0

Resisting The Digital Divide

This morning started out like any other morning. Our morning routine typically consists of one or both kids waking us up at an outrageously early hour, one of us dragging ourselves out of bed, turning on the tv, making coffee and then turning on a computer to check emails or start working (Eventually, we feed the kids too). I’m not exactly proud of this routine. I’d like to say that each morning we sit with the kids for some quality time but the reality is, as for most parents, mornings are hectic, rushed and time starved to say the least.

But, today was different.  I don’t know why but when I sat on the couch to say a proper good morning to the kids, I forgot to get up and inadvertently got sucked into watching one of their shows (Busytown Mysteries, if you must know. Catchy theme song!). I ended up watching the whole thing and then realized that I didn’t once look at my phone or my computer. What a great feeling to just sit with the kids and enjoy with them something that they enjoy so much.  Sure, it was TV but we’ll fight that battle later.

Something from this experience carried with me through the morning. As I was riding the subway to work, I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket to read a book, check the news, play a game… anything that would keep me from engaging the world around me (I’m usually pretty grumpy from lack of sleep – thanks, kids!). My first instinct was to quickly look down at my shoes, dig in my pocket, pull out my phone and ignore humanity like I usually do. But this time, I hesitated and forced myself to look around.

And I was alone.

A subway full of people, and each one an island (poetic, isn’t it?). Every person was head down with their mobile device. No one was looking around taking in their environment. Granted, doing so too intently on a NYC subway can, in rare circumstances, get you in trouble but it struck me that people (and I include myself) are so intent on not engaging that we miss the world around us. Now, don’t misinterpret this as me being anti-technology. Far from it but, I realized a truth from both my experiences and it was best said by Ferris Bueller*:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So slow down, look up and take it all in.  That’s how memories are made.

Wishing you happy memories.

Liad Spiro

COO, Husband to Founder and enjoyer of kids’ cartoons

* If you remember Ferris Bueller, then we’re both getting old. Welcome to our generation.

0

Hacking Parenthood Series: Starter Tips

In my career at Google, I attended thousands of presentations by industry experts and motivational speakers. Many were filled with exciting ideas and new developments. I would often leaveBlinkbuggy Parenting them feeling inspired, but also helpless, because the presenter didn’t provide any idea what to do next. Everyone needs a first step.

My favorite speakers were the ones who left the audience with at least one thing they could go back to their desks and do right away. That’s my goal for the parenting hacks series – each post should leave you with one thing (or more) you can easily do today. A lot has been written on the topic of mindfulness and mindful parenting. A key component of this approach is the idea that encouraging gratitude and giving in our children can actually help them feel happier. Kindness makes us happier and altruism is intrinsically rewarding. Therefore, the question becomes, how do we help our children learn to be thankful for what they have and develop the skill of kindness and giving to others?

I’ve enjoyed reading in this area over the last few years, and I’ve collected a number of actionable tips. Here are two small things you can do that will make a big difference.

Toddler: Create for someone else.

It’s so simple, it’s beautiful! When your toddler is coloring or making an art project, suggest that he / she create another work for someone else. Ask who he/she would like to make one for, and then write that person’s name and your child’s name on the drawing or project. Why add the names? It makes it personal and helps even small children feel that they are making a difference. My children always smile when they see their name on the paper and they almost always want to do another one from someone else.

School-age child: Change the question.

It’s so simple, it’s genius! This one is my favorite. What do we ask our kids every day when they come home from school? “How was school today?” And the response is invariably limited and vague. Then we get smarter and we ask, “What was your favorite thing you did at school today?” We get a slightly more detailed response and learn a little more.

But how about asking, “What’s something nice someone did today at school?” Wow! This one is a game changer. When I first read this suggestion, I thought it sounded so simple and smart but questioned whether my five-year-old daughter would really understand the question and be able to respond with any depth. The results were amazing and ranged from heartfelt to hilarious. Here are two responses that come to mind.

  1. She recounted a time when a child in her class had just returned after being away for some time early in the school year. When the teacher called for meeting time, the little girl could not remember or find her designated spot on the rug. Another child got up, took her hand to lead her to her spot. This was the first story she told me and I was so pleasantly surprised by the response – this was truly an act of kindness and my daughter recognized that. She went on to tell me that, while motivated by kindness, the second little girl couldn’t really help because she couldn’t remember where the spot was either!
  2. My daughter and a friend were using the computer in the classroom and gearing up to play a game on it. They both wanted to go first and were fighting over that. Then the friend stopped and let my daughter go first. Okay, not quite as heartwarming as the first example, but again, the recognition of someone else’s kind act and of the feeling of appreciation is what mattered.

This simple question has opened a window into her understanding and interpretation of kindness that I didn’t previously have. Not only is it fascinating to me as a parent and someone who is interested in brain development, but on a practical level it gives me a baseline from which to build and helps me to ask age- appropriate follow-up questions. It opens the door to conversation on this topic.

I’m grateful for the suggestion!

I hope you can make use of these two “first-step” ideas. And here are some additional resources, if you want to learn more about the benefits of gratitude:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/being_kind_makes_kids_happy

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/five_ways_to_raise_kind_children

Emma Weisberg

Founder & CEO, Blinkbuggy

0

Remember The Most Important Moments: Part 1

Remember the most important moments: Top 3 things you want to write down in baby’s first month.

Part 1 of the Milestones series from Blinkbuggy’s founder and CEO, Emma Weisberg.

Mom_baby_feetThe first month with a newborn baby is hard! No sleep, lots of crying, diapers, feeding, burping…it can feel like a never-ending cycle. Thankfully, even though it can be hard to remember in the moment, there is also so much joy and love mixed in and a lot of stories to tell already!

While every mom experiences the first month differently, having talked to many moms (and having been through it myself!), one thing is universal: the desire to have written more things down.

So learn from our regrets. Here are 3 of the top memories you’ll want to be sure to write down in that first month. Right now it may seem as though you could never forget the details of the day your baby was born, but trust me, you will be thankful that you wrote it down. And, in twenty years, your baby will be thankful too.

  1. The story for your baby’s name.

Write a note to your little one explaining the story behind their name. How did you choose it? What does it mean? Was it easy or hard to decide upon and was everyone in agreement? How about the other ‘contenders’ – what other name(s) did your baby almost have? Looking back, it’s hard for us to even imagine calling our babies something other than their names now, but we had some doosies!

 

  1. The birth story.

No matter how it goes, there is always a story to be told about the day your baby arrived. Who was there? Where were you? Did the baby arrive early, late or just on time? How long did it take? What crazy, unanticipated events ensued?

 

  1. The stats.

Don’t forget to mark down the stats! Date and time of birth. Length and weight. Hair and eye color. The name of the doctor or midwife (or taxi driver!) who delivered your baby.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Remember The Most Important Moments” series coming soon.  Until then, Happy memories!

Emma Weisberg

Founder & CEO, Blinkbuggy

0

Guest Post by Lisa Stern – Listen/Observe: Advice from a Seasoned Pediatrician

We always love to hear different perspectives and approaches to raising children. It’s easy to forget that “your way” is not the “only” way – we won’t tell the kids! – and that, as hard as it is, it’s sometimes more helpful to let our kids go on their own than it is to step in and lead the way. In fact, in this guest post by Lisa Stern, it’s doctor’s orders.  Lisa is a board certified pediatrician in Santa Monica, CA who spends her days with kids.  We’re thrilled to have her share her perspective on the Blinkbuggy Blog!


Listen/Observe: Advice from a Seasoned Pediatrician

I’m a parent. I suspect you’re a parent too.

And like many people ( parents or otherwise), I usually have an agenda. Whether I’m at work, at home, or with my daughters I frequently go through life with a check list.  I use my over scheduled life as an excuse. We all need to get things done, right? And while it’s useful to have an overall game plan, it’s not always necessary to have an endpoint. Sometimes it’s really great just to observe and listen to our children and not to instruct or micromanage their every move. It’s difficult not to play the role of coach and teacher. Parents often cross the line; it’s hard not to.

My personal and professional experience has taught me that being a good parent means to step back, observe and listen. This advice may go against your instincts. It went against mine.  I see a lot of parents who are tryinLisaStern_1g to make their kids better, faster, more.  We live in a competitive world and parents want their children to have every advantage possible. But the longer I am in the business of working with children and their parents, the more I realize that one of the best parenting skills is to do nothing and simply watch. Watch your toddler play with a toy, watch your child complete her homework (or not), watch your teen struggle with middle-school friend drama.  Watch, and avoid the impulse to fix things. Children develop self-esteem by doing things on their own and solving problems. Trial and error teaches children perseverance. Frustration, and learning how to cope with it, is one of the more important life skills to let your child learn. Think about your adult life. What makes you feel good? All your accomplishments are nice but do they make you feel good about yourself? Being good at something doesn’t mean you have good self-esteem. Remember that the next time you are coaching your child to throw the best curve ball.

It’s a gift to be able to stand back and watch your child’s process.  Take the time to see where your daughters and sons own development leads them.  It will be refreshing and liberating to cast aside your agenda. Let your little ones be themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel like there is always an endpoint. They will be better off in the long run and therefore, so will you.

LisaStern_2

Lisa Stern, MD
Pediatrician, Tenth Street Pediatrics
Santa Monica, CA

0

Perspective On A TED Talk: Science Is For Everyone, Kids Included

Our daughter just started kindergarten. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened so fast.

In the first week, we met with her teacher and at one point she asked us, “What do you want your daughter to get out of this year?” One of the first things that popped into my head was an appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not expecting our 5 year old daughter to come out of Kindergarten with a PhD. It’s not that I don’t think she could. She’s brilliant, of course, but … oh, never mind… Continue reading

0

Blinkbuggy Perspectives: Generations

Hello Blinkbuggy-ers!

It has long been our belief that, while Blinkbuggy is primarily focused on capturing our thoughts, experiences and moments as parents, it should not be limited to those perspectives.  We ask our own parents, family and friends to add their thoughts and experiences to our story which makes our story that much richer.

But since Blinkbuggy’s birth, another thought has been echoing around the cavernous space that is my head, and that is, Blinkbuggy as a “Retrospective”.  As parents, we are focused on looking forward, adding the new memories that happen to our family and us each day.  Then, every so often, we reach back into our own past to pull in memories that mirror something happening today.  For example, when I was 2 years old, my mom dressed me up in a pair of bright red overalls…corduroy nonetheless! (It was the 70’s so I should be thankful it wasn’t velvet).  Continue reading

0

Blinkbuggy Observations: Cyber Meals

The line between a true “family meal” & just sitting together at the same table is drawn by the distance from your phone and your motivation to go get it. We’re trying to keep the distance high and the motivation low. Turns out there’s withdrawal.  And it’s not just us – as one parent highlights in a great piece on the Huffington Post (link below), our kids are starting early too.  She saw a potential future state and resolved to take action!

how-one-photo-changed-everything by Lori Leibovich

Kids_Texting