Career Or Family? You Only Need To Sacrifice For 5 Years At Most

It's hard to be a great parent and a great employee or entrepreneur at the same time. As a result, many parents are wondering whether they should pick career or family? Something has to give. This article will help you think through both choices so you can make the best decision possible for your family.

I'm sure some of you will disagree with my stance since you've done a wonderful job at work and at home. However, Unless you believe being a great parent includes being away from your kids for 12 hours a day while your little one gets ignored at a daycare facility, we've got different definitions.

And if you're rich, hiring a nanny or au pair to take care of your kids while you pursue making even more money might not count as great parenting either. At least if you're poor, you've got an excuse to go to work.

Before every parent reading this post gets too pissed off, let me acknowledge we don't need to be great at both parenting and work. Being good is generally good enough. Further, being able to overcome our guilt of pursuing one or another is what we might really want.

However, if you want to try to be great at either your career or at parenting, then it's often beneficial to go ALL-IN. Let's look at the choice between career or family objectively.

Deciding Between Career Or Family

This is not a post about how to be a great parent. Because unlike work, parenting is very subjective. There are no titles or pay increases, only endless care you must provide in hopes that your child enjoys their youth, learns new things, and grows up to be a good person.

After only six years of being a parent to two children, I'm still learning how to be a great father. All I can hypothesize is the more time we spend with our children, the higher likelihood that we may become better parents, all else being equal.

I realize some parents have to work full-time to pay the bills. During the pandemic, things were particularly difficult for working parents especially when schools were closed for long periods. Goodness knows I still feel burned out all the damn time! However, parents must also own up to their responsibilities.

Having kids is a conscious choice we've made. Therefore, it is up to parents to juggle career and family.

More Family Time Brings More Awareness

After spending 18 months sheltering-in-place and homeschooling my two young children, it is clear that spending more time with our children is better. The bond becomes stronger. Kids learn more. And you get to understand all of your kids' idiosyncrasies.

Spending more time with your child also makes you keenly aware of your child's unique needs. As a full-time parent, you end up morphing into a bunch of specialized roles.

For example, you basically become an all-in-one teacher, nurse, physical therapist, visual therapist, and occupational therapist. You want to ensure your baby is getting everything they need.

A Parental Ranking System Based On Caregiving Time

We can set up a loose parental ranking system based on time spent caregiving. This is for the good of your child (not yourself).

Here's a look at the parental ranking system from ideal to least ideal for the child.

1) Both partners stay at home to raise their child, also with support from relatives. Neither parent needs to work for money. This is obviously hard to do for most families.

2) Both partners stay at home to raise their child, while also being able to work from home. Even though both parents are working from home they can still take multiple breaks and play with their kids.

3) One partner stays at home and has help from a relative, nanny, fellow parent, or friend. A classic childcare arrangement, usually spearheaded by the mother.

4) Both partners go to work, leaving their child with a close relative like a grandparent. Still a great system if the grandparents or relatives are physically fit and really into childcare.

5) Both partners go to work, leaving the child with a child care provider. Not bad if the child care provider is a professional who loves children.

6) Both partners have busy jobs that require constant travel for days or weeks at a time. A nanny, au pair, or relative takes care of the children most of the time.

7) A single parent who must work, and therefore leaves the child with a relative or daycare (bless y’all for being able to juggle everything). Being a single parent is the hardest job in the world. You've got to do what you've got to do.

Overcoming The Guilt Of Not Spending More Time With Your Children

The average amount of time a parent spends with their kid is about 120 minutes or less in America. If you have to juggle work and parenthood, getting help from a au pair or nanny is very beneficial. But of course, getting help costs money. At the very least, if you want to eradicate guilt, then try to spend more than two hours a day with your children.

Please don't see the rankings as a judgement call either. We all have got to do what we got to do to survive. Further, we can all take steps to improve our situation if we want.

If you want to overcome the guilt of not spending more time with your children, then try to beat the average amount of time a parent spends with their children. This way, at least you know you are doing more than the average person.

I used to feel bad having children late. But now I realized older parents can actually spend way more time with their children due to greater financial independence! I have to put in the effort, but it’s great to know it’s possible.

Average amount of time parents spend with their children

Brain Size Differential Of Toddlers With Different Care

To help illustrate the importance of love, attention, and time spent with a child, below is an extreme image. It's not the average.

The brain on the left is a normal three-year-old brain that received normal care and attention. The right brain is from another three-year-old that experienced extreme neglect and abandonment. In other words, spending time with your children and caring for them matters.

Career or family debate? Brain sizes are different for children in the first 5 years depending on how much a parent spends with their child
Brains of two children at three years old showing that care does matter.

Try Your Best To Balance Career And Family

You can be a good parent in any of the above scenarios except for the last one. At the end of the day, you can only try your best and make the most of your current situation.

Remember, this logical parental ranking system isn't to massage your ego. This ranking system is for your children, not for you.

If you're mad at the ranking, then look at your family situation and try to make some changes.

Prioritize Career Or Family?

Before I became a father, I already suspected I couldn't become a great dad if I continued to work 60+ hours a week in investment banking. I spoke to plenty of colleagues who worked 60+ hours a week. They all lamented about never having seen their kids grow up.

Many parents, especially working mothers, also told me they felt a tremendous amount of guilt being at the office all day. When I asked why wouldn't they just take a break from work, they always said they couldn't quit the money.

It wasn't just the people from banking who said this. The same refrain was echoed by the people I spoke with in private equity, venture capital, management consulting, and technology.

Despite the good pay, there are plenty of miserable folks. It's unsettling to feel a constant tug between career or family.

Guilt is mentally draining and can really weigh you down if left unchecked. It's important not to overlook your mental health if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Career And Family Planning

I recognized my inability to simultaneously give my best to both work and fatherhood. As a result, when I was 33 years old I started to seriously plan for a career transition

This was one year after I had started Financial Samurai. Even back then I could already see its potential to one day free me from corporate bondage.

The whole idea was to have something to do at home while my wife and I took care of our little one together.

She would ultimately join me in early retirement. Since time spent with your baby/toddler is a key variable for being a good parent, having two stay at home parents seemed better than having just one.

We both negotiated severance packages to provide us a financial buffer after work. Further, I diligently focused on building as much passive income as possible to support our lifestyles. With the addition of supplemental income from this site, we have been able to both be stay at home parents since 2017.

The 2 – 5 Year Timeframe For Parenting

Dilemma: For years, I thought the best solution was to forsake my career and focus on being a good father. This is one of the reasons why I waited so long before deciding to have kids. I felt I needed to save way more money than I realized because I was never going back to work. I regret having waited so long.

Solution: What I now realize is that if you want to be a great parent, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Instead, all you really have to do is give up at most five years of your career to make things happen.

Related: How To Get Into An Elite Preschool Or Private Grade School

Why Give Up Five Years At Most?

Age five is when most kids start going to kindergarten. Once they're in kindergarten, you no longer have to spend all day with them. Given you now only have to drop them off and pick them up, you're welcome to go back to work.

If you feel five years is too long of a period to be out of the workforce, then there's another solution. You only have to give up your career for 2-3 years because age two is usually the earliest kids can attend preschool.

Being out of the workforce for 2-3 years won't impact your career very much in this more understanding world. You should have little problem getting a similar type of job with similar type of pay should you wish to reenter the workforce after 2-3 years of full-time parenting.

Further, the labor market bounced back two years after the pandemic began. Corporations are offering more flexibility to work from home to try and retain employees. Employees are quitting at the highest rate for better opportunities. Further, the idea of FIRE is becoming obsolete due to more work flexibility.

Don't quit your job, get laid off instead

Preschool To The Rescue To Help Working Parents

A preschool day lasts between 3-9 hours, but it's usually recommended not to leave your kid in pre-school for longer than six hours or else they'll be too tired, too cranky, or too homesick.

The only hitch is that preschool at age two is sometimes only two or three days a week. Most preschools are five days a week only once the child is three or four years old.

If you don't have kids, you probably won't be thinking about these timelines because you've got so many other things to think about.

We were thinking about things like buying the right home, getting an umbrella policy to protect our wealth, remodeling, getting a safer family car, life insurance, taking pre-natal vitamins, proper feeding, right size diapers, doctor visits, and more.

But if you know you'll only have to be out of the workforce for 2-5 years maximum, you won't have to save and invest as much. You'll also be able to be more confident having kids earlier, which may make it easier on the mother's body and safer for the well-being of both mother and baby.

If you exit the workforce for 2-5 years at a younger age, you'll correspondingly be that much younger when you restart your career. After all, many people who stop work and go to graduate school for 1-2 years seem to have no problem finding work again.

Related: Have A Net Worth Goal Before Having Children: How About $1 Million

Balance For Career And Family

Good parenting instructions

I know some of you are thinking I overanalyze things. Millions of people just wing it all the time and are fine. Well maybe not, since there are so many messed up kids and divorces.

But this article isn't for me since I'm already a father who doesn't plan to go back to work ever again. Let's check back in in the year 2030 to see whether I'm still as enthusiastic about being a permanent stay at home dad.

This article is for those of you who are considering when is the right time to have a kid, when to have more children, how will having kids disrupt your career, how much you need to work, save, and invest to ensure your family is taken care of, and for those who want to be the best parent possible.

I wish someone clearly explained to me the 2-5 year timeframe during my most gung-ho career days. I would have been much more serious about trying to start a family when I was 32, instead of trying at age 36-37.

One of my biggest regrets was not having children sooner. Given you will love your children more than anything else in the world, you want them to be in your life for as long as possible as well.

That said, there are a lot of benefits doing being an older parent as well. Namely, you may not have to stress as much about money. Further, you can spend way more time with your children during their first 18 years of life than younger parents.

Parenting Is Hard Work

Being a full-time parent rivals the toughest jobs in the world. You need a tremendous amount of patience, endurance, and calmness about you because there is no reasoning with a baby/toddler. Sometimes I daydream of going back to work to take a break from fatherhood!

At any moment, my kids could injure themselves or worse. I would say in comparison, most jobs are a walk in the park compared to taking care of a baby/toddler. No wonder why so many parents can't wait to get back to work after their parental leave is over!

Now that I've spent almost five years as a stay at home dad with two children, I can unequivocally tell you that it was the best time spent. I wouldn't trade any amount of money to not have that time with my kids. They grow up so fast. Once that time is over, you can never get it back.

Related: The Cost Of Raising Many Children Is Not Just The Money

The Best Career Plus Parenting Combination

In conclusion, I believe the best combination for families is to have one working spouse to insure financial security and one full-time parent to insure maximum childcare. If the full-time parent can be a full-time parent for 2-3 years until the child attends preschool, this combination is best for the child and the full-time parents career.

A great preschool is usually a place of joy and learning for a child. Your child will get to do new things they might not have done at home, such as participate in art classes, physical education classes, music classes, and so forth. The preschool has trained and motivated educators whose job it is to provide the most enriching environment for your child.

Of course your child won't receive the most amount of love and attention compared to when you were taking care of them at home. However, your child will be able to learn important social and survival skills.

Going back to work after having a baby is not easy, especially if the pay isn't much greater than childcare costs. You must do the math and decide what makes the most financial sense.

My hope is that more parents find employers who provide more flexibility when it comes to childcare. Increased employer flexibility is one of the main benefits of the pandemic. Please find an employer that supports both your career and family life.

Related post: Love Or Career? Which Will You Regret Not Having Most?

Recommendations For Parents To Balance Career and Family

1) Get term life insurance.

If there's one thing the pandemic has taught us is that tomorrow is not guaranteed. All parents need to get a term life insurance policy to cover all liabilities and expenses until their children are independent adults. The easiest way to compare quotes is by checking on Policygenius.

My wife as able to double her life insurance coverage (to match mine) and pay less with Policygenius. Policygenius gets qualified life insurance carriers to compete for your business. As a result, you can see all the customized quotes all in one place.

One of the mistakes we made was not having the same life insurance coverage amounts. This made no sense since we both take care of our children, manage our investments, and keep this site running.

2) Stay on top of your finances.

College tuition is now prohibitively expensive if your child doesn't get any grants or scholarships. Therefore, it's important to save and plan for your child's future.

Check out Empower's new Planning feature, a free financial tool that allows you to run various financial scenarios to make sure your retirement and child's college savings is on track. They use your real income and expenses to help ensure the scenarios are as realistic as possible.

Empower College Planning Feature - tel help decide between career or family

Once you're done inputting your planned saving and timeline, Empower with run thousands of algorithms to suggest what's the best financial path for you. You can then compare two financial scenarios (old one vs. new one) to get a clearer picture. Just link up your accounts.

There's no rewind button in life. Therefore, it's best to plan for your financial future as meticulously as possible. It's better to end up with a little too much, than too little!

I've been using their free tools since 2012 to analyze my investments and I've seen my net worth skyrocket since.

Empower Retirement Planning Comparison Chart to help decide between career or family

3) Negotiate A Severance

If you want to be a full-time parent, then you should negotiate a severance. Don't quit. If you negotiate a severance, you can get a severance check, and potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

When you get laid off, you're also eligible for roughly 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, sometimes longer. Having a financial runway is huge during a transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job, you get nothing. Check out my book, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. It teaches you how to negotiate a severance.

I first published the book in 2012 after I engineered my own severance. The book has since been expanded to over 240 pages post-pandemic thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.

Use the code “savefive” at checkout to save $5. Negotiating a severance to be a full-time parent was one of my best decisions ever. Our children grow up quick!

How to engineer your layoff - learn how to negotiate a severance package and be free

Career or Family is a Financial Samurai original post. For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter.

Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. Career Or Family is a Financial Samurai original post.

228 thoughts on “Career Or Family? You Only Need To Sacrifice For 5 Years At Most”

  1. I’m number 7 which is apparently the worst ranking but weirdly enough I see myself spending way more time with my daughter than so many couples working.

    Like I notice they drop the children off every day the minute the day care opens and pick up last minute before close.
    I also notice they got their babies in the day care at what, 1 month old??? Because they both work? That is so odd to me.
    I went back to work when my daughter was 9 months old, but I took her to work with me. Until she was three that is and then she started day care. The last two years ( she just turned five) she has gone to day care but I’m a professional and I still cut corners on my full time hours to drop her late or pick her up early or pick her up for lunch then drop her back. I love love the time we spend together.

    I live in a remote area too so no family to ring up for a last minute whatever!
    Based on caregiving, I’ve worked full time and been a single mother since she was nine months old but she really has had only two years of her first five in day care and I minimise her time in there. Also got no travel time to work as I live five minutes from where I work so we are lucky.

    I think my daughter and I have the best time together ever and we are so close.

    I feel sad for them babies with two working parents getting four different workers a day change their nappies.

    Think I’ll stay on my ranking seven!!

    “You can be a good parent in any of the above scenarios except for the last one.”

    I guess , in addition to my comment I got so carried away saying how much my daughter rocks my world I forgot why I went to comment! Turns out I actually can’t be a good parent. Dammit ; )

  2. Wow some really brutal comments here. Though I don’t find the article relates to my personal experience very much at all, I can still appreciate the points you raised and didn’t actually find anything offensive or controversial at all. That coming from a single mother who’s juggled study and a hoard of multiple casual jobs at times and still relying on a partial amount of social welfare to get by. If I had the chance to do it over again, your way sounds way more ideal. That said, I stumbled across your blog when I was trying to find anything regarding mum leaving kids with dad to pursue a higher paying career (kind of switching the traditional socio typical gender roles), and becoming the every other weekend and half holidays parent. Yeah I know, the search bar did everything but role it’s eyes at me (funny that)! And your blog was the only thing that came up amongst a barrage of different “10 side hustles stay at home mums can do to earn extra income around their husbands incomes”. I’ll save you the suspense, 100’s of surveys a week is not what I would have guessed either. I obviously didn’t put in the right keywords or something. Truth is leaving the kids despite now being 12 and 14 is harder than I thought it would be. I’ve fantasised about escaping the area that has kept me imprisoned since the relationship broke down and I became a single mother restrained by court orders with no flexibility that allowed for both raising small children and the ability to financially fund a healthy work, life and rest balance. Wow I’m not real great at getting to the point am I? *writes it down on list of things to improve on*.
    Ok so my question is, the passive income you mention. I have looked into this and time again get led down rabbit holes that end up being a complete waste of time. With no savings and living week to week much of the time, is there anything you recommend that’s worthwhile pursuing. I guess you might even word it as a possible “side hustle” (lol) around my low income earnings that might just help to bump up my income with minimal time constraints in the long run? Obviously private property is out, I can barely afford my rent 6 months of the year. But anything else come to mind? I must have watched 200 different you tube videos and sat through 100 different free online seminars on how selling mugs through Amazon or entering into some bizarre pyramid scheme would provide the solutions to my questions if I could just manage to front up $2000 to start off with. Time I’ll never get back gah.
    Anyway I enjoyed your article. Good luck with the kids, sounds like you have your act together, good for you (I genuinely mean that). Thanks in advance if you actually managed to persevere to the end of my comment/question. I hold no resentment if not. I would have probably done the same haha.

    1. Nice to hear from you. Yes, this is a touchy subject with family and Money is always a personal thing.

      I’m not sure about your exact situation, but are there possibilities to jump to a better employer for more pay and work flexibility? If not, can you ask for a raise if you haven’t had one in a while?

      How do you spend 2 1/2 years before 7 AM and after 10 PM writing on this website before I left my day job in 2012. From this website has come numerous opportunities, such as writing, a best selling personal finance book, doing consulting, and earning online income.

      So, if you have not yet already, I would suggest starting a website for free and building your brand online. If you do, and share your story, there will be unexpected opportunities that will come your way.

      Best of luck!

  3. Where I live in Austria, I took 1 year maternity leave to take care of my child. The best time ever. My husband was working but he missed on this special bonding time. When she was 2, the Pandemic hit and I was able to work from home, which I loved as I could take care of her and not give her over to the system. We tried and she hated Kindergarden. I intend to find a job which allows home office, so that I can earn, but also be there for my little one. I don’t care what science, other people or the society thinks. But in my gut I know that people in day care cannot take care of her as I can. Children need parents.

  4. Wow, you opened up a can of worms the first time this article was printed. My son is 27 and I was 37 when he was born. We had already accumulated enough savings for me to choose to stay home full time until he was in 2nd grade. I choose part time work after that, which allowed me to do a lot of volunteer work for the schools and the booster club fundraising for the activities my son was interested in, in middle and high school.

    I don’t know about studies on the effects of parents staying home vs. working but I did notice that when my son was in high school in AP courses I knew most of the other parents whose kids were in these classes. These kids were all college bound, all involved in music, sports, robotics, drama, speech, etc. And the majority had one stay at home parent, or at least a parent who had stayed home during the early years and both parents continued to be heavily involved in their kids activities.

  5. Every child wants to receive love from their parents, not just from a nanny. Balancing career and children is not easy, so many couples live a DINK lifestyle these days. I do not support this idea. To each their own.

  6. This article is quite opinionated. I think we can change our paths, but the things we truly have power over are sometimes limited. What we do have the ability to do is respond in positive ways and parent the best we can. I have a hard time relating to this article because I feel like I started in a place with very different circumstances. But it did get me thinking and appreciating what I have.

  7. Not sure how I came across this article. I guess I learned my lesson about googling things. Your background is FINANCE. Not child development. I have a Master’s degree in child development and the ONE picture you referenced from a scientific article is a picture from an article about children who were left in a crib for months on end (severe neglect). Absolutely no relevance to your article about working parents unless they plan to keep their child in a crib until they return home from work. You have no expertise and cite ZERO scientific research. Please stick to finance and taking care of your beautiful children. Hope nobody is suckered into this arduous sales pitch.

    1. If you have a Master’s degree in child development and offer no advice or wisdom, what’s the point? Telling someone you don’t know, what to write and how to think is very myopic. Freedom of thought is a beautiful thing. Don’t squash it in others. Sharing our knowledge helps all of us grow.

      If you are having some issues you are dealing with, please know you are not alone. The pandemic has been a difficult time. Also, I would gladly read the papers you’ve written about child development to reveal blindspots and knowledge holes.

      Related post: If You Love Your Spouse, You’d Make Them Financially Independent

      1. This is something I’m literally facing every single day. I work in a tech sales role and am envious of the time my partner spends with my daughter.

        I feel guilty when I don’t spend time with her, I’m still wfh for the most part.

        Personally I’m considering taking a step down to relieve the stress/pressure and guilt.

        I have no idea how people in sales roles do it.

    2. Cass,

      Please do share your wisdom. Your comment is very similar to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham comment who told Lebron James to “shut up and dribble” just because she disagreed with him.

      Would you happen to be a privileged white woman as well? If so, we call these people”Karens” in America.

      I hope you’re putting your Master’s degree to good use.

      Education is about learning all different points of view.

      1. What a misleading and misinformed article. Hey potential parents you *only* need to give up your career, earning potential and industry knowledge for 2-5 years! Then you can hop right back in: no one will notice your employment LOA! Do you honestly believe the BS you’re selling. Newsflash you didn’t quit your career when you started running a financial blog from home and going to graduate school isn’t the same as quitting your job to change diapers for two years. When people say they can’t quit their jobs because they need the money that doesn’t make them greedy that makes them practical. To live off savings/investments is a gamble. To raise a child with no money coming in is a high risk to say nothing of losing employement assisted health insurance. To assume you can walk back into your field after five years of no work related experience is naive. This advice should only be followed by trust fund families.

    3. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned in the comments that he says you only need to give up five years max…but that’s if you only plan on having one child. Most couples want their children to have siblings, and often have multiple children. If you were to have 3 kids every 3 years, and waited until the youngest was 5 in order to go back to work, that’s 11 years out of the work force. If you have 3 kids every 2 years, that’s 9 years out of the work force. I’m in my late 20s planning on how to balance being with my children and having a career. Even if I started now, at a young age, I wouldn’t be “starting” my career until nearly 40. This was a major flaw in this article.

      1. Obviously, you have to adjust accordingly. I said at most five years, and that’s for the majority of families. Preschool generally starts at age 2 or three, which can be full-time. So the median number of children at under two per American household, you would get to five years.

        But if you want to have three children, obviously, you need to make some sacrifices. No parent would rationally think they can do it all with no childcare help with three children. Something has to give.

        When my children began preschool, I decided to do more work online and write my bestseller, Buy This Not That. Instead of spending a typical 40 hours a week working, I spend 15 to 20 hours a week so I can spend more time with my children.

      2. To your point about parents wanting their child to have siblings, why is this? We all know plenty of people who are not close with their siblings or worse, have an acrimonious or litigious relationship with their sibling(s). Wanting your child to have siblings is misguided. The question should be: do you want to parent multiple children and are you willing to put in the additional effort to do so?

  8. Thank you for such an honest article without word mincing. My kids are 2 and 3.5. Just had a big morning trying to ship them off to childcare/kinder. They go 4 days a week. They are demanding kids, high energy, high effort, high maintenance. And so is my job. Took 3 years off and decided it was enough, mental health and all, I’m a better mum when I get some me time (by me time I mean work time, I need the balance and I also need to grow the business which is to say I’m not an employee but working to take over the business.) every hour matters because it’s a big sacrifice and investment, sleep is sacrificed, with maybe 6 hours of sleep per day with interruptions every 2 hours for kids. Trying not to feel guilt because it’s not helpful unless you do something about it. It’s just a wasteful emotion. I want to make a difference in the world too, make an impact, and the inefficiency is killing me. Inefficiency of hours that are spent neither with quality time with kids nor on quality work (especially if someone at work is talking slowly about some unimportant issue.) Some days I’m flying and others feel like the mojo is lost somewhere among the toys and kitchen that is constantly in need of tidying, and damn if that isn’t really hard. Ok. Thanks for listening to the little vent. Ready now to go make the most of the day and then the most of the kids. And to work out how to be a better mum. That is the number one priority and should be.

  9. Thank you for sharing! I find it really helpful as we have been going through a similar situation. Our daughter was born in September, 2021. Best thing ever happened in my life! Not that long ago, I used to work for a company that required travel frequently (occasionally same day notice) and overtime. My work schedule changed almost everyday. The constant uncertainty really stressed my wife and I out since she became pregnant. Covid made it even more complicated. My previous employer for some reason did not allow me to take FMLA and the manager wasn’t on my side. At one point, I was thinking of quitting my full-time job for a year to become a stay home dad. Working only one FT job, nevertheless, barely brings in enough income on Oahu. Eventually, I resigned but I couldn’t afford to be a stay home dad, so I had a new job lined up right away. Luckily, I now work for a major US company that gives me a set work schedule. I’m working on getting more passive income so maybe one day I can early out to spend more quality time with family.

    1. No problem and congrats on your daughter. YAY! Being a parent is the toughest thing ever, especially the first 12 months of life. But things will get better.

      And if you’re living in Oahu, I am so envious! Was just there in December seeing my parents and I’m trying to figure out how to get back.

  10. I wanted to add another perspective as a full-time working mom looking to make a career change. I stumbled on this while googling looking for perspectives on cutting back work hours as my kiddo is heading towards school age.

    My husband and I both work full-time and my son has been in daycare since he was 7 weeks old. It was a tough decision, but a really positive one for our family. At the time I was working a job that I loved deeply and we couldn’t afford to lose half our income for me to stay home. There was no way we could swing the health insurance cost. We researched and toured several care locations before we found one we loved and our son went to school there. It has been wonderful! We loved the infant teachers and felt that our kiddo was well taken care of by two ladies who loved him very much. It also allowed him to learn to build trusting relationships with others at a young age. He is now 3 and loves going to “school” with his little friends each day. It is hard, but not as hard as it was in the beginning.

    At this time I am looking to make a transition to a career in education where we will have breaks aligned once he hits school age. The biggest challenge we have faced has been unexpected closures of his daycare due to weather and Covid related problems. We don’t live near any family and have had to rely heavily on a combination of babysitters and friends to help during closings. The last year taught me that one of us needs more flexibility in our schedule to be able to best care for the family as a whole. While I know that education jobs don’t provide flexibility, they do provide a matching schedule for school closings so I can care for my son and still be able to focus on my work.

    I love being a mother and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but I do not feel that being a stay-at-home parent was the right choice for me. My mother stayed home with us for years and while I enjoyed the time with her I also saw how much she did when she went back to work. I am proud of how she built a business and became a very successful entrepreneur, but she still sees herself as a mother first even though her children are all grown and in our 30s. Weekends are our time together as a family and my husband and I protect that time with an intensity that is hard to describe. He has lost out on promotional opportunities because he refuses to be on-call on the weekends. That is our time together and when we get to give our son full attention. I am not an expert in child development and have learned a great deal from parenting my son, but I am also thankful for professional caregivers at his school who put together engaging activities and educational opportunities for him to learn and grow daily.

    I am looking forward to having more flexibility to take care of my son when his school is not open and being able to parent him with less anxiety about meeting his needs. Having two stay-at-home or work-from-home parents may be a wonderful option for many families, but we have found a great deal of peace and joy in our current two-working-parent household.

    1. Thanks for your perspective! There is probably no greater joy a child who loves going to school! Every parent needs to figure out what works for them. Glad things are working out for your family.

  11. I quit work when my daughter was 6 months old. She was cared for by family but I wanted to be there with her, caring for her, watching her grow…I’ve looked back over our YTD income over the past 20 years and we had some very hard, low income years. But we look back now and thank God we made it. We stuck to our plan of him working and me being with the kids. And he always chose a night schedule in order to be home more. My daughter is a sophomore in college now, the time I spent with her was priceless. My son as well, he is 16. We sent them to a private college prep school where they only attended 2 days a week K-6 and 3 days a week 7-12. It was perfect. My son is currently homeschooled/co-op/college classes. But, now that my daughter is gone, having a blast at college, we look back and we are very thankful for our choices. We sacrificed a lot, but those babies were so (still are so) worth it!
    I just recently turned down a great offer for a f/t job (I’m not completely content in my p/t situation – it’s not engaging my mind enough). That is what led me to your article. Something you said helped to reconfirm my decision to stay home and continue working p/t. I love the time I’m spending one on one with my son. Because he is the youngest, the quietest and most east going, he didn’t stand out above his sister. Now, we have this amazing time to just focus on him. We can tell he loves it, and we especially love it. He specifically told his dad, “I need more time with you”, so my husband cut down on his side job to spend more time with our son. These kids are such a gift! We do not do everything perfectly as parents, but we sure try hard. With a lot of love, a lot of open conversation and a fantastic amount of prayer. Thank you for your article. It was helpful.

    1. Wonderful to hear you enjoyed your time raising them. I don’t think we parents will ever regret it!

      I don’t think I will. The time is flying by with my little ones 2 and 4.8 years old now.

      Thanks for sharing and stopping by.

  12. Janet Rodriguez

    Hi, I believe most women would love to take 2-5 years off, but it is not possible. It is already impossible to save. Look at where inflation and housing costs are taking us now? I wanted to move closer to work but now that is impossible.
    Also, consider in some industries women are screwed if they take 2-5 years off, example in the financial industry you will lose your Finra licenses. I have actually wondered if there is a way to put these licenses on “maternity” hold and have them in place once a woman returns. If not, is this grounds for a legal case?

  13. Leave it to a man to declare that leaving the work force for five years is no big deal and you can just pick up right where you left off.

    1. As a stay-at-home dad since 2017, I can empathize with your worry. But blaming me for sharing my thoughts and experience b/c I’m a man isn’t going to help your situation. Better to adopt an abundance mindset.

      The limit is 5 years at most… but realistically, 2-3 years, since that is when most kids are eligible for preschool. One way to stay relevant, if possible, is to continue doing freelance work or entrepreneurial work as a stay at home parent.

      Related post: The Average Amount Of Time A Parent Spends A Day With Their Children Is So Low

  14. The problem I have with this is what about teaching your children work ethic? They learn from example and seeing Mom and Dad go off to work to put food on the table is a good example.

    Plus with daycare and preschool kids get to be with other kids which they often like.

    Please don’t get me wrong every parent should think about their career and how much time it is so they have time with their kids.

    But I think to seeing parents work at their jobs and learning money doesn’t grow on trees can also be valuable life lessons for kids.

  15. I’m thinking to take a break from my career for taking care of 5 yrs old and 2.5 years old. I reached to your page to look for wisdom from other parents. When kids start going kinder and preschool, does it still worth leaving the career for parenting? because when they get older, say teenagers, they spend more time with their friends. When they get older and if I want to go back to work, it may be difficult to get the same salary I used to make. I guess I’m in fear of insecurity of finance but I would like to make myself available to pick up, drop off and do the home work for my kids even it’s for a couple of years. I might be just greedy for the perfect life.

  16. You have inferred that a single parent who has no choice to work and is doing the best they can to provide for their child is worse than a couple who both work or a couple with one stay at home parent.

    That’s not fair! I should be able to do everything as a single mother just as much as a loving couple.

    1. If you look at a general view of how responsible a single parent’s children are vs a full time at home parent – I think single parents raise much stronger kids. Also research proves that working mothers raise more responsible children.

    2. I agree. Many single parents do a phenomenal job raising kids.

      I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the parental ranking, because there are a ton of variables that have been left out. How flexible is the job? How easy is it to take time off? What about health insurance? How family friendly is the company? How much travel? Jobs that are more project based (e. g. It doesn’t matter so much when you work, just as long as the work gets done) can be ideal. For example, if a single parent had flexible job with great health insurance, unlimited time off (some jobs offer this now), help from a relative, she/he could be more available than two parents who both have inflexible, demanding jobs where they have to punch a time lock or do a lot of traveling.

      But keep in mind, this article and the ranking is just one guys opinion.

  17. SoPoMaine_Amy

    I’m not sure I agree with the most important time for a child being before Kindergarten or not working at all either, but I do agree with spending more time or quality time or putting a priority on parenting above your work. We adopted our son when he was 2 years old, my husband and I both worked full time. Since March 2020 (COVID) my husband has been down to 25 to 30 hours a week and I work from Home now (32 hours a week). My son has benefitted greatly with us spending more time with him since the start of COVID – 19 last March. We are in hybrid mode so he is going to 3rd grade 2 times a week and home 2 to 3 times. My husband does the morning shift and I do the afternoon. Because he is doing so much better I believe I will try to continue to work from home forever. I don’t know if it is as much as Not working that he has benefited by, but more of putting him first before my work. The hardest part for me was to except not being as good at my job for the time being. So I think that is my sacrifice, but am rewarded often when my son loves being with me.


  18. Honestly, I could not get through the first few paragraphs of this. How condescending and shaming of parents who HAVE to work while their kids are young. I wonder if there are good points made later on, but I’ll never know, because the tone sounds toxic to start with.

    It’s not many parents fault that we have kids. We deserve to be able to raise our kids and make as much money as we want. It is the responsibility of the teachers to care for our kids during the day, not the parents as we go and make our money!

    1. I agree, my husband is mentally ill, can only work part time. He will get SSDI soon, but guess what we have to stay poor to get benefits. There is an income limit to medicaid too. He can’t work full time. Very few jobs, if any, will give you full benefits unless you are working full time. We have two small girls and I would literally give the world to stay home with them. I can’t trust my husband to stay home with the girls because of his mental illness. But we’d have to live with his somewhat unstable parents forever. So I guess we’re f*cked. Thank you. Some people don’t choose their situation.

      The person who wrote this article is a moron and thinks that single parents are either selfish or just stupid. I came here because I wanted to know if it’s possible to have a great relationship with your kids even when you have to work full time.

      I’m a Sahm mom in a bad situation and your telling me that my relationship with my kids will basically be the worst. I guess I could just rack up a ton of debt and then my kids can pay for it when I’m dead and gone. Because apparently staying with them All Day is the only way I can be a great parent.

    2. Someone with a PhD in education

      Agreed. A disgustingly judgmental and I’ll informed article based on zero research and only anecdotal evidence. Moreover, who says the parents with kids at home are doing anything educational/better than childcare? Or that parents working for their own sanity and well-being might not be better for the child than that parent staying home? Plus the blatant impracticality/impossibility of staying home for many families. Research actually shows that good quality childcare centres are better for kids than staying home and as someone else mentioned, research also supports the benefits of single mothers who work. I also think the very real and long term negative impact that extended time off can have on a person’s career can’t be overlooked (the author suggests in a comment freelancing etc but this may not be an option and even if it is, it’s a lot of work to get freelance jobs for some and working that around a child when you haven’t organised care could be very hard). I can’t stress enough how harmful the messages on this page are. Do what works for you and your family, be it care, staying home or working and that’ll be what’s best for your child.

      1. The truth hurts. The “do what works for you and your family” is NOT helpful to the parents out there trying to decide what is best for their family.

        And you just disagreeing without providing any research or evidence is unhelpful. If you are struggling to raise your children, please keep an open mind. See a psychologist if you have to.

        Take responsibility. And yes, spending more time with your children is better than spending less. Only an irresponsible parent would think otherwise.

    3. “ It’s not many parents fault that we have kids.”

      Then whose “fault” is it? God’s?

      Just the fact that you are not taking responsibility for your kids probably makes you an irresponsible parent.

      Because what else are you blaming other things for as well?

      Take reaponsibility and grow up!

  19. This is a silly article based on personal opinion. I didn’t read past the point of your thoughts on what the best order is for parenting. I believe this is all depended on life situations and family’s and some children are obviously in a better spot when they aren’t home with 2 parents. Makes me wonder if you have kids even…. like what lesson would my kid learn if we both stayed home and no one had to work for anything .

    1. Totally agree with you. Sounds like real Tomfoolery and ignorance. Maybe they should mention about Oprah’s single mom life; somehow she turned out more than decent and from your super erroneous and clouded image. You as a writer remind me of the idiots in Peoria, IL at the attachment parenting group who shamed me the natural single mom and the test tube baby career single mom that we can’t be true attachment parents. 13 years later my daughter and I can take about anything, in her TEEN years. Well gotta say these opinions of yours are terrible just like most nuclear family elitists. Those who liveth path straight and narrow have the worst advice to give

      1. Oprah, Amy Coney Barret, etc. They dont raise their own kids, they pay people to do it for them.

  20. I am really worried at the moment. I do not want to leave my nine months little boy at home and go to work. My husband is working full time and I have to get back to work for immigration purposes but I am really not ready. I am feeling sick and anxious.

    1. Christie Marina Wolf

      I’m sorry that you are feeling this pressure. I arrived at this article feeling guilty about work/life balance for my 5 year old who began child care at 6 months. I can tell you that finding the right child care is a Godsend. The search will be difficult, but when you find the match it makes a world of difference. The author’s assessment of all child care being essentially neglectful is not accurate. Can you work part time, or set up a schedule that enables you to still enjoy quality time in the afternoons/evenings?

  21. Kate Welling

    I was surprised to read that kids can join day care as early as 2 years old. I am going to look for a place to bring my daughter to child care. It would be beneficial to get this early education for her.

  22. Thank you for all that you have written, as a mum who had a child at 17 and supporting my husband for him to finish his degree and working non stop, now at age 27 I got my long service leave and we just had another baby and we have decided we are in a financial position where I can be at home and share these moments you mention with my second daughter that I missed the first time. It feels strange not working but it’s so nice to have quality time with my girls and I have returned to university to finish my degree which will take 4 years so I’m glad I’ll be able to have this special time and totally agree, especially if we have another baby. The first five years are so important and time you can’t get back with your children, if you can take the break, humble yourself you don’t need all the best gadgets, cars etc quality time is worth so much more! I always have my first daughter say how happy she is that I’m finally able to drop her off and pick her up. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy sitting at home but then realise how awful I felt missing all those important milestones. Thank you for this honest and raw blurb I really enjoyed reading it and it has given me more reassurance of my decision to return to my studies and be a sahm right now.

  23. I think as well as emotional support, financially supporting your children is extremely important. We have a 2 and 4 year old. We knew a woman who was a SAHM for years and then her husband passed away and she had an extremely rough time financially for a long time trying to support her children. That had always been my husband and my fear and as such we’ve both always held fulltime jobs. We’ve been on split shift for years as well as a year of fulltime grandparent support so neither child has ever been in daycare. I don’t ever judge how one chooses to parent a child and having one person stay away home isn’t always the best option. We have extremely robust 401ks, rental houses and savings accounts as well as owing our own house to help pad our lives if the unthinkable ever happened. We do it all for our kids to ensure they are well taken care of. My husband splits the care of our kids 50/50 so we both put in a lot of time with them during the weekday as well as our own family time on the weekends. This all goes to show that every family’s choices are their own and having one person stay at home is not always the best option for kids. I honestly think the one family income viewpoint is a very antiquated view of the family unit and not one a financial site should be pushing as the best way to raise children.

  24. I only read a portion of this article and it made me feel sick. I think you should put a warning that this is a post for people who believe in “more time spent with parents/family is the best for children”. I am a full-time working mother who needs to work to make living since my husband wouldn’t make enough to support the family. I went back to work crying while my son started going to daycare. I give all my love and time outside of work to him yet feeling the guilt. I am doing best possible I can in the situation we are in, it is extremely disappointed to see someone like you trying to convince others that your decision is the right choice for your children. Should I believe that my son won’t be good enough no matter how much effort we make because of the time not being spent with him as parents? Also, I would like to see where you get the data to create the “parental ranking system based on time for the good of your child (not yourself)”? I just wanted to let you know that you could hurt people’s feelings with your post. I understand that you want to believe and validate (and possibly advertise) your own theory.

    1. It’s just my opinion that spending more time with our kids during the first five years is better than less time.

      And if it makes you feel better, so many of my peers who work FT say it’s the quality of time that counts and not the quantity of time.

      Feel free to argue what you think is the ideal solution to making money and caring for your children. Thx

    2. So basically you’re calling your own father a bad dad, because according to you he was virtually absent. Though you seemed to have done well for yourself despite that. I agree that being there for children the first five years, if not at least 2 or 3 is the way to go before going back to work, but this is not the choice for everyone and I have seen children of working parents grow to become resilient and independent. You shouldn’t baby your kids too much either, they will suck on your teet for life and become very dependent and never want to leave home. I have friends like that unfortunately that still act like babies in their 30’s and still live at home, unable to keep a relationship. Like with everything in life there is a delicate balance to it. You should love your kids to the maximum, but you shouldn’t stop dreaming, because you don’t just stop dreaming when you have kids. People still have aspirations, and they don’t just stop when you have a child. It’s not just about money sometimes, it’s about making a difference, and if we all stay home, all of that passion would just be wasted. There is a way to be a good parent and work an amount of hours that is enough to make money but at the same time, not so much so that you can have time with the kids. All but the last situation listed on your list are good parents. Some parents HAVE to work. I thankfully work from home, and I can be with my 4 year old, but I have never stopped dreaming that’s for sure. My husband is self employed as yourself with his own business and is able to dedicate a lot of his time to the baby. Children are more important than money, but real people have real bills to pay and have to keep a roof over their heads. God bless all of the parents who are trying to be great parents and are because they care enough for their children to try to be

  25. My husband got a job in NYC which would pay him decent amount of money. He also got an offer from Chicago suburban with almost equal pay as NYC. We currently live in Jersey and we are immigrants. With the current govt. We could possibly get kicked off. However, I am a doctor from home country and want to pursue my career in USA. While, my husband wants to move to Chicago because he feels he can pay off his debt, have worklife balance and better job opportunities. I see myself doing something with my career in Northeast rather than going to suburbans. I am strongly against long distance. I want to understand why it is only women who need to compromise on her career and aspirations and not men. How do we focus on our career while having smooth relationship. With so much of difference it looks like we can never have kids.

    1. It shouldn’t be women who need to compromise on her career path… it is a sad stigma which our society has created. Chase your dreams, including your career dreams.

  26. It seems that everyone feels entitled to have kids, regardles their fitness (or lack of fitness) for parenting. People who can barely support themselves having 6+ kids, people with serious genetic disorders having kids, people mentally challenged having kids, and the list goes on. I don’t think I would be a great parent, I don’t think I have very good genes, and can’t guarantee I will be able to provide a good life to my potential offspring, so I just decided not having any. Why are so much people unable to develop some critical thinking?

      1. “….NOTHING you will love more than your children….” I get that, I’m not going to deny that. But let’s assume you have hungington’s disease or any other disease with a high chance of inheritance… will your love prevent your offspring from suffering? who is behaving in a selfish way? just as a reminder, those of us who decided not to having kids are usually labelled as selfish individuals…

        1. If there was a high chance I would pass on pain and suffering to my children, I wouldn’t have children. If there was a high chance I cannot provide for my children, I wouldn’t have children either.

          I don’t think people deciding not to have children are selfish. The opposite actually.

          Do you have some genetic issues that you feel would severely limit your child’s life? What is your reason for not having children. Do you have someone you love to have children with?

    1. You cannot predict the outcome of any child. There are millions of stories of all types of people and their varying backgrounds and who they have become either better or worse. It is not at the decision of the parent in any regard. Even personalities come highly pre-written that may have nothing to do with either parent or anyone in the family. The miracle of life is a miracle as is the destiny of all individuals. You could giveth the beat lot in life and they could do nothing with it or become nothing or be born with the worst lot and become the best. Having kids in general is the the luck of the draw and it isn’t in our hands but in God’s.

  27. I have a serious question to ask of you. What about those parents who have children old enough to go to school but not old enough to stay home when it becomes SUMMER VACATION. Both parents NEED to work do to needing the financial income, NOT because they can’t “Quit the Money” <———I wish that was a "problem" we had to deal with :/
    No friends or family that can pitch in to help and no real "extra" money to have children go to a camp or something because they ALL cost money. What to people like us do in this case ???

    1. Great question! If there are no other options, then sending kids to summer camp/summer school is what most parents do. Some parents do have flexible hours during the summer and winter months as well.

      1. This is my situation currently. I have 2 bio kids and 3 step kids and we get them during the summer, the oldest is 11. When my kids were younger I stayed home with them. But when I got remarried my husband youngest was 4. Fast forward 4 years later I’m trying to dive back into the workplace full time and I’m always contemplating on when and how. As Nikki said camp is too much. I’ll pretty much be working just to pay for it. For 5 kids.

    2. Don’t have children if you can’t afford the payments. Just like any other financial responsibility you choose to take on. It’s not like it’s a mystery as to how much it costs to raise a child.

      1. Hope you’re an advocate for legal termination and government funded family planning clinics! Not all child conception is a choice or planned. However, people, both rich and poor have been reproducing since well let’s say a very long time, it’s how we’ve managed to continue our existence as a species believe it or not. Even people in poor countries have been afforded the ‘luxury’ of reproducing without considering if they would be able to “afford the payments”. Your comment just sound arrogant and privileged AF, not to mention dumb. That’s harsh I know, I’m sorry. I just can’t stand it when people make like reproducing should only be experienced by those who are privileged enough to experience a comfortable lifestyle, stability and security, which is never 100% guaranteed anyway.

    3. Danny Walker

      Okay, so having read through this article, I find myself feeling a little frustrated about the arrogance of the author to begin with. For me, this article is based on one persons (limited) experience of parenting and provides a view on what a parent must do in order to be a great parent and if you don’t agree to this view then you are dismissed as primative. It’s a shame because there are some useful (yet obvious) tips on parenting, but the undertone of arrogance spoils this. Please don’t presume your method of parenting is the only way of parenting and you can only be a good parent if you follow this method. Parenting is a very personal and magical endeavour and an open mind should be sought to embrace this important responsibility.

  28. Very interesting point of view. I had a career of 15 years working in the IT industry when I became pregnant with 38. I had already switched to a more childfriendly employer, but still worked 80% as Head of Projects.

    I was in the middle of kicking-off a major project where I had the lead and steered the ship right until I hit the delivery room on ETA. My project mgmt skills helped me tremendously to plan with my son who was 4 months when he started going to daycare 2 days a week as I reduced my worktime to 50% for a year. Babies sleep a lot, time I spent managing my trusted team and finishing the go-live of my project in budget / in time. I was used to jetlags, which also helped. We moved closer to my parents and in-laws and my husband reduced to 80% thus had a perfect network of baby jugglers to help.
    The benefits:
    – Several tiers of child support made it easier to travel for business
    – Breastmilk storage / electronic breastpump
    – childfriendly employers
    – great daycare team with groups of 3 kids per nanny.

    After son was 1.5 he decided how much he wanted mom and dad at home. When he was 2 he had a best buddy who also was at daycare and he wanted to go all day, so I increases to 80%, later he wanted to stay at home, so I again reduced to 50%, with 3 he joined a toddler music program and I reduced to 60%. Today he‘s in school and I work 70-100% and my husband 100%, though I do a lot from the home office on two home office days.

    I used my time away from the shark tank to get into Agile, Scrum and gain more leadership skills, so that by the time son is 10 I can manage bigger departments of several 100 / 1000 employees (been leading teams of up to 250 so far).

  29. I’m delighted that, with your 15 months of parenting experience, you feel qualified to tell all parents what their children need at every developmental level! I know that you look at couples who haven’t had kids yet and shake your head at all they still have to learn. Please understand- those of us with older kids look at you the same way. Kids don’t need their parents around less when they get to grade school. When they’re babies/toddlers, they really don’t have any clue what’s going on and are generally happy to be with anyone. (This is repeatedly heartbreaking to new parents who need desperately to believe that they’re as important to their babies as their babies are to them, which may be why many refuse to test it out by putting their little ones in a position where they can develop bonds with other adults.) It’s when they’re older that they really need their parents, have complex friendship and morality issues to figure out, behavioral issues and stress and learning issues, have a million school and extracurricular activities that they both need to get to, and want parents to attend. It becomes much harder to balance work and family as kids get older, not easier. Whatever your plan for your future is, it should include that reality.

    1. Makes sense to me. I’m just telling you my perspective of what I’ve learned so far and everybody can make their own choice. Not sure why you are offended. You’re coming to my side not the other way around.

      Did you end up pursuing your career and regret not being a SAHP?

      Can you share your situation so we can understand where you are coming from? What are some learnings that you discovered that you can share to help other people wondering what to do.

      It’s always better to share different perspectives so we can all learn from those who’ve been there.


      1. Okay so I have 2 kids ages 4 and 8…I work as much as I can just to pay my rent alone, their father left years ago because he did not want to be a father anymore. I receive only 50 a mth in foodstamps, that is all I qualify for and can not quit my job because then I can not afford rent. My parents both passed away a few yrs ago and have no help from my other family members. I am completely alone parenting and making it on my own. I don’t find many ppl in the same type of situation as me because they either have help from family or the other parent in the picture so when I read about single parents I never find the answers to be very fitting. I’m working a dead end low paying job and can not find other work that pays enough and will work with hours I can do because of kids. I pay enough as it is in summer childcare as well as during school/daycare as my youngest is only in pre school pt so I have to pay for the other pt care he gets and morning care for my oldest just to make 40 hrs a week. It is hard to juggle everything. So when ppl say I should do this or that I feel like they just don’t get it, I don’t have time to go to school for myself or to find a man, that’s not even an option when I’m so busy anyways. it’s me and my kids and I have to focus on them as much as I can when I do have the time to spend quality time with them but I’m also lost and unsure of what the future holds for us because ultimately I would love to have a house for the 3 of us and a good paying job but I’m not sure if the cards are in my favor as far as that goes.

        1. Single mom – this author’s situation is clearly vastly different than your situation, but I think you are still in control and the same basic principle can/should still apply. Where is your time/energy best spent to maximize enjoyment from life for your children AND you? Please realize also that you are not alone, but do need to reach out via other channels to receive community support since your parents and ex are sadly not an option. Use community groups, parent groups, neighborhood gatherings, or religious organizations in your local area as a means to connect with others. Creating strong friendships will be a great source of fulfillment and joy as well as a means to share the burden. Human connection is what makes life worth living. Set a good example for your kids with hard work, but also show them how you can thrive regardless of the hand you were dealt. I have no doubt the bond with your children will be greater than most and the respect they will have for you immeasurable.

          Your comment reminds me of how important it is to be involved in the community to support people in tougher situations than our own. It’s easy to be laser focused on my own family/safety net and forget all of the other people who need a friendly shoulder to lean on.

    2. So defensive and sensitive. Sorry you’re having such a tough time balancing work and family. Maybe you should pick what’s more important to you and focus?

      I would choose family over work any day. If you really believe that kids need more parental guidance as they get older, what the heck are you doing working?

      Seems like guilt has really taken over your comment. Nobody’s going to blame you for wanting money over spending time with your kids. Just yourself.

    3. So true!
      I have 3 kids and in my first one I worked like crazy since I couldn’t afford it. I missed so much from him that even to this day it hurts. I traded time for money. I worked harder each year to move to a better neighborhood, better school system etc but I wasn’t present on all these -after 5 year old- school years. Missed activities etc. My son was 12 when the rat race ended. I had two more girls 22 months apart. For my other two I decided to stay home because the opportunity arrived and even to this day- they are 12 & 10, I’m grateful for it. My professional career has suffered since it’s been 12 years of staying home but I still consider myself a lucky momma. Parenting it’s not one size fits and I see career driven parent where both work long hours, kids are surviving- they go to school, nannies take them from one activity to the other etc but for me these were the years that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the World. Priceless years!
      We are moving soon in a more expensive area so I might have to go back to work but I still feel like I want to be the one present on my kids events not the babysitter. Especially when one of the spouses has a more thriving career that the other , I’ll be the one to be with my kids. Preffesionally I might never feel ‘good enough’ but that’s why we have choices and they differ from one parent to the other.

      1. How can you afford to stay at home with no work. Are you bludging of society who pays taxes ? Thats not a good example for children

        1. Brandy Smith

          Who the hell play pays you guys has bills like I’m a single mother with two boys and I need to go back to school to get my bachelor’s degree because I still can’t live and I own my own home car everything but just putting food on the table and buying them clothes and whatever else they need I’m barely making it who the hell has the choice to stop work

    4. Yes life isnt easy and gets harder. Ive spent my life working away from home my wife and ny children. I dont do this because I want to. I do this so I can provide. Pay for a mortgage pay for electricity pay for water and food. And lastly pay for the best education i can for my children. I hate watching my children grow up over a computer screen for 30 minutes a day. And sometimes I dont see them at all for months. Im lucky I have a loving loyal amazing wife . Who works hard everyday of the week as well. But is home to make breakfast and lunch and send the kids to school. And is home for them in the afternoon. My wife tells me how greatful she is to me for giving her and the kids the best I can. My children ages range from 18 to 5. They are all happy and healthy. Thats all that matters to me. I miss them very very much. But as long as they are healthy and happy thats what matters most. One day I hope that I will have time to live with my children will have the money to stay home. Or maybe one day my children will tell me to come home and say dad its time for us to look after you. And for you to enjoy your life with us and your grandchildren. God bless us all . Show love and serve your wife and children as you would serve your God. Love is service love is patient love is forever.

    5. To Stacy:

      I think the writer “with [his] 15 months of parenting experience” has done more research than you. Your though process “when they’re babies/toddlers, they really don’t have any clue what’s going on” is incorrect. Actually there is a lot of research on that subject. They “are generally happy to be with anyone” also incorrect. I don’t know at what age you put your child in daycare or your parenting style which could be the reason your child is happy with anyone. On the contrary my child knows the difference between myself and his father and the rest of the people including family members. Although he smiles at everyone, he always prefers us. I started daycare because I need to go back to the office. He is so unhappy, he stopped eating and doesn’t want to sleep. So if you ask me, they are just like us. Are you happy going to anyone’s house? People are the happiest around people they know and feel comfortable with. Just because we created a society in which we have 9-6 or 8-5 jobs and children need to go to daycare, doesn’t mean is okay for their development. A child’s brain grows 80-90% to full size in the first 3 years of life. My struggle is that I am thinking about quitting my job. The last thing I want is his brain developing by being 11 hours at daycare, the rest sleeping, and seeing his parents one hour a day. No wonder kids have no connections with their own parents and we wonder why. No attachment at childhood, nor later in life, because they spend most of their time at school. To later get home, go to their room to be on the internet/TV.

  30. Maybe some of us do not work for money. I have trained to be a scientist my entire life. I work as an educator and a researcher. I do it as a way to use my gifts to serve humanity and because I love it. How could someone take 5 years off from such a path?

    If money is someone’s main motivation your premise makes sense but for many of us it isn’t. By the way can you imagine how great my kid feels about having a mom who is a scientist?

    1. Do you have kids? And if so, how did you balance this? 27yo, about a month out of graduating from my Bsc in Molecular Biology (Bit late I know but life happened). Seriously have two forks in front of me – Postgrad or family and this is a real-life question that I just don’t know if I have answers for. I probably won’t know what was the “better choice” ever, all I will know is what was right at the time – but that’ll probably be with 20:20 hindsight. Desperate for other people’s stories on how they managed science/family, women especially.

        1. Hi,
          I am a former scientist and I currently teach in NJ. As many have said, sometimes we need to make choices that will affect for sure our work life or family life.
          before meeting my husband, I worked in HIV research, I collaborated in 7 papers and for that, I am deeply proud that I could work in what drove me to pursue a career on science. However, once I met my husband and things were getting serious, I though about the idea of having a family at some point. Well, research is a competitive and demanding field and I made a choice that pit my family first. I am now a science teacher and I have three kids. the fact that I am with my kids during the evening and summers and holidays, that, I wouldn’t trade for anything, it is a gift.
          do I miss doing research and collaborate in peer review publications? Of course, sometimes I feel nostalgic of the passion that i put in each project that I was part of. However, I see my children and parenting as a learning experience, gathering daily information and providing feedback. I am not a great aprent but I am channeling my passions and love toward my kids!

          1. Rasmus Wogelius

            Im sure you are a wonderful parent, not just a great parent, though it might not feel like it when we are struggeling to balance everything. But just saying that you wouldnt trade summer vacations with then and being with them in the evening says it all, youre awesome!

  31. Personally think it depends and the key is values too. Is it really great for kids I’d their parents are hey with them full time but that’s because the grandparents are being sponged off?

    What if money is a real stress. That brings all kinds of tension. And then there are parents who raise their kids in a bubble.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing for kids to see Mom and Dad working. My mom worked as a nanny once and the little girl cried and cried. Her mom was leaving and my mom told her your mommy wants to be with you more than anything in the world but you need socks and shoes! And that’s why mommies and Daddies have to go to work. The little girl remembered that another time and told her dad you’re getting socks and shoes my mom explained and her Dad added toys. It made sense to her. Okay they are going but it’s for a reason. I do need socks and shoes lol.

    Eventually one parent got a more flexible job but the little girl is turning out wonderfully. It’s not a bad thing for kids to learn sometimes we don’t get everything we want and about responsibility. Life ain’t always fun. We have to work for things we need.

  32. Alexius Reese

    I am 23 years old with a 2 year old and 6 month old son. To be honest, I needed to read this blog because I am currently out of work… I have been worrying a lot and It has been almost a year that I have been out of work. It is not easy because you need money to supply your needs but I guess that is where side hustles and going back to school etc comes in.
    I do find myself rushing to be where I want to be at in life when I should just slow down and take one day at a time and try to make discussion that will better benefit me in the long run than looking for something quick. I have to remind myself this a lot as well. This blog has really made me reconsider some things and feel encouraged.

  33. Thank you so much for your point of view. I became a stay at home father a little over a year ago and have recently had some worries that I am in too deep to ever have a career again (especially since finding out my wife is expecting again, lengthening out our full time at home baby time by 5 additional years). I know it has been beneficial to my kids and have even had notes coming home from school about how awesome the kids are! It’s nice to occasionally be reminded that it’s not going to be forever and I’ll be back to work before long. It’s also a good reminder that the way our kids are raised DOES affect them forever.

  34. Ranking how your kids will turn out based on having the financial capability to do absolutely nothing for 5 years vs. being an honorable hard working member of society is ultra harsh. Your kids will turn out amazing as long as you LOVE them. Not because you worked/didn’t have to work. In fact, children (and mother’s with daughters especially) who have parents with careers are more likely to achieve higher levels of success themselves. It’s called a role model. Going back to work 6 months post-partum was a blessing for me. I got out of my sweatpants and vomit rut, blow dried my hair and took on the world (20-30 hours out of the week). That still computes to being with my daughter over 80% of the time. She is with her dad or my parents while I am at work and yeah every now and then I get a cringe of guilt but at least I do not Resent my daughter for placing me in permanent housewife purgatory. I love her more than anything and can’t wait to see her blossom into an independent successful female far beyond my capabilities- at least I feel I have laid some ground work for her to emulate. Climb that ladder ladies- you’re not climbing a pole! Don’t let this author scare you into becoming your best self. Child bearing years happen to coincide with prime career and furthering education and that’s why there ARE resources like Grandparents and reputible daycare centers. I personally am not going to put my daughter in daycare, however our neighbors son has been since he was one year old and his vocabulary is though the roof- my daughter I can already tell is yearning for more outside socialization which she would get if I put her in a daycare but it’s just not at my comfort level. There are pros and cons to every circumstance.

    1. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad things worked out for you.

      This article is trying to address the very real decisions people make about work and kids as couples are starting families later due to cost. Before I had a kid, I thought one or both of us had to give up our careers forever.

      But after I had my kid, I realized it was just 5 years of career sacrifice AT MOST. If I knew that 10 years ago, I would have been more motivated to have kids earlier. It’s one of my regrets.

      But better late than never.

      Related: How To Never Worry About Your Child’s Future Again In This Brutally Competitive World

      1. Re-read this article in 10 years. Your views may evolve over time in ways that may surprise you.

    2. Nikki – I agree with you. Everyone is better off when mom and dad work and kiddos go to high quality child care and preschool. I find the weekends with my toddler and infant to be physically and emotionally draining. I couldn’t imagine doing it 7 days a week.

      From the child’s perspective, sitting around with mom and dad 24/7 is incredibly boring and they don’t learn social skills. Mom and dad react directly then people that don’t love and care about them. Kids need to learn how to make friends and interact with humans that do not provide unconditional love. My sons behavior improved dramatically when he started going to montessori school. He had learned that mom and dad were suckers and he wasn’t able to get away with similar tricks in school.

      We believe that early socialization is incredibly valuable, and i cannot provide that exclusively as a stay at home dad. However, once the cost of child care is gone, I would find no reason to continue working if our mortgage is paid off and we have zero child care costs. In addition, school only lasts until 2:30, so unless you are comfortable with your 5 year old sitting around at a school until 6PM everyday, one of the parents has to quit or at least go part-time.

      In my opinion, everyone should keep their full time job until the kids start kindergarten, and then if you decide to keep working once all of your major expenses are gone, you have that option. As a man, once you take more than 2-5 years off and are older than 40, you have virtually zero chance of getting a decent paying job again. In addition, I can’t imagine I would go back to being an office slave after experiencing freedom for that long.

      1. That’s a very whack opinion. Why would you reduce working once the child enters kindergarten? The whole point of this article was how to maximize time with your children for their well being. I feel like you don’t enjoy being around children and would rather push em off to the side… Working less in kindergarten means more time for you right? Selfish and completely missing the articles point.

  35. 4 got 2 add parents that work full time and bounce the baby between them with no help from ANYONE…YAYYY for still having some color 2 my hair lol!!!!

  36. I had my first when I was 30 working in the government. It was a well paying stable job but boring. When I went back after my mat leave (1 year in Canada), I didn’t like it and I rather spend my time with my baby. I was moved into a bad team and worked for a micro manager. I didn’t really see the point of having someone else spend time with my child while I worked a boring job that took forever for things to happen. Luckily, while i was mat leave, I started to expand on my piano teaching business. When I returned to work from mat leave , I had enough students to keep as a part time job and was working 60 hours a week. Long story short, I quit the boring coporate job and went back to my passion, piano. I have more than enough hours of teaching now ( 30Hours), I can spend all my good hours of the day with my children and teach in the evening when kids are sleeping. My schedule is my own and I can take the summers off. Been following your blog for several years and I totally agree with you !! My best advice is do what you like to do and spend time with your children because that time is precious and no money can buy that time back.

    1. Congrats on building up your side gig to do what you want and have more freedom! I love that. Everybody has some talent they can monetize.

      Time is going QUICK with children. They grow up so fast. The 2.5 years you spend with your child before pre-school is worth it. You will NOT regret giving up money for the time you spend with little one folks. I promise you this.

      1. yah so true, i found your blog when i left my job and it only made me more confident about my decision. when i left the government, my co workers didn’t enjoy their jobs but was afraid to leave. i felt like ai was getting the “Get out of jail free card:)” never look back now. and now i’m much happier family life wise and also career wise. i’m doing something i’m passionate about and i also make more money working less hours. it’s a win-win. Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice!

        1. Susan, I am also working for the govt in Canada. Just came back from my second mat leave and would rather stay home with my kids. Did you quit completely or take care of family leave for five years to test the waters first?

  37. Responding to your tweet, here’s a blog post I did this week similar to this topic. I was focused more the finances and planning aspect of it. 18+ years ago, we decided we wanted one parent home to raise our kids (my wife). Long run it was a great decision since my wife passed away when kids were 8, 10, and 12. Had we not made that decision, I would have had regrets that kids would not have known their mom so well.

    A Millionaire Next Door
    July 17 at 11:01 AM ·

    DINK – double income, no kids. This is one way to get wealthy. However, if you plan to have kids be sure to have a plan on how you will deal with the expenses. Childcare is very expensive. Here is how my late wife and I handled it.

    We knew we wanted kids when we married in 1999. She was a NICU nurse making about $50K per year when we married. I was making about $50K as an engineer. Combined we were pulling in decent money since we had very few expenses (debt free minus our mortgage at the time). We had decided that she would stay home with the kids when one day we had kids. We took the decision NOT to use or live off her income, only mine knowing that when we had our first kid, we could financially handle it. Until we had our first child in 2001, we put all her income into investments (low cost index mutual funds).

    When our first child was born, she quit her full time RN position to stay at home with our daughter. Financially, it was an easy transition since we had not been using her income. This post is not to debate staying home vs. working but to advise those who are younger without kids to carefully plan how you will handle kids financially when they are born.

    Finally, the most important point of this post is that if you are married or in a partnership and your goal is to build wealth, you MUST be on the same page. When you read or hear millionaire stories including mine, you will hear them say that their spouse is of the same mindset and on the same page financially. Remember, your home is a business, your business. You are partners in all ways. Regarding money, you must have vision, a plan, a budget, and seamlessly work together.

  38. I am in that 2 to 5 year zone now and I was 30 when we had our first son (planned).

    I’ve always believed in having kids early. This was helped by meeting a 50 year old man who had a 5 year old son. He told me it was his biggest regret as his struggles to bond and be as playful not being so young.

    As for our kids, Mary stayed at home initially and then when when she went back to work, she did in our own day care, which we run as a business. So she has pretty much spent every single day with our sons.

    Thinking about that, I’ve missed out alot being the one who went out to earn etc. However, I’ve been fortunate to have a flexible business I run, which means I’ve never missed any key events and I manage to get home to do the evening routines (dinner, shower, reading etc).

    Would I ever want to be a full time dad? For sure! But I know for certain that it would take more work.

    1. Thanks for sharing Ken. I wish I had my son at 30. That 50 year old man you met sure woulda helped give me some perspective!

      Very cool you guys run a daycare and can take care of your son at the same time. A win-win! I met a pre-school teacher father whose son will join his pre-school next year. Such good synergy.

  39. Live from Santa Monica

    Really enjoy your blog, have been a fan the past few years.

    I’m 45 and after nearly twenty years working my way up the ladder in tech, I am finally taking a break. My son is three and I’m so happy to get to spend so much more time with him. I’ve only been off a few weeks and I’ve already noticed a huge difference in our relationship.

    We’ve been lucky with our childcare situation in that my husband has had the luxury to work from home with some sporadic travel (he’s also in tech.) My mom has been taking care of our son during the day, she’s a native Spanish speaker, so we’ve had the added benefit of making certain he’s bilingual. She also has a Doctorate in Ed. and has taught pre-schoolers, so I couldn’t have found someone better for the job. Although, she’s in her late seventies and has had about enough of my long work hours.

    I plan to take 2-3 years off from full-time work (Although, I am taking a low residency grad school program, an MFA, I can’t help myself.) Of course, I’m a little nervous about finding my way back career-wise, but I keep telling myself that all I’ve learned throughout my career won’t vanish with me staying at home for a few years.

    We live in Southern California and have been saving for a house, so I don’t want to dig too deeply into my savings, since it’s just not cheap here and probably will never be. We’re lucky in that we have a low overhead situation for now and until we buy. So I do plan to dive back in to work, but likely with a career change where I won’t consistently make what I made in tech.

    BTW, bought and read your book and was able to package out. Amazing!

    1. All music to my ears! So awesome your mom w/ a PhD in education with pre-school experienced helped out while also have a part-time SAH husband.

      And of course, GREAT JOB packaging out! I haven’t used that term before, but now I will.

      Spending those 2-3 years off from FT work to recharge and also be a FT mom is a decision you will NOT regret at 45. There is no way you will look back and wish you wish you had still worked before your little one went to kindergarten.

  40. I was just asked to be a godmother for the first time and suddenly I am needing to plan my life differently. There is now a greater chance than previously that I will need to raise a child. I need to get my finances together much more quickly. If this child needs me, then he’ll have been through the trauma of losing his parents and switching countries. I need to be able to take time off to focus on him intently should that happen. I also need to become fluent in the other language he’ll speak. Thankfully, this is just causing me to want to kick the career and savings into high gear so that I can buy more time later.

  41. Oliver Doolin

    Look it’s your blog/ but this whole post is completely subjective.

    And it’s pretty much completely based on the supposition that you make enough money or have made enough money for 1 or both parents to take a step back. If you do or have, then yes 100%, take the time off if you feel good about your ability to cover the mortgage/pay for children education, etc. But also keep in mind that perspective is reserved for (I’m guessing here) the top 5%?

    And I’m most certainly not knocking the other contributor here who elects to stay home. But as a parent it’s frustrating to read someone opine on what is best for anyone other than their* kid.

    Maybe I should just take a chill pill and not respond.

    1. The only hypothesis I have wrt raising a child is: spending more time is better than spending less time. I’m not sure how anybody can disagree with this. Yes, I can imagine it may be annoying if both parents work and there is some guilt associated with that. But this is not a post to make people feel good. This is a post about helping with one’s parental plans when juggling a career.

      I’m pretty sure they are way more than 5% of parents who have one spouse stay at home to raise a child.

      Here is some data from Pew Research 2014 study. But it doesn’t include stay-at-home fathers.

      In 1967, 49 percent of mothers were stay-at-home mothers. That proportion steadily dropped through the decades until 1999, when only 23 percent of moms stayed at home. Since 1999, the percentage of mothers who stayed at home began to increase again, rising by 6 points to 29 percent in 2012. The researchers note that recent declines in the labor force participation rate and rising immigration were likely factors in the increase of the stay-at-home rate. They also indicate that the rise in the proportion of mothers who stayed at home will not likely continue because most mothers surveyed would like to work part-time or full-time.

      The researchers use demographic data to observe differences between mothers who stay at home and those who have paid employment. Mothers at home tend to be younger than working mothers: 42 percent of stay-at-home moms in 2012 were under age 35 compared with 35 percent of working moms, and stay-at-home mothers are more likely to have children under age 5. In addition, stay-at-home mothers have lower levels of educational attainment and are more likely than working mothers to be living in poverty. Nearly half of the stay-at-home mothers have a high school diploma or less, compared with 30 percent of working mothers, and 34 percent of stay-at-home moms are living in poverty, compared with 12 percent of working mothers.

      In 2012, approximately 28 percent of American children—a total of 12.2 million children—were being raised by stay-at-home mothers. On average, mothers at home spend 18 hours a week caring for their children compared with 11 hours for employed mothers. The researchers’ analysis of time-use data also shows disparities in how stay-at-home moms and working moms spend their time. Stay-at-home mothers spend more time on child care, housework, leisure, and sleep than do their employed counterparts, including spending an extra 7 hours each week on childcare.

  42. Oliver Doolin

    “This is not a post about how to be a great parent because unlike work, parenting is very subjective. ”

    I think you make your own case for why this article is unhelpful.

    As someone who grew up in a divorced family, graduated from a top tier university on scholarship and made more money than both parents combined my first year out, there are life lessons along the way that I never would have learned and used as my guide with out good examples of hard work/mental toughness displayed by my parents and others. On the flip side, we wouldn’t be able to give our kids a home in one of the best zip codes (ie schools, resources, an aupare) in the country if we didn’t acknowledge that high paying jobs afford big steps in quality of life.

    My wife (38) and I (33) are on the cusp of being able to quit our jobs and afford to pay for college for both our children (2.5 & 5mo), but why should we?

    Wouldn’t I be better off showing them first hand that getting up and going to work and doing something you enjoy that provides for your family is the reward in and of itself? Shouldn’t I want my daughter to see her mom kicking ass at life?!

    I hope my children realize that there are always sacrifices in life and effort is the real “price” paid.

    I hope I leave my children a wealth of mental toughness and a system of rational thinking that helps them navigate life’s twists and turns.

    Something tells me they will appreciate that more than knowing their dad was home for their first 5 years of life, which is not me saying I’m absent in their lives.

    1. To answer your question, probably not. I strongly believe that it’s better for at least one or both parents to be in their child’s life for the first five years before they go to school.

      They can see their mom or dad kicking ass after they understand what kicking ass in the work place means. But for the first five years, talk to any pediatrician, social anthropologist, child psychologist, etc. and they will agree that spending more time with your children is better than spending less time.

      You can’t show kids first hand work ethic if you are not at home. All you’re showing them is that you’re gone for 10+ hours a day when they are home being taken care of by someone else. But you can show them work ethic if you’re at home.

      You don’t have to justify both of you guys working full-time jobs to me. Money is a powerful motivator, especially when you don’t feel like you have enough to be financially independent.

      This article is intended to help potential parents who are thinking about having kids, but can’t seem to break free from the corporate grind. You guys have already made your choice.

    2. To bluntly say the article is unhelpful is disrespectful and frankly plain rude, especially when you aren’t the target audience for this post.

      Being a stay at home parent to young children is a full time job and is absolutely no less “kick ass” or less enjoyable than a job that takes place outside the home. I agree with Sam that leaving to go to a job every day doesn’t really demonstrate how hard you’re working either because they can’t even see you working.

      If you like your current lifestyle that’s great. It doesn’t mean it’s the better way. Keep an open mind that there’s more than one approach to when/how/where to work and raise a family.

    3. Hi Oliver,

      Parenting may be subjective but science is not. It is a fact that children who have a stay at home parent are less likely to have behavioral issues in school. They are less likely to divorce, less likely to commit suicide, and statistically happier than kids who don’t.

      To be fair, a recent Harvard study showed girls with working moms are more likely to be successful in their jobs than girls with stay at home moms. This story was widely reported by the media. What wasn’t reported, the same researcher also concluded that even though they were more successful at work, they polled less satisfied and happy with their lives than children of stay at home parents.

      I just don’t understand why people who are financially able don’t hedge their bets when it comes to raising their children. You can give them all the love, support, and nurturing when they need it the most then you can show them your work ethic as they age and can appreciate it.

      Thanks, Bill

  43. Inez Deborah Emilia Altar

    if you are a lady or proper mother and want to care for your children you must stay at home unless you are too old and have a younger years vocation which will soon not be possible, or are past the best rearing age or might be threatened. or if you need the m/oney badly, but a children´s maid also costs, but with some professions salaries compensate well also in savings

    1. Sorry? What are you talking about? That didn’t even make sense. If you’re going to denigrate working mothers, try to be coherent.

  44. I am a 34-year-old woman with no children, working ~60 hours a week as a patent lawyer and loving my job. My husband is in tech and also loves his job. Neither of us would ever think of working part-time or being a stay-at-home parent. When I read this post and the comments and observe my friends who have young children, it really sounds like having children is an awful burden. We have observed our friends with happy marriages become unhappy and hostile due to having a child. At the same time, they say they love their child but are just stressed out. My husband and I think we should have a kid soon because the window for having children is narrowing each year, but we are not willing to sacrifice our marriage or take time off work. We want to be able to spend time with our child while never having to worry about child care. I have looked up live-in nannies, but I don’t believe any nanny is available to work or be on call more than 140 hours a week. We are able to afford a live-in nanny, but is there a way to get one without paying him/her a six figure salary?

    1. It’s your choice whether you want to spend your time working to maximize your career / income opportunity. If you love it, continue doing so.

      It’s a huge decision to have kids. Don’t let anybody sway you one way. The only issue is risk and difficuly conceiving if you change your mind later. After 40 gets really difficult for many people.

      Related: When Is The Best Age To Have Kids?

  45. Looks like a good topic for some thoughtful discussion. I’d also like to add my two cents. My spouse and I have two young children. We have tried a variety of care arrangements including: one spouse stays home and the other works full time; two parents work and relative cares for children; two parents work and in-home nanny cares for children; and two parents work and children go to daycare.

    For us, the best solution has been two parents work and children go to daycare. We have found the following aspects of childcare to be important to us: provides strong structure and routine for the children, provides opportunities to engage with children of similar age and non-parent/relative caretakers, and provides learning opportunities which emulate the traditional school environment. These were difficult things for us to be able to provide for our child otherwise.

    With a relative caring for the children, we found that the children will fit around the schedule of the relative rather than the children having a routine and structured schedule. We also sometimes found conflict between the relative and us, as to how the children were to spend their day.

    I think the best scenario for us was to have both parents stay home for 12-15 months. After that, we’ve found that it is in our children’s best interest if they engage in an out-of-the-house structured schedule with other children and nonrelatives/parents.

    We spent a lot of time vetting childcare facilities and we were insistent on only looking at facilities which had caretakers with long tenures and bachelors degrees in early childhood education. It was also important for us to find a facility which would challenge our child. This required us to relocate. Certainly more expensive, but we felt it was worth the cost.

    I’m shocked at the things are children have been able to do, far before I believed they were capable of doing them. Much of this is do to nonparent caretakers challenging them without our paternal bias and also being able to emulate their older classmates.

    Our kids LOVE going to daycare every weekday. If they didn’t, we’d find another option.


      1. We asked our employers if we could do it and they agreed. We weren’t scared of losing our jobs. My wife got 3 months paid. I actually had to work 10 hrs a week as a contractor for my company. But they let me work from home and during nonbusiness hours. I was ready to walk if we couldn’t come to an agreement.

  46. I’ve never chimed in but I think I will on this post! We must get rid of the myth that we can have it all!! We cannot have it all, especially at the same time! The best way to raise children is to be home with them as long as and as much as you can. I have 4 children ages 11, 9, 5, 8 months! I also Homeschool them! I have been home with them all and I don’t regret giving up my career to do it. My husband works good hours so he spends a lot of time with them. I see people choose money and certain lifestyles over their children all the time! I totally understand when people have to work to live and pay bills, but when you began chasing money or chasing a particular lifestyle and put your kids on the altar to do that, your children will grow up and they will resent you for it because your children will know you chose career/money over them! Kids are not stupid and they know when our hearts are into them and they know when we are distracted by the world out there! There is a big difference between making a living and providing and working for riches!! Chasing riches will destroy a family!! It never works because kids need a lot more attention than most people will admit and it’s more than most people want to do! If you want riches I say don’t even have kids at all because our children were given to us to rear and to enjoy, they weren’t born to give to the daycare provider or to their grandparents or to these government ran school systems!! JMO…

  47. I think that people don’t even plan about parenting or how having a baby changes your life permanently. Some seriously just see having a kid as the “next step” in a relationship and don’t even bother asking IF or WHY they should even be reproducing.

    My own experience has been working in the healthcare field where I see morons having kids left and right out of wedlock, are on drugs, would rather work the welfare system than have a career, are very religious high school dropouts, and basically have no business reproducing has left me with negative experiences. They and their offspring are a horrific drain on society. Care to guess how much one of their seven kids costs tax payers just in prescriptions alone? $2,565 per month for ONE prescription. After throwing a tantrum in public the pharmacist made a point to ask her to pay the full amount for the prescription instead of just the $5 copay on CHiPs she was claiming she didn’t have to pay. The glares she received from people in line made her shut up real quick.

    I left that field years ago after one of the good people I used to assist was murdered by her own horrible son. After that I decided that my parents were right. I didn’t get why they were so freaked out that their three daughters would make bad decisions after we saw so many of our pregnant classmates drop out of high school to be nothing more than welfare parasites. None of us had that as a life goal. Don’t have any kids or so much as a pet rock UNTIL you can take care of yourself financially first. Don’t get married to a bum or a parasite who wants you to do all the work. I’ve seen so many women get divorced or dump a guy after having a kid with them then they realize after having a baby with a loser what a horrible mistake they’ve made. I’ve also dated a few nice guys battling with gold diggers who trapped them with a kid out of wedlock because those girls knew exactly what they were doing.

    In the hustle of what has been my life I just don’t see the point of having kids because in the U.S. women are booted out of the back door at their work place because other employees get forced to cover for them. A measly six weeks of maternity leave isn’t enough, and fathers don’t get paternity leave at all. I remember being told to cancel my day off after having to wait six months for a freaking doctor’s appointment because a coworker’s son was coming in after being deployed. I refused and was nearly fired for it. I still had to pay over $1,400 at the doctor’s office for the tests and yet I was the “bad woman” for not throwing away my justified health concerns for a married rich coworker and her military brat. They could have asked THREE other employees but I was singled out because they assumed I had no rights being single and child free. I filed a complaint with the EEOC because of it.

    The problem I have with people having kids is that they generally think it entitles them to do less work for more money, to dump their workload onto other employees without kids, and that they should have more vacation/PTO time in general just because they reproduced. I had one older male employee tell me I was taking a man’s job and that the reason he wasn’t yet laid off is because he has kids to raise. In general people who have kids I’ve dealt with just don’t deserve them and are terrible examples for their children.

    When you couple all of tax breaks people get for just having kids it gets worse. In the U.S. it is now not shameful to live off of welfare for your entire life (having seen three generations on welfare is infuriating) and that no one can judge you for it. It’s not shameful to have several babies out of wedlock with different fathers. It’s not shameful or irresponsible to have a kid in poverty, even though the biggest contributing factor to success is having children in a loving stable family with financial resources. Having a kid in poverty in a single parent family or having their grandparents raise them because one or both parents are incarcerated is the absolute worst thing one can do – but they get their Obama phones, Section 8 housing, food stamps, etc. while I pay taxes, student loans, and increasingly higher living expenses just to make ends meet. It’s so ridiculous that teachers are now expected to the parent’s job on raising these kids in school. Two of my friends quit the field altogether because the horrible brats can do whatever they want and there are no longer any consequences to bad behavior.

    They play the race cards, are here illegally and demand everyone pay their way. They whine about how expensive everything is and yet they don’t work and still drive a Cadillac. They think they can get into Harvard because “race” and yet won’t do any homework assignments. It’s a circus and I feel for the educators who aren’t allowed to have a union and have been robbed of their pensions.

    I personally think it’s time to have people tested and to disincentivize people from having children period because we just can’t care for the 7 billion and counting. I’ve reported people for defrauding welfare and I’m sick and tired of seeing a bunch of future high school drop-outs running around. The cycle of poverty has to stop and yet our policies are so backwards that it makes the problem much worse.

    If more people bothered to ask themselves and think through WHY they should even reproduce the world would probably be a better place, but since human nature is selfish at the core that’s not going to happen.

      1. Yes, your reply is. We have far too many people living miserable lives because their parents never bothered to ask if they were doing the right thing. If a realistic view of how people manipulate welfare programs and abuse incentives upsets you them perhaps you are part of the problem.

        Ten percent of our world population can do nothing useful. The US imprisons the most people of any country in the world and we have so many unfunded mandates the funding mechanism is on the brink of collapsing.

  48. Juggling Dad

    Great post – looking at the comments it seems like you tapped into a vein that many struggle with.

    I have three under 10 and am in my mid-30s. My wife and I have been trying many different approaches.

    What I’ve come to believe is that you need at least one person who is on the “parenting” clock at any one time (see it as a full-time job). This could be either parent, a grandparent, another family member, a nanny or an au pair. This can be supplemented by school or pre-school, e.g. 9-3 days for half the year (maybe 2/3 days per week for pre-school). The challenge is then figuring out how to achieve that based on your own circumstances.

    We found that a nanny, childminder or au pair would take all of one (good) income after tax / expenses etc (and sometimes more). It seemed a bit absurd to us that you could be working hard only to stay in the same place (in fact you are net down as carers also need holidays, and you need to fill in some of the things they cannot do).

    These days grandparents are often out of the question: either they are younger and working or older and not suited for the heavy (physical & mental) demands of childcare. Also family members depends on the luck of your family size / structure and whether you still live near family.

    Neither of us wanted to be a full-time stay at home parent. From life experience, this can often lead to the divorce path if both parents wish to have an intellectually rewarding career: one parent works long hours and is away/tired; the other feels under appreciated and unengaged – a recipe for cracks to appear, especially over 20 years.

    Hence, our working solution (like many things in life) is a bit of a compromise. We both have flexible part-time consulting careers, and the kids are in school (and pre-school on a limited basis). This allows for each of us to have meetings and days away on an ad-hoc basis. We often find ourselves tag-teaming as single parents of 3 kids! It does mean you are on the outside for the big corporate money, and you are taking on risk as you are the first to be cut in a downturn. Strangely enough this slots in nicely with FI-stuff, the better the financial position, the more you can ride out the ups and downs. Also the lower your expenses, the less you need and the more able you are to work reduced hours.

    Another tip is that you need lots of redundancy in your arrangements: people get sick, things go wrong or break, schools have closed days, holidays arrive, business propositions pop up. A tight schedule – e.g. each parent finishes at 6pm and needs to collect at 6:15pm or you both have uncancellable work meetings at 4pm – is a recipe for corrosive stress which does no one in the family any favours. Have lots of overlap and blank diary spaces, and don’t try to be a super person.

  49. We are in the unfortunate situation that while we want a family we are experiencing infertility so that has made it harder to plan. However, the time factor (e.g. am I too old to have kids) runs into my mind all of the time. I mean I want FI, but when I consider all of the things that kids need financially it makes me think (hopefully if we have kids) that I will have to work until I am over 60 (and I might just because I like my job). I joke with my wife that we should adopt from foster care to get the kid “broken in” so we don’t have to worry about the other stuff.

  50. Debbie Pelloski

    Its good to hear you are striving for greatness! As a stay at home mom of 5 (one is only 6 mo now) its easy to forget that and give into tiredness and focus on getting dinner instead of enjoying eachother, which is really what its all about, thanks for the motivation!

    1. Wow! I can’t imagine raising five kids on my own with a six month old as well! So exhausting. I literally tell myself every day, “let’s go! Time to wash the dishes. Time to clean the kitchen. Get everything ready before mama and little one wake up.”

      I haven’t had to mentally or verbally motivate myself too much until now. I feel like I’m back in banking as a junior financial analyst on call around the clock :-)

      Any tips on being a better parent?

      1. Debbie Pelloski

        Well I am certainly not perfect, or even great, but I like the Love and Logic series, try not to keep score with your wife about chores/childcare/nights out, give eachother the benefit of the doubt, and remember, kids are very forgiving! I’m sure if you have the goal to be great and the time to invest, as you do, you will do a wonderful job! I would add that there is nothing quite like a sibling(s). You may think you don’t have the time or energy some days, but the love and care multiplies!

  51. Paper Tiger

    So, I will give you the side of the coin where both parents (my wife and me) worked for the same Fortune 100 company and were never home full time with our daughter. I was a month short of my 41st birthday when she was born in Northern CA. Shortly after, we moved to the midwest where our corporate office was located. We were lucky on many fronts.

    First, we stayed put until she was five. We had a professionally run, onsite, corporate daycare center provided by our company. It was great because we could drop her off early and pick her up as late as 6:30 pm. We could even pop in for a mid-day visit if needed. We also could pick her up earlier and bring her in her baby carrier back to our office to finish up some work if we wanted. My staff loved those days so they could play with her.

    Our daycare was very diverse which contributed positively to her early development. Her three best friends were from China, Russia, and India, (Wei Wei, Katya, and Sneeha). We were invited to many diverse family get-togethers and celebrations and it was truly awesome!

    When she was five we moved to the Southwest. Again, we were fortunate to have a local Boys and Girls Club close to our house. We could drop her off before kindergarten and they would take her to school and bring her back to the B&G Club in the afternoon. They had all kinds of great programs and she loved being there. In fact, she loved it so much she ultimately transitioned from attendee to staff member and worked part-time during her high school years and summers.

    In August this year we dropped her off at her very good Northeastern University to begin her Freshman year of college. She has been an awesome kid with a real love for service and especially anything focused around children. She was top 10 in her HS class of 650 and involved in many activities. All her teachers loved her. She hopes to pursue a medical career with an emphasis on pediatrics.

    So, only speaking for us, we managed two high profile careers and somehow got a kid through her first 19 years of life without screwing her up too bad. We were certainly fortunate to have the resources available to help us out but it can be done with the right planning and a bit of luck. I did intentionally turn down a couple of really good career opportunities in order to provide the stability we gave her. She attended K-12 without us ever having to move and I think that was a real blessing and something that contributed to her overall development, confidence, and self-esteem.

    I won’t pretend to know if this was best or if she would have turned out better had one of us given up our careers to spend more time with her. All I know is that I’m very proud of the young women she is, and the lady I believe she will turn out to be.

    1. That’s great to hear! At the end of the day, if you can say you’re proud of your child’s accomplishments, that’s probably all that matters in the end.

      Everybody has to make do with their circumstances and do the best they can. There’s just nothing more important than raising our children. Nothing else seems even close.

  52. Things are a lot easier when kids are in school. It’s hard to establish and continue to maintain structure at home in terms of teaching kids. We both work and have our 2nd little one on the way this December. We’re trying to figure out how to address work. My wife will take maternity leave first and I’ll follow when she goes back to work. But her going back part-time is definitely something we are thinking about strongly. We are also fortunate to have family very close by.

  53. It’s all about balance. My wife and I both work full-time 40 hour work weeks, but she takes care of things with the kids in the morning while I get up in the wee hours to head off to the office, allowing me to leave work just in time to pick up the kids and supervise their afternoon and early evening. This might hurt my career because I always leave right on time, never make a work happy hour, and generally prioritize family over work as soon as I walk out the door each day. I enjoy the opportunity to coach the kids’ sports teams and lead them on afternoon adventures. These things trump checking in with after hours work emails. You never get these years back and at the end of the day you’re just a guy down the street mowing his lawn like everybody else. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll have a grandkid to come over and help you out.

    1. Ha ha, I wish I had a lawn to mow! Too expensive here in San Francisco :-)

      Well that’s the thing, balance unfortunately means not being able to go all in. But it sounds like you’ve got your priorities straight, and I would much much rather focus on raising my kid than trying to get some kind of promotion at work.

  54. Sam, my son was born in April, so I am in the same boat. My wife is staying home full time, I couldn’t imagine dropping my son off with strangers…money is tight, but honestly we don’t do much. I walk him in the park every other day, haven’t flown anywhere, I cut down on eating/drinking out, etc. Medical is the tough one, birth cost me 7k out of pocket plus 560 a mnth with a employer plan. Overall, wouldn’t change a thing, told wife she has 5 years or 7 with baby #2

  55. I like the podcast format. I listened to it on my way to work this morning. Hopefully, it will continue in the future.

    I love my son, but I have to be honest and say that I would have a serious case of depression if I became a stay-at-home wife/mom. I know because I feel that way on the weekends sometimes. I think we tend to romanticize parenthood to a certain extent. Given how I spend almost 3-4 hours of my day on the weekend feeding a baby who refuses to eat and deal with all the crying and tantrums, I think all of our family is better off with my husband and me working.

  56. Almost six years ago, my wife and I decided to knuckle down and make sure that she could stay home to raise our first of two kids. It was something that was very important to us and especially to her. We were debt free except a mortgage, so that truly enabled us to have my wife stay home. We actually sat down and did the comparison between continuing having both of us work and have her stay at home. After additional expenses, we were really only going to net out a couple hundred dollars per month. That made the decision easy for us.

    We were in our late 20s at the time, so really I’m not even sure how it could have been possible for both of us to stay home. No way to pay for everyday expenses, much less having to buy health insurance. So we would still have to have one of us working the 20 hours a week at Starbucks or something just to get insurance.

    We also didn’t want to lose sight of making sure that it was apparent that we were a team of parents, working together to raise our kids.

    One of the solutions to this issue is that I make sure to take days off of work to spend time with the kids. Every Wednesday in the summer I take a half-day (for me that means leaving at 10am) and we plan some sort of activity with the kids. It could be just going to a park or on a hike, or it might be going to a big zoo or an amusement park. I also take time off to attend (pre)school activities that are during the day. I’ll also work from home on days that one or both of the kids are sick to be there to help support my wife on those especially tough days.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. It was really insightful and has me refocus on those original goals we set up.

  57. Bolingbroke

    Is it just me who finds spending endless days with their children – the apple of one’s eye and everything, granted – extremely tedious?

    And anyway, what do fulltime, hands-on parents actually do with all that time they spend with their kids? Structured activities?

    I’m becoming increasingly wary of ‘activities’. I have friends whose children are now in their teens, and who grew up with STAPs and a whole timetable brimming with SAs, and now they go crazy if they have some unstructured time on their hands.

    I think the way daycare is dismissed in this blog entry is both shortsighted and unfair. What about all the socialising they do while at daycare? You can fancy yourself as the Greatest Parent of All Time, but if your children have a choice between fighting over Legos with the other children at the local kinder, and watching their dad build them a WWII biplane from toilet paper rolls, I have no doubt what they’re gonna choose.

    1. Very cool acronyms. What do they stand for?

      Is the socializing from age 2 or 5 onward not enough to develop social skills? I’m pretty sure there are a lot of playgroups outside of daycare.

      What do your kids do now?

  58. I am surprise no one mentioned what I often refer to as tag teaming. I was fortunate that I was able to take a year off my career after each child. When I went back to work, we were able to pick a very high-quality daycare/pre-school on a college campus. My husband and I were able to shift our hours. I would work early and be done by 2:45 and he would start late in the day and work later into the evening. The kids were in daycare only six hours and two of those hours was nap time.

    I never had any fears about being an older parent. My mother had me at 33 and went on to have three more. My youngest brother was born when she was 40. She has always been super active and involved. Even now she’s more energetic than a lot of younger women. I just assume that I inherited my grandmothers genes too. She passed away at 95 and was still driving at 92 and walking to church. Age doesn’t mean much it’s how well you take care of yourself and remain active.

    1. Kristy Clark

      Yes! And we still tag team with an 11 and 8 year old. One of us does mornings and the other is home after school. They are almost old enough to stay home for the 30 minutes it would take for husband to get off work and come home. We are both fortunate to have flexible jobs. I echo what others have said above, we think its even MORE important to be home now and in the future than when they were smaller. There are so many topics that come up in conversation that need to be discussed, especially with a middle schooler.

    2. I just assumed, and I think most people assume that taking care of a child or children is always going to be a team effort, a tagteam effort, no matter what scenario you find yourself in.

      And when there is no team effort, resentment, bitterness, anger, frustration, and perhaps eventually divorce and ensues. I see so many parents we could divorced within seven years after having kids.

      But you provide a great example on how you guys make it work, so thank you! Hopefully more jobs can provide flexible schedules.


  59. Hi Sam,

    I did not want to click this post of yours. But I did. The reason I did not want to was because it said 5 years as some important period in parenting. If I were to tell whats to come, it kills the fun. It makes you biased, as a parent.

    You know, parenting is not scientific or finance kind of thing. Not logical, or time bound.

    Urgh, I said what I didnt mean to say.

    So, I’d stop and say this – Treat it as a new day. Enjoy it, don’t plan it. Be spontaneous, and resilient. Take a lot of photos and videos, as in 10,000s of photos, and 200+ DVDs.

    Have fun. Such “feelings” in you will rarely come by, so appreciate them while they last.

    Finally: All I can tell you is that your idea of 5 years is a joke to any experienced parent! :-) And its not a bad thing. I hope it lasts more than 5.

    As a parent I always say this – One has heard of “No pain. no gain”, but I want to rephrase it as _ “More pain, More gain”.

    Best wishes.

  60. Chris @ Keep Thrifty

    I’m in the midst of a mini-retirement right now with a 7-year old and twin 5-year-olds. I’m using this as an opportunity to spend more time with them (even though they are all in school full-time) by walking them to and from school every day and volunteering some in their classrooms.

    By the time I made this move, I had done my thing in climbing the corporate ladder high enough to be satisfied and now I’m doubling up to pursue entrepreneurship with my blog while taking time to be a present father.

    By setting solid limits, I think you can make a good go of both – I’m working no more than 40 hours a week (either when the kids are in school or asleep). That said, I’ll only have a for-sure answer once I figure out if my blog can become a full-time income :)

  61. This article rings home for me. My wife and I are aiming for number 2 during our early thirties over number 1 in our late thirties. Mostly due to the safety aspects for both mother and child of having a child earlier. I make a lot more than my wife in our W2 jobs and have a strong career trajectory so I’ll be the one that works into the late thirties and I worry about missing the early years.

    I know that I can’t balance my W2 job and being a truly good parent but have to balance this with human biology.

  62. As a woman and mom, I have been thinking about this topic for one whole year!

    I am extremely confused and disturbed by the reality that kids take effort and time equivalent to one adult full time job, maybe more (my expectations pre baby was that baby goes to daycare all will be fine). The reality that one parent has to stay home to have a somewhat balanced life in America, hits hard when its been six months in daycare and baby, mom and dad are all sick. In countries where labor is cheap, I see women balance this dilemma better. I currently work but am constantly torn by wanting to quit. Having pondered on it, and being strongly feminist, quitting just seemed wrong maybe because I didnt want to spend my full time taking care of my child either, and felt like I was falling into a trap of mediocrity, never to get back to a challenging intellectually stimulating environment again.

    My conclusion however has been this: what I need is flexibility. I dont want to be a SAHM. I dont want to work a 9-5. What I need is what you have created, a flexible business that makes money, and I am willing to put in the sweat equity now with one child, more than ever, for me the time to do this is right now.

    1. Kristy Clark

      Flexibility is key. I don’t think I would have made it as a full time working mom without it. I still have it and it is amazing. Currently working from home because the kids have off from school. Unfortunately, they are playing on their ipads while I work for a few hours. But I typically spend the afternoons with them on days like this, which is better than if they were in school and I was at work. Plus, they get to relax a bit and play. If we lived in a different area (one with more kids) then I would send them out to play.

      Good luck!

    2. I am in the same boat. My son is 18 months. As a working mom, I am constantly struggling to balance being a good mom and work. At times, everything seems to be going smoothly. Recently, he got sick, caught it in daycare, it last 3 weeks. The 3 weeks of extreme sleep deprivation and keeping up with a busy work schedule getting to worn me down, especially when I made a minor mistaken at work and the boss lecture me for an hour. I felt like being a mediocre worker and mom. The guilt of not being able to stay home with him when he is not feeling well makes me feel guilty. This fires me up to save as much as I can to be FI and to have more options. Although I like working, I need flexibilities .

  63. ciaran murphy

    We both work. Both engineers. 3 kids, 6 and 3 year old twins. There are a number of things here I would like to add.
    1. My wife craved adult interaction…even during maternity leave. after they twins she took 3 months and BOTH of us wanted her to go back to work. It was exhausting. I worked all day to come home to a mad house and my poor wife felt as if it was my turn when I came home. It was torture…for both of us. Not that twins is ever easy. But when we both went back to work…we were on the same wavelength. We both faced the same challenges, have the same outlets and it works. Had two nannies at different periods and have just stepped into a German Au Pair. Its fun. It works for us. Our kids lack for nothing…and most importantly (and I say that seriously), we can provide them with a happy home and a great marriage. This is so key. Some mothers/fathers can do the stay at home thing without resentment or tiredness or other issues. Some who go to work can come home full of energy to talk to the partner who has been starved of adult interaction. It was not for either of us. And honestly….just guessing at the kind of clientele reading this blog….I doubt it would suit many here either.
    2. I say this in the most politically correct manner possible and it has been alluded to in a few posts above (Hillary), but it is very hard to return to work. I have two HR friends, both young women, who actually have a term for women who have been out of the workforce. More than two years and they get what they called “Baby Brains”. True story. There is something to this. The corporate drive, the realignment to what actually is more important (childcare and well being) does not change the fact that they are no longer of the same caliber employee before they left. That is not my opinion…and I am not trying to flame an argument but it is a real thing.
    3. Both parents balancing raising kids, a loving marriage and two jobs is not easy. But if you CAN pull it off….its hard to envision a better way to actually raise kids. Think of the example you are setting. No better way to guide than to be the example you want to teach.
    4. (and related to 3). The over protection, over parenting of some kids is definitely showing up in some traits in Americas recent young adults. Something to watch for. Responsibility and independence is important. People should be careful as to not overdoing it. These kids need to go to college and work and leave the next…preferably in the very early twenties:):)

  64. I worked full time and my wife chose to be a stay at home mom and raise three kids. She never felt any reason to restart her career since she was plenty busy taking care of the home and volunteering even after the kids became grown. I made plenty of money so she just early retired and eventually I joined her. Life is great, we do so much together and almost that much separately and have full lives. Our kids are successful. I never felt working full time as a dad while their mom was full time at home deprived the kids at all. They saw lots of me since I didn’t work extreme hours and we lived eight minutes from my work. I realize a lot of women don’t want to be stay at home mom’s but in our case she didn’t have to sacrifice anything. She got to choose exactly what she wanted. Me too but it was 100% up to her. Oh,yeah and with one year of parenting, you are such a rook!

  65. Dads Dollars debts

    I often think we do it backwards in life. We should work hard until 30, take a break for 5 to 10 years to raise ur kids, then get back at it at age 40 until whenever we want. Alas that is not how the work career matrix is built. Kudos for finding a way to do it.

  66. Most of my dual income couple friends still work full time and leave their kids in daycare. This is a tough situation since you get minimal quality time with your kids and taxes and daycare take a huge bite out of your earnings.

    I came across a study that 92% of our face to face time with our kids will happen before they become 18 years old. So I would recommend those dual income parents to consider downsizing their life so one parent can stay home. Being a parent is no joke, so spending quality time with your kids is key.

  67. I have three kids and we couldn’t afford to have one of us stay home to take care of them. We got really lucky and found a great babysitter. I have to say, I don’t think my kids missed out on anything, they probably got more exposure to things they may not have experienced with either one of us. We switched our schedules around so we could pick them up early enough to have time with them after work (we did alternate schedule). We took them to the park, did crafts, took the time to play and enjoy. It wasn’t always easy to balance, and it took me a lot longer to get where I wanted to be in my career, but it was well worth it. Whatever you do as a parent, spend quality time with your kids, it will pay off.

  68. The wife and I pushed off having kids until after we FIRE’d for exactly this reason. We had our first while traveling (in Istanbul), and with our second on the way, we’ve gotta figure out the next birth place. But having both of us around all the time has been such an amazing opportunity for our child (now 20 months old). Love it, and heartily endorse this post! :)

  69. Life got so much easier when our kid started kindergarten. You’re right on about sacrificing 2-5 years. I think taking time off work from when kids are 2 until they goes to kindergarten would be perfect. When they’re babies, you don’t make much of an impact anyway. Well, maybe subconsciously or some kind of facial recognition background thing.
    The issue is that many people choose to have more than 1 kid. Then the break can go on and on. By the time, all the kids are in school, your skills are outdated. I think you did it just right for your personality.

  70. I was lucky my mom stayed at home with me as a baby until late preschool age while my dad worked. I think that really helped us bond and have such a strong relationship. My dad’s work hours were also not too crazy for most years when I was young – although the catch was he didn’t make much money- but his being around in the early evenings was helpful for my mom.

  71. I don’t believe it’s that simple. From my experience before age five not every kid benefits from being at home with mom and dad, nor is every parent wired to do that. I love my kids, but my oldest needed the managed structure of daycare before five. I’m also personally not wired to be home with them all the time, though my wife is. Now there’s a fine line between that and away sixty hours a week, but there is some aspect of for some kids being away is good. Our youngest on other hand is fine to be at home with mom and dad all day long.

  72. My daughter’s the whole reason I’m on the push for FI. Having to leave her to go to work while she was a baby crushed me. My wife went down to part-time and everything was good with both of them, but I felt left out somewhat.

    I think it’s hard for a lot of middle class working families to lose that income for a handful of years regardless. You lose the years of money toward retirement, but I think the bigger concern is paying the bills. Many families have themselves in a position that even if one spouse lost temporarily their job for example, they risk going into foreclosure.

    — Jim

    1. Good point and you are right. There is a Financial benefit though, and that is saving money on daycare costs and transportation costs For at least the first two years.

  73. We have chosen not to have kids and are thankful we don’t need to make this decision. I imagine it is tough to balance the two. Unfortunately what I have seen happen with many new parents I work with is that both their parenting and their work suffers because they try to split their attention, get worn out, and just in general underperform.

  74. This is completely anecdotal, but I find myself wanting to spend more time with my son since he started kindergarten and he’s now in sports and music lessons, and we read interesting books and do fun experiments. My son was in a full time preschool starting at age 2, which he loved. The “academic” portion of the day lasted from 9-3, and then from 3 on, they had free play, which meant playing Legos and coloring and playing soccer with friends. If I picked him up early, he complained! I believe that all kids and all situations are different, but for me, it’s worked out that I’m able to spend more time with him now than when he was younger, and it feels like it was the right progression.

    1. I agree. I thought the part of the article about pre-school time recommendations was a little obnoxious. Our son goes to daycare/pre-school from 8:45 to 5:40ish and he loves it. It’s not rigorous and they sleep and play and have fun at that age. We are both lawyers so we can’t leave our field entirely to take care of him (we both took 4 months leave though). Everyone is different.

      1. The time recommendation is actually what six pre schools I spoke to and applied to recommend / have as curriculums. There are others that do have M-F everyday, but they also say do not leave your kids all day for they want to be with their parents.

        For example, three pre-schools for 2 year olds have this curriculum: two days a week for 2-3 hours a day. At three years old they move to 3 days a week for 3-5 hours a day, and only until 4-5 is it everyday.

        Here is an example:

        You can think the times are obnoxious, or you can ask whether something else is going on wrt work and child raising. There is nothing wrong with chasing the money. The vast majority of people I know cannot quit the money. And then many more I talk to afterward say they wish they spent more time with their kids growing up.

      2. Obnoxious??!! 2 lawyers paying someone else to raise their kids so they can chase a buck. It obnoxiously trivializes the parents who plan and save and believe that they can do a better job raising their kid than some “nice lady” making 15 bucks an hour to watch over 20 kids for 9 hours a day. No worries, they get to sleep and play and have fun.

        Your right, it’s a good thing everyone is different.

        1. It’s not about chasing $. As a lawyer (as noted elsewhere in these comments) it is damn near impossible to leave the profession and get back in. We both have taken extended leaves and are fortunate to have flexibility in our work schedules.

          Our children also were in nanny shares with one other kid and our nanny is like family to us. Not exactly throwing them to the wolves.

          1. If its not about the money than why would 2 highly educated adults choose to have someone else raise their kids in the most formative years of their life? As their parents surely you think you could do a better job.

            If you only had a day to live, would you still be happy with your decision?

            I apologize for being judgemental. I don’t know you or your kids. You could be the perfect family for all I know. It just pissed me off when you said it’s a little obnoxious to consider sacrificing oneself for your own kids.

  75. This all dovetails nicely with Melinda Gates recent commentary on work/life balance and how a workaholic culture causes people inclined towards families to lean out instead on in.

    Whatever path you choose, you can’t underestimate the trade offs either. Want to keep grabbing for the brass ring at work, chances are your family life will suffer. Want to be a good parent/spouse, you may have to dial it back at work and put off retirement a bit. It’s all a matter of priorities.

    As for me, I know I made the right call to step back from the rat race to get more quality time at home, even if it meant taking a big paycut. Dad > CFO.

  76. I’m in an extremely difficult to break into industry. Once you get off the ferris wheel you can’t get back on. It’s unusual for someone to quit to stay home with their kids because the typical sales rep works from 8am-2pm. If you can get over the hump of having a nanny until the kids start school you are home free. My job is extremely flexible. I drop the kids off at school (2nd grade and pre-K) everyday and I pick my son up at 2pm and then hop in the carpool line to pick up our daughter right when she gets out of school. It’s hard to find an industry where you can make six figures, drive a free company car and only work thirty hours per week.

  77. I actually think working when they’re in the daycare years is easier, because the camp thing in the summer once they hit school age is stressful and expensive. My oldest was in daycare in my building full time until she was 4 and when we had our second I switched to part time and they were there about 6 hours per day. Then we had #3 two years later and I continued to work part time until she was 2 (had to vest in my state pension). You can spend plenty of time with kids even if you work and our daycare was wonderful. Being home with them now (ages 10, 6 & 4) is fabulous and I don’t intend to go back to work unless I have to. Our home life is a lot more mellow, the kids love coming home after school and having play dates with friends, and I’m able to take them to visit grandparents in the summer for a month (not possible when you’re working). My husband spends less time with them during the week due to work, but seems to get in a good amount of time with them on the weekend. I’d like my husband to eventually switch to a less stressful job but we’re not there yet with savings (but probably will be in a few years).

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. May I ask what your day entails when your three kids are in school?

      I’m trying to imagine myself writing and exercising during the day and grabbing lunch with friends when my son is in school all day.

  78. Some thoughts:

    1. While having time off from 0-5 is great, I think having time off or more flexible work schedules from 5-15 are really important too. The 5-15 are very formative years of the child’s character and if you have flexibility to be more available during this time, all the better.

    My son is almost 1 years old and we plan to have a 2nd child in the next few years. By the time my kids are between 5-10 years old, I should be able to find more flexible work to spend more time going to soccer games, school plays, and mentoring them.

    2. Realistically, most people are not going to be able to afford to have both parents off from work. I think the traditional model of one stay at home parent, and 1 worker parent is a good arrangement. I think more people could accomplish this if they really put their minds to it.

    We moved from SoCal to Atlanta to allow this for our family so my wife could stay at home. We chose a lifestyle to allow us to do this. (I know some families will need both spouses working, but I think far less families need this if people are willing to make some sacrifices)

  79. You’ve definitely jumped into a hot topic with both feet. Rather than argue with most of what you stated I will take my lowly 6 years of parenting experience and suggest you bookmark this post for another day sometime when your little one is 2.5-3 years old and let us know in a follow up post how your hypothesis has played out for your family.

    I do believe your description of the 5 year gap is woefully oversimplified. Anyone with more than 1 child will remind you that your 5 year gap doesn’t start until you have your last kid, so if you want to have more than one you are honestly looking at a minimum 7-8 year gap, not 5. I will relate to you a co-worker’s re-start to her career after the “5 year break”. She had her children, went all in for them and stepped away from her career for 10 years. Upon returning, I hired her as my junior employee even though she was 13 years my senior. She is a wonderful, talented engineer and an amazing person however in my industry your defining value is your record of success. It is often a contract requirement that to be a key person (read leader) you must have 10 plus years of relevant experience. To make stepping away more difficult the definition of relevance in my field is recency.

    Some industries, especially male dominated math and science ones (yet another hot topic) are very unforgiving of breaks and highly suspicious of those folks (especially women) who take even the shortest of breaks past the pathetic 8 weeks of maternity leave as the question of your dedication to career over family is asked and the possibility of additional children exists. This is an observable issue as it took my co-worker over 8 months of interviewing to get her job offer in a field with negative unemployment.

    Ultimately you have to do what is right for you and your family. There is no right way to parent or have a career while parenting and no need to put down any other family’s decisions down to justify your own. That outlook perhaps is the biggest gift my son gave me, well other than the sloppy kiss and “Love you mom” at school drop off this morning.

    1. It’s true, I have simplified the argument. But I found that simplification is important to getting ideas across and getting people to take action, much like my 1/10th rule for car buying. People don’t absorb multiple scenario points as easily.

      I can only forecast five years into the future. So perhaps in three or four years, I’ll write a post with a different perspective for a different target demographic.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  80. Hi Sam, Your reasoning is fine, but most people choose to have more than one child and then you are really beginning to add up years out of the traditional work force. I have a law degree, and am married to a physician. I was the one to leave my job (which I really hated anyway), and I stayed home to raise the kids. We have 3, and they are really spread out, so arguably, I would have been out of the workforce for 13 years by the time the youngest was in kindergarten. That is too long a time to return to prior career in my opinion. By that point, I was unemployable in prior field. I also had a husband who was a medical resident, working 110 hours a week for 5 years while he trained. So almost ALL of the child care was on me with the first child. It wasn’t until number 2 and 3 came along that he was actually working regular hours, which were still about 60 a week. Anyway, you make valid points, I am glad we had our kids when we did, (my husband was 27 when the first came along, and 35 when the last was born). What I did not foresee was the loss for me- I really gave up a lot, and never really returned to a full time job after I left. I regret that.

    1. Thanks for sharing. The sacrifice and career really is large with your kids, especially if you decide to get a professional degree in law or medicine. Even an MBA takes two years, and I have a lot of female friends who swore they would go back to work after having kids and an MBA but decided not to. Thanks for sharing. The sacrifice in career really is large with your kids, especially if you decide to get a professional degree in law or medicine. Even an MBA takes two years, and I have a lot of female friends who swore they would go back to work after having kids and an MBA but decided not to. This was within four years of them graduating from business school as well.

      So another lesson for all you gung ho Folks is, talk to older parents that I’ve been there. You may think one way, but another way they really evolve.

      Despite giving up your career, wouldn’t you say that the sacrifice pales in comparison to raising your kids and watching them grow up?

      1. Honestly, they all turned out great, but I don’t think they appreciate what I gave up. Now I volunteer and have a lot of friends, but my 3 “adult” kids want to know what I do all day! Part of me thinks they would have been better off if I had tried to work just a bit, but that was not an option. I did work part time when the youngest turned 10, but that was really just a few hours a week. Have to agree with your other readers though, the teen years can be the hardest!!

        1. It all goes so fast I just didn’t want any regrets after 18 years! You still have your education- you can also go back and find something fulfilling…even if it’s part time, maybe the money isn’t great but kids get too much any way is my thought :)

    2. Sam, this is a good post but there has been lots of research done on this topic that conflicts with what you are saying. In the final Freakonomics book the authors reviewed many studies that had tried to answer the age old question of what makes a good parent. One general conclusion the authors noticed from the many studies they reviewed was that the amount of time spent with children was not that important.

      1. Cool. What were the important factors? Also, do you know if the Freakonomic authors were stay at home parents?

        I consistently get an answer from parents who work full-time but it’s all about quality time instead of quality time. I do wonder what is this is true or simply an excuse for not spending as much time with One’s kids?

  81. You are spot on. The money is too hard to quit. It doesn’t feel realistic to give up your income for 2-5 years. Most people don’t have enough money saved to make to the end of the month much less 2 years. My daughter just turned 1 and it does go by in a blur.

    There are also a fair number of people that are anxious to get back to work. Not because they don’t love their children but crave the adult interactions. Caring for a newborn definitely makes work seem easy.

  82. I’m on my 1 year leave now with our first baby so I don’t have too much parenting advice to give.

    I think money is hard to quit… If you’re in the middle of your career. Taking 2-5 years off the job is like career suicide, that’s why a lot of working moms who do take the 5 years off to raise kids during the early years go back to jobs that are lower paying. If you decide to have 3 children that will also take longer than 5 years lol.

    I think when they get to age 5 it can get busier too (not from my own personal experience but my nephew is in kindergarten now) shuffling them to soccer practice and track meets, piano lessons, language lessons after school. If you’re working 9-5 you won’t be able to do that because a lot of activities are at 4pm or 5pm.

    I still think your situation (both parents at home) is the best, or if there’s a way for both parents to work part time somehow, then you have your foot in the door of working world and also have both feet at home, nurturing your child.

    1. Maybe after your five, just insist on a full-time job that allows you to pick up your kids and drop them off. That’s another compromise. If I had my son while working, I would just put down the hammer and tell my company this.

      If you can get your job done in a quicker time, and still get results, a company should let you be more flexible because losing you is going to be a pain.

  83. I unfortunately cannot agree with you- I have 3 teenage daughters- oldest in college now, last 2 in high school. I stayed home after they were 4 years old- thankfully because I could afford to and had some issues with my nannies so I quit. The hardest years and most important years to be around are the teenage years from 12-16…that’s when they need to be watched the most! I’ve seen working parents let their teenage kids do whatever they wanted because they were just too tired to say no- and it didn’t turn out too well unfortunately for them. My opinion anyway…

    1. Amen.

      Those teenager years can be very stressful.

      Cautiously allowing/denying them to go out, spend the night at a friends, etc., etc. Feel like pulling your hair out!

      1. SOOO true!!!! And we’re old so we have to stay up late to make sure they come in on time and they’re behaving!!! Not fun.

    2. Agree, was going to say the same thing. Teen years are tough for working parents. Especially with internet access and all that comes with it. You can only shield them so much (plus they figure out ways around all the safeguards you put in place). I’ve started working at home and that has been a huge blessing.

    3. I thought raising teenage daughters is a walk in the park? All you have to do is keep them at home after school and not give them Internet access via mobile device or laptop. Once there’s no social media and online comparison of fabulous living, life is good!

      Or, am I way off here?

      1. Both boys and girls in their teenage years are trying to figure out themselves. There is a lot of pressure to be “cool”. Sports keep them busy but you also want to allow them to make choices and see how others are behaving either good or bad. High School years very critical in terms of what they see and choose to do.

        1. Good to know. I was just joking around in my earlier comment.

          I’ve taken parenthood so seriously that I decided to take a job as a high school tennis coach so I could observe what it’s like to be around teenagers, instruct teenagers, and also research the high school that I might want my son to attend in 14 years. Talk about planning ahead!

          It is interesting to observe the lack of confidence, and smoothness I’m used to and adults, when interacting with teenage kids. This will help me better learn how to communicate with my son in the future.

          Check it out:

    4. Are you saying it’s a lot more watching and observing versus being actively involved or both? I remember wanting to be really independent from my parents as a teen. Can you please share some specific examples of how to help teens behave well without them rebelling from feeling over parented? I’ve always been curious about this because I remember pushing back on my parents as a teen whenever they tried to tell me what to do and such. And any advice for handling mood swings? I was so moody as a teen and hope my child won’t be like me as a teenager but who knows!

      1. There is an amazing book out there that’s really helped a lot- it’s called “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” by Julie Lythcott-Haimes. Very good advice! She’s head of admissions at Stanford and does talks at High Schools for parents. It’s tricky because they need to make mistakes in their teen years but not too many mistakes right?!?! I would say it’s more guiding and observing like you suggest. I pray every day….

        1. Kristy Clark

          Chris, I have an eleven year old and 8 year old and this was the best book I have read! Love it so much. We can’t do everything for our children or they will never learn how to do things for themselves. There is definitely a balance though, one we struggle with daily.

        2. That’s funny, because I pray every day for patience and for doing the right thing!

          I’m thinking in 18 years, college really won’t be as big of a deal because there will be more and more people skipping college or going to just any old college in making a name for themselves by leveraging technology.

    5. Sara Silzer

      I could not agree more. Also, starting in middle school, the only time you might get info out of your child is right after school pick-up in the car. Then it’s off to sports, homework, etc.

  84. Wow! What a posting. Rule of thumb. Be there for your kids. No matter what. Doesn’t matter if you are home with them 24×7 or see them a few hours a day. I have 5 kids with huge variances in ages. Be firm and give them responsibility. It’s important to instill good values in them and they’ll be the best children you’ve ever asked for.

      1. Time will tell. When our kids get older, they will realize themselves whether or not we were good. You are absolutely right – spending lots of time with your child(ren) during these “foundational” years not only creates memorable and long-lasting bonds, but it also shapes the child(ren) to be who they are. Over time, needs change and instead of being in the field, you are guiding from the sidelines.

  85. You are right that good parenting is as much about quantity of time as quality and maybe more. My two are now in their 30’s and I was a working mom. I’m here to tell you that your kids need you just as much, and maybe more, in the later years. That’s because they need you to be available (with time AND attention AND focus AND energy) when bullying, social/peer/media pressure, teen angst, and young love hit. And the reality is, there are very few jobs – even part-time ones – that coincide with the typical school schedule. If you need to work, you aren’t going to be there when they need you in the way in which you are describing being available. Your 2-5 year scenario is wishful thinking. The reality doesn’t fit neatly into that box.

    1. Thanks Deb, I can only really see five years in the future. That’s all I have been planning for the past 20 years, in five-year blocks.

      Not being able to predict the future is why I posted this post to get parents who have older children to share their feedback like you have.

      You’re likely most definitely right. And my default scenario is to actually be there for my son until he goes to college 18 years later. But I wrote this post mainly to help those who are really struggling with the career or family dilemma. To know that you have a five-year backstop may help people from delaying or overthinking things.

      I plan to be the most involved dad there is, if he will let me. I will go to every single recital, sporting events, or whatever he decides to do. I’m excited to be there for him and to learn what he learns.

  86. Apathy Ends

    Not an expert, 6 months in. We both have pretty flexible jobs and don’t typically work over 40 hours a week. We go straight from the bus to get her and spend time with her until she goes to sleep. It is tough to balance a blog/job/child but the kid comes first. I have taken a lot of time off just to be at all her appointments and spend more time with her.

    Neither one of us wanted to give up years to stay at home, money is the main driver of that decision. If we didn’t have flexible job situations that decision might be different though.

    I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but having family watch your child is amazing. She is with someone we trust and will be part of her life beyond daycare.

  87. asia_mystery

    The day that I die — I rather leave a life long and imprinted legacy on my kids than at work. We live in Asia, where its common and the culture norm to have grandparents/ nannies raise the kids. I’ve told my wife because if we don’t have this outsourced care, but DIY, it ultimately makes us better parents. Indeed there are days where the energy is zapped and would love to be kid-free for days, but still believe that parenting is the toughest and most rewarding job.

    Sam, like you, I became a dad at age 40. I have two kids now 11 and 9 (I’m 51). Sometimes I do wish I had kids earlier, but I also realize that being a dad at age 40 is being a mature dad and the perfect age to be the dad. If I was a dad at 20s or 30s, I would probably be an undisciplined dad and have the kids watch way too much tv, eat junk food, and play videos – I would have been a kid playing with the kids. To certain extent I agree that either my parenting or career would have suffered, if I became a dad earlier.

    You’ve mentioned before that the fertility rates in SF is quite low and I believe that cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Singapore all also suffer from low birth rates is quite simple: the economic trade off in raising a kid in expensive city is very unattractive and daunting for very young couples, who are in the prime of their careers. People are not willing to sacrifice their 2-5 years to have a kid because the opportunity cost is too large.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Good to know you feel that age 40 was the perfect age. I hope to feel the same way years down the road.

      I’m envious of all of the help one can get in Asia. Having grown up in Asia for 13 years, the support network was so huge and the cost of help was so inexpensive.

      I agree that leaving a legacy at work, someone else’s company doesn’t compare to leave leading a great impression with your kids.

  88. Chuck Sarahan

    Balance is the key being correct. I don’t subscribe to your five year theory. What happens if you have more than one kid? Or if you are playing ZoneD (three or more kids)? Being a parent is a choice. And you are correct: it is time vs. money. I chose time. I have had multiple opportunities to work where the “big” money is made. I chose to work for Uncle Sam so I could be at home at night with them. Now they are out of the house, I am working more and may leave Uncle Sam for the private sector. Funny though. We now have to oversee our parents. In some ways, it is like overseeing a kid.

  89. As a younger mom, I find a good balance with my career and parenting so far. There are certainly times when it is tough to be traveling for work or on a more time intensive project, but I find work is an outlet for me to utilize strengths and skills that I would not utilize as a stay at home parent. Working is less about the money right now and more about pursuing something that I find fulfillment in.

    We are also extremely fortunate to be near my parents, so our son has a mix of grandma and daycare throughout the week.

    I think the biggest lesson in parenting I have learned is that each person/parent is unique and will need to find the best situation for their personality, their family dynamic and their child(ren) :)

    1. That is great your parents are nearby to help out. I wish my parents were within 30 minutes away as well, they are a five hour flight away.

      Another reason to have kids younger. Grandparents are much more involved and enthusiastic when they are younger.

      The outlet of work is important. I guess because I really don’t feel the need or the desire to work more than three or four hours a day, I feel full-time work is very inefficient. So instead, I just do something creative on the laptop, and maybe meet some potential business partners every so often and that’s it. That’s enough for me, 20 hours a week max. I think with 20 hours of work, you can accomplish 95% of what people spend 40+ hours a week doing at work, especially due to the commute.

  90. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    Sam – We had our first son at 30 and our second at 33. I continued working full-time and, you’re right, I wish I had spent more time with them when they were little. They change so fast.

    Mrs. FF switched to working part-time and we put our sons part-time in day care. It was a good day care and I think it was good for our sons. They got good at socializing and they developed a strong immune system.

    When they went off to Kindergarten, the day care experience made it an easy transition. Other children who had never been away from a parent completely freaked out. They would pair my sons with a child that freaked out to try to calm the child down.

    1. I am expecting a high level of separation anxiety when my little one goes to preschool. But I plan to just hang around the school for the entire duration until he can feel comfortable having me disappear for 2 to 6 hours. Luckily, everything is relatively close by in the city.

      I like the part-time work and part-time daycare combination. That sounds fantastic.

      1. Sam,
        Have you considered home schooling? Based on our experience (2 boys 18 and 20 now), nothing else we could have done for them would have had a greater impact. You seem to really enjoy spending time with your son. That won’t change with time. 8 hours per day of public school, or being taught by the two people that care about him the most. Plus, it is a blast. Don’t let anyone scare you with the socialization issue, that is a fully debunked nonstarter.

        1. Brad, after the age of 9 I had to stop work for medical reasons, I sold my house to get out of debt, took the money and moved to a rural location and bought a small farm. A really small farm. The schools were awful. I home schooled my son. I agree with you, its a good way to go. Even with my having not completed college, worked menial jobs, and then running a goat farm, I could teach him faster and in a method that suited him best. My son has a near photographic memory. He learns incredibly fast. He was failing school because the teachers couldn’t figure him out. Like Sam says, a parent knows their child. He got his GED 3rd highest in the state, at age 15 while working in construction full time. He started college at a small private one near us at 16. He’s confident, outgoing and compassionate. For a while the home school did give him issues because others didn’t want to give him credit for his education he is now proud of his education, and the creative way he was taught. My son is in sales, project management, and fabrication of docks. His work spans from houses, to cell phone towers ( I hated that job…glad he got over it) to movie sets. Docks are his job now. He can design, or build almost anything and the job will come in under budget. He’s holding off on big career moves until his youngest is in school.

  91. Wow, the leap from (5) two hard working parents with some travel to (6) single parent drug addict is harsh! We have two kids, 1 and 4. I left my job a few months ago because of this. I found a balance by launching my own consulting company and only contracting for 20 hours a week, while my spouse continues her hectic travel schedule.

      1. thanks for adding the scenario of single parent. I worked a lot of menial/blue collar jobs just so I could be with my little one during his most productive learning times. I suggest an 3-11 pm job. and work the weekends so your not in traffic, you get a weekday off for drs. , parks and other learning places without crowds. quality time. Am I glad I was a security guard with great benefits for coke? yes, did I get rich, yes, at 6 bucks an hour I got to give my son good medical care, be there for him, and take sick leave. I was a maid when he reached elementary school. why? the money wasn’t great, but the hours were. I saw him to school and was there when he came home. Now he’s a great father, has 3 beautiful kids and I try my best to give him all the help I can. At 36 there’s still nothing better than a big hug from my boy. so, if you have to have a kid single, just do it with some common sense. Sam, your right. they need a parent in the early years, and sometimes if you work too much, you just have to hold them when they sleep. Its not a perfect world. Thats what makes it so much fun.

  92. Heck naw you don’t over analyze things! Not to me anyway! It bothers me a lot of parents (like mine) just wing it. I believe in a lot of freedom so the max I would give is about 5 to 10 years because I know by the time the hormones kick in, they would probably do well with less of me. My husband and I were very good teenagers. We both never broke any rules, got good grades, no boys/girls/kissing/premature hankey pankey so I trust our child (if we choose to even have any) would be the same.

    I told my husband by the time my child is 10-14, I would like to give them the permission to use my first name instead of addressing me as their mom. I’ll always be their mother but to a point, they will become our equal so having that power play isn’t necessary.

    I’m coming off as a total hippie (instead of the usual Asian tiger mom stereotype) but that’s how I feel. I’m pretty chill – I have my expectations but thank goodness my common sense kicks in before I push things that shouldn’t be pushed.

    My husband and I would prefer to have FIRE-d before we have kids so we can be the (1) you listed but it’s not a requirement. All I would is to make enough money so my lax nature will keep them out of the rat race. This life isn’t worth it to me if you’re stuck in the race, the irony is I’m racing as fast as we can just to stockpile money so our child doesn’t have to…but I think it’s a worthy sacrifice. It would ease the guilt of my “selfish” creation…

    1. All good points. And that is interesting about letting your child call you by your first name eventually.

      I’ve always found that to be weird, because I grew up in Asia where addressing an Elder by a respected title is so important.

      But since coaching tennis at the high school, they have a policy of addressing everybody by their first name. I’m still getting used to it. So instead of coach, it is Sam etc.

  93. I think for a lot of people the amount of debt that they have leads them to not be able to have the parenting style that they would like to have. I know in expensive areas that I have had friends complain about this and they even had kids later in life as well.

  94. My kids are off to college now, so we are empty-nesters! I had them at 29 and 31 and it has worked out great for us. I didn’t take time off with them but I was a teacher, so I did have extra time with them during summers and school breaks. We used an experienced family day-care provider (a wonderful woman who had four grown children) who taught me a lot about being a mom. My parents had retired and moved away by the time my kids were little, so her mentoring was incredibly helpful. The best advice she gave me was to not be too hard on myself and to just love and take care of my kids the best way that I could.

    As far as people not taking 2-5 years off, I think health insurance is a huge issue too – in addition to losing a salary.

    If I had to give advice to young parents – the first thing I would tell them is to ignore Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram, etc. You don’t need to compare yourself or do all of the things you see posted by people to be a good parent! Spending hundreds of dollars on a pictures every few months or on birthday parties doesn’t matter to a small child. You matter. Turn off your phone and the TV and go to for a walk. When they get bigger, color together, do puzzles, build a fort out of blankets, camp in the backyard, make a baking soda “volacano” or cookies. That’s what they’ll remember.

    1. Great advice! And it is also awesome a daycare provider was your mentor and taught you a lot. How can one not build a strong relationship with the daycare provider right?

      I think we need to spend more time interviewing a helper to give us several hours of week to ourselves. It’s just hard to find someone we absolutely trust. It’s harder than finding great tenants by a lot!

      1. Our daycare provider took care of many teachers kids in the years before we were lucky enough to have her care for our kids. Lots of references – and start slow. I’d start with an hour or two, then gradually increase. You definitely need time together away from the little guy too :)

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