Friday, February 22, 2019

The class of 2037 is sparse

One thought that hits me right before I fall asleep at night is that my son (my baby!) will be 18 years old in less than a decade. He's told me about his plans for college and moving out and while I am delighted he is thinking about being a fully functioning adult, the thought that my baby will be on his own in the world one day makes it hard to sleep some nights.

I hope when he gets out there that he isn't too lonely.

As more and more adults in their 20s put off having children, the baby gap is widening. So much so, that economists have started to include births (or the lack thereof) as a signal that the economy has not fully bounced back from a recession.

It's a weird thought - at least at first - that babies are a consumable good that we can measure the economic growth by. But once the article pointed out that we spend a lot of money on our children with very little return of investment...well, they aren't wrong.

So what does this mean? Well, for one thing, there aren't a lot of babies being born this year, so the graduating class of 2037 is looking a little sparse.

It also means that no one is certain about the world's future population: I hopped to the article linked above after reading about the potential growth rate of the world and experts questioning how we would be able to sustain a population of 10 billion people. But to have that many people, we would need a lot more babies.

For me, I will continue to enjoy my time with my baby...because that time grows more precious as each day passes.

How many years do you have left with your "baby" in the house? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Another reason to play board games

When my son gets bored he has a list of items he generated to look at that will hopefully inspire him to find an activity. I recently figured out that I needed a similar list for when I have that random free hour on a weekend, and am not quite sure what to do with myself.

Both my son and I have "ask someone to play a board game" as an item on our lists.

We love games in our family and have a closet full of them. My husband and I like to play after dinner sometimes while my son is doing his "clean routine." And I love that time with my husband - when it is just the two of us in a semi-competitive spirit working through the strategy of a game after a long day at work.

It doesn't surprise me that playing games with my husband releases happy chemicals and makes us feel closer as a couple. It did surprise me that taking a painting class releases even more. A small study found that men who painted with their other half, released more oxytocin then during other activities.

So...I am not really a painter. If my husband would like to take a painting class with me, I hope he doesn't mind if mine looks like an abstract.

Or maybe he won't be interested in taking a class at all. Maybe we should just make sure that we are still spending time together trying to win at Rummikub.

Do you like to play board games with your spouse? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Keeping a close enough proximity

My son wakes up on a Saturday and walks into my office to give me a morning hug. He finds me reading on the couch and tells me not to move. He runs off, grabs a book, returns and settles on the other end of the couch, stealing most of my blanket. He tells me he loves it when we read together.

I love it, too.

I've reached a good point with my son where we are happy to do activities near each other, but they don't have to involve each other. This is a big thing for a lot of parents, especially parents of single children. I want my son to see my husband and I doing our own activities, because I want him to have an idea that Mom and Dad are fully functioning people. We can't model that behavior for him if we are so intensely involved in his life. So yes, we read near each other. Or my son works in the kitchen while I cook. Or, he works on a project at my desk while I clean out my office closet. 

It's proximity without crowding his space. I'm there to check in on him; he can ask questions if he needs me.

This goes for conversations, too. I ask questions, but try not to pry too much. The point is to let him know that I am interested in whatever he wants to share. And the payoff can be great: Days of not a lot to share, and then one day - BAM. A long (slightly convoluted) story that has been building up over several weeks comes out. And it is fantastic.

How could we have this moment together if I was constantly involved in his life?

Do you give your children enough room to live their own lives? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Rewarding exercise behaviors

We recently got a treadmill in our home. I used to run in the mornings before my family was awake, but it became a constant battle against weather and darkness and I almost got run down by a deer. (Yes, really.) I lost my motivation.

We got the treadmill and on the very first day my son wanted to use it. Since we have a rule that he can use it as long as he is supervised, we let him on it. There is a video integrated with the treadmill, so he ended up taking a walk through Reykjavik, Iceland, and he stayed on for the full tour. Afterward my husband and I made sure to give him lots of praise for sticking with the walk, which had several incline changes.

Later that night, my husband and I had a revelation that the treadmill would benefit our family in more ways than we originally thought: It's important for our son to see us exercise. By modeling this good behavior for him, we can help him develop an exercise habit as well.

Granted, he usually gets lots of exercise at school, but since I have read that most teens aren't getting their recommended dose of daily exercise, I don't think it will hurt for us to encourage him more often. And - actually - it won't hurt for all of us to encourage each other. Maybe this way we will all stay motivated.

And, I won't have to be on the lookout for deer.

How do you encourage your children to exercise? Tell me in the comments.