The Power Of Bad Habits

The other night I got really upset with my kids. They are 8 and 6 and they were bickering.  Again.  About what?  Nothing.  I got upset because their bickering has become nearly constant.  I sat them down and talked to them about it becoming a bad habit.

Two Different Personalities

My kids have two very different personalities.  They’re opposites in many ways.  My son is more the bookworm who is just fine playing on his own.  He has a difficult time fitting in, which breaks my heart because I was the same way around his age.  My daughter loves being around other people and has no problem making friends.  My son thinks very logically, where my daughter often drifts around in her thinking.

They’re both awesome and amazing, but the differences cause them to bicker.  Like, all the time.

It drives my wife and I nuts.  I know that others notice it, and it’s off putting.  I’m sure we get judged as parents though we honestly try our best  The fact is that they are two different people that spend a lot of time together, and butt heads often.

Still, it breaks our hearts when they bicker.  And, it often boils our blood.

The Start Of A Bad Habit

The bickering has become a really bad habit.  To the point where a small disagreement often instantly escalates into a shouting match.  When one or both is tired, this can happen literally 100 times between school and bedtime.

The other night, probably the 99th dust up took place and I had it.  I sat them down and tried to explain how important it was that they try to get along.  I didn’t just tell them they had to do it.  What I did was try to explain why.  And, more importantly, why they couldn’t put it off.

Bad Habits Take Root

Bad habits don’t form overnight.  You don’t just start doing something.  Most are a gradual thing.  They often take a long time to become a really bad habit.  The problem is that by the time you realize you’ve taken on a bad habit, it’s taken root in your life.  And just like some weeds that go far underground, they’re very difficult to get rid of.  If you pull a weed, it’ll come right back unless you get that root.  And, if you have a weed (like a dandelion) that roots far underground, it’ll always come back.  (My front yard can attest to this last fact).

That’s why, I explained to them, they have to address this now.

image from Morguefile courtesy of MGDboston

Bad Habits Don’t Go Away

I sat down and explained to my kids that their arguing wasn’t just impacting them now.  It’s setting them up for a bad relationship down the line.

Many people know that they’re doing something wrong and figure they’ll get to it later.  I know my kids think this way.  They figure they’ll just start getting along later.

The problem is, with bad habits, it doesn’t work that way.  Once a habit is there, it sticks there.  As time goes on, it gets tougher and tougher to get rid of.

So, I talked to my kids and explained that they’ll need each other in life.  I talked about middle school and high school, which are tough times, and how they will need to look out for one other.  I explained college and then growing up.  We talked about how one day my wife and I would’t be around, and it wouldn’t be just them.  This may seem like heavy stuff for kids that young, but I think kids need to hear it straight sometimes.  I often forget how much they can process.

And for each of the references, I explained that they wouldn’t just start getting along at any of those points if things didn’t change.

You might think, well it’s too late.  After all, they’re just 8 and 6, right?  Well, I don’t buy that at all.  There are so many things being formed in their brains. If they develop a relationship that isn’t based on trust and respect, that’s going to be how their relationship grows.  If anything, when they get to be teenagers and start hating everything, it’d be even tougher to form a stronger relationship.

The time is now.

My Fingernails As An Example Of Bad Habits

I am a nail biter.  I use this example a lot to go through how difficult it is to get rid of a bad habit. See, I started chewing my nails as a kid.  And, I still do today.

Had I stopped early on in life, it would have been a non-issue.  But, I didn’t break the habit, and now it’s with me.  Even if I do consciously quit, I think the most I’ve ever lasted is a month.  It took root and now it’s there.

I don’t want my kids bickering to be their version of nail biting.  They need each other.  To have each other can be a gift that they’ll one day want.  Need, in fact.  Trying to help them figure out a better relationship is something I desire greatly.  I even hinted it at in my 2018 goals, when I set one to ‘be protective’.  Our kids bickering and trying to get rid of it was the basis of that goal.

It’s probably the one that, if I could hope to achieve more than any other, I would target.  We can’t force them to like each other.  I would never ask my kids to change who they are.  But, I do want to make sure that they respect and appreciate each other.  That they look out for each other.  To protect each other.  It’s my biggest hope for them right now.

Readers, what do you think about bad habits?  Is it ever too early to try to work past them?  What habits have you seen that endanger relationships or affect someone for life?   Any suggestions on how to get two ‘opposites’ to form a relationship based on trust?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

12 Snow Day Activities For Kids

Kids love a snow day, right?  Every time it snows, the kids want to know if they will have school tomorrow.  On occasions they don’t, that’s great news!  For the kids, anyway.  For parents who now have to fill an unplanned day, it can be daunting. Thankfully, there are some easy and fun activities for any snow day!

Outdoor Snow Day Activities

image from Morguefile courtesy of zevik

If the kids are home with a snow day, that means that there’s snow on the ground.  Go outside and take advantage of it.

  • Build a snowman.  These can be fun and easy. Grab some extra hats and scarves and the kids will take it from there.
  • Shovel the driveway.  Kids may not get every bit of snow.  In fact, sometimes you’ll end up with more snow on the driveway than before they started!  That’s OK, though, because they’ll be having fun and keeping busy.
  • Carve out a snow fort.  If the snow is piled high enough, try hollowing out a fort.
  • Snowball fight!  Enough said.

Indoor Snow Day Activities

If it’s too cold, still snowing, or the kids have soaked their coats through, fear not.  There are plenty of things to do indoors on a snow day.

  • Bake cookies.  Kids love to help mix and scoop and watch their cookies rise in the oven.  And, of course, eating them!
  • Arts and crafts.  There are plenty of projects that kids could do.  They can make their own coloring book.  How about cards to send to family or friends?  They can make paper plate snowmen.
  • Movie and popcorn.  If you can’t get out of the house, bring the movies to you.  Pop some corn, close the drapes, and pop in a favorite movie.
  • Reading.  This can be a nice calm activity in the midst of the chaos!
  • Clean up project.  Have everybody work together to clean out a closet or something similar.  Kids may not initially like the idea of work, but once they get started, they will pile into the project.  And, then they’ll have some evidence of their accomplishment long after their snow day.
  • Video game tournament.  A little screen time is OK.  Make it fun and have a little tournament.  Just make sure everyone gets a chance to excel at something.
  • Scavenger hunt.  Kids like to look for things.  They also have great imaginations.  Send them off on a thrilling adventure around the world….all in your own house!
  • Build a fort.  Forts work great outdoors, but they also provide great fun indoors, too.  Couch cushions, pillows, blankets, and a few toys will get them engrossed in no time.

Readers, have you had to fill time with a snow day yet this year?  What fun things do your kids enjoy?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Thoughts On Our First Week Long Camping Trip of 2017

We generally do a week long camping trip twice per summer.  One is always over the 4th of July week.  We wrapped up our trip and it was a success.  I thought I’d share some of our (mostly) ups and downs, as well as a few laugh out loud moments.

The Popularity of Outdoor Activities Is Increasing

Driving on the freeway to get back and forth to the campground showed just how popular outdoor activities have become.  Michigan is always home to great summer activities and always has been.  However, even versus a few years ago, you can see a tremendous uptick.  The number of campers and boats shows that more and more have climbed out of the hole of the Great Recession.

Fireworks Don’t Work At 11:30

We’ve stayed at this campground before, but this was our first time staying for the 4th.  We were pretty excited when we found out that there was a fireworks display scheduled.  Everybody headed down to the lake shortly before dusk, which was around 10pm.  We waited, and waited and waited some more.  We’re quite a bit north and it was clear sky, so it didn’t get pitch black until past 10:30pm.  We figured they’d start then.  Nope.

It was a full hour after that before they started.  By that time, our kids had enough and were already in bed.  Our son was half asleep and enjoyed listening to them, anyway.  But, really, who in their right mind starts a fireworks display at 11:30pm?

A Bigger Gas Tank And Engine Saved A Stop

Most of our longer trips seem to be around 250 miles away from home.  With the old Buick towing, we would always have to stop for gas.  It was around a 20 gallon tank, and generally got around 10 MPG when towing.  I got a truck with a 26 gallon tank, and we averaged 12 miles per gallon, so we ended up saving a stop.  When towing, finding a gas station that’s RV friendly always adds another layer of complexity, so I was happy to avoid that part!

The Unlucky Made The Best Of It

Remember above how I said camping is more popular than ever?  This is especially true on the 4th, when just about every site in the state is booked.  We were able to snag two adjacent sites for our entire time, and they had a lake view to boot!  Others weren’t so lucky, but made the best of it.  Many people were able to get a stay at the park, but had to move sites at least once.  I saw one camper in at least three different spots.  Yikes!

Saving $80 Was Cool

We got a note a few weeks before our trip that the campground had been having sewer troubles.  They had a line break on three separate occasions.  During these, people that were camping couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers.  They had to use port-a-potties or pit toilets.  They allowed people to either cancel their reservation or offered a $10 reduction in fees to take the chance on staying.  Since we knew everything anywhere else was booked, we took the chance.  Thankfully, the bathrooms worked perfectly, so we saved $80 by taking a chance!

It Finally Got Easier With The Kids

When we started camping with our trailer, the kids were 3 and 1.  That was tough. Someone was always napping or eating or melting down and both needed pretty constant supervision.  The kids have grown, but even last year, neither was riding a bike without training wheels.  We always knew it’d get easier where they could be more independent, and this year it hit us that we were finally there.  Nobody needed a nap, they were flexibile with the meal times, and were able to do a lot on their own.

4th of July Trips Are Bad For My Awning

During the first year we had our trailer, the awning broke during a freak thunderstorm.  It almost happened again.  This time there was no thunder or rain, just wind.  We were sitting at the beach when it got really cloudy and dark and the wind started picking up.  In the five minute walk back, it was so bad that when we turned around, all we saw was a cloud of sand.  We ran back to the site and my in-laws and wife (who had walked back a few minutes earlier) were holding down the awning as it was bouncing around furiously.  Through the wind, we were able to get it rolled up, but it really seems that thing is cursed on these 4th of July trips!

Staying Healthy Worked….Sort Of

I wrote a couple of months ago that I knew these trips would put my fitness success at risk.  Between exercising less, eating more extravagent meals, and indulding in more alcohol, these trips had potential of derailing a lot of the success I’ve worked for.

Well, while I didn’t do great, I don’t think I did half bad.  I definitely found I was more strict at the beginning and

Image from morguefile courtesy of kzinn

less so at the end.  Still, I did pretty good on portion control and cutting back on my liquor intake throughout.  Snacking was the only area that I lost a little willpower on, but it was still better.  Plus, I ran three times during the trip.  Overall, this wasn’t perfect but it could have been a lot worse!

We Need New Meals

We’ve developed some pretty cool meals.  We have a good mix of campfire, grill, and comfort food meals.  But, many agreed that we’re starting to get a bit repetitious.  We never had a bad meal that I can remember, but very little of the dinners were exciting.  It’s time to shake things up, I think!

Tomato Plants Can Double In Size In A Week

We bought two little tomato seedlings at the farmers market back in May.  They grew quite a bit in the weeks before our trip.  Still, we were shocked when the doubled again in size in just the week or so that we were gone.  And it didn’t even rain!  The watering all came from our neighbors who helped us out.  Now, we have lots and lots of tomatoes on the way!

Readers, have you done anything fun so far this summer? What fun have you had or do you have planned?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Our son is finishing up a round of pediatric physical therapy.  He has been a ‘toe walker’ ever since he took his first steps.  While this doesn’t stop him from getting around, his pediatrician advised we take him to therapy after his last check up.  The reason for this is because toe walkers often don’t stretch out muscles and tendons in their foot.  This appeared to be the case for my son.  By having him go through therapy, we would all learn methods to stretch these out.  The hope is that it would lead to better walking habits.

The Results

So far, we’re one for two on the  goals noted above.  He has improved the mobility in his foot, meaning that it stretches out better.  This is a good thing.  Unfortunately, he still often walks on his toes.  We always tell him when we catch him, and he’ll drop down while he walks, but it’s just a habit that he’s not ready to break yet.  This isn’t ideal, but it means we’ll have to keep him engaged in the stretching exercises.  The good news is that he doesn’t have to go to therapy indefinitely. His movement will be measured by the pediatrician, and if needed, he might need to go back to therapy occasionally.

I know first hand that habits like this are hard to break.  I never got over my fingernail biting as a child, and I still do it to this day.  Who knows why some habits stick and others form?

Perspective After Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Since my son started attending therapy, my wife typically takes him.  She picks him up from school and drives him, and I get our daughter off the bus.  This worked best for us so that it didn’t interrupt my work day.

Still, my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to attend.  I had asked her a number of questions, and rather than be the go-between, she thought I should go.

So I did.

Attending was quite eye opening, but not for the reasons I thought.

Getting some of my questions answered and seeing how things worked was the easy part.  That just involved sticking my head through a door and spending a few minutes chatting with the therapist.  She clarified a few things and confirmed a couple of things I’d been thinking about post-therapy planning.  That was the easy part.

Where it really opened my eyes was seeing some of the other children in for therapy.  We were lucky to find a kids only therapy center, which has worked really well.  But, just as is the case with any medical office, you see the other patients as they enter and leave.

Some Amazing Kids

And I have to tell you, there were some pretty amazing kids there.  I saw a kid that didn’t seem to talk.  They were trying to work with her, and also have her communicate with a special tablet to make sure she had interaction.  I saw a kid who had been in some kind of accident who was really struggling, but working hard to get back to doing what had once been normal.  In the hour that I was there, I saw these and others.

And Some Incredible Parents

I also saw some pretty amazing parents.  It really put things in perspective for me in a number of ways.  We often get pretty wrapped in our own kids lives and their struggles, and we can sometime get overwhelmed in the process.  If one of the kids comes home with a note from school, it’s easy to get frustrated.  When we tell our son for what seems like the 50th time that day to walk on his feet, we become that nagging parent we promised we’d never be.  When we hear toilet talk, it pushes us closer to seeing red.

But, you know what?  Seeing what these other parents go through gives some much needed perspective.  For each other kid I saw there, I saw a parent that was fully supportive.  They were immersed in making sure that their child had every opportunity to work through their particular challenge.  The love was amazing.

It was really cool to see and it made me walk out with appreciation for what they do.  I’m sure it’s not always easy for them.  It can’t be.

Regardless, I had nothing but admiration for these parents.  It was an honor to be able to see this little bit of their lives.  And, it really put things in perspective.

Readers, have you had an eye opening moment like this?   Has there ever been a time when you got a look at someone else’s life, and it made you see yours differently?  Let me know your story in the comments below.  And, thanks so much for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.