Writing is a sedentary activity. Although there are several clever ways to make it less of one, the fact is most people do it while sitting. There are treadmill desks where writers can walk slowly while they tap away at the keys. There are standing desks where instead of sitting you stand which is supposed to be better for the core and all the supporting muscles, and then there are a variety of balls and other sitting things that are supposed to encourage movement.
I’ve tried the standing desk and found that I avoided working at the computer because of it. It made more parts of me hurt than simply sitting. My back hurt, my feet hurt, my neck hurt, it wasn’t worth it, even if it was “healthier.” I must have been doing it wrong. Perhaps I should have tried it while wearing shoes.
I tried sitting on an exercise ball and liked it but mine was not large enough and a bit under inflated to boot so that when I sat on it my chin was level with the edge of the desk. Even if I had the right one and it was perfect I just know that my kids would steal it every chance they could and use it to bowl for their little brother.
The problem with needing to spend extra hours at a keyboard is that you don’t have those hours to do healthier things. And if you’re any bit like me you also use that time to nibble.
Because of this I’ve found stray pounds being attracted to me little lost puppies. The first few didn’t bother me, there were even kinda cute in a way. Well, not really. The problem started when they started inviting friends to come and hang out around my midsection.
Now, it’s time to declare war. I’m tired of finding that half my pants no longer fit and want my old belly back. This means sneaking in more activity and exercise during the day and watching calories.
Bring it on.
Most mornings for normal people consist of a few basic elements. The alarm goes off and there is that moment of decision whether to get up or sleep a few more minutes. There is some sort of dressing and breakfast routine. Depending on preference, the morning may take place in a few hectic minutes or may take a few leisurely hours. I’m all for the leisurely mornings, anyone know how I can get one?
This morning at precisely 6am I was woken by a cannister of oatmeal.
It wasn’t the oatmeal’s fault either. It had been removed from the kitchen by my two year old who decided it was time for breakfast. This kid must have been a ninja in a past life. He managed to escape his room, descend the stairs, loot the kitchen, and appear at my bedside, all without arousing the suspicion of either sleeping parent’s well tuned ears.
Being silently presented with oatmeal is a far better way of waking up than finding someone standing at my bedside staring at me as it’s far less likely to cause a heart attack. I’ve had plenty of the latter at all times of the night. Apparently when my son sleep walks I’m the first person he visits, which is as freaky as it is flattering.
I did end up making him oatmeal, it’s healthy and easy and thankfully cheap. I’m told Anne Hathaway used it to help her lose weight to achieve that starved look in Les Miserables.
He didn’t end up eating it. While trying to scoot in his stool at the counter he ended up falling off and scaring himself. We cuddled with his sippy of milk instead. The days are numbered where he is small enough and will still let me scoop him into my arms and just hold him. I will take all that I can get until then.
Even if it means being woken up by a cannister of oatmeal.
The other day we were out doing errands and heading to IFA, one of my kids favorite stores. They love looking at the baby chicks, duckies, and rabbits and all the different hutches and chicken coops. I like it be cause they have great prices on lawn fertilizer and stuff that you can’t get anywhere else. Props for being awesome parents and getting stuff checked off the to do list at the same time, right?
Well, almost. Two minutes into the drive Baby D starts screaming. We passed a McDonalds and he wants to go play. It doesn’t matter that we just ate lunch, he stretches his pudgy fingers toward the window and throws himself against the five point harness and screams, “‘Donoulds! Donoulds!” as loud as he can. This continues until the golden arches are well out of sight. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another on the way there and I make a mental note not to come back the same way to avoid another bout of screams.
The older two no longer scream for McDonalds, thankfully. Their protests come in the form of whining, manipulating, and flat out being obnoxious – usually because they are getting on each others nerves for offences such as breathing and existing, or their batteries on their devices have died. When I saw the rides and balloons of the county fair ahead in the distance I knew I was in for it. No amount of cute chicks or duckies would beat anything they would see as we passed.
Had I the presence of mind to trick them into looking the other way I would have. “Hey kids, I think I see a giant creeper climbing over the mountain out this window!” It sounds lame, and it works and I couldn’t get the words out in time. Dang it.
The excited shrieks filled the backseat as we all watched the ferris wheel make is rounds next to the road. The whole fairground is filled with rides and stands selling funnel cake and hot dogs. And we say no. We aren’t going.
Worst parents ever.
As predicted, the car erupts into screaming and wailing. It’s not that we don’t want to go, if the prices for the rides were reasonable and there wasn’t much of a wait to get on then we might find a way to go for an hour or two, but they aren’t. When each ride is anywhere from one to three dollars to ride and a parent has to come along and you have several kids, one of which is too little to ride, and it takes anywhere from thirty minutes to well over an hour to wait in line for each one, and waiting in line is one of those things that your kids can’t handle for any amount of time – just thinking about it makes me break out in an anxious sweat.
One day we will go, when everyone is old enough to handle standing in lines and understand that waiting isn’t mom and dad’s way of inflicting torture. Until then, we endure the bouts of anger and – heaven forbid – the whining, and simply drive on.
Summer vacation is just around the corner and while I’m looking forward to slower mornings and less structure, there’s a part of me that is starting to panic. With year round schooling we have had several mini breaks throughout the year so it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well, no – but it is anyway.
Summer break is longer and for some reason there are higher expectations to fill it with a variety of fun and educational activities. All of those activities take planning and guidance and endless driving around the city.
It’s not that I mind, I like the activities as much as my kids, and sometimes more. What’s making me sweat is that unless I make a conscious daily effort, the chances of me making some real progress on my book during summer break, are slim.
I don’t like extra effort when I can avoid it. It’s a personality flaw that one day I’ll get under control. I always look for the easiest way to get from start to finish. If the laundry needs folding, I’ll often wait until the kids are at school so I can listen to my favorite podcasts undisturbed while I work. I could just as easily do it while they are scrambling around me, but why?
It’s the same with writing, although the need for focus is greater, where I wait until the kids are at school and the youngest is sleeping before I even bother to start. If it weren’t for my deadlines I would do the same for blogging. I write this as my middle child is arguing with me about the fact that she has to get dressed before she can go outside. Distracting? Heck yeah. I might be strange and a bit lazy but I do have standards.
All this means is that it’s time to do some serious plotting and planning on the best and hopefully most economical way for everyone, myself included, to have a phenomenal summer.
Technology surrounds today’s kids. There are TV’s and computers at home and iPods for everywhere else. It’s too easy for parents to stick their kids in front of a screen to entertain them. When playing video games kids are quiet, they are not running around, and they are not making messes. Some of the games are even educational. It seems like the perfect toy.
However, kids need to move their bodies. Their brains are wired to need motion and active play to make important connections. Playing video games doesn’t help with any of this. Plus, kids need to play with other kids to learn social skills. Video games don’t get angry and punch you if you do something to get on their nerves, other kids will.
At our house we’ve had a chronic epidemic of the game Minecraft. Every dinner time conversation, every free minute, and every playtime activity has revolved around the game. My kids were on the computer, MY computer, every minute they could to create and manipulate their miniature worlds.
Don’t get me wrong, Minecraft is a great game, it encourages creative thinking, spacial reasoning, and problem solving skills. No one gets blown to bits in bloody combat and the goal isn’t violence. It also, thankfully, doesn’t have really annoying background music that so many other games have.
But too much of anything is bad. Just ask my daughter who managed to eat over a pound of Easter candy yesterday. Some years I ration the candy, this year I decided to let them discover exactly why eating too much candy isn’t a good thing. Evil mom tactic? Heck yeah.
We definitely had too much Minecraft and screen time in general around the house. The kids were getting increasingly crabby as the tentacles of addiction began to take hold. They physically craved their iPods and you could see the discomfort it caused when they had to be parted with them. Before school iPod and TV had to stop because it caused too much drama and anger when I had to make them turn off and get ready to go.
Taking things away makes me the bad guy and I hate being the bad guy. So I came up with a brilliant strategy. I gave them lists of things that needed to be done before they would be allowed to play iPod. Now, instead of saying that they can’t do something, I now can say, “Of course you can do it, when you finish your _____________.”
These lists are simple and have things on them that they already need to do. They don’t take long and make it so I don’t have to nag. The morning list has things like brush teeth, do one chore, and make bed. The after school list has things like do homework, and reading time.
My kids have already found one loophole. Since they know I won’t force them to do their lists by a certain time on days where we don’t have things scheduled, they will engage in creative play with each other. Eventually they’ll want to play their iPods and the list gets done but until then they go off and play on their own. This morning they’ve spent almost two hours playing mega blocks because they’re not ready to do their work. There hasn’t been a word said about iPods and everyone is happy.
Which means I’m happy as well. I’ve been able to spend time on the things that I want to do, including writing this post. I don’t mind that my family room looks like a bomb hit, they are playing creatively and with each other and I didn’t have to ask for any of it!
We are blessed to have a little slice of entropy at our house. Entropy is the force of nature that abhors order and will pull things back into a general state of chaos. In our house this force of nature is a vivacious two-year old, although his older brother and sister definitely qualify. We all have our moments.
This morning our toddler, Baby D, woke up an hour early and proceeded to drag me around the house by my pinkie so he could turn all the lights on. I would much rather have had a nice quiet morning cuddle where we could enjoy each other without anyone else making demands on me, but no, it had to be the lights. I wouldn’t have minded as much but more lights on equals more likelihood of waking the rest of the flock and I’ll do anything to prevent that.
Including nuking frozen burritos at 7 AM. After he was satisfied with the lights, Baby D started screaming and yanking at the freezer. When this kid gets hungry he gets a little nutso. To quiet him I opened it and he grabbed the bag of frozen burritos, ran to the couch and sat clutching them in his arms like they were a long lost favorite stuffed animal.
You see, this kid only talks when he absolutely has to and that makes figuring out his needs tough. When he’s tired or angry or frustrated, which is all the time, he won’t speak but instead will grunt and point and drag you around by whatever finger he can get his little hands on. Usually it’s the pinkies because they are easier to grab and get your attention faster. They hurt more when twisted.
The whole burrito fiasco is only the tip of the iceberg in a series of bizarre and typical two-year old behavior that humbles me daily. Yesterday we had a run in with smelly markers and his hands are still green. I wish it were easier and not always this ongoing game of charades trying to figure him out. Sometimes I feel like a human metal detector with him riding on my hip and pointing towards what he is trying to find. Most of the time I can figure it out, and if I’m lucky it’s something he can actually play with and not scissors or hoards of candy.
If I’m not lucky there’s the screaming and whining and hitting and throwing things and the decent into chaos which two-year olds are famous for. Some days, I swear he trying to see just how far down the rabbit hole of crazy I can go. I haven’t found the bottom yet, and not for want of trying.
Maybe today will be day!