Better parenting through hashtags

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Recently I rediscovered Twitter (during a social media fast) and lost 2 kilograms in 2 weeks.

How are these facts related? And what has this got to do with parenting? Read on. All shall be revealed.

At the start of August I decided to quit sugar and start eating low-carb. (Short story: sugar = poison). To get some accountability going, I looked for an easy way to keep a food log. Twitter proved perfect.

For a couple of weeks now, all food that enters my mouth gets tweeted about. This approach helps me stay motivated and consistent. It happens to be educational as well. 

I learned a lot of nutritional wisdom on Twitter and a slew of English words. My native language is Dutch, so I had to look up the translation of things like peultjes, rucola, courgette, aubergine, kurkuma… (snow peas, arugula, zucchini, eggplant, turmeric…)

But this isn’t an article about food.

Because my new logging habit served me so well, I figured it might also help with other life areas, like parenting.

So besides keeping a #lowcarb #foodlog, I now also tweet about parenting habits and regulating emotions, with hashtags like #mbslog, #bcbqwin and #bcbqfail.

Let me explain those…

#mbslog

Short for: Mind, Body & Soul Time log.

Mind, Body, & Soul Time is time spent one-on-one with each of your children, consistently and individually with each parent, on an activity they choose. Not only will it give you a better bond with your kids, but the attention and power boosts will fuel better behavior.

— Amy McCready

Most days I work at home and spend a lot of time with wife and kids, but Amy McCready’s book made me review the quality of that time together.

I sure saw the importance of daily one-on-one time with each of my daughters, playing something of their choice. To be in “child mode” with them, instead of constantly parenting them around.

For a while Res and I stuck to this habit and reaped the benefits. But it proved challenging not to let it slip. And let it slip we did. Life can get pretty busy, right?

Starting an #mbslog rekindled my intention to give Mind, Body & Soul Time priority again and find new ways to make it happen.

As I write this, it’s not a daily habit yet, but at least it’s firmly back on my mind.

#bcbqwin #bcbqfail

Short for: Be Calm or Be Quiet Win (or Fail)

Our most important responsibility as parents is regulating our own emotions, which is essential for our children to learn to manage themselves.

– Dr. Laura Markham

Few people push my buttons like my kids do.

The thing is, children tend to pick up more from our behavior than our words. So if I get a little tantrum of my own when they’re disobedient once again, guess what will happen next time they don’t get what they want?

I’ve learned that anger has a lot to do with feeling powerless. Especially in stressful moments when you feel pressed to find a solution. When nothing seems to work, you can get emotionally overwhelmed and lose the ability to think logically. Result? Chaos!

Meditation has helped me to find a new baseline of calm in my life. And I’d like to say that I’m always equanimous because of it, but that would be a lie.

It’s not a cure all. It tends to work non-linear instead of providing a quick fix when difficult emotions suddenly arise.

That’s why I believe we need more tools in our toolbox, like a good parenting philosophy, better communication skills and a go-to method to calm down faster.

For the latter there are techniques like The Work, The Sedona Method, box breathing, tapping… (see links below)

Which one is best? Whichever works for you to “let go” of difficult emotions or negative thoughts so you can respond from a place of peace.

I have found it takes daily practice to make real progress. Publicly tweeting about my trial and errors sure keeps me on my toes.

Feel free to join in, if you dare. 😉

If you’re on Twitter and decide to give it a go, let me know. You can send me a direct message or an e-mail.

Take care,
David

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Links

What I learned from being a lousy vegetarian

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Bad breath and good advice

Yesterday I went on a lunch date with my wife. We picked this new spaghetti restaurant where I had a whole grain “Green Hugger”. A delicious overdose of veggies, herbs and spices. Today I can kill vampires by breathing in their direction.

Before lunch, I’d been to physio. (Short story: my barefoot running stint resulted in painful achilles tendinopathy.) My physiotherapist Koen is a friendly guy who’s big on eating healthy. While electrocuting my ankles, he explained that people should be educated about food:

“They diet for a while, but soon it’s back to eating chips in front of the TV …”
“You need to avoid those glucose spikes … “
“Do you know what aspartame was originally? A pesticide! It kills things!”

Which brings me back to my wife.

Information is not enough

I told Koen that my wife drinks a lot of Coke Zero. He promptly gave me printouts with scientific data about the dangers of aspartame. I thanked him but said that no amount of information has ever changed her mind. Res just likes Coke Zero. Period.

She does not (want to) believe it’s bad for her. It doesn’t help that the scientific research is inconclusive. And she experiences no disadvantages from ingesting aspartame. Therefore she has no intrinsic motivation to avoid it. Unlike me.

It’s very easy for me not to get hooked on diet soda. I tried it a couple of times, hated it and got headaches on both occasions. I don’t need scientific proof. My body protests immediately. Case closed.

If mere information was enough, no one would smoke, everyone would eat healthy and I’d be worshipped by young maidens. But that’s not the world we live in, is it?

Willpower is not enough

Decades ago, I annoyed friends and family by being a hardcore vegetarian.

PETA opened my eyes to the cruelty animals go through just because they’re tasty. I also learned that the simplest and cheapest thing anyone can do to reduce our impact on the planet is to eat less meat.

For 3 years this motivated me to:

  • Stop eating meat and fish
  • Check labels for hidden animal ingredients
  • Be a pain in the ass at weddings, barbecues, family parties, evenings out with friends …

The truth is that it was HARD. I still loved the smell of cooked meat. The thought of smoked salmon made me drool. People gave me flak. Also, back then there weren’t many shops or restaurants that took vegetarians into account. You had to be determined!

One evening I got the new job I wanted. Res and I decided to celebrate. It was getting late and we couldn’t find a restaurant that served vegetarian meals. So I had some fish “just this once”.

Yeah right.

Make it easier

So if information and willpower aren’t enough, what does it take then?
Over the years I learned that to change bad habits:

  • You do need good information to start with.
  • Intrinsic motivation is essential. This is why I don’t drink diet soda but my wife does.
  • The influence of our environment can’t be underestimated.
  • To make lasting change, you’ll have to make it easier for yourself.

I’ve already mentioned the 12 habits I want to do everyday. Some of them are going pretty well, like: sleep enough, meditate, choose priorities … while others are more challenging: exercise, repeat intention, be calm or be quiet …

What challenges have you failed at so far? How can you make it easier?

Take care,
David

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A better approach to Work-Life balance

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I’m onto something here. It started off as a long article about Work-Life balance. Then it took the proportions of an e-book, and now … well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meanwhile it’s keeping me away from blogging. If you want know when it’s finished, drop me an e-mail and I’ll keep you posted.

Here are some teasers:

  1. 10 minute recipe for a successful day
  2. Should you always treat others like you want to be treated yourself?
  3. Taking breaks like a boss

Be a dear and mail me your feedback. Don’t hold back, I can take it!

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