Heads up! Baby 2 is officially going to be known as Babe (Like Babe the Blue Ox)
I thought I would take a minute and talk about my experiences as a stay-at-home-dad for the last 8 weeks. I don’t blame you for zoning out or skipping this altogether but it could come in handy in the future.
To start off I do have an advantage over my wife’s maternity leave in that…the kiddo was 13 weeks old when I took the reins. While there is still no shortage of peeing and pooping all over, a 13 week-old is already far less demanding than a 3 week old.
Reality Sets In
I had an optimistic list of things I wanted to do during my paternity leave and after 8 weeks I have 0 to show for any of it. In fact, I have had less time to work on Budget On a Stick over the first 4 weeks than I did when I was working 7-3! I have found more time to work now that Babe is napping in his own crib and not on my shoulder during nap time. Before I was doing everything from my phone (my thumbs were starting to cramp from typing so much).
I have found that I can get 1, maybe 2 things done each day. This includes but isn’t limited to: bath for Babe, vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, and trash duty. There is only so much time between naps and feedings. I can’t get to bigger things like mowing the very unkept lawn or cleaning out the garage. (Fridays are my favorite since I don’t have any chores to do.)
When Mini Donut was born Ms. Blue Ribbon decided to leave work to spend as much time as possible with the new baby. It wasn’t long until the cabin fever set in. She would be jealous of me “getting” to go to work and socializing with people (I saw working and socializing as a relentless chore). After working my 8 hours I would get home and be handed a baby while she had some, much deserved downtime. Once Mini Donut went to bed she would want to spend the rest of the night with me and I got zero personal time.
(Before I go any further I feel the need to note I am not trying to downplay any stay-at-home parent. As you’ll read I am well aware of the stress and pressure it creates and I knew this before I went on leave.)
The irony wasn’t lost on me at all when I went on paternity leave and Ms. Blue Ribbon went to work. I had become a stay-at-home dad. I think the major difference between myself and her, is I don’t particularly care to talk to people (more ironic that I have a blog). What I mean to say is I see myself more introverted.
I rather enjoyed Ms. Blue Ribbon going through the same phases as I did after Mini Donut was born. She turned to me and grumbled that she worked all day, then came home and was handed a baby (to feed) while I took care of the other child (my free time is those short 40 minute naps Babe takes). After the fall shows started up she went through the same problem of having to pare down her list of shows to watch since she has a limited time to watch by herself.
We have found a better groove now. She will feed Babe while watching her shows and I play with Mini Donut. My biggest stress is having to take care of both of the kids between 3 and 6 AND get supper ready. #fiftyHouseWife #howdTheyDoIt?
Time with the kiddo
There is something heartwarming about feeding a baby but especially so when they fall asleep on your shoulder. I was able to do this with Mini Donut but nowhere near as much as I have been able to with Babe. I always wished I was able to spend more time with MD while he was a baby but at the time there was no way for us to do that.
We were knee deep in debt and no emergency fund to speak of. The only smart thing we had done was max out our FSA for that year. My parents were gracious enough to help us out a little bit so I could take two weeks unpaid time off once my PTO had run out.
MD, as you know, was the catalyst that started us on the journey of financial independence so before Ms. Blue Ribbon was even pregnant with Babe I was doing the math to figure out how much replacement income we would need for both of us to take the maximum time off.
I wanted to get the most time I could.
I look forward to the time Babe and I can spend with each other. He is doing great at “tummy time” (a way for him to help strengthen his neck and start learning to crawl). It is amazing how much children change during the first few years. He was just a glob of poop and pee when I took over and now he is smiling, babbling, and nearly crawling child (still lots of poop and pee).
This has given me an extra benefit too. Since Ms. Blue Ribbon only works 3 days a week, I’ve been able to spend more time with Mini Donut and her. Making up for the time him and I didn’t get when he was little…er. He has thoroughly enjoyed the family excursion to the Mall of America for toddler Tuesdays (half priced unlimited amusement park rides and free kids meal).
I knew that this leave may make my desire stronger to reach Financial Independence and Early Retirement but I fear when I go back to work it will be really bad. I have really enjoyed my time with Babe, and Ms. BR reminded me I only have a few weeks left before returning to work. Perhaps that is why I have been so obsessed with looking for a rental property or a cheaper house.
I want to spend more time with my kids while I can. I was listening to ChooseFI’s interview with Brandon Pearce and couldn’t help but wish to be in the situation of spending all my time traveling with my family.
One thing is for sure, this experience has fueled the desire for FIRE.
Some rapid fire thoughts:
- Beer is good (relax I wait until after Ms. Blue Ribbon gets home).
- Thawing milk sucks even without a screaming baby although I have gotten our day down to a science (planning ahead to limit the crying [mine or Babe’s?]).
- Netflix is King, but I did get sick of it after 6 weeks.
- It didn’t take long for me to not know the day of the week and things to blur together.
- I would live in a white T-shirt and jeans if Ms. Blue Ribbon wasn’t judging me and I didn’t have to pick up Mini Donut (Thank God for jacket season).
- I’m going to miss the special time I get with Mini Donut in the morning as we eat cereal and then watch cartoons together.
Do you plan to take an extended leave when you have kids? Did you? How did that experience affect you?