This week is back to school. If not a lot earlier, most people return to work this week. Particularly in the UK, with people enjoying splendid weather over the bank holiday weekend (just over a week ago), some took the additional week off. Why not.
I have been on it since early August, working on content for my blog, my LinkedIn Videos and launch of my executive and productivity coaching business. I have been lucky to see a trend that companies are interested in mindfulness trainings and how they can create a culture within an organisation that looks after their employees. As I continue with a top end training course later in the year, I started teaching meditation and mindfulness, incorporating emotional intelligence (EQ), working towards productivity. It all seems to come together.
This week is back to school for the kids too. That means childcare is sorted for most of the day, and life returns to some kind of routine. It also means that you see less of your children. Unfortunately, that’s how life is.
Those who follow me closely know that I currently split my time between a part-time job and launching my own business. That is splitting my time between security and flexibility. It is hard work, but I have a great team I am working with at my contract and enjoy both challenges. Best of both worlds really.
Also, this week we are back to my podcasts. On Thursday I launch season 3 of my podcast Stories of Success. It has been so much fun, that after 40 episodes I continue to interview high achievers and personal development people who give us their opinion on success. I have a few really interesting episodes recorded already, so make sure you tune in on any of your favourite outlets (including Spotify!)
As of next week, I am launching my 2nd book, Principles for Success. I will share more info about the book in the forthcoming weeks and give you a taster of what it is all about. It is an exciting journey to write a book and you will find out more on an article I wrote over on LinkedIn.
Despite my busy schedule I still have a couple of coaching slots available for Q4. So don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know if you are interested. Or, if you are part of a business, let me come in and I share my thoughts on how to create a more productive workplace.
Isn’t that amazing. The attitude and positivity of a man who mastered life despite disabilities. And we are whinging when the wood for the wood burner is a bit wetter this year or Tesco delivers expired products. His life puts our misery a bit in perspective. Living in the 1st world as we call it, we are spoiled for things. As he states in the video, if he falls over and cannot get up, he will try a 100 times. He never ever gives up until he achieves his goal. However simple or small it seems to be.
Achievement, or however you want to define Success, is your true Potential minus any Interference. Whether that is Interference from the outside (physical) or internal, the things you are telling yourself that holding you back to develop your full potential to progress and achieve. Stop telling yourself how little you have achieved but focus on the whole lot you have achieved. Look at 2016 for instance: realise how many days you have done so well. You made it through, 365 days of success. You made progress, had success. You can do it and unleash your full potential, decrease your interference. Go for it.
Putting life in perspective. I have been trying to do that for a while through
a) meditation and focusing on the things I appreciate, giving thanks and quieting my mind from the hustle and bustle out there, and
b) I started a gratitude journal this year to write down what I appreciate each day and what I am thankful for.
A more religious driven person would do that in their evening prayer, and I suppose the personal development industry has realised that it works to reflect on your day, give thanks and make sure you are focusing on positivity and progress. And listening to a podcast on Buddhism this week, there was another realisation: it doesn’t matter whether you believe in re-birth or not. You can only change this very moment, this very life. Be better now, and make the most of your existing life. If you do, and there is re-birth, you have nothing to worry about. And if there isn’t a re-birth, don’t worry about it. We must stop worrying. Instead we must be living in the moment, being the best person we can be – both from an ethical and achievement perspective.
Similar to the theme we talked about last week, 2017 is all about making the most out of life. The insecurity with Donald Trump taking office this week and the Euro falling thanks to Brexit. Things are changing fast. To not loose any momentum I have made a few decisions. One was to have a fantastic meal with the wife on Monday lunch time – when else will we have the chance to do that again? We went to a place Jen wanted to go for the past 5 years and we finally went and really liked it. The Ginger Fox. We highly recommend it 🙂
Then I made the decision to take the kids to see the latest Star Wars movie in the cinema. And we made the decision how to celebrate my birthday 😉 And, last but not least, I made the decision to meet some good friends on Tuesday. So in summary, I made the most out of a few days prior to (drum roll) starting my new adventure:
Since finishing my last project, I have been debating for a while whether to do my own thing, to work on a contract basis or joining a company full time. I chose the latter, as I think this is the right step in my career. It is a company I have known for many years, 6 to be precise, and which has seen ups and downs, and I have seen them going through the phases from being a competitor, a partner and a supplier. They are now at a point where I am more than excited to join them, where I believe I can add significant value to their growth, using my experience in Programmatic and client handling. In return I am working with some very smart people in the space. Some of the smartest I have seen on the tech side for a while, people with a variety of background and strong leadership. And it is an outstanding technology. To say the least, I am very excited to step into the new role, back on the technology side of things. Back to an EMEA wide role. I am pumped for 2017, I am ready for the new challenge!
So the first few days were good. I love starting a new job on a Wednesday. It gives you an easy week to tune in, set up IT and get my feet under the table. Research suggests it takes 6 months to fully fall into a role, yet I am confident it will be a lot quicker. My KPIs are 🙂 So much to do, so exciting to go back on Monday.
This sums up an almost perfect week. Trains are back to normal (whatever that means) as of Tuesday. I have a few trips planned already. Back on the road, so just as well I have my passport back. I made plans on some personal development goals too. I feel this is going to be a good year.
As you know, every now and then, I ask my wife or friends to write an article on this blog. This time I asked my wife to write about rear facing car seats. Why? Because she has done extensive research that should benefit both parents, parents to be, and the general interested public. We don’t want to be patronising but give an objective view on it. Or my wife does:
Volker asked me to write a guest post about our choice of rear facing car seats for the boys. I am writing this purely to raise awareness that extended rear-facing (ERF) car seats exist and not to disregard anyone’s choice on their car seats. Every parent makes their choice based on many factors, and these are my views and some of the obstacles we have come across.
Colin, our eldest, was a big baby! By 7 months old he was 12.5kg and almost too heavy for his Maxicosi stage 0 infant carrier, time to think of a new car seat! Purely by chance I saw a post on babycentre.co.uk about ERF car seats. There was a link to youtube.com and safety videos, crash tests etc etc. I sat in tears watching a baby crash test dummy getting flung about. From then on I never considered putting Colin into a forward facing car seat, especially at such a young age.
Current UK guidelines state that a child should not be put in a forward-facing car seat till 9 months of age and/or weighs 9kg. But also advises that they should remain rear-facing as long as possible. This is under review I believe to recommend extended rearfacing for longer. Our infant carrier had a weight limit of 13kg, so at 7 months Colin was too young to forward-face ‘safely’ under these guidelines. I began my online research!!!! Sweden is the front runner for extended rear-facing and recommends that children don’t face forwards till the age of 4 years old.
There are many websites out there to tell you all about the benefits of ERF car seats, the main ones are Carseat and Rearfacing.
So what are the benefits?
The whole principle is based on the fact that a small child’s head is large in proportion to its body. “A child is much more vulnerable in an accident as they are still growing. Their proportions are not the same as adults’. Their heads are 25% of their bodyweight. If adults’ heads where the same proportions the head would weigh 20kg. The child’s skeleton has not yet been solidified into bone, but is still soft, mainly consisting of cartilage. When subjected to violent force the skeleton will bend rather than break. On an adult the rib cage protects our vital organs such as heart, lungs, spleen etc. On a child this is not the case. When flung against the harness in a forward facing child seat the rib cage cannot cope with the force on impact and the organs inside might be injured and damaged. Same thing with the neck. The spine has not solidified. It is soft and might stretch and snap, in which case the bone marrow is the only thing left preventing internal decapitation”. “In a rear facing car seat, the child is flung into the back of the seat and the force of impact is distributed along the whole back of the seat. The neck, spine and internal organs are not subjected to the stress of the force and are therefore protected.” (www.rearfacing.co.uk)
Here is a video showing this principle.
Many folk will have reservations. This is something new. Are forward-facing seats not safe? What about their legs? What about a ‘rear-ended’ crash? They will not be able to see anything. Will they get travel sick? They won’t like facing backwards………. the list goes on! Yes, forward-facing seats are safe, but rear-facing ones are safer. Perhaps their legs will be damaged, but this is better than their neck (also good time to point out that in forward-facing seats, broken legs are one of the most common injuries). Rear-impact crashes are generally of lower speed that frontal collisions and the forces are less. This blog post shows what can happen in this situation. Colin will point out all the different coloured buses and lorries from his seat, so he must be seeing something. He has never (yet) been travel sick and given his mother’s history this is a miracle! Colin and Rohan have never objected to facing backwards. They have never faced forwards, they don’t know the difference!
I could go on and on about why rear-facing is the way forward, but I think that covers the basics! And, of course my opinion is a bit biased.
Unfortunately we have encountered a few issues in our quest to keep the boys rear-facing. Space is a BIG issue. ERF seats are semi-universal and do not fit all cars unlike a lot of forward-facing universal seats. You need to have them professionally fitted and there are a limited number of places that actually do this. You cannot walk into Halfords or Mothercare to get one of these seats. Being a tall family (Volker is 197cm (6’6) and I am 179cm (5’11)) we cannot get away with a ‘normal’ sized car and have two ERF seats. Volker drives with the driving seat as far back as it can go in most cars. ERF seats are pretty bulky. You get the picture 🙁 So after the last car died back in November, we had the perfect opportunity to shop around for a car to fit our needs. We knew we needed to look for a big car, having previously owned a Volvo XC90 SUV and struggled to fit two ERF seats in comfortably, we went down the MPV route.
What we could have done is testing it ourselves. Examples were to take off the compartment lid or seeing if the support leg misses the compartment, but that was not really an option for us. We did not have a car and lugging a bulky car seat, double pushchair on a bus with a grumpy toddler (and happy but fed up baby) to different car dealers just to see if our ERF seat fitted wasn’t my idea of fun! Turns out both Volkswagen and Ford didn’t have their MPVs on the showroom floor anyway, so just as well we didn’t! I didn’t want to buy a car to find that an ERF seat wouldn’t fit in it!
We did consider turning Colin around and putting him in a forward-facing seat and putting Rohan in his ERF seat, he is over 2.5 years now after all. That would have solved all our issues. Except one. What if we did have an accident and something terrible could have been prevented. I couldn’t live with that. The main issue is the trade off you make, like with insurance products. You hope to never have to use your insurance but if you need it, it better cover all your needs. That is our thinking behind the rear facing car seats. That is why we don’t like to compromise. Maybe we are a bit over protective, but can you ever be too over protective with your own children? And getting a rear facing car seat is not like wrapping them up in cotton wool as other people would do.
In the end we found a MPV, a Seat Alhambra, that didn’t have underfloor storage compartments, plenty leg room and fitted our ERF seat behind the driver side fully extended. Sorted! It arrived last week! It is a 2007 plate. I think newer models have the underfloor storage as the Ford Galaxy, S-Max, Sharan and Alhambra now all use the same platform 🙁
So Volker picked up the car and went to Babynest in Croydon and bought Rohan a new seat. We got Colin’s ERF seat there 2 years ago. The chap there is really great and fitted both the old seat and new seat for us. He advised us that ERF seats should not be fitted with underfloor storage compartments and was impressed with the space of the SEAT and the fact it didn’t have underfloor storage as he has turned away customers for this reason in the past. And this affected other models like Renault or Peugeot as well.
I know a time will come that Colin will grow out of his ERF seat. He is almost 17kg already. If he was forward-facing, by 18kg he would need to stop using his 5 point harness and use the 3 point seat belt to keep him safe. Children are generally 4 years old at this point, not 2.5 years! Providing he doesn’t grow too much in height (he is currently 97cm) he can remain rear-facing till 25kg in a 5 point harness. That keeps this mummy happy.
If this is something you too feel strongly about please sign this epetition to the House of Commons to help raise awareness.
We hope this gives you some insights on the aspects of buying a safe rear facing car seat, and if you have any questions or would like to have some advice on the research we have done, please comment below.