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Stay-At-Home-Parents Need a Little Break Too

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Stay at home parents need a little break tooI just realized that I haven’t given an update on my stay at home dad situation in a while so here goes. In September, we tried to send RB40 Jr. to preschool, but it didn’t work out so well. Basically, he cried until he fell asleep every day. After 4 days, the preschool said they couldn’t deal with him. It’s not a daycare and they can’t have kids sleeping there. I was pretty disappointed because I felt like they didn’t try hard enough. I think if we kept trying, Jr. would have gotten used to the teachers and the environment. Oh well…

The real problem is that the kid is super attached to his dad. We need to work on this issue over the next year so we’ll be ready for preschool next September. He will be older, too, so I think we will have a lot less trouble next time.

Babysitter

One recommendation the preschool gave was to get a babysitter so he’ll be able to handle strangers better. He has never been left alone with strangers before, and going to school was a rough transition for him.

Earlier this year, my mom came to stay with us to help out and he was fine being alone with her after an adjustment period. I was able to go to the library or a coffee shop to blog for 2-3 hours per day and that was perfect. She went back to Thailand last month though so it’s been back to blogging at midnight. I can’t do serious writing when he’s around because he’ll constantly interrupt and wants me to pay attention to him.

So now we are looking for a babysitter to come by 2-3 hours in the afternoon for about 3 days/week. This would be ideal, but it seems most babysitters want to work in the evenings. We live near a university so maybe we can find a student who has some free time in her schedule.

Gym

Another option is to join a gym with a childcare facility. There is a 24 Hour Fitness nearby that fits the bill. Actually, I really need to join a gym and get back into shape. When I was working, I went to the gym at lunch almost every day. It gave me a chance to unwind and get away from the office for a bit. After I left my engineering career behind, I thought I’d be able to stay somewhat in shape by running around with the little guy, but that was delusional. I couldn’t stick with my bodyweight exercise program at all. At least my weight is stable, but I’m definitely getting more flabby.

A gym would cost around $30/month for membership and $5/day for childcare (2 hours max). That’s pretty darn cheap compare to a daycare. I think we can perhaps go 3 times per week once RB40 Jr. can handle being with other people.

3 Day Free Gym Membership Trial for 24Hour Fitness. Click Here

stay at home dad mom needs a break tooDaycare/Preschool

Of course, another preschool or daycare would be a good option, too. Daycare probably would be too expensive though. Part time daycare here costs around $1,000/month and our budget is only $500/month tops.

Another problem with the preschool we tried was the fact that they are pretty structured. They have circle time at 9, art activity at 10, story at 10:30, strict table manner, etc., which Mrs. RB40 loved.  But a less structured system will probably be a better fit for our unstructured kid. Actually, I just got a line on a preschool that might work better for RB40 Jr. This one is only 2.5 hours long and they just play which seems more appropriate for a 2 and a half-year-old. We’ll go check it out and see if it will work out for us.

Odd Hours

Anyway, like I mentioned, it’s back to blogging at midnight. I used to do this before my mom came to help so I’m sure I can get back into the groove again. Being able to work a few hours in the afternoon was so great though.

Any tips on how to fix the attachment issue? If you’re a mom/dad blogger (or work from home), do you have extra help come in? 

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{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Holly@ClubThrifty November 6, 2013, 5:35 am

    My kids have always gone to daycare so they don’t know any different. Now that I work from home, they still go to daycare…mainly because I couldn’t get anything done if they were here. I think the gym idea is a good one since it would probably just be for an hour at a time and it might not overwhelm him! =)

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:36 am

      I like being a stay at home dad, but we need to foster some independent. He needs to go to school and socialize with other kids.
      I like the gym idea too. We can start with 1 hour and then move up to 2 hours later. I can work out for 1 hour and then blog for an hour, then pick him up.

  • Insourcelife November 6, 2013, 6:11 am

    Gym sounds like a great option – great for you and good for the kid to get used to being around unfamiliar people. Relatively cheap as well! Ours is in daycare 4 days a week and seems to be doing great there. So far we had no issues with leaving him with grandmas, sister and niece. Once we have our second my wife will probably stay home with the kids so no daycare. At that point we’ll need to figure out how to get them to socialize with others and give my wife a break once in a while!

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:37 am

      I’m sure you can find some friends and schedule a playdate or something like that. It’s harder for a dad, it’s hard to arrange things with the moms. I’m just no good at that sort of thing.

  • Done by Forty November 6, 2013, 6:16 am

    I work from home currently, but don’t have any kids yet. My favorite of the ideas you put out there was the gym. It doesn’t solve the blogging problem (unless you can somehow write or record your thoughts while you’re on the exercise bike), but it seems to be one of the solutions that gets two birds with one stone.

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:39 am

      Well, I can workout for an hour, then go blog in the cafe for an hour. That would work pretty well if the childcare can handle him.

  • Thirty something November 6, 2013, 6:21 am

    We have had luck taking our children to church. They spend 45 minutes per week with other kids and 2-3 adults we know. Cost is free and the time is semi structured, but short. All 3 kids went to school easily and seemed better with following instructions from other adults than most of their classmates. We also trade babysitting with a few other couples, so the kids can play and learn that different families have different rules.

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:40 am

      That’s a great option too. I don’t think we have anything in our area though. I’ll have to ask around.

  • Pretired Nick November 6, 2013, 6:51 am

    We’re bringing in a nanny one day a week so I can get something else done. During the school year we had a neighbor girl watch him in the afternoons. That was great because it was cheap and I could be there if something happened, but I could focus on other things while she watched him.
    Can you find someone in your building to help out in the afternoons? Or check out Sittercity and find a helper.
    Totally agree we need breaks — and not just so we can work on other stuff.

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:41 am

      How much does that cost? Nanny always sound expensive. I don’t think we have anyone in our building. I’ll put a wanted ad in the laundry room and see if there are any response.

      • Pretired Nick November 7, 2013, 6:09 am

        It’s like $15/hour — so very expensive, but probably cheaper than the preschool.

      • Jessica February 13, 2014, 7:49 pm

        It really depends on your location, number and age of children and experience of the Nanny.

        You can go here ReliableSitters.org click on ‘Babysitting Rates’ on the right hand side, and look for the city nearest your location for the average rates in your area.

  • Retire Before Dad November 6, 2013, 7:00 am

    RB40,

    Care.com is another resource. My son is almost 2 and can be difficult, especially with other kids his age. He is uncomfortable around them. We are planning to start pre-school at 2.5 years old. I never thought they would send him home if he cried, so I feel for you on that.. My wife and I are trying more play dates at home, instead of at church or elsewhere. He is more comfortable there, and we are hoping he gets used to other kids that way. So when he starts pre-school he won’t tantrum.

    -RBD

  • aB November 6, 2013, 7:08 am

    For daycare, you have to stick it out. Our little guy cried for 2 weeks before he would be able to go in without crying. But it is also you have to be able to walk out while hearing him cry..

    Then we found out for that second week, he would cry until I was out of sight then he was fine.

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:43 am

      I can walkout. 🙂 We’ll try again soon and see how it goes. The next preschool needs to be able to handle a crying kid.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor November 6, 2013, 8:22 am

    Joe, when do you sleep? 🙂

    I really enjoy your RB40 Jr. updates. Sounds like you have some great ideas for getting the little guy comfortable with hanging around new people without you for a few hours. He is young–he’ll get there. And when he’s 16 and you never see him, you’ll be thinking nostalgically of these days!

    • retirebyforty November 6, 2013, 9:44 am

      Heh heh, I’m sure you’re right. I’m not getting my 8 hours of beauty sleep, that’s for sure.

  • Mom @ Three is Plenty November 6, 2013, 10:05 am

    I’ve been leaving Daughter Person with others literally since the day she was born, so she just got used to it, but here’s what I’d do:

    Try bringing a “stranger” to take care of him at your house for a few hours during the day (babysitter, neighbor, nanny, whatever). He’s in “his” territory, so it’s not so bad for him. He’ll get used to another person – and once he’s used to them, try to find other people that will watch him for 1-2 hours randomly (date night, etc). He’ll slowly get used to other folks watching over him. Meanwhile, you need to make yourself scarce – close your door and try not to come out until his time is over.

    Then you can take him to other outside the house options: the gym, drop-in playdates – we have a few indoor playgrounds that you can drop kids off for an hour while you hang out in the cafe. Just do it slowly and he’ll get used to it – also, if it’s specifically “dad” that he wants, try to have MrsRB40 take care of him while you leave the house in the evening. Good Luck!

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:04 am

      Having a babysitter over will probably be most helpful for the transition to preschool. He can get used to other people.
      I’ll try the indoor playground this winter. Thanks!

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply November 6, 2013, 10:42 am

    So true! When my wife went back to work, I’ve been taking 2 days off a week to watch the baby. The other days my parents watch him. Starting soon, my MIL will be able to help out as well. I thought my 2 days off would consist of some father and son play time, diaper changes, feeding and the rest ME time. Well I was obviously wrong…little ones need so much attention. I don’t know how to deal with attachment as my son is too young…he’ll let anyone hold him. As long as you hold him, because if you put him down…a tantrum ensues!

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:05 am

      Yeah, there is no ME time when you’re at home with the little guy. FYI, it gets a lot more interesting when he starts walking. 🙂

  • Sarah November 6, 2013, 11:07 am

    I totally agree with finding someone to come in. Even just for an hour in the evening with you and your wife going on a walk would be good. Or, start with someone coming in while you are there just to play with your son. Like a mother’s helper.

    Our son screamed in the church nursery at the age of 6 months. We hired the nursery gal to come to our house every other Saturday night for a few years so we could have a break. After a couple weeks, he quit screaming in the nursery as he knew the gal. She was our life saver.

    The same son had the same issue at preschool as a 2 year old. He would hug my neck tight and when I got to the door, I would hand him off to one of the teachers. Maybe if you could find a less structured preschool or daycare, you could find an adult who will work with you to give your son time to adjust.

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:07 am

      Thanks for the tips. He can adjust, but it just takes a long time. He got used to my mom. We’ll try another preschool soon.

  • Justin @ RootofGood November 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

    I don’t have anyone come over to watch the little guy, but I have both sides of my family nearby so I can always get a babysitter when necessary.

    I put RootofGood Jr. down for a nap and get in a couple hours of quiet time each afternoon. And we have a 7 and 8 year old that keep him entertained in the evenings, so I might squeeze in some more time at that point. It’s a challenge to find quality undisturbed writing time though.

    One suggestion – find trustworth friends that have children. Kid swap with them occasionally. Get RB40 Jr comfortable hanging out with them, then try ditching him. Return the favor. I’m sure other moms and dads (honestly, mostly moms) are in the situation of needing a few hours of peace and quiet away from their little one(s) during the day.

    Good place to meet other parents with little ones – playgrounds, neighborhood/community activities, library toddler reading time, facebook parenting groups.

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:08 am

      It’s great to have family nearby. Our extended family is too far away so that’s tough.
      My friends had kids when they were younger and they all go to school now. I met some moms, but it’s hard to schedule playdates with them…

  • payitoff November 6, 2013, 2:30 pm

    how about these options:
    1. YMCA – theres lots of kids classes there that’s already included with the member fee (family membership $74/mo), plus adults can workout and you have the option to leave him at the activity room for 2 hours max for FREE. Sign him up for anything that interests him lately, like arts&crafts, tumbling class, world of sports, a lot! plus swimming or karate (extra about $36/mo.)

    2. gymboree – membership fee with lots of exercises with kids , plus classes with parents

    3. indoor playgrounds – let him play with other kids, while you work or watch, they charge per hour or per day

    or any independent classes – just put him in a class that interests him, if he loves music, sign him up for that, have him bang some drums with kids and hell forget about being around with strangers. Good luck!

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:09 am

      There is a YWCA nearby. I’ll drop by and check it out. Thanks for the tips.

  • Anon November 6, 2013, 2:57 pm

    I find it odd your preschool just kicked him out like that. That’s totally normal behavior for most kids starting preschool for the first time. When I left my daughter there she did the same thing and they assigned a teacher to hold her and she eventually formed a bond with that teacher and then loved all of them. She didn’t want to go home until she turned 5 and found nap time too boring.

    I had almost moved to Portland at one time and remember there were quite a few cooperative preschools there. They want a certain amount of time helping in exchange for lower tuition. I think it was only like 4 hours a week or two weeks or something like that. I remember I one I looked at (and got recommended to me) in SE Portland was about $400/month about 3 years ago. Maybe that will help ease the transition? You there while your son warms up to the other adults there?

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:11 am

      Yeah, it was a very small preschool with 2-3 teachers. They just can’t handle disruptive kids.
      I already signed up for a coop preschool next year. I think that will work out better for us.

  • Flamey Gibb November 6, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Hello Rb40,

    Next time little RB40 starts school, try to offer to volunteer in his classroom for the first month each day, then back it off to volunteering 4x a week, then 3x a week and then 2x a week and then 1x… in about 2 and 1/2 months he will adjust and if the preschool is worth their salt, they will thank you for your time!

    Although my brother had no attachment problems with my niece (she had her grandma take her to the park where my mom and all the other kids nannies met up), my brother volunteered for her school 1x a week to show support to the school. He is a stay at home working dad too. Good luck friend, this too shall pass before you know it, and you will be so glad that you put in the time and effort your child needed. You are a great dad and a lucky man!

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:12 am

      That’s a great idea. I will try that if the pull off the band-aid method doesn’t work.
      Thanks a bunch.

  • Micro November 6, 2013, 5:33 pm

    I remember the one summer for an internship, I was living with my Aunt and Uncle. Over dinner, my Aunt was talking to my Uncle about putting their son into day care. The reason basically boiled down to he was starting to become clingy and she refused to raise a clingy child. She figured is she got him around other kids early, she could nip it in the butt.

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:13 am

      Our guy is very clingy… I don’t know if that’s good or bad in the long run. He’ll grow up before we know it. I’m sure he’ll be coming home at midnight soon enough.

  • Laura November 6, 2013, 6:51 pm

    Well, I haven’t seen it written yet so I’m gonna put it out there. Kids grow out of it so try to enjoy it while you can. I hate it when people tell me this in response to the various complaints that come up (not staying in bed, not eating, resisting potty training, etc) but it’s good he’s attached to someone and in a few years you might miss it in some ways.
    That said, we have a little play group co-op nearby and we also chose a preschool that does two days for 2 hours for two year olds and I noticed it was an adjustment for a couple of the kids but they seem fine now after a couple months. The gym idea’s good. We’ve also always had a nanny but not sure that’s not really like being in a group situation.
    I go back and forth on the whole “attachment parenting” concept. On the one hand, parents desperately need to carve out some time and space for themselves in this alternative universe of age 0-5 where kids need you so much. But on the other hand, in this country esp it’s very easy to lose your kids to the culture. Staying close is something that is built early on, not when they become teenagers and you wonder how things got out of control. Keep in mind that at this age they change so much every month or two. In six months you may be dealing with some very different problems. I found it helpful to post major child dev stages to refer to.

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:15 am

      I am enjoying it, but I need a couple of hours to myself too. 🙂
      Thanks fro the reminder. It’s already tough to admit that he’s not a baby anymore. He is turning into a little boy before our eyes.

  • jp @cashsnail November 7, 2013, 12:07 am

    I’m taking care of my daughter at home every Monday, she’s going to daycare the rest of the week (she’s 20 months). And every time it remind me that stay at home parents are super heroes.
    You could try also to arrange play date with other parents around. It’s a nice way to have the little one getting used to others kids plus it will give you some time every now & then to blog.

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:16 am

      I tried to arrange playdates, but it just didn’t work out. I guess moms don’t really want to hang out with creepy dad bloggers. Maybe I should shave a bit more often and clean up a bit…

  • C. the Romanian November 7, 2013, 12:09 am

    Baby Romanian is still very young, but I am also worried with him getting overly attached to us: in our case, both my wife and I work from home (even though wifey is taking care of the baby full time) so he will really get used to spending a lot of time with us. I think that having a babysitter is a great idea, and I would also consider giving him a few hours per day at the neighbors’ house or having their kids over. Of course, this means that they should have similarly aged kids, but it would probably take his mind away from spending all his time at home and/or with parents only.

  • Little House November 7, 2013, 7:00 am

    Remember, RB40 Jr. is only 2 and a half, cut him some slack! 😉 But it does sound like the other preschool might be a better fit; less structure, more play, fewer hours. And it sounds like you need a break. I’d give them a try for a week (maybe the first week start his “away time” incrementally – 45 minutes one day, 1 hour the next, and so on) and that in and of itself will loosen the attachment issue. Good luck!

    • retirebyforty November 7, 2013, 9:17 am

      Thanks! We’ll try our best.

  • dojo November 7, 2013, 8:04 am

    Having the kid get used to the presence of others is indeed a great thing. The babysitter seems like a great idea, she can clearly show him that he doesn’t need the parents all the time and that being near ‘strangers’ is not an issue. I’m sure the age will also play a role, when you’re getting back to school with him.

  • Mike November 7, 2013, 2:24 pm

    Have you tried using a church or other religious institution? I know some of the churches in my hometown offer some sort of daycare/childcare services during the week for parents.

  • Survive The Valley November 7, 2013, 9:35 pm

    Oh man. As a pretty attached kid myself, my wife and I made it a point to make sure our daughter would grow up to be pretty independent and unattached to us. The way we did it was when she was still an infant was by sleep training her, not picking her up all the time when she cried, and allowing her to develop her own independence by letting her figure things out for herself even if she got frustrated and cried. She’s 26 months now and I think our strategy has paid handsome dividends. At times we feel that she has become TOO independent – she’ll go into a dark closet and play by herself, she’s totally cool hanging out with her teachers at daycare (sometimes we’re a bit sad to see how indifferent she is when we go and pick her up after work), etc.

    Anyway, for the new parents out there, I highly recommend sleep training your child and sticking to a set schedule as much as you can… hey, it’s allowing me to to go on blogs and write comments at 9:33pm =)

    If interested, I wrote a piece about my experience at http://survivethevalley.com/2013/10/14/2-things-new-parents-5ss-sleep-training/.

    • retirebyforty November 8, 2013, 8:52 am

      Thanks for your input. I’ll head over now. Our guy is not independent at all. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it soon though.

  • Karl Nilsson / Happygains November 8, 2013, 4:44 am

    Wow, this makes me appreciate living in Sweden even more. We have (almost) free universal daycare. The gym-idea sounds like a good plan, though. Exercise is vital!

    • retirebyforty November 8, 2013, 1:57 pm

      The US is way behind Europe when it comes to childcare. I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon either.

  • nicoleandmaggie November 8, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Structured preschool probably isn’t going to be a bad thing, even for an unstructured kid, but transitions can be hard for any kid.

    What we do when we start or change daycares is to go with our kid the first few days, playing it by ear. So the first day we’ll go with the kid for a couple hours. The next day (or a few days later, depending on how well the first day worked out) we’ll go for an hour and then leave the kid for a little bit and then come back, then play it by ear from there until the kid is going full time on his or her own. Something that is really important is for the child to get used to the individual childcare providers and for him or her to trust the people in charge even when you’re not there.

    I’m surprised that the preschool just kicked your kid out instead of recommending that you stay with him for a little while. I also don’t know that having a babysitter is going to help much unless that exact same babysitter is someone who works at the preschool. Being left with strangers is scary no matter how many times you’re left with someone you know and trust. Being left with someone you know is not as scary.

    • retirebyforty November 8, 2013, 2:12 pm

      I did stayed with him for a couple of days. He was fine when I’m there, but had a meltdown right after I leave.
      We’ll try a new preschool and see if it’s a better fit. I definitely could stay for a few days to help out.
      Thanks for your advice.

      • Nicoleandmaggie November 9, 2013, 4:51 am

        Sounds like he both needs more time than 2 days to get used to the teachers and he needed to get used to you coming back.

        • retirebyforty November 9, 2013, 1:40 pm

          I think you’re right. He just needs to be assured that I will be back to get him. We’ll try again.

  • nicoleandmaggie November 8, 2013, 1:31 pm

    p.s. If you decide to go the mother’s helper (or in this case, father’s helper) route, here’s the questions we had:
    http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/interview-questions-for-potential-mothers-helpers/ though obviously it’s geared towards babies rather than two and a half year olds.

  • Tushar @ Everything Finance November 12, 2013, 5:15 pm

    Sounds like a tough situation. I have never been at stay at home parent, so I’m not familiar with the struggle but I imagine it is hard to get work done when you have a little one taking your attention all day. Babysitters are hard to find during the day, but one will come along!

    • retirebyforty November 13, 2013, 8:59 am

      It’s getting better now. Previously he never want to be alone even for a minute. Now he can play by himself a little more.

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