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A Daily Parenting Advice Podcast. Non-Pretentious. In less than 3min a day!

July 26, 2019

S5-Ep211 - The Minimum Amount of Screen Time per Week

 Just recently I read an article about a mother who limits their kids screen time to an hour and a half – per week. And being a competitive person, I wondered if I could get there with my kids. Now, I didn’t attempt it, it was just a passing thought (side note – analyzing things like this and even passing on the idea --- that’s another example of mindfulness – That’s the goal – to raise kids who can independently evaluate the multi facets of an argument). Anyway – there is no minimum number of hours of screen time that kids should have – it doesn’t exist. There is a minimum number for playing outside (Play 60). There is for school (8 hours). There is for sleep. There is for calories. Generally Less is Better.

 But as much as I want everyone to put down the screens and let their children play or be bored (that decision is up to them). I’m kind of (but just kind of) ok with the show part of the tv time. I mean it’s not how kids brains work – they don’t absorb things flashed at them. But It’s the advertising that I hate!

   To me watching advertising the learning of all the worst shit that exists for the human race. Tacos aren’t just tacos like dad makes – they’re milti layer cheese and shell and who knows what. Toys aren’t just some trucks; they are flashing sirens, with water guns and an app. Even as an adult you can’t watch a snuggie commercial and say, I bet that dude wearing it is super ambitious. You know it’s a lazy man’s blanket.

So the advertising industry has hijacked our brains. As far as I can tell, there is no good answer here. There is no easy solution. Advertisers have figured out how to short circuit our senses, and create a culture all their own. And they’ll happily do the same for our kids. Our DNA – and our kids DNA want’s sugary cokes, and flashy lights – and they’ve exploited that. Since modifying our DNA seems: hard then all I can really ask you to do is to fall back on that lesson from Mr Rogers (a tv show – I get the irony) and let them play.

July 25, 2019

S5-Ep210 - My Favorite Phrase on Parenting

 Kids these days have it easy! At least that’s what the old generation thinks and says. Of course that’s not true. There are harder things. There are easier things. Life changes, and we adapt. But there are some truths out there that keep popping up over and over again. I hope this podcast addresses those – though we could do a better job on identifying or organizing them. One of the universal truths out there is that our kids look up to us. And obviously more so at the younger of the ages.  Which is why this is one of my favorite phrases on parenting that I’ve heard. Here it is: Kids are what they think you think they are.

 So what does it mean?

   And I think we have to say it quite a bit slower, and dissect it some to really get it. Kids are – what they think – you think they are.

Maybe taking it backwards is best. We think our kids are something – maybe it’s good baseball players, or star students. And they know this about us, they know what we praise. Therefore they are that. They are this praise we pile on them.

And I think it goes two directions here. One direction of parenting advice is that we need to impress on our kids that they are successes. They are the students we want them to be. They are the kind hearted, forgiving kids that we hope they become. And of course there’s room for improvement, and failure happens as well. But my main point is that we need to be aware that it’s more than our words. In fact it’s probably less in our words than actions. And I write about actions, or in my case, my tone of voice, because it’s the area where I struggle so much. My words are instructional, but my tone is influential. 

The other direction of parenting advice is that just saying “good job” is lazy praise. I’m sure I’ll write and talk more about that in more depth at some point later on, but it doesn’t teach kids much. A lot of articles will say “it doesn’t teach them anything”. I think that’s a lie – they are humans and aim to get that same praise – but if they can get a good job by picking up their room after being asked, it’s a hell of a lot easier than working for a semester for good grades – which is only going to get them a “good job!”. The quick answer is that we need to praise the process, the focus, or the compassion, not the outcome.

July 24, 2019

S5-Ep209 - Mindfulness – In practice

 Yesterday we started to breach the topic of mindfulness. My conclusion was that whether it comes from the mental lessons learned during a sporting practice or from a classroom of dimmed lights and instructor led exercise – this shifting of our attention inwards for a few minutes – This is a good thing.

 Now you can find plenty of other ideas on the web of outlining your parenting priorities, with daily, weekly, monthly planners and all of that – And those are great by the way if you can put that kind of time and dedication into it – but this podcast is built for people  like us; people struggling and looking to do one thing today. And I’m here to ask you to write down one thing that’s your parenting goal. Simple, direct things – ‘get my child to yell less’, ‘get my child to not hit me when he’s mad’. (Side note, this works for any task you have on your mind as well, so use that if your brain is hyperfocusing on something else).

   And then set a time for the middle of whenever that activity is. If your goal is parenting: set a timer for mid-parenting. If you're a full time mom - this is mid day. A full time worker - this is at 7pm. When that time goes off: reflect on what your goal and how close you came to it – how did you feel about the progress, etc.

No judging yourself. This is key: this timer gets you some a few seconds, maybe a minute to do a quick recap on what worked and what didn’t. If you could have done better – great – work on it some tomorrowR.

This is actually mindfulness – it’s not a 20 minute yoga session. It’s the analysis of how it went today – without the judgement.

This is the start of mastering your thoughts and emotions. This is the start of achieving the life you want.


July 23, 2019

S5-Ep208 - Mindfulness – to Zen or not to Zen.

  Studies suggest people who grow up poor are more susceptible getting common colds later in life. Personally I find this stuff interesting. Even if it’s only for the randomness of it. But then again, taking two dissimilar things and finding common facts about them gets news clicks online. But I intended to talk a bit about mindfulness, not the common cold. Briefly; mindfulness is just paying attention in a way that allows you to gain some insight.

Mindfulness is exponentially growing in parenting circles and private schools on each coast. For those in working families in rural areas – it may sound like hippy stuff. Whatever your belief on hippys is – is up to you, but on the science of cells (those subjects of biology class) we ignore the data at the risk of our kids. Science is fairly certain that chronic stress makes our bodies more prone to inflammation and less able to fight off infections.

 So everyone everywhere knows what the next step is  - limit stress. You don’t need a PhD for that.

  Now how you do that is where different groups of American’s believe different things. Some instruct their kids to play outside – go fish – go run. Some instruct their kids to join a sport or play piano. Some instruct their kids to do mindfulness activities.

All do the same thing – go pay attention to life and see what you can get from it. And when you do that you limit the stress of life. You gain control over your surroundings.

A lot of parents will push back on whatever form mindfulness takes. Change is hard for adults – we say, “We grew up without it and our kids should to”. But this generation also grew up with plenty of anxiety and self doubt.  And parents are going to push back super hard when they realize the truth that: What mindfulness in schools is doing is preparing your child for a test that doesn’t exist at the end of the year.
And I believe this is the best part. This mindfulness is preparing your kids for life. A life where the ability to explore an idea, an experience, or a feedback is a keys trait of many successful people. And that’s a test you can’t administer at the end of the year.

July 22, 2019

S5-Ep207 - The Rules of Go Fish

  I’ve always wanted to be a parent who played games with my kids. Board games, card games, heck if my kid eventually wants to get into the nerdy world of magic the card game, I’d probably follow him in. We as parents have a way of modifying our norms in adjusting to our kids.  But I found myself coming up with the idea of playing a simple card game with my 5 year old and promptly had to google go fish rules.  I was disappointed in myself.

And after the last few episodes of a psychologist’s life’s work,  I thought we’d make today simple.

 But playing games with your kids leads us back to “Play us the work of childhood” so even if they think they are playing candyland, they’re learning rule following and counting, and waiting their turn. Maybe even the idea that strategy exists.  They are learning fine motor skills (holding those cards) and cognitive and emotional skills as well. My 5 y/o has a learned, quite well, the gloating that comes along with winning.

   So here are the rules:

2-3 players: 7 cards each – standard deck – I’d recommend leaving the face cards in – but that’s up to you if you’re child is an extreme beginner.

Have your kid mix up the cards into a ‘pool’ – this may be their favorite part. They will now be scattered on your table.

The playing goes clockwise starting with the youngest member.

During the turn the player asks another player (they must specify who) if they have a particular card. For example, eights. And if that person has eights, they have to give them all the eights in their hand, and the asker gets to ask again. Note that the asker MUST HAVE an eight in their hand to be able to even ask the question. If that person doesn’t have any eights – “Go Fish”.

If a player draws an eight out of the pile, he/she shows it to the other players and can ask again – continuing their turn.

You have to get all 4 suites of that card to be able to lay it down. And laid down piles are your points – most points wins, when someone lays down all their cards or the pile runs out.


Obviously I’m recommending that you sit down with your kid and play tonight – or sometime soon. You’ll both love it.

July 21, 2019

S5-Ep206 - Maslow’s Hierarchy – The Pinnacle

 Yesterday we extended a basic 5 level pyramid into it’s second day of a podcast, and we’re going to take it into a third. A quick note, we put links out on twitter, which you can listen directly from, if that’s your thing.

 So what is this high level of parenting – this yoda level of existence?

  Self Actualization.

Maslow says that realizing your personal potential, seeking personal growth and peak experiences is the pinnacle. Also – not possible without the 4 levels of pyramid below us at this point.

And if you’re listening here – we really appreciate you. We appreciate that you are operating at this Self Actualization level. You’re seeking personal growth. And I don’t care whether that’s because you’re awesome already or wondering how to be awesome. You’re here. High Five for that.

My belief is that a lot of millennials are doing the right things – paying for experiences over stuff – willing to work in teams for the greater good – and they care about the world. But they are doing so without having all of the levels below them. They’re getting the Instagram worthy shot of them at the colosseum in Rome, but they are missing the self esteem or they’re missing the security of a steady job that underpins this happiness.

So we as parents need to plant these seeds in our children. Obviously 3 minutes won’t cover it, but maybe 3 minutes a day over the next year will help.  

  My opinion is that we, as parents, need to work on that self esteem part. And I think that we do that early in their lives (like ages 3 through 7), but reminding them that we will always love them. I think that’s the take-away from today – to say those words. Set a calendar reminder in your phone, write it in your planner, remember it if you can. Tell your kids today that there may be consequences to their actions – but you won’t stop loving them.

July 20, 2019

S5-Ep205 - Maslow’s Hierarchy – 3,&4

 Yesterday we continued on the “basics train” of learning some psych 101 stuff. Specifically, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The part that made it really cool to me was when I learned that some of this psych stuff explains some of our behaviors as a parent. That example yesterday of why we scold our kids and create order – is not always for our benefit, but also for theirs. I was able to let a little bit of guilt go (though not all of it).

 Ok, let’s cover 3,4,5 of the pyramid – again, where you have to build the bottom levels of a pyramid before you can build on top of it. Warning – we may go into tomorrow for #5, because these get harder as we go up.


Maslow’s level number 3: Love and belonging: In two words. Social Media. Ok, so you can’t get all of this met from social media, but Instagram does a great job at hacking our brains. Seriously – they hack our brains. And kids are the easiest to hack – but early on, when they don’t have phones, we are their friends. We give them trust, we show them love, and they give love back. They are part of our clan, our family tribe. While we are often fairly decent at showing love, One area we don’t always think about is trust. I find trust is often easily taught through chores. Not the quantity of chores, but just asking a child to do something and then letting him/her do it and saying thanks. If your kid does it without questioning – you’re parent of the year. If they don’t, my recommendation is to say, “I’d be happy to get you your dinner after the dog has had his dinner”. What you’re saying is that I trust you will do it – I believe in you – and there are rules to being in this house (ie: Feeding the dog – again back to level 2 – building order and stability).

Maslow’s level 4 is “Esteem Needs”. This is the desire for Mastery, Independence, and status or prestige.

At this time – parenting a 5 and 3 y/o. I can focus elsewhere, but I see my child mastering Legos, and us complimenting that. And I think that’s great. The only thing I would add here is that while you may feel that your child is mastering something – they may not. Really. Children don’t always speak the emotional languages that we do. So ask your child how they felt when they completed their drawing- legos – or playhouse setup. They need to learn to feel mastery, and that’s how we can most help.


Tune in tomorrow for Level 5 – And if we’ve helped you over the past month, we’d be super happy if you could tell a friend or husband about us.

July 19, 2019

S5-Ep204 - More ‘Basics’ – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

 Yesterday we talked about Food, Shelter, And Love and said, yea – that’s a majority of what you do as a parent. And there are ways to improve in each of those, from eating more whole foods, to finding different ways your child needs to experience Love from you.

And since we’re on this basics kick – I thought I’d cover some psych 101 stuff.

Now I promised no medical doctors or psychologists. But we do need to cover the basics, and that’s what I can help with.

 Bring in Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, then we’ll figure out how can it help?

   Maslow was a US born psychologist practicing in the 20th century and he came up with a five-tier model of human needs.

It’s often in a pyramid – so we’ll start at the bottom and build up.

He stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

The bottom level is what we all know – Air, food, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep. Note that it wasn’t until I read this that I got why mothers are so ferocious about their infants sleeping – making the UPS man not knock on the door during naptime, and asking neighbors to take down windchimes. It’s a mode of survival for these mothers! Good for them.

Level two: Security, order, law, stability. Once the food and shelter has been met, parents can move onto this level. And once again this offers mothers a way to give themselves a break. Women should give themselves a break as they try to get toddlers under control – We scold - Don’t jump off the couch, no writing on the walls. A parent can (and I often do) go crazy trying to find this balance between empathy and order. It’s just not acceptable to most of us for children to be writing on walls. We think it’s about us – WE don’t want to live in a house with marked up walls, but I’m here to tell you to give yourself a break. It’s not always selfish. We do need to create a house with order – it’s part of what children need. And if you missed the episode on the parenting types: Specifically “Uninvolved” – it’s further evidence that ‘free range’ isn’t the way to go.


Ok, before we continue on to levels 3-4-5 tomorrow – please do us a favor and subscribe in your favorite podcast player so you won’t miss tomorrows continuation.

July 18, 2019

S5-Ep203 - As simple as: Food, Shelter, Love?

 I often try to compare myself with other people. Now in the modern age, you’re probably thinking that I’m worrying about comparing myself with Instagram influencers, or my richest friend. But I’m kind of a back to basics guy a lot of the time. And by back to basics I mean I look backward as well as forward. I look backward and say, how do I compare to the families and fathers in the 1950s. 1900s? Civil War Era? Medieval times?

  And 99% of the time it makes me grateful for the opportunities and advancements that we have been given by previous generations. It makes me determined to continue what my grandparents did making a better future. But that’s a future talk, and in addition to being grateful, I often think, ‘What were the basics – the fundamental truths – that we need to make sure we are fulfilling our destiny.

 And at it’s most simple,the basics are these 3. Food Shelter and Love.

   And I can bet some of you are disappointed with that build up. It seems easy. I’ve done all of those! You may say. And I hope that everyone has. I believe everyone has on some level. But let’s look at them a little more.

Food: This is a tough one with all the misinformation out there. My opinion is that just because your kid isn't starving doesn't mean she's getting the food she needs. So yes, you may be providing calories, but there’s always room to improve here. Now everyone prioritizes things differently, and my ranking of food is pretty high, which is why I spend some extra time in this area every day/week. If you want to up this level of basic necessity just a little, consider doing a few more fruits and veggies over the week, or buying the next best level of food you can afford.

Shelter - I'm going to assume you have this covered - if you're homeless and listening to this podcast - God bless you, but there are more important things to do.

Love – Maybe it’s me, maybe its part of my gender and DNA, but Love for me isn’t always natural. At times compliance, competitiveness, or selfishness wins over. So I understand there’s a lot to improve on here. But this is also the widest playing arena out there. There are so many ways to win here. So I can’t give a specific task today on this one, just know that this basic necessity is one you’ll have to navigate forever and goes in so many different directions. The conclusion of this fastcast is just that if you focus on these 3 you’ll be ahead of 95% of all other parents out there. How will you show your children love today?

July 17, 2019

S5-Ep202 - Take A Photo of Your Child: Then Do This:

 So my 5 year old – without fail will always ask to see the picture I took of him. I haven’t asked my friends, maybe you gals can comment on our Instagram page or on Twitter if your kids do the same thing. But my kid loves watching the videos of himself.  I’m sure it’s novel, and heck – it’s screen time – but there has to be something more to it. It’s something inside of him.

And I promised no Mds or psychologists so there is no official research to give, but I think they are naturally curious about how they look in the world – since kids don’t go around projecting what they think the world wants to see of them.

  And the competitive side in me says, “How can we make this work to our advantage?” How can we help build their self esteem?

   And the answer is to compliment them. I think this does wonders as children become teens. This is something that can and probably should be done weekly up to that point. Tell them they look good. Tell them that you appreciate how hard they work. A simple way to do it is when you take that picture of them, and the inevitably ask to see it. Tell them that you think they look very handsome or pretty. Better yet, take a headshot of them and do it because they will associate it more with their raw self than one with a pretty dress or shirt in it. Kids believe what you believe. Instill some deep down confidence in them – they’re going to need it.


July 16, 2019

S5-Ep201 - Enjoy the Awkward Pause

 I was recently out at the store and a stranger asked my child if they liked the fruits that we were picking out in the produce section. Now some kids are happy to speak their mind, but a lot of kids, including mine, clam up at the thought of answering in public. There have been occasions where they look to me, and others where they just look down.

 So what do you do in these types of situations? And how big of a deal do you put on your child responding? I think these are crucial questions – a sort of ‘midterm test’ on your parenting skills. 

   And I’ll give you the answer – or at least my best answer – no one gets to sit in an ivory tower and claim to give all advice and take none.

My answer is to Let your kids speak for himself. And often in my case, there’s a lot of silence. And I wait patiently, and sometimes say “it’s ok to answer” very softly. And it might be awkward and it might take an extra long time for them to answer, but it's for the best. That little prompt is teaching social ques. This is what we thought we’d be good at – explaining how to navigate the world and others.

  And if she won't answer at all then this is a teaching moment for ourselves. We can give a short answer to the person asking the question, but the main goal here is acceptance. Accept that your kids was too shy, in the moment, to speak. And that you still love them. Don't berate them to 'give adults answers! Or respect your elders!" Your family unit is your team, don’t let them down. And this is a great team building exercise with little consequences other than some awkward pauses. So next time your child clams up – offer some reassurance, and enjoy the awkward pause. Family First!!

July 15, 2019

S5-Ep200 - Play is the Work of Childhood

 Today we have a very important person giving us the topic for conversation. His name is Mr Rogers! I mean he didn’t send it to me directly for this episode, but it’s our headline.

He says, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.  (Fred Rogers)”

It’s so good, so well said,. “Play is really the work of childhood.”

 So obviously he means that we need to go out and buy some STEM toy right? And I have a link in the description for one? Right? Nope. I think we’re overanalyzing it on this one.

  Play is the point – and while in my house we do have toys. Specifically Bruder trucks. Construction and city trucks, which are amazing, because my boys do all kinds of make up things with them. It doesn’t have to be high end. They have been known to play with a cardboard box. So much in fact that I will save a cardboard box for a Saturday morning and that’s their surprise. It doesn’t have to be special. It doesn’t have to be a toy. It can be dress up or dancing. But generally it’s not a screen. So next time your child asks for some screen time, you can be sure that you are actually parenting by simply saying no. By saying “go outside” or “go find a toy to play with” – you’re parenting – and you’re getting some time to yourself too. And that’s the best part. You’re literally saying “go away” and it counts as parenting!  Be sure to check back in with them of course. Tomorrow we’ll talk a bit more about ways to handle the pushback.

July 14, 2019

S5-Ep199 - Technology and our kids

 When I was a kid – and I’m not a young father – there was a technology schools called ‘the computer’, which was the go to piece of equipment for a teacher to please any parent. In fact it still is. Parents are always impressed by 20 ipads sitting in class vs 20 books. So let’s say that your current school gives your 1st grader time on an old school 5.5” floppy drive apple computer. I’m pretty sure you’d be outraged. “How could my kid keep up with the 21st century on that thing?!?!” You’d yell. And yet this whole generation of programmers had their first experiences on that. So it’s not the device itself. At a minimum, it’s the progression of technology over the years. But we have no idea where this technology will lead either and we didn’t in 1990 either. So I think we can draw some pretty good comparisons between that time and this one; even if the technology is different – the lesson is in how we deal with the unknown.


 So what are the lessons from the 90s that are applicable? What should we be teaching in the area of technology? 


I think one thing is that pretty clear is that information is ever more available at our fingertips than it was in the 90s when my father was selling encyclopedias. So in this area I found a good quote by Seth Godin who says, “What's the point of learning it if you can just look it up?” Search will become even easier. So we don’t need to teach kids to look up facts on Google. And while your school might, at least you as a parent can add onto that layer. So Seth Godin says, “The tough stuff will be the emotional labor” and what he’s talking about here is the soft skills. Technology will take care of itself. If you need to use Microsoft Word 2024 then I’m sure you’ll figure it out. But if you need to learn management of a team of software engineers scattered across the country: well, that’s not so easy. So if your child is in school, ask them this question: If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?  It starts to get them to think about leading, and controlling the future, and leadership is a quality that always pays.

July 13, 2019

S5-Ep198 - How you make them feel



 Parenting is leadership. And yesterday we focused on a more male – traditional definition of leadership.  Today we’re going to take a female’s (Maya Angelou’s) view of it.  Spoiler alert – it’s not really male or female – both of these episodes have universal truths about being a father, or mother, and raising boys or girls.

Check the website for the credit of this article: Credit to Mark C. Crowley.

He says:  Late poet, Maya Angelou famously observed that 'people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'  Her great kernel of truth here is that human beings are far more influenced by feelings than by facts – Contrary to what we may have been thinking all along.

 So the question is obviously ‘How do you make people feel’? It’s kind of that simple.

   And the answer is a tough one. Most of us really have no idea how we make people feel. And that’s because people judge others on their actions, and we judge ourselves on our intent. Think of driving. If we get cut off, that guy is an asshole. If we cut someone off – we’re sorry – we had good reason to do it – or we just didn’t see it. We have different standards. My only real suggestion – and again, I’ve been wrong many times and this may be another where there’s a better answer out there – But my only real suggestion is to ask your partner. Ask your significant other, “Have I made “johnny” feel bad at any point today? Was I overbearing or belittling, or over sensitive at some point?”

This takes great courage. And you have to be prepared for some things to come back at you. But if you can get through it, the benefits can be threefold.

  • You gain self-awareness about your parenting style.
  • You gain communication between you and your partner – and they feel empowered because you came to them asking for help.

Your children will remember how you made them feel. And from a male perspective this is the whole thing behind that mom guilt many women hold onto – this desire to give your children the best experience – and the guilt if you don’t. It doesn’t matter the experience you give them – it matters how you made them feel before, during, or after.

July 12, 2019

S5-Ep197 - Parenting is Leadership – What the Army can teach you!


 So there’s an organization out there called the Army. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it. But here in the states, it’s a factory where people go in one end and come out the other end molded into leaders (sometimes).

  So what can the Army teach me about parenting? Well you’re leader of a little army of your own. And when you think about it that way. You can cherry pick the best parts. When I say ‘Army’ some people conjur positive images of respect and discipline, others may think, yea, the Army is not my model on raising kids. I don’t think that’s really relevant. The point is that there are good people in every organization and the Army is one that focuses really on leadership – and have a thing or two to learn from. Again – parenting is leadership, so hear me out.

  Their definition of leadership is really simple:

Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization

And purpose, direction, and motivation is what we all do as parents. Even without consciously trying – that’s what we do.


Again, relating them to parenting: (purpose, direction, motivation)

  • Leaders need to have a destination. This is the purpose that the Army talks about. My parenting purpose is that they grow into big people who make good decisions. (and that takes practice)
  • Direction: Well a destination implies an ethic. Those you have to come up with yourself – so next time your kids get mad about something – think of it from a “belief” point of view. Hard to visualize so here’s an example
    1. My kid wanted something else to eat after he finished dinner. I thought about what I believed (and there is no one answer – there are many here). I believe kids can be self sufficient (or at least learning to) – so I said “sure, go ahead and get some more from the kitchen. Now that would be a parenting success except he said, “I want you to get it.” I didn’t know what to say.  – so part 3 (and then we’ll finish that story).
  • And you communicate that with a story. –Motivation. You should be telling stories to your kids.
    1. So in that instance (with the food) – I eventually said, “If you get your own food, you can get however much you’ll eat. If I get it for you, I may not give you enough”. –Motivation. Boom! Consider yourself parented kid!