A Thanksgiving discussion with my wife on what we are grateful for when it comes to our family and how we work together to make parenting decisions that shape our family.
Summary and Quotes
[00:01:00] – Our Thanksgiving morning
[00:02:22] – Gratitude for our kids independent play
[00:06:25] – Emphasis on physicality vs sports
[00:18:36] – Result of kids artificial limitation of movement on a daily basis
[00:28:00] – What am I grateful for
[00:32:55] – Overview of my initial hesitation to do this podcast
Quotes from the Episode:
“Play should not be dictated by adults. Play should be unstructured. The kid or kids should be making the rules, figuring out what they need.” [00:07:33]
“I think also we're trying to instill a pure joy for moving that moving is not a chore and it's not something to check off your, to do lists that it's something you do because it, it's joyful and it makes you feel good.” [00:16:55]
“If you can continue to see moving your body as the play it, it doesn't have to feel like work. It doesn't have to feel like something to check off and you can can consistently be plain with your own movement in your own physical capabilities.” [00:17:51]
“But because I had not developed that physicality in K through 12. It took me a lot longer to become comfortable with what my body was capable of because I had focused only on grades. Athletics was not a focus of our household when we grew up. [00:24:19]
“if something's more difficult, then you're less prone to want to do it. Which makes it more of a challenge.” [00:26:36]
Father- So this episode is going to be a little bit different because this is the first episode where you will get to meet my wife and today is Thanksgiving in the United States and we have gone through the entire day and we decided that at the end of the day would be a great opportunity to just kind of talk to each other about what we're thankful for. We went through this with the kids already. And it was really interesting to see what our kids were thankful for. They always surprise us. And so with that, how was your day?
[mother]- I had a good day. I mean, I really appreciate the fact that we've made holidays, not about big giant celebrations. I suppose it helps that we're cross country from our families, but, you know, today, I guess from the outside looking in, maybe it looked like any other day. We started the day with a family favorite activity of exercise, which is something that's really important to us. And I hope that because it's really important to us, our kids are seeing that it's an important thing.
So [father] ran a 5K with the kids. The three-year-old was in the stroller, and the six-year-old was running. This was (our six-year-old's) third 5K, which is awesome. We're really working hard on pacing when we do a 5K run and not chasing all the other kids, but trying to go at a pace that he can run consistently and because daddy was off running, I got to go do a CrossFit workout in a park with a gym that's brand new to town that hasn't yet opened, but they did a free community workout and a gorgeous park. It was freezing cold, but it was sunny and the nearby mountain had snow on it and it was gorgeous. And so we were all home by like [10:30] AM and showered and pretty much spent the rest of the day in leggings doing normal, around the house things. The kids were really engrossed in their Legos and their Play-Doh independently for a long time. Both of them have relatively new buckets of those things, so they're entertained for a long period of time, which. Is awesome because we love independent play. We love creativity, and we have very limited screen time, if any screen time in our house, I would say we're screen-free, but that really isn't true. We watched Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving tonight and Isaac had some really awesome insights into the story about the pilgrims, so that was cool. Mmm. But we didn't do that much today. But I think that almost makes me more grateful.
I think if my house was swollen with people and dirty dishes, I would feel a lot of stress and I didn't feel any stress that day. I made the most low key Thanksgiving dinner that ever existed by purchasing things that only needed to be marginally cooked. I would say. I assembled Thanksgiving dinner, and although I didn't buy it already made, it was as close to already made as it could possibly get. We had our little meal and I candle in the middle of the table and went around talking about what we are grateful for. And like [father] said, our kids always surprise us, with what they're grateful for. After dinner you, asked our three year old what she would like to see him do, and that was also an interesting conversation. In earlier episodes, you got to hear him ask our son that who six. So that's an interesting ongoing conversation. But today I was grateful for the low-stress holiday, the simplicity of our holiday. We will celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday with our neighbors and it'll be a much fancier and bigger affair.
But today I was thankful for simplicity and I was thankful for health, good health children who are curious and independent and ask good questions and are frankly quite happy to be home among their familiar environment. They're not. Needing us to take them somewhere to be entertained or plug them into something new to be entertained. They're entertained with literally a bucket of Plato for the three-year-old and a bucket of Legos for the six-year-old. So that's my perspective on our day. How about you?
[Father]- Before we get into the gratitude bit, because I do definitely want to touch on. Gratitude. I think your interest in how we've come together as a couple and how, even though we don't have the same skill sets, we have complementary skill sets. It's not that we share the same values, it's that we share complementary values. And I think that realizing that we're not competing with one another, and this year we've really. Recognize that on all fronts, that we're not competing with each other. Where we are trying to be complementary to each other is something that I know we've been working out for a long time, so I'm extremely grateful for that.
And before, we go into more detail on that. I wanted to ask from the perspective of the 5K that. That we ran today. This is, this is third one. He's really learning how to pace himself. So 5k roughly three miles and talk about the difference between our emphasis on physicality versus sports and what our sort of longterm goal is for instilling a desire of a love of being active in our kids rather than a desire to be good at competitive sports. Not that there's anything wrong with competitive sports, but we want to have the underpinnings of one versus the other.
[mother]- Well, that's kind of a loaded question. It's a, it could be a very simple answer. I'll try to give the medium-length answer from the research that we've done on the importance of play. and what play is. I'm going to start there. Play is not a directed activity. Play is, unfortunately, being lost in homes in schools and parks and soccer fields all across this country for sure. I can't speak to the world, but certainly this country. Because play should not be dictated by adults. Play should be unstructured.
The kid or kids should be making the rules, figuring out what they need. Of course, if there are safety things involved there at parent might be there, but playing soccer on a team is not actually play. It's being directed by someone, usually a coach or maybe your referee. And there's definitely rules, which is a lot different than playing soccer and your cul-de-sac with the neighbors where you're having to negotiate rules and figure out where the goal's going to go and maybe figure out which cars are going to be out of bounds and all of those things that where the child gets to develop lots and lots of skills beyond just what to do with their feet.
So the very bottom of how. We look at exercise is from a place standpoint, our kids are three and six. We do not have aspirations for them to be the next tiger woods or Mia ham or whoever. Pick your favorite athlete. Um, and if they achieve that, awesome. But that's not the ultimate goal. We're looking to.
Build adults that are resilient and creative and curious. And that starts with play. So some of their play involves physical activity. And as a family, we participate in physical activity frequently. We love to hike. Our kids can walk further than most kids their age because a, they enjoy it and be, it's something we do.
And. It's not surprising to them. If we pull up to a parking lot and say, Hey, we're going to walk the bike path, or we're going to walk to the top of that Hill, they're both usually pretty enthusiastic about it. I will say that our three year old has recently discovered she really does love the stroller, so maybe hasn't been doing quite as much walking as she has in the past, but we will persist and she will eventually get out of that stroller, I'm sure.
So exercise and physical activity. We find has a nice basis in play to begin with. And then the other piece of the exercise question that you asked about in terms of physicality versus sports specific. I'm a pediatric physical therapist and there's a lot of research out there that talks about not being specific until you're older.
It has a lot to do with burnout for one, but physically you're more prone to injuries over use kinds of injuries. You know, if you think about a kid playing soccer year round, starting at age eight how much more prone are they to have an overuse injury or muscle imbalances that then prohibit them from safely participating potentially in other things?
So. We're not interested in doing that. And we're also not interested in doing the year round one sport thing because it over-scheduled as a kid, quite honestly. And we work really hard to have our kids involved in one or maybe two things, but not having every day of the week be about a structured activity.
And again, that comes back to the unstructured play. So looking at exercise and physical activities. We, we make as much of it unstructured as possible where they're climbing trees, riding bikes, going on hikes, jumping in mud, puddles, whatever. They spend a lot of time outside and just making that available is, is huge.
We hike as a family. Our children will occasionally come to the gym with us, and although they're sitting in the corner watching, they are taking in the fact that mom and dad value this thing called exercise. And what they're watching is not us training for a soccer game or a basketball game.
They're watching us do CrossFit or strength work or conditioning work or something like that. So it's not, they're not looking at it in terms of, my mom's going to be the best X player, and, and then we take their interests in. To account after that. So the bottom of our pyramid is play unstructured, play, leaving lots of room for physical opportunities.
Our next layer is family activities that involve physical sorts of things. And then the top is their specific interests. So right now, our son. Has fallen in love with soccer and he played his first season this fall and just loved it. He came alive. You could see him transform into a different child on the field.
He talked about it a lot. He was genuinely disappointed when it was over, and it's really looking forward to the fact that the way soccer runs here, it's two months in the fall, on two months in the spring, so he's eagerly awaiting it starting again. He also expressed an interest in playing basketball for a month or two this winter.
And part of his interest was that his soccer coach is also the basketball coach, and we really valued what he gained from his coach and his style. So are supportive of him trying that. So the top of the pyramid is, is our children's own interests in certainly letting them dabble in whatever they want to dabble in, but never.
All at the same time. I really am interested in our kids getting back into some lessons, but I will not do it until soccer is over and basketball is over so that we're not overburdening their schedules. So that's a super long answer to your question, but I think describing any one of those layers of the pyramid doesn't do justice to the big picture of how much thought we're putting into.
Making exercise a lifelong habit and not about competitive sports necessarily.
So I've never heard you explain that using the, the pyramid story and it makes a lot of sense from what I see, the com being comfortable with, um, your own body and its capabilities is something that. That is really important and it comes from that sort of unstructured play.
On the other side of the coin, I know that our children love the structure of having a good coach. They love the structure of their, they're learning about the world. They're three and six, and so having someone who can, for, for example, I was talking about this the other day, we were out in the playground and.
We started a wrestling, like high school style wrestling, and I was instructing the boys and they loved it because they had some basic rules and they had some basic structure that was giving a little bit more safety to the rough housing that they were doing. And. Every time we go to the playground now they ask if we can wrestle, which is starting to get to be rainy season here, which is not particularly convenient.
Um, so we'll have to explore that a little bit more. I think from my perspective. Um, we have a friend who, uh, who played baseball at a extremely competitive level and, and tried out for the pros. And his point is that. All those kids who go to , the dreams park who spend hours and hours traveling to baseball tournaments over the course of whatever time.
Um, the odds of them making it into the majors is infinitely small. And so if they don't have a plan for why they are building that, that skill, then. Once they graduate from high school, and certainly once they graduate from college, then they're done. They're not, they're not going to be taking that out.
And a lot of times what happens is, and there's research that's been done on this too, is that after college athletes finish school, they oftentimes. Because they had such an intense experience with that competitive activity, they actually don't participate in, in fitness to the same level. And that actually ended up getting somewhat out of shape.
And so what we're trying to instill, I think is more of a, a desire to, I guess, master. The physical nature of, of our kids. Like we want our kids to be able to master their own physicality.
And I think also we're trying to instill a pure joy for moving that moving is not a chore and it's not something to check off your, to do lists that it's something you do because it, it's joyful and it makes you feel good.
And there's whole tons of research on how exercise can improve. Uh, things that aren't physical, you know, your emotional state and your mental health and all of those things. And right now as they should, I mean, children should not be looking at moving their bodies as a chore, but I would say absolutely our children do not see moving their bodies as a chore.
In fact, sometimes I wish they would move them a little bit less, uh, just because they can be challenging to manage when they're moving so much. But they. They get a ton of exercise and a ton of physical activity because it's joyful and it's part of their play, and the goal would be to make it be that way all the way into adulthood.
If you can continue to see moving your body as the play it, it doesn't have to feel like work. It doesn't have to feel like something to check off and you can can consistently be plain with your own movement in your own physical capabilities.
you work in a school system. You've worked with kids for a long time now what do you see as a result of kids artificially being put, B being, being put in an environment where they artificially limit the amount of movement that they have on a daily basis.
A giant problem. Schools have become, well, I wasn't in school long time ago, but you know, like a hundred years ago. I can only speak to my own experience and from my own experience in say the nineties to now, I would say the amount of movement within the school day. Is maybe a little bit less, but the problem is, is that children don't move outside of school now as much as they did when we were kids.
So I think the problem of butts in seats at desks, even in kindergarten, in first grade, when those bodies are not meant to sit still. That's a problem. That's a huge problem. And we know that that impedes learning. And we know that that gets kids diagnosed with things that probably are not pathological, but are just part of being five, six, seven years old.
Those problems absolutely exist, but they're really compounded by the fact that so many of those kids go home and sit. They sit plugged into a screen of some kind. They sit in some adult directed activity. Maybe it's, you know, an afterschool program where they get to choose what they do and they're not choosing to play basketball.
They're choosing to, you know, sit and draw ours. Hopefully it's drying. That would be awesome if it's drying and not sitting with a tablet or sitting with a phone or sitting at the TV or computer or something. But I think the amount of movement in schools. Hasn't drastically changed in the last 30 years, but I think what kids do outside of school has drastically changed.
And I think that's why we're seeing more obesity and we're seeing health problems that used to be strictly adult health problems. And why we're seeing kids not joyful about movement. Because frankly, if you sit for six hours at a desk all day long, and then you ride the bus home, because again, not as many kids are walking to school, and unfortunately that's largely due to safety.
So that's not necessarily the fault of of parents. And then so they ride the bus home, get home, have a snack. They've been told what to do for the last six hours, and you know, mom has dinner to cook. So she says, yeah, go ahead, go watch whatever you want to watch. Which totally understandable. I understand that
after you do your homework,
right, only after you do your homework, and so homework is sitting.
Whatever downtime they get is sitting cause they're probably choosing something that they have full autonomy over, which there's a lot of kids that can't just go out and play without an adult with them. Because again, safety issues and then they come in and have dinner and then maybe they do homework.
Then maybe they do more, just trying to disconnect a little bit and then they go to bed. So. If that's your day, you can understand why when somebody says, Hey, it's Dodge ball day in PE, you're like, Oh crap. No, I don't like Dodge ball. I don't like when coach makes us run around the gym. I don't like when we do anything other than, you know, a fairly sedentary game because it doesn't feel good and it's not joyful and it's not fun, but that, that didn't have to be that way and that developed over time and that is preventable.
Maybe not for everybody. I've certainly worked with children who moving is always going to be a chore for it. In fact, most of the students I work with, movement is always going to be a chore. But I will say even in students who spend an extreme amount of energy to move from place to place, most of them are still joyful about it because it means independence for them.
So. Um, that's a very long answer again, but I don't think that the time spent in school sitting has changed drastically. I, I'd, I'd like to do some research on that, but my guess is that in minutes it hasn't changed drastically except maybe in States that have cut PE, for instance, or recess, which that has happened in lots of States across the country.
Um, here in our local area. It's not uncommon to see a kid have PE and two or three like 15 or 20 minute recesses, which is certainly more than I got. So I don't think minutes wise it's a whole ton worse, more
studying. That's an interesting perspective that I think I can bring to this because I was not a particularly athletic kid in K through 12 and then, uh, I was prompted to join.
Well, I was, I was prompted to join the rowing club in, in college. And then I started, uh, racing road bikes in, in college as well. And so, and, and, and a little bit of running as well. And what was really kind of striking to me was there was a pretty big transformation that took place. But because I had not developed that physicality in.
K through 12. It took me a lot longer to become comfortable with what my body was capable of because I had focused only on grades. Athletics was not a focus of, of, of, of our household when we grew up. Uh, it was, it was not denied to me. It was, you know, I, I played soccer and was a, a. Not a particularly good soccer player, but I also didn't really put any work into that, and I did not have sort of the culture of, not even fitness, but I'll say movement did not, did not have a culture of movement in, in my family.
Now, that being said, um, my father is a, an engineer on large public works projects and has walked probably between six to 10 miles a day for the last. 44 years. And so, um, but at the same time, he was out of the house from four 30 in the morning until about six at night, maybe six 30 at night.
So that was not, um, something that I was exposed to a lot. And then of course, he gets home and the last thing he wants to do now is walk more. And because maybe he has to walk mowing lawn or he finally got a ride on mower, for instance. But the point that I'm trying to make with this is that I think it is possible to make that change later on in life.
Um, but for instance, our, our son is completely comfortable just doing a flip and our daughter is a little bit awkward about it. But she's comfortable enough with her body that that's second nature to her. It's kind of like walking. Whereas for me, because I never kind of went through those those stages early on, it was something that I had to learn and I had to think about it later on in life, and it was more, more difficult as, as a result to just get that body awareness.
And of course, if something's more difficult, then you're less prone to want to do it. Which makes it more of a challenge. But now, um, you know, many, many, many years later, uh, it's at the point, and this is, this is why it's so important, is that a lot of the kids who I went to school with who were very athletic and very focused on athletics in school, they don't really exercise anymore.
They're not physical anymore. And that, I think is a shame because they stopped being. Physical when the formal athletics ended at the end of either high school or college. And I think that that's such an opportunity that, um, I think if we don't make an active decision to continue that, it's very easy to just let life get in the way of that.
And that's something that we're actively trying to condition into our, into our children as a, as a sort of a cultural value.
So that was a very long explanation of movement, and it all started with the 5k that my family ran this morning. So let's bring it back and listen to what you're grateful for.
What am I grateful for? I'm grateful for the fact that. A lot of times you don't realize how, how much you have until you compare your position to other other people.
And not from the point of comparison, from a judgment perspective, but just from a sensing perspective of, of, you know, what, what is realistic to expect? And. What I'm really grateful for is the fact that, especially when it comes to our children, that we hear each other out. We listen to each other's points of views because we don't always agree on the.
The approach that we should be taking, but what we do agree on is that it's important to be aware that we are making a choice and that if we're not aware, then we're just kind of doing the default thing. And so having a spouse who is willing to put that work in. Is something that I have always taken for granted because we've always been, I don't want to say we've always been on the same page with the kids, but we have always been able to have open and free discussions about where we should be going.
And I think maybe guys talk about this stuff less than you do, but it's come to my attention recently that. That a lot of people, a lot of couples really struggle with this. A lot of couples have, um, they have their ideology and their position, and even even questioning that. Is something that brings up a lot of strife and turmoil, nevermind trying to come to some sort of arrangement that that works.
Or we're making a best, best case decision, but it's, it's so entrenched that even questioning it is something that that results in arguments. So I'm super grateful for the fact that we're able to be extremely thoughtful about that. And I'm also thankful for the fact that that is. Expanding into other areas of, of our marriage and how we manage our family.
Excellent. Well, I think I stayed at all, most of the big things I was grateful for, but I'm also grateful for the new listeners on your podcast. This is still a very new venture, and I very much appreciate the people that have interested their ears and their time. To listening to this podcast, and I'd love to hear what people think about it.
A huge goal with this for us, in addition to just making our thoughts and opinions and trajectory known to our children, it's also to build community for ourselves. If you haven't figured out already from the podcasts that have been done up until this point, we take a lot of time to think about why we're doing things when it comes to our children and hopefully everything.
But in this particular case, we're talking about parenting and all the many, many decisions that revolve around our children. And. We find ourselves fairly lonely and isolated in this mindset. It seems like a lot of parenting these days is reactionary or just go with the flow and. I don't know, maybe I'm very pessimistic, but popular culture doesn't give me a lot of faith that just following what everyone else is doing is going to result in a human in 18 years that is capable and competent to dive into a world that we can't even predict right now.
So I'm very grateful for those of you who have chosen to listen, and I'd be really grateful. For any of you that have chosen to listen and want to reach out, we really are interested in meeting like minded people and sharing stories and ideas and learning from you. So thank you for listening.
So real quick, let's do a quick overview of my initial hesitation to do this podcast and how you.
Put the case forth that even though I didn't think that there was anything unique about what we were doing, that you pointed out that actually I had put in a huge amount of effort in research over over almost a decade at this point in time. And how, if for nothing else, that would be really useful for our kids to know, let alone anyone else who wants to kind of.
Listen in, but just kind of talk about how you strong arm and me with that.
I did strong arm arm him and it's not very often that I win those things, so that's cool. But yeah, we started researching. Parenting, child development, schools. Slash. Education cause they're two different things. Um, when Isaac was maybe still baking or maybe a newborn.
So he's six and a half. So for a long time we have a, we've listened to thousands of hours of podcasts and audio books. We've read a lot of articles. We've. Done our best to connect with educators in our area that have opened communities of similarly minded people to us. And all I really had to say to [father] was highlighting a couple conversations he's had with people where he felt like they profoundly.
We're changed by what he had to say. Not that he necessarily changed their mind, but they were interested. I remember one particular conversation was with a woman who goes to our gym and is in her early to mid thirties and is newly engaged, and he'd simply asked her if she planned on having kids and I wasn't there.
So I don't know how the conversation went, but I know when he got home, he was super energetic about the fact that he'd had this conversation with her. And he made all these points to her about parenting and what parenting is like, and the mindset that he values in parenting and said that she hadn't thought about any of those things and that it hadn't occurred to her.
So many of the things that he had mentioned. And I was like, you know, she, she's not the only one in the world who might be changed by what you have to say. And so I highlighted that and highlighted all of the. [father] is a voracious listener. He listens to audio like almost all day long. So, and his auditory retention is incredible.
So when you have Google in your brain for such a topic, why not share it with the world? Where's this going to happen is nobody listens, but at least it'll be there for our children. So here we are several episodes later,
and that for me. I was conditioned and indoctrinated to think that information was the most valuable thing.
But today, even more than when we were growing up, we're just in, we are inundated with information. And you talked about how much research we've done, how much we've read, how much we've researched, how, how, how much, um, you know, from being a professional in that field. But what I think. Really made that connection with that woman was not more information, but it was examples because she's seen me with my kid, both of them, both kids.
She's an over a long duration in a variety of different circumstances, so I'm, I wasn't just disseminating information to her. I was sharing an example. That enabled her to see something in a different way and gave her more opportunities to exercise than she previously thought she had available to her.
And information alone wouldn't have done that. And so when that happened, that really kind of lit something in me. And I came home and, and, and talk to you about that, and you propose the idea of the podcast. And I. Hesitantly going with it. And so here we are, and I think that that's another thing that I'm grateful for it, and perhaps I will wrap it up with this, is that I'm thankful that I listened to you with this because I think that not only is this going to allow us to share this information, but it's going to allow us to give some really powerful examples.
And I think that's what people crave nowadays.
Awesome. Good job.
High five. High five.
All right. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and we will see you in the next episode and if you have any questions, send me an email, be happy to answer them.