Summertime Template For Young Kids

Here’s a template to help you maintain your sanity, and productivity, with school out of session.

Goals:

  • Exercise before facing the kids
  • Personal time for mom & dad
  • Tire the kids early
  • Nap through the hottest part of the day

Here’s how we roll:

  1. I’m up by 5:30a and back from exercising by 7:30a
  2. My wife does her exercise 7:30a to 9:30a and I get the kids sorted
  3. Kids out the door by 10am and I now have a 3.5 hour slot of total quiet at my house. As, I work at home, this is valuable
  4. Wife and kids head to the club with packed lunch – family swim until 11:30a
  5. Kids eat lunch in the childcare at the club – my wife is free for up to two hours for errands and personal time. Three days a week she coaches masters
  6. Kids arrive home, suitably whipped, 30-60 minutes of madness then everyone naps.
  7. I get another 90-120 minute slot of total quiet – my wife gets a personal slot
  8. Before the kids wake up, I exit for my second exercise session of the day
  9. Evening trip with the kids (swim, friends, park or errands) OR movie night
  10. Dinner (out or home) then bed

This gives me two training sessions, five hours of quality work time and interaction with each of my three kids.

Date night fits with a sitter coming in when the youngest kids are napping.

Alternatively, consider using “day rate” with sitters. We agree a fixed-price deal (8:30am to 8:30pm) and have the sitter take long breaks over lunch and nap. With my working at home this can be a win-win-win between husband-wife-sitter.

For this strategy to be effective, caregivers must resist the urge to interact with the kids on a day off, and during their daily breaks!

Repeat every day June to August.

For weekly productivity, I can get a lot done with 35 hours of totally quiet time split between 14 slots.

Because swimming is cost effective and accessible to club-provided childcare, we make getting our kids water-safe a high priority (links to my Endurance Corner article). So far, each of our kids has been water-safe by their third birthday.

Axel Swim 18 mths

Restructuring and Rebalancing My Portfolio

At the end of May, I did my first rebalancing exercise. This required a fair amount of preparation:

  1. Setting up an individual 401K under my consulting company
  2. Checking my family cash flow for the next 90 days and making sure I had 120 days worth of reserves
  3. Getting a home equity line of credit to cover financial emergencies
  4. Moving legacy retirement funds to the appropriate (pre- or post-tax) IRA account
  5. Shifting my current IRA assets to Vanguard
  6. Making a table that showed where everything ended up, and what it held
  7. Deciding on my desired portfolio mix
  8. Considering tax implications of the restructuring that was implied by my mix
  9. Executing the strategy

The exercise above required wading through admin, building spreadsheets and carefully mapping things out. It’s worth getting specialist advice from a CPA because if you screw up then you can get hit with penalties and/or trigger capital gains taxes.

It’s a pain, and finance companies do not make it easy to move your business away.

Considering fees saved, I earned $1,000 for each hour of my time. I’ve seen cases where families could save up to $10,000 per hour.

Financial inertia can be extremely costly!

My decisions were the result of this year’s reading. I started with the short, free eBook, If You Can, and worked through the author’s recommended reading.

I used Vanguard funds and the expense ratio for my portfolio is less than 0.1% per annum.

Have you asked your adviser to explain your total cost of ownership? Following my blog on expenses, a friend called his adviser, asked the question and was transferred to a call center! He’s still waiting for an answer, they said it would “take a while to pull things together.”

For what it’s worth, my portfolio criteria are:

  • Simple
  • Low cost to hold
  • Focused on long term capital gain
  • Liquid in event of capital being required
  • Tax effective
  • If it won’t make a difference to my overall situation then wait

Like the behavioral finance books say, it was hard to sell the equity funds with the markets at all-time highs.

Now the tough part, resist tinkering and tracking.

How I Met Your Mother

Gordo and MonicaWhen I lived in Asia, I made some money, had my best friend die and blew up my marriage.

A wise friend observed that it was fortunate that the marriage exploded because I was better off waiting until I was able to offer something to a relationship. My buddy, who would spend the next decade dealing with her breast cancer, captured an essential aspect of successful relationships – that they are best avoided until you are prepared to continually offer yourself.

I look back at my writing from that time and smile at how hostile I was to relationships. Ten weeks before I met my wife, I rode across the United States with a Swedish buddy. He gave comfort that, indeed, there were “at least three women in the world” for me. When I asked, “why three and not one?” He smiled and told me, “the world’s a big place, Gordo.”

Squash Court

[This is the squash court where I met your mother]

In the middle of 2004, I conquered my fears and walked into a room of (mostly) female, triathletes. They were training under the instruction of a six-time world champion, Dave Scott. Dave personifies the old coaching adage “challenge your men and love your ladies.” He didn’t cut me any slack!

It was a complicated situation as my wife-to-be was going out with my landlord’s brother and neither of us were aware that we should be together. I played a long game, got her out of the country and we were engaged before she returned to Boulder.

Nelson, NZ in 2005

[Here’s your mother as a young woman in New Zealand. She was working as my extra-special soigneur at a stage race.]

We were lucky. We grew into each other.

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The journey that led to a wonderful life partner began years before I met Monica. I started by cultivating independent self-love, which sounds like something you’d hear in yoga class.

In the language of business…

To do a good deal, you have to be willing to do no deal, a fundamental component of success.

Divorce caused me enough pain to make me hostile to any form of intimacy. First a childhood divorce, then my own as an adult. There were deep feelings of failure associated with marriage. I had not learned how to strengthen a marriage and was preoccupied with the illusion of failure.

After my divorce, I made myself a better person. This was not my goal. Becoming a better person happened because I stopped living the values of other people – back then I was misled by money and assets. Later I was misled by victory and vanity. At the end, I hope to end up with kindness, good humor and service!

My introversion, and pride, fed a desire to prove that I could be happy alone. Truth be told, I was never alone – I wrote frequently and had two very close friendships. One of these was with Scott Molina and he joked that I had ’embarked on the longest dry streak known to man.’ Scott’s observation still makes me smile!

To make myself relationship worthy, I needed to create a life where I was happy without an intimate relationship. In order to have something to give, I needed to develop a source of energy outside of the relationship. I found my source in athletics and nature.

The great spiritual traditions write about love being the source. I have a long way to go there. My love for my children is a sign explaining that everything I need is within myself.

As an introvert, the teaching that I’m my own source feels natural because I’m happy when I’m alone. However, I need to be careful that I’m not alone too much. First, because there is a deep human need for intimacy. Second, because a life with meaning requires us to do good work in the world.

After five years of working on myself, I met my wife. In Monica, I discovered that I enjoyed spending time with her more than I enjoyed being alone. I’m not sure if that will make sense to an extroverted reader, who might find solitude draining. However, for the sociopathic hermit in me, it was a revelation.

To create an intention for success, I tell my wife, frequently:

  • There’s no way I am going to improve my situation through any pathway other than our marriage.
  • I’m grateful for all you do – family life is a challenge but I know that family life alone would be far, far more challenging.
  • While I accept that it only takes one person to crater a relationship, I will never speak about failure on my side. If we hit hard times then I’ll stay close and wait for you to come to your senses.
  • I hold the trust between us as sacred.

All thoughts to the contrary, of what I state above, are a sign of temporary insanity!

Ironman New Zealand 2004

[As a couple, Ironman New Zealand 2004 was our best ever. Your mother swam 2.4 miles in 46 minutes and finished 2nd overall. Living in love makes you powerful!]

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day I met your mother and I’m so grateful.

Love you, Babe.

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