First, An Email
This short post was inspired by an email.
John Heltzel, who’s on the non-profit board of Hand in Hand Parenting, sent me the following:
I was recently having dinner at Los Altos Grill with a CEO. He lamented that he travelled a lot and was having trouble re-connecting with his kids when he returned. I said: “When you get home, take out your iPhone, set the timer for 10 minutes, and say ‘you are now the boss for the next 10 minutes’ and see what happens.”
He wrote me back: “I did the ’10-minute boss’ exercise with my kids yesterday. They loved it. First started with ‘Get me some Skittles’ and then ‘Play school with us.’ Thanks for the tip!”
I’d love to hear from readers on other simple tricks for keeping connected to kids. As a some-day parent and driven person, it seems like the little things are the big things.
What do you think?
Second, Sports Doping
I was recently asked by The Next Web “[In the future]… will winning in sports be determined by technology?”
Here is my answer:
I would go so far as to say that nearly ALL future record-breaking athletics will depend on technology. This assumes we broadly define ‘technology’ as innovative tools for solving problems… like normal limitations of the human body. The 1980’s were the ‘golden age’ of steroids, which partially explains the records during that period. Moving forward, athletes’ coaches will use better tracking for Moneyball-like approaches to incremental gains; they’ll also use advances in medical and black-market biotech for massive gains.
The human body hasn’t evolved much over last 100 years for Olympic weightlifting or sprinting, right? This can be overcome a few ways: better scientific selection from massive populations (e.g. current day China, Cold War USSR), gene doping, cutting-edge medical treatment for faster recovery from injuries (Platelet-Rich Plasma injections, etc.), mechanical advantage (e.g. compression suits for swimming), and tweaking systems largely neglected in a sometimes anabolics-myopic arena (think acetylcholine optimization for 50-meter sprints). At the highest levels of power- or endurance-dependent sports, *everyone* is doping in some capacity, whether using EPO injection (banned) or high- altitude simulation tents (100% allowed but expensive, and the effects are nearly identical).
The options they choose are determined simply by how rich or poor they and their countries are. There is no such thing as a level playing field. Never has been and never will be.
Competitors with $1,000,000+ bonuses from big brands will always have more resources than the drug testers. It’s an easy game to beat…
[Read the full article here, including answers from others.]
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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180 Replies to “4-Hour Parenting – plus – Sports Doping”
nice 10 minute tip.
I think if you look back on your own childhood it’s probably things you would consider small as an adult that were a big deal to you as a kid. Your mom reading her favorite book to you. Your dad showing you how to fix something. Your parents supporting some random interest you had and not being judgmental.
In raising my own kids we’ve focused on things like having meals together as a whole family and talking. Not just eating but having a conversation. I cook with my daughter because she likes it and she gains a skill and it’s something we can do together. I show my son how to change an electrical outlet. We built a scale trebuchet together. We go camping together. Stuff they like and we can do together but don’t have to be big productions.
The key, I think like many things today, is to just be fully present when you are with them. It’s the hardest thing to do. For example, when we’re having dinner, no phones are allowed at the table. They can’t have their phones and neither can I or my wife.
For some reason this post made me think of Homer Simpson and his comment that raising kids was easy. You teach them to hate the things you hate and with the internet they raise themselves.
Having decided to Home Educate our two kids ( Thanks for that 4 Hour Work Week)
We wanted them to be aware that us adults can always learn too, so we all complete a language challenge, learning as much of a language as we can in a week. Then for one day we are only allowed to speak that language to each other… its brilliant and a real leveler.
That is freaking awesome
That is so cool! I never did the school thing either – best thing my parents have ever done for my sisters and I! 🙂
That IS very cool!
Wow, that’s a wonderful idea! How many different languages have you learned so far?
I really love that idea…and I hope you don’t mind giving me some specifics. We homeschool our 4 boys, and language learning is important to us, so this would be a fun addition to what we do.
Here are my questions:
What ages are your kids?
Do you offer them help through the week if they get stuck?
Do you recommend language learning software or other tools for them, or does everyone find their own way — and if they do, do you all share resources (or is it more a competition)
If someone looses interest, does that person drop out, or do you try to keep them involved….and if so, how?
That is awesome! Going to do that with my son!
You need to forget about everything, like you suggested, put the cell phone down, take off your watch, in fact, don’t even touch technology, but get on the floor or go outside and play. They need to feel they are not competing for your attention, and you need to realize how awesome these little people actually are without the automatics yes’s and sure’s when they are asking you questions during busy times. Just play. That’s it, nobody is watching, nobody is judging, nobody is telling you how important that you send an email to whoever, it is you and your kids and you will a great time. They will feel loved, and happy that they have you, even if for just a short while. That moment will last a long time.
I spend a ton of time with my now 10-year old son. However, no matter how much time we spend together I always know when he feels a need for attention because he will start acting up. A great example is at bed time. What my wife and I have found that works 95% of the time is giving him 10-15 mins of our undivided attention prior to bed. This is always at an activity of his choosing. Usually 10 mins is all it takes and he goes right to bed without a hassle!
As a Dad to a 21/2 year old, telling him he’s the boss wouldn’t work – he knows he is!!
I think the essence of the 10 minute tip is the same as mine though – find what he / she / they are interested in doing, and DO IT no questions, no reading your emails, no distractions. If you’re spending time with them, be 100% in the moment with them, and then whatever you’re doing it will be fun.
Other tip – the cheapest things usually work best as entertainment at this age – creating a cardboard box robot tends to outdo a trip to somewhere expensive because his attention span doesn’t last.
Yes, the power of a cardboard box as a play item. Boxes get far more use as a variety of cars, boats, castles, houses, rockets, trucks, forts, spaceships etc. in our house. A good tip to other parents is that most appliance stores will gladly give you an old fridge or stove box. The hours of fun and creative play that they give your children is far more than any off the shelf present.
The 10 minute timer is a fun way to reconnect with your kids! Thank you for sharing. This is a great example of being Present – one of the 5 essential tips for raising children. The PRESS Minute Mantra on the Minute Mantra Blog helps to keep those tips top of mind when around your children.
We have been doing the weekly family meeting ever since I read the below article. If I forget about it the kids request one! They feel really empowered. Also if I only have a few minutes w the kids before bedtime I always ask 1 or 2 VERY specific questions like “tell me one funny thing about your day,” or “what was the most fun thing that happened today.” They always open up.
I learned a great rule of thumb a while back. After returning home after being away, dedicate at least a minute of time for each hour you were away to being with your spouse, significant other and/or children. For example, if you were away for the average 10 hour work day, plan on concentrating on your spouse at least for the first ten minutes after walking in the door. Don’t change your clothes, fix dinner or anything else first. Put down whatever is in your arms and be with them for the amount of time. It works great.
What is also important is to connect with your children before you leave. We have a ritual in our house. Before I leave for work all of my children demand hugs and kisses from me. I cannot leave the house without this. I apparently missed my 3 year old daughter yesterday, and at dinner she broke down in tears while sitting across from me. When she calmed down and could tell me what was wrong, she said that I hadn’t hugged and kissed her when I left that morning. She had been feeling hurt all day by this. It is amazing to see how powerful something like this small ritual can be and the impact of it if it gets missed. I went over, picked her up and hugged and kissed her, and also apologized for missing her. I don’t know if I did or didn’t miss hugging and kissing her when I left (pesky brain injury), but it was important that I apologize to her to right the wrong she was experiencing.
Tried something similar, not to connect with kids, but to let the kids experience mom and dad’s lives. They got the grocery budget for a week and we went to the store to let them make the family grocery choices. Was awesome to see them go through the exhilaration and agony of having so much power. A week’s grocery money buys a LOT of candy if you want it to!
I’m a special ed teacher by day and I run SwapServe as well. I’d say the biggest thing my kids’ parents forget is the ritual of checking in after school. Sitting with them and helping with school work, if only for a few minutes is powerful. Helping a child have a lightbulb a-ha moment is an awesome experience and when kids can have that with their folks, it makes them much more invested in the classroom as well. Thanks for the post Tim!
“someday” parent? for a guy that sets goals that is not very clear.
I’m not in a rush. When the timing is right, the timing will be right. I never rush permanent decisions and seldom set deadlines for them as a result. I’m happy with that arrangement thus far…
That is a good call. You DO NOT want any resentment towards your kid. Some people can harbor some bad feelings if they have a kid before they are ready.
Timing is never quite right, Tim. Your books have taught me that and so much more. After being told by dozens of specialists that my wife was barren and infertile post-chemotherapy, our first child arrived naturally two and a half years ago and now number two is on the way. As humans we dont get to do the timing usually.
Your blogs and books have also taught me that there is no income more important than the revenue generated by investing in yourself and your children, that experiences, rather than expenses should be the end goal in life. No one wishes they had worked more on their death beds. I force myself to remember this every time that smiling, nutella-stained grin greets me as I walk in the door! Cheers and Thanks for all you’ve given! M
Tim, I got a reply! That was the only goal of the comment. You and I are the same age 1977, and I just had number 1. It definitely is a permanent life change! Love the blog and look forward to the 4-hour Dad “someday”.
Michael- thanks for sharing! Love the “wished I would have worked more”. I share that with friends all the time.
As a full time 24/7 stay at home mum the title 4-Hour Parenting is a bit hard for me to digest. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old and they require a whole lot of attention, period. Even if you could somehow get by with only parenting for 4 Hours a Week I don’t see how it would be something desirable. I do see what you are trying to do here though and this would be a better suited book for those unfortunate parents that do struggle to spend quality time with their children because of work obligations…. I guess if they read 4 Hour Workweek then they might not need to read 4 Hour Parenting since they would have so much more time to spend with their family 🙂
My husband works full time and spends virtually every spare moment he has with the family….but we often feel that we want more out of life and less time working for a J.O.B. Our dream is to make the 4 Hour Workweek our reality.
Much appreciate the comment. The blog post title was a bit of a joke. There are things to minimize and then things to maximize. I would put time with your kids in the latter category, for sure. I’m just curious about little tweaks to behavior (like the “10-min” example) that make a big impact.
All the best to you and yours,
Also, search this blog for “4-hour workweek family” for a good family case study involving three kids.
I actually came across that family story a few weeks ago and was very inspired. We are just having a hard time getting started on a plan to make it happen since work and babies take up so much of our time and energy at the moment. What little steps can I take right now?
I agree with the suggestions of being fully present when you spend time and do activities together for sure. However, life is also full of many chores and obligations. I try to involve my kids in those things and turn everyday chores into special time for them to be involved and feel like a helpful member of the family. My 2 1/2 year old always helps me put the laundry into the washing machine, put clean clothes away, unload the dishwasher (risky I know but she hasn’t broken anything yet), and she gets to pick out the produce at the market and pays the cashier when we go shopping. Keeping her involved also keeps her from getting bored and throwing tantrums.
Maybe we can collaborate on a new book titled “How to survive the 168 Hour Workweek – a practical guide for new parents”
Be a good friend, teach the kids in practice and not only by talking how to be responsible… my father used to make me help him count the revenue from a little store we had when i was 8, or to punish me with push ups every time i was late, but what i love is that we would drink a beer/tea together and talk like grown ups about all kinds of stuff, which always made me feel like i can do anything i wanted… he would explain me in a direct way when i was 15 – “look you probably wont get an orgasm until you are 25, so do not hurry, choose wisely and remember that you cannot take it back… try at least to wait until 18”, so i did… i was one of the few people i knew to do that because i had a big freedom as a teenager… i was quite attractive though, had boyfriends etc, but just wanted to wait because of my fathers approach, as i really appreciated his opinion.
Simple tips? I can’t think of anything specific, but I would suggest that it’s important to find things that interest both of you… Going to the zoo, beach, hiking, etc. We just arrived in Costa Rica and I guarantee we spend more time enjoying the beautiful wildlife and jungle, in part because our kids wake us up at 6 every morning 🙂
Is the 4HC campaign on donorschoose.org still active? My donations are increasing, but not the member (donor) count.
So I didn’t win in the “master of your own fate” category, but I don’t feel like I lost either – that’s the nice thing about charitable events ; )
Congratulations to the winners!
Tim, please consider having an honorary seat at the NYC dinner for the guy with the giving page ‘Helping the Future of America!’ (…It’s not me of course, and I don’t know him 🙂 )
His giving page was second and nearly won BOTH categories (most money raised AND most donors on page)
Last weekend at home it was really wet and not much of an outdoors type of day. My family of four were stuck in front of the tv and it was time for some creativity so we could make the most out of the day. So i asked my son Beau what would he like to do right now if he could choose, anything his choice. He said lets go snow skiing. So i set about trying to make it happen there and then unfortunately its was 10 am on Sunday and the 8hr drive was out of the question. We have been putting this trip off for too long. So in two weeks we are taking Beau 7 and Olivia 3 to the snow for the first time. Thanks Tim for the 4 hour working week book this sort of trip just never happened in the past. Having the last three Fidays off work’s been great too. Matt
Congrats, Matt! These are huge wins. Onward and upward… 🙂
Hi Tim –
Re: parenting – I am a mid-20s working with kids with autism in San Francisco. The “10-min. boss exercise” puts me in mind of the Autism Treatment Center of America’s “Son-Rise Program,” which is essentially the same idea – a room in which the child dictates the terms of the interaction for a pre-arranged time. With autism this “Playroom” is a simple way to develop connection in an oftentimes judgmental world. Children with autism self-regulate in a huge variety of hilariously socially unacceptable ways! I’ve had child after child who historically only scream and head bang in the corner flip 180 and start games with me. Takes a loving attitude but is easily teach-able and repeatable across people. The same principles applied with neuro-typical kids create immediate connection. Children love to engage with adults (strange or familiar – so long as the person is loving and curious) when they are given a pre-determined time and place and the freedom to set the terms.
My first comment on the 4H Blog, though I’ve been following you avidly for 6 months. Thanks for all you contribute and share!
Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Robin! I hope you share your thoughts more often!
All the best,
So true, Robin! I’m also a therapist in SF and have worked with autistic children in the past. I come from a somatic (body-centered) perspective and have found that many of the non-verbal, simple movement-based mirroring exercises that work so well with spectrum kids also work tremendously well with more neuro-typical children. Like the rest of us, kids really respond well to simply being seen and attuned to. It’s like being existentially reminded: you impact someone, you matter, you exist. That can be smiling and playing peek-a-boo, it can also be just sitting in the same posture as a child and moving with them as they move. Very cool stuff.
It really is an everchanging landscape when you have kids. You never get “the” answer, just something that is the answer for now. Until they change, again. Really, what seemed to work well was two kids within a couple years of each other. They then have each other for attention, and a playmate. Quite often, they
Didnt care if we were around when they had another outlet.
This is about my favorite subject!
One thing that’s really been important with our son – 8 now – is physical contact. Wrestling type of play.
Even when he was little, if he was getting into some bad behavior, my instinct would be to get more firm – more remote, in a sense. But if I went the other way and wrestled around with him, it was like magic. Fun, too, of course. But it really transformed him.
It hasn’t been quite the same with our daughter yet (4 1/2), though she’s starting to enjoy a bit more rough play now. But it’s a really great thing. I believe I’ve also read it’s critical for development. (Some fascinating connections between criminality and rough play as children.)
Anyway, I love it.
I liked the four-hour-parenting solution. Although I almost thought it was going to be your next book in life…:)
I’d love a parenting “hack” book, but the world of parenting is even worse than that of fitness (where people claim they know how things work). You could use my son (age 3 in July) as a solid guinea pig. Read up on John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby (closest parenting hack I have found), and be sure to watch the documentary called Business of Being Born. Then fund a networking site for parents that actually works, or fund me and I’ll do it.
I’ve heard great things about John Medina’s book and met his several years ago. Thanks for the comment!
Highly recommend Dr. Hallowell’s book The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness (he is also author of Driven to Distraction, Crazy Busy and Married to Distraction). The quality of time you spend with kids is way more important than the quantity — kids will remember how you made them feel when you were with them, whether you truly listened or connected while fully engaged in a shared activity. Giving a child 2-4 hours (or even as little as 30 minutes according to Dr. H) of your undivided attention and total presence is a priceless gift compared to 4 days of low quality time if you’re physically present but mentally/emotionally ‘checked out’.
Tip about kids:
If you want to save yourself from future problems, you need to focus on your kids when they are young.
When coming back home, be with them without an iPhone attached to your hands. They FEEL you are not focused on them, so at least 1 hour per day just BE with them. maybe just give them a bath or read a story, this IS a big issue for kids. Oh and one last thing, while you play with them in the yard leave your iPhone at home, I see too many people playing with kids while their eyes are looking at their iPhones.
TIM – the most important part of your 4hw book for me is the last one “questions & doubts”, whenever I feel down I read it again, I would love if you can write more about it because no one talks about it…everyone is so focused on the external outcomes and I think the roots in your mind are the key for to success.
There are a ton of hacks for parenting and some really good books on the subject, such as Between Parent and Child, Raising Cain, or How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.
(Also, there are Feynman’s comments on how he was raised by his father, which I’m sure you know about and which may inspire you as much as they have inspired me.)
As far as simple tricks for keeping connected to kids go, the most important thing I’ve found is to establish a habit of being together for a certain amount of time each day reading books, playing around, or just talking with each other (without interruptions).
Whatever it is, it helps to build some anticipation of what you are going to do in advance, to deliver, and then to talk about the best moments later. The general principle is that it is not the amount of time you spend around your kid, it is the memorable moments you both share with each other and what you do after that to ensure they’re remembered.
Related to this, but also for all of parenting, I think more people should treat it exactly like learning (or teaching) a foreign language.
Parents really have to learn how to talk differently, replacing comments such as “good boy!” with comments such as “you kept doing that until you succeeded, that’s what we call being persistent!” or “you were scared, but did what you thought was right anyway, huh? That’s called being courageous.”
They have to learn to say “I see a messy floor” instead of “look at what you did” or ask “what do you think?” instead of giving an answer.
Parents also have to learn how to explain things when appropriate, or in the terms of 4-Hour Chef, deconstruct things, whether that be specific skills or their own language so that the kid can understand and communicate and become self-sufficient.
Montessori and Montessori toys are brilliant at all this–and the switch from a kid you work for to a kid who works for himself is huge–but before that and all the way through parents who think carefully about how they present information and in what order they present it can put it in a lot less effort and get a lot more of the right things done.
This is long already, so here’s just one last thought. A better question than “How do you keep connected to kids?” would be “If you just had 4 hours to spend with your kid each month, how would you spend that time in order to create moments that he could treasure forever and which would let him know how much he is loved?”
I’d be interested to hear a lot of different answers to that, and I think delimiting that time really focuses parents on what is important and what they have yet to do–even though they may be around their kids much longer right now.
I hope all is well. You’ve been an incredible inspiration to me. I’m 24, I quit my full time job only 6 months ago, and I’m 2 weeks away from completing my first book. 3 best sellers in a row will be hard to top, but if you could do 3, I could probably do one right? 😛
I’m incredibly excited. I’ve been focusing on the product without really researching publishers yet, because excellent products are easier to market.
I wanted to ask you which publishing companies you recommend, and what to look out for in terms of contract details when signing with a publishing company.
(the books called The Truth You Always Knew if you’re interested to give it a look.)
Thanks in advance,
As a father of a 4 and 5 year old, I have found that a simple way to connect with my kids is to spend some time being whatever they want you to be. If they want to be a cowboy, then be their horse, or dinosaur or whatever they need. One of my sons favorite games is pretending that the swing set/play fort is actually a rocket powered pirate ship where we sail off at high speed, find an “island” and “dig for treasure”. We both get a lot out of it, he gets parental interaction and I get the knowledge that I am creating great memories for him of his childhood. I admit sometimes its hard to find time with all other household duties and tasks that need to be done, but when I realize that several days may have gone past without that sort of playtime with my kids, then the Cat Stevens song “cats in the cradle” lyrics start to run through my head and I get a massive guilt trip and do my best to fix the situation. That’s just my thoughts on the subject
Growing up I hate the Cats in the Cradle song, because it spoke to my relationship with my father. The sting of it still keeps me on track for being the father that my children deserve.
I was reading the feed and was really thrilled that you’d release a 4-hour parenting book, in fact. As your readers get older, their interest change and tips for highly efficient parenting (not in time maybe, but in skills) would be a good idea.
But this is good too.
Parenting is the most amazing roller coaster ride that you can imagine. I’m the father of 3 stepchildren and it is an incredible journey. One piece of simple advice that I can give is this: LISTEN to your children. It seems so simple, but as we know, hearing and listening are completely different. It’s easy to hear them (with my 3, it’s impossible NOT to hear them most days), but it’s hard to listen to them through all the world’s noise. We see part of the parenting role as teaching our children. But honestly, I’ve learned more from my children about the simplicity of life than I’ll ever be able to teach them.
Children want 100% of your attention. Your quote from the 4HWW book about Time without attention has no value, IS SO TRUE regarding children. They want your time and attention.
I find this post very ironic (or prophetic?), because I’ve been reading Tim Ferris’s books and blog because I’m trying to help deconstruct my problems at home, rather than at work. And I have been frustrated by the “parenting” and “housekeeping” literature out there, which seems to just keep piling on the number of things we should be doing (cook organic! no tv! enriching activities! make your own toys!… and so on…) so I have looked to other fields for insight.
One piece of information that I think is informative for this discussion is that as a country, we are spending a lot MORE time with our kids than in the past. A time survey study by Garey and Valerie Ramey showed that before 1995, college educated mothers and fathers were spending 12 and 4hrs/week respectively focused on their children, and that has gone up to 21 and 10 hrs/week. For people who dream about a “simpler time”, it’s possible that “simpler time” meant that parents sent us outside so they could get the housework done.
Anyways, I think that time study reinforces the message that 10 minutes well spent, as in your example above, is nothing to sneeze at. Furthermore, 10 minutes of daily bonding, as a habit, is totally easy to maintain (thinking BJ Fogg here) and can snowball into larger things. Like maybe when you do have more time, and your kid has something they really do want to talk about deeply, they will feel quite connected to you and jump at the opportunity… an opportunity you’ve already provided as a daily ritual.
I’ve found some similar suggestions in the NPR-recommended book “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Feiler. Interestingly, he looks at a lot of non-standard sources for inspiration, like Green Beret team leaders, Silicon Valley negotiators, etc. For example I’ve been using some “word games” at the dinner table to spark conversation with my 4 year old daughter. She LOVES it, and then the conversation with me and my husband can include her without her having to act up to get attention. I do it with the relatives too, when they call, to draw her into the conversation.
Another piece of advice that I’ve liked is to “follow the lead” of your kid. That’s kind of like what you describe, only it’s a bit more like improv. Your kid says “I built a boat” and you say “I’m going to ride that boat on the ocean.” They say “I’m the driver” and you say “I’m the passenger, where are we going?” So you just run with whatever the kid says, and just extend it a bit. It is actually kind of hard, but doing it for just 10 minutes is quite enjoyable too.
4 Hour Parenting.
Tim I think with 4 hour parenting you run the risk of slipping down a slippery slope. I’m of the generation where parents were told that it was “quality time” not “quantity time” that was important to spend with your children, and as I child the message that was sent, was that relationships especially important ones were allotted to that of convenience, and not of being present fully and available in good and bad. As a result I think this is reflected in how our society views people in general, whatever is easy and convenient stands , whatever gets too hard must be broken, or flawed. Short cuts in something are great but in parenting I think more is more. 🙂
I have known and worked with people who were raised under the ‘Quality Time’ model, and I have seen the harm that has been caused by it. You are so right that in parenting – More is most definitely More.
It’s about hacking the system that you find yourself in. Great speaking with you in SF. Always great to read your insights.
1. House Rule: kids never enter or leave the house without hugging and kissing all the parents that are currently in the home.
2. Sit down and eat meals together. Talk. Say nice things to each other.
3. Smile at your children EVERY time you see them. When they come downstairs for breakfast; start their day with a smile. When they get home from school; smile. When they come off the athletic field; smile. They’ll intuitively know that their presence makes you happy.
4. Apologize. We all make mistakes. Apologize when you get it wrong. Be honest and accept responsibility for your actions. It’s a great lesson.
[Moderator: Link removed.]
As both a parent and a veteran middle school administrator (arguably the most challenging developmental stage of life), I must share disappointment in the idea that effective parenting can be achieved in 10 minutes a day, yet commend Derek for being the only post thus far to proverbially hit the nail on the head… Within the framework of beauty in simplicity, nothing says love more than a homemade meal shared with family on a nightly basis. If you are so bright as to reproduce, then invest in your children and share the realities of life over healthful whole food prepared from scratch by hand and reinforce the characteristics of what made you successful and instill the value of hard work, playing hard, resilience, and grit in your offspring.
Start taking your kids to the gym or involve them in your exercise routines as soon as they are old enough. Modify your routines if necessary.
Nothing builds confidence in a pre-teen like being the first one of his or her friends to know how to lift properly and to see their strength and fitness levels improve. A couple years later they will be proudly telling their friends “My dad/mom showed me how to do this the right way.”
And it works in all directions. My wife has been taking our high school boy to yoga for several years now. He gets endless complements from the adults in the class and sees how it helps him do better in sports. And they compete on who can hold the poses the longest when they get home.
Weekly game night. It’s unbelievable how happy we’ve made our habitually grumpy teen by simply having a weeknight game session with her and an uncle or two. It helps what we get cool, slighly grown-uppy games.
Now I need to reinstate this with the younger kids. Try Munchkin – a simplified role playing game done with cards – or Tsuro, Operation, or any of the good classics!
While the title is misleading, Tim’s reply to comments affirm that time with your family should be maximized. I think a challenge approach is what is needed now days. There is too much to distract us that we need little parenting challenges and “games” to help us. In everything be PRESENT when with your kids, physically and mentally
I think you hit the nail on its head when you said be PRESENT mentally as well as physically , conscious parenting is the name some people give it.
Being a Dad I have found takes conscious effort, I have to remember to keep my focus on the children when I am with them and not allow other things distract me, if the phone rings let it go to the machine.
The children also know all about my work so when I ‘disappear’ they know what I am up to. I have taken my children to work so they see what happens.
I find games, creative activities and outdoor activities be it hiking, soccer whatever all the family like keeps us connected. Sometimes we separate activities so one child has one on one time with Mum or Dad.
Also physically being present and letting the children just do the play they want and not being guided by the parents. Perhaps, ask to participate but if they decline, be cool, just be present and as one person mentioned make sure you tell your children as often as possible how wonderful they are, because they are.
A happy Dad who is constantly learning.
I recently became a father. My daughter is 7 months old. Adjusting for a new work life balance has been as smooth as it can be. I will say one of the most interesting approaches I have heard was from Bruce Feiler’s TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_feiler_agile_programming_for_your_family.html
As a software engineer, I am trying to convince my wife to try this. Granted, I believe we need to let her grow up a little before fully implementing it.
Yes! Yes! Yes!! I’m so glad you’re asking for parenting tips. There are so many simple ones that feel so challenging for overwhelmed parents (I’m also only a some-day parent so no expert, but was a longterm nanny with a play therapist mother). Here’s one for supporting your kids to do something that maybe they don’t want to do, like picking up a deposited backpack from the middle of the floor or placing their shoes under the bench instead of infront of the door: Instead of explaining why they should do it (“Timmy, you know how I hate this!! I have to tell you EVERYtime we get in and now people are going to step on your stuff and sprain their ankle etc etc etc), get real simple. Use as few words as possible. “Timmy, shoes.” Or “Timmy, backpack.” Use a flat, neutral tone, no anger, blaming or irritation. It’s amazing! They just do it. Cut out all the noise and emotion and they respond.
Looking forward to checking out more of these! Thanks Tim!
If possible for the family, an enclosed trampoline gives every age and shape a chance to be active while laughing their faces off. It creates excellent flow of breath which helps everyone decompress. The sensation is similar to exercising in the water which is very joint friendly. The only possible injury is to the grown-up ego 😉
I take the parenting idea a step further. My diet requires that I eat an absurd amount of food on Saturday. If my daughter (4 going on 14) eats healthy during the week, then we have “donut destruction” on sat AM. In our PJ’s, we head to the donut shop. She absolutely loves it. I also allow her to plan a special event the same day. Incredible daddy-baby girl time.
The best thing my husband I did to connect with our kids revolved around television, but changed everything in dramatic ways:
1. Eliminate cable tv (and local broadcast) and replace it with AppleTV
2. Every show or movie must be PAID for (this is not about saving money, but rather the opposite — make it more expensive)
3. One absolute rule: there is no multitasking when a show/movie is playing. You have just two options– either mindfully watch as though you are at the theater, or leave the room.
After the initial moaning and detox, you begin to see just how much connection was sucked away by television, commercials, tv news, etc. But just the “no multitasking when anything is on the screen” made the biggest difference. And it is a no-exception policy. The kids are now living out of the house, but my husband and I still implement this. Except we also added a physical component — there is NO “comfortable seating” near the only monitor in the house… only a variety of exercise balls, balance chairs, etc. If you want to just sit and watch, you can’t do it on the couch.
Such a good one! We grew up in rural Maine and the “kid’s section” of our house was freezing cold. The TV was in there, no cable, and we were to only watch one hour of PBS a day. We watched TV some days and not others. I never missed it. . . largely because I didn’t know any better. When I was bored, I would pull out paper and art supplies, do a craft, play outside, or put on dress-up clothes and talk in accents. May seem like a strange childhood, but I really appreciate the creativity and self-motivating skills I learned at an early age!!
Before I had kids, I said I would write a book on parenting. I had them and my idea of giving advice left me. It’s kind of like explaining what to expect on a rollercoaster. 🙂
As a parent & EMT, I needed to find a way to get my kids to wash their hands for more than 3 seconds…. so I have the little one sing me the ABC’s d the older one, well, he’s 10 & thinks poop is very funny, so I have him sing a made up song about cleaning poop off his hands. He gets so into the songs I have to treat him away from washing his hands.
We do “friday family fun nights”. And apart from the benefit of alliteration it’s a night that the kids (5 and 3) get to determine what to eat, and usually what to do. Most nights that means getting to eat take out while watching an animated movie, but about once per month we go bowling or to the movies.
My eldest looks forward to it all week and absolutely loves it. It was his favourite memory of the year on a recent school project.
When time is short, one way I connect with my kids which creates pure magic is I find a time that is intimate and relaxed and I ask them…Is there anything Mummy can be doing to love you more? Or is there anything Mummy did that may have hurt you? Is there anything you wish I was doing more of? Less of? While this may seem like loaded questions, there are few things that are more beautiful than hearing an open hearted request for feedback and allowing kids the opportunity to have their feelings heard without judgement or defensiveness. This conversation is not meant to be so intense and serious that we miss out on the connection and fun of sharing with each other but in 10 minutes, you can get to conversations and healing that may have taken years of therapy one day in the future. Plus you get to teach your kids first hand what it is to show true commitment to the relationship which will inspire them to look for feedback in their own lives. It also is an opportunity for me to grow as my kids are never short of sharing the tiny paper cuts I made on their heart or asking boldly for something they want more of.
Tim, what you say about 100% is very much better, best than other preservative, it´s all in your mind, you know more than i. So this is my comment, please would you tell me about fortune at a Country, please, here in Colombia it´s trouble maker consume hipotetical drugs. Could you tell us what you thing about bulling laws international, best regards, JJFIERRO.
Awesome idea about the 10-minute boss. I don’t travel much and have the chance to see my kids fairly often but I can still see where this idea would help me in some situations. If nothing else, it removes any tension that may have been there.
I think people are saying great things about dropping what you are doing and just giving them control and playing with them. I would add research to this list. As a father of a son with Autism and one with Asperger’s syndrome, research has been invaluable in understanding their behaviors and interacting with them in a positive manner. Research also benefits all kids if you are connecting with them in their interests as well as feeding their brains. You never know how you will influence them in life long term, but if you can talk intelligently, and at their level, about whatever they are interested in, you might just open up a life-long passion for them. Plus it makes you seem super-smart too.
Enjoy your kids.
I don’t like the idea of the 10 minute boss. First of all, carte blanche is generally not a good idea especially with kids. Second, either allocate more than 10 minutes or rethink your priorities in life.
I suggest first of all thinking of ways that you can work where the kids are. Most executives take work home. I have my last young’un playing nearby while I work but that’s easy for me since I work from home. This is possible in part because our kids are well-behaved. If yours aren’t, figure out what is lacking. Probably supervision. Just being around is something…not everything because of the lack of attention…but they feel more secure and feel like they’re being supervised.
Second, design your discretionary time around the kids. I see too many rich kids being dropped off by nannies or domestics, then picked up again, and very little contact with the parents whom they barely seem to know. But it’s not like the parents have no discretionary time. They have parties, have time for nights out, theatre, and other entertainment, but they’re all “adults only” activities. My wife and I used to raise eyebrows taking our kids unexpected places. But while some people would glare at us or make hostile remarks, others would look shocked, come over, and remark at what well-behaved children we have.
Since we’re talking about a dad here, I suggest him training himself to get over an almost ubiquitous, and increasingly severe, male reticense about being able to talk about personal matters, including feelings and human sexuality. It turns out it’s not natural, but conditioned by essentially being punished for displaying emotions; at home for displaying negative emotions, and at school for displaying any others. Sons particularly usually have no one to talk to about “stuff”; they’re extremely socially alienated especially nowadays in overtly misandric schools.
I am glad to see someone else who feels that the carte blanche element of this technique is wrong. Children by their very nature need guidance. A lot can be learned from reading the work of Gordon Neufeld on building appropriate attachment with our children. Without being attached to their parents they will look for it in peers, and then you have children ‘parenting’ other children, which is just a recipe for disaster.
I also agree with your comment about them needing more than 10 minutes and if you are unable to do that to reassess your priorities. I look at yesterday afternoon, where I got up and left a meeting that was running long, so that I could take my son to his tennis lesson. Tennis is a special thing that we do together and that we both love. So, my being there is very important to my son and to me. My wife could have taken him, but it wouldn’t have been the same for him.
All the best,
I totally agree that sport records will broken by those that have technology on their sides. Of course, genetics and hard works are still required, but now technology is also part of the equation.
The question I have is, “Is technology the great equalizer or oppressor?”
We see that trend more-and-more online where small companies could compete with the giants of industry, but now small companies are out spent online.
I’m not surprised about the 10-minute tip and how it impacts our mental state, particularly when it comes to spontaneously coming up with creative ideas. I’ve noticed a lot of energy is released when I set very short, tight deadlines to get something done (per your recommendation in the 4-Hour Workweek). It gets the vortex going.
Hey Tim. Any chance we could get a comprehensive article on using supplements for cognitive enhancement? In particular the pros/cons of using caffiene, choline, L-theanine, and the -racetams? Given your experience with using supplements for this purpose, and the large interest in using supplements for performance enhancement, I think this would be a very popular article many would be interested in.
With parenting, I would say have at least one activity that you do alone with your child without fail at least once per week. Nothing comes before that activity, no exceptions.
With my 3 year old daughter I decided early on that I wanted her to be able to swim as soon as she was physically able. We started doing parent/child swim lessons when she was 1 and now she’s swimming, independently, at 3. Now she’ll always have that as a life skill that I helped her to acquire.
You are 100% correct to me it was/is the little things. Reading to them at night before bed, wrestling, supporting them in school events and encouraging them to be themselves where great ways to let my kids know we were connected and that they are loved. Being in the Navy, I had to stay connected over a lot of miles and make sure that when I was home, my main focus was my kids. For a while I made a chess/checkers game on powerpoint and sent that back and forth over email. Looking out to the future, another connection tool was fitness. We loved to go hiking and challenge ourselves on trail runs and also in the gym. Another great way we stayed connected was reading books in front of a video camera, and then send the video home to the younger kids. If you think creative, there are many ways to stay in touch.
Having three kids (5.5 / 3.5 / 1.5) and being a recovering workaholic has been quite the foundation for some fun (and challenging) experiments.
Echoing much of what has been stated above, I think the most critical factors I’ve found for having my kids feel loved are:
1. Making plenty of opportunities for uninterrupted 1-on-1 time. My oldest (girl) loves coloring and going to the nickel arcade. My middle (son) needs daily wrestling and loves working on my motorcycle with me. The youngest (daughter) loves to be read to and lifted up to see whatever it is we’re working on.
2. Connecting with them throughout the day, even if it’s very brief. I work from home now, so popping out of my office to chase them, let them show me something or just to hold them for a few seconds has an impact.
3. When away, I make a point to call them a couple times a day. My wife and I talk regularly while I travel, but making the effort to talk to each kid on the phone lessens the amount of whining about missing me and Skype chats are definitely a big win.
Making time for them and my wife, as well as for other fun outlets, has really helped bring 4HWW principles to life since reducing the amount of time spent working has big rewards attached to it.
As a final comment, my favorite parenting hack book has been Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and has helped me get out of some of the useless pop-parenting techniques that we all fall for.
The 10 minute tip is great. For me it’s about finding ways to enjoy being with them and have fun and learn in a mutual way. For instance, my daughter got a tricycle for christmas, so I got a skateboard, that way we can hang out outside and play together and I can learn a sport at the same time.
Also, if you ever do serious research on parenting, you should check my wife out since I think she fits the bill of what you consider an outlier. We have two adopted children with physical disabilities, but she has kept them at the top of the charts on development, and she keeps them super well behaved. We hardly ever do babysitters since we just take them to fancy restaurants with us even thought they are both under 5, and they are the envy of all our friends.
I am looking for a way to connect with my son who I just discovered is dyslexic. He is an extremely bright boy, however, due to his dyslexia issue he has been having trouble with school. I wonder if anyone has had success with a child coping with dyslexia? I would love to find a way to help him exceed in school and overcome the lost feeling he has with reading. Any ideas would be welcomed.
My children do not have dyslexia but having watched one child struggle with a school transition I feel your pain.
What I’d encourage is two things:
1) Read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck (psychologist now at Stanford). It fundamentally changed how I parent my kids as well as view things myself. You’ll learn about “Fixed” vs “Growth” mindset and, more importantly, teach/model a “growth” mindset for your son which is the mindset of ‘learning’ & constantly ‘getting better.’
2) “Success leaves clues” (someone once told me this–amazing advice!). There are many “successful” people who have dyslexia and the internet allows you to find them. Search, find, communicate with, ask what worked and what didn’t. We have resources now more than ever especially when it comes to information and people you’ve never even met before can be incredibly kind and helpful.
Good luck to you and your son!
Nice one… 10 minute boss!!
Yes – simply be totally present! (especially while they are young)
As they get older, involve them in the weekly planning – we have a whiteboard with everyone’s week laid out. We get commitments up from for karate class, homework times and work-free times. Then we all stick to our commitments; so simple but such an important life skill!
Have you come across John Holt?
I think you may find his books on education (or technically “no” education) very interesting – they’re very different to the US (and UK’s) educational system – but then from reading all I’ve read, I don’t think you’ll object to something different!
Definitely recommend taking a closer look at John Holt’s work – there is a lot of stuff in his books on bringing up children, education and so much more.
This is coming from personal experience as I have in fact been brought up based on John Holt’s ideas and “non-schooling” and coming from my view point, it’s been the most amazing thing my parents could have done for me (and my 2 sisters)…!
His books are listed here on Wiki:-
If you do give his books a look at, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!
It is great to read your comments, as we are following many of John Holt’s approaches with our own children. Hearing positive things about his approaches by someone raised with them is really helpful.
Hi Mark, that’s great to hear! What bits re JH’s works do you find are the best? How old are your children? My sisters and I range from 15, to 22, so almost all been there, never done that, haha! 🙂
I give both of my boys 30 minutes each day to do what they want. Sometimes it’s a squirt gun battle, watching a cartoon, jumping on the trampoline, playing Wii, or yesterday’s “make something out of wood.” Time goes by too quickly and I want to take advantage of the time that they’re under my roof.
Wow, I love that parenting tip. First time I have heard of that 10 minute exercise and I will be stealing it. Thanks!
I’m only 16 years old, but I like your idea of the 10 minute boss Tim. Seems like a really fun idea for the kids. I’ll have to try it the next time my nieces and nephews are over.
The email reminded me of something they do in Japan. It’s called “tetsudai robo” (the helpful robot). Basically, the kid makes a remote control out of a cardboard box of some type, and puts buttons on it with a single hiragana character.
They then put a paper cap on the adult who is now the robot. Every time they push a hiragana character, they have to tell the ‘robot’ something to do that starts with that character.
While it’s meant to be kind of a language exercise, you could adapt it into a game to spend time with your kids and give them a chance to control you. It might be a fun variation if your kids get tired of being the boss.
When it comes to kids, it takes time to connect with them emotionally. There are no shortcuts. Fortunately (for those hectic “seasons” of life), this can usually be done in as little as15 minutes a day. I ask my kids, “What do you want Mommy to do with you today?” (I do this individually with my 2 sons, but in a pinch, I will ask them to choose1 thing together.) Sometimes the answer is “nothing”, but at least they have a choice in the matter. There is no substitute for spending time with your children.
Family meals together and special one-on-one times with each child are also great options…
At the end of the day, everyday, wherever you are finish their day with, ‘Best and Worst’. Have them give you the best part of their day and the worst part of their day. Then share your tempered, child friendly answer.
There is no suitable substitute for time with your children. Quantity is as important as quality. I would gladly trade a few lines on my LinkedIn profile for a few more tickle fights with my son.
Hey Tim — the #1 way to always be connected to kids is to be completely connected to the kids that lives inside you. Simple. Effective. And requires commitment!
As a mama of two (3 & 5) and coach to parents or wannabe-parents with big dreams, I practice living “the fun way” for myself and with my family every day.On a day-to-day, connecting to the kid-in-you means being good to yourself, indulging in (and scheduling in) playtime, and whenever things get tough, choosing to play your way through it – even when kids aren’t around.
I see a lot of parents sweat over the small stuff by being ‘boring adults’ and wanting to follow ‘the rules’ (often their own, and they have a hard time following them as grown ups).It can be so much faster to bend our own rules in playful ways, to reach a similar, more pleasant outcome. Example, it’s often so much faster (and more fun) to take “the fun way” home, than argue about taking a shortcut. It teaches creativity, agile thinking and so much more.
As a parent, once you’ve mastered staying in that playful space yourself, mentally, emotionally, verbally and physically (takes daily practice!), it’s much easier to actually enjoy being a connected to wee ones, and build a real solid relationship with the most wonderful little people you know. I’ll be publishing related hacks/info in a few months for parents/wannabe parents with big dream & who want a great life for themselves + their family.
**Hopes & Fears Question for Tim and other entrepreneurs**
As you build your kick-ass career and business, and anticipate having little people in your daily life:
::Hope: What the # 1 thing you’re hoping for by becoming a parent?
::Fear: What is the #1 fears / anxiety you have around leaping into parenthood?
Inspire forward, people.
As a father of 5, an engineer parent (so is my wife), and aspiring 4HWW entrepreneur I love the 4-Hour Parenting topic! As a parent, I have struggled with guilt from missing my kids’ milestones, so let me thank you for the 4HWW.
There are parenting “self help” books everywhere, but I love keeping things simple, so let me whittle things down to 2 key strategies I’ve found to maintain my sanity, and have better quality time with family:
1. Don’t play by a rigid schedule!
As an engineer, I like to schedule and organize everything, and 10 out of 10 parenting books swear by scheduling your kid’s day down to the last minute, but I think that level of rigidity can make the little time you have with your kids very strained. I have a co-worker who works 50-60hrs per week, and usually gets home in time to help make dinner around 6:30 before putting the kids to bed at 7:30. That gives them about 5hrs per “business week” to see their kids, and most of that time is spent shuffling around in the kitchen and screaming at everyone to clean up and get ready for dinner. Another co-worker recently took their young son to Disney World, and complained that the trips back to the room to meet their typical napping schedule made them miss half the things they planned on seeing. In contrast, we let our kids stay up a little later depending on our evening schedule, and use it as an opportunity to teach personal responsibility. If they stay up late, they still have to get up early for school, so even though we get to spend a little more time with them (which we all value), they don’t stay up all night, since they realize they’ll be worn out the next day.
2. Don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing!
A new parent soon realizes they know nothing about raising kids, and everyone around them is an expert! From parents that never let their kids have sugar, to parents who let their kids walk all over them to keep from dampening their spirits, I’ve found the Love and Logic parenting expression “It doesn’t take perfect parents to make perfect kids” helps relieve the pressure of being a great parent. I can tell you first hand that each of our 5 kids responds a little differently to our guidance, so it stands to reason that one person’s advice may or may not help you. The main thing is to take the advice at face value, give it a try, and don’t worry if less traditional approaches work better for you. As a kid, I had a friend who’s dad paid for A’s, which made me pretty jealous! That being said, the business world pays for great talent, so who’s to say finding out what motivates your kids is a bad thing! Being less judgmental about other parents’ approaches makes you more fun to be around, and opens you up to learning. In that same vein, it’s important that you don’t discount your choices if they’re working. We have times when we prompt the kids through monetary and near term rewards, and instances when we just give them positive verbal feedback. I think the important thing is to keep up with things that are working, and don’t be afraid to change your approach as you start to see diminishing returns. We’ve also had surprise positive experiences come from non-conventional approaches, such as taking the kids along on business trips, so learn to challenge conventional wisdom and seek out adventure in seemingly ordinary situations.
Take care, and thanks for the great blog and books!
Do things with them you enjoy as much as they do…then it’s never a chore.
I should buy stock in Toys R Us as I’ve bought every Lego set they’ve ever sold. It’s money well spent.
I’m not buying toys, I’m buying irreplaceable time.
Hi Tim, I like the parenting tip, may try that to have some more fun. I am a working mum of 3 and travel 2 hours a day (yes I am working towards the 4 hour work week) so I don’t get as much time with the kids as I would like. What I do to keep close to them is I spend 10 minutes at bed time listening to them talk about their day. They discuss their concerns with me and tell me about what they are grateful for that day. They love it because we get a chance to catch up and it also helps them sleep. I love it because I get lots of cuddles and I stay in touch with what is happening in their life. Sometimes we talk for longer but that’s ok because I like them to feel they are important.
Hi Tim, Awesome post! finding Four hour parenting solution..
Tim — here’s five hints about connecting with children I shared in my latest Venture Column in Fortune http://tinyurl.com/bsat6qh — the 10 minute idea (OK, 15) is one of them.
I always thought Tim, that you had a weakness in not understanding how family plays into the lives of much of your audience.
Lifestyle design as it relates to spouse and family are very different.
You are so right Ron. This is something I have been struggling with since trying to re-craft my life based on Tim’s teaching. The personal focus needed to achieve at the level that Tim is very challenging when there are other people in your life who’s needs are much more important than your own. As a parent it is essential that you put your own needs aside for those of your child. I know too many people who haven’t done this, and they have no real relationship with their children, and their children have not grown up into the people they could have, if they’d had the level of support and care that they deserved.
With little children, physically get down to thier level (on the floor!) and play with them. With bigger kids:
Boys, DO stuff with them. No multitasking!
Girls, LISTEN to them. No multitasking!
Bonus tip: the best thing you can ever do for you children is to love your spouse (in your case, thier mom) and stay married.
This is so true. My three year old daughter burst into tears at the dinner table the other night. When she calmed down, I learned that the source of this upset was that I hadn’t kissed and hugged her goodbye before leaving for work in the morning.
My three boys want focused activity. Building beehives, digging in the garden, working with the bees, fixing our old truck are the things they want to do. I am always finding my tools schlepped out and in strange spots, because they want to use my things when they play. While this is annoying when I am trying to get something done, more importantly it is the biggest compliment I have ever received, as it is my boys playing at being me.
I’m an aunt of 12, I see a lot of struggle with getting kids to eat. After the kids say they’re done my sister in law has them take as many bites as they are old. Works great for the 3-6 year old range.
For older kids, one of the best ways and times to connect is in the car, on the way to appointments, lessons, sports, etc. You can address almost any topic and get a fairly honest answer. Something about not having to look directly at one another allows a level of discussion that tends to otherwise disappear as your children get older.
I spend half my life at home and the other half away in 7 day blocks.
I keep really well connected with my kids with these three questions.
How was your day
Bad thing today
Good thing today
When at home this is around the evening meal table and when away this is over the phone. When at home we add what did I Learn today. The whole family has there turn
The things that come out are amazing. Open ended questions
The biggest bang for your buck advice I can give is to NOT treat people as projects. Mac Anderson has a book that hits this note perfectly on his Simple Truths website called “To a Child Love is spelled T-I-M-E” check it out:
PS Not advertising for the site, I just thought this book addressed your question perfectly.
Body contact is the key. Many women instinctively know this, but too many men are too reluctant. Guys, if you have a baby, carry him or her as much as you possibly can. Right from the start. Let him or her sleep on you. Cuddle. You simply can’t overdo it. Wear him or her in a wrap or sling or carrier as soon as you come home and as often as necessary (and give your wife baby-free time). This is the game-changer. You’ll develop a rock-hard, everlasting bond with your child and never have to set any timers because your priorities will be different.
Max – you have hit the nail on the head here. My wife and I both carried our babies in a variety of wraps or just in our arms. Having that immediate and close connection with your child really changes you. It helped me step away from a lucrative, but time consuming profession, into a more laid back and happier life. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have discovered many of the other passions I have developed in my life. Sure, we only have a third of the money that we did before, but we are all much happier for it.
This entry reminded me of Spencer Johnson’s One Minute Mother from the 90s, one of his follow-ups to the best-selling One Minute Manager. (I bet you’ve read at least one of his books, Tim.) Certainly there was no suggestion that one can mother in one minute, any more than one can parent in four hours, and it surprises me that some comments here seem to take it literally. What I learned from One Minute Mother were very effective and valuable practices which helped me to single-mother two (naturally rebellious) teen daughters. It’s amazing how powerful one minute (or four hours) can be. Effective parenting happens with every interaction and often there are certain minutes or hours that determine the outcome of days, weeks, even months of ordinary daily activities/maintenance. The ability to focus awareness in those critical moments is a skill that can be developed. Although now I’m more friend than parent, I look forward to this new book b/c your approach to living challenges me to upgrade my own, even at 70! Thx!
When I travel on business, I skype with my 8-yr old son in the morning and at night. He loves playing invented scenarios from Star Wars, Stargate SG1, Dragonball Z Kai, and Lord of the Rings, with him playing the hero and me playing all the other characters, doing their voices, etc. We do that at home almost every day and he misses those play times when I travel. So we play our made-up scenes on Skype. I sometimes wonder what the hotel guests in the rooms next to mine think, LOL, when they hear me do the alien voices…I roll up the room service menu and use it like a sword (close enough, with the distorted Skype image) and he uses his light saber on the end… and we go at it.
He loves playing like that and it makes him not miss mommy so much.
Hand in Hand Parenting has some good advice, but it only really works for folks with one child or children born so far apart that they are essentially only children. We repeatedly have tried to get advice from the members of the H-in-H community, on how to apply these techniques when you have a baby who needs to be nursed and two toddlers melting down and a preschooler who also needs guidance and attention, and not a single person could tell us how to apply their techniques successfully in this situation. With 4 children born within 4.5 years of the oldest and youngest, this is a daily situation for us.
I also found that many of their techniques appeal to a degree of egocentrism in the parents. This is unfortunate, because it may also translate into furthering the development of these traits in the children. I am not saying that everything they advocate is wrong or doesn’t have value, but I am saying that you need to evaluate and consider every piece of advice you receive about parenting to make sure that it really makes sense and is an appropriate fit for you and more importantly for your children. I can say that for our family 90% of what is advocated by H-in-H really doesn’t work or fit, but for others it could be a different ratio.
I loved reading this and I intend to implement the “boss approach” to my repertoire so thank you for sharing. I have two girls, 7 and 9, and both completely different but something I really like to do with them is have us get under a blanket in a well lit room. We write our names and other words on the under side of the blanket and we talk about our days and what we did. We guess what each is trying to spell out. It’s fun and relaxing, we pretend we are somewhere else.
I let them win arguments sometimes too, it might seem like a little thing but when I tell them they made a good point and give them what they want, they ooze happiness and joy.
My girls are old enough to read, but there is almost nothing more fun than reading a scary of mystrerious book to them at bedtime and try to bring out their best imaginations. Of course, you may wind up staying in there room for the night or driving off monsters with mom/dad grenades.
Play with them, outside, inside, tag, cards, hide n seek, ditch. Get dirty, sweaty and mostly have fun, because they will remember the really great times.
Being Jewish the Sabbath is a very important part of our week. It is about shutting out all external distractions and focusing on the important relationships in your life. As a man I am commanded to satisfy my wife, and especially so on the Sabbath. We have a special dinner on Friday night where we are all completely focused on each other (no computer, TV, radio or other electronics to distract us). I walk to the synagogue and my children come with me. We use this time to talk and connect. After services we have another lovely family meal. Then in the afternoon I go with my children on long adventures through the parks near us, or if the weather is too wet for that we play games and puzzles together. For the approximately 25 hours that the Sabbath lasts, my time and focus is on the people who are important in my life. We are also commanded to carry the Sabbath into the week, and I take this to mean also to continue on with that focus and attention on the people who are important in my life. This ritualized commitment to these relationships is a key to happy children, a good marriage, and a strong family.
Hey Tim, I’ve read all you books and have your blog set as my home page. I also work at an altitude training center in Utah. Over the last couple years we have been pioneering minimalist ways of gaining the benefits of this elite practice. In addition to it being, as you said, a highly expensive training technique it is also requires a lot of time sacrifices (athletes generally have to spend 10-14 hrs daily multiple times per week for several weeks to gain hematological benefits). A minimalist altitude training program would therefore include ways to gain the benefits while reducing the time, cost, need for equipment, etc. We have come up with a wide variety of ways to do this that I would like to share with you. First, by optimally periodizing hypoxic exposure you can maximize red blood cell improvements while minimizing negative effects on recovery. In more simple terms, this means that it is best to sleep in an altitude tent 3 times per week instead of every day. In studies, EPO production nearly always spikes on the 3rd day of altitude exposure and then falls down to baseline so we are trying to create repeated EPO spikes. This means better performance with less time in a hypoxic tent. Another method, is to combine altitude training with heat exposure. Heat exposure both induces circulatory benefits that can synergize with the 02 transport benefits of a-training, and activates the same genes that trigger the biological adaptations to hypoxia. Finally, yes, supplementation. I remember reading in the 4 Hr Chef about how you were interested in N-acetylcysteine’s (NAC) ability to restore glutathione and stave off exercise induced oxidative stress. This amino acid also modulates the sensitivity blood oxygen sensors in the body and can induce significant increases in red blood cell production (studies have shown 9% in 8 days of 1200 mg, altitude training studies show around 9% after 4 weeks). It does this by breaking down into molecules called nitrosothiols. NAC can also be combined with sodium phosphate to elevate the synthesis of an enzyme called 2,3 DPG that improves hemoglobin’s ability to deliver muscles to tissues (another adaptation the body makes to altitude). The result, may be a faster, legal, and more effective alternative to buying altitude tents or travelling to the Rockies for a month. I thought this information would be topical and interesting. Thanks for another interesting post!
At first I thought this a bad idea. Kids need their parents a lot more than 10 minutes. But then; when I spend time with my kids, how much of that time is totally undivided attention? There’s always something. Thinking about it, 10 minutes undivided attention is probably more than most ‘present’ parents spend each day. So, basically a good idea! (But why not make it 30? Or maybe 60? 🙂
Involve them in what you’re doing. Kids love to feel like they’re doing truly relevant activities; the work and activity of adults can be fascinating to them. Things will be slow at first and you might feel like it would be way faster to do things yourself, but it will pay off – at 12 and 17, my kids can now cook a wide variety of foods from scratch, find their way around the city, do yard maintenance and my son has decided to train for a 10K run after watching his parents finish a road race & being invited to join us. I’ve discussed the 4HWW principles with them and my daughter created a dreamline and started her own business. It’s an incredible boost to their self-esteem to realize that they are doing things — real-world, grown-up things — that other kids their own age don’t know how to do.
Props to the other homeschoolers here – pulling my two out of the system has been an incredible experience and has led to a great deal of the real-world learning I described above.
Another little thing that makes so much different to the kids feeling loved and listened to is … what was your favourite thing you did today, sometimes the answers really surprise me 🙂
with my daughter turning one year old on the 14th of this month (happy birthday angelica xxx) i read the title of 4 Hour Parenting and thought you were about to publish another book which seemed laser targetted to me LOL. was about to head over to amazon to pre-order before reading the post. a great tip about connecting with children and hopefully you will start researchinh for such a book as it is quite universal subject across the world with an audience hungry for help/info. i will be reading the comments section for other good ideas posted by your readers. thanks
Great comments and ideas! To add on…My husband and I are both fully mobile in our businesses (yay!) so that gives us some flexibility, and also sometimes means that we are working early, late, or on weekends. I have a ‘command center’ in the central area of the house that is a wet erase 30 day wall calendar that everyone has access to. Work, wellness, family, events, etc. each have their own color on the calendar (coordinated with the colors on my iPhone calendar, because that’s the way I roll). Everyone stays informed this way and it’s helped the kids get a sense of planning and responsibility.
We also have an ‘accomplishment chart’ that helps the kids learn to keep track of their own behavior rather than having us track it for them or remind them all the time. They choose what they want to work towards–allowance, extra electronics time, the family going out to dinner, etc. and if they do the tasks on the chart (and keep track of it) they earn towards that goal. How fast they get to the goal depends both on what they choose to do as well as if they keep track.
I’m a 4th generation business owner, and growing up inside a business wasn’t always easy (literally-we lived upstairs and the store was downstairs, I started answering phones when I was 4 and going to trade shows when I was 6), but the skill sets I absorbed were invaluable. My husband grew up on a farm. So we look to include the kids on everything from growing/canning food to phone skills to internet research.
Something else to take into account is one’s “love language” as Dr. John Chapman calls it in his books. When my hubby and I discovered our love languages, it gave us access to new paths to connection and intimacy and the same holds true when you know your kids’ love language. My daughter needs words, my son needs physical contact, both want quality time, and knowing this allows us to serve their needs better.
Looking for recommendations on what bars/gels to consume, while riding, for a cyclist on the 4HB diet on rides of 2+ hours?
Great question Tim! When our boys were toddlers, my husband and I realized that bedtime is a really special opportunity to connect. This time of day can be torture to say the least because kids don’t want to go to bed – they want to keep having fun as opposed to venturing off into the darkness alone. Can you blame them?! Around this same time that we discovered the up-side to bedtime with our kids, I was having anxiety issues and found myself getting pretty stressed about going to sleep for fear that the panic would hit once I let my guard down. Quiet coincidentally, a friend had given me some affirmation cards and I found that reading them before bed really made a significant difference for me – I was able to orient myself towards good things instead of fearful things. Long story short, we thought that a similar ritual might help our kids to settle and feel less anxious about bedtime. It worked so well that my friend and I went on to create Little Stars Bedtime Cards. You tuck a card under your child’s pillow for them to discover (they love it) and then the parent asks the child some or all of the questions on the card. The questions are designed to get your child talking about their gifts and what they already possess as opposed to teaching them to be polite or anything of that nature. It’s amazing what you will learn about your kids! We forget to ask our kids big questions because we’re so busy telling them how to behave. It’s a really neat way to connect with your kids for a few minutes at bedtime. It’s simple and your little ones will revel in your undivided attention. Think about it – don’t we all love it when people take an interest in us and ask us what we think. When you do this with your kids, you are making a huge investment in your relationship with your wee one. Sorry to go on for so long but this topic has a special place in my heart. Kids don’t need more stuff, fancy holidays or a picture perfect home, they just need our time and our genuine interest and our love. Thanks again for asking!
As a guy who gets home from work and dissolves into the Internet, I think my wife would appreciate the ten minute boss thing too ;).
Love the “You’re the boss” activity. Sound like it was successful for him and I will be trying it out around here with my newly moody tween 😉 Thanks!
I loved the “10-Minute Boss”! I going to incorporate that into my parenting time activities 🙂 I’ll report back on what happens 🙂 As for Sports doping….. It’s taken all the dreams out of sports for most kids i’ve overheard when talking about dreams of beig a pro athlete.
“The options they choose are determined simply by how rich or poor they and their countries are. There is no such thing as a level playing field. Never has been and never will be.”
@tim complete bullshit answer and the author has no clue what he’s talking about! Usain bolt comes from jamaica about as poor of a country you can be and he’s legend kicks the ass of american who have the best “technologies” hands down! Sure technology and other things help but, determination and hard work play a big part of it! Arnold schwarzenegger is another prime example, an Austrian immigrant completely dominating a more american sport, everyone else was using stereoids too! The guy completely dominated in the movies in politics as well…some may not agree but there is no denying his massive achievements much more than people with silver spoons in their mouths, given everything and having access to much better resources and actually speak good english!!
I think you just found the topic for your next book! Where do I pre-order?
Hard to top all these great suggestions, but I would second the (surprising to me when it first started happening) comment about “just playing” with children. It is amazing how happy Julian (5 in September) can get with just a few minutes of my time. It’s not a panacea, but it can often be the difference between meltdown and peace.
One of his favorite things to do is to “wrestle” which means take off shirts, make a menacing face and growl, and lock up with our hands on each other’s shoulders. We push each other around for awhile and eventually one of us gives in (you can guess who).
A Facebook friend of mine tried something called a Yes day. Where they said yes to just about anything their child wanted to do that day, within reason. She seemed to have a ball as her child did. I however am a bit too frightened to try that one yet with my 2 kids.
Sidebar, this is my second time doing the Slow Carb diet, (actually 1st time ACTUALLY doing it!). I am on about day 83, I have lost 33 pounds so far and it’s staying off. I believe that the overall weekly average of my weight lose are sustainable and it hasn’t been too difficult. My first attempt at SC I tried to follow your recipe plan in 4HB to a T and failed quickly after starting. This time I have made it work for me. Now as I lead up to a marathon in 5 days I am concerned about the carb loading that I will be doing for the race. Any tips or feedback?