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Stay-At-Home-Dad Update Spring 2016


Stay at Home Dad updateMrs. RB40 is out of town on a business trip this week and I’m a temporary single dad. We haven’t had to do this since RB40Jr was two. Geez, how do single parents raise kids on their own? It has been just 4 days and I’m exhausted. RB40 Jr is a very energetic 5 year old and it’s tough to keep up with him. When Mrs. RB40 is home, I can tell him to go bother her once my patience wears out :-). This week, we just have to put up with each other. I’ve been more short-tempered than usual and I am so ready for Mrs. RB40 to come home.

I know it’s bad to be short-tempered with the kid, but I can’t help it sometimes. He kept doing annoying things. He horses around all the time and that tends to screw up what I’m trying to do. On Tuesday, we had a tough time getting ready for school and we were both in a foul mood by the time we arrived. Of course, this set him up to have a rough day at school. That day, he whined a lot and punched his teacher in the crotch. (Not a fun experience even for a woman.) Needless to say, he did not get a sticker on Tuesday. The other days were better, but we really need Mrs. RB40 here to help hold it together.

School Registration

Kindergarten registration is already underway and I need to get it done by June 1st. That seems very early to me, but I guess that’s how it work. We went to the open house earlier this year and the kindergarten class was very impressive. The kids keep journal and many of them write pretty well. Right now, RB40Jr can write his name and that’s about it. He knows how all the letters sound, but still have a hard time putting them together. We probably need to dedicate a little time to writing and reading this summer. It’s a slow process. I’m afraid he’d follow his mom’s footstep and get sent to the “yellow” group.

Mrs. RB40 was a shy girl when she was little. I guess they used to divide kids up into groups depending on their comprehension level. When the teacher asked her questions on the assessment/placement day, she refused to answer and was sent to the yellow group as a result. RB40Jr has the same tendency toward strangers. He is very chatty when he’s around people he knows, but tends to clam up with strangers. His other tactic is to make funny noises or talk in a funny voice when he’s uncomfortable. That’s the ticket to yellow group for sure.

Class clown

This is a little contradictory to me, but he also seems to be the class clown. We went to a science themed birthday party last month and he was very disruptive. When the “scientist” asked a question, he’d raise his hand and say things like – “punch yourself in the face, hahaha..” All the kids laughed, but it was pretty embarrassing to his parents. After a few times, the scientist stopped calling on him. He kept his hand up and started making angry noises. I had to drag him out of the group and explain to him that she won’t call on him anymore if he kept making unrelated comments.

The next day, I talked to his teacher and she said he doesn’t make disruptive comments in her class. Whew! He likes to raise his hand and won’t put it down until he’s called, though. The teacher said they are working on how to raise their hand and how to limit the discussion to the current topic.

Stay at Home Dad

Okay, I don’t want to complain too much, so I’ll end it early. Actually, things are pretty good in general. It’s just this week that’s been tougher than usual. He listens better now, but we still need to constantly remind him to do things the right way. The punching incidents are very rare and he hasn’t hit another kid in a few months. This is a huge improvement since the previous SAHD update last fall. He still likes to punch adults, though. His punch usually doesn’t hurt so it’s hard to take it seriously. I kept telling him not to punch anyone in the penis (me specifically), but it’s just too funny for him…

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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 couldn't stomach the corporate BS.

Joe left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle. See how he generates Passive Income here.

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 DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 46 comments… add one }
  • The Green Swan May 6, 2016, 4:13 am

    Oh boy, I know it’s bad but it’s hard not to chuckle a little hearing he punched his teacher in the crotch. You better be careful around him!

    When my wife travels for work is usually only a two night trip, but even that can be long being a single dad with my two year old. But have to cherish it as they’ll grow up so fast.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:04 am

      He just learned the word penis and now it is his favorite target. Hilarious, isn’t it?

  • Toddler Dad May 6, 2016, 4:41 am

    My wife recently had two week long trips for work, leaving me alone with our son. He is less than 2, so he’s still pretty easy to take care of, but he’s learning to throw tantrums quickly. I definitely can understand the struggle! That being said, those two weeks alone together brought us closer together than any other.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:06 am

      Oh wow,two weeks. That’s a long time. Less than 2 is a lot of work, but I think easier than 5. It’s more frustrating now because he does a lot of things that’s very annoying…

  • Apathy Ends May 6, 2016, 4:51 am

    Like The Green Swan, I did laugh a little bit on the bus ride – can’t help it….

    No kids in our house yet, but there are times when the dog annoys me so I don’t know how a single parent would take care of a kid! I am not the most patient person either though.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:07 am

      Heh heh, I looked up crotch punch on YouTube and I laughed a lot too. I’m not very patient, either. I just have to keep reminding myself to calm down. It’s a lot easier when Mrs. RB40 is home.

  • Believe Fire May 6, 2016, 5:03 am

    Definitely an entertaining post! Glad Mrs. RB40 is almost home to save you.

    We don’t have kids yet, but we are looking forward to it. Someday. Everything is just so wonderful right now that we’re reluctant to change it up. Your little fellow sure is cute though.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:08 am

      That’s how Mrs. RB40 felt. She was very reluctant to have a kid because life was good already. A kid adds a lot to our relationship, though. Life is even better now.

  • Mike Drak May 6, 2016, 5:42 am

    Joe, one day you will look back on this and have a good laugh. Kids grow up fast so enjoy it while you can!

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:09 am

      I’m looking forward to the day with no crotch punch. 🙂

  • Pia @ Mama Hustle May 6, 2016, 6:16 am

    This is a weird comment, but man does it make me feel better to read this post.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m the only parent who runs out of patience with their kids, but my 5 year old and 3 year old have SO. MUCH. ENERGY.

    As for the punching-acting out, we had a similar situation with my son when he was a bit younger. We told him that if he needed a physical release, he could punch the couch, his bed, or pillows, which worked remarkably well. We also enrolled him in a sports program at school, and the extra activity seemed to act like a release valve. Not sure if those are options for you, but if so, maybe worth a try?

    – Pia

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:11 am

      He is actually a lot better now. Earlier this year, he was punching a lot of people. Now, he mostly punch me and very rarely his teacher. He is in a sport program at school and just started swimming lesson. He still has a ton of energy.

  • AW May 6, 2016, 6:23 am

    My wife is traveling for work this week as well. While she is gone we get some special activities and the choice of a TV show instead of books before bed. I am also firm with the kids when I am solo dad and it works, however, it is not my favorite mode. We are all thrilled to pick up mom at the airport tonight!

    It is always interesting to hear what the teacher says about your child. Sometimes good and sometimes not so much…

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:14 am

      We are watching TV more than usual too. My mom is coming next week so that should help.
      He has more good reports than bad ones so I’m okay with that. Hopefully, his behavior will improve next year.

  • Michelle May 6, 2016, 6:52 am

    Haha I think I laughed too hard and too much at the punching incident 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 8:16 am

      Heh heh, it’s hard to be serious about crotch punch. It’s just too funny.

  • The Jolly Ledger May 6, 2016, 7:00 am

    Oh man! I know how this feels. From my perspective, I spend all week wanting to be home with the kid and it is one of the drivers for our FIRE goals, however by the end of the weekend I am almost glad to be going to work. I think this is primarily due to her age (6!) and the need for constant attention. I am hoping that by my FIRE date she will be a bit more independent and less whiny. Sure do love her though!

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 12:53 pm

      I think that’s how Mrs. RB40 feels. 🙂 Our guy has so much energy, it’s crazy.

  • Mike H. May 6, 2016, 7:16 am

    It is your duty to save these posts and show them to his future fiance.

    With all of the technology we have these days, embarrassing our kids down the road has gotten easier and more convenient than ever. Our parents had to have a camera loaded with film, charged, and ready if we did something, but today our phones are never more than 10 seconds away. Our parents had to write our misgivings by hand, typewriter, or early word processor, but today we have a blog post that can live forever.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 12:54 pm

      I will do that. It’s easy to search the site for Stay at Home Dad. We are also saving embarrassing pictures for high school graduation. 😀

  • Money Beagle May 6, 2016, 7:30 am

    My son (he’s six) often says a lot of the same things. He knows he shouldn’t but says them anyway. It’s exhausting and we are often at our wits end with it.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 12:55 pm

      Yeap, it’s like he has a delay reaction. He knows he shouldn’t do something, but he can’t stop himself. Even if we say STOP!, he still does it one more time. This one more time thing drives me completely nuts. I don’t want to get mad, but just stop when we say stop…

  • Andrew May 6, 2016, 8:30 am

    My son is almost 3 and I think I need to read up on Super Nanny or something about discipline. He’s not bad but I need have better methods to control him better at times. Funny when you mentioned the “yellow group” I never heard of that. When I was in kindergarten, I was very shy as well and they sent me to ESL class. My English was fine but being Asian, maybe they just assumed I didn’t speak the language…hmmm. My mom was not happy and told them to take me out of that class. That’s why I had a little laugh when I heard “yellow group”….why yellow?? =)

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 12:56 pm

      I think it was just the color code for her school, but maybe… Her school had quite a few poor SE Asian and African American kids in those days. It’s funny that they put you in ESL. 😀

      • Mrs. RB40 May 7, 2016, 9:45 am

        So, they divided the kids up into group color after the initial assessment. Yellow group was for the kids who needed the most help, next was red, then green, and blue was for the more ‘advanced’ kids. The assessment consisted of a teacher or aide asking the kid a variety of questions or holding up color cards and asking what color it was. I simply refused to answer any questions because I didn’t understand why the teacher was asking me, a 5-year-old, all these questions. When I got home, I told my mom all about it and asked, “Why are the grown-ups asking me all these questions? Don’t they know the answers?” Since I didn’t answer any questions, I earned zero points. Which landed me in yellow group.

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes May 6, 2016, 9:15 am

    Well, I can definitely relate to your difficulties Joe. Being a stay-at-home dad is tough…I know from experience! I’ve got two of them! Take your troubles and multiply them…then you’ve got my life.

    I realize you’re tired and probably in need of a break, but take the time to remember how awesome your son is! He’s probably a great kid most of the time!

    Sometimes we get to “sucked into the moment” with the kids and miss the bigger picture. It happens to me all the time!

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2016, 12:57 pm

      Really? I heard two is easier than one. They can play with each other. Ha ha ha. 😀 I bet they are twice as hard to deal with.
      I’m really looking forward to having the missus home.

  • David Michael May 6, 2016, 12:54 pm

    Funny posting Joe. When I was 5 years old, my parents and uncles and aunts used to complain that when not looking, I would punch them in the stomach. I was not their favorite kid at that time. But…fortunately I grew out of it…quickly, since I was sent to a Catholic boarding school at age 6. (Parents were having marital problems). The Sisters of Mercy were not so merciful and everything had a rating system. With enough demerits, we were either strapped after class on the behind over a classroom table, or on the palms of the hands on
    Friday night before game night. (Sounds a bit like Game of Thrones). Thank God that was over 70 years ago. Now we have 11 grandchildren, and most are so spoiled. They need a smacking or two occasionally, but no one does that anymore, it seems, preferring “time out”. So for ages 3-8, until school indoctrination, some are totally spoiled brats and run their parents through the ringer. Easy to see who is in charge. Best years with the kids are 7-13 in my opinion. Great time to take them on foreign trips!

  • Pennypincher May 6, 2016, 2:24 pm

    Remember, even good kids will drive you nuts!
    One time a friend came home from a two day trip. Her husband and young son were still in their pajamas!
    Oh, and they’ll clean out your wallet and bank accounts too!

    • retirebyforty May 7, 2016, 12:36 pm

      Yeap! I love our kid, but he is a handful. 🙂

  • Tom May 6, 2016, 5:44 pm

    I’m sorry to be negative but if you want to find the source of your son’s problems, you just need to look in the mirror. You need to be a better parent. I can’t believe you force the majority of the child care on your working wife while you, Mr full time retired, act like you are doing her a favor to look after your own son. Man up and take care of your child.

    • retirebyforty May 7, 2016, 12:35 pm

      Whoa, I take the majority of child care task here. It’s just a huge step going from 90% to 100%. Are you a full time dad? If you aren’t then, you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Pennypincher May 7, 2016, 4:48 pm

        In defense of RB40. Parenting is a difficult, exhausting job. Many times, it’s boring, lonely, mundane and pretty darn thankless. No one can possibly understand this unless they have experienced it themselves. It only gets more challenging when you have to deal w/other people’s kids, parents, teachers, etc. You do the best you can.
        I can say this-any behavior that you don’t like, nip it in the bud right away. How? Through positive, behavior modification. It’s really, truly not unlike training a dog or puppy. Through positive training. Any behavior corrections happen quickly, confidently by the parent, then forgive and move on. Parent’s also need to catch their kids doing good, kind things. Everyday. See? Parenting is hard work!

  • JasonInVancouver May 7, 2016, 11:09 am

    My nephews when they were in elementary school used to jump all over me and try to pummel me… all in fun of course. lol They turned out to be great young adults.

    I think it’s great your kid has so much energy and shows signs of charisma but that you two are setting boundaries to control it. Sounds all within spec. 🙂

  • MrSLM May 8, 2016, 5:08 am

    Sorry but I gotta laugh too at the punching incident, although I did wince at the thought! My son is 2, so I’ve got all this to look forward to.

    • retirebyforty May 9, 2016, 10:11 am

      Oh yeah, it’s a lot of fun. 🙂

  • Jay May 8, 2016, 11:21 am

    Wow, this post reminds me so much of my youngest brother. I was a difficult kid in my own right, but not in a punching sort of way.

    As for the reading bit, I wouldn’t worry too much about little RB40jr reading or writing at this point. Pre-literacy stuff, like learning songs and listening to stories, is great. But a lot of research seems to indicate there aren’t a lot of long-term benefits into trying to get kids younger than 7 to read and write fluently.

    Also, those kindergarten teachers sure are amazing! I was shocked at how my cousin transformed from a little kid who could only write her name (usually she wrote it backwards) to a schoolkid with some kind of penmanship.

    • retirebyforty May 9, 2016, 10:10 am

      Really? I haven’t seen much research about reading and writing. I assume it’s better to start as early as you can. Girls seem to be much better at this than the boys. I think kindergarten will be great for Jr. He’ll make a bunch of new friends and learn a lot of stuff.

  • Yarnie May 9, 2016, 12:08 pm

    Parenting is the hardest job ever! I have a 4 year old and a 6 year old (both girls — and they only play nicely together about 40% of the time; the rest they fight like cats so sometimes 2 isn’t easier than 1 🙂 ). I work full time with my hubs watching the kids during the work week and then vice versa on the weekends — so essentially we are partly single parenting. I do want to say that it is understandable to need a break away from the kid after watching him all day…BUT I also hope you give your wife some breaks too and not just hand off and shut off 🙂 My mood turns from exhaustion to foul whenever my hubs did that LOL. Just remember this too shall pass! Kids go through phases and it is a constant work in progress… and some kids are just born easy and some are hard, so it is not 100% due to parenting; we happen to have 1 of each despite the same parenting style, so don’t be too hard on yourself! As a parent, the one thing I dislike is when people (especially those without kids) “judge” your parenting without knowing the temperament of the kid or whatever else is going on.

    • retirebyforty May 10, 2016, 7:46 am

      Partly single parenting sounds really tough. I hope you get some alone time once in a while.
      Fortunately, I rarely hand off and shut off. Usually, we have a normal day and the kid interact with both of us when Mrs. RB40 gets home. On really bad days, I’d tell him to go hang out with her for a while. I cool off pretty quick so it’s not a big deal for us. Our kid is getting a lot easier. Take care.

  • Hermann May 9, 2016, 4:51 pm

    We have two little ones (2 and 4) and I totally know what you mean. My wife is also a SAHM and when I have to watch both kids solo for a day or so I find myself wondering how on earth she does it.

  • Michael @ Financially Alert May 10, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Wow, great stories, Joe! Maybe you could enroll him in a martial art with the hopes that they can help him to channel his energy (specifically away from people’s crotches…haha).

    In all seriousness, I hear ya. Somedays I find myself steaming and even though I know I shouldn’t it’s super hard to shake. But, I’m slowly getting better at taking a step back and simply trying to laugh at the situation. It’s hard, but not impossible. 🙂

    My boy’s energy is definitely different than my daughter’s! Entering into the terrible twos isn’t all the fun some days. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2016, 10:12 am

      I want to enroll him in a local kung fu school, but he is too afraid to do it. Maybe next year after we don’t have anymore preschool expense. It’s definitely tough to stay calm. I’m getting better at it, but still…

  • Dividendsdownunder May 11, 2016, 8:11 pm

    Hey Joe, sorry to hear that it’s a bit annoying. I remember I went through a brief punching phase when I was younger – I’m not definitely not a punching person now 🙂

    Good luck!


  • Jonny Pean May 15, 2016, 10:22 am

    Beyond all that is financial, there are these moments that you’re going to cherish forever!

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