Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Pioneers

This post is part of a sponsored series between DadNCharge and Navdy. I have been compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Life has a tendency to take us to places we never dreamed of. When given a chance to take a route that many haven't travelled we can be reluctant to follow our hearts and prone to follow our brains instead. It's this internal struggle between logic and feelings that follows us on the roads of life, tending to take the downtrodden path that many others have followed before us than the one that looks untouched and unclaimed.

This summer, while driving from Denver to South Dakota with eight sleeping, jet lagged teenagers in the minivan rental, I contemplated just how far humans have come on this planet. While visions of restrooms danced in their heads, I started to think about the pioneers heading west and their multitude of struggles. Clearly, I had lots of time on my hands and with no one to talk to and while I drove on I contemplated the explorers that came before us.

I can't imagine what it felt like exploring a place unknown to them that was full of danger. Bandits could be over the next rise, waiting to take everything they owned, a wagon wheel could break and they probably didn't have a spare. There was no AAA nor roads to speak of at the time and everything they had with them was all that they had in the world regardless of what they would find three hundred miles from the last place they camped.

Here I was sitting behind the wheel, following the very path many had followed before me looking for a better life and all I could think about was why did Nebraska have no gas stations and what would I do without my GPS?

The word pioneer comes the French word pionnier which means "foot soldier", a literal representation of what it means to do something first. They were explorers to went ahead to check things out and to try out things before the rest of the masses came along. Their aim, was to make things easier for those who would follow and blaze the trail for those who would.

When I think back to how navigation has changed since I first started driving, we all relied on maps and pulling over to gas stations to ask for directions. Planning out a route took a certain sense of space and time, estimating the amount of hours it might take one to get from point A to point B.

Navigation as changed in that we rely now on GPS for a signal which is tracked on our smartphone. That means somewhere in our vehicle, we are trying to look down at a screen that is five to six inches tall when we should be looking out of the windshield in front of us. The average time we spend looking away from the road to our cellphones is three seconds. In those three seconds, a driver takes their eyes off the road to attend to their smartphone causing a distraction. Between 2014 and 2015, fatalities in distracted-driving–affected crashes increased by over 8%.

Pioneering with the Navdy eliminates distracted driving by putting you in control of your phone while keeping your eyes on the road. Navdy has a gesture sensor that controls your phone with the movement of your hand. Interactive swipes control whether you receive calls,  read texts, or play music without taking your eyes from what is most important, the road.

Here's a pro tip for driving in Nebraska.:if you ever see a gas station while driving, STOP. You never know when you will see another one when you are travelling in this state. Worried about losing your signal in uncharted territory? Navdy has its own GPS chip and antenna and will have a clear line of communication with satellites overhead.

The advanced sensors, accelerometer and gyrometer all work in tandem to pinpoint your car, destination and route. If your phone lets you down, Navdy won't. No coverage? Navdy will keep you on course with built in offline maps and its own GPS.

Yes, we have it pretty good now with Navdy doing all the pioneering for us. Yet, many motorists are still looking down instead of forward in the car. Distracted driving is especially problematic for teen drivers who are even more obsessed with their technology. Combine this obsession with a high level of distractibility and it's a recipe for disaster.

Get your teen driver and any pioneer you know a Navdy unit for only $499 or $21 per month with 0% APR for 24 months. It's an investment for the safety of those who get behind that wheel everyday and need to be connected. Take the off beaten path and with Navdy ensure that you get there safe and sound.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Survival Guide for the Twos and Threes

There were times where I would just stare at the clock and wonder why the day was going so slow. I had already dealt with five major meltdowns since my wife had left for work and the baby wasn't following her usual schedule. 

The me time I would spend in the morning at our local YMCA suddenly seemed impossible and I often knew that there would be days where I would never leave the house. Dealing with a child in the terrible twos is a daunting task. I would think to myself "If only I can fast forward to the threes, then we will be out of the woods." 

Well, that wasn't true either and I discovered that the term "threenager" was coined for a specific reason. The ages between two and three are the most daunting ages for a stay at home parent because our kids start to realize that they have some free will. 
This is the stage where your children will start to rebel. They may freak out because you cut up their sandwich wrong, the sippy cup that you usually give them is the wrong color, or they really wanted pancakes and you gave them waffles instead. They will make you feel like the lowest of the low and they will get mad at you when they can't tell you what they want because they think that you should be able to read their minds. Between two and three, they often can't explain what they want or are conflicted but can't express themselves well.
Here is what you will need to get through this time:
Consistent time outs. If they don't follow your directions, put them on a step or chair that you deem a time out chair. Tell them they have to stay in the chair one minute for year year old they are. Set a timer. If they get out, don't engage with them, just quietly put them back until they stay. When the time is up, get down to their level, calmly explain why they were in a time out. Explain that they need to say they are sorry. Hug it out. Then they can go back to playing. 

Consequences need to be established that are appropriate for your child's age. If you want to correct a behavior you need to set an expectation. The main thing is that you MUST FOLLOW THROUGH with a consequence.  A time out of a minute for each year old your child is makes sense. Taking away their iPad time is only going to punish you later if you need quiet time. 

Don't threaten if you don't think you will follow through. Don't count to three. Make it immediately clear that whatever they are doing is not appropriate in your eyes. If your child exhibits a bad behavior, give them a consequence like a time out. See the above pattern, follow through to the end and release them. 

If it happens again, go through the process all over again. It will take A LOT of patience to get this done. Don't try and reason with them. They are two and don't understand. My son used to run to the street all the time regardless of me explaining that it was dangerous. Consistent time outs was the only thing that worked.
Kids need structure. Make a schedule that fits with your day. Make snack times consistent, the amount of time spent watching TV, one on one activities outside, errands to the store, and nap times. If kids don't want to sleep, tell them they must have quiet time in their room.  If they end of playing alone quietly, they are learning that there will be some times where they will just need to be on their own. At this age, they usually don't recognize other children in play anyway and are in their own worlds.  
If you travel, keeping your routine is harder. Being away from home is hard. Even I have trouble sleeping in a strange bed. The noises are different. It doesn't feel the same. Try to make it as similar as it is at home. When my kids were young, I would put soothing music on at bedtime to help them fall asleep. On the road, I would play it on my phone and just let it run until they fell asleep.
Overstimulation at night can lead to restless nights. What is happening right before bed? Are they watching TV? Are you reading books to them? We would watch one soothing show on PBS Sprout, then read three books every night. Toddlers need a routine. It's the reason that pre-schools consistently do the same thing EVERY DAY until they get it. Stick to that routine as best you can everywhere you go, and they will sleep more soundly.
Many dads have a tendency to get angry. Hitting is not the answer. If you grew up in a house where spanking and regular beatings were commonplace and you think that you turned out okay just know this, physical violence teaches them that when faced with adversity, lashing out is the only way to deal with it. At their age, they don't know what they want so cut them a break.  It's going to be so frustrating and you may want to go into a room and scream into a pillow often. 
Be patient. I know it's hard. I have three kids who are now 12, 10, and 6 and I've been a stay at home dad for the last ten years. People who believe in beatings don't realize that they are not only physically hurting their kids but potentially damaging them emotionally as well. In real life if you don't do your job, people don't beat you until you understand something. Consistent punishment in time outs, following through on behavioral consequences, and staying calm will teach your kids that it is okay to make mistakes and that you will love them through it all.