A Parenting Hack: How One Hour has Changed my Week

cartoon-1296854_960_720Mondays are hectic, no?  I always find Monday to be a bit of a whirlwind, especially if the weekend has been full of blissful, unstructured downtime.  I just had one of those weekends- a weekend of yard work and flag football, pop-over guests and walks downtown.  Those are the weekends that fill me up and remind me yet again that it’s the simple things that mean the most (The Disease of Being Busy, remember?).  So when the routines of a Monday come back into play, it takes my sensitive side a bit of time to catch up.

I’ve been lucky to have a career with flexibility, and the benefit of fitting in my work around my life, instead of the reverse.  My practice has changed and evolved as my family’s needs have changed and evolved, and it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve gone back to working more of a full-time schedule.  For me, that means that for the past two years, Mondays look like this:

For a time, I didn’t do school pickup on Mondays.  I worked straight through, 11am-7pm, and would come home just in time to tuck in my young children.  With only a short time together before they went to school in the morning, I felt like I was missing out on way too much of their day; my heart always felt heavy on Monday nights.  Soon into that school year, after a few tears and a lot of soul-searching, my husband suggested that I modify my hours slightly to accommodate more family time.  Namely, making the school pickup and 10-minute walk home a part of my day.  Brilliant.  Such a simple solution, and yet it was a modification I couldn’t see when looking from the inside out.  It was the forest and the trees and all of the other cliche wisdom.

So I began blocking off an hour in the middle of my Monday (and was once again oh-so-thankful for the logistics of our neighbourhood), so that I could pick up my kids from school and walk them home before heading back for an afternoon at the clinic.  Our walks to and from school are without a doubt my most favourite parts of the day.  In those ten minutes, I rarely get a word in edgewise; they spill their guts, share their dreams, tell their stories.  We walk, we laugh, we talk, interrupted and carefree.  And this has completely changed my Monday, and therefore, my whole week.

A one-hour change.

That’s all it took.

Sometimes the simplest changes produce the biggest results.

monday

 


The Overuse of Youth

Young athletes are a big part of my practice.  From sprained ankles to separated shoulders to low back pain, my goal with them, as with all my patients, is to decrease pain and increase function as quickly as possible.  But with young athletes in particular, I want to try to minimize the effect that an injury has on the rest of their body long-term.  Our bodies are masters of compensation you see, so if one area becomes weak or injured or dysfunctional, another area steps up to counterbalance.  And herein lies the problem: where did the injury start?  Can we chase the dysfunction throughout the body to find the initial culprit?

Troubling trends that I’m finding amongst these young athletes are overuse injuries.  Most often, these kids are playing their primary sport nearly year-round.  Summer hockey.  Winter ball.  Indoor soccer.  In 2016, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine released an Early Sport Specialization Consensus Statement, which you can read by clicking HERE.

AOSSM

This is my favourite part:

“The primary outcome of this think tank was that there is no evidence that young children will benefit from early sport specialization in the majority of sports. They are subject to overuse injury and burnout from concentrated activity. Early multisport participation will not deter young athletes from long-term competitive athletic success.”

Please take a moment to read that again.  “No evidence” of “benefit” from “early sport specialization.”  And a whole lotta downside in the form burnout and overuse injury.

Make no mistake, I love youth sport.  I’m a huge competitor and I was raised playing every sport around, as do my children.  But remember, better movers make better athletes, and your child’s body will not learn to move well if it has only been expected to do the same thing over and over again.  Multi-dimensional.  Multi-sport.  Multi-movement.  That’s the key to a well-balanced athlete, and more importantly, a healthy human body.

If nothing else, I hope this post gives you some food for thought.  Parents have thousands of choices to make throughout their children’s lives, and this one is a big one.

hockey rules


CLE, JT, and Sarah.

Ahhhhh, I feel so content.

I had a weekend with JT, and more importantly, a weekend with Sarah.  Let me explain.Justin-Timberlake-Event-2019-79c4b5dcf7

If you’ve been reading this blog over the last five years, then you’ve heard of my Sarah.  Sarah has been by my side since we were 12 years old, and although she hasn’t been physically by my side since 2002, when I moved to Toronto and she moved to Washington, DC, she’s still one of the most important people in my life.  She’s been with me through teenage angst and young adult insecurities, through many moves and graduations, through marriage and babies, through houses and careers and chaos and life.  She sent my two-year-old daughter a glasses-wearing teddy bear after her amblyopia diagnosis, and that act alone pretty much sums her up: she is generous and kind and thoughtful and giving.  She is the sister I never had.

But adultingadulting is hard and life happens; logistics simply kick in and dictate the fact that we don’t see each other as much as we’d like.  In fact, other than a quick two-hour visit over Christmas in 2016, I haven’t seen her since I spent a weekend in Washington, meeting her son Harris two years ago.  But, a few months ago, we found a great excuse to see each other: Justin Timberlake.

Cleveland is a four-hour drive for me and a one-hour flight for her, and it just so happened that JT’s March 31st concert fell on Easter weekend.  I texted her on a whim, suggesting the idea, and her yes response came back within a few minutes.  We bought concert tickets on an Amex pre-sale, booked a hotel on points, and began to plot our 24-hours together.  It all came together really quickly and really easily, but perhaps I should’ve expected that, since

it’s just so easy to be with her.

We walked, we talked, we laughed, we danced, we sang, and we cherished.  I left Cleveland late Sunday morning, only 22 hours after I arrived, and made it home in time to host 16 people for Easter Sunday dinner.  And so as I sit and write this out, only a day and a half after it happened, I realize that this stage of life is like.  Life is hauling it to Cleveland to capture moments, then hauling it back to capture more.  Life is Easter egg hunts and concert hangovers, sometimes on the same day.  Life is teamwork from my husband and cooperation from my kids, life is a potluck holiday meal, life is podcasts and gas station snacks and no lineup at the border.  Life is full, and life is good.

IMG_6180