The most authoritative source of news and intuition-based reporting for the Buenos Aires Expat Community.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Interview with Tina Serif, Author of the 3.5 Hour Parenting Week

This week I was fortunate to sit down with Dr. Tina Serif, author of the very popular book, The 3.5-Hour Parenting Week. Tina is a professional Lifestyle Designer, author, motivational speaker, Ironman triathlete, and digital nomad who moved to Buenos Aires two years ago with her husband and two children.

Southpat: Tell me, Tina, the title of your book is very similar to Tim Ferriss's book The Four-Hour Workweek. Did his book inspire yours?

T.F.: Yes, Sue, it did. As a matter of fact, it was Tim's book that started me on my quest of Lifestyle Design. I was killing myself from my high-pressure job as a piano tuner in Lafayette Georgia, when I realized that there must be more to life than middle C. After reading Tim's book, I quit my job, became a consultant, and Stan and I moved to Buenos Aires. It was the best decision we ever made.

Southpat: The title of your book seems pretty incredible. People must doubt how someone can be a good parent on only 3.5 hours a week.

T.F.: Yes, I get a lot of skepticism from parents all over the country. But most people are very inefficient parents and don't even know it. If you really sit down and analyze all your parenting duties and the time they take, you will find that most of them are not core to what being a parent is- changing diapers, scheduling play dates, helping with homework- so most of those tasks can be outsourced, making you a much more efficient parent.

Southpat: What do you do with your children in the 3.5 hours you have with them? It must be quality time.

T.F.: That's exactly right: quality over quantity. Our weekly time with our children consists of intense, parent-child relationship-building activities. Sometimes we engage in trust-building exercises, meditation, zip-lining, or singing the family anthem.

Southpat: What advice do you have for parents who want to embark on this process?

T.F.: Let go of the social expectations others have of you: that you are not a good parent if you are not at every soccer game, ballet recital, or meal. Next, engage in the four-step process. First, define the kind of life you want to have. I doubt that when most people thought about having children they were thinking of picking vomit off the floor, or teaching them how to brush their teeth. Picture the kind of life parenting should be. Second, eliminate activities that aren't necessary. Family meals, for instance, are often more trouble than they are worth. Third, find a way to outsource all the non-core activities. Stan and I have a team of nannies that get the kids ready for school, help with homework, and schedule their play dates so that we can concentrate on the truly important aspects of their lives. Lastly, find a way to enjoy all your free time.

Southpat: What do you and Stan do in your free time?

T.F.: We both finished P.h.D.s, regularly go big game hunting, and are the 2007 International in tantric sex champions, endurance division.

Southpat: How has Lifestyle Design contributed to your happiness?

T.F.: Oh, Sue, I'm so happy it hurts. I know life's not a competition, but if it were, I'd be winning! I can't stop smiling. My life has never been better. I have sex every day (sometomes twice), I've lost twenty pounds, my children are thriving- they speak five languages! And I love helping people who want to do the same thing. That's why I started my Lifestyle Design consultancy, BE AWESOMER. My website is