Habits for high-performing parents


When anyone expecting asks me what the biggest change is once becoming a parent, my answer is always that your relationship to time changes.
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In my experience there are two distinct periods of working life. This is pre and post children. When anyone expecting asks me what the biggest change is once becoming a parent, my answer is always that your relationship to time changes. Meaning you don’t own it anymore. Optimisation before children looks different to optimisation after, so the ways that we adopt habits need to be too.

As an ultra-endurance runner and Type A personality it is very easy to push myself to maximum drive and stay there, as with most high performing executives, our ability to redline and stay within that zone becomes part of who we are.

In the world of ultra, time on feet is everything, and whilst you can vary your training or try to be smarter about your regime, the fact of the matter is the only way to make sure you can run 100 kilometres and beyond is to make sure that you are putting in the hours. This could mean 12 to 14 hours a week of running and cross training.

As a hyper focused and purposeful sufferer this was never the difficult part of the process for me, the challenge was doing it all whilst having the time, energy, and presence to bring to my relationships, and none more than the role of being a parent.

Here are four key habits that I embrace as parent to keep me operating better than average.


I thought that I was very effective at managing my time and energy prior to kids, and maybe I was better than most, but the game completely changed after having kids. Prioritisation and focusing on the essentials has become extremely important for me, and as someone that goes quick and hard in several directions, this hasn’t been easy. Through lots or journaling, conversation, and reflection I had to become very clear on my North Star as the opportunity cost of wasting time had started to become too high once children came into my life. What this means today is that everything I do has to align with my values and goals. Because there are so many potential paths within these two, it leads me to quick experimentation with different ideas and projects that align. I wait for feedback in the form of doors opening, or a feeling that tells me to continue exploring. It’s not a perfect science, but it ensures I am always working towards the right direction.


Every Sunday evening I plan my week and have a keen sense of where I will be at and what I am doing, the reason is that many times I agree to meetings, plan work or commit to activities that don’t work well together in a day. Being across this sooner rather than later enables me to shift things around or try to change meetings if required without being last minute. There are a few areas that I am looking at when planning my week, this includes workouts and quiet time, work activities, personal projects that are goal related, and quality time with family.  As soon as Monday morning rolls around its simply execution.


I assess and audit my schedules and ways of operating on a weekly basis, this is generally on a Friday. I need to understand if the way I am structuring my week makes sense from a logistics and energy output perspective. For example, I realised that consistent early mornings are great for time and space to focus on myself, but it started to really come at a cost of peaking too soon in the day and impacting my energy levels with my wife and kids in the evenings and weekends. I was able to do a cost benefit assessment to start to find a middle of the road solution.

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Understanding when a shift is required because a way of working isn’t working is no easy feat. This process is the action that we take after an audit, or maybe a few audits, when we realise that something that we are trying to hold onto isn’t working with our schedule or life. As habits people we can become rigid because our strength is in our sense of commitment. The unfortunate fact is that commitment can become an anchor that is weighs us down and ultimately drowns us. This is where we need to habituate agility into our lives. Through weekly planning and auditing we will have the feedback within a few weeks as to the effectiveness of our ways of operating, through a agile position we can effect change where required without wasting too much time.

I have spoken to many executives that are parents over the years and have come to learn that balance of performance and parenting is a continual challenge. The reality is that parenting is something that requires real presence with our heart and soul, we can’t autopilot this, so to be really effective here, we have to create tighter processes and structures around the other areas of our lives. This discipline will ensure effectiveness across the board.  

RJ Singh is a corporate and ultra-endurance athlete and the creator of Ultrahabits. Find out more at Peak Performance with RJ Singh: Ultra Habits for Ultra Performance

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