We’re having a rough week here at the RB40 household. Junior and I are sick again. We kept getting sick this winter and it sucks. Whenever I started to feel better, we’d get sick again a few days later. 😡 I guess this flu season really is worse than usual. To top it off, Mrs. RB40 is out of town on a business trip this week. Luckily, I’m a seasoned stay-at-home-dad now and we’ll survive until she gets back. Today, I’ll go over a few SAHD questions and share a family soup recipe at the end. RB40Jr is home so I can’t write anything serious. Hopefully, he’s well enough to go to school tomorrow.
Are you a Super Dad?
Unfortunately, I am not Super Dad. Before I quit working full time to become a SAHD, I hoped to be one. However, it’s too much for me. What’s a Super Dad? Here goes… The same applies to SAHM, of course.
- Super Dad does all the chores at home. He cooks, cleans, does laundry, washes dishes, fixes the garbage disposal, maintains the car, and keeps the home in tip top shape.
- Super Dad takes care of the kid and enjoys spending time with him. He plays with Junior all day long and loves every minute of it.
- Super Dad has endless patience and never gets mad at the kid.
- He makes sure the family is doing well financially. (I actually did pretty well here.)
- Super Dad volunteers at school, joins the PTA, and has a great network of other stay-at-home parents. He can arrange play dates at any time and pushes the kid to excel at school.
- Superdad also is a Super Hubby. He plans regular date nights and spends quality time with the missus often.
Real life is much more of a compromise. I do about 50% of the chores because Mrs. RB40 has a lower threshold for messiness than I do. Things would eventually get done if she left them all to me, but our home would then look like a bachelor pad. That’s where we are this week while she’s out of town. I’ll clean up a little right before she gets home. I cook dinner every weekday, though.
Being the perfect dad is difficult even when you’re a SAHD. It’s impossible to be patient when you spend all day with an energetic kid. Junior pushes me all day long. The more time I spend with him, the easier it is to get mad at him. I think the toughest time was from 2-4 years old. We spent a ton of time together and we got on each other’s nerves constantly. We get along so much better now that he’s in school from 8 am to 2:15 pm. A little less time together actually improved our relationship. If you’re a SAHD and having a hard time with the kids, you should consider getting a babysitter or something. The time apart really helps.
As for school, I volunteered a few times last school year, but not this year. Our school has a ton of support from other parents and they really don’t need me right now. Maybe I’ll volunteer more next year. I have been spending time at school instead to deal with his hearing impairment issue. His left ear has serious hearing loss and he needs extra support. Fortunately, Junior is doing fine academically. We make sure he reads at least 30 minutes every day.
Lastly, I’m not a Super Hubby either. I’m an adequate husband and we really need to spend more quality time together. We’re going to see The Book of Mormon next week so that should be fun. More date nights would really help.
Anyway, I try my best and we’re making do. I think life will be easier once Mrs. RB40 joins me in early retirement. We’ll all have more time to improve our family life.
What’s the hardest part of being a SAHD?
For me, the most difficult part is keeping my temper. As mentioned above, the more time I spend with my kid, the more often I’d blow up. He just doesn’t listen to instructions very well. I’d tell him to stop what he’s doing and he’d keep doing it. After 3-4 times, I’d get mad and yell at him. I don’t know why he can’t just stop and go do something else for a while. Maybe I’m not being explicit enough. I already yelled at him once this week. Hopefully, that will be it before Mrs. RB40 gets back.
BTW, RB40Jr loves The Goldbergs TV show for some reason.
What are your go to activities to entertain and tire out RB40Jr?
We went to the playground a lot when he was little. He is a very energetic kid and he needs to run around. Now that he’s older, soccer is a really good activity for him. He is in a youth soccer team at school and he enjoys it. The team is only active in spring and fall, though.
Does it ever get so tedious you think, “I could be by the vending machine at work with work buddies planning a happy hour”?
No way, it never got that bad. There were a few occasions that I blew up and needed a time out. I put a DVD in, told him to take care of himself, don’t bother me unless it is an emergency, and went to take a nap. This hasn’t happened since he started school, though.
I never wished I was back at work. That’s probably because I hated my old job so much by the time I left. The last two years at work was a hell of my own making. If work was tolerable, I’d probably missed it once in a while. The recent news about layoffs, hardware bugs, and alleged insider trading made me extra happy that I’m not in that corporate hellhole anymore. The CEO sold all the shares he could after he heard about Meltdown and Spectre bugs. That’s before the public learned about these security issues, of course. $39 million+ dollars, score!
How to find social outlets so you don’t become isolated and depressed?
Hmm… This one is tough because I’m horrible at it. For me, having an online community and a few local friends is enough to get by. Here are my suggestions.
- Join some kind of club. I’m going to join Toastmasters this year. This is primarily to improve my public speaking ability, but it should also help broaden my social circle.
- Connect with your kid’s friends. I made a few local friends through my kid.
- Connect with other SAHDs through social media. Here is the PDX Dads Group on Facebook. I’m sure there are similar groups in other bigger cities.
- Take that dream job. Financial Samurai became a tennis coach at a private school. If you find a dream job, then maybe you should take it.
- Coach a team. You can always volunteer to coach the little league games. We love our kid’s soccer coach and appreciate him very much.
Honestly, I’m horrible at being sociable. If you have any tips for the SAHPs, let me know.
How to mentally be OK with going from primary income earner to secondary or no income earner?
Wow, another tough one. This is all mental and the answer will be different for everyone. For me, I earned more money than my wife did for many years. I think it’s her turn to earn more. Gender equality and all that. Also, we are financially independent now. Our net worth is around 50 times our annual expense so we don’t have to worry too much about money.
Although, having a little income from blogging really helps. It shows that I’m doing something to help our family finance. Going from primary income earner to having no income at all would be harder.
What’s your top 5 favorite activities as someone who FIRE’d and as a stay at home dad?
- Read a new book. I just finished Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch book – Two Kinds of Truth. It was so good!
- Cook good food and try a new recipe.
- Blogging. Luckily, blogging is still fun for me.
- Go to the gym.
- Finding fun weekend activities in the summer. We don’t do much in the long Pacific Northwest winter. Once the weather improves, I’ll find fun weekend activities for our family. We’ll go hiking, swimming, attend some festivals, go to the playground, zoo, etc… I can’t wait.
What’s the secret of harmony at home?
Mrs. RB40 and I have a harmonious home life and we rarely argue. The secret? There are many factors.
- The balance of power is good. This one is hard to articulate. Usually, one person (the man) has more power in a relationship because they make more money and handle the family finances. Today, while Mrs. RB40 makes more, I still run the finances. We both have some power with our finances. Nowadays, I don’t complain about her clothing purchases as much as I used to. She can buy what she wants.
- Our finances are good. We don’t have money problems. I think this one is huge. Life would be much more difficult if we were not comfortable financially.
- I do my best with the chores. I think most guys do very little chores around the house. Even if you do 50% of the chores, you’re way ahead of everybody else.
- I cook on the weekdays and she cooks on the weekends. She doesn’t have to worry about feeding the family on the weekdays after a full day at work. My food is pretty good too so that keeps her happy. The fastest way to a woman’s heart is also through her stomach. Learn to cook the food your wife loves if you don’t know how!
We’re very comfortable with our relationship because we have known each other for over 25 years and have learned to have good conversations with one another. We fought much more often when we were younger.
*See my guide – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. Starting a blog changed my life. It provides some income after retirement and it’s a great way to build a community. Those are the two biggest problems after retirement. It’s a great way to use some of your free time.
Bonus – Pork & Cilantro Meatball Soup Recipe
This super easy recipe is from my grandma. She was from China so this is a Chinese recipe. I’ve never seen anything like this on a restaurant menu, though. This mild broth soup is great for when you’re sick.
- 1 lb. pork*
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- A small knob of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 TB corn starch
- 1 TB Shaoxing rice wine or any cooking wine
- 1 TB sesame oil
- Some cooked rice
- Salt and ground white pepper
- Optional – tofu, carrots, and other soup vegetables
*I use bone in pork chops here, but you can use ground pork or any cut really. The bone from the pork chop is used in the soup base.
1. Make the soup base. Put about 4 quarts of water in a big pot and bring it to a boil. Peel the garlic and ginger and add it in the soup. Cut off 2 inches of the cilantro stems and put that in the pot. Once the water is boiling, I add the bones from my pork chops. Skim the scum off and reduce the heat to simmer. If you don’t have bones, then add a little chicken bouillon.
2. Make the meatballs. Ground the pork in a food processor. Mince the cilantro. Put pork and cilantro in a big bowl. Add corn starch, rice wine, sesame oil, a little salt and pepper, and mix well. Let it marinate for 20-30 minutes.
3. Strain the soup or just use a slotted spoon to fish out the bones and cilantro stems. Bring the soup back to boil and spoon in the pork mix. I prefer about half to one tablespoon for a meatball. They don’t have to be round. Bring the heat down to simmer and let the pork cook for about 5 minutes. Skim off any scum and the soup is done.
4. Spoon some cooked rice into a bowl and ladle the soup on top. Season with plenty of ground white pepper and a little salt. I use fish sauce instead of salt.
5. Optional – You can add tofu, carrots, and other soup vegetables.
Try it when you’re sick next time. On second thought, try it before you get sick. You don’t want to mess around with a new recipe when you’re sick. Enjoy!
What’s your go to sick day recipe?
Image credit – Superdad by Dreamer
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.