Writings for an expecting father: Where the rubber meets the road


The second birthday of your first child is a key milestone.

Life’s about to get real.


I think a lot of guys would be more involved if they knew, in advance, what long-term female bitterness does to a marriage.

How much risk do you want to run?

What sort of role do you want to create for yourself?

  • Take a dominant kid away so your wife meets the other kids (this comes later).
  • Taking a toddler away on an overnight trip so your wife can put her adrenal system back together.
  • Lock in a Daddy Day once a week.
  • Lock in a time slot 5 days a week so your wife can exercise.

Smart, tactical choices will help create the woman you’d like to spend the rest of your life alongside.



What do you do best?

For me, it is 1-on-1 time in nature. Whatever your skill happens to be, do not expect it to be a whole lot of fun at the beginning.

The “win” happens when your wife uses the space you create for her own needs.

To create space for meeting our own needs, I was rarely supportive of “getting exhausted together”.


Also invert the situation and consider…

What does your partner like least? …but maybe that’s outside your skill level. In that case…

What can you subcontract? Teaching your kid(s) to be put to bed at an early age from someone other than their mother is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.

I experienced some resistance to outside help with our first kid. The resistance was _completely_ gone by the time our 3rd arrived.

Subcontracting is not a clear cut issue. I can easily subcontract cleaning but it’s one of the highest return things I do in my house. Unassailable authority when I assign chores or ask for help.

Do no expect your kids to thank you => remember you’re doing this for your marriage and to hedge your bets for tomorrow.

You can not do it all => What are you willing to give up to create space for this new initiative?

In the short term, as you adjust to your new reality, it will feel like you’ve given up everything => Because you have!

It’s a brand new life you’re creating.

Writings for an expecting father: The Start


Three things:

  • Learn to swaddle
  • Focus on your wife’s sleep
  • Babies cry

Nothing else matters until you’ve mastered these points.

Why?

Done well, these points bring relief and create space for the rest of your life.


Downstream effects

Where you’ll be sleeping => I spent a lot of time, alone, in the basement.

Sleep schedules => Baby, Mom, You => in order of priority.

Use of outside help => support the marriage by supporting your wife’s sleep and up-skilling everyone’s ability to swaddle and deal with the reality of the baby (they cry).


Pay attention to what works, and doesn’t.

Keep what works and build a schedule.

Writings for an expecting father: Why


How do you deal with the risk that your body lasts longer than your mind?

Serve the young.


A pregnant wife is the start of an outstanding opportunity to de-risk the back end of your life. The skills required to take advantage of this offering are likely to be very different from what you’ve been using so far.

You don’t need to be a father to take advantage of these posts – young spouse, young students, other people’s kids, grandkids, neighbors… the key element is consistent service to others.


Now, in my own case, it wasn’t a desire to “get” future help.

Rather I had a strong desire to “avoid”.

  • Avoid another divorce.
  • Avoid the pain of future regret.

Still not sure? Listen quietly while grandparents talk about their life decisions.

Sunshine


My kids know my answer to the question, “What were you before you were born?”

Sunshine, pure energy.


I’ve also made sure to teach them how to spot Orion. Link is to my thoughts on how to talk to young kids about dying.

Monday’s and Wednesday’s posts are my “adult” responses shared with our Middle Schooler.

Andy’s death moved a lot of discussions forward. I was ready for them. The LINK is from 2014.


You are going to be having these discussions with your kids (and yourself).

I’ve found it useful to have a framework available before things fall apart. That’s a chief benefit of ancient wisdom and religion. We’ve been considering these ideas for a very long time.

I’ve offered them tools for coping with loss.


Here’s one, it even works in winter.

Head outside on a sunny day.

Place your back to the sun.

Close your eyes and breathe.

As the sun warms your back.

Relax, and know I am there.

Sunshine, pure energy.

Dog Consciousness

Buzz Lightyear – our new neighbor

Monday, I shared a conversion with my daughter. It continued…

If what I said didn’t make sense to you then don’t worry about it. With a lot of this stuff, I don’t really “know” it and I’m not sure where my ideas came from. It does fit a lot of ancient stuff I’ve read.

My head isn’t set up to understand situations where opposites are true at the same time.

  • Andy being here, and not here
  • Andy not-being, and being
  • Andy being nowhere, and everywhere

You know Buzz next door?

Well, we can understand what’s happening in Buzz’s life, better than he can. It could be like that with a lot of things in our own lives.

Our understanding has limits, which are difficult for us to see and experience.

We might be just like Buzz => unaware of a lot that’s happening around us!

So, Sweetie, if you can’t understand where Andy was, or where he’s gone to, then don’t worry yourself.

With a lot of important things, there isn’t a clear cut answer.

And that’s OK.

Dad, Where Did Andy Go?


Sweetie, let’s start by considering another question.

Where was Andy before you knew him?

That question sounds like an impossible riddle but there’s a deep truth inside it. It’s a little different than two others I like…

Where were you before you were born?

Where am I when I am not with you?

All of these are useful questions to consider.


Do you think he might be in heaven? I don’t even know what my friends mean by that.

If you mean, did he go into the sky to live with angels, then no, I don’t think he’s up above us. But I have an idea and it’s this.

Whenever I want to be with Andy, to feel him, he’s available to me. I can feel him right now. He’s smiling inside me, the same smile the last time I saw him at the pool.

So, in that sense, he’s still with me.

He’s with me just as much as I’m with you when we are not together.

…and despite the loss that many feel due to Andy’s death, he’s still with a lot of people. If you listen, they will tell you… “I see him everywhere.”

Your mind might tell you, “he’s gone, it’s over.”

…but if you pay attention to what you feel, then you’ll know, if Andy was ever anywhere then he’s still here with us.

Sweetie, this is the same thing with me and I’d like you to remember.

Someday, I’ll be gone but I’ll still be with you.

Everywhere, always, anytime.

Break Free

$1 well spent at Super Target

My kids have started asking me “what’s next” in terms of high school and college.

I told them to save those questions for a few years – what’s important right now is learning the basics and enjoying themselves.

They did, however, get me thinking.

This starts out as a letter to our youngest.


I’ve spent the last 20 years with ~2,000 hours (per annum) of self-directed time. When I reach “normal retirement age”, I will have had an extra ~70,000 hours versus what I was told to expect.

Consistently making choices as if time is more important than money has been a defining characteristic of my life after 30. Those choices, much more than my personal results, have been what gave me a 1-in-10,000 life, so far.

By the time you get to my age, you will have a series of stories you tell yourself about why you can’t do certain things. You’re also going to have the habit energy of 30+ years of choices.

The good news is many of our choices matter much less than we think, I got past a lot of bad choices.

Avoid ruin, build good habits, persist and you can achieve a very useful form of freedom.


My adult life, that you didn’t see, splits into three parts:

  • High school (to 18 yrs old)
  • Early adulthood (18 to 25 yrs old)
  • Adulthood (25 to 40 yrs old)

Along the way, people will be giving you never ending advice — to seek your attention, to get your money, to convince you to serve their ends…

Most of this advice is going to be tactical, short-term, single-action oriented // not particularly useful and a distraction. To blow through this (largely useless) advice I hope you to make a habit of asking yourself three questions:

  • Who is this person?
  • How do they know?
  • What are they selling me?

You’ll have to figure out your own purpose in life. Here’s what my choices say about what I did from 18-40 years old…

Free to choose…

…how, where and when…

…I allocate my time.

What I’m going to share is a strategy for getting yourself time.


What’s the role of high school?

Create options for further study. Science, mathematics, engineering, finance, accounting, technology… choose your courses so you can take any of the challenging majors in college. In 1986, I could have gone any direction at any major university in Canada.

If you can’t pull that off then learn a valuable trade, or skill, where you have a shot at becoming world-class.

The above is your “to do” list. There’s a wide range of successful outcomes possible, if you avoid early setbacks.

  • Pregnancy – avoid it in yourself and your friends – free contraception saves lives
  • Early habits of addiction and substance abuse – hook yourself on exercise
  • Suicide – keep an eye on your friends, and yourself – get help when you need it – everyone needs help

Pregnancy and addiction can be overcome. With regard to suicide, stay in the game – your future self will thank you.


Early Adulthood

Every year you take off before 25 is an extra seven years you will work later in your life.

You must have faith about the impact of long-term compounding – it’s why I started saving your allowance in Kindergarten. Our brains are not set up to comprehend exponents.

What’s the goal here?

The best technical education you can acquire without borrowing money.

But what if I could join the professional class?

If you can figure out how to do it debt-lite then fine. Otherwise, be wary of the time you’ll give away to get there — and — the habits you create from living a debt-funded aspirational lifestyle.

The professional class are just as enslaved by the system as most other people — they have nicer cars, bigger homes and beautiful wardrobes — they still lack time and cope with status-anxiety.

There are, however, certain professions that are ideal fits for a life with meaning.

For example, my friends who are docs/surgeons get a ton of satisfaction from helping their fellow citizens. They traded a lot of time to achieve their positions – a good trade, as they are valuable members of their local communities.

At 25, I was a well-trained financial technician. Globally, there are tens of thousands of people with similar training. What made the difference?

  • I was young – option value of youth!
  • I trained myself to live on half my income – I didn’t, and don’t, miss the spending
  • I was debt-free with four-years living expense saved – four years living expenses saved at 25

What mattered…

  • Valuable skills
  • Living below my means
  • Time for my net worth to compound
  • Time to follow my healthy passions (athletics, coaching, relationships)

Compare that to my smartest peers at 25 — better educated, negative net worths (due to college borrowing) and a higher baseline cost of living.

Like a lot of things, there’s no visible difference until you hit mid-life.


Adulthood

A favorite question of mine for friends who are over 60 – name something your grandparents could have done that would have positively impacted your life today.

It’s a tough question – we are talking 50-100 year timelines.

Many families settle on… core real estate holdings that enable shared experiences across generations and time — the mythical cabin on a lake, and similar (not always ideal) investments.

What might be required to achieve that vision…

  • Proximity – the family needs to live close to each other, but not too close
  • Time – the subject of this essay
  • Enjoyment – do we enjoy spending time with each other? What if we don’t? How much are we willing to compromise to get along with each other?
  • Realistic expectations – from 25 to 40 many folks will be busy seeking to free themselves from wage-slavery

When it comes to wealth, be focused on time, not money.

Fatherhood

Not sure where I picked up the tip but it stuck with me… always write like it will be your last interaction with someone.

This morning I asked my kids to cut their social circle in half for the month of August.

My son said he was already down to one friend. For one month, I asked him to limit himself to seeing his pal outside, on a bike, with a mask.

I said we’d know more after Labor Day.


What we don’t see => just like that, July is gone!

Today is the end of Week 20. I can remember when Bill G’s advice about a 6-10 week lockdown seemed so long that I doubted it was reasonable.

The speed of the summer passing is a reminder to take the initiative with creating the life I want to live.


“We’re going up there?!”

I got through most my summer essay topics. Saved a couple to get me going again in September.

I’d like to get the whole family camping in August. We will see if I can pull that off and get our oldest up a 14er.



Here’s a technique I use to motivate myself to give extra effort to my kids’ childhood.

Listen to people talk about the way they see the world.

When we’re under stress, and we’re all under stress right now, our deepest mental habits leak out. When it comes to deeply felt emotions, not much is deeper than negative childhood experiences.

So when you hear someone say things like: nobody likes me, I’m treated very unfairly…

…it is a reminder that our actions will endure long after we are gone.


Even if you only need the light for five minutes… there’s something exciting about waking up in the dark, putting on a lot of clothes and hiking with a headlamp.

What comes after => the death of our parents is one last time to own our lives.

Gordon Livingston has a great piece of advice, “set a date and put the baggage of your past behind you.”

Part of my kids’ kindergarten motto was “own it.” Never too late to start!

If you’re still having trouble then remember nobody is the villain in their own story. Each of us is trying to do our best, while being beset by the habits of a lifetime.

COVID is an opportunity to (re)set our children’s mental habits. They are spending a lot of time soaking up how we handle stress.

In our house, it’s been 100-weeks of Daddy-Time in the last 20 weeks.



The best decision I made for my COVID-kids was a little bit of school each day for the last 20 weeks.

A low bar, done first thing daily, gets results.


I’m not telling you what to do. I am sharing the choices I made.

True Wealth in the Time of COVID

Peppy on top of Grays – Happy Birthday, my love.

You’ve probably read me asking…

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

Well, if you’re a family then your “one thing” might be having your kids achieve the capacity for independent living. We achieved it, briefly, this past week.

Wake up, sort breakfast, clean up, do home school, snack then light housework.

The kids were occupied long enough for me to do a classic Colorado hike and get back for lunch. This is big because it frees us from needing our school district to open => to provide childcare.

The kids, working together, can educate and feed themselves.

What’s this worth? As much as 20 hours a week, every week, until a vaccine is deployed.

Spend time to get time => the process was 8 weeks, involved 3 tutors, ~$6,000 and a lot of project management from yours truly.


Waiting for my O-sats to recover, that’s Torreys across the saddle. This is what I look like when I’m totally gassed.

COVID is a binary life for me – I am either on my property, or in the backcountry.

Five days a week, I’m inside two square blocks.

This is not my first choice for the next 25-75 weeks!


On the traverse to Torreys, I kept sorting my gear until I was left behind.

I perked up on the way down. Smiling under the mask. Torreys is above my head and Grays is the highpoint on the left. Masks on the trail are like flashing lights on a bike => most people have a reflex reaction to get out of your way.

The kids tested out of their next grade-level math, which gave them a confidence boost.

I don’t see how they will be able to mix into a higher grade’s math class but that’s a problem for the future.

For now, we’re basking in a job well done!

Knowing the kids are ahead makes me feel more relaxed about how the fall will play out. School districts across the US are delaying their re-openings.


Finding the win!

The above provides me with a case study to share a high-performance mindset with you.


In personal planning => use time to create time => life is about time. If you are surrounded by people that think otherwise then you should change your situation!

It cost me eight-weeks of effort to free as many as 1,000 hours.

This is a highly valuable option => especially in terms of removing the fear, and horror, of a full academic year worth of online learning!


In performance => we need to think clearly to perform at our best => placing yourself in a position where you have the feeling that you have already won will calm your mind and enable your best to flow through.

Now, I certainly don’t feel that we’ve won against COVID (unforced errors aplenty at the Federal level) but it is clear our household is doing well => just need to keep myself out of the hospital.

I am chipping away at the crisis’ ability to disrupt my life and clawing back my ability to direct my own time, within the constraints of the reality of the virus (masks, social distancing, closures).

Create the life you want to live.

Celebrate Success

South Arapahoe Peak, yesterday

Given the simultaneous outbreaks we have in the US, our media is going to have plenty of fodder for negative stories this month.

If you follow the news cycle closely, then this could be a tough few weeks for you.

Consider scheduling a few days offline.


The route follows the left skyline – it was at my limit for “unroped spicy with two of my favorite people”

If you’re sucking in a lot of negativity then you might find spillover inside your head. The spillover may manifest as a negative voice beating you down internally.

A lot of us aren’t able to “hear” the soundtrack in our heads. As a coach, I would notice it when my athletes had a habit of negative expression in voice and written words.

To counter a habit of negativity, I’d assign an excerise => buy a small notebook and end each day by writing down one positive thing that happened.

Every single day.

Life happens where you focus.

Change your focus, change your life.


Ax-man was a little buried by the end of the weekend. When it comes to fatigue, he has developed excellent coping skills.

Our Science Fair was a huge hit.


Secret ingredients to the traditional vinegar/baking soda lava recipe – a little dish soap, a little water and red food coloring – you can see the red chunks in the lava

Public speaking starts at home – learning to listen (and not correct) also starts at home

Spoiled is when you think your life is difficult but it isn’t.

Living under COVID is difficult in many ways. We are learning to embrace and enjoy our challenges.

It would have been very difficult for me to engineer rapid positive change without the challenges of closures, home school and social isolation.


Byrn Family Fitness Center – if there’s a will then you can figure it out. Picture is our Saturday morning fitness program. My son is finishing his “walk back” – I’m running my hill repeat in the background. The local college kids have embraced our street and we see some spectacular runners blaze past.

Personal responsibility is a key value of mine. In the past, this was to the exclusion of maintaining relationships. My kids have helped me do better with finding a balance between hard and soft skills.

Lots of personal responsibility was on display this past weekend: packing our own gear for a climb, learning to recover from a deep bonk (with grace and without blaming anyone), taking care of siblings.

The habit of having to take care of ourselves at home is spilling over into our larger lives.


Ax looking down the wrong turn I was about to make for my family. Thankfully, we managed an upward traverse back onto the main route.

Money and Kids

The basics:

  • An unconditional allowance set at $1 per week, per year of age
  • Money sits with Bank of Dad and yields 10% APR – I want my kids to get very excited about compound interest – we have a generation of kids growing up in a no-yield environment – this will have a HUGE impact on our societies – don’t know specifics but do know it will change finance for a long time
  • I hold a veto on any spending out of the “allowance account” – there is no obligation for me to be reasonable – if you disagree with my decision then…
  • Buy it yourself, kids can earn their own money – own money equals own choices – I want my kids to get excited about providing value to others and earning money for themselves – this is much more important to me than winning in sport
  • Summer reading prize – read every day across the summer and get a very good prize – it costs me $100 per kid, per summer, to create a habit of morning reading, without being asked!

The incentive structure has been successful.

Our latest addition is babysitting – our oldest taking care of our youngest. We’ve settled into $7 per hour for the oldest with $2 per hour to the youngest at the same time. We give them a written schedule with some easy chores to complete. This is the easiest “kid combo” for us to manage – the older sister/younger brother dynamic hasn’t been figured out, yet.

Another popular product is exterior cash wash at $5 per car, per kid.

Our oldest makes scrunches, masks and children’s stuffies. Orders, pricing, manufacturing, delivery… all sorted by her. Since school ended, she is averaging $75 per week of supplemental income.


Dawn breaks near the 4th of July Mine, Indian Peaks Wilderness