A Fun Simple Way to Help Kids Dream Big

My dad has this friend… Possibly his only one? Maybe it’s a colleague? Let’s go with that. Sigh. Memory loss at 30… There is a person in my dad’s life… And this person once told my dad of one of the most brilliant, simple strategies he employed every evening at home with his tribe which he found to help kids dream big. My father, for his part, rushed home to tell us (grazie pops!)

I think you’re going to like this.

How to help your kids dream big

Can I tell you a story?

Once upon a time there was a little boy whose name was Mini Moose (what my son answers to most reliably… Obviously). MM was tall and strong and he loved God very much. Every morning he would jump out of bed with excitement ready to squeeze every drop of life out of the new day he had been given. He liked to wake up early to have some quiet time with the LORD before eating a healthy breakfast and going for a run. He always felt so good after a good night’s sleep, a workout, and a hot shower.

Mini had a whole day of meetings lined up with people who inspired him. He would ask them questions about how they got to where they were, and what he could help them achieve. He had learned 5 different languages because he liked a challenge, it extended his reach and helped him make people feel loved when he made the effort to speak in ways they would understand.

The Little Moose made sure to listen to good books while he drove from place to place so that his mind would be filled with new and interesting information. He loved to learn and to try new things, and was almost finished writing his second book.

How to help kids dream big

On weekends he loved to play with his band at retreats and spend some time watering and weeding his vegetable garden because nature refreshed him. He travelled the world and loved to explore with his family and global network of friends.

MM was in great physical, spiritual and financial health. He had great relationships and endless energy. He worked hard and loved life.

END STORY.

How to Help Kids Dream Big

Does that sound like the type of adult you would love for your child/ren to grow into? If not, change the story – make it the best life you can possibly imagine. And, here’s the key – tell it to them. Tell them often about the amazing things they can accomplish.

I find bedtime to be one of the best times for this… He is relaxed, and loves to hear me talk as he lies in bed… So rather than reading him a story most nights, I tell him a “once upon a time” about himself instead (read about our bedtime routine and sanity-saving-sleep-strategy). It changes a little everyday (but he would be just as happy if it didn’t).

My dad’s friend, colleague …person, told him of how his children have chosen to follow through on so many of the adventures he shared with them in story form as they grew (traveling, learning languages, taking on ambitious careers) – and that makes sense to me. They are after all living out stories of things they have “already accomplished”!

I’ve always believed that we need to set the bar high – but this is a fun, subtle, and potentially wildly effective way to get the word out. It doesn’t take the place of them dreaming for themselves, but they get the benefit of wisdom that comes with age to help them zero in on things that will merit their time.

What are some of the ways you are encouraging your children to live intentional and inspiring lives? How do you help kids dream big?

The Toddler Sleep Strategy that Has Saved our Sanity!

The toddler sleep strategy that will save your sanity!

….. And vacuum cleaners…. Boy loves to pray for vacuum cleaners.

Sleep has been one of the most contentious issues in our home since the birth of the boy.  We tired tried a number of “sleep training” methods in his infancy with little success because there were too many things that interrupted any good routines that we finally managed to perfect. And while we had different opinions, neither of us were quite comfortable letting our new babe scream until he passed out… (no judgement from me though… I know way too many people who sleep peacefully through the night as a result of it…). Toddler sleep has been eluding us of late though.

I’m excited today to share a new-ish strategy that somehow crept into our nightly routine and saved my sanity.   We recently transitioned to a “big boy bed” – read: a bed that a kid can escape from at will…as many times as he wants…. in 0.15 seconds….

At least it’s safer than his crib Houdini antics…

Boy now had the upper hand.

First, I had to convince him that his bed was special (and it IS!  we shlepped that organic mattress all the way from Canada people!).  Then I more or less hyperbolically sat on him until he zonked out on it. Rinse and repeat.  But it was taking SO much longer for him to fall asleep there then it did in his crib (we had it down to a 15 minute science) – which meant it that our new nighttime routine was gobbling up over an hour of our already short evening together as a couple.

Our Previous Routine to Encourage Toddler Sleep:

  1. Use the potty
  2. Put on a night-time diaper and pyjamas
  3. Brush teeth and wash face
  4. Turn on air purifier
  5. Close curtains
  6. Kneel beside bed and pray together
  7. Sing one of four favourite songs
  8. Place into bed
  9. Listen to litany of excuses and how “not sleepy” he was
  10. Remind him that he was, in fact, knackered
  11. Wait for him to pass out
  12. Sneak quietly out of bedroom.

NOW, the moment we have all been waiting for.  I suspect this would work on kids of most ages from infancy on….  don’t get too excited now, but actually you can, because it makes so much sense, and it’s loving, and lovely, and comforting and just a delightful way to leave a Little for the night.

The toddler sleep strategy that will save your sanity

Take a Deep Breath

No really.  That’s it.  Then take another one.

I’ve been having a bit of a tough time falling asleep for the past few months… and repeated deep breaths were helping me.  So why not him?

Following steps 1-7, our new 8th step is to sit quietly with him (I generally have to remind him that if he talks or moves around he goes straight into bed by himself-  instant calm).  Then holding him against my chest I take 15-20 deep, slow breaths and he begins to match them.

At the end of this, he is still awake, but so relaxed… and almost drowsy.  I put him right into his bed… he still insists that he is not tired… but the proof is in the pudding parents…. 2 minutes to snoozeville.

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking this is a miracle that works 100% of the time… but it’s been close for us!  There have been maybe 2 or 3 days over the last few weeks when he didn’t doze off quickly… but by and large – my boy and I enjoy a sweet time of winding down together, and he falls asleep on his own in under 5 minutes.

A peaceful and happy boy means this mama is full of joy!

Wishing you success and toddler sleep-dust 🙂

Feed the Boys More Fat! Why Boys Need More Fat than Girls

Fat is delicious, nutritious and an outrageously important part of our diets. It’s true, I promise! Don’t close me now! While children and adults of all ages must include essential fatty acids in their diets or risk becoming deficient and sick, here’s the low-down on why boys needs more fat in their diet than girls. It’s time to feed the boys more fat!

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are made up of two families: Omega 3’s & Omega 6’s. The latter are common enough in contemporary diets (safflower and sunflower oil, mayonnaise etc.) – but many people walking the streets today are doing so with inadequate amounts of Omega 3’s to keep them company. These fats are called essential because our bodies cannot synthesize them independently – we must get them from our diet. So many, however, lack these good fats because we are told to eat margarine instead of butter, skim instead of whole milk and egg beaters instead of full eggs.

Why boys need more fat than girls - feed the boys more fat

Why Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are Important

  • EFAs are an important component of every cell membrane in the body
  • The brain is made of 60% fat
  • Connections in the brain (synapses) require long-chain fatty acids to be efficient
  • EFAs are required for optimal fetal and infant brain development
  • The corpus collosum (a sheet-like bundle of nerves that connects the right and left brain hemispheres) is made of fat
  • The myelin sheath which covers nerves and speeds up signal transmissions is also made of fat
  • Most interestingly to me: The forebrain (the part of the brain used for sustained attention) – has the highest concentration (30% of the total brain fat) of DHA (an Omega 3). Hi-five from every mom of a boy!

Research on Boys Vs. Girls

Boys and girls are different – they play differently, have different ways of thinking (and different attention spans), and different biological makings. As a result, research is finding that they also have different nutritional requirements. Studies done with rhesus monkeys showed that mothers produced milk with 35% more fat and protein for male babies, and milk made for female babies was less fatty but higher in calcium.

Researchers based at Michigan State University studied 72 Kenyan mothers and found that women with sons generally made richer milk (2.8% fat compared with 0.6% for daughters). Another study of (well-nourished) Massachusetts’ moms discovered that they too produced milk that had 25% more energy content for boys than for girls.

Our bodies are total miracles! They know what they need 🙂 And in the case of boys – we need to get the message out. Little boys need 3 times the amount of essential fatty acids than little girls. This may be because estrogen is a fatty carrier and testosterone isn’t (and it explains how frustratingly difficult it can be for us women to lose weight, while men workout once and drop 5lbs).

Studies old and new have found that many hyperactive children were deficient in essential fatty acids. Ever notice how learning and behavioral difficulties are much more prevalent in the tiny dudes? Feed the boys more fat! Recent research out of Purdue University found that boys with lower Omega 3 blood levels were significantly more likely to exhibit hyperactivity, impulsivity, tantrums, sleep problems and anxiety.

How to Feed the Boys More Fat

  • Add some flaxseed or chia seeds to their oatmeal or mashed up banana (or sprinkle it into hummus, soup, or stew)
  • Add a tablespoon of high quality cod liver oil into their daily routine
  • Serve some walnuts with a meal or as a snack
  • Increase their intake of eggs (read about the other benefits of egg consumption here)
  • Allow for the liberal use of grass-fed butter and whole milk
  • Occasional seafood
  • Steam some brussel sprouts or kale with a meal

There is so much documented and anecdotal evidence of these foods helping to tame unreasonably rambunctious boys – and I’ve certainly seen a difference at times when we forget to include some of those sources for a few days. So share this message with a friend – and tell a mom at the end of her rope… there is hope 🙂 (look at that, a rhyme!) Down with Ritalin and in with the fat!

10 Things to Teach a Toddler in 10 Minutes or Less

I’m about to start working (my parents are nodding their heads with vigorous enthusiasm at that assertion) – I hear it’s the thing to do in your fourth decade of life (I’m 30…but that means I’m entering my 4th decade… Right? Ack. Say it ain’t so!)  Naturally, I’m suddenly panicked about just how little time I have left with my little Bean before I abandon him for the thing they call…. The Grind. So today I have a rundown for ya of 10 things to teach a toddler in 10 minutes or less.

I’m scrambling to impart my decades (so many decades!!) of wisdom before this happens.  There’s no formal schooling happening in our home right now because I’m a firm believer that kids learn through play – but according to our 3-15 chunks – we do try to do a teeny bit of slightly more “formal” learning everyday.

In a way, it’s an experiment to see just how much a little 2-year old brain can process (spoiler alert:  EVERYTHING), it gives a little more structure to our day, and he finds it highly amusing. Win-win-win.

So if you find yourself with some time to kill (Some of these work really well in lengthy car ride situations as well) – go to town (pun so intended) with some of these!

10 Things You can teach a toddler in 10 minutes

10 Things to Teach a Toddler in Under 10 Minutes

1. A capital of a country, or where the extended family lives (i.e.: Auntie Annie lives in Pickering)

10 things you can teach a toddler in 10 minutes

2. A letter and what it is for (N is for Nana, or M is Mommy’s letter)

3. How to (properly) do a small chore (tidy up the shoes in the hallway, put dirty clothes in the laundry machine, make a bed, wash your hands, put away books)

4. How to say “hi” or “thank you” in another language (the little will sometimes blurt out “merci beaucoup” and there is nothing sweeter)

5. A short Bible story or verse (with actions, always with actions)

6. A fun new song

7. A game that gets them moving (like “tag”), or how to do a squat, oh and lunges are aaaa.dorable.

8. How to put on or take off an article of clothing (shoes and socks have been a doozie for my little Einstein! Haha!)

9. How to write the number “1” or “7” (the easiest I reckon for their pudgy, uncoordinated hands)

10. How to give better hugs or kisses (puckers and squeezes for daysss) …. The gift that keeps on giving – for at least a decade….right?

What else have you seen success with?  I love how independent he is becoming, and we’re having the best time enabling him!

A 30 Year Old Mom – Lessons Learned

Hellooooo world! I’m a 30 year old mom!

Hard to believe and yet…. FINALLY. I polled the whole store when we were glasses shopping last week to make sure that my new frames would make me look older. Or at least over 16 – and I think we were successful. Stay tuned. This girl is growing up 🙂

A 30-year old mom - Lessons learned - Cutting Edge Kid

Is it okay if we go a little off-road today and do an update instead of a straight up cutting edge kid solution?

Virtual thanks!

So remember when I talked about how we do birthdays chez nous? (Read about our limited gifts approach here) – well husband did not disappoint. Every year since we got married he has planned a special overnight trip for us – Montreal, Niagara Falls, Ras Al Khaima resort and this time……drumrollllll…… ATLANTIS the Palm here in Dubai :). Man he’s a keeper.

I’d heard about this mystical land, and it lived up to the rumors. A suite bigger than our apartment, unlimited waterpark and aquarium access, calories for daysss, and my first night away from the son!

Surprise and soul searching - cutting edge kid
That washroom though!
Surprise and Soul Searching - Cutting Edge Kid
The view by night

A 30-year old mom - lessons learned - cutting edge kid

I woke up to a love letter, rose, latte, croissants and cannoli for breakfast (another husband win!), and we packed our bags for a secret destination, son in tow. 30 seconds after getting into the car, I began to hear “you are arriving at your destination” in Stud Muffin’s best GPS voice. And we were – this staycation was just minutes away in distance, but planets away in everything else.

I just think that these times away from reality – these little bites of carefree timelessness we enjoy are infinitely refreshing and so valuable for our little family. The son got to enjoy “so much fishies and stingrings” plus hours of fun in the lazy river, before husband dropped him off at home so we could enjoy a romantic dinner and peaceful slumber.

Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium - cutting edge kid

Atlantis Aquaventure - Cutting Edge Kid

People say that you can grow older without growing wiser and better. I bet it’s true. But I also think it’s hard to do if you have a child (or many). It is a serious reality check to see your worst self surfacing in his tiny ways, and an inspiration to see him choose to do good, to be kind, and so full of joy.

In my two years as his mother, I have learned that:

– Routines rule and make for a more peaceful home – but sometimes we just need to break free of them and have serious unencumbered fun
– Everything I say and do matters, but I am blessed to be given chance after chance
– Everyone is happier when the son is well rested (read about that here)
– Any time I overestimate his abilities, he comes through and lives up to my crazy expectations. So I expect a lot.
– Every little issue that we have as parents is a direct blessing from the LORD and one that develops a virtue we need (known or not)

So in this next year, and next decade of my life, I am working on becoming the best version of myself, so that I can be the best example to my children and the best wife to my most wonderful husband. I’ve seen kids who turn out to be wildly different from their parents, but by and large we are products of those who raise us. My birthday wish and constant prayer is that I would be an intentional mother that raises cutting edge kids who will raise other cutting edge kids and win this world for Good.