Blog

Classes & Groups

Blog

Moving Enough?

I was completely OFF THE GRID last week, in the forested wilderness of Three Lakes, WI. It was heaven! Fifteen of my family members shared time and living quarters in a more than 100-year-old lodge on Butternut Lake.

We disconnected from the “digital divide” and connected with wilderness and family members. We swam, read, painted, created art, talked, napped, played card and board games, water skied and tubed, caught and released frogs, snakes and crawdads, and fish.

Looking back, I felt relaxed, despite all the things that kept us active. We did a lot, and I was exuberantly exhausted!

No matter what we were doing in Wisconsin, it fell under one of two categories.

Moving or resting.

Our bodies were either in motion or not, and we participated in enough movement so that we craved and needed time to rest and recover.

My middle daughter, who cannot sit still in a chair, EVER, sat quietly at breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. But, first, it took more than three hours of riding in a speedboat or being dragged behind it on an “Airhead” tube bouncing, flying, and crashing into the water to quench her movement thirst. Finally, her movement needs were satiated. And, then, she was at rest. She learned to be still by moving enough!

It was an eye-opening experience. My daughter doesn’t have a sitting still problem; she has a moving problem. I understood this at an intellectual level, as it is my job to understand this, but it was a slap in the face to witness it first hand in my daughter. I thought I gave her enough movement opportunities at home. But, she needs more. For the first time, I saw how much and how intense it had to be to satiate her need. Now that I know, my challenge is to recreate the time and intensity on land, where we don’t have access to speed boats and flying rubber rafts!

I’m on it!

Whether we like it or not, we all fall into this category with movement: not enough time or intensity. Our technology-driven culture is increasingly sedentary. Our over-scheduled days, our packed to-do lists, and the responsibilities we “must” attend to eat into our movement time. And without the right amount of movement, rest is not the recovery period it’s supposed to be. It’s restless.

But, we can start today to change this trend for ourselves and future generations. We can start right now with our babies. We can build the healthy habit of moving enough by doing it, every day.

“Enough” is not dictated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, nor defined by US government lowest common denominator standards. “Enough” is individual. We get to take our little one’s lead, allowing, observing and joining in.

Let them move uninhibited on the ground, on you, inside, outside, on grass, dirt, and sand, up and down hills, negotiating natural and manufactured obstacles and interacting with loose things. Follow their lead and join them in their world. If you can’t think of a game, just start by imitating them. We are ALL creative and can come up with play activities if we just let ourselves join in the movement.

How often have you stopped yourself from playing with your little one during moving time? Next time, get over that mental hurdle and just go! You might feel too tired to start, but once you do, that fatigue takes a back seat. Just go!

Our babies’ bodies and brains depend on sufficient movement and rest for optimal growth. Rest and recovery do not happen unless your little one moves enough. And, if your baby does not seem to be moving enough, it’s important to dive deeper into why.

Moving enough is a simple concept, but much harder to implement consistently.

It takes vision and dedication. It’s more than interest. It’s commitment…for the long haul. We are fighting an uphill battle with our sedentary culture swallowing us whole. It’s time to start our movement for enough movement, one day at a time.

Who’s in? I’d love to help you get started.

Book a time with me to strategize how to get more fun, healthy and consistent movement in your days, starting today and lasting a lifetime!

This can’t wait. The time to go is now! Book a FREE 30-minute call with me so we can get you and your family going!

Why we sit on the sidelines…

 

Why do we sit on the sidelines when we are perfectly capable of joining the game? 

 

We are on our family vacation in Chicago, visiting our pre-family stomping grounds for the first time since our three crazies were born. What an amazing city, and yes, the average age of people walking around seems to be the late twenties, exactly when we lived here.

We walked Magnificent Mile, took the red line to the south end of Lincoln Park and meandered through the zoo (yes, it’s still free admission to ALL!), dragged the tired and hungry crew to eat at Toast, then red-lined it back to the  Shedd Aquarium. Sharing “our urban-hood” has been exhilarating, having never done a city trek before (we are usually out in nature somewhere).

We were mostly on the same page all day. We peaked, we slumped, we got hungry, we were in awe, hot and sweaty, and rejuvenated. It’s easy to travel with your partner, but can be challenging with kids. There is often a mismatch in expectations, play choices, food choices, and energy levels. It’s amazing when everything is in sync, as it was for us yesterday!

In all that we did, two activities excited the kids more than any other.

BUT, much to my hindsight dismay, these were exactly the times my husband and I chose to sit out, to watch from the sidelines, even to jump on our phones to check email/think about work! GASP! Rather than joining the exhilaration, we disconnected. WHY?!?

Sure, we were tired, but so were they.

Sure, we wanted a break, but why then? Why didn’t we choose to break together?

Maybe we don’t trust our bodies to crawl in small places and maneuver around play structures. We could get stuck, or hurt. Perhaps, we are already injured!

Maybe because there is a sign that says “Designed for 5 to 12-year-olds”!

Since when is there an age limit on play?

Actually, since always! Why do you think it’s called “child’s play?”

But, the question remains, why did I choose to disconnect from my kids, my family precisely when they were most alive? 

I had an inner dialogue about getting up and playing with them, but I hesitated. I will get hot, sweaty, hurt, and wet (a spitting fountain was involved). That won’t be comfortable. Won’t be comfortable?!?!? Really?!?! I went there, and I didn’t realize it until well after the opportunity was over.

Since when is play comfortable?

Play is the opposite. Yes, it’s FUN, but it’s also a time we push our boundaries and get OUT of our comfort zone. We push the limits in play. We overcome fears, we challenge our assumptions, and we grow. It’s not just kids who need to play. We need to play. Dare I say we may need MORE?!?

We usually sit on the sidelines and let the kids play because it’s a time when they don’t need us. They’re good. They probably don’t require you at that moment, but what if you are missing out on the best opportunity of the day to connect? 

What if you joined them instead? What if you overcame that initial hesitation and jumped at the chance to play?

What would their faces reflect when you show your, “I’m all IN!” facial expression and body language?

What kind of emotions would come up for you if you just let go and followed their lead?

And, how would the rest of your day look if you dedicated 15 minutes of fully immersed play with your littles precisely when they have the MOST FUN!?!

You better believe I made that commitment for the rest of our time here…no more sidelines. I’m IN! 

And, I have a promise to keep to get SOAKED in the “spitting fountain” before we go! I’m a little nervous about it, but I think it’s more about the anticipation of the fun it will be! Just letting go of the idea of “child’s play” lets me participate in play and life more fully!

I’m super excited! Here we go….ALL IN!

What did you play today? Comment below!​

And, HAVE FUN!

Love, Wendi

When did you first know?


When did you KNOW you wanted to be a mom?

As kids, we are surrounded by the idea of family, because we are living it all the time. For most of us, it’s engrained socially and culturally from the very beginning. Having a family is an expected part of existence and is often assumed that eventually, we will do the same thing.

But, when did you know that’s what you wanted?

I remember growing up and playing house. I was always “Victoria,” modeled after my favorite book/show/movie, “Black Beauty.” Yes, I was one of those horsey girls. No dolls; just Breyer™ horses, riders, stables, tack, paddocks, and jumps.

I don’t ever remember being a mom when I played house with my friends, other than the mother horse with her baby foals.

BUT, I DO remember the day, the precise moment I KNEW I wanted to be a real mom!

I was babysitting three young girls for the evening. I was 14. Their dad left to get the car out of the garage, and mom finished giving me final instructions about dinner and bedtime routines. I was listening, but my attention was focused on the youngest.

She was weaving in and out of her mom’s legs, like a figure-eight. She stopped, glanced at me with a smile, then looked at her mom with absolute adoration. She gave her mom a final big leg squeeze and scampered off with her sisters. The love, the wave of warmth and security, that flowed between them was palpable. I knew I wanted THAT! I wanted to love someone that much and have that little person love me back THAT MUCH!

I recognized that love because I, fortunately, had a mom that made me feel the same way…even as a TEENAGER! (Thanks, Mom! 33333!!!)

Of course, I didn’t want to be a mom right away. But from that day forward, it was always part of my grand plan. I wanted to go to college and grad school, start my career, and find a lifelong partner, but that all came second to the idea of one day starting a family. I knew that no matter what I did for my job, I would be a mom first. My family would come first.

Fast forward a couple (a few???) decades, and I AM a mom first. I am a mom to three amazing little ones, who grow bigger and more mature every day. I chose my career path because it fit my interests, but also because it supported my desire to be a mom first. When I share with friends, today, that in college I knew I wanted a career that allowed me to be a mom first while also working, they were shocked.

“You planned your career out of college around your future family?”

Yes, because it was that important to me.

I also chose a man who wanted to have a family, though he didn’t know it until he met mine (at least that’s what he just shared with me!).

Now we have our kids, and I am Mom first. So, what now?

Sure, I get the figure-eight weaving, the leg hugs, the smooches, the love, but being a mom is so much more. What’s my purpose now? I have them, so what do I DO with them? What is my vision for them, for me, and for us? I never thought about the “why” in my early days…just the “what!” Well, now I am living in, sometimes drowning in the why. But, at other times, I’m clueless with an utter lack of clarity.

But, despite some of the back and forth, here is what I DO know.

Our kids are our legacy. They are who we will leave behind.

Our kids are us, my husband and me, looking in the mirror. They reflect who we are and provide an unfiltered view of our good, bad, and ugly.

Our kids are a constant reminder to be compassionate with ourselves and others, to have patience and perseverance.

Our kids inspire us to be courageous and speak, write, dance, and sing our truth.

Our kids provide daily practice to connect meaningfully on a deeper level, to get to know someone better and to ask questions that make us all ponder.

Our kids are a catalyst for personal growth, the best reason to want to be a better version of ourselves every day.

Our kids are our future. The way we raise them will be carried on in their being long past childhood, and eventually passed on to their children.

So, what’s my vision, my purpose now?

To love myself more, so I can pass that love, security, loyalty, and trust on to them.

To show them through my practice that risking is essential, and that they have a support system waiting to help them get back up again.

To accept myself more, so I can judge them less and instead set them free to soar in their way.

To give them the best foundation I know how through life-long learning and doing, daily practice, and patience for everyone.

To be committed to our family team unit, where we work together to form and hold each other accountable to rules and boundaries. This discipline will facilitate more confidence, security, responsibility, and freedom. Everyone will soar.

I’m sure I’m only touching upon a few, and that if I sat for days, weeks, or years, I would come up with a much longer, different list. But, this is where I am today, and today is what counts.

Love being a mom! It is truly a gift.

With much love, share it with your littles!

And, please, leave comments below, telling your story of when you knew and why! I’d love to hear!

Warmly,

Wendi

Have Your Best Summer EVER!

Happy Summer!!

I love summer!

Of course, the weather is warm and the days are long, but can I tell you…I love summer because of the free time.

During the school year, adult-directed activities dictate our kids’ agendas. We teach, supervise, correct and redirect, organize and schedule. We take care of them, feed the crew, make sure everyone gets out the door on time, drive to extra-curricular activities, and make sure homework gets done. We do all of this the best we can, and of course, it never seems to be enough.

Summer, on the other hand, is a time to sit back, to look at the big picture and to reevaluate what’s truly important. How do we help our kids discover their authentic selves and develop into the people they are meant to be?

Well, believe it or not, it usually involves adults doing LESS!!!! Yep, less!

Summer is a time for us to let our kids take charge. There are fewer pressing items, and our lengthy “to do” lists can and should take a back seat.

Though a simple concept, this is FAR FROM EASY!

Let’s see how to do this!

1. Clear the schedule.

Do your best to minimize adult-directed activities.…let the kids lead.

With less on the schedule, there is more time for your children to dive deep into free time play. Yes, they may get bored at first. They might need some help to offer suggestions, but try not to jump in right away. However, if provided time, space, a variety of locations (try outside), and a few materials (mostly loose parts), they will jump into their free play faster with practice.

When they get to choose the activity, they listen to themselves more, they work with others with more synchrony and invest themselves in the process of playing and learning. The ebb and flow of high energy and calm just happen because there are no rules, no adults saying “stay in your seat” or “it’s time to go play basketball,” which is often counter to their flow. Kids get to know themselves better, even if they don’t realize it at first. And, don’t worry if they just wander “aimlessly” or sit. This quiet time is essential. Only when we turn down the volume of the outside world can we tune into our inner worlds.

Of course, there are camps, but try to have those camps be ones your kids WANT to attend. Have them be camps where the directors understand the need for free time. We start our summer every year with two weeks of “Beach Camp,” which is three hours of supervised beach time. No agenda, no pressure to go surf, swim, run, walk, or build a sand castle. Each child gets to choose what they want to do. The counselors merely ask, “Are you having fun?” They help when asked, but otherwise, let the kids do their thing. All 3 of mine attend, and all three have individual experiences that align with their desires.

And, to help clear the schedule, I honestly don’t worry about the summer academic slide, mostly because we incorporate “academic” learning into our days. More on that later.

2. Observe, participate and revisit.

Telling stories is the best!

Whether you are engaged directly with your children or sitting on the sidelines, be present and notice how they are playing, who they are playing with, what they gravitate towards and what they avoid. What you observe on a daily basis will help prompt discussions later in the evening, perhaps at the family table. Dive deep in your conversations and relive the fun of the day.

Revisiting the day with specific questions and back-and-forth discussions helps you and your children digest all over again not only what happened, but also the FEELINGS and EMOTIONS that went along with it. Asking questions like, “How did you do to improve your handstand?” and “What did it feel like to be upside down for three seconds?!?!” gets them remembering and analyzing. Not only can you (and they) have fun all over again, but you tap into the thinking AND feeling parts of the brain to revisit the problems that were solved!

My youngest is a goofy storyteller, so we all have fun asking him questions about the day. It also challenges my girls to ask precise questions to get to the bottom. We usually end up hysterically laughing, as the stories get longer and taller. Each one of us gets questioned, and I get some great insight into the heart and soul of my family.

 

3. Say, “YES!”

Let’s make summer the season of “YES!”

When you take a deep breath and drop your agenda, give space and time to yourself and your kids, you have a chance to glimpse what your family likes to do, both independently and together. When I ask, point blank, what my kids love to do, I get a lot of “umm”s and a few vague answers. BUT, if I let them SHOW me what they like, oh boy, do we have fun! At the same time, when they ask me to join, I make a commitment to them to say YES! I can’t always (there still are other responsibilities), but most of the time if I think about it, YES is the only answer…other things can wait.

My oldest (11 y/o) started her first business, selling slime. Of course, I enthusiastically encouraged her! I let her start at her own pace, going through three cycles of buying supplies, making the slime and selling it.

It was when she was on a roll that I asked her how much money she was making. She didn’t know the answer; she only knew that she could cover her expenses…but barely. I then asked, “Do you want to know?” With a resounding, YES, she invited me to help teach and guide. We covered gross, net, cost of goods. I introduced a receipt book, a ledger, an “all about money” book for kids (given by her aunt for her birthday). We had fun. She followed up with, can you help me build a website? “YES!” (By the way, THIS is better than ANY academic or tutoring camp I could have ever found.)

Saying “yes” to our kids is powerful. Think of how often they hear the word “no.” And, though there is a possible “yes” at the end of every inquiry, sometimes it’s hard to find. So, let’s make summer the season of “YES!”

4. Read…A LOT!

Reading feeds our heart and soul. And, it works our brain, too!

There are many places and ways to incorporate reading into the day. And, reading is THE way to keep those brains working on the academic skills that often slide during the summer. Here are some of my favorites:

– Read aloud to your children in the morning! We often think of reading as a bedtime routine, and though that is also a very good time to read, it’s not the ONLY time. We like to start the day reading as well. We have a family read-aloud book as well as read-aloud books for my two youngers. My oldest likes to read to herself and does it OFTEN, so I don’t make her join us…that defeats the purpose of making it FUN!
– Choose books that have movies made. I often do this to introduce different genres of books, since the movie is always a great motivator to try something new.
-Silent, sustained reading time for the WHOLE family. Sit on the couch, or better yet, take a blanket outside and read outside as a family. The #1 way to help kids love something is for you to SHOW them that you love it too, and then participate WITH them. Think of reading as a “do as I do” activity.
-Cook! We made my daughter’s birthday, cast-iron cookie pie last night. Planning, reading the recipe, preparing the tools and ingredients, following a sequence, re-reading the recipe, measuring, stirring, reading the stove, reading the controls on the mixer. All of this is reading for function, reading for fun.
– Take a trip to the library. Even if they don’t find a book to take home, they have browsed and read LOTS of titles, first pages and made decisions about what interests them. It’s also an incredible place where you are not distracted by the daily grind.
– Listen to audio books and read along or just listen. The flow of reading is VERY different than regular speech, and the voices that good narrators bring can truly bring the book to life.
-Read under covers at night with a flashlight. So fun!

Thank goodness for summer. Take it as an opportunity for YOU to do LESS and for your KIDS to lead MORE. Observe them and learn. Say yes. Dig deep. Play a lot and HAVE FUN!

And, finally, leave comments to let me know your kids’ favorite activities, what is still challenging for you and what you want MORE of from me!

Have an amazing week! Happy July! Happy Summer!!

The Defense of Tummy Time

Just yesterday, as most days, a colleague at Kids Unlimited posted an excerpt talking about the importance of tummy time. Some responses offered an alternative article written on the RIE/Janet Lansbury blog highlighting the case against tummy time. I would like to directly respond to this article. There is much of RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, I love and respect and use on a daily basis with my patients, clients and children. However, I do not agree with their beliefs on tummy time.

Tummy Time Tips

Move Play Grow is three years old and I now have a “preschooler” on my hands. I’ve learned so much from the over 450 babies and families I’ve taught in that time and I want to take this moment to thank you all, to share some great photos of my happy babies in tummy time, and of course to offer some tips to help the next generation of happy tummy timers! See you in class!

To Sit…Or Not to Sit: Developing Functional Sitting Skills in Babies

A celebrated developmental milestone is when a 6-month-old baby (give or take a few weeks) can sit up independently. But, what does that mean? The reference books say independent sitting is when a baby is placed in sitting on the floor and can remain there without help from caregivers, other supportive props or gear, or the use of their own hands for balance. But, is this independent sit functional for baby and why does it matter?

The Importance of Tummy Time

Wendi was recently featured as an expert guest on ParentSavers.com, talking about the importance of tummy time! The podcast is a total of 30 minutes with the feature interview taking place after the initial discussion about an application called Alert ID. Click on the link below to listen! We would love any and all comments! Stay tuned for a video of a Tummy to Play Everyday class from Parent Savers, which streamed live at the Your Natural Baby Fair 2013!

The Movement Community

When Strides Physical Therapy embarked on the mission to provide wellness services to the general community in addition to therapy services to those in greatest need, we were extremely passionate about getting our message out. We felt we had so much great information to share from our studies and years of practice in the realm of pediatrics and movement development, but that information was not reaching a majority of families. We wanted to empower all families with greater knowledge about their growing babies and children, to provide information that sparked dialog and informed choices. And we especially wanted to reach the babies and children, who are ALL at risk for exercise deficiency, lack of motor proficiency, and sedentary lifestyles in our electronic, wireless, mobile world. We wanted to help bring some balance back into our lives to support a healthier future, one family at a time. Thus, Move Play Grow was born!

Play: 9 to 12 months

Babies at 9 to 12 months are really moving and grooving! They are in to almost everything and will likely be pulling to stand, cruising along furniture, and preparing to take those first few wobbly steps! This is also a bittersweet time for many parents (myself included) as you see your little baby vertical – even if holding on to something! Typically, by 9 months, babies are sitting unsupported and reaching for toys, crawling (tummy up or down) and by the end of this stage, babies are creeping, pulling to stand, cruising, and some may even be walking. Their ability to move in new ways (crawl, stand, even walk) makes it easier to explore and helps them make new discoveries.

Is My Baby’s Head Normal?

Today, many more babies have flat spots on their heads than 20 years ago. In fact, it is now common to see babies out in public wearing orthotic helmets and to hear stories about their courses of physical therapy. Diagnosis of positional plagiocephaly/brachycephaly and often-concurrent torticollis, two mostly preventable conditions, is on the rise. What can we as parents, caregivers, and medical practitioners do to reduce the risk of these diagnoses?

Disclaimer
The content on this website is based on Wendi’s personal and professional experience and general research. It is not meant for individual medical diagnosis or treatment. If you are concerned about your child, please consult with your primary physician and/or therapist.

CLOSE
CLOSE