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Being A Happy Stay At Home Dad Isn’t Easy

by retirebyforty on January 21, 2013 · 63 comments

in baby, stay at home dad

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If you told me 10 years ago that I would be a stay at home dad, I’d say NO WAY! I was making good money at a challenging job, so why would I quit and become the primary car taker? Mrs. RB40 felt the same way and we were chugging along quite well as a DINK couple for many years. I like kids and always wanted to have a child or two, but we put it off while we were busy with our careers. My whole perspective changed when Baby RB40 was born. He became the center of my world while my job continued to lose its luster. My intention was always to get a different job, but at some point that morphed into being a stay at home dad. We have been preparing for an income reduction and luckily it turned out that we could function with just one stable job (Mrs. RB40’s.)

baby splash fountain

Summer is more fun…

Being a stay at home dad to a rambunctious little guy is a lot of fun, but it is challenging especially in the winter. It was much easier in the summer because we did a lot of fun outdoor activities to work off some of his boundless energy. We played in the parks, went to see free concerts, splashed at fountains all over town, and had a blast. In the winter, our options narrowed down to the library, the mall, and just a few other indoor spaces. We still go out to the park, but it’s just not as fun when it’s cold and rainy. Anyway, it’s been over 6 months since I left my dysfunctional job and became a stay at home dad/blogger and I’d like to write about the transition and the many challenges SAHDs (stay at home dads) face.

Learning to be the caretaker

Learning to take care of a kid can be a steep curve, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The first challenge for a SAHD is to learn how to do all the things that your mom used to do.

Taking care of a child

Let’s face it. Taking care of a child doesn’t come naturally to most guys. I had to learn quite a few things quickly, but I’m sure all parents go through this. Here is just a small list of things that I had to learn how to do.

  • Change diapers
  • Prepare food and feed the baby
  • Calm the baby when he’s crying
  • Put a baby to bed/nap
  • Bathe the baby

Basically, it’s just learning how to be a parent. I assume most moms are more naturally suited to do these things than dads. I learned the basic caring and feeding of a baby pretty quickly and developed a rapport with Baby RB40. Some dads are not comfortable with these “mom” tasks and if you’re one of them, being a SAHD might be  a difficult proposition.

Household chores

Next of the list is the household chores. Like most guys, I am terrible at housekeeping. When I was single, I probably vacuumed twice a year… However, if you want to be a stay at home dad, you should do as much household chores as you can. The missus works all day and she doesn’t want to come home to a pig sty, right? The house doesn’t have to be spotless, but the SAHD should be able to do the bulk of these tasks. I cook, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, take care of the car, dosome laundry, and a number of other household chores. Of course, I’m not perfect and Mrs. RB40 takes up a lot of the slack on the weekends. As long as you show some effort, your sugar mama would understand and keep bringing home the bacon.

Baby needs constant attention

One of the moms in our building has a daughter about the same age as Baby RB40. When she does the laundry, the girl would sit in an armchair and wait quietly until she’s done. What? Baby RB40 has never sat still for 30 seconds in his whole life! OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. When we go do laundry, he’ll be running around slamming the washer doors and other such things. He needs constant attention when he’s awake and if you’re not paying attention to him, he’ll throw a fit.

I set up a monitor for him when I work so he can watch his songs on YouTube*, but we only do that for about an hour a day because that’s plenty of YouTube time. I can check emails, answer comments, catch up on other blogs, and a few other minor tasks in that hour. I have to wait until he’s asleep to do any serious writing. Anyway, the point is don’t count on getting much done when your kid is awake. I’m sure this will get better as he gets older, but he still needs a lot of attention right now. Your mileage may vary here. I guess some kids are calmer than others.

*Baby RB40 isn’t interested in watching TV or movies. He likes to pick which songs to play on Youtube and changes his selections constantly. I think a movie has too much dialog for him.

My mom is here to help out for a while and it’s such a huge relief for me. I can get away for a couple of hours to blog or do other errands as needed. If you can get some help from family or hire a baby sitter for a couple of hours per day, that will make a big difference.

Mental Challenges

After a SAHD learns how to be a mom, he’ll have to deal with other mental challenges. I think the mental aspect of it is much more difficult that learning the caretaker skill set.

Do you like spending time with adults?

Being a stay at home parent can be isolating. I was used to being in an office and interacting with colleagues throughout the day. When I transitioned to being a stay at home dad, all interactions with an adult came to an abrupt halt. This can be a jarring transition for many people. However, I don’t really mind it much. I’m an introvert at heart and it’s not a big deal for me.

Do you need mental stimulation?

My old job was technically challenging and I had to put on my thinking cap every day. Staying at home on the other hand is at the other end of the spectrum. I’m busy with Baby RB40 all day, but there are very few challenging mental stimulants. This is fine for me actually because I was completely burned out at my old job. I needed some serious time out from the constant mental challenges. Writing a blog also helps in this department. I have to think up new and useful articles for readers. That’s enough for now, but if you like to be mentally stimulated every day, then it will be difficult for you to spend all your time with your kids.

stay at home dad challenges

Here is our little punk

Baby will make you mad

Do you get angry easily? No matter how much you love your kid, they will push boundaries constantly. If you get mad easily, it’s not a good idea to spend 12 hours a day with your kid. I’m a pretty calm guy and I got quite mad at Baby RB40 a few times. Mrs. RB40 also gets infuriated with him sometimes and she rarely gets angry. Anyway, the point is a stay at home parent should have a calm personality. Kids will get into trouble, but it’s best to deal with it calmly.

Does your family support the move?

Your spouse has to support this transition for it to work out. If your spouse is better suited to be a stay at home parent, then you might need to continue working. Hopefully, your extended family also supports the move, but it’s less necessary. Mrs. RB40 likes working and she doesn’t want to be a stay at home mom. She is really supportive and I’m thankful for that.

Stay at home dads are still a minority

The number of stay at home dads increased quite a bit over the last decades. Some of this is due to the economy and the advancement of women in the workplace, but we’re still a huge minority. I haven’t heard any negative comments personally, but I’m sure some people don’t like this arrangement. Usually, I’m the only dad around when we go to story time or the playground. It feels a bit weird to be such a minority, but it’s not a big deal. It’s hard to make friends with the moms too, but I guess that’s because I’m not very good at making new friends in general.

Finance

Lastly, let’s look at if you can be a SAHD for the long haul (or at least until the kid goes off to school.) Some dads lost their jobs and moved into a SAHD role by default. Even if you’re happy at being a SAHD, can your family handle the financial pressure? On the other hand, if your family has plenty of money, you can get some hired help to deal with the chores.

Cash flow

A family has to be able to function financially with just mom’s regular income. If you need to draw on your savings or borrow to pay bills, then it won’t work out in the long run. We have reduced our monthly expenses since 2007 in the anticipation of a loss of my income (job change) and kept it moderate. We also built our passive income streams and I’m able to make a little side income online. All these factors combined enable us to maintain a monthly positive cash flow most of the time. If you want to be a stay at home parent and the cash flow doesn’t work out, then you need to cut expenses and/or increase the household income.

Liquid Saving

We saved up 18 months worth of expenses before I quit my job. If Mrs. RB40 loses her job too, then we’ll have a year to figure something out. I think a year of expenses is a good insurance to have before you transition into a SAHD role. If things work out well for 2 years, then we’ll reduce the cash saving to around 6 months or so and invest the rest.

Retirement and Education Saving

Can you continue to save for retirement after becoming a SAHD? How about your kid’s education? I think this one is more optional. If being a stay at home parent is that important to you, you can put off retirement/college saving for a few years. Once the kid goes off to school, you can rejoin the workforce and start saving again. For us, Mrs. RB40 will continue to max out her 401(k) plan. Currently, we have a positive monthly cash flow so those extra money go to Baby RB40’s 529 account as well.

Being a stay at home dad is rewarding, but the transition isn’t easy

I love being a stay at home dad. It’s very gratifying to see Baby RB40 as he develops and grows. Being a SAHD came naturally to me for the most part, but I know the transition can be challenging to many guys. Luckily, Mrs. RB40 is supportive and likes her job. After six months of being a SAHD, I’m quite happy to report that it’s working out well. I’m hopeful that we can keep this up for 4 more years until our kid starts kindergarten. Once he starts school, then I’ll evaluate our plan and see where to go from there. If I have my way, I’d stay self employed and start another small business or two. I would even consider working for a small company if I can find a dream job in the right environment. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this stay at home dad update. Let me know if I missed any challenges or if you have any questions.

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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Maverick January 21, 2013 at 1:02 am

Joe: I’ve been watching your success for a while as I contemplate early retirement…although not as early as you. :) Question for you, or a possible topic for a future blog: I know you have rental income. Would it be possible for you to compare your total rental income against the Vanguard REIT fund for say a ten year, or five year period? I’m considering renting my current single family house when I move, but would like to know the financial risks/rewards including tax benefits vs. a REIT. Thanks in advance!

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I will write a detail summary for 2012. It will be a lot of work to compare the past 5 years. I’ll see if I can do it. I think our rental house should do quite well vs VNQ since we purchased it in 2000. The 4 plex on the other hand is still struggling to make money…

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Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank January 21, 2013 at 4:15 am

I have had our new born son at home for a total of 1 day so far and it isn’t easy at all.
I congratulate you for doing it full time, i’m not sure I could do it.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Congratulation! I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn’t really… :)

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Financial Samurai January 21, 2013 at 4:49 am

Joe, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

What are your thoughts on hiring some help for 3-4 hours a day to give you some breathing room?

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Now that I see what it’s like to have some help, I’m not sure if I can go back to doing it all myself. My mom is a huge help. I’ll definitely be open to hiring a babysitter for a couple of hours a day. I need to find someone who will do a good job though.

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Silly Lily January 24, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Hey man, some daycare centers also allows you to drop kids off 1, 2, or 3 days a week or just mornings/ afternoons. This way you get a break and baby RB40 gets to interact with kids his age and also experience different environments.

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Jules@Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet January 21, 2013 at 6:09 am

This was so great to read. I agree with so many of the things you said. I am a SAHM and it’s not easy and is very isolating. I have two under two, which is a whole other adventure, my second will be walking in a few months, I’m scared! It is a more natural thing for mothers, so being a dad it would be much more difficult at first. Oh my goodness, can’t even imagine my husband taking this role. Embrace the time you get to spend with him, especially if he is growing as fast as my girls! Blessed lil boy!

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SavvyFinancialLatina January 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

Kudos on being a stay at home dad. I always felt sorry for my mom growing up. She was a stay at home mom and I think we drove her crazy. Of course, I didn’t completely understand it then. I was actually that quiet kid who didn’t really bother the adults. My mom tells me stories of how I would go with her and sit through her college classes. I must have been three years old, and I would just sit and color. Once I started reading, I would bury myself in countless of books. However, my brother was a little tazmanian. I remember hiding in the closet in order to read, and him trying to knock the door down the entire time ( hours on end) because he wanted to play.
My brother is about to be 16 in March.

I could never be a stay at home mom. I have been a full time nanny, babysat countless of hours, and it’s just not for me.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Baby RB40 is a little whirlwind too. He’s always running around and causing trouble…
Thanks for sharing your story. Mrs. RB40 can’t be a stay at home mom either. It’s ok. :)

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Chase at debt free teen January 21, 2013 at 7:49 am

Have you read the Two Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren? Families where one parent works are more stable and more insulated from finacial hardship than 2 income families. It’s a good read!

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Aloysa @ My Broken Coin January 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Joe, you are my hero! You are doing everything that I, myself, would not be able to do. It seems soooo overwhelming. I agree with Sam. Maybe you need to hire a nanny or some help. But I know you are cheap (lol) and you probably will just plough through all of this. Kudos to you my friend!

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Thank you! If I can find a good babysitter, I would be open to it.

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Melissa January 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

Great post! I tried to do it all when my girls were little, but as they napped less and less and now not at all, I had to resort to hiring a babysitter to come in about 5 hours a week. The girls love it, and I get some time to work besides weekends and evenings. Plus, I am in the home the whole time, just in another room writing.

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Kim@Eyesonthedollar January 21, 2013 at 11:41 am

My husband is home in the summers. He’s a teacher, so he becomes a SAHD for a few months. He does well, but we have always taken a couple of days a week for a few hours a day for day care of some sort so he gets his free time also. It gets much easier as they get a bit older and you can reason with them a bit more. It is a job, sometimes harder than your career job, and I hate when people think you sit around all day and watch TV.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm

That’s a good idea. I need to find some kind of drop in like that. Our old daycare offers Saturday night baby sitting for an affordable price. I think Baby RB40 will throw a huge tantrum if we drop him off there though.

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Laurie January 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

It’s not just tough for dads. I love my kids and they are a priority but my one year home was REALLY tough. Now I am so thankful to work part time (not from home) so we made the necessary cuts and live small. Full time work was too much to really stay on top of things at home and feel like I was having enough time with the kiddos.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm

It’s great that you found a way to make things work. I know it’s hard for moms too. All the moms at story time are dealing with a crazy 2 years old as well.

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nicoleandmaggie January 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

My DH is basically a lame duck this semester– he’ll be done with his job in May. We’re still going to send DC2 to daycare however. She will start this summer.

Last night we signed up with mint and decided to try to get our variable expenses down to 3K/month. I don’t know that it will happen anytime soon though.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I hope you can cut down the expenses too. How about part time daycare? I guess it’s not much saving from full time.

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nicoleandmaggie January 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Our preferred daycare doesn’t do part-time daycare. The school where my son goes does, but we do not like their daycare anywhere near as much. And it’s only around $600/month for full-time daycare. When my son was little we put him in something like 10am-3:30, even though we were technically paying for 7am-6pm.

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retirebyforty January 24, 2013 at 1:03 am

$600 isn’t bad at all. Our old daycare cost more than 2x that much. If I can find something comparable, I would probably do a half day for my son too.

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krantcents January 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

First, I admire that you can do this. Along with all you describe, you want to teach and expose jr to a lot of things. When our children were small, my wife worked part time, but I covered 1 0r 2 evenings after work and Saturday. Whenever I fed the children, I was always talking or reading to them. On Sundays, we would go to the museum or other stimulating trips. I remember going to a lot of open houses at the fire station, events at the park and play dates. Remember, this is your time to influence your child.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Thanks for the tips. We’re not doing too much right now because it’s too cold. Once the weather warm up, we’ll go do a bunch more stuff. We read a ton of books everyday. I think that’s one big difference than at the daycare. They don’t have time to sit down and read with each kid.

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Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin January 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm

My wife use to have a nice well paying corporate job but has since become a stay at home mom. I was reluctant to her staying home but I thought to myself “Dinner will be ready when I get home.” “All the laundry and cleaning will be done.” “Life should be great!” Boy was I wrong! At first I was a little frustrated that my wife wasn’t getting things done around the house but one day she got sick and I took off from work to watch our daughter. Talk about a RUDE AWAKENING, I couldn’t keep up with my daughter let alone the chores around the house.

From that one day I know being a stay at home parent isn’t easy! Hats off to you.

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retirebyforty January 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Hahaha, I’m glad you had the rude awakening. It seems some age is better than others. 2 years old is tough.
Thanks for sharing.

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My Wealth Desire January 21, 2013 at 11:46 pm

It is one of my dreams to stay and work at home. How I wish to have more time to spend with two kids to play, guide and teach them. When my kids are at home and while me and my wife being at work, they spend most of the time watching TV. I don’t want this will continue for more than 2 years. I want to utilize their time having fun, reading, playing and outdoor activities. This post gives me more inspiration to reach my goal.

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retirebyforty January 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I don’t want our kid to watch too much TV either. It’s nice that he’s not interested in watching TV at all right now. I’m sure that will change though. He loves to read. :)
Good luck!

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 22, 2013 at 3:54 am

Good for you to take on a challenge. I was a stay at home mom and sometimes it can make you crazy.

I would have loved to afford a membership to one of those gyms that offers child care then whenever I was having an awful day I could have walked on the treadmill for a half hour while someone else dealt with the whining.

I had girlfriends that I would trade sitting time with so we could run errands alone. Sometimes we would get together for playdates so the kids could amuse each other. That will be harder for you because a lot of couples don’t approve of fraternizing with the opposite sex without their significant other.

I hope your family is close by to offer support. The support of your wife is the most important thing.

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 12:00 am

The problem is you can’t get away from the kid. Even if he makes me nuts, I can’t take a time out. Fortunately, it only happened a couple of times. A gym with child care would be awesome, but I don’t think he’s ready for that yet.
I think you’re right about the fraternizing. There are a couple of families in our building with similar age kids and they don’t really want to hang out or anything. Oh well…

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Awesome Possum February 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Hey there. I just wanted to throw my two cents in since we’re in a similar situation. We have three very small kids – a 3 year old and two babies that just turned 1. There are a couple of things that can help you get a break:

1) LA Fitness has a Kids Klub that will watch your kids while you exercise, starting from 3 months, I think. It helps my husband stay in shape, and sometimes he’s even just sacked out and read a book for a while. Our kids were enrolled from the beginning, and we have no complaints.

2) Preschool. I don’t know how old your little one is, but at 2+, he’s ready for it. Twice a week has worked out well for our oldest and she adores having the chance to play with the other kids, sing songs, do crafts, and basically have her interests catered to. We go to a co-op that is pretty cheap ($250/month for a class size of 6!) in return for time invested in helping to run the place.

3) A standing appointment with a baby sitter. Once a week, my man takes off in the late afternoon to hang with his friends for the evening, I come home after work and put the kids in bed, and it only runs about $20.

It adds up to a number of release valves, both scheduled and as-needed, and it helps keep him feeling good about his life and responsibilities.

Maybe he’ll be even happier when I tell him that he’s living the retired-by-40 dream.

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retirebyforty February 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

Thanks for your input! I did a Google search and found a few local co op. That would be a great option for me because I would love to be involved. I need to find a good baby sitter too.

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Suzanne January 22, 2013 at 11:46 am

I salute you for being a stay at home dad. It’s not easy to learn all the caretaker tasks and prioritize like you’re doing. I wish more dads would take on the responsibility of caring for infants because I think it would have an impact on how we value our childrens’ care as a society. More power to you.

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 12:02 am

Thanks! I think a dad should take a few days off to care for their kids too. See what the stay at home mom has to deal with. :)

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sin camisa January 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I’ve been doing it for 3 years now. Mine are in school and that makes it more challenging psychologically. I just spent 2 hours on the phone with a stay home mom friend in Cali. Boy, I needed some adult time.

Hey; you are 40, so when you go to the library for story time, enjoy looking at the young yummy mommies. :-)

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 12:05 am

Are you working part time? That might be a way to pass the time. I think when my kid goes off to school, I’ll be ok. Maybe I’m just saying that because I need more personal time right now. :)

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G January 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I second Suzanne’s comment. Everyone should be forced to work in a daycare, maybe their Freshman year in high school. There would be way less teen pregnancies.
If men knew the work involved they wouldn’t be popping out the kids. Daycare should be free and paid from taxes. Mothers that want to work should be able to, and not have to worry about cost of daycare. I know mom’s that want to work, but the cost of full time daycare is more than that could make anywhere. Sad.

How about a babysitting exchange from neighbors? Mothers day out at YMCA or a church. Our ymca is 25.00 for 9-2. Price is nothing compared to keeping your sanity!

I don’t have kids, because they are a four letter word…WORK

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Steve January 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm

If the free market doesn’t value the work that someone produces more than it costs for someone else to watch their child, then that’s not sad, it’s economics. It would be a net drain on a society to provide free or subsidized childcare for that person. (Maybe it would still be worth doing e.g. as an indirect income transfer to the poor.)

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

You’re right. Taking care of a baby would be a great pregnancy deterrent. I’ll check our YWCA to see if they have any drop in programs. I’ve seen their day care group around the neighborhood. Kids are a lot of WORK, but they are a lot of FUN too. ;)

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Glen Craig January 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Dude, congrats for doing it and keeping your sanity. Watching the kids can certainly test your patience. There are many a day where I’m working harder with the kids than I ever did in the cube and there’s no going out for a break with the kids.

But it’s awesome to be there with them. Glad to hear you’re getting by.

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 12:09 am

Thanks! It was getting crazy, but then my mom came to help so now it’s quite good. When she leave, I’ll probably have to hire a babysitter for a few hours/day.

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Greg January 23, 2013 at 12:34 am

I’m a single guy with a 3 year old boy, and no daycare to help.
I leave him alone about 9 hours per day while at work, and he seems to do fine on his own. I’m planning a trip to the snow for us in the next month or two.
And he loves his time at the beach – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfknQXj-c2Q
Am I a negligent dad for leaving him on his own so much daily?
We play catch or frisbee for at least 15 minutes per day.

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retirebyforty January 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Hahaha, yeah, you are a bad dad. Have a good time in the snow. I’m sure he’ll love it.

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The Happy Homeowner January 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I agree with all of the other comments about how great this is and think a huge congrats is in order, but I just have to say how much the mental scene of how you described laundry time cracked me up! He’s very cute :)

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Martin January 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Hey Joe, I can’t relate because I don’t have kids. However, have you thought about a part-time gig? My buddy has a hectic schedule, but he works a side gig that allows him to get out of the house, away from family, and to interact with others.

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retirebyforty January 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Nah, I’d rather be home with the kid than working a part time job that probably wouldn’t cover the daycare cost. When my kid goes off to school, then I will see what I can find.

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Jerry January 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

I think it’s awesome that you are home with your child. As long as someone has the income that has the insurance, income, etc. it doesn’t matter who’s caring for the children, in my opinion. I’d love to be home with my kids instead of heading in to work every day. It might lead to some better days for my wife!

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Sarah Park January 27, 2013 at 9:44 am

It is really not easy to stay at home and take care of the child and of a house rather than devote more of your time working and making money. But in the long run, you will learn to enjoy every moment you are spending with your kid. Congratulations for a job well-done as a full time dad.

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MUFF January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Good on you!

I am also a stay at home dad. It is very rewarding whilst having its challenges. I am fortunate to live in a big city (London) that has lots of male carers and “dads” groups for some support.

Dropping the 9-5 to do the 7-7 child care has been quite a change. The dads that I meet that look after their children are a great group. They really understand that their children are growing up fast and are cherishing the time. We are all aware that the full time nature of the early years care is very rewarding and at the same time they will grow up and as a result it is not for ever – just a wonderful short term opportunity. The dads group is great for discussing challenges of raising kids, options to gain income to support the family. We have all shared our decisions to pack the job in to look after the kids. This really asked the right questions about living for work and working to live!

Our financials (through some simple frugality but no real loss in lifestyle) and most importantly our happiness are both better off. I have given up a corporate career which required a lot of travel and time away from home whilst the onus of child care was on my wife (she has a professional career as well). Thankfully we made the change before it became too challenging.

We have learnt to manage the transition from Mum to Dad at home as have the kids;) Sure it was a challenge at the start but it is surprising how quickly you are forced to learn.

I would not give back the time I am having with them now it is awesome and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Enjoy and cherish the time you have with your son as well. I wish you all the best.

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Greg March 7, 2013 at 1:39 am

I didn’t go back and re-read the whole post, but I think this was the one where you threw the book on the floor and BRB40 threw a tantrum?

My BRB40 is my pooch and he sometimes wants attention at times when I’m focused on something else that I don’t want to be distracted from. And he has a way of making it obvious.

Giving him a cookie helps for a couple minutes.

Saw these ‘pudding cups’ at the store this last weekend – http://www.ubuntupet.com/for-dogs

Gave him a frozen one and it kept him happy and entertained for at least 15 minutes.

Maybe when BRB40 wants you to read to him, give him a frozen banana/mango popsicle to suck on for 15 minutes, which then gives you time to finish up on what you’re focused on?

Greg

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Kaedra April 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I really enjoyed coming across your post. Your tone is very gracious, and you have a fantastic perspective on what your context. It’s enjoyable to read your interest in investing in the life of your child, and absolutely right that the time will go, and be gone. With three children, staying mostly at home, and a teacher husband who is around all summer, it is always nice to hear another voice on the joy – and worthwhile challenges – of being with ones kids. I also think that it does seem hard socially to be the at home dad in a mileu dominated by women. So, thanks for your insight and articulation!

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retirebyforty April 18, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Thanks for letting me know. I really appreciate readers feedback and they make me feel great! :)
Our little guy has been kind of crazy lately. He’s 26 months old now… Hopefully he’ll grow out of it at some point.

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norm deplume June 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

Nice, but its a primer piece that doesn’t get to the real issues and unique challenges of being a SAHD. I’ve been doing this on and off for several years and I wish to hell I didn’t have to. Not because I don’t love my kids but read some of the darker stuff out there about the ostracism SAHDs face; I’m here to tell you that it’s very real. You will find that other men, and (incredibly) other women, consider you a failure as a man and provider; you will never get the cred for handling things as well, or better, than Mom could; you’re about as welcome in your community of SAHMs as herpes; and you are periodically and vaguely suspected of being a sex offender.

Importantly, the ostracism hurts your kids. Playgroups often form around parent groups–if you are excluded, so are your kids. And while I have found rare exceptions among the SAHMs (who are willing to talk to you, let alone socialize), they all had one thing in common: They and/or their kids were likewise excluded or not in the social scene, so you become a convenient (and temporary) port in their storm.

If I had it to do over again, I would fight like hell to have stayed in the work force or furthered my profession under my own company. Unless you are in an area where you can join or get a good SAHD group together. About the only good thing about being a SAHD is that the other parents (i.e., Moms) will assume you know nothing and sometimes try to “help”. Even though I can do a task equally well or better, I find it easier to let them. And when they want to include you in the drama, which is rare, being a SAHD provides an easy out–you can feign ignorance and the Moms will simply go along with it.

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norm deplume June 17, 2013 at 9:07 am
Tiare August 31, 2013 at 8:50 am

Good on ya. There need to be more dads like you who realize there’s more than one way that a man can provide for his family. You have a great perspective and a willing heart. Your children are lucky for your example.

My husband shared his thoughts as stay at home dad: http://raisinghappy.com/the-truth-about-being-a-stay-at-home-dad/

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retirebyforty September 2, 2013 at 12:16 am

Thanks! Being a stay at home dad isn’t easy, but it’s a lot more fun than going to a stressful job everyday. Hope your family is doing well.

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Justin RoG September 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I understand what you mean 100%. I have recently become a stay at home dad to our 16 month old. Luckily for our family, we have managed to accumulate a large enough portfolio of investments to effectively make me retired at age 33. My wife will probably work for a few more years as long as the job remains flexible and the pay and benefits are good.

I struggle with a label – retired? Stay at home dad? In between jobs? Reinventing myself? Career transitioning? Looks like you are doing the same.

Like you, I decided to do a little writing online so I could share my story, and let others know they can do the unconventional with some effort.

I enjoy your site and look forward to more posts as they are highly relevant to where I am in life.

Just curious, did you ever post in the Early Retirement Forums? There was a poster there that had a username similar to retireby40 but I haven’t seen him around in a while.

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retirebyforty September 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

It’s tough to put a label on it. I’m happy though so that’s what matters most.
Good luck with your online writing. I’ll drop by to say hi.
I might have posted a little in Early Retirement forums. Not sure what my handle was. I wasn’t that active there.

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Justin RoG September 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

I think it was someone else on the ER forums that I was thinking of. He was an accountant I recall, and it appears you are/were a computer engineer.

I don’t want to sound like a sycophant, but I really enjoyed reading your blog. It looks nice, and you have some solid content. It is probably the most relevant blog for me in the personal finance/financial independence category based on similarities in my own life:
-stay at home dad, check!
-not extremely frugal like the mustachians or Early retirement extreme (hard to fit in at the latter with a seven figure portfolio), check!
-ties t0 Thailand, check! (well my wife spent her youth there)
-introspective, check!
-like cooking, check!

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retirebyforty September 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Welcome to Retire By 40! :)
Hope you become a regular reader. Good luck with your blog as well.

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Matthew December 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I am currently becoming the SAHD in my relationship because my significant other really wants to work so she can have money. I just graduated college and was expecting to start my career, and be the breadwinner for our family. She doesn’t have a college degree, and is a server that makes decent amount of money.
I am very scared and concerned if her job is going to be enough to keep up with the bills that are all in my name by the way. I have to constantly remind her of each and every bill. On top of that she loves to shop like most women do, but this concerns me as well for our ability to save.
I have looked for ways to make money from home to try and help. Finding something hasn’t been very easy for myself. All I want is for our family to be happy and make sure that my son is being properly cared for as he is going to be a year old this month. Any advise? Or other questions would be greatly appreciated!

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retirebyforty December 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Can you make enough money to pay for full time childcare? In your position, I’d start your career instead of being a SAHD.
It sounds like you’ll be able to get a job with more potential than your wife.
For us, we are somewhat financially secure and we can afford for me to stay at home.
Why do you want to be a SAHD? Maybe you can try it out for a couple of months and see if it is really for you.
Good luck.

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