fitbits - with gamification. Researchers started families off with fitbits and a pool of points. They then randomly picked one family member's fitbit count to represent the family that day. If that person met their goal, then the family received points. If they didn't meet their step goals for the day, points were deducted. Points were eventually traded in for prizes.

I like this method because no one would want to let down their entire family, so everyone would work to meet their goals, and it gets the whole family moving. My only issue is that while it is fun to participate in that type of game, I am not sure how sustainable it would be. Would you and your family want to organize an ongoing game across extended family members for a year? Or two years? What would be the overall prize (other than better health)?

It would definitely take an all-in family approach.

Does your family exercise together? Tell me how you get in a family workout in the comments.

Friday, October 13, 2017

We need to trust each other

My son and I have been talking about trust. It's a hard concept to define, so I ask my son to raise his arms over his head and I tell him that I promise I will not tickle him. He looks a little warily at me, but he does it. I don't tickle him. That's trust, I tell him.

This is an important topic as he grows up, because I want him to know that he can tell me things and that I'll always help him. The concept has gotten a lot of airplay in our home, as I bring it up when he lies about brushing his teeth (why do kids do that?) or when we make plans together and carry them through.

What I didn't realize is that most children learn the concept of trust through their Moms. I'm not sure if that is because Moms represent safety and Dads represent freedom when children first learn to play or if it is another reason. But there are lots of ways to build trust within a family every day, without having to resort to I-promise-not-to-tickle-you tests or trust falls.

  1. Do what you say you are going to do. For good or for bad. When I tell my son we will play together in the afternoon, then I need to make sure it is going to happen. When I tell him that he will lose his screentime for the day if he continues to run on the stairs, then I need to follow through with that.
  2. Tell him that I love him no matter what. And show him that every day - whether it was a good one or one that didn't go his way - I still love him the same.
  3. Apologize when I break his trust. I'm not perfect, I struggle to make it home from work in time for us to play together before dinner and I ask for his forgiveness when I break his trust.
What tips do you have for building trust with your child? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Admitting you need sleep is the first step

My son's alarm goes off at 7:35. I can hear him get up, turn the alarm off and then...silence. I know he has gone back to bed. At 8 am, I tentatively go into his room and gently wake him up. He is cranky and angry and tells me that he feels like he didn't sleep at all. I do my best to be gentle with him and coax him into the day, even though I desperately wish I could send him back to bed for a few more hours.

Even though he went to bed on time the night before, he experienced what we all do sometimes: A bad night's sleep.

I am traditionally considered to be a good sleeper. My darling husband has often marveled at how quickly I am able to fall asleep. And while I no longer maintain fitbit data on myself to prove it, I generally fall asleep fast and sleep fairly well, so that when my alarm goes off I feel relatively ready for the day.

On my bad sleep days, I can generally pinpoint the root cause to bad behavior the night before - staying up too late, or having caffeine later in the day than I should have or too many thoughts in my brain as I got ready for bed. Whatever the reason - I didn't get enough sleep.

I know a lot of people who like to talk about their sleep (it's the number one topic of conversation in my office in the morning). But what I am surprised at is that people seem to truly believe that they are getting enough sleep if they get at least 6 hours. Please believe me - and all the sleep scientists - when I write this: You are sleep deprived.

And if you want to know why that is a bad thing, here is a scary but very compelling article explaining what sleep deprivation does to our bodies.

So, what if we all just tried to get more sleep for a week and see if we could measure the benefits in our own lives? What if you woke up each morning in a better mood, feel more productive and less stressed out? Of course, it is easy to say, but harder to integrate. Some people have different circadian rhythms and feel more comfortable waking up late. Other people have tighter schedules in the morning to get to work/school on time and need to wake up early.

But, if you had the power to tweak your schedule in favor of more sleep...would you really do it?

How many hours of sleep do you get at night? Leave your magic number in the comments.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Keeping tv out of the bedroom

In my fantasy life, I would have a treadmill in the family room where we keep the television. This way, if I wanted to watch tv, I would pair it with the treadmill and get more exercise in my life as I walked to watch.

But, that fantasy hasn't come true (yet).

I like that we have a television in our family room, which is not in the main area of our home. Keeping the television in that room is a very purposeful out-of-sight/out-of-mind act. And while my husband and I do have a tv in our bedroom, there is one place I don't ever want a tv: In our son's bedroom.

While I understand that a lot of parents put televisions in their child's bedrooms so they can play video games or watch their own shows, I feel like it makes my job as a parent harder. While there is not too much trouble my son could get up to now, would that case change as he became a teenager and has access to shows/games that I am unaware of? I feel like it is easier for me to say no to a private television now (and stick to those guns) than take a television out of his room later on.

My son has never asked for a television in his room, and if he did, I would remind him that we don't let him have any other devices stay in his room at night. Because the lesson I want my son to learn is that his bedroom is his sanctuary for rest and removing himself from the noisy world.

And that is really difficult to do with a television on in the background.

Did you have a television in your bedroom when you were a child? Tell me why you liked it (or didn't) in the comments.