Responsive Parenting

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The constant pressure to do it all (and do it all perfectly, I might add) is just one of the reasons parents are finding themselves so burnt out.

We are so go, go, go that we often forget to stop and assess what is working, what isn’t working, and how we can be intentional about using the time we do have to raise our children with the values that we find most important. Here to help parents learn to manage and prioritize their time is the author of Thursday is the New Friday, Joe Sanok.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, you won’t want to miss this episode with brain hacks you can use to be more efficient with your time, tools for assessing where to put the time you do have, and strategies to help you decide what can be flexible and what needs firm boundaries to be set–whether in the home, at work, or within your relationships.

Joe (00:00):

I think it’s one of those things that just in life, whether we’re talking about time or the job you have or where you choose to live or your partner, I think most people aren’t very intentional in saying, this is what I really want.

Dr. Sarah (00:19):

There are only so many hours in the day. Being efficient about managing our time is key, but at the end of those 24 hours, sometimes we’re just not able to squeeze it all in. And that’s where something less often discussed, but perhaps even more important comes in not being able to get it all done has to be okay. We do, however, want to be intentional about what we are choosing to drop from the list in order to create a balanced life that feels aligned with our unique values and needs and priorities. My guest today knows this struggle well. He is a busy single dad with 90% custody of his two kids as an entrepreneur, a therapist, an author, and a podcast host, Joe Sanok, has figured out a way to balance it all. His book Thursday is The New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What You Want, outlines the exact strategies he used to go from working 60 hour weeks in the beginning of his career to now having a four day work week. If you are feeling overwhelmed and overworked, you don’t want to miss this episode with brain hacks you can use to be more efficient with your time. Tools for assessing where to put the time you do have and strategies to help you decide what can be flexible and what needs to be firm boundaries you set, whether it’s at home, at work, or within your relationships with your family, your kids, your friends, all of it.


Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting and insights so you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.


Hi everyone. Today we have a really special guest because he has an awesome podcast, practice of the practice, which is how I know him, Joe Sanok. So I know Joe because I love the work he does for therapists, but why he’s here today is to talk about his experience being a dad and navigating running businesses and time management and work life balance while being a single dad of two kids and with 90% custody too. So it’s a lot of stuff you have on your plate.

Joe (02:58):

That is true. Thanks for having me today.

Dr. Sarah (03:01):

Welcome. So it’s really great to talk to you. So I’m really glad that you’re here.

Joe (03:05):

Yeah, I think that the work you’re doing here is so awesome and so important, so to join in and have a conversation around parenting and work and therapy and all that stuff, I mean, it’s going to be awesome.

Dr. Sarah (03:16):

Yeah, and it’s interesting because I know a lot of parents listen to this podcast. Obviously it’s a parenting podcast, but I also know that a lot of therapists listen to this podcast because we talk a lot about psychology and child development and attachment theory, and it’s interesting for therapists. So talk about this stuff. So I think that there’s a lot of people who are listening who can both relate to what you do as a parent and all could also relate to what you do as a therapist.

Joe (03:41):

Yeah, yeah, I mean I think for me, bridging those two worlds of how do I have my life encompass everything that I want to have encompass, but then also allowing to say I just don’t have time or the desire to do that really good thing to weed that out and say, that’s not going to be part of our family’s life because that’s not worth the stress that comes with it.

Dr. Sarah (04:04):

Yeah. So do you share with people a little bit about what, who you are, what you do, how your identity as a parent and how that factors into all the other stuff that you do?

Joe (04:18):

So I have always been a very active father. When I was married, I was often the one making dinners, doing bedtimes, waking up, getting him to school. I mean, that’s part of the problem and why we uncoupled, but I think that I’ve always been someone that really enjoyed working with kids and my career as a therapist was mostly working with really angry teenagers and I started therapeutic sailing programs where we’d take these really rough kids out on a really giant sailboat and teach ’em to sail and then they’d learn these life lessons from that. And then we do therapy on the boat. And so I feel like my natural bend towards the world is my own self-development, seeing the potential in other people. But to do that as a father isn’t just me infusing my version of the world, but really allowing their natural talents or natural bend, they’re things that are different than me to come out too and to foster that, not just make them mini versions of myself.


So as a parent, I would say my posture is towards, I want to say yes as much as possible and really have a justification when I say no and to allow experiences to unfold. And I mean we can get just the details of that, but also to have the way that I parent be infused in how I choose to do my business. And so from the therapeutic side with my counseling practice, which I sold in 2019, that was a big part of it, of making my own schedule, figuring out how much I needed to work to have the lifestyle I wanted and not just buying into the typical 40 hour work week. And that still continues with the work I get to do with Practice of the Practice in helping therapists build thriving private practices.

Dr. Sarah (05:52):

Yeah, I love a lot of what you talk about in terms of finding out what really matters to you and using that as the compass by how you determine how you spend your time. Can you talk more about that?

Joe (06:05):

Yeah, I think it’s one of those things that just in life, whether we’re talking about time or the job you have or where you choose to live or your partner, I think most people aren’t very intentional on saying in saying, this is what I really want. Even if they’re married and they’re not planning to get divorced, and they’re like, are they being honest? Even in that relationship of what they really want? The book, the Scream Free Marriage, I had such a great point where they said if two people come together in they’re honest, then they can have a conversation. So you want to go out to dinner tonight, Sarah? Okay, yeah. Where do you want to go? I don’t know. I don’t know. Versus I’m in the mood for Thai food and you’re like, oh, that sounds disgusting tonight. I really want Mexican food. And it’s like now we can have a conversation where we’re both coming to the discussion honestly.


And I think that’s how so many people approach just the way they do their time. They often you even you said at the beginning, and this isn’t a critique, but that idea of work life balance. I mean, we all live life all of the time. It’s not in opposition to work. And so that idea of our life is the thing, and then there’s pieces within that of which work is one of those that we have to decide what does that look like? And so even figuring out little things like after my uncoupling and knowing I had sole physical custody of the kids and then their mom gets a certain number of nights a year if she comes that these kids needed a stable parent that was there for them. And so we live two blocks from the elementary school, so I committed to walking my kids to school every morning and picking them up.


So that means that their school starts at nine o’clock and that means that if I don’t want to be running into my office meetings, I can’t start any earlier than nine 30 and they get picked up just before four, which means I want to be done at three 30. So I’m not stressed out running it. So I then have to design a business that operates from nine 30 to three 30 and I still have to have time for lunch and I have to have time for my own exercise and all those other things. So now I’ve defined what’s super important to me as a parent and in my life, and then my business now has to reflect that. So then we can get into what key performance indicators, what do I have to charge for that time? If I want to have X number of dollars in a year that funds the family, well then that if I only have this many hours a day, four days a week, we then have to do the math on what does that mean in regards to my price point? What does that mean in regards to how I run my business and how efficient I am within that business?

Dr. Sarah (08:34):

And I think that very few people think about it that we’ve never been taught to think about it like that. Whether you are a therapist or an entrepreneur who has the say of navigating those time periods or structure or perhaps you aren’t and you’ve still never been an option or explored as even people don’t say, Hey, what the question isn’t asked, when are the right hours for you based on your life, what you need to do, what other roles you play? And I think I talk about this a lot with working mothers, this idea of how do we advocate for workplaces that are more parent friendly? If you’re not an entrepreneur and you do have a boss, I’m curious. I know that’s different from what a lot of what you teach, but I’m sure you talk to a lot of people in this industry as well. How do parents, what are things parents can do to start advocating for being able to have multiple roles and have that respected in the workplace?

Joe (09:37):

Yeah, I think that it’s similar to when we talk about the four day work week and that model of asking your boss to at least experiment with something new. And so when I teach this in regards to businesses moving into the four day work week, it’s the same principle here where you want to have an honest conversation with your boss and you want to be clear on what you want. And so the four day work week, that’s very easy. I want to work four days instead of five days. So is it that you want to have a place that you can go breast milk pump, like go pump, that’s safe in a way? Is it that you want to be able on Fridays during the summer to be able to bring your kids into work and there’s a place they can hang out and you can check on them?


Is there knowing very clearly, here’s what I would like to try and then talking to your boss about, I would like to try this and here’s the period of time I’d like to experiment with it. I mean, to me that’s one of the best things that a small business owner or even someone working for someone else can do is to say, let’s enter into an experiment. Just say, let’s get data on this. And so to say, okay, if we were going to do this new thing to make this more family friendly here, here’s what I think that would look like. Here’s what the next three months for a quarter that would look like. What are your concerns as to what would happen? What are your concerns as to what might affect business? How can we look at that on a weekly and monthly basis? So say you want to start taking Fridays off so that you can be around more, or maybe you want to pick up your kids from camp at three instead of four 30.


You usually put ’em in aftercare at the camp. What would it look like for your boss to say, you know what? Let’s try that. You can leave an hour and a half early. You don’t have to make up that time, but here’s what I would need to see to know that this isn’t going to make the business fall apart. And so it may be that you have to be even more focused during that time. It may be that you have to work through your lunch not knowing what those key performance indicators are, and then having those conversations as you go and without judgment saying, is this working? So after a month saying, what’s going well, what’s tough? How are we going to address that? And then after that experiment say, Hey, look, my numbers were up, my sales were up. The amount of workplace fat here was cut. I found a more efficient way to do this, and my team is happier by trying this experiment. Or we actually lost some money and every week we had to end up killing experiment early. To me, that experimental mindset is more where solid businesses are adapting and adjusting away from that old industrialist model of we’ve made the machine, we’re going to plug it in and then we’re just going to get the output.

Dr. Sarah (12:07):

Yeah, it’s interesting because I think that I used to work at the hospital systems. I worked very much butt in seat kind of thing where it wasn’t about output mean, it was about a tremendous amount of output, but it wasn’t about productivity or flexibility or creative problem solving at all. It was about see this many patients go to this many meetings, do this much paperwork, and no matter what, you need to be here for these hours. And that’s why I left. One of the reasons when I had my first kid, I was like, this is not sustainable. I’m dying. I’m burnt out. And so I feel like one of the biggest things, and it’s been a few other iterations before I started my group practice, but one of the biggest things that I’m doing in my group practice is trying to create a space where parents want to come work for us because we work for parents, we serve parents, and parents really like to be seen by parents because there’s something about sharing that lived experience that feels really helpful and parents don’t want to come work for a place where you have no flexibility and where people don’t respect the fact that you have a role outside of this job that may be more important than this job and that that’s valued and respected. So yeah, I mean it’s interesting.

Joe (13:24):

Yeah, I think you touch on some really interesting points there where an experiment, what I discussed is going to point out what is changeable and what’s not changeable. So you may through talking to your boss realize you did this system’s not going to change. It’s about billable hours, it’s about progress notes, it’s about these meetings. There’s no flexibility within that. And if all of a sudden I see 27 clients a week instead of 35, that’s real money they’re losing and they don’t have a creative way to make that up or do that differently. I’m working for a system that is based on an industrialist model and that’s not going to work for me. Or you may see that there is some adjustment or change that’s within it. And so that idea of then when you created your own business saying, well, what is it that I want here?


I’m the same way. It’s, I wrote a book about having three day weekends if my staff is burned out and don’t see me taking three day weekends, that’s not, that’s hypocritical. And so you, even just last week, my operations person, she and her family were really, really sick and she felt really bad taking the week off. And I’m like, no, this is why we base your hours on a 35 hour week. We have flexible scheduling, so if you, and she gets four or six weeks off a year also, it’s like, no, this is why you have that time off and this is why we have flexible scheduling your outcomes. And if you don’t hit those because your family’s sick, who cares, your family’s sick, go take care of them.

Dr. Sarah (14:47):

Because that person’s more likely to stay with you and you don’t have to replace them because they burnt down and leave, which costs you more money. Yeah, there’s a lot of rationale to this. I think for me, I’m always in the back of my mind when I’m recording these episodes. I’m like, who’s listening to this right now? And I’m like, okay, I definitely know that therapists are listening to this right now and be like, oh yeah, I get this. I know that parents who entrepreneurs are listening to this right now and are like, yeah, I definitely know this because I know entrepreneurs work way more than they ever did before they left their business where before they became an entrepreneur, they definitely worked less than they did as an entrepreneur thinking, I’m going to go into building my own business and I’m going to work less.


But it’s just like when you work for yourself, there’s always more to do. And I think that’s this idea of the four day work week and the work that you talk about is very critical for those people because they will work more than they want to work and it’s just for themselves. But then I’m also thinking all the parents here who are like, I don’t have a say. I don’t get to decide. I work for someone else and I miss my kids and I feel guilty because I missed the recital or I couldn’t do pickup or my kid was sick and I did stay home and now I’m dealing with all kinds of repercussions for that. All of this is relevant and it’s all hard in totally different ways.

Joe (16:05):

And I think that there’s a common thread between the people that are at work and feel like they can’t go to their kids’ recital and the entrepreneur that’s overworking to me, it’s not taking the time to figure out when is enough, enough. So take the entrepreneur, there are always a million things to do and there always will be a million things to do. And for some reason you’ve said at 60 hours a week, that’s enough. And then you complained about how much you’re working. You arbitrarily picked 60 hours a week and you’re stressed out. You could have picked 32 hours a week, you could have picked 35 hours a week, but for some reason you chose, I’m going to work 60 hours a week and I’m going to do emails when my kids are in bed and I’m not going to spend time with my partner and I’m not going to do all these things.


And then you feel burned out and stressed out and mad at the world. So if you work backwards and say, what do I actually want here and can I test that out as an entrepreneur and what boundaries for myself can I do? Because a lot of this is leftover guilt from childhood. You’re supposed to work this many hours. A good business person doesn’t take Fridays off. They, they’re burning the candle at both ends. All these weird narratives that we get the hustle culture narratives. But to say, you know what for me is enough? How much money is enough? How much time is enough? What can I feel good about leaving undone? And I mean, even the same things true on our weekends. So you’ve got a pile of dishes and it’s a beautiful day outside. You can choose to stay inside and clean your house and make it look like a catalog.


And that’s fine if that’s what you need. Or you can go outside and have time with your kids and go for a hike or do whatever, that’s great too. But oftentimes instead of just saying, what do I want here and what can I give myself permission to drop, that’s really where it comes down to what do I have the stomach to put with not doing? So, do you have the stomach to not do the dishes for a whole weekend? Do you have the stomach to have your boss be like, where were you at that 7:00 PM meeting you were supposed to be at? I was at my kid’s recital. And it’s like, if that person doesn’t see that as valuable, and you do, I mean maybe that’s a F off moment, and you’re just like, listen, I can’t work at a place that doesn’t let me even go to my kids’ recital. And so being able to really think through what do I have the stomach to put up with? Because we never will do everything. We never will have a perfectly clean house, do all the exciting things on a weekend, be perfect in our boss’s eyes. We’ll never be able to do all of that. So we really have to think through what do I have the stomach to put up with.

Dr. Sarah (18:35):

Which really I think also speaks to distress tolerance. How do I get better at sitting in the discomfort of disappointing somebody and who is that person? I’m more, I am more okay disappointing. Is it my boss or my kid? And that might change from situation to situation, right? Sure. But globally, who matters more in the grand scheme of things? Big picture, right? Yeah. Is it the want my kid to when they’re 30 reflect back and say, yeah, no, my parents never came to my sporting events or never that that’s not something they did. Or do I want, will I care if my boss 30 years ago was like, oh, that one employee that left because I wouldn’t let them go to their kids side. I think in the grand scheme of things, we care a lot more about how our kids view us than we do a boss. I recognize that comes from a place of financial stability, privilege. If it’s not a choice, it’s not a choice. And that’s okay too, right? But I think the questions you’re asking can be asked at many different levels.

Joe (19:46):

And I think it really for me points to as a parent, a model that I have for myself is at some point these girls, they’re going to turn 18, 21, 35, whatever age, they really go off and are independent and they’re going to take maybe, if I’m lucky, a handful of core things. I’m talking probably three, maybe five core things that they have taken from my parenting. They’re not going to take a million different things. And so to say, what are those core things? When I think about the changing world, when I think about information technology, when I think about artificial intelligence, information gathering and being able to take a test and just recite back a test, I want them to have a working knowledge of education in that form. But ultimately to me, the human to human interactions is going to be one of the biggest selling points for future generations.


When you look at so many studies around kids texting and being in their phones and they can’t even make eye contact or have a conversation with a peer, to me that’s concerning. And that’s one of those core things that I want my two daughters to be able to sit with an adult or sit with someone else and have a conversation for an hour and not feel like they get stuck and not feel like they have to get on their phone or feel super awkward. So if that’s one of those handful of things I want them to take into adulthood, that then informs how I do life way differently than if I said I want them to be a professional athlete where they be, they’re a gymnast five days a week from preschool. So then that informs, if we’re going to say, my partner Claire, she put on an event that’s at this cool old barn, it’s a fundraiser for the conservancy and there’s all this music.


I want my girls to be prepared to have conversations to sit there without an iPad to engage with the music. So we bring a blanket, I say, we’re going to be there for two to three hours. Think about for you what you need to stay entertained. That’s not an iPad. There’s going to be people there that are not your age that for you, it’s appropriate to have a conversation with. It’s like Claire’s parents are going to be there who they know. You can’t just ignore them. So think through some questions. You can ask them, they just went to Europe, what questions do you have about Europe? What questions do you have about the places they went? They went to England, they went to Paris, they went to Greece. What could you ask them? So I’m prepping them to have conversations. My oldest has this joke book that she loves.


I once went to this potluck and there was this older couple, my parents’ generation, they didn’t have kids, they were just kind of sitting there chit chatting, and my daughter just went and sat down next to ’em. She had never met these people, introduces herself, pulls out her joke book and she’s like, you want to hear some jokes? And it’s like she cracked these people up and then for an hour, the three of them just sat and talked. Like that to me is the manifestation of that preparation of that vision, of saying, what do I want her to take into the world? This basic ability to have good human conversations. Now how do I best prepare her? And she may fall flat on her face and she may feel like I don’t want to talk to anybody. And that’s okay too. But we’re then building that muscle over time in the area that I care about. And then that also allows me to say, okay, we’re going to say no to some things as well that maybe we would typically say yes to, or other families would say yes too.

Dr. Sarah (22:58):

Yeah, I think that’s so important because what I really hear you say is you’re following their lead, but you are also sort of visually charting the path in your mind. You are sort of saying, I really want for my family to embody these particular values. That’s the big picture. But within that big picture, there’s a ton of flexibility and a lot of patience around how we get there. It’s not like you need to go to every talk or you need to go to every family function and talk to every grownup and just have the expectation at the outset that they can do it. It’s like, no, that’s a skill. It’s a skill that’s built slowly over time with lots of support. So I put that thought into creating those scaffolds and that intentionality and I dedicate own time to fostering those skills. And as a result, there’s other things we won’t have time for because that’s not, there’s only so many hours in a day and only so much bandwidth a human parent has.

Joe (23:59):

Absolutely. And for me then figuring out what are those other ones? So for me, I love art and music and just creative play for kids is often so diminished by narrative play. They watch a TV show and then they have these toys that are of that TV show, and they don’t have any of that creativity of what Legos or Lincoln Logs or things like that used to be. So we have an art table that’s out that’s permanently out with art supplies where they can just sit down for half an hour and start a painting. We have a piano even though I’m not great at it, but they hear me tinkering around with it and trying to figure out songs. And so they feel permission to not be an expert, but to tinker and just have fun with things. And so then saying, well, I’m not just limiting iPad to limit iPad saying, yeah, sure, you can watch shows for in the summer.


You can have an hour a day of iPad. I trust you to do your own timer with that. I’m not going to be the one that’s monitoring it, but you’re going to know and inside of you if you’re breaking the rules and you probably don’t want to feel that way. And then in that other time, we have a whole cabinet, it’s called our boredom cabinet, and it’s just things I’ve picked up over the years of different projects or science things that are unopened and it’s like, well, I’m going to go look in the boredom cabinet and see what I want to try today. And okay, so go try something right now. They’re downstairs while I’m doing this podcast. They’re done with their iPad time. And I said, why don’t you guys go to the boredom cabinet and do a project together one of the first days of summer, do something fun or cool, or if you want to run up and down the neighborhood and see your friends, go do that. Just text me where you’re at. So being able to give them that autonomy within clear boundaries that still lines up with the vision that I have for what I think that is healthy for them entering into adulthood.

Dr. Sarah (25:41):

Yeah, I like that. I think it’s funny because as you were listing your values, I’m like, what are some of mine? And I was like the piece about really wanting your kids to have that human to human skill. I really get that. I think for me, one of my biggest goals for my kids is having a lot of safety and really in emotions to be able to regulate emotions and not always that they need to regulate their emotions. I know that that’s the outcome that will come from understanding their emotions and having a safe place to express their emotions and helping them kind of imagine another person’s emotion, build that reflective functioning. So it’s like, yet the outcome that I’m going for is emotion regulation, self-regulation, high EQ, whatever. But I don’t expect that from my five and four year old now, but I’m breaking that and gold down into lots of little pieces, building blocks, and I’m working in the back of my mind. I’m always trying to infuse support around those building blocks, preparation and practice and all the kind of things that eventually will turn into grownup kids who can self-regulate most of the time. Because nobody can all the time, none of us can.

Joe (26:58):

Well, even just hearing that, I’m thinking about last night we just wrapped up the last season of the Mandalorian and just if you’re thinking through the lens of high emotional EQ to be able to say once in a while, wow, that must be really hard for them. If something tough happens to try to just use that one sentence of empathy and then you’re not saying, let’s pause Mandalorian and ruin the show and be like, now let’s have a therapy conversation because then they’re going to hate therapy. But it’s like, yeah, I would hate to leave that planet or that would be hard if my friend had to go do that. And just those little one sentence conversations around that, it can be as small as that. And I think oftentimes we think we have to have these big programs or this big plan and really it, I think maybe families need that structure. I was raised by a psychologist and a school nurse, so I, I’m definitely had a lot of that just embedded in how I was raised. But I do think that even just those micro conversations of saying today as a parent, I’m going to focus on just one comment around other people’s emotions or affirming my kid’s emotions as being fine, even if they’re difficult. What’s that little step that today I can just do a little bit of?

Dr. Sarah (28:06):

Yeah, I often talk about that in terms of you plant a seed and every time a seed of emotion regulation or a seed of social skills and every time you do those little micro sentences, those little acknowledgements it, they don’t need to be these big intrusive interruptive things, these lessons, but more these little drops of water. So it’s like every time you do that, it’s like a drop of water on that seed, a drop of water, drop of water. And over time that seed will grow and turn into something really amazing. But if you don’t do it, you don’t see the result from the drop of water, so you don’t realize, but the absence of that drop of water has a great impact as well. So it’s like if you don’t do these things that seemingly don’t matter in the moment, your kid’s probably going to half the time you make a comment, oof, that was tough about a show they’re watching. They’re not going to even respond to you. They’re just going to keep watching that show, but the water has been dropped. You are dropping that drop of water and if you do it a lot regularly and you nurture that seed, it’s going to grow into something.

Joe (29:16):

Yeah, 100%. I think that’s where just finding those moments to point out the good point. I mean we’ve heard that caught you being good, but just for you and I have it of saying, Hey, thanks for unloading the dishwasher, even though they were asked to do it or you put it on a checklist or something like that to even just use language as if they’re adults. I frequently say to my kids, thanks for being a good roommate. I made dinner and then you guys just cleared the table without me even asking you to. That’s being a good roommate. Whi, which is adult language, they’re going to be roommates with somebody someday probably. I doubt they’re just going to live alone fresh out of my house. And so to be like, okay, good roommates pitch in, they don’t have to be told by the other person.


And even last night was a quick, I was cooking on the grill and I asked one of my daughters to go grab something from the outdoor fridge. She’s like, do I have to? And I just said, do you want to take over cooking because that’s what I’m doing while you’re playing. And she’s like, no, you’re right. And it was like a, yeah, I’m serving the family and the roommates by cooking us all dinner and it’s not ever going to be email or it is never going to be equal. But I am the parent, but I’m also still a roommate here that you know, should respect the fact that I’m putting in my after work hours into serving all of us. And you going and grabbing something quickly from the fridge isn’t a big deal and I’m not going to do that full soliloquy I just did with you to her. But it’s like, thanks for being a good roommate and grabbing that.

Dr. Sarah (30:41):

Yeah. I think sometimes we get, forget sometimes that a lot of parents come to me when they’re really struggling with the behavioral stuff when something’s really isn’t working. And we come up with these really comprehensive plans to address responding to the problematic parts and it’s helpful. But what I always have parents kind of keep in mind that has to be as equally in focus is all the stuff that’s going well, you’ve got to talk about it, you’ve got to acknowledge it. And a lot of times we’re so focused on what’s not going well in parenting because obviously that’s the part that grabs our attention and feels so hard and we get kind of stuck in that viewpoint is when parents zoom out and say, well, what is one thing that is working? What’s one thing that does feel good? There’s always something. And the more we pay attention to that, the more our attention is on it, the more our child’s attention is on it, and the more our child’s going to feel like I got good stuff going on too.


If all we’re focused on is our kids’ negative behaviors, then they’re also focused on their negative behaviors and their self-view is going to be informed by that, God, I really can’t get anything, right. I’m really not good at this. I’m really bad at this and that and this. And so yes, we want to look at the behavioral challenges and have a plan for responding to them, but we also really have to zoom out and make sure we’re holding space for the positive too and actively talking about that with our kids. So they’re internalizing that, which sounds like a lot of what you’re talking about.

Joe (32:13):

And I think that’s such a great point. In the five minutes before I came in here, my 12 year old couldn’t find her library card and she’s going to the library this afternoon. I have it on the app. I sent her a screenshot, but that just wasn’t good enough. And she was in this whole hurricane of emotions, I can’t find my library card. And then in the two minutes before I came in here, she’s like, I found it. And it was just like, eh. But then I went in, I gave her a hug, I said, what do you think you need to do to get back to relaxing? And do you want to go in the zen zone for a while? And she’s like, I don’t know. I just get so worked up over things and it’s like to be able to affirm sure you do get worked up.


This seems like there’s a little hurricane going in on inside of you. And for you that has to be tough and getting control of that behavior first and foremost is for you to feel better, not because of the impact on everyone else. Cause you could just see the shame starting to creep in. I always get so worked up and then it’s not a big deal and her getting hard on herself, but it’s like that emotion is normal and sure you naturally have more of an explosive bend. We want to work on that. We want to try to figure out where that’s coming from. And you’re a tween, you’re 12 a lot’s going on in your body. It’s super normal to just be dealing with high emotional issues right now. And so just to be able to walk through that and just affirm those emotions and all the stuff that you’re saying as well.

Dr. Sarah (33:36):

Yeah, so interesting. I love talking to therapists who are parents because I think it is like this, I have to constantly check myself and be like, I am not my child’s therapist. I’m not my child’s therapist, I’m mom and it’s so much and almost it’s paralyzing sometimes. But then there’s these moments where you’re like, oh, I know what to say here. And that feels so good. So reassuring to me as the nervous, anxious parent because we all have a nervous, anxious parent inside of us. No matter how much skills you’ve developed over the years, when it’s your kid, you are, there’s a part of you that’s anxious and scared that it won’t be okay. And to just, I know. And that feeling of, Ooh, that landed, that felt really good.

Joe (34:28):

Oh, it’s nice when it lands.

Dr. Sarah (34:30):

Yeah. So one thing I was also thinking about as we’re talking is to tie in this idea of, okay, we’re talking about finding balance as parents who work. One of the ways we do that is by identifying the big picture values and building things backwards from there, whether it’s time or parenting strategies. I feel like the other piece that we could talk about is what comes next When you have all this figured out and you’re working it out, what does that four day work week look like? How does that look like for you?

Joe (35:11):

Yeah, so for me, when I look at my work schedule, I definitely start with what are the hard boundaries and what are the soft boundaries? So hard boundaries being things that I will never do. So I wrote a book about not working Friday. So if you came to me and said, can I do consulting on podcasting, I can only meet on Fridays. I’d say, no, I can refer you to other people. I’m never going to take on a long-term project. Whereas if one of my consulting clients has an emergency and they text me on a Friday recently there was this big thing that kind of blew up in this group practice, yes, I’m going to jump on a phone call for 15 minutes to help this person feel reassurance going into the weekend. We got each other’s back, I can help you out with that. So that’s more of a soft boundary or an aspiration.

Dr. Sarah (35:55):

That makes so much sense. And with boundaries, I’m also thinking about them in terms of the boundaries we set around our own needs. Those tend to be the first thing to go with all parents, but especially working parents, I think it’s so important to make sure we don’t always have the things we do for ourselves fall off the list. It’s so funny, I’ve talked about this a couple of times on the podcast, but when I’m working with adults, cause I work with a lot of parents just in individual therapy, but they are parents and a lot of times one of the first things I will ask them is how much do you play? And they’re like, well, and I’m like, well, what do you do for play? And they’re like, well, I play with my kids. I’m like, no, no, kids play grownups play. What do you do for you that is fun and not based on an outcome that’s just creative? And do you make things, build things, think about things, what is it? What’s your play? And it’s crazy how much I have to define it for people because they don’t know what I’m talking about. And it’s like adults have atrophied their ability to play so much and it’s so important.

Joe (37:02):

Yeah, I think that people so often when they’re thinking through the hustle culture mentality, they say, well, I, I’m going to go paddleboard because that makes me more efficient when I’m out back in the office. It’s like that is not the point of standup paddle boarding. The point of standup paddle boarding is to be fully present on the water and to feel your body and your muscles and to just be in nature. And so to have those things, you’re exactly right. The research does show that when we do that slowdown and then we go kill it, we will be more effective, we will have more focus. There’s been tons of research around that. Even just having a minute, every half hour of time you’re stepping away from your desk. There was a big research study at University of Illinois that looked at vigilance decrement. So vigilance how much you pay attention to something decrement it going down over time.


They found that just two one minute breaks in an hour where you step away from your computer, you do pushups, you move around, you don’t look at any screens, can completely eliminate vigilance decrement. And so there’s all this research that’s showing that it’s not just when we work, but it’s how we work. It’s there’s all this research around having different environments for different tasks that can make us work better. So when I was writing Thursdays the New Friday, I was learning all this stuff and so I brought in different lights into my office. I had a different chair in here that I would sat sit in that chair only when I was writing. I would turn on different lighting in here and then I would’ve a specific playlist that I only listened to when I was writing and my brain would just drop into flow state right away.


It’s like, all right, here we go. It was the last Thursday I wrote and then it’s just like, boom, I’m in flow state again. And so it’s like I wrote this book pretty much only writing on Thursdays for five months and wrote a whole book in that time by using the research to actually help me get more done in a shorter period of time. So that’s where I think that a lot of times people think that we have to have this position of privilege to do some of these things, which a lot of that can be true. Or we have to have a four day work week to make this happen or we have to have a spouse or a partner that is picking up the slack. And some of that is true depending on your life situation. I don’t want to assume that I know all your listeners life situations, but even in the moments that we’re doing things around the house, there are ways that we can do it that it pairs up the brain and the way that we get more done so that we’re doing it the most efficient when we are working.

Dr. Sarah (39:31):

Yeah, I mean you just blew my mind a little bit about that flow state piece because I’m, even if let’s just say you don’t, you’re not an entrepreneur, you can’t work less, but you can get more done if you could get one hour back for the time that you work as far as productivity, getting what you can do, when you were saying you can go to your boss and kind of be like, I, let’s do an experiment where I could do all that I do, but in less time you actually have to be able to deliver on that to be able to show it. So, and I think the pressure to just speed through things probably isn’t going to, either it’s going to fail or the quality of the work will drop, but this thing, this idea that there are ways that we can actually become really truly more efficient and get more output in less time, that actually could be something that a person who works for someone else could really go in and say, I’ve got data points here.


I did my own experiment before I came to you and collected some data and this is what I could show you. I’ve modified the way I’m doing things and I’d like to be propose this idea to you. I think that actually could really work. And me as an entrepreneur who definitely really, really sucks at stopping, if I could, I tighten up my hours that I work because I actually have a better way of accessing the part of my brain that needs to be on get it done, I feel like I would get time back and that is something I’m always craving and wishing I had. So I like that idea a lot.

Joe (41:17):

In the book, there’s a whole section where I look at the research around sprints about doing something really quickly and kind of batching it together and there’s actually different sprint types similar to personality types of what works for people. So one person might be like, but I, I’ve sprinted and it doesn’t work for me. And you’re like, well, okay, I’m just not a person that can batch things or sprint things, but you just haven’t discovered your sprint type. And it’s really interesting when people do find their sprint types. And one of the things that I would actually recommend for you from what you just said is you said, I don’t like to kind of end mid task. That actually is one of the most effective ways to jump back into flow state and to figure out how do you capture where you’re at now and end midt task and then jump back in.


So at slowdown school, which is an event that I host every other summer here in northern Michigan for two days, we go hiking, we hang out on the beach, we play spike ball, we have really good food, we just totally relax and then we run full tilt towards people’s businesses for two and a half days, and most people say something along the lines of, in those two days, I got more done than I get in two or three months because we’ll be doing these sprints and we’ll stop them. It’s like pens down and then we take a quick shake it off, five minutes, you know, get done, what are you working on? Then they jump back in and it’s like they pick up where they left off. They were so even in writing the book, it was like, okay, I’m this far into writing a chapter.


Okay, what do I need for next Thursday to be able to jump in here? Okay, there’s some questions I want to mull over for the rest of this chapter and I’m going to just write ’em down on the whiteboard. And in the back of my brain, my brain’s starting to think through these things that I was stuck on, and then I come back in mid chapter and it’s like, boom, I just finished that whole chapter so much faster than if I had worked an extra hour last Thursday. Rather give myself that break in that space to let it mull over a little bit to jump in at a different level of excitement and activity.

Dr. Sarah (43:03):

And as a culture that doesn’t really value breaks and rest, I think we don’t ever really think to look to those as a way to make us work more efficiently. We yeah, think that. I think we’ve, a lot of people have myths around well breaks and rest get in the way, and the fewer we have the more effective will be. And I think that comes through in parenting too. I mean, this is a bit of a t, but I think it’s totally related, which is that I do not think that as parents, we really value breaks and rest for our kids as much as we could because, and I’m guilty of this too, but I think there’s so much overscheduling of children, they don’t have time for this just freedom to just be bored, to go figure it out, to not have it completely scheduled. There’s no white space in childhood and that’s really, it becomes, I mean, that’s how you get burnout in as grownups. They don’t know how to break, they don’t know how to play, they don’t know how to rest.

Joe (44:02):

Well, I think we know it intuitively that breaks are good for our brains. When do we have the best ideas? We’re taking a shower or we’re out for a walk or we’re driving with the music off. That’s when we’re like, oh, oh my gosh, that’s a great idea. It’s not when we’re stressed out and maxed out. And when you look at really where did that American Protestant work ethic come from? It was the 18 hundreds and as the industrialist complex was being built and they used bad theology to perpetuate a work ethic to help the working poor work harder and feel like they could be underpaid because it was God’s work mean. So it was a capitalistic, inaccurate version of theology that just seeped into a America and then just gets passed down in various forms and now it’s called hustle culture, but it doesn’t work. The research shows that if you just hustle, hustle, hustle, you’re going to make more mistakes. You’re going to screw up, you’re going to have to go back and redo work versus taking a solid break, genuinely resting and then coming back and then killing it. Like I say, hustle, kill it, go full tilt, but only after you’ve taken that break to prepare your mind.

Dr. Sarah (45:09):

Yeah. Oh God, I have so many thoughts. We could literally do so many other episodes on this because my head’s going to, when you brought up the industrialist revolution and how that informed culture, my brain immediately went to American school systems because that is also what came out of that. The current American school system we have now is a product of that as well where it’s all about, it really doesn’t promote creativity and rest and time for this sort of open exploration. It’s a lot about be in your seat, pay attention, behave, follow instructions, don’t ask questions, just do the work and memorize as much as you can and regurgitate it back and then next do it again.

Joe (45:53):

Yeah, it’s based on the assembly line model that Henry Ford kicked off, and I mean, he’s the one that gave us the 40 hour work week in 1926 to sell more cars. He wanted to sell more cars to his own employees, and he knew if they had weekends they’d be more likely to buy cars because before that, people were 10 to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week. They were working all the time. So he literally just gave weekends to sell cars to his own employees.

Dr. Sarah (46:16):

Wow, I did not know that. That’s very interesting. Well, this has been super, super interesting. I am really glad that you came on. I think this is going to be just a really helpful way to look at things from, for so many different people coming at this from different angles. If you are a clinician though, and you’re listening to this, I know that you have a really amazing free resource for therapists to grow their practice. Do you want to share that?

Joe (46:42):

Yeah, so we’ve put together two different video training modules. It has over 20 different checklists for different phases of practice. One is for people starting a solo practice and one is for people that already have an established group practice, and we have all sorts of video trainings, checklists, walkthroughs, it’s totally free over at So will take you right to that teachable page for you to opt into that for free. Then you’ll also get some free email trainings as well that will walk you through those next steps. And then we always have the Practice of the Practice podcast, which we just recorded episode 888, and there’s a lot of great episodes including interview with Sarah on there, so make sure you check out the Practice of the Practice podcast as well.

Dr. Sarah (47:27):

Thank you so much, and yeah, I love the work that you do as a therapist. I really, really appreciate what you teach, and as a parent, this is also just wonderful. So thank you.

Joe (47:40):

Oh, thank you so much for having me on the show.

Dr. Sarah (47:48):

So many parents today are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and at the end of their rope, if that sounds like you may be experiencing burnout. We talked so much in this episode about being intentional about the way that you spend and manage your time, and that is a major key for battling burnout, and that’s why I created a simple weekly calendar to help you learn about and track three of your most important energy needs so you can fill your tank before you’re running on empty. Plus, I’ve created a kid version to help you teach your child how they can help themselves relax and refuel in ways that actually benefit their development and their mental health.

(48:24):If you want a free copy of My weekly Banished Burnout and Banished Burnout Kid Edition calendar, all you have to do is rate and review this podcast wherever you stream it. Then send me a screenshot of your review to, and I’ll send the calendar straight to your inbox. That’s I can’t wait to read your reviews and don’t be a stranger.

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112. Hustle culture is changing the way we parent: Why slowing down is the key to finding balance with Joe Sanok