4-Hour Parenting – plus – Sports Doping


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.]

Posted on: June 3, 2013.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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145 comments on “4-Hour Parenting – plus – Sports Doping

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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!


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. 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.


    • Mike,

      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.

      – Mark


  9. 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!


  10. 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!


    • 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.


  11. 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.


    • Hi Jennifer,

      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,



      • 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”


  12. 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 :)


  13. Hi Tim,

    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)


  14. 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


  15. 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!

    Warmest, Robin


    • 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.


  16. 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.


  17. Hey,

    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.