Parenting Archive

The Universal Battle of Motherhood.

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Okay, so I know it’s pretty much a joke to have the word battle in singular form up there in the title. As if there is only one battle to motherhood. Or parenthood. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

I wish.

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For real though, there are many battles, most of them individual and situation specific. Or not. The Battle of Taking Off Shoes in the Car. The Battle of Eat Your Friggen Dinner. The Battle of Stop Spitting on the Cat. The Battle of Keeping the Bathwater in the Bath. The Battle of Don’t Drink the Bathwater, Your Brother Probably Peed in it!

I’m not talking about those. Because we all know those are hopeless and we might as well not even call them battles because they will never be won. We should just call them  Losses You Need to Accept. The cat is just destined to be damp and stiff. Whatever, they’re covered in their own spit anyway so who cares.

I’m talking about the Battle of Alone Time. It’s a universal dilemma among moms. At least among the moms I associate with. All day long you are tired. You can’t wait till you can crawl back in your bed. You also can’t wait for silence. For time to chill on the couch. To internet surf without someone asking you questions, climbing on you, or getting into something. So bedtime comes, you breathe the sigh of relief as you close the last kid’s door…then what do you do?

Behind door number one you have sleep. You can go to bed early, and enjoy the extra sleep we all crave so you can feel refreshed in the morning. If you have a baby that wakes multiple times a night, at least you can feel less zombie like. But here’s the thing: the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner the morning comes. Scary isn’t it?

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Behind door number two, you have alone time. You can grab snacks, your iPad, the remote, whatever, and camp out the couch to do whatever your heart desires. Without interruptions. Herein lies the problem of alone time: it’s addictive. I always laugh when someone says if you get a few hours alone a week it helps tremendously. For me it’s like mama crack. You give me a few hours alone and I will go to desperate lengths to find a way to get it again. So when I’m camped out on the couch at 7:30pm, that quickly transpires to me at midnight surrounded by 3495872347 chocolate bar wrappers, eyes dry and huge, ten tabs open to different websites reading about stuff I will realize I do not need by the time daylight rolls around. But at midnight? Oh I totally need that.

So which is it? What is a mama to do? Get restful sleep so you only want to sell your children for half the day the next day? Or get some alone time but feel like a cracked out zombie the next day? Personally I like to rotate the two options; keeps me balanced. Until someone comes up with a door number three….

 

Bicycle Helmet Ratings: Giro, Bell, Schwinn and Scott

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Comparison of Safe Bike Helmets for Older Kids and Adults: Bell Piston Review, Giro Revel Review, Schwinn Merge Review, Scott ARX Plus Review

In our previous blog on bicycle helmets, we covered some of the statistics involving brain injuries to cyclists.  While serious injuries are not uncommon for adults or kids, fatal injuries tend to be much more likely with increasing age.  That’s not only a big deal for tweens and teens, but especially for parents!  But how do you pick a helmet?  Here are a few tips:

  • Select one with a CPSC certified label.  This means it passed basic requirements and testing.
  • Make sure it fits correctly.  If it is too hard to adjust or doesn’t stay in place correctly, it may not be in the right spot to protect well after shifting around during a long ride.  Most helmets should fit snugly and should not move much front-to-back, side-to-side or twisting.  Have a question?  Try shopping at a local bike store and have an expert help you!
  • Select one for comfort.  If it is too hot, or pokes you or gives you a headache, you won’t wear it and it won’t protect you.  Ventilation and padding differ greatly and it’s not always the priciest models that are the best ones for you, because everyone has a different head and preference.
  • Choose a helmet for cycling or one labeled for dual or multi-sport use. Models specifically for other sports like skateboarding may not be as suitable for cycling use.
  • Select one you like.  Fashion may seem irrelevant for safety, but if you aren’t going to wear it, it won’t protect you.  Styles vary a lot, from motorcycle style with drab colors  to ultralight racing models with fancy designs.

Much like carseats, independent testing is difficult to find.  To my knowledge, only Consumer Reports® has done additional safety testing of select models in the USA.  Their ratings of 22 models are available to subscribers online and can be found in the June, 2015 issue of the magazine.  I don’t know if their testing is consistent with industry expert analysis, but much like carseats, it appears to be the only independent testing out there.

Consumer Reports also tested youth helmets.  Their top choice was the Bontrager Solstice Youth at $40, available online and at local bike stores and Trek stores.  For tweens, teens and adults, you probably need an adult sized helmet. Below, I have quick reviews on a few budget models that were recommended in CR’s ratings.  In addition to being best buys, all three received very good impact absorption scores.  All three have dial adjustments that ratchet to tighten and loosen the helmet.

Quick Reviews:

Giro Revel (Left), Schwinn Merge (Center) and Bell Piston (Right):

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I recently tested four helmets, ranging from $15 to $150.  Do you need to spend a fortune to protect your head, or does a bargain model work just as well?

Bicycle Helmets: They’re Not Just for Littles

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SchwinnMergeWearing a helmet is a lot like wearing a seatbelt.  It can be inconvenient and even uncomfortable, especially to adults.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, 800 cyclists were killed and half a million had injuries severe enough to go to the emergency room in 2010.  Fortunately, according to the IIHS, helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, but Safe Kids USA estimates that less than half of children 14 and under even wear a helmet.

Bicycle related head injuries send more people to the emergency room than any other sport, more than football, baseball and softball combined!  And it’s not just kids being injured.  The IIHS states, “Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.”

So, yes, make sure your kids wear a good helmet and make sure it fits them.  And the same goes for football, baseball, softball and skateboards.  The NHTSA has a great page on bicycle safety education with tips and facts. Safe Kids USA has an excellent video on helmet fit for kids, but it applies to adults as well:

 

Take it from me, the cost of NOT wearing a helmet can be unimaginable.  Based on the statistics, it is just as important to wear one yourself!  This not only sets a good example, but adults in their 40s and 50s are most at risk of dying from head injuries sustained in a bicycle crash.

I’m a survivor of a life threatening sports-related head injury.  When I was 10 years old, I was struck by a thrown baseball that hit me above the eye while running to first base in a back yard game. There was literally a big dent in my head, and the depressed skull fracture required immediate surgery.  I was told that had it struck me an inch in any other direction, I’d probably have died.  A batting helmet would have prevented the injury and the long scar that remains on my forehead, too.  So, it’s not too hard for me to imagine what could happen to my 10-year old son or to me if we don’t wear our bike helmets.

In our next segment, I’ll review a few reasonably priced bike helmets that provide good protection for adults and older kids.  There are also some new options in helmets that may help prevent concussions as well as other traumatic brain injuries.

Made ya look!

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When we hear the term “distracted driving” we usually think of people texting or talking on the phone when driving. There’s been many campaigns against the two, especially texting. We all know texting while driving is stupid, so don’t do it. But what about other distractions? There is always going to be some element of distraction when you are driving; it’s just part of life. That’s why it’s so important to drive defensively, be aware of your surroundings, and keep tabs on multiple things. If you think about it, driving is full of multi-tasking. You’re always listening (is that a fire truck coming up behind me?) and watching. You should be watching multiple things. The traffic signals, your position on the road, your route, the car in front of you, and if you are turning you may be watching for oncoming traffic in one direction and potential pedestrians in another. So what happens when we add in more items to occupy our attention, maybe items that aren’t conducive to driving?

We’ve already acknowledged phone use. What about the radio? “Not Taylor Swift AGAIN!”- click. Click. Click. Still trying to find a song that doesn’t make you stabby. Your eyes are on the road. But is your brain? What about food? Are you eating? I’m guilty of this. I leave my house for work at 6am and believe me, I like to eke out every last minute of sleep. Therefore I usually end up nomming on a cereal bar while driving. Simple bars are pretty easy to mindlessly eat but I’ve seen people dipping french fries while driving. How many of you have seen women putting on make up in traffic? Am I the only one that envisions her lightly tapping the brakes and sending her eye pencil through her cornea?

Kids. For the love of everything holy, the kids. Endless talking, crying, kicking of your seat. Liam, bless his heart, screamed for the duration of every car ride from birth to 18 months. It’s seriously a miracle I didn’t drive over a bridge. For those of you with babies that are currently doing this, my heart goes out to you. I promise it does end. Stay away from bridges.

Seriously though, your kids are probably the most distracting “items” in your car. The grabbing of a dropped sippy cup or toy at a red light. Handing them snacks. Turning around to threaten them with removal of everything near and dear to them if they aren’t quiet this instant! So what can you do? Not much. Sure, you can give them busy books or play music or let them watch the evil DVD players. But I guarantee you they’re still back there, taunting you.

We can’t completely rid ourselves of distractions. It’s life. But we can take action to minimize them as much as possible. Eat before you leave your house or when you arrive to your destination. Set your GPS before you start driving, not while you are leaving your neighborhood.  Ladies, you’re beautiful the way you are without a pencil through your eyeball. Keep your car neat and clean with everything in a visible place so you aren’t rummaging at red lights to see if you remembered to bring whatever it is you need.

Think about your distractions. Think about what you can do to minimize or remove them. You’re worth it, your kids are worth it, and your friends on the road are worth it. Remember, you’re only as safe at the most distracted driver out there. If that isn’t an incentive to spread the word, I don’t know what is.