My father's 80/20 rule to parenting (Un-edited)

My father once gave a piece of parenting advice that has always stuck with me. His advice was to ignore 80% of what your children do wrong and admonish the important 20%.

He said not to be one of those parents that always tell his children "not to do that, be quiet, don't pick that up, etc"

But for the 20% that matters, not to budge. You need to figure out what those non-negotiables are?

For me, its lying, disrespecting parents or elders, etc.

What Dexter's father taught me about being a father (un-edited)

One thing that always stuck with me after watching Dexter is the idea of a code. Dexter's father, noticing his son's homicidal tendencies and thirst for blood, created a code for him to live by. 

While my children are not Dexter, this idea really resonated with me. What is the code I want to leave my children with? What are the non-negotiable's?

Over the past couple of years, I have been refining the code depending on the kids' weaknesses.

  • respect your mother
  • Character is king
  • tell the truth
  • travel
  • no TV

Lean Sabbatical (v.04)

Random brain dump:

  • I took 6 months sabbatical in 2012 after 15 years at work
  • 2 Parents & 2 kids (8 & 4)
  • London -> Spain -> Morocco ->  Egypt -> London
  • Schackleton approach to packing & Travel
    • 2 bookbags for 
    • All documents on air and ipad and virtual
    • all kids homeschooling material scanned
  • Tim Ferris approach to making it happen
    • asked my manager to pick the date in advance
    • Picked two aggressive goals for myself to keep busy
  • Made travel decisions as late as possible
  • Book two night hotel in a place if we liked it booked a 2 week apartment
  • Dont eat out much. Cook at home
  • Lessons for kids
    • How to negotiate
    • See how the other half lives
    • Character
    • Resiliency


  • Pre-sabbatical
    • How I managed to get six months off
    • What we packed: How did we pack two book bags for 4 people for 6 months? First thing we did was get really big book bags! (INSERT MODELS AND SIZES HERE) Then we took out everything we thought we needed for 6 months, one pile for each person. Then, we halved each pile. When you are looking at two book bags and four piles of stuff, you know you need to keep reducing because there's no way it's all going to fit. We had a firm rule: If it doesn't fit in the book bags, it's not coming. This made it easy to prioritize. Do I really want to spend 6 months with a shirt I don't really LOVE? Or something that looks good but isn't really comfortable? We picked items that could be switched up into a bunch of different outfits. Solids reigned supreme. Items we could layer also had an advantage since they could adapt to different climates. Fabrics that wash easily and don't wrinkle were preferred. We ended up with about 6 items of clothing each after a few cycles of reducing. We knew we would have to get to a washer or wash by hand in bathroom sinks frequently, but for us the advantages and ease of travel that comes with little luggage far outweighed the annoyance of washing. No matter what you pack, you will most probably not go two weeks without washing something. Plus, we knew we would be staying in apartments as much as possible so we would never be to far from a washing machine. As far as shoes, we wore sneakers on our feet and we packed a pair of crocs for each kid. Packing in a deep book bag for four people is organizationally annoying. I worked around this with the help of ziplock bags. One book bag was for the kids, the other was for the adults. Everything was grouped and ziplock bagged with pajamas and immediate essentials at the top.       
    • Go paperless for homeschooling: As part of our desire to remain flexible, we always purchase any books or curriculums as PDFs or MP3s when possible. This meant that our homeschooling library was primed for adventure. There were a few texts and workbooks that we would need while away that were not available online. I simply scanned everything in preparation for our trip. Although it took prep time, it was very effective. Traveling the way we did meant that we didn't have room to carry tons of workbooks and texts. The countries we were planning to visit also wouldn't have such things for sale. By scanning everything beforehand we were able to progress with their studies regardless of where the wind took us. 
    • How we booked travel
    • Starting on the goals ahead of time
    • Budgeting
    • Picking the destination
  • During
    • How we picked where we were staying
    • Getting sick: Build up of stress and exhaustion, 6 cities in 6 days, planes, trains, ferries, and busses, very little sleep all caught up with Areeg once we settled in Fez. We arrived in Fez, settled in, got oriented, had a nice tagine for dinner, retired for the night and Areeg woke up  by 6 AM throwing up. 
    • The art to talking to strangers
    • Budget
    • Buying stuff that we can carry
    • Flexibility (Going to Chefchaouin)
    • Working on the goals: Goals evolved based on opportunities in different environments.  
    • Tutors
    • How the homeschooling worked in practice: Kindle meant Yusuf had a steady supply of books to read even when we were in non English speaking countries. Notebook: each study day notes. Got into a weekly routine of study days and off days. Earned off day rewards through work day efforts. 
    • The plans never work out
    • Learning to trust people. The pothead that saved yusuf. Strangers guiding us up the falls and man following me in morocco
    • The more sanitized the country the less the adventure
    • Crazy Stories
      • Stranded in a desert road in Egypt
      • Deathly ill in Fez
  • After
    • What was the impact on the kids
    • Did i get any impact at work
  • What will I do differently on the next mini retirement
    • hmmmmm
  • References:


Self Organizing Kids (v.02)

Self managing children and sane parents

reasons for doing it:

  • -teach children to plan their week
  • -de stress mom/primary homeschooler from having to worry about what the kids every day
  • -give the mom/primary homeschooler time 
  • -teach children responsibility
  • -give the primary homeschooler the ability to visualize the week
  • -managing the kids expectations

what you will need

  • -a wall
  • -post it notes, 4 colors
  • -2 hours on a Sunday
  • -everyone involved. including the father 

how it works
-primary homeschooler(in this case its mom) writes a card for every activity that the kids have to do that week. 1 activity per card. The back of the card has the acceptance criteria for that card. for example, each you're not finished your math work if there is more than 2 mistakes per page.

note: the key to this part is that the mother is talking while writing. this is meant to be a conversation, not a quiet ativity.

note: each child has a different color post it note.

-write & explain every trip that the the kids are plannig on doing this week on a separate color.

-ask each child which items that want to "accept" into that week. there will be a conversation around why they dont want to do those items. they only take items that they want to do for that week. (kind of unschooling)

-ask each child if there is anything *they* want to during the week. add any items they want to do.

note: at this point there may be allot of stuff. that is ok.

-put it all together.
  - put the days at the top
  - put the trips that the kids are going to do
  - now tell the kids to take their activities and put it on the day that they plan finish it on. encourage them to talk through their thought process. if they decide to do everything on the first day to get their "work" overwith, talk them through this. at this point, you will probably need to "split" items into smaller items. this is reaaaaaly important. you are teaching your children how to break down big items. if the child is younger you might need to pre size the activity into bight size chunks

day 0 
we setup the board and a surprising thing happened. it was sunday night around 8pm when we finished, and they both insisting on starting right away. 

day 1
we woke up to our daughter sitting at our foot of the bed saying she wanted to start the.

my older son broke down

week 1: mixed results

  • +kids did allot of work sunday monday
  • +the kids new what the week ahead would be like and were part of the planning 
  • -didnt do much work tuesday wednesdsay, thursday
  • -cards on the floor became unruley
  • -items were to big, we didnt teach the kids how to split items into management chuncks
  • -only did the easy stuff
  • +removed reward as insentive
  • - too much stuff, parents got over excited, setup the kids to fail, less items going forward

week 2 improvements:

  • -cards hung up
  • -introduced points systems
  • -daily hulk
  • -more coaching from parents on how to manage the week
  • -introduced goal graph
  • -introduced behavior penalties
  • -gave the kids less to do, setting up to succeed
  • -introduction of the wildcard
  • -observation-: son did all the easy tasks. hard tasks remained on undone for 2 weeks in a row
  • -waiting untill monday to setup the weekly board. bad practice, shoud stick to the ritual. not sure why but it felt wrong to delay it

week 3 improvements

  • -introduction of character points(similar to harry potter)
  • -observation: daughter much better at single tasking than son. son starts many things at once
  • -introduction of wip limits  to help teach yusuf to finish task
  • -observation: yusuf did no work for 2 days while he was racing though harry potter. areeg is losing patience with him and insitisted that he do some work. broke the rule of not telling him to do anything.
  • -trips, trips, trips are really hurting the cadence in my opinion