Category Archives: kids

Get Kids to Talk: The Modern Equivalent of Trapping Them in the Car

Parenting fact: one-on-one time with kids is where all of the good dialogue happens.

1977 Cadillac Sedan Deville

1977 Cadillac Sedan Deville from The Hartford Guy on Flickr

When I was in high school, my dad was well aware of this fact. I think that’s why he’d bribe me with rides to school in his 1978 Cadillac DeVille (or “the boat” as we called it in the family). Even today I can still hear the “thunk” of the automatic door locks engaging as dad backed this giant, baby-blue, swank sedan out of the driveway.

That “thunk” nearly always triggered teenage-cheek-flush and upper-lip-sweat as I realized I was trapped in the car with dad. On the surface it was a luxury ride, but in reality I was merely being held for uninterrupted questioning.

My 15-year-old brain swirled with thoughts of outsmarting him:

“Crap, it’s just dad and me, no one else to distract him or run interference, he can talk about anything he wants. I can’t escape, I have to answer his questions. Maybe if I just look out the window and feign boredom, he won’t try to talk to me.”

But my sweaty, flushed flight response of my lizard brain knew better.

He always asked questions. So many questions. And I eventually had to answer. Continue reading

Navigating the Maze of Kid Activities (on bikes)

Bike to laxHave you listened to the latest NPR health story? In Many Families Exercise Is By Appointment only? The story highlights two very different approaches to kids and activities and how their parents ensure they get exercise. Some families choose organized sports, driving kids to various practices and games. Some choose walking and biking and playing outside.

Which is better? To schedule or not to schedule? And if you schedule, how do you transport kids to all of their various activities? By car? Or by bike?

I sometimes take this issue up a notch and start to worry about over-scheduled kids. What about them? Do they really enjoy having that much going on? Don’t they just want to hang out at home on occasion?

If you were blissfully unaware of this problem, don’t fret, you can find books and articles on the subject. You too can read about how to avoid over-scheduling your kids. Then you can sit down and watch a documentary and learn about the perils you will certainly face if you don’t get this problem resolved now. After you have yourself in a tizzy about your kids future, you can go back to news and articles regarding childhood obesity. The grim stats will certainly depress you: 18 percent of kids are obese in the United States. “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years”

Feeling crazy, confused and on-edge yet? I know I am.

What’s a parent to do? To schedule or not? To relax or worry? Continue reading

Streets are for People! Kids at Play in the UK

I love this video from Playing Out! (Thanks to Sarah Goodyear for sharing it along with her insightful post). Continue reading

Is “Liking” Riding & Walking Good Enough?

2012 Bike to School DayThis week everyone is talking about the Danish study linking walking and biking to school with better concentration.  Kids + walking/biking + education = hot topic, right?

The story has legs and is making the rounds on Twitter,  Facebook, blogs, and news outlets. Everywhere we click (at least in our admittedly bike- & walk-centric world), we see a link to the study.

You’ve seen it, haven’t you?

Like many of you, we get excited about these articles and want to pass the on to our network of friends.

Click! Like! Share! +1!

The resulting flurry of retweets and likes is a good thing, isn’t it? “Hey look here’s a great story. Let’s share it with our friends!” We click and make a difference. And then …. nothing.

For all their worth so many of these stories fade quickly, replaced with the next alt-transpo buzz (like … “e-bikes are coming and they are going to change everything!”). Continue reading

Lies we Tell our Children (or how to get kids to go bike touring)

Pacific Coast Bike Tour Day 1

When Tim and I recount family bike adventures to friends and strangers, a typical response is, “What do the kids think”? “Do they like bike touring?”

If we were being completely honest, we’d reply, “of course not”. You’ll soon ascertain that we have a slight problem with stretching the truth.

We get kids on board and excited about these trips by over-emphasizing the potential highlights and skipping the parts we know the kids won’t like.

And sometimes we tell all out lies. Continue reading

Check out Davey’s Blog

IMG_3301One of our favorite bikers in Seattle has become a family biker and he now has a new blog. And I must say, he’s on fire. Davey is single-handedly putting us old and lazy bloggers to shame. I love his writing and his playful humor, be sure to start at the beginning.

We always enjoy running into Davey on the road. He takes the time to stop, say hello, chat for a bit and share funny stories. I leave these impromptu meet-ups with a smile on my face and just a little more hope for humanity. Davey is good people. Continue reading

Xtracycle Reader (the video)

Xtracycle readerBy now you know that the Car Free Days family isn’t always prompt about posting to our blog. We have the very best intentions to keep it from getting old and moldy, but often life gets in the way and we push those blog updates aside.

We’ve officially taken procrastination to new heights. I’m more than a little bit ashamed to admit that this video edit is almost 4-years in the making: we’ve been saving this un-edited footage since August 2008. I started to edit it a few times but I just never got around to finishing it (kinda like Tim’s plan to finish his kid bike series). Continue reading

Motivating the Stoker

The airplane stoker The Silly StokerThe Serene stoker  We’ve been busy this spring getting ready for our Pacific Coast bike tour in July (even though we’d love to do the whole thing, we only have time for Seattle to SFO).  We’re buying light weight camping gear, planning our route, getting the bikes set up and doing lots of tandem riding on the weekends. The whole family goes for at least one long ride every week – usually between 20 and 35 miles. We’ll slowly build up to 50 miles by the time we’re ready to roll out-of-town in July. Continue reading

Bike Touring with Kids (building character one pedal stroke at a time)

Too many months have passed since we returned from our family bike tour last summer to justify a trip report. But I think just enough time has passed to allow me to reflect on the experience and look forward to the next one. 

IMG_0006Last summer we loaded up Tim’s Big Dummy (with most of our gear), the tandem (equipped with 3 Ortliebs and a bucket pannier) piloted by Anne and the 8-year-old and the 10-year-old’s bike (toting her clothes, sleeping bag and thermarest) and  pedaled away from our house on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

We ended up in the San Juan Islands 5 days later.

SunsetThe family spent 5 more days camping, relaxing, reading, playing on the beach and enjoying the tranquility of Lopez and San Juan Islands. We then hopped on the Victoria Clipper and motored back to downtown Seattle (covering the same distance on the passenger ferry in a few hours that took 5 days on the bike).

The trip came to an end after a 5 mile ride back to our house in North Seattle on a quintessential Seattle summer evening.

Sounds nice, huh?

Recounting the trip in that manner makes it seem like a piece of cake. We pedaled, arrived 5 days later, hung out on the Islands for 5 days and took a ferry back to Seattle.

Truth be told, there was plenty of suffering mixed in as well. And some grit and definitely some character building.

This  NYT education piece about education, failure, building character and ultimately success reminded me of bike touring.

(stay with me for a bit). Continue reading

Riding with Tweens

IMG_0032

Mother/Daughter Panda

We’ve been getting some flak these days from our 10.958 year old about our lack of car. She’s entering those tween years: asserting her independence and trying to blend in with everyone else. And this whole bike thing sometimes cramps her style.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but you kind of stick out when your family rides bikes instead of riding in cars.

Continue reading