Archive for the ‘Outdoor Kids’ Category

crossroadsIt is common to be at the crossroads of going on an intense athletic adventure or choosing to be at home with the family.  I have known many active fathers and mothers who frequently choose some alone time.  And often those parents receive scorn from others.  There is a trade off, opportunity cost, consequence, and loss of time with loved ones when an active adult takes a moment to be what their partner loved most about them; even though, in the eyes of others, adventure makes mother or father a bad / irresponsible / deadbeat parent who should be supporting their family and not dominating their spouse with childish midlife-crises desires.

I try to merge the crossroads by having my son take an active part in my adventures.  If it is an adult adventure my son  helps me prepare for the event.  He looks over the charts and maps with me.  He helps me pack and shop for food.  He is four and very capable in being an active helper.  The best thing about having him help me prepare for an adventure is that he feels apart of my event and it establishes a dialog in creating father and son adventures that he wants to go on.

rockMy son has been in the dirt, sand, and water since he could crawl.  Hiking, kayaking, and now rock climbing with my son are some of the most rewarding things I have done with him.  The activity of being together refreshes my love of nature as I see things fresh through his eyes.  It is the act of stopping to pick up Spanish moss and to teach him what it is and how it is important.  Sometimes it is collecting fancy sticks and uniquely shaped rocks and letting him use his imagination to re-purpose them.

Being outdoors helps both of us to “live deliberately”.  Many times I schedule a father son adventure before my personal adventure.  By doing this it strengths my paternal bond and eases my self-imposed guilt for leaving him behind; even though, I have a supportive spouse I still feel guilty for not bringing him along.  The other unique thing that happens is on my adult only adventure I truly can taste the following words by Henry David Thoreau because of my son’s influence in reshaping how I see the world.

Daddy you forgot my shovel, and my blue lunch box

Daddy you forgot my shovel, and my blue lunch box

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

As you have come to realize this is a post on the emotionally necessity for a parent to balance a social and athletic life with and away from their family.  I did not want to write on why it is important to get kids outside and the tricks on how to be an outdoor parent.  There are so many periodicals and blogs on…

  • Using unscented baby wipes…
  • Upgrading the first-aid kit with children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen, aloe vera gel, tweezers, and stock up on twice as many adhesive bandages.
  • Be Safety minded knowing the area, having a flexible plan, and having a Plan B for the oops moment.

…and yet there are few about the duality of ethics and the emotionally necessary to have a social and athletic life outside of one’s family.  It is possible to have it all.  A couple just needs to cultivate the love of  each other.  It is the act of being supportive by using open dialog and to keep things, like time, balanced and fair.  It is healthy to wright down a plan to achieve a  balanced give and take understanding between partners with timed activities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my case, my wife does not want to go on a week long kayaking, backpacking, or rock climbing adventure by herself or with friends.  She would prefer to spend a weekend at the spa.  So to balance time between us, we divide the days into four categories.  I have my alone time (and this gives her focused mother and son time).  She has her alone time (and this gives me focused father and son time).  We have family time.  And we have husband and wife date time (and this gives my son focused time with his grandparents).  After I spent the month of July in Maine, I took my son to Disney World, the zoo, rock climbing, several model train events, Native American Indian festivals, and to Pittsburgh for twelve days.  In essence anytime she needed a break my son and I left to do an activity.

Some outsiders would read the phrase “anytime she needed a break my son and I left to do an activity” as an illustration on bad or neglectful parenting.  I look at it as how we work together to listen and support the emotional needs of the other.  I have shared with her how I would like the three of us to do more activities together in the future.  And in time when she is healthy we will.

Being an outdoor parent has instilled more patience, openness, communication, and empathy within me.  I have become a better man, husband, and role model by being an outdoor father. – Jeff

July 31, 2011 TAMPA — “A 1-year-old boy died Sunday after drowning in a 5-gallon bucket of water, authorities said.  He slipped out of his parents’ sight for 10 minutes.  His body was found upside down in 5 inches of water in a bucket in the garage.”

July 31, 2011 ST. PETERSBURG — “A 19-year-old Haitian man apparently drowned Saturday afternoon during a beach trip with church friends at Fort De Soto Park.  Around 2:30 p.m., he decided to go in the water. Others in the group began looking for him and spotted him floating, Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies said.  He was pulled to shore and given CPR.  Emergency crews rushed him to All Children’s Hospital, where he died.”

Summer weather is far from over here in the Tampa Bay area.  The headlines the last weekend in July were a grim reminder of the importance of practicing water safety in and around the home, as well as in backyard pools and at the beach.  These two tragedies demonstrate how important it is to supervise kids; for, kids’ last concern is the dangers associated with water.

Backyard Swimming Pool Safety Tips:

  • Actively supervise your children around water at all times
  • Install four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
  • Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 – typically the earliest age when they are likely to practice and retain information. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
  • Learn CPR and know how to respond in water emergencies

Home Drowning Prevention Tips:

  • Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time.
  • Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
  • Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Children in baby bath seats and rings must be watched every second.

Open Water Safety Tips:

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Appoint a designated “water watcher”, taking turns with other adults.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 – typically the earliest age when they are likely to practice and retain information.  Teach children how to tread water, float, and stay by the shore.
  • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Do not let kids operate personal watercraft such as jet skis.  These are intended for adults and require special training.
  • Teach children not to dive into oceans, lakes, or rivers because you never know how deep the water is and what might be hidden under the surface of the water.

Provided by the City of Seminole Fire Rescue – Safety Bulletin, August, 2011

kayaking with a toddler

Posted: June 5, 2011 by Jeff Fabiszewski in blog, Outdoor Kids
Tags:

Kayaking is fun.  And when a Dad can share the outdoors with their child, laughter will quickly follow. The weather is warm and more conducive to getting kids out onto the water.  So here is some brief information on how and why to get your kids outside.

My son is almost three years old and he has been in a kayak several times.  Before I introduced the kayak to him we enrolled him in swim lessons on his nine month birthday.

For my own piece of mind I introduced my son to the kayak after two summers of swim lessons.  Swim lessons help to develop an understanding of water.  Even though, he will always be wearing a PFD when he enters a kayak.  I want him to be comfortable swimming if he should fall out of the kayak because of his curiosity towards something in or near the water.

The first time I introduced the kayak, paddle, and PFD (Personal flotation device / personal buoyancy aid) to him the boat was on land.

The land exercise was in our backyard under the shade of a tree.  This gave him the chance to explore the kayaking stuff.  I helped him to put on his PFD and then he helped us put on ours.  With the PFDs on I let him play in the kayak.  Then the three of us sat and played in the tandem kayak.  Two of his favorite outdoor toys are a small yellow shovel and a little blue bucket.  I also put a small lunch box in the kayak with some of his favorite snacks and drinks. (he was nineteen months old on his first 45 minute kayak trip)

Mother’s Day was next time he was in a kayak.

A few weeks later was Fathers Day and we took him paddling again.

Then in august of last year I introduced him to a paddleboard.

"you only live once"

Every time I have had him near, in, and on the water I have discovered new things.  He keeps amazing me with his discoveries of things that I have taken for granted.  For me it is a magical blessing to share the outdoors with my son.  Summer came early for us in Florida and he has been out several times in the early weekend mornings.

The basic things that I have learned for him to enjoy the day are…

  • PFD – he needed to be comfortable with wearing it
  • Sun Protection…the Florida UV index is usually high even during a cloudy day
    • Blue Lizard Baby
    • Hat
    • Rash-guard
  • Hydration
    • Juice, Juice, Juice – in several sippy cups
    • Water
  • Snacks – crackers, grapes, and slices of watermellon
  • Toys – his favorite toys are a small shovel and bucket (I have then tied to the kayak because sometimes they fall in the water and start to float away)
  • A waterproof disposable camera.  So far none of his artistic pictures are worth bloging about, but he does enjoy having his own camera.
  • Time, 20 to 45 minutes is plenty of time for him
  • Diapers – the little swimmers combined with a rubber diaper and swimming shorts works best to keep things contained
  • Shoes?  Yes I have him wear water shoes.
  • Shadow boxes, scrap booking is fun but putting some of the small things that he collects on his outings in a box is a great way of keeping the memories alive.  It is also a romantic gift to give my wife and the grandparents

kayaking with grandparents

I hope this list helps.  And I will keep updating it as we try new things.  – Jeff

UPDATE: WATER SAFETY

July 31, 2011 TAMPA — “A 1-year-old boy died Sunday after drowning in a 5-gallon bucket of water, authorities said.  He slipped out of his parents’ sight for 10 minutes.  His body was found upside down in 5 inches of water in a bucket in the garage.”

July 31, 2011 ST. PETERSBURG — “A 19-year-old Haitian man apparently drowned Saturday afternoon during a beach trip with church friends at Fort De Soto Park.  Around 2:30 p.m., he decided to go in the water. Others in the group began looking for him and spotted him floating, Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies said.  He was pulled to shore and given CPR.  Emergency crews rushed him to All Children’s Hospital, where he died.”

Summer weather is far from over here in the Tampa Bay area.  The headlines the last weekend in July were a grim reminder of the importance of practicing water safety in and around the home, as well as in backyard pools and at the beach.  These two tragedies demonstrate how important it is to supervise kids; for, kids’ last concern is the dangers associated with water.

Backyard Swimming Pool Safety Tips:

  • Actively supervise your children around water at all times
  • Install four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
  • Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 – typically the earliest age when they are likely to practice and retain information. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
  • Learn CPR and know how to respond in water emergencies

Home Drowning Prevention Tips:

  • Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time.
  • Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
  • Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Children in baby bath seats and rings must be watched every second.

Open Water Safety Tips:

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Appoint a designated “water watcher”, taking turns with other adults.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 – typically the earliest age when they are likely to practice and retain information.  Teach children how to tread water, float, and stay by the shore.
  • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Do not let kids operate personal watercraft such as jet skis.  These are intended for adults and require special training.
  • Teach children not to dive into oceans, lakes, or rivers because you never know how deep the water is and what might be hidden under the surface of the water.

Provided by the City of Seminole Fire Rescue – Safety Bulletin, August, 2011

Taking kids out on a SUP

Posted: August 15, 2010 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Fathers' Day, Outdoor Kids, Stand Up Paddleboard

Sunday Sean and I took our kids out on their first Stand Up Paddleboard adventure. It was only 45 minutes long.  I could write about how much fun we had.  But I thought I would let these pictures speak for me. – Jeff

PS.   Next time we will get our wives out on the water, and bring some lunches for the kids.