STRIDER BIKES HELP CHILDREN PROUDLY BECOME WHO THEY ARE...
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Screen time. The bane of modern parenting. A constant source of parent-shaming and guilt. Look, we know you love your kids. We know you are doing your best. Let’s skip the low-grade anxiety attack that often comes from regurgitating facts and figures about the effects of too much screen time. We all probably have a pretty good grasp on the fact that an exorbitant amount of screen time isn’t the best for our children. Instead, let’s commiserate in the struggle, remind ourselves the importance of time spent outside, examine our own relationship with screens, and, in the end, lavish ourselves and each other with compassion. Parenting is hard, and ultimately, we all want happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.
Chapter One: The Fight
The screams reverberate down the hall, through the walls, out the windows, and transmute into echos throughout the otherwise quiet neighborhood. It’s not the opening scene of a horror movie. You’ve just told your eight-year-old screen time is over. Dun-dun-duuuuun! You aren’t just up against the screaming, the pleading, the bargaining, the crying, or the fits of rage either. Once you’ve managed to pry that device out of your kid’s death grip, they mope, snark, and continue to beg for “just a few more minutes.” Then the same thing happens all over again the next day. It’s no wonder that most parents admit to struggling with enforcing rules or time limits, even though most experts agree that doing so is vital for your child’s digital wellness. Yes, we have now have yet another “wellness” to manage.
Look on the bright side. Although having to monitor your child’s screen time is a modern parenting task, relentless fighting with your offspring is not. Hooray? Just ask grandma Norma. It’s easy to blame all the conflict on modern technology. It would be nothing but laughs, love, and happiness if it weren’t for that blasted iPhone and everything that came after, right? Take heart; parents have been sparring with children over bedtime, chores, and curfews since the beginning of time. The fighting comes with the territory, and we must choose our battles wisely. In the end, sticking it out is often exactly what those little boogers need most. They don’t believe it now, but as adults who enjoy nature and making real connections, they’ll thank you.
Chapter Two: Green Time vs. Screen Time
Parents, let’s renew the battle cry, “go play outside!” We promised to refrain from an onslaught of facts and statistics, but some just can’t be ignored. For instance, children only devote 4 to 7 minutes a day to unstructured outdoor play, yet, they spend more than 7 hours a day in front of some kind of screen. A mounting culmination of factors are working against our kids getting outside to play, and this is impacting their health, attention, and mental wellbeing. Even the use of antidepressants in pediatric patients is on the rise. Screens aren’t helping our kids feel happy and connected. But do you know what does? Bikes!
A lot has changed for kids growing up today, but one thing remains true. Bikes are fun, and kids love to ride. Those two wheels are the perfect anecdote to the screen time woes. If you can, spark your children’s love of riding as early as possible. Get them used to reaching for a bike, instead of an iPad. With Strider Bikes, kids can ride as soon as they can sit up, and with any luck, their love of bikes will equal or surpass their reliance on screens. Getting kids outside to play and ride doesn’t just nurture their bodies, but also their minds and spirits. In their article, Whole Child: Developing, Mind, Body, and Spirit, the Be Out There National Wildlife Federation sums up just a few of the benefits of more time playing and riding outdoors:
Creative: Playing outside inspires and requires an active imagination.
Smart: Children who spend time outdoors learn to work as a team. They score higher on assessments of cognitive ability and standardized tests.
Calm: Research shows kids’ stress levels fall within minutes of being outside.
Kind: Being outside helps create compassion and improves social bonds.
Happy: Play protects kids’ emotional development, letting kids be kids.
Healthy: Riding and running around outside helps maintain physical health, including more vitamin D, to help build strong bones and prevent disease.
Oh, and more great news, the same goes for you! As parents, we can use some outside time too. Going on a family bike ride is so much more than just that. And maybe every once in a while, our screams of frustration to pry screens out of children’s hands will morph into shrieks of excitement to go for a bike ride together.
Chapter Three: Your Own Devices
The “do as I say, not as I do” parenting tactic tends to fall flat. We know this, but putting down that phone is hard! Screen time isn’t just causing children to disconnect, compare themselves to others, and reduce physical activities – adults are susceptible as well.
On a good day, having children around inspires us to be the best version of ourselves (we’ve all had plenty of bad days too!). We can model how to disconnect from the screen and reconnect with nature and each other. What’s good for your kids is good for the entire family. This could be a great opportunity to reset everyone’s habits. After dinner or this weekend, instead of reaching for your phones, grab your bikes and go for a quick ride. Even a little ride goes a long way. But, let’s be real; the screen withdrawal period can get nasty. You’ve already managed to tough out a few fights. Make sure you have plenty of good snacks and stay strong.
Chapter Four: Harness Compassion
We’re all just trying to figure it out in this fast-paced digital world. Raising children with this amount of technology has never been done before. We are the parent pioneers! Every family has its own way of handling it. If you have been a parent for more than two minutes, you already know, someone out there does it differently and will not hold back about telling you why. Some days it feels like beliefs and ideas around screen time is just another way parents are pitting against each other. Being judged for the way you are parenting is a deep cut because, most of us, everyday, worry that we aren’t doing it quite right. When someone blatantly (or subliminally) tells you that you’re messing up, it’s hard to stay confident and not wallow in “I’m a horrible parent” pity.
You know what you don’t hear enough? You are doing a great job! Really, you are. You know what you need more than a list of all the things you are doing wrong? A little compassion from all the other parents you are surrounded by. None of us are perfect. It’s usually the neighbors who figure that out first when they hear you yelling at your kids or partner in the backyard when you thought they weren’t home. So let’s come together and shift our parent shaming energy from each other to keeping the pressure on tech companies to help protect our children online. Show your fellow parents some compassion with a gentle smile or a commiserate pat on the back.
Chapter Five: Good Luck Out There
Buckle up; this screen time struggle isn’t going away anytime soon. It looks like forcing your children to go outside and play is part of this parenting gig now. Hopefully, their kid instincts will kick back in, and they’ll grab their bikes, cruise around, laugh, and experience the freedom and joy that comes with two wheels. Maybe you’ll be inspired to put down the phone and join in the fun too. As your children grow into amazing adults, they’ll certainly remember some of the fight and struggle, but largely, the fresh air, adventure, and stubborn love you have given will stand out the most. You are doing a dynamite job!
 “Whole Child: Developing Mind, Body, and Spirit through Outdoor Play.” Www.nwf.org, www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Be Out There/BeOutThere_WholeChild_V2.ashx.
Life moves fast. You’ve welcomed this new, tiny little bundle of love into your life. You’re tired and red-eyed but managed to get a few loads of laundry done, a couple of dinners cooked, and answered a few emails. Then, suddenly, your kid is turning nine. How does that happen?
The busyness of life can put a strain on your relationship with your kids. Spending quality time together can be challenging. And, let’s be honest, they aren’t always a bundle of joy.
Are you noticing that more of your evenings and weekends are spent shuttling your kids and yelling at them to clean their room or put down their phones than actually hanging out with them? You’re not alone! Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Our suggestion – take a trip out to the shed and dust off your bikes.
At first glance, it may seem like riding bikes together is a simplistic solution to strained family relationships. But, look deeper. Engaging in activities with our loved ones strengthens emotional bonds that are vital for children’s development. Even teenagers! Riding bikes together can offer a marked improvement in family relationships and hits SO MANY birds with one stone. Trip planning, exploring, challenges, laughing, new experiences, exercise, and fresh air are but a few of the emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits of bike riding. It’s so much more than just a bike ride.
One thing is pretty much a given. Your kids will fight you at first. If not, can we have your kids? Push through! It won’t take long before they are trying to hide their smiles and even start looking forward to rolling together. You don’t have to tell them you’re healing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds. Some things are better left unsaid. Here are nine ways to use bikes to bond with your family.
Get to Know Your Community
Traveling by bike offers a unique opportunity to see your local community with a fresh perspective. It is a perfect occasion for children to learn to navigate the town. Make it a point to indicate landmarks, buildings, and crosswalks. This will build confidence when it comes time to commute by themselves, and they’ll be less likely to get lost. On your bike, you’ll end up seeing things you never noticed when driving through your neighborhood. Has this road always had so many potholes?
Practice Setting Goals
Whether it’s aiming for a certain mileage or attempting a challenging obstacle, setting goals can help create focus and encourage your kids to keep going. And, while you’re at it, set a goal for yourself too and let your kids hold you accountable. What an awesome experience to encourage each other to attempt and even achieve your goals, big or small, together. It’s the stuff movies are made of, only it’s your real life!
Choose a Destination
When it comes to getting out for a ride, kids tend to do better when they have a specific goal in mind. Choose a destination and include other non-riding activities. Choose a park, an ice cream shop, a historical site, or even a friend’s house as a destination. To keep kids engaged, include walking around to look at things, hiking to overlooks, or collecting treasures along the way. Even though sometimes it can complicate the process, get your kids involved with the planning. They can help with bike checks, reading maps, keeping track of stats on a bike computer, or packing necessary treats. When that process starts to get tedious and annoying (because – kids), repeat to yourself – family bonding is the goal, family bonding is the goal…
Practice Tricks in the Backyard
Every outing doesn’t need to be a major excursion. Bonding by bike can be as simple as going into the backyard to practice skills or tricks for a bit. See how long you can balance on a bike without putting your feet down. Practice wheelies, then laugh about how hard they actually are. Get a ramp or just put down a flat board and practice riding over. Maybe you try bunny hops or coming to a fast stop. Don’t take it too seriously. Laugh. All the while, both you and the kiddos are building skills that will help build confidence and ensure a lifelong love of riding bikes.
Going on one of those famous family road trips? Take your bikes along! We won’t pretend that getting the bikes loaded on a rack and gathering the extra helmets and tools in addition to everything else isn’t a pain in the butt. But you’ll thank us later. It’s totally worth it. Use rest stops as a chance to get on your bikes, stretch the legs, and wear out the kids so they will hopefully stop fighting. There are a lot of towns that are focusing on creating family-friendly bike trails and paths. Look them up and stop on your way through. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, let the kids take pictures and document the cool bike trails. They might have an interesting perspective. But, maybe get a cheap, durable digital camera. No one wants the trip highlight to be when dad lost it over a broken iPhone.
Explore Local Offerings
Have you ever made good use of what your local community has to offer? Utilize the bike path. Check to see if there are skate parks or pump tracks in your town. These are great places to explore on a bike without having to travel far. Consider it your tax dollar payout in family bonding.
Go For a Jog
Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and clear your head is some good, vigorous exercise. And, let’s face it, jogger strollers make running so much harder. With a Strider Bike, even the smallest of toddlers can scoot along at a decent clip. You can work out a little tension, and your little one can work off some energy. Now, you can use naptime to read a good book (isn’t our optimism adorable). You will be spending time together (other than cleaning their messes) and instilling a love for bikes early. It’s a win, win, win, win.
Head to the Sled Hill
Not every day is sunny, blues skies, and singing birds. Snow comes too, and when it does, we’ve got you covered. Attach the Snow Skis Set to the tires of a Strider Bike. BAM! Snow bike. Head to your local sledding hill and let your kiddos show off their biking skills. For you and your older children, check out bikes with fat tires specifically made for riding in the snow. Snow biking is becoming increasingly popular, and some towns are even grooming trails. Family bonding doesn’t have to hibernate during the winter months.
Participate in Events
When your family loves riding together, it’s hard to shut up about it. Going to bike races and events is the best way to meet other families who share your passion. With Strider Bikes, you become part of a close-knit club. Furthermore, you get access to all the amazing Strider events happening around the globe! The merriest way to bond, not just with your family, but with other families who are as committed to life on two wheels and togetherness as you are. As your toddlers become young adults, you can find races to enter and ride together. We’re not crying; you’re crying!
If riding a bike was just that, we wouldn’t have such a passion for getting more kids and families on bikes. We know first hand how transformative those two wheels can be for individual growth and strong family connection. Science calls it family cohesion. We call it a darn good time!
There are tons of valid reasons your kiddo doesn’t ride a bike. We get it! Life is crazy busy, and you have a lot on your plate. Traditionally, learning to ride a bike has been hard and teaching even harder. Who wants to spend the weekend fighting to get their kid on a bike? It turns out, not many. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, in the last ten years, there’s been a 35% drop in kids riding bikes for fun. Bikes ARE fun, and when kids aren’t riding, they are missing out.
Luckily, Strider has invented and perfected the most simple, effective, and wicked cool ways to get your kids on a bike. There is a complete progression that takes your kid from drooling on themselves to drooling over their bike before they are out of diapers (sorry, we can’t help with potty training though). Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles you face as a parent when it comes to getting your kiddo started on a bike and ways to alleviate the stress.
Obstacle: You don’t have time!
Strider Solution: Of course, you don’t have an entire weekend to dedicate to coaxing your child onto a bike. That’s a lot of pressure. Plus, you don’t have that kind of patience; you’re not a saint! Strider Bikes take the work out of it, we promise! You can start them early. It’s as easy as handing them the bike and letting them get on and walk around. The rest comes totally naturally. Plus, we offer a Learn-To-Ride Guide that breaks down every progression. It’s easy, and you’ll still have plenty of time to get all your laundry done (we know how most weekends go).
Obstacle: You are not sure where to start or how to teach.
Strider Solution: First step, ditch the training wheels! By ditch, we mean destroy (or just throw them in the trash). They are making this bike riding thing WAY TOO HARD. Isn’t the point to have fun? The second step, choose an age-appropriate Strider and download the Learn-to-Ride Guide. We’ll tell you everything you need to know (and that’s not much). Honestly, your kiddo will likely teach themselves.
Obstacle: You live in a place without easy access to outdoor spaces.
Strider Solution: Typical children’s bikes are clunky and heavy with awkward training wheels. Strider Bikes are made to be light and portable enough that even your barely walking toddler can maneuver with ease. Take that thing with you everywhere you want your little bean to keep up with you – the grocery store, furniture shopping, or mall walking. Heck, let them ride in the living room or basement. Now, if we could only figure out how they could bring their bike on a long flight.
Obstacle: You are worried about your child’s safety. Either traffic concerns or hard tumbles on the cement.
Strider Solution: As for traffic concerns, refer to the solution above. It’s worth saying again; these bikes can go almost anywhere. And, when it comes to tumbles and crashes, sure, accidents happen. You can start on the grass or carpet until you are both more confident. Make sure your kiddo always wears a helmet. For extra protection, check out our elbow and knee pads and riding gloves.
Obstacle: Your child prefers a scooter.
Strider Solution: Kids love scooters, and we don’t blame them. Especially the ones with the jet pack (those are real, right?). Both kids and parents tend to gravitate towards the scooter because they are perceived to be easier to learn and give immediate freedom. Don’t be fooled. In the long run, scooters won’t get kids as far or offer lifelong opportunities for riding. And, as you know by now, Striders are easy. Kids master the art of striding, then pedaling, practically without trying.
It’s not too often that obstacles are this easy to overcome. You do a lot of hard things every day. There’s no need to make getting your kid on a bike one of those. Start with the Rocking Base. Your baby can literally start as soon as they sit up. Then, when your little love bug starts walking, pop the bike off the base, and, walla, you have yourself a 12” balance bike. It’s the awesome-sauce! The grand finale is the 14x. It starts as a balance bike and can magically transform into a pedal bike with the Easy-Ride Pedal Conversion Kit. If your kid is already out of diapers (congratulations!), or maybe even in grade school and hasn’t ridden a bike, no sweat, there’s no better time to start than now. Go easy on yourself. Get a Strider, get your kiddo rolling, and prepare yourself for a huge spike in family fun. At this rate, the next ten years will bring a 100% decrease in frustration with getting kids on bikes.
From new rider to the savants of stride, Strider Cup races truly are for everyone to enjoy. Both beginner and professional will be in the crowds and inside the ropes at our Fort Worth race this Saturday. Luckily one of the pros isn’t there to race – but his son is! Pepe Montano has been a professional race car driver for over 27 years, and this year he is excited to bring his 2-year-old son Mateo to race in the Strider Cup.
Pepe Montano had a long racing career participating in series including NASCAR Mexico and the Grand Am. Now though, he’s taking time to slow down (just a little) and enjoy family time with his wife, Angie, and their two-year-old son, Mateo. While the pace has slowed, it’s just the first lap for little Mateo, who has recognized that racing is in his blood. At only one-year and two-months-old, most babies are still working on walking, but Mateo was ready to ride. Mateo started cruising on his Strider just after he turned one; which means he can officially say he has been racing for over half his life! With a silver 12 Pro and a blue 12 Sport to choose from, Mateo likes them both equally, because choosing from either means he gets to ride. We caught up with Pepe and asked a few questions about raising a little racer:
Strider: I saw you took Mateo skiing recently, how fun!! What are other activities that you hope to share with Mateo as he gets older?
Montano: We love motocross and skiing, but I want to push Mateo to do whatever he loves to do. He will always have my support.
Strider: What does training look like for a 2-year-old?
Montano: We put him on the Strider every time he wants but don’t want to put pressure on him. The good news is that he is on the Strider every day because he wants to be.
Strider: Do you have any advice for new racers?
Montano: My advice for new racers is always be happy about what they do, be disciplined, persevere, and always believe in themselves.
Our passion is inspiring the next generation of riders, and we love when parents support that love of riding with their own children because riding truly does change everything. Look for Pepe and Mateo at the Strider Cup Race this Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. Be sure to give him a high-five, wish him luck, and ring your cowbells for all the riders making waves on their Striders! For more information on the Strider Cup ft. Worth Racing event please visit http://strdr.us/24