Stay at home parenting is one of the hardest and most rewarding things one can do. During a pandemic, taking care of a child and working is even more difficult. This article will share a day in the life of two stay at home parents who also work on a side business.
The purpose of this article is to:
- Help folks realize that working from home and taking care of a child is not as easy as you might think. It's actually much easier to drop your kid off at daycare.
- Discuss ways to be a better parent and more efficient producer while at home.
- Encourage the 3% of the male parent population who are stay at home dads to speak up about their experiences. And of course hear from stay at home moms as well.
- To recognize there is no one way to raise a baby since every baby and family situation is different.
- Highlight how difficult juggling parenthood and work is during a global pandemic. After more than 10 months of sheltering-in-place with preschools closed, life has been extra difficult.
More Full-time Working Parents
According to Pew Research, two-parent households where both parents work full-time today make up 46 percent of the population, compared to 31 percent in 1970.
My wife and I didn't want to be one of the 46 percent. So we carefully planned for a life of stay at home parenting. We both wanted to spend as much time as possible raising our son while also keeping intellectually stimulated. We've only got one chance.
Stay At Home Parenting While Working
Working from home is more efficient than working in an office. You don't have to waste time commuting. You'll never get interrupted by colleagues and there aren't as many meetings. I can get done in four hours what it takes 10 hours to do in the office.
Since the global pandemic in 2020, millions of families have discovered what it's like to try to juggle stay at home parenting with work. It's hard! But also incredibly rewarding.
Before my son was born, I thought it'd be relatively easy to be a stay at home and work from home dad as well. But I was wrong. Here are some reasons why it's difficult to do both:
Challenges Of Working At Home With Kids
1) A life is in your hands.
One look away and your baby or toddler could suffocate from a pillow, fall off the sofa, bonk his head while trying to stand, impale his eyes with a stick, or die in his sleep.
You are always on duty as a stay at home parent. The only time you can rest is if your little one rests. Even then, rest may be a rarity as he may wake up constantly for the first several years.
If you slack off at work, like most people do, generally nothing bad happens. If you slack off with your baby, it could be a disaster.
2) It's impossible to create good work and provide quality care at the same time.
Because you can't lose sight of your baby for more than several seconds, the idea of concurrently working and caring is impossible. I can hold my baby on the floor and read my phone at the same time, but that's about it.
Goodness forbid you have to do something like write, draw, or design for work. When taking care of a little one, it's best to be 100% present.
3) You lose your independence.
There is never a regular schedule to follow when you are a stay at home parent. Your day is dictated by your little one's sleep schedule, bathroom schedule, eating schedule, and doctor visits.
You are working whenever there is a glimpse of free time like I'm doing now at 11pm. The more independent you were before having kids, the harder the adjustment.
4) You relive all the unpleasantries of life.
Most of us who are healthy don't see the doctor more than once a year. But if you have a little one, you are visiting a pediatrician about every three months. You may also visit other specialists if your baby has developmental issues.
While at the pediatrician, your baby is examined thoroughly and gets injected with vaccines, which hopefully cause no harm. And if you have to visit the hospital or a specialist, you may see other patients with issues much worse than your little one's.
5) You are always tired.
Getting enough sleep is one of the keys to a happy and productive life. Your cognitive ability literally declines by 80%+ if you are sleep deprived.
Having to take care of your little one while also having the responsibility of financially providing for your family drastically cuts into the amount and quality of sleep you can get. F
or the first three months of my baby's life, I felt like I pulled an all-nighter at work every other night. You get through the exhaustion by telling yourself, “this too shall pass.”
6) You feel their pain.
If you are a normal, sympathetic human being, you will feel the pain your child goes through as if it were your own. When your baby or toddler is crying, your body will naturally tense up trying to figure out what's wrong.
Is he hungry? Is he tired? Does he have a tummy ache? A cold? Is he too hot? Does he have a blocked nasal passage? The longer your little one cries, the more pain you feel until it sometimes becomes unbearable where you also start crying.
Division Of Labor
Having a partner makes life easier as stay at home parenting. For all the single parents out there, you deserve ALL the respect in the world for trying to make things work. Your ability to multi-task is truly extraordinary.
My wife and I work well together. I spent my career in a client facing role that was responsible for revenue generation. And she spent her career in an operations role to help make the system work. I would not be where I am today without my wife.
Primary Dad Responsibilities
- Writing articles and creating podcasts (iTunes channel link)
- Revenue generation and business development
- Social media
- Mass media outreach (giving written and oral interviews mostly)
- Accounts receivable – following up with vendors who have a propensity not to pay on time
- Attending business functions
- Reading and researching about a baby's developmental milestones
- Driving the family
- Ordering and preparing food
- Cleaning bottles, dishes, kitchen, and dining room
- Investing cash flow and managing our net worth, which can be a full-time job
- Gardening and home maintenance
- HS tennis coaching (3.5 months a year) and foster kid mentoring (once a week)
- Provide ~6 hours of care for our son (1-3 hours in the morning, 1-3 hours in the afternoon, and 2-4 hours in the evening, depending on afternoon/evening functions)
Primary Mom Responsibilities
- Business accounting and bookkeeping
- Calculating and paying business taxes and California state business filings
- Managing business office
- General operations including payroll, health insurance, dental insurance, workers comp insurance
- Graphics and working with graphic designers
- Miscellaneous business related functions such as coming up with promotional codes, coordinating with our system administrator to fix bugs, customer support
- Taking care of our son from bedtime to morning (this is is huge because he wakes up multiple times a night)
- Ordering all baby food, clothing, diapers, supplies, toys, carriers, strollers, chairs, and books
- Scheduling doctors appointments
- Handles all communications and troubleshooting with insurance agents, back end partners, and vendors such as Aweber, Comcast, AT&T, utility companies etc.
- Manages all back end functions for the e-book store
- Occasional editing of articles
Shared Stay At Home Parenting Responsibilities
- Diaper changing
- Working on achieving gross motor and fine motor milestones
- Keeping the house tidy
Phew! After writing out all the responsibilities, it's no wonder why they say a stay at home parent is worth about $100,000 a year in salary while working 90 hours a week on average. There's a lot to do while stay at home parenting!
A Day In The Life Of A Work From Home And Stay At Home Parent
After about the third month, I could not take staying up all night and working all day anymore. As a result, I asked my wife to be the sole caretaker once our little one went to bed.
Thank God for her because I wouldn’t have been able to continue my writing cadence on Financial Samurai without her. So please give my wife a big THANK YOU if you've enjoyed Financial Samurai this year.
My wife is the CEO of our little one, and I'm the COO. For our business, I'm the CEO and she's the COO. Since I'm an extrovert and she's an introvert, this works well.
Here's a typical schedule PST:
The days and nights are long while stay at home parenting with young children. Add on working a job while caring for a baby or toddler, and you can easily keel over without support.
Here's a typical schedule that my wife and I had while raising our son. We did our best to divide and conquer.
5am – 8am: Freshen up, read comments, respond to e-mails, follow up on loose ends, write a post, check investments, and make investment allocation decisions. My goal is to get 80%+ of my work done before my wife and my baby wake up so I can relieve her for 1-3 hours in the morning.
Before the pandemic, I would naturally wake up around 6am. Once the pandemic began, anxiety went up and the desire to do more to protect my family. As a result, I regularly naturally wake up by 4:45am.
7:45am – 8:00am: Wash bottles, put away dishes, clean kitchen countertops, clean dining table. The goal is to do as much cleaning before our little one wakes up.
8am – 11am: Watch the little one for 1-3 hours so mama can shower, change, pump, catch up on news, e-mail, and rest. The rougher the night, the longer I will takeover. During this time I or we will change his diaper and feed him breakfast. We try our best to go for a walk outside in our Baby Bjorn carrier to get some fresh air and exercise.
I've had to do some major work adjustment this year because I'm a morning person, and for the past 5.5 years, I've written the majority of my posts during this time period. The mornings are when I'm most creative. By the evening, my creative energy disappears because I'm more tired.
11 am – 1pm: Our son will nap between 30 minutes – 1.5 hours in the late morning. We'll try to use this time to catch up on work or take a power nap ourselves.
1pm – 2pm: Lunch time! Our goal is to feed him 40+ bites of solid food and have him drink 4-6 ounces of milk. He's not that picky of an eater, thank goodness. But he doesn't eat that much compared to other babies his age.
2pm – 4pm: When we have the energy, we'll go for a walk in the botanical gardens, the science museum, or go to a local playground. Otherwise, we’ll just let him roam the house and discover the new things we’re constantly getting him.
4pm – 6pm: More time spent diaper changing, playing, and helping our little one reach milestones. We'll also do a lot of fun cognitive exercises like trying to stack toys and constantly read stories.
Currently we're working on clapping, waving, finger pointing, and walking at 11 months old. Around 5:30pm-6pm is dinner time where we try and get him to eat at least 40 bites of solid food and drink 6 ounces of milk.
6pm – 7:30pm: We give him a warm bath to signal it's sleep time within the next hour or so. I'll either make the bath or watch over him while my wife makes the bath. We'll then dry him up and try and feed him a 6-8 ounce bottle.
If we are successful, my wife will sit him upright for 20-30 minutes while we read him several of his favorite books. During this time, it's important to get a burp out of him to minimize his chances of spitting up during the night and choking.
7:30pm – 12midnight: My wife and I try to spend at least one hour of alone time together each night. 60% of the time it works. 40% of the time we're either too tired or have to catch up on work that we missed during the day.
I'm awake until midnight to provide assistance if my wife needs a bottle warmed up, a diaper changed, or some tag team soothing. All she has to do is text me. If no assistance is needed, I do about an hour of online work and unwind.
Midnight – 7:30am: Despite a long day, my wife is now flying solo. She is waking up to soothe our son, feed him, and pump. Sometimes he cries out for no good reason and then goes back to bed.
But the random stirs always wake up my wife because she is so in tune with his rhythm. Knowing my wife takes care of the entire night now is the reason why I'm motivated to keep working hard on the business during the day.
With the arrival of our baby daughter, the nights have become longer.
Tips For Better Work And Childcare
Here's what we've learned to make things better at home for the first year. They say that the first year of care is the toughest. Feel free to share whether you think this is true or not.
1) Get as much sleep as possible.
Without enough sleep everything goes downhill. You will be dumber, slower, crankier, less patient, and less attentive. Your relationships will suffer without sleep. Therefore, if it's a choice between going down the Facebook rabbit hole or sleep, always choose sleep.
2) Find help.
If you have a spouse that works or you have work to do at home and don't have a fellow stay-at-home spouse, find help ASAP through an au pair or a nanny. It is a PITA to find someone you can trust and depend on. But getting childcare help is very worth it once you find the right fit.
Therefore, you must start the interview process as soon as possible. The cost is well worth it. Further, this cost won’t last forever as your child will eventually go to school.
3) Set time and space boundaries.
If you don't set boundaries, there will be constant interruption when it's time to work. Lock yourself in a room to work more efficiently. Nobody can bother you unless it's an emergency.
You will feel so much better if you can get the most important work out of the way in the morning. If not, your mind will wander about the things left undone when its your turn to take care of your little one.
4) Communicate, communicate, communicate.
There can never be enough communication. Always remind your partner about your upcoming schedule so they don't make assumptions about your availability.
If you have a particularly long day in the future, let it be known so your partner can mentally prepare beforehand. Use shared Notes and Calendar reminders on your phone.
5) Divide and conquer.
Try to split things 50/50 as much as possible. It'll help reduce resentment and increase appreciation of each other. Having a baby is very difficult on parents. But if you guys both pitch in, if you are lucky enough to have a partner, it makes all the difference in the world.
The concept of Separation Of Tasks is extremely important for your relationship!
6) Consistently celebrate the wins.
Your effort as parents and income producers must be celebrated. Celebration will help remind you why you are trying so hard every single day to care and provide for your family.
Celebrate your baby's first crawl, first step, first giggle, first wave, first word, first teeth, and first trip to the zoo with a video recordings and a journal.
Celebrate winning a new client, reaching a new revenue milestone, getting a positive media mention, or cleaning up old files. When you are constantly focused on the purpose, you'll get through the hard times easier.
Things Get Better Over Time
Stay at home parenting and working from home tests your patience, endurance, and sanity. But I've noticed an improvement in the quality of our lives as each month goes by.
The first three months were brutal due to the tremendous lack of sleep for everyone. This is called the 4th trimester where I highly recommend getting help or a night doula if possible.
By the sixth month, our son would often sleep at least three hours in one stretch, and sometimes 4-5 hours at a time.
We made a conscience decision NOT to sleep train our baby using the cry-it-out method because we have nowhere to go the next morning. Instead, we use a softer sleep training method.
It hurts us too much to abandon him in the crib and hear him cry until he hyperventilates. As a result, our days and nights are long. However, eventually, your child will start sleeping more regularly through the night.
Starting around age 3, our son became a better sleeper. But of course, we were then blessed with a daughter 2.7 years later. As a result, we're back to difficult nights for at least two more years.
Rewards Of Stay At Home Parenting
Even though it's hard being a stay at home parent who also has a business to run, I've never felt so much love, satisfaction, and gratitude as I have during the first year of my son's life.
My son and daughter have crystallized the value of financial independence and having a lifestyle business. He's given me so much more motivation to make sure our finances are in order so they can be properly cared for. Further, our kids have encouraged me to eat more healthy.
We've had our rough moments stay-at-home-parenting and working. This is mostly due to my lack of patience, a loss of freedom, constant worry as first-time parents, and her sleep deprivation. But we know that in the end, we will look back and know we did the best we could no matter how our son turns out.
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Recommendation For All Parents
If there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it's that life is not guaranteed. We must do everything we can to protect our children while they are still dependents.
As a result, please get life insurance. Not only should you get enough life insurance to cover your liabilities, your life insurance term should last long enough to get them through college.
The best place to get life insurance is through PolicyGenius. PolicyGenius will help you find the best plan for the lowest price tailored to your needs. PolicyGenius provides free, no-obligation quotes so you can get the best rate.
In the past, you would have to get a life insurance quote by applying to individual carriers – the process was completely opaque. Now, you can have multiple qualified life insurance carriers compete for your business after applying on PolicyGenius. It's so much more efficient!
After eight years of owning life insurance, my wife decided to check on PolicyGenius for free to see if should could do better. Lo and behold, my wife was able to double her life insurance coverage for less money. All this time, she thought she was getting the best deal with her existing carrier.
If you don't have life insurance, please get life insurance before you need to. Life insurance gets more expensive the older you get. If you get sick, depending on the severity of your sickness, you might not be able to qualify.
If you do have life insurance, I highly recommend checking PolicyGenius to try and get a better deal. Chances are high you're not getting the best terms.
Stay On Top Of Your Money
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Having the financial freedom to take care of your kids while stay at home parenting is an absolute blessing.
94 thoughts on “A Day In The Life Of Two Stay At Home Parents Who Also Work”
That photo of your sink triggered me… I have infant twins and the number of Medala bottles they use is outrageous! I just washed bottles this morning and I have a similar looking sink and the exact same bottle brush! HAHA
My wife and I both work full time and with twins and a toddler, life is pretty intense.
Sleep Training for our toddler was really hard. We attempted cry-it-out but failed because he would get so upset he would throw up. We ended up getting a sleep consultant who change our life. The basic idea was to slowly (night after night) back out of the situation after getting buy-in from him. Worked amazingly well.
This is an interesting post – even as a non-parent. Seeing a day broken down like that is fascinating. May you all get better rest soon.
We recently had our first child around the same time as you. If your wife is having issues with milk production and is pumping to try to increase supply, you should try legendairy milk out of Austin. Our lactating consultant said at 6 weeks my wife hit peak production, we stumbled upon this stuff and she 2-3x her supply. He is now starting to eat some solids but still mostly milk. I can get a referral link from my wife if you are interested and we will both get 10% off next order or similar. Ps I do not work there just had a great experience.
Sure, send it over. Thx
Here is the the link http://i.refs.cc/XCkepouf?u=1519839211833.
I suggest buying the 3 pack first. It has pump princess, liquid gold, and some third one that I forgot the name of. You try each for 2 weeks and see what works for you.
My wife found that pump princess did the best for increasing supply. The liquid gold made the fat too thick and was making it clog her ducts. So depending on the actual issue, there is a different product for each.
They are only organic supplements, but they seriously worked way more than what we could get at the local whole foods.
I really hope these help you. I have been reading your blog for a few years now and want to return some of the favor that you have given me the best I can. I am doing well enough that I was able to support our family and let my wife stay home to raise our son, but not anywhere FS caliber.
Did it help?
I remember that first month with our baby, it was unforgettable! It was hectic with the lack of sleep and constant changing of diapers along with the crying. But with all of that going on, it’s a joy to have a little one around us and know that we are the ones who will guide him throughout his young life. He will turn 2 this weekend and we are enjoying being around him every single day. Hope your experiencing this too Sam!!
Hi Sam, welcome to fatherhood! As a stay-at-home father of two boys I know exactly what your talking about. Those first few years are rough!
Basically you have to put your own life on hold to be able to do a decent job with your kids. It kinda sucks. Having enough time to “advance” my career or business with young kids is basically impossible. “Treading water” feels like an appropriate description.
I’m happy if I just get my blog posts out on a regular schedule.
Sure, you can hire help (I know many people do this), but do you really want to? Those precious early years disappear fast.
I’m know I’m a weirdo for being a stay-at-home dad, but I’m glad I did it. It’s a hard job, but I would do it again, despite the difficulties.
Good for you for putting your child first. We are close in age but I have a 15 year old and a 9 year old. The first 1 year my 15 year old was colicky. This meant that my wife and I got very little sleep for the first almost 12 months that she was born. It was a challenge for sure with maybe an hour of uninterrupted sleep most nights. I do think that my age when my oldest was born being about 27 years old allowed me to endure the sleepless nights.
My wife and I do run our own business with employees and nothing like an online blog business you have but similar responsibilities being a business owner. My kids are almost 6 years apart in age and I can tell you my 9 year old was a completely different experience at 33 than it was for my daughter at 27. I think in part was the fact that he slept well and ate well and wasn’t colicky. I think also my wife and I having been through it and choosing to do it again probably had a better disposition to it and this confidence probably allowed my son to be
a little more mellow. Hang in there it does get better. I know you have had a lot of independence in your life and having a child a little later in life messes with that independence and you begin to think ” what were we thinking”. Ironically when your kids grow up you will miss the days when they needed you most. My only real complaint about having kids is that you spend so much time molding these beautiful people for other people to enjoy when they grow up. Call me selfish but this is how I feel and at the same time am so proud other people can enjoy and appreciate all of the hard work my wife and I put in to create such wonderful souls in this world. We need all we can get.
Cheers to you Sam, Wife, and Son! Keep up the good work!
“My only real complaint about having kids is that you spend so much time molding these beautiful people for other people to enjoy when they grow up.”
My wife just said to my boy, “I will enjoy you when you are old, whether you like it or not!” :)
Trust your intuition when it comes to your children. Sometimes it’s better to not read all that much or take too much advice. Observe your own child and start to develop that intuition and be present with them. There are simply many ways to raise children.
I thank my husband who was much better at the baby stage. He is a surgeon and is simply better with staying up at night than I was. It gets easier in some ways and harder in other ways as they get older. The fact that you really try to be a good parent is the most important of all. My husband and I consciously made sure to have one of us be home with our kids. It is amazingly easier to work when you know everything is taken care of at home.
Our youngest is heading to university in the fall. I am missing all those younger years already. Enjoy all of it Sam.
There are many kinds of freedom. I recall a day when, without especially thinking about it, I told the kids it was time to go and to go get in the car. Then I walked out to the car and realized I wasn’t carrying a diaper bag, nor was I carrying any food or drink and, if we needed food or drink, we would just buy some. I got to the car and the kids were in the back seat, belted in (car seats of course). And something ran through me that made me want to lift my arms to the sky and shout, “FREEDOM!”
Sam- I have been enjoying your blog posts for a few years and the podcast has been a great addition for my commutes. Thanks for sharing your ideas and keep up the great work! You mentioned the challenge of coming up with ideas for new content- here’s one for you: Financial Samurai version of “12 rules for life”. Also, for a different perspective on parenting that will help you not stress out too much about doing everything perfectly check out “Selfish reasons to have more kids” by Brian Caplan.
Sam as a father of 3 girls I would say you’re spot on about every kid is different. There’s really no right or wrong way to raise them (as long as they’re safe) but let me say that if your goal is to have your kid sleeping through the night by the time they are 3 then you may need to recalibrate. They should be sleeping through the night much earlier than that and for your sanity I’d figure out how to get there sooner rather than later.
Think about sleep training. No kid ever died from crying. If they’re fed, warm, dry, comfortable then they’re fine. You mentioned developing bad habits but one of the worst I’ve seen is kids getting to be 5 or 6 and sleeping in the bed with their parents. It happens more than you think. Kids in 1st grade wake up every night and crawl into their parents bed. You don’t want to set that kind of precedence for your own sanity.
Bottom line is every kid is different so keep doing you but you’ll lose your mind if your kid doesn’t sleep through the night until they’re 3.
Oh and if you have another baby in the next couple of years throw out all your rules.
Mike – I hear you, and remember your advice in the hot tub at Gateway. I suggested it to my wife, and she can’t do it. She’s doing a type of soft sleep training with minimal to no trauma. I set expectations low and try to beat them. But if I have a 3 year expectations, it’s only two more years. Not bad! Time goes quick.
Hope all is well. Sam