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Being a Stay-At-Home Dad Is Easy

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Being a Stay-At-Home Dad Is EasyI’m going to catch hell for this one, but being a stay-at-home dad is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Some people say I’m not really retired because being a stay at home parent is hard. Other stay at home parents don’t call themselves retired, right? Well, I gotta say, being a stay at home dad is a lot closer to retirement than working full time. I have been a stay at home dad for 6 years and it got a ton easier over time. The amount of work is directly correlated to the age and number of the kids. It also depends on the children too, of course. Some kids are harder to manage than others. We have one son who is behaving better and better so we are already over the hump. For me, being a stay at home dad is way easier than working full time.

Which is more difficult, SAHD or work full time?

I did a quick Twitter poll yesterday and here is the result.

SAHD twitter poll

Interestingly, it looks like a lot of people think being a stay at home parent is more difficult than working full time. I wonder if most of the votes are from working people who had to be home occasionally. If you’re not used to being at home with the kids all day, it can be a big shock. Little kids need constant attention and you don’t have any time to yourself. It’s exhausting. However, that is just a phase. Once they are a bit older, they don’t need 100% of your attention anymore. Our son is at this point now. He still needs attention, but I can send him off to read or watch TV if I really need a break. Life is good now.

Current SAHD duty

RB40Jr is 7 years old and he is finishing up first grade. My SAHD life improved tremendously once he started kindergarten. Here is my typical day.

SAHD schedule

I love my unglamorous SAHD lifestyle. It really isn’t that much work anymore because RB40Jr goes to school full time. This is way less work than when I was an engineer. Back then, I had to work full time and be a dad. I think most people voted for SAHD because they’re thinking of the period before kids start kindergarten. That period was more difficult, but still easier than full time work for me. Let’s rewind a bit.

Birth to 18 months old

RB40JrMrs. RB40 and I both took time off when our son was born. I took 11 weeks off to try being a stay-at-home dad. Mrs. RB40 had 3 months maternity leave. Mrs. RB40’s parents also came up to help. We overlapped our time off and RB40Jr was home for 6 months. The daycare didn’t take babies under 6 months anyway.

This was a rough period because a baby is a huge disruptor to your regular life. There was a big learning curve and we didn’t get much sleep. Those first 6 months were very challenging, but we loved it. It was a huge luxury to spend time at home as a new family. RB40Jr was a super cute baby. We sent him to a nice daycare when he was 6 months old.

All of us disliked daycare. It sucked because we didn’t get to spend any time with our son. We dropped him off at 7 am and picked him up at 6 pm. He’d be awake for a little while and fall asleep quickly after a meal. RB40Jr didn’t sleep through the night for a long time so we never got a good nights rest. Anyway, we didn’t like other people raising our son.

This period was way more difficult than now. I think the learning curve was the big issue. It’s like going from high school to college. The level of difficulty increased so quickly and it was tough to adjust. We got used to functioning with minimal sleep and got through this period somehow.

18 months to 2 years old – Full time SAHD

SAHD 2 years oldThis is when I retired from my engineering career and became a SAHD. RB40Jr was 18 months old and it was perfect timing. He was still young and he didn’t cause much trouble. That summer, he already walked very well and we had a great time exploring the city. I think 18 months to 2 years old is the best time to be a stay at home parent. Kids are still very cute and they are not very rebellious at that age. After 2, they talk back a lot more.

During this time, being a stay at home dad involved many tedious tasks. I had to change diapers, clean up messes, feed the kid, lug a big bag around whenever we went out, and all kind of little things. RB40Jr also needed 100% attention from me when he was awake. This meant I had to blog after he fell asleep at night. This period was tough because I didn’t have any time to myself. I had to wait until Mrs. RB40 got home to hand him off. It was still easier than working full time. I think the difficulty was between working half time and full time.

Here is a fun post from when he was 2 years old and touched dog poop.

2 to 5 years old – preschool years

When he turned 2, we got him off the diapers and tried to send him to a preschool. He was so attached to me at that point and the first preschool was a no go. He cried until he fell asleep during that first week. The preschool kicked him out because they couldn’t handle it. RB40Jr was only about 2 and a half when we tried that preschool.

It all turned out okay, though. We found another preschool nearby a few months later. He had a rough first day, but he adjusted. This preschool was at a community center and the cost was very reasonable. We stayed here mostly until RB40Jr was old enough to go to kindergarten.

  • 2 years old – 2 days of school from 9 am to 1 pm.
  • 3 years old – 3 half days.
  • 4 years old – 4 half days.

SAHD cookingThis period got easier gradually as he went to school more. There are fewer tasks to deal with as he got older. Getting off the bottle and diaper were awesome. This made it much easier to go out. I did not have to pack a huge bag whenever we went out anymore. However, a different aspect got much more difficult. Our son developed a rebellious streak and we butted heads all the time. There were a lot of meltdowns, arguments, and general unpleasantness. I already forgot why we fought so much, but it was a tough stretch. I think it was mainly trying to get him to do what I wanted that was so frustrating. At least, I got a little break whenever he went off to preschool. There were some disciplinary problems at preschool too. He was quick to hit other kids and punched a teacher in the crotch once. You gotta watch yourself around these little kids. Warning: Don’t go to YouTube to look up crotch punch. You’re going to waste a ton of time and laugh too loud at work. 😀

This period was a little more difficult. While there were fewer tasks to deal with, it was harder emotionally. It’s frustrating to deal with kids this age, as I’m sure most parents can attest. Being a SAHD during this period was still less difficult than working full time because it got progressively easier as the preschool time increased.

Kindergarten and full time school

Thanks God for full time kindergarten. Life got so much easier at that point. My schedule improved a ton and I had time to exercise and blog more. RB40Jr continued to have some behavior problems, but he improved over time with a lot of diligent help. Let’s just say he got to know the principal, the nurse, the counselors, and the office staff very well that first year. It became much better in first grade. He rarely gets in trouble now. He is also a lot more reasonable and can follow instructions much better. I haven’t been mad at him in a long time. So stay-at-home parents with little kids, hang in there! It will get a lot easier once they go to school full time.

SAHD problems

There were periods where I got really frustrated with RB40Jr, but I had similar issues at work too. The SAHD workload is much less and way easier than engineering. Also, I didn’t have a lot of problems like many other stay-at-home parents.

Isolation – This wasn’t a big problem for me because I’m an introvert. Blogging was my outlet and I have an online community to vent to. That was enough. I also became friends with a few moms so RB40Jr occasionally had play dates.

Chores – Before I became a SAHD, the cooking duty was about 50/50. Once I was a SAHD, I took over cooking on the weekdays and it worked out well. That’s probably the biggest household chore I took on. I do the other chores minimally and that’s good enough. Our home is far from sparkling clean and we can live with it. Mrs. RB40 occasionally goes on a deep cleaning spree.

Mental stimulation – This is another common complaint. When you’re a stay-at-home parent, you mostly interact with kids. There isn’t a lot of mental stimulation. Retire by 40 came to the rescue for me again. I keep busy and mentally stimulated by blogging about personal finance. It’s not technical like engineering, but it’s helped a lot and besides, I have to do a lot of research, too.

Depression – This wasn’t a problem for me when I was a SAHD. Depression was a much bigger problem when I was working in a job I disliked. I had bouts of frustrations occasionally, but I recovered quickly from those. I know postpartum depression is a problem for many stay-at-home parents. If you feel down, talk to your doctor and get some help.

No time off – When you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re on duty 24/7. This was a tough one and I struggled with it too. It got better over time as you can see. We only have one child so I had it easy.

Okay, I’d better wrap it up. This post went on a little too long. For me, being a stay-at-home dad was easier than working full time. Now that RB40Jr goes to school full time, it is way easier. This is as close to retirement as you can get. It is not more difficult than working full time, or even half time. I’d probably be bored if I didn’t have Retire by 40.

Now, it’s your turn. Let me know what you think. Is being a stay-at-home parent more difficult than working full time? It’s different for everyone so don’t feel bad if it’s more difficult for you.

Bonus joke from RB40Jr

What does one volcano say to another volcano?

I lava you.

Hilarious! 🙂

Starting a blog is a great way to build your brand and generate some extra income. You can see my tutorial – How to Start A Blog and Why You Should. Check it out if you’re thinking about blogging. 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

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.
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{ 81 comments… add one }
  • Joe May 24, 2018, 1:07 am

    I worked full-time in engineering, then early retired while single, and now have been raising one child for the past 5 years as a SAHD with minimal help. Being a SAHD is way easier than working, but I can see that it really depends on situation. I started my kid in daycare at 2 1/2 yrs old, so that was a big help. I have a lot more chores than the ones you listed though, e.g. I have four rental properties, a ton of investments to manage, and we do quite a bit more traveling so that there are always a lot of backed up issues to take care of. I’m still working on my tax forms! I generally can’t finish all my chores before having to pick up the kid from daycare.

    Another big factor is how much time you spend keeping the kid company. Kids can watch TV or iPad for hours on end but I tried to limit her screen time for the most part. She didn’t get any screen time until about 4 yrs old, so it took a lot of time and effort to keep her entertained – coming up with activities to keep her interest, teaching her games, taking her outside, or arranging playdates. At 5 she knows how to ski, is bilingual, and has gone on months-long international trips and road trips.

    The kid’s personality/health is also a really big factor. It’s a lot more work if they are prone to tantrums, frequently sick or have some developmental issues.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:11 am

      I have 3 units for rent. They aren’t that much work and I usually save it for Sunday. Last Sunday, I just went to install 2 new blinds. I’m not the greatest dad with chores. I try, but there are some overflow to the weekend. Mrs. RB40 also do chores. It’s not all up to me. My standard of cleanliness is less…
      We used to do more activities when our son was home all day. We went to parks, library, and do various activities around town. It’ll be like that this summer when he’s out of school. On a normal school day, he has done plenty already so he just want to rest.

    • David @ VapeHabitat July 21, 2018, 11:04 am

      Being a young dad is the hardest thing ever! I tried it twice. Loved it but don’t want to do it again

  • Accidental FIRE May 24, 2018, 2:18 am

    Haha, such an awesome post Joe! That pic of your son with his arms up, it looks like he just scored the winning goal in the World Cup!

    I don’t have kids so I can’t speak for this from an expertise perspective, but you sure lay out a good argument. Great stuff!

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:12 am

      Kids are a lot of work when they’re little. It’s a lot better now. Someday we’ll be kidfree again. 🙂

  • Janet May 24, 2018, 2:24 am

    I’ve never been a stay at home parent but I imagine it is actually a lot harder than working in a corporation. When you work in a corporation, you know exactly (more or less) what your duties are and they’re pretty cyclical (depending on your field, of course).

    But when it comes to childcare, I feel like everyday is new. And as the child grows, the pains seem to grow with you. More tasks, the kid becomes more rebellious. All that jazz. Sleep troubles. Cooking. Oh gosh, I get stressed just thinking about it. I dream of being a stay at home mom one day but i think I’ll hire a nanny to take care of the real work. Haha! A girl can dream right 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:13 am

      It really depends on the job and your attitude. If you enjoy your job, then I can see staying at home would be more difficult. I disliked my job at the end so it was a huge relief to be a SAHD. A nanny would be very helpful. 🙂

  • Mr. Tako May 24, 2018, 2:54 am

    Maybe it’s because I’ve got two kids, but I’m going to respectfully disagree here Joe. Being a stay at home parent is WAY harder than any job I’ve ever held.

    Probably because a job ends at 5 or 6pm. Being a stay at home parent never stops. You’re always on 24/7 and it’s exhausting. I can’t even sleep properly anymore because I’m so used to waking up in the middle of the night.

    Oh well, maybe I’m just in the thick of it! Thanks for sharing this great post none-the-less Joe!

    • Chris Urbaniak @ deliberatechange.ca May 24, 2018, 4:06 am

      I think it really depends on your personality and interests. I have coworkers who look forward to coming to work to get away from their kids!

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:15 am

      I think 2 kids would be a lot harder too. The sleep schedule is all messed up. Our son stopped napping very early (2) so that was good.
      It’ll be a lot better very soon. Hang in there!

    • PapaFishSaves May 24, 2018, 2:19 pm

      I’m with Mr. Tako on this one. I’m a SAHD of a two year old and a 4mo old. It’s harder than any job I’ve ever had, that includes desk jobs and labor jobs!
      The addition of the second child is way more work than I had imagined. There is no down time, no coffee break, no lunch break.
      That being said it’s a job I’d never give up. It is so much more fulfilling than anything I’ve ever done!

  • MUSTARD SEED MONEY May 24, 2018, 3:08 am

    I’m on vacation with my wife and two kids right now. Being a stay at home dad would be incredibly difficult in my opinion. My kiddos are in the stage where they don’t go to preschool right now, so there are no breaks at all. So I’d say being a stay at home day would be waaaaaaay more difficult.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:16 am

      Have a great vacation! At that point, it was pretty tough. Little kids don’t give you anytime off. It’s probably much more difficult with more than one kid. There were days when I got very frustrated and can’t wait for Mrs. RB40 to get home.

  • Chris Urbaniak @ deliberatechange.ca May 24, 2018, 4:04 am

    Good morning Joe,

    That’s a great schedule table you shared. You can clearly see that if you were working full-time, that would only start to get “your time” around 8pm. I need more sleep than you, so my “two hours” ends around 10pm when I start to get ready for bed.

    I agree with you on daycare. We are fortunate enough, like you, to have one stay-at-home parent (my wife). It makes such a huge positive impact to our overall family’s health, stress, and enjoyment! This is the first year that both kids are in school full-time, so my wife’s schedule actually resembles yours quite closely. (Just swap out blogging for freelance graphic design.)

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:49 am

      Right. Working full time and being a dad was more difficult for me. I really need more sleep. 11 pm bedtime would be ideal. 🙂
      It sounds like the SAHM situation improved quite a bit this year. Glad to hear your experience is similar to mine.

  • Sara May 24, 2018, 4:17 am

    I agree it’s easier once the kids are in school, and the longer/more frequent the school day the easier it is. But wouldn’t it be easier to do a full time job as well if you hired someone to do a chunk of it?

    That being said, being a SAHP has much longer hours than a full time job. Also, I find a lot of things my spouse could do I end up doing because I’m not bringing in income and have more time, so his life is much easier with me home. Sometimes I pressure myself that I should get a job because society seems to value income earning work much higher than what I do, but I know that we’d lose a lot of flexibility and gain a lot of stress and it wouldn’t be worth it for the amount of money I’d make.

    In the past I’ve said of parenting that it’s not really that hard, it’s the hours that kill you.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:50 am

      I think moms has higher standard and put a lot of pressure on themselves to do more. I let some stuff slide. Most weeks, Mrs. RB40 does the laundry on the weekend. Although, I’ll do a load today. 🙂

  • Lily | The Frugal Gene May 24, 2018, 4:18 am

    I didn’t vote/see in that poll because I was missing a large lump of the data…all I have are doggies which is a baby with lots and lots of training wheels :). For me it depends on the age of the child but a lot of people who career climb also get themselves into better situations/have more freedom and stability that make work more appealing. If I was dealing with a 13 year old grumpy teenager or 5 month old banshee… I would choose work. ASAP.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:52 am

      I’m not looking forward to the grumpy teenager phase at all. Our son is so happy right now. I hope he stays a happy go lucky kid.

  • Half Life Theory May 24, 2018, 4:33 am

    I’m right about at that kindergarten age right now, so i probably wouldn’t mind it one bit… I think. Just having that option i think is awesome, and you clearly worked your butt off to get to this point, to have this level of flexibility.

    Sounds like the good life Joe ;). Meanwhile i’m about to get my daughter ready for school, as i prepare to battle my 30-45 minute commute to the ole hamster wheel LOL.

    Wait that sounded kind of ungrateful haha. Nice post!

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:55 am

      Ugh. I hate rush hour traffic. 🙁
      Thanks for the compliment.

  • [email protected] May 24, 2018, 4:34 am

    JR is older than both of my boys. I’m glad to hear that it gets easier with age though. We have one in the “talks back” phase and another in the baby phase. I love them. I miss them when I’m at work. But I’m quick to acknowledge that my wife’s job as a stay at home mom is much more difficult than mine right now. At this moment, I’m riding the train in pease and quiet. She may not get a break like this until 11 PM.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:57 am

      It sounds like 2 kids is much harder to deal with. I hope you take over with the kids when you get home.
      Let her go do dishes or something like that. 🙂

  • Lazy Man and Money May 24, 2018, 4:48 am

    I think I’ve had all the SAHD problems. That, and having two kids makes it a little further from easy.

    It is night and day without school/day care… almost like talking about two different jobs. I don’t know how home schooling parents do it.

    If you wanted to maximize productivity, I would be getting Jr. on the bus as it seems like you could make it. However, I like the drive to school with the kids.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 10:07 am

      I don’t know how people home school either. That sounds like a ton of work and stress.
      Jr doesn’t like the morning bus. There are too many kids and they are too rowdy.
      I don’t mind driving him because it gave us time to chat a bit. It’s only a short 10 minutes drive.
      Hang in there!

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify May 24, 2018, 4:57 am

    Not being a parent, I don’t have an opinion based on my experiences. The difficulty of most tasks/jobs is in one’s head. Have a positive mental attitude about whatever you are doing and an underlying reason why you are doing it and it makes anything a bit easier. Tom

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 24, 2018, 5:00 am

    I was one of the people who voted for SAHD/M. I work full time and stay at home with my son all day only on the weekends.

    I also realized that it gets easier once our kid is older. The biggest challenge for me would be his tantrums and the lack of real adult interaction. I’m finding it hard to stay calm when he throws a tantrum at home or in public. Also, it’s just mind numbing to be around a toddler all day.

    Maybe I will change my mind after working for a long time. But I’m kinda happy with our current arrangement 😀

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 10:09 am

      We had some problem with tantrums and meltdowns too. That got way better in the last few years.
      It was hard for me to stay calm too. I sent him to time out a lot when he was 3 – 5. He rarely gets a time out now.

  • FullTimeFinance May 24, 2018, 5:04 am

    I’d vote stay at home more difficult. Our two boys are constantly bickering and at each other at 3 and 6. So even now when the six year old can self entertain there needs to be some parent enforced separation periodically. Add to that my three year olds personal goal is to destroy our house and it’s a never ending battle for my poor wife. She works when they are in preschool on her business, so no rest for the weary.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 12:15 pm

      Sorry to hear that! Sounds like 2 kids made it much tougher for you. Hang in there! 🙂

  • Dividend Growth Investor May 24, 2018, 5:45 am

    As you said, it depends on the kid, the kid’s age and personal circumstances. I took a 3 month off FMLA leave when my kid was born, and it was a very rewarding experience.

    However, I got very little done outside of taking care for little DGI. There are constant interruptions, which for some reason are hard on me personally. As you said, parenting is a 24/7 job.

    Going back to work was “easier” because I could concentrate on work activities from say 8 – 5 or so with limited interruptions. The hard part of course is that balancing work and a kid is very hard.

    But I would also assume that as the kid gets older, it gets easier in some aspects.. Though probably there are other challenges to tackle.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 12:17 pm

      For me, the first three months were tough because of the steep learning curve. I didn’t get much done, but we didn’t need to do much at that time.
      When I became a full time SAHD, it was hard to blog when RB40Jr was home. I got through it somehow, though.

  • Shavano May 24, 2018, 6:01 am

    I have a demanding job with clients to please, staff that can be difficult to manage, and billable hour pressure (a small in, need to bill an ungodly amount of hours per year). Plus 2 kids. I almost melted down from the pressures of work + kids (leave high pressure job for needy kids and endless to do tasks at home) when they were younger. So for me i agree that staying home would have been far easier. I dont see a stampede of stay at home wives itching to go back so they can increase the pressure on themselves and have way less free time. My kids are older now, and now i miss spending time with them.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 12:19 pm

      Sorry to hear that. I think high pressure work + kids is the most difficult. That’s too much stress from all directions.

    • jim May 24, 2018, 12:33 pm

      ” I dont see a stampede of stay at home wives itching to go back”

      For families with children under 6 theres about 50% more stay at home mothers than families with children over 6 years old. So a significant # of mothers DO return to the workforce once their kids are school age.

      Of course in your situation with a high pressure job there maybe fewer people “itching to go back” like you say.

  • Young FIRE Knight May 24, 2018, 6:30 am

    I’ve always thought being a stay at home Dad would be the best. I’ve come to realize that there are way less glamorous aspects than I had originally imagined, but I’m guessing the ultimate “which is easier” debate will rest a lot on the job you’d be comparing to. A high stress/long hours job and maybe SAHD is easier. Lower stress 9-5 job and maybe work is easier. So I think it really would depend on each persons perspective.

  • Financial Samurai May 24, 2018, 6:44 am

    I definitely do not agree that being a stay at home parent is easy or easier than full-time work. Being on 24 seven is really difficult, especially when your kid doesn’t sleep through the night.

    Being a stay at home parent sounds easy once they go to school full-time, but not before. I also think you guys I like you the Junior has no health problems or issues. A lot of kids have something going on and it can be very worrisome.

    Sam

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 12:21 pm

      Our kid didn’t sleep through the night for a long time too. It was rough.
      But it should get easier soon. We’re lucky our son doesn’t have a serious health problem.
      He has some, but he seems to be okay for now.
      Hang in there. It will get easier soon. Although, you’ll have to go through the talk back phase.
      That will be probably be tough. It depends on how patient you are.

  • Jim @ Route To Retire May 24, 2018, 6:45 am

    I love it! Being at home with my daughter for those first several years would have been my dream “job.” I agree that it would be a lot of work and adapting, but I would take that any day over my full-time job.

    Here’s my corny joke I just stumbled across yesterday…

    What did the big flower say to the baby flower?

    Hey, bud!

    — Jim

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 8:57 pm

      I feel very privileged to be a SAHD. It was frustrating at times, but much more gratifying than working full time.
      I get a lot of corny jokes lately. It’s that age.

  • Susan @ FI Ideas May 24, 2018, 8:02 am

    We didn’t have kids, but I notice a similarity in your SAHD problem list to my experience when I started doing engineering contracting from home. I had to battle isolation, more chores (hey I’m at home and I’m messing it up more too), as well as no time off, because of my office being right there. I suppose it was just different work! I admire you for managing both being a SAHD and your blog. They both are very successful.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 8:58 pm

      It was difficult to juggle blogging and SAHD when our son was young. I couldn’t get anything done when he was around.
      I blogged when he napped or at night. It’s much better now.

  • Doc G May 24, 2018, 8:15 am

    My wife stayed home for the first 6 months for both of our kids. Boy was she happy to go back to work. And I was happy too because I didn’t get two kids plopped on me at the end of a hard day to deal with alone. True to your point. As the kids have gotten older, they need so much less. Now 13 and 10. They can pretty much manage themselves. Being an SAHD now would be a breeze. You have good times ahead!

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:00 pm

      Our son is at a good age right now. I’m not ready to deal with a teenager yet. It’ll be a big PITA…

  • Ms ZiYou May 24, 2018, 8:19 am

    I think this post clarifies what I’ve always kinda assumed Joe – that you are a mega high performer that can turn his hand to anything. And I see an amazing work ethic.

    You have a brilliant way of framing challenges and difficult periods, and also being able to adapt to many changes and deal with the unknown.

    You have managed to transfer all the skills that allowed you to save up and retire before 40 to your new role as SAHD, and excel at it despite the difficult bits.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:02 pm

      Thanks! You over estimated me there. 🙂 Working was just getting really hard for me at that point. Being a SAHD was what I needed then.

  • Jim May 24, 2018, 10:01 am

    What a great post to generate dialogue! As others said, it so much depends on both the nature of the “full time job” (nice 8hr days vs. much higher career demands), child circumstances, and spousal balance. I started to laugh though when you said “Freedom!” but then listed a bunch of SAHD chores – the 9-3 hours can sure go by fast, especially when helping an elderly person sometimes. But additionally there can be outdoor work, school volunteering, lots of domestic paperwork (if SAHD does it all), and kid doctor/dentist appointments. But the even bigger duty is when, even just one kid, has 5-6pm activities every weeknight to chauffeur him/her to (for those nights, good luck with making dinner, right?) – also there is more work with the related planning for future recreational activities and managing registrations and payments.
    I also concur with others that the 24/7 aspect can be a little dicey and frustrating. Tired evenings and potential weekend imbalance. For example, on Saturdays in the Spring, I as SAHD am still in the childcare mode, but also compelled to do the same lawn work as the other working husbands in the neighborhood.
    Anyway, all this said, I still agree it is better than the stress of a difficult FT job, even if for no other reason than the ability to get exercise every morning without getting up super early. That, along with the household work plus any hobby one might have (like guitar) – no reason to ever be bored…even without TV

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:06 pm

      I do one or two chores per day. It’s okay to overflow them into the weekend, usually.
      We only do one activity at a time. RB40Jr just finished with spring soccer. He’ll play soccer again in the fall. One night per week is okay. More than that would get old fast.
      Luckily, we don’t have yard work to deal with. We live in a condo now.
      Fight on brother! 🙂

  • Pennypincher May 24, 2018, 10:57 am

    These are all the cutest photos ever!
    In the 18 mos. to 2 years-RB40jr looks like he’s a drummer in a rock band.
    The Hallelujah video is hilarious! Perfect.
    Thank you .

  • jim May 24, 2018, 11:22 am

    There are a ton of variables that will impact if someone personally thinks their job or being a stay at home parent is easier.

    # of children
    age of children
    personalities of the children
    difficulty level of the job
    parenting style
    personal job performance and attitudes towards work
    personal aptitude for parenting
    personal aptitude for the job in question
    support structure as a parent
    home environment
    work environment
    etc.

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:07 pm

      I agree 100%. There are many variables. Luckily, it worked out for me. A lot of it is the attitude.

  • Ashley May 24, 2018, 1:01 pm

    We don’t have kids yet, but plan to someday and one (or both) of us will likely stay home with them. Love the details and super cute pictures 🙂

  • Lisa May 24, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Seems like an odd question. Why would it matter which way is easier? It’d be like choosing which person to marry based on who was available on the date you wanted to get married.

  • Justin May 24, 2018, 1:50 pm

    I was really surprised that a majority of the poll respondents said stay at home parenting was harder than a job! Maybe it’s people that had really cushy jobs then left to be a SAHP? My job was never hard in a physical sense, but demanding mentally. Even more tedious I would say. And it was 8 hours of work every day with expectations to meet.

    I think there’s also something else afoot with the poll. You might be seen as a misogynist if you don’t concede that being a stay at home parent is harder (a role most often filled by women). As a stay at home parent for several years, I admit it’s not always easy but most days it wasn’t too bad and there’s plenty of downtime. Even at age 1-4 we had a good daily/weekly routine down. Afternoon nap time was my little 1-2 hr midday me-time. Then there’s all the hanging out at the park, meetups with friends, library story time, etc. How can that stuff be harder than making stuff happen at work, designing things that won’t kill people, and sitting through meetings and performance reviews?

    • retirebyforty May 24, 2018, 9:11 pm

      I was surprised too. My job was much more difficult. Being a SAHD has frustrating moments, but it’s usually pretty good.
      I think having activities lined up makes a big difference. It’s suck if we were home all day everyday. There are a lot of things to do locally.

      • jim May 25, 2018, 10:56 am

        “My job was much more difficult.”

        Yeah but in context… Isn’t it fair to say that your job was a demanding, very complex high stress job at a highly competitive environment with long hours that was giving you stress headaches. 90%+ of people couldn’t come close to doing the job you had. I don’t think I’m really overstating it.

        • retirebyforty May 27, 2018, 6:34 pm

          Yeah, the work environment wasn’t great. You know it.

  • Helen May 24, 2018, 2:42 pm

    Joe, the kid’s pictures are so cute. Thanks for sharing.

    If I had a choice, I would choose to stay at home with my kid. It may be harder than working full time, I guess. But, it would be definitely worth the effort.

  • BusyMom May 24, 2018, 3:51 pm

    For me, 2 -3 was the best age. I could negotiate, and he could understand me. After 3, I got used to it, and take it for granted 🙂

    When GBoy started day care (at 17 months), he didn’t realize that I didn’t stay with him for three days. Crying started on the fourth day, and didn’t continue past the fifth day.

    Each kid is different!

  • Cesar May 24, 2018, 5:51 pm

    Maybe you should rename your post “Being a stay at home dad is easy… once your kids are in college” ?

  • Single Income Life May 24, 2018, 9:56 pm

    My husband is a SAHD to our 5 yr old, 3 yr old and 3 mo old. We both agree that being a stay-at-home parent is much harder than working full time. Before we pulled him from the work force, he was at least working with rational human beings who (for the most part) were able to keep their emotions in check ;-). Not so with the kiddos! We sometimes joke that my job is a “paid vacation” and quite frankly, it’s not far from the truth. He does a great job with the kids though, and having a parent at home has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Your post gives us hope that things will get easier as the kids get older. The 5 and 3 year olds go to pre-school part time right now and while that provides a small measure of relief, it will be another two years until they both go to the same school. Mr. SIL thinks that will make a big difference in the level of chaos around here, but until then, we try to enjoy the ride as much as possible! There’s definitely no shortage of love and laughter around our house and for that, we’re grateful.

    • retirebyforty May 25, 2018, 10:26 am

      Both going to full time school would really help. Keep at it.
      It’s a lot of fun to be around kids, for sure. They look at the world differently from grown ups. Frankly, I enjoy hanging out with the kids a lot more.

  • Lilith May 24, 2018, 11:31 pm

    My baby girl just turned 6 weeks old this is way harder than any job I’ve ever had. THeres just no breaks. The sleep deprivation is almost like torture and so hard on the body. I love my baby but I can’t wait for it to get easier.

    • JP May 25, 2018, 10:20 am

      Lilith – it gets better, I promise! Once you get past the newborn/infant stage they sleep better and slowly become more self-sufficient. That age was really hard for me, too.

      • retirebyforty May 25, 2018, 10:27 am

        I’m pretty sure everyone had a rough time at that stage. It’s hard to function with less sleep.
        I don’t think we got a good night rest until he was 3.5 years old. The infant stage is tough.

  • Cubert May 25, 2018, 4:22 am

    Thank you for sharing this, Joe! We have twins, so the SAHD / SAHM factor takes on a bit more complexity for us. I would agree fully that as school kicks in, this gig gets easier. But until they’re in school at least half time (preschool, age 4), I’d much rather be in the office!

    Appreciate reading about the behavioral problems too. Our son is dealing with another kid who can’t seem to avoid pushing, hitting, and other outbursts at least once a week. Glad to know it gets better for these kids. Has to be super frustrating for the parents.

  • steve @ familyonfire.org May 25, 2018, 9:36 am

    Having more time with our kids has been by far the best part of being FIREd. Being able to make dinner for them every day and assisting with homework is much better that coming home at 7PM just as they are winding down.

  • Nathan Reid May 25, 2018, 10:03 am

    The hardest part about having kids to me is the lack of personal and couple time. For example, in order to get the recommended minimum 8 hours of sleep per night, your schedule has to cut off at 9:30-9:45 (including 15-30 minutes of lying in bed before you fall asleep).

  • GYM May 25, 2018, 10:39 am

    RBJR has a great sense of humor!! So cute.

    Thanks for the breakdown and the schedule, I love it. Also love the “hallelujah video for Kindergarten- I think that Kindergarten will be even busier though because you have to take them to games and activities etc . I am hoping to FIRE by Kindergarten in 5 years so I can spend time cooking and becoming a chauffeur hahaha.

    I am in year 1 right now and it’s been pretty tough to find alone time. I’ll be going back to work soon and my husband and MIL will be taking care of baby GYM.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 25, 2018, 12:19 pm

    I think it changes dramatically depending on the details, doesn’t it? I have several friends who are SAHP. One homeschools 5 kids from ages 1-10, one has 2 kids from ages 1-5 and they go to preschool most days of the week, another has 3 kids from ages under 1 – 7 and two of them are in school. There’s a huge difference in how hard their days are 🙂

    I tend to assume that SAHP are monitoring more than one kid at home full time without school or preschool breaks, so based on that assumption, it’s harder than full time work. But your path feels a lot more doable!

    • retirebyforty May 27, 2018, 6:33 pm

      You’re right. We have it relatively easy because we only have one kid.

  • My Early Retirement Journey May 26, 2018, 4:47 pm

    I actually liked this post! I tend to skip over the parenting posts because that’s not my life, but I enjoyed the schedule. I like to make mental bookmarks of FIRE schedules… i especially like the 1 chore a day…that’s kind of what i do now… i try not to pressure myself to do more than 1 life-chore a day…it varies depending on my mood but includes cleaning and cooking tasks…I think what you say is right… whichever way people vote…the challenge of working outside of the home and parenting… is always going to be more work. ultimately the big perk of being a stay at home parent…is you’re the boss! Have a good weekend!

  • EclipseOnFire May 29, 2018, 9:42 am

    I think you just have a great mindset! You look at the positive of raising a kid more frequently than focusing on all the negatives. It’s refreshing to find someone who doesn’t write about how hard kids are. Instead you just acknowledge it while focusing on the positives.

    I do have a question for you that you may have an opinion on. Lately we’ve considered downsizing because the big house in the suburbs comes with more work than we want to deal with in addition to raising two kids. While we like our house, it feels like it’s more appropriate for the future, free time loaded, FIRE version of ourselves. But that’s still several years down the road. I may be wrong but I think you mentioned you’ve lived in your condo since your had JR. Do you feel like living in a (I assume) low maintenance home made your life easier?

    • retirebyforty May 29, 2018, 9:01 pm

      Having the right attitude goes a long way. There were some frustrating moments, but most of them are in the past now. We also had it pretty easy because we only have one kid.

      Living in a condo made life a ton easier. I don’t have to deal with a lot of home maintenance issues here. However, we have 2 rentals so I have to deal with those. 🙁 With 2 kids, you need extra space. Not sure if you can find the right condo that’s big enough for that.

  • FIRECracker May 30, 2018, 7:17 am

    “The SAHD workload is much less and way easier than engineering. ”

    Hm…this is very eye-opening. At first, I thought maybe you were talking about different phases of parenting. But then as you went through each phase in your post, you still mentioned SAHD is easier than working.

    Most parents I know pick work as easier over parenting, just like the results of your twitter poll. I wonder if it depends on the type of work. If I was working as a writer, I think I would find SAHM harder, but since I worked as an engineering, that was pretty hard. But again, it’s all speculation since I don’t have kids, but interesting to ponder.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Glad I’m not the only one who found engineering insanely hard.

    • retirebyforty May 30, 2018, 11:03 am

      I think engineering is just a hard job. We spend a lot of time at work and it’s stressful. Being a SAHP might be harder for people with a bit less demanding jobs.

  • Jen August 13, 2018, 6:35 pm

    Why do the stay at home moms say it’s so hard?

    Anyways, I enjoy your blog and glad you are living the dream. I am now stuck in an unfulfilling corporate job, clocking in and out. Trying to look for that way out. I had a later start in life, so it might take me longer to get there.

    • retirebyforty August 14, 2018, 8:05 am

      There were some difficult days, but it’s still easier than working full time for me. Maybe it depends on the career they were in before.
      Can you change job or company? It’s not healthy to stay in a job you dislike. Good luck!

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