Monday, August 17, 2015

Keep Your Head in the Game: The Importance of Visualization

Cheap umbrella strollers with simple stroller connectors were a well-thought solution for twin travel
"Wow, you sure think a lot." My mom and I taking the girls on a walk and I was verbally working out whether or not a collapsible wagon should or could replace our umbrella strollers (that we make into a double stroller with these great stroller connectors) when we head back to the boat in October. "I mean, the wagon is more practical," I started. "I would be able to cover more terrain and it'd be great for the beach and lugging more gear..." I paused, playing the scenario through in my head. "But then again, when I'm getting the girls off the boat and onto the dock, I do this one at a time, and grab the other from the boat after the first one is clipped in." I stalled, thinking further. "So if we do get a wagon, we'd need one that I can clip the girls into so that the one in the cart cannot get out while I'm going to the boat to load up the other one."

I have more thinking (and research) to do.
Would something like this make sense? Hmmm....
Scenarios like this one are constantly going through my head. If there is one thing that both cruising and children teach a person, it's the importance of staying one step ahead of the game. When it comes to kids and boats, things can go from hunky dory to hell in a matter of seconds, and the secret to preventing this (or at least making sure it happens with less frequency) is preparation. There's no way around it. You don't prepare, you're going to have problems. Period.

Bringing three toddlers to live on a 44 foot sailboat requires a tremendous amount of forethought. It's not a matter of just packing up the kids aboard and winging it (though no matter what there will be a trial and error "learn as you go" aspect). With fewer or no kids perhaps you can be more cavalier (we can tell you emphatically that cruising as a couple and cruising with only one young child is infinitely easier than cruising with three) - but given our experience of being outnumbered by babies, I am here to say that it is totally do-able, but requires planning. I am 100% positive that the last eight months on the boat would not have gone nearly as well if we hadn't prepared as thoroughly as we did. But, like anything cruising and parenting, no matter how much you prepare - you're going to get caught with your pants down once and a while. Shit happens. Mother Nature takes no orders and children cannot be programmed. Things don't always go to plan.

But - and this is a big one - having a plan will greatly lessen your chances of bedlam in both babies and boating, that is for certain.

"I have to think like this," I explained to my mom. "A professional athlete doesn't win a game by hitting the field and simply trying their best" I told her. "The most successful athletes are strategists - they envision a game before it's played, work out their moves, and visualize different scenarios and their reactions ahead of time." I realize I am far from a professional athlete, but this visualization process is something I remember from my days as a varsity runner and has helped us tremendously in our cruising life. Sure, my nighttime sleep might be compromised (these scenarios often play out when I am lying in bed) but things like infant dinghy seats and awesome twin v-berth bunks result from these sessions.
This awesome and innovative dinghy seat (we're patenting it!) was the result of LOTS of visualizing and planning
Take now, for example. Our girls are more mobile, curious and rambunctious than ever. Because of work commitments (more on this later), we are going to be based in a marina when we return down island (with weekly excursions to sail and anchor out). Docks frighten me WAY more than being at anchor or at sea with our girls and I know that I am going to have to be super vigilant about making sure they are safe. Which brings me to the current conundrum I am tirelessly thinking about and researching (aside from the wagon): what is the best and most practical floatation device that can keep our girls safe while running around a marina, but not so cumbersome that it makes them miserable and inhibits their ability to climb and play? While I think I may have found a solution (it's in the mail), I am open to suggestions. Either way, I have faith I that I will figure something out. Necessity is the mother of invention, which is yet another lesson brought to you by both boating and parenting.

If you are dreaming of doing something, anything, I say: start visualizing. Read books, blogs and articles that can help shape the accuracy of your mental picture. It's this imaginative blueprint that is the first step in making things happen; from the great ("Let's cross the Pacific!") to the mundane ("Let's get a collapsible wagon!"). Hopefully, for us, we start leaning more toward the "great" again...when our kids are a little older, that is. Visualizing crossing an ocean with three toddlers looks a lot like hell in my mind!

To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan... believe... act!

- Alfred A. Montapert


Lauren said...

I really get the over thinking bit of parenting! Anything new I try to visualize it every step of the way and thus be as prepared as I can be. Nothing is so frustrating as ending up in a tense situation where you keep thinking, this could easily have been prevented!! And I'd imagine visualization Must have a lot to do with successfully living the boat life with small kids. Good luck in finding the right transport solution!!

DM said...

Hi there,

While you are still based in Chicago, you could research ISR (Infant Swim Rescue). It teaches your children how to float on their back, swim, float to catch their breath, wait for rescue or get to the side in case they fall in the marina. My three year old started when she was 10 months old and is a fantastic swimmer due to this program. Good luck!

Amy T. said...

Amy T. (mommy of twin boys)
-Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful and descriptive teaching moments! You truly are an inspiration to me! Me, my husband and my 14 month old twin boys are in the process of finding our perfect liveaboard boat in Florida. I just recently found your blog and it has opened my eyes and warmed my heart because I can definitely relate and look up to you and your family. #1 it is hard to find great liveaboard family bloggers #2 It is hard to find great twin mommy bloggers! As we are in the process of searching for the right boat and planning for what to carry aboard, your blogs have been such a big help to us! I was just thinking the other night that I have a big wagon for the boys right now that is not collapsible and so I was thinking..hmm..wonder what we can use on the boat? And now today you post great timing- cant wait to see what you come up with! Sorry to ramble... thank you for sharing your life with us and I am very thankful and owe you big!

Amy T. said...

Maybe this will work-? It has seat belts and collapses but not sure how compact you need- check it out and let me know if you think it will work! We may get the same thing

MaryJo Boyle said...

The wagon looks similar to one we had for our boat (but just the bare bones wagon)and while it was useful and folded easily, it would fishtail like crazy when being pulled. It didn't matter if we had a lot of weight in it or none at all--that wagon was all over the dock. Because of that characteristic and a 5 second lapse in my attention while walking down the finger pier to our boat, our 6 month-old laptop (with all our navigation software)ended up in the Gulf of Mexico, along with my purse, my cellphone, and some clothes. As you know, salt water and electronics don't mix.
I think the fishtailing was a function of the wagon's "collapsability" which could only be possible with wheels that folded in, rather than ones that were fixed in position.

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