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Stay-At-Home-Dad Update Fall 2015


Being a stay at home dad is easy!We’re finally settled back into our routine after our Costa Rica trip. RB40Jr started preschool in early September, but we went on a two week vacation so that was a big disruption. Thanks goodness for preschool because blogging is so much more manageable now. RB40Jr goes to preschool 4 days per week from 9 am to 2 pm and that gives me just enough time to work. He is sick this week, though. That’s the only problem with preschool. A few kids are always sick and it just goes round and round. Anyway, I haven’t written about being a stay at home dad in a while so I thought I’d share how things are going.

Feeling Isolated

One of the biggest problems of being a stay at home parent is the feeling of isolation. This was a problem when I first quit my job to become a SAHD. RB40Jr was just 18 months old and we didn’t really get out much. I rarely had contact with other adults and it was a little lonely. It was practically impossible to set up playdates with other kids at that age. Our neighbors with kids had busy schedules and we never synced up. I met other SAHMs at the library and the playgrounds, but it was still difficult to get together for a playdate because we didn’t know each other well. RB40Jr only made one good friend from the playground who has since moved away.

Now that RB40Jr has been in preschool for a while, I don’t have that problem anymore. He has a few very good friends at school and we get together regularly. It’s much easier to make a connection when you see each other at school.

I also try to get us out of the house as much as possible. We walk to the bank, grocery store, post office, parks, library, museums, and run many errands together. I feel like I have enough human interaction to avoid feeling isolated. That’s a nice improvement from when I started being a SAHD 3 years ago. Actually, I’m an introvert so a little human interaction goes a long way.

Still no baby 🙁

A few days ago, RB40Jr complained – “I still don’t have a baby! I’m sad.” All his friends at school have a sibling or two so he wants a baby, too. I usually tell him to go discuss this with his mom when she gets back from work. I wouldn’t mind another baby, but Mrs. RB40 is adamantly opposed to it. I had two younger brothers when I was growing up so I know it’s a lot of fun to have siblings. I’m a little sad for junior, but it’s really up to Mrs. RB40. On the other hand, having just one kid is so much easier. We don’t have to deal with the sleepless nights and dirty diapers. We can concentrate on just one 529 account instead of two. We’ve done the most difficult part and we don’t really want to go through it again.

Disciplinary actions

Being a stay at home dad isn’t all fun and games. We have a lot of fun, but we have our problems, too. RB40Jr frequently acts out when he gets frustrated. He bangs on the wall and punches other kids when things don’t go his way. Okay, that sounds worse than it is. He is only 4 years old so his punches don’t have much power behind them. They don’t hurt much, but I don’t want my kid to behave like that. At home, he’d bang on the wall or table with his fist.

We are at a loss on how to deal with this. I usually send him to timeout in his room, but he’d bang things on the way there and that would escalate the situation.  We’d have a talk after he calms down and I would tell him to not bang around or throw things. He’d say okay, but it doesn’t stick. The next time he gets mad at something, he’d bang around again. He just can’t contain his frustration. I try my best to stay calm during these episodes, but sometime I’d lose my cool, too. A few days ago, he hit the TV and I got pretty mad. I yelled at him and sent him to his room without dinner. Mrs. RB40 had to step in to defuse things.

Anyway, I’m trying out a new strategy. I’m going to have to be proactive and be on the lookout for these frustrating moments. As soon as I see him starting to get mad, I will remind him not to act out. Disciplining him after he acts out doesn’t seem to work. It just makes everyone angry.

At school, when he acts out, the teacher would have a talk with him. She assured me some kids go through these phases. I just hope he figures out a way to contain himself soon. If you have dealt with this issue before, please share some ideas on how to help him.


RB40Jr has one more year of preschool left. Next year he will go to a public kindergarten full time and life should be much easier then. As mentioned above, this year he goes to preschool 4 days per week and it costs about $560 per month. That’s not too bad, but I’m looking forward to not having this expense in our budget.

Once he starts kindergarten, I’ll probably sign him up for some extracurricular activities. I want to send him to learn martial arts and piano or violin. He’s really good with controlling his body so maybe he should try gymnastics also. We’d do only one activity at a time so he has time to be a kid as well.


Earlier this week, I mentioned that life is too busy in Is Contentment The Enemy of Progress? One reader responded – “how can you feel busy!” You know, I never thought being a stay at home dad would be so busy either. I imagined I’d be able to work online while junior plays with his toys. Alas, we didn’t raise him to be independent enough so he needs a lot of attention when he’s at home. Let’s take a look at what we did on Thursday, RB40Jr’s day off from preschool.

7 am: Woke up with 2 little feet by my face. Junior came to our bed last night because he was cold. He was a little sick, too. Mrs. RB40 left for work about 7:30 am.

8 am: Made breakfast – eggs, sausages, and bagels. Watched the local news to see what the weather will be like.

9 am: After breakfast, straightened the place out a bit and vacuumed. Logged on and checked emails, approved comments, responded to VA, and general blog related tasks. RB40Jr watched Peppa Pig cartoons on YouTube next to me.

10 am: Drove to Walmart to pick up some groceries, a pair of jeans for the kid, and eye drops. We also went to play in the toy aisles, but didn’t buy anything. RB40Jr wants a light saber toy and I want some classic Lego bricks.

Noon: I made gyros for lunch.

1 pm to 3 pm: Played with some toys, read a bit, and watched cartoons on DVD.

3:30 pm: Drove Jr. to get a flu vaccine sniff at the hospital.

5 pm: Neighbor kids dropped by to play just as we got home. I did some prep work for shrimp tacos.

6 pm: Mrs. RB40 arrived and helped make dinner. Once dinner was ready, we sent the neighbor kids home. They’ll be back tomorrow to help us carve a pumpkin.

6:20 pm: Dinner. Mrs. RB40 cleaned up the kitchen and gave junior a bath afterward.

8 pm: Bed time for Jr.

9 pm to midnight: Worked on the blog. Finished writing, sent to Mrs. RB40 to edit, found the appropriate image, edit image, final edit, and scheduled for publishing. Read and relaxed a bit after work is done around 11:30 pm.

Whew! The day went by very quickly. RB40Jr is a little sick so we stayed home and watched more TV than usual today. I think he will be well enough to go to school on Friday and I’ll have a little more time to myself. It will still be pretty busy, though. I’ll meet a prospective tenant at the duplex, go to the post office and bank, and make a couple of pizzas for dinner. Friday night is my night off and I’ll get a chance to relax after junior hits the hay. What do you think? Is this a busy day? It’s not full of meetings and deadlines, but I didn’t have much time to myself, either.

Well folks, that’s a glimpse into a life of a stay at home dad/blogger. Life is pretty good, but it could always be better. I’m looking forward to full time kindergarten next year. Hopefully, I’ll have a little more time to myself then.

If you have any tips on how to calm a kid down, please share them with us. By the way, counting to ten doesn’t work. He’s never calm enough to do that.

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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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{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Keith Park October 23, 2015, 12:28 am

    I’m relating to your day to day activities now that I have my own son. Born in March, I became the SAHD as Mrs. DivHut went off to work. Early A.M. starts, diapers, feeding, walks during mid-day, two naps usually, etc. Having your own child changes all your perspectives and prior to me having baby DivHut I never wanted to do any of those things. Diapers, feedings, etc. Now that I have my own child I’m ready to do all for him and enjoy it.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:07 am

      You’re right. It’s makes a huge difference when it’s your kid. I loved babies when junior was young. Now, I’m indifference to babies. 🙂 Enjoy your time as a SAHD!

  • Ashley October 23, 2015, 1:37 am

    I totally agree taking care of a child at home makes one very busy! As far as the angries go maybe more exorcise? I don’t have these issues with my child yet but martial arts and running lots did wonders for my tempermant when I was a teenager.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:08 am

      Usually he gets a lot of exercise. I want to enroll him in martial art classes next year when he’s old enough. He is being resistant to it, though. We’ll see how it goes. I’m sure he’ll love it once he gets going.

  • Retire October 23, 2015, 2:52 am

    Thanks for this look into your life. I’m amazed at the stages of edits you put your blog posts through before publishing.

    Are you at all worried with the scales tipping in the other direction in the future? With the one kid, any chance you could be equally lonely once he starts leading his own schedule?

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:10 am

      I’m not a great writer so I need to edit several times before I feel comfortable publishing. Mrs. RB40 helps a lot with the grammatical errors. I’m not too worried about getting lonely. It would be great to have a little more time to put into growing this site. If I have extra time, I’ll be able to explore other ventures.

  • Maria October 23, 2015, 3:13 am

    Before little RB40 starts Kindergarten you want to phase him out of the hitting others and walls or tables or it will be a problem at school. Talk to him about a new way to deal with frustration and share with him it will help him make new friends at school and you are going to help him!
    Step 1 As you see him beginning to get frustrated remind him to breath deeply and count to ten
    Step 2 If he can do this and refrain from hitting he will earn a star on a chart or a Dojo point on the Dojo app used for school behaviors( He can even design his own avatar) Each time he earns a pt you can communicate and send it to Mrs.RB40. Make a big deal each time and give him a big hug.
    Step 3 After 3 Dojo points or 3 stars he can earn a special privilege of his choice like , extra cartoon time, ice- cream, 10 extra minutes at the park -it must be something he wants but it does not have to be store bought. You will be really surprise if you are consistent how well it will work – we use it at school everyday!! Each week increase the stars by one for his reward. Good luck and let me know if it works. Maria

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:12 am

      We are trying our best to get through this phase quickly. That’s why I’m asking for help. We might need to go see a child psychologist for this. I will try to remind him to breath deeply and count to ten. It’s tough because he doesn’t hear anything when he’s mad. I’ll start a chart. I know that’s helpful.

  • Justin October 23, 2015, 5:34 am

    I definitely relate to much of what you said, being a stay at home dad/blogger too! Kids consume more time than you realize, but it’s nice to have the time to spend with them. We sent the youngest to grandma’s house for an overnight stay this week and I was amazed at how much more down time and peace and quiet I found.

    We’re still almost 2 years away from public kindergarten, so we’ll keep pretty busy chasing our little guy around.

    Enjoy your time with your son!

    As for the hitting, I’d try talking to him about it and point out that all the other kids on the playground aren’t hitting anyone and look how nicely they all get along. No matter what you do, he’ll probably grow out of it eventually.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:14 am

      It’s a lot of fun to be a SAHD, but it is draining too. Hopefully, he’ll grow out of this hitting phase soon. It’s easy to talk to him when he’s calm, but everything goes out the window when he’s mad.

  • Money Beagle October 23, 2015, 5:58 am

    Make sure to reinforce positive actions. When you notice times that he doesn’t revert to throwing a tantrum, then make sure to acknowledge the good behavior, point out the benefits of acting that way, and praise and reward him for it. Negative consequences to negative actions do make a point, but it’s just as, if not more important to act on the positive as well.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:16 am

      That’s a good point. We try to reinforce positive actions too. We have a reward chart for behaving well for the day. When he gets 7 stickers, he’ll get a reward. He lost interest in the reward, though. It’s too hard for him to be good the whole day. I’ll start a targeted reward chart and give him a sticker every time he’s able to control himself.

  • Caroline October 23, 2015, 6:33 am

    Hi, I’m a SAHM for a 5-year old girl. She’s had quite some agression in the past, but now it only comes up when she’s very tired or coming down with a bug. She’s doing well in Kindergarten. I try to follow the REI principles of respect, like explained by Janet Lansbury on her blog, for example: http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/09/biting-hitting-kicking-and-other-challenging-toddler-behavior/ it helps me to stay calm to think about the fact that she is struggling, but I definitely struggle at the same time 🙂 but that’s ok. Basically hang in there and try to not make her feel like she’s a bad kid and make her anxious about it, and try to avoid her doing any damage by physically stepping in and removing her from the situation before anything happens. Not always easy, but they will get better impulse control as they get older.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:18 am

      Thank you for the link. “Poor impulse control”, that’s the phase I was looking for.
      I’m trying my best, but it’s really hard for me to stay calm when he keeps banging around. I’m usually calm for a few minutes, but when he doesn’t stop, I’d get mad. I’ll work on my impulse control too.
      Best wishes

  • Mary October 23, 2015, 6:38 am

    I’m a speech therapist working in a preschool setting and our psychologist often recommends you identify the child’s emotions and then give them alternative solutions for calming down like 10 deep breaths, stomping feet, or taking some time alone. You can also proactively read books or watch movies with your child and discuss the characters emotions and how they react throughout.

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:19 am

      Okay, stomping feet might be an alternative to banging around with his fists. I’ll try that if other things doesn’t work out. We have been reading books about how to react to issues, but it doesn’t seem to work. He forgets everything when he gets mad.

  • Jen October 23, 2015, 7:29 am

    I can totally relate to your daytime routine! It looks very similar to ours (my daughter is also 4, starting kindergarten next fall and my son is 6, in first grade). It’s hard to figure out where the time goes when my daughter is home. And so productive when she’s at preschool! I, too, daydream about how much I will accomplish when she’s in kindergarten full time next year, but I have guilt when I do because I certainly don’t want to wish the time away. I know I’m going to miss it in a few years.

    With regards to your son acting out, my daughter occasionally does the same thing, but she’s so easily distracted. When we see something coming on that’s frustrating her, we try to distract her to a different activity or to play with a different friend before it escalates. And we’ve always been proponents of positive reinforcement. If he has a successful playtime with a friend without hitting or getting frustrated, maybe treat him to something because you were so proud of how he behaved. He’ll remember that next time and maybe choose to restrain himself instead. Good luck!

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:21 am

      I don’t think you need to feel guilty. It’s natural to wish for more alone time. I enjoy being home with him, but the whole day is tough.
      Okay, I will try to distract him. He gets mad so quickly, though. It’s usually not a slow build up so it’s hard to head off.
      We’ll work on positive reinforcement as well. Thanks!

  • Andrew October 23, 2015, 7:48 am

    Looking forward to the tips about discipline. My son is just over 2 years old and I’m seeing the tantrums. A lot of his frustration is probably because he can really speak (has a speech therapist now) so I guess he can’t express his thoughts. He does get upset over things that seem very minor though…I was hoping it was just a “terrible 2” stage. Sorry no advice from me…

    • retirebyforty October 23, 2015, 10:22 am

      Good luck with your son. 🙂

  • Tina October 23, 2015, 10:19 am

    Our daughter’s daycare used the Conscious Discipline system (http://consciousdiscipline.com/). The thing that helped our daughter when she was your son’s age was having a “safe space” both at the daycare and at home. The safe space was just a little nook filled with pillows and a few soft toys. When she would get angry, instead of giving her a time out (negative) we had her go into her safe space (positive) and calm down. It worked in the moment, and she got to where she could calm herself down without any help.

  • Jkr October 23, 2015, 12:15 pm

    How would you prefer that your wife do when you are angry? Will you be less angry if she tells you to go to your room? Will you feel better if she tells you to not act out?

    I am pretty sure what you and your son need when you are angry is much the same.

    Maybe you would feel better if your wife said…yeahh life is shitty and i totally understand your pissed of. Try that on your son.

  • mollyjade October 26, 2015, 9:15 am

    There’s a really great book called “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.” Lots of good advice on how to help your kids deal with their emotions and learn to problem solve.

    Especially at this young of an age, kids have a hard time expressing their emotions, and you can help them express them appropriately. When RB40Jr is angry, you can help him talk about his emotions. “You are so angry. You are frustrated because you cannot _____.”

    You can also give him appropriate alternatives for expressing his emotions. Give him crayons and ask him to draw his anger. Give him a pillow to punch instead of the walls.

  • Nathan October 29, 2015, 10:40 pm

    you know what, we have a closer routine but mine is a little bit chaotic at times. I am a father of two lovely daughters. You can say I’m a hands-on dad and would not switch any shoe because I am very happy taking care of them 24/7. good thing is I don’t need to work away from home just to provide them with their needs. I am earning money online by trading Binaries and it is going great earning roughly atleast 5k. They say: let your money work for you and not the other way around. I have my account managed by top-binary-signals.com.

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