Nature Will Dictate The Best Time For Parents To Go Back To Work

The best time for parents to go back to work is dictated by nature. You don't have to overthink things too much once you've run the financial numbers.

Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know another stay-at-home dad in the neighborhood. Bob has a boy who is also two years old. We try to meet up once a month to catch up and trade notes on how to be better fathers.

Our latest topic du jour is trying to figure out when the right time is for us to go back to work full-time. We're tired and need a vacation from parenthood.

Go back to work too soon and you’ll miss many of your child’s precious milestones. Go back to work too late and you might never be able to get a similar paying job or a decent job again.

What is a conflicted parent supposed to do? It turns out, we may not have to make a decision at all if we can hang on.

When To Logically Go Back To Work

Logically, if a parent can afford to, the best time for parents to go back to work is once a child goes to preschool or kindergarten full-time.

Preschool can start as young as two. Kindergarten usually starts around five or six. With 3 – 8 hours of free-time a day, it would be best to at least do some part-time work instead of drinking rosé all day.

Although being a full-time parent is brutally hard, raising your child full-time for the first 2-5 years of life has its benefits. 90% of a child's brain develops by age five. The quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life – positive or negative – supposedly helps shape their future. Therefore, if possible, we might as well make it count the most when development is most rapid.

So far, I have yet to meet a single parent who has regretted giving up money to take care of their children during my limited time of being a full-time parent.

The thought process is usually the same. We can always make more money, but we can never get back time with our children.

But many parents do not have the luxury of being stay-at-home parents until their child goes to preschool or kindergarten. Going back to work after 1-3 months is usually the norm here in America. It's a shame.

For those parents who've given up their careers to take care of their children, yet long to get back into the workforce before their child enters kindergarten, here is when to emotionally go back to work.

When To Emotionally Go Back To Work

When it comes to family, logic often goes out the window and emotions take over. Emotion is why parents are willing to pay $70,000 a year for a private school education when $20,000 a year for a public school education will do. Our desire to give our children everything makes our willingness to pay inelastic.

We, as parents, feel our children’s pain as if it were our own. We also feel an immeasurable amount of joy once they achieve something they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

What I realize now after being a stay-at-home father for four years is that there is one phrase that pierces my chest and sting my heart like no other. It is:

“No daddy! Just mommy.”

When all I want to do is hug and play with my boy, him saying either one of these two phrases really hurts.

Therefore, the best time for parents to go back to work is when a parent is not receiving the same amount of love back. Even though a parent should have unconditional love for a child, it still hurts to get rebuffed. Having two stay at home parents may be an overkill.

An Inefficient Use Of Time

As a stay-at-home parent, one of my biggest fears is that I spend so many hours raising and loving him everyday and he ends up hating my guts. The more you invest, the more you have to lose. This fear of failure is why it's scary to try hard.

At only 28 46 months old, I recognize my boy does not exactly mean the harshness of his rebuff. I also recognize that when he’s teething, sick, or needs to go to the bathroom, he often wants to be left alone and doesn’t know how to politely say, “Hi daddy, could you give me some privacy?

Nonetheless, his bluntness still hurts.

After one particularly unloving afternoon, I had an idea. Every time my boy said “no daddy” or “no daddy, just mommy,” I would respond with an “OK, bye-bye” and leave.

In the past, if my son was awake, I felt guilty if I left the house for more than two hours. I felt bad putting the sole burden of parenting on my wife. I also felt guilty about choosing another activity over being with my son. I have full control over my time.

I realized separation time was important for a parent's sanity, yet I couldn't help but feel bad.

Less Guilt To Do Other Things

Now thanks to my son's rejections, I no longer feel nearly as much guilt going to my office for a couple hours to work on an article.

And if he's been particularly moody and says “no daddy” repeatedly, I feel completely guilt-free leaving the house for several hours at a time. I got run errands and play tennis or softball. Heck, I might even have a beer after with the boys.

In contrast, whenever he says “Where’s daddy?” or “Hi to daddy,” I find it impossible to leave him without feeling like I'm abandoning my son.

Now, when I come back from a long outing, he is always extremely excited to see me. This might seem like commonsense for working parents. But for me, I did not see this coming until after he turned two because I hardly ever left him. In fact, one of his developmental delays was not knowing how to wave good-bye because we never did.

My son’s rejections have actually enabled me to feel happier overall because I now have more guilt-free freedom to do as I please. Further, he is getting what he wants – to be left alone. What a win-win!

Nature Will Determine The Best Time For Parents To Go Back To Work

Nature Will Determine The Best Time For Parents To Go Back To Work

By going back to work when your child starts rejecting your love, you are making your child realize how truly loving you actually are. All too often we take the people in our lives for granted. Kids are no different. 

Your child will learn how to be more independent. He or she will learn to adapt to new caregivers and new playmates. Your child will also learn to better self-advocate, which is critical for young adults and adults alike.

Based on my informal survey of fellow stay-at-home parents, I’ve found kids start to talk back between 18 and 24 months. Going back to work by 24 months is great for parents who are still very career oriented. If you're away for 24 months or less, I doubt many parents will skip a beat at work.

For parents who feel bad going back to work well before 24 months, feel better knowing that your child's undying affection won't last. As their brains grow, so will their desire for independence and new experiences.  

It's amazing how nature has figured out a way to help ensure parents keep on working to improve the survival of our species.

If children were always incredibly loving, happy, and kind, we parents would never want to leave our children again! Alas, the terrible twos and threenager years exist to push stay-at-home-parents to seek the sanity and financial security of part-time or full-time work.

Follow The Signs

You kids will dictate when it's time to go back to work. Personally, I decided to come out of retirement once the pandemic hit. Given I was stuck at home most of the day, I thought I might as well try to make more money online.

I also taught my boy to say “daddy later“ instead of “no daddy” or “no mommy.” It’s made all the difference! Further, due to the global pandemic, we decided to pull our son from preschool in early March 2020. It's been a good experience homeschooling him. Although, he does get quite tantrumy at times.

Come Fall 2021, we hope to send him back to preschool to make friends, learn new things, and learn how to listen to teachers. By Fall 2021, we expect all teachers and city residents to be vaccinated as well. The timing should be good.

Once he goes to school, my plan is to re-retire and finally take things easier! This pandemic has completely burnt me out!

Related posts:

The Risk Of Not Being Able To Get A Job Again After Retiring Early Is Overblown

A Severance Negotiation Case Study For Those Who Want To Be Stay-At-Home Parents

What Is The Best Age To Have A Baby Based On Biology And Finances

How To Survive The Pressures As A Sole Income Provider

Readers, at what age did your kids start to rebuff your love or not want to hang out with you as much anymore? Did it help relieve your guilt of not spending as much time with them anymore? What other things does nature do to encourage parents to stay as supportive as possible and ensure the continuation of our species? When do you think is the best time for parents to go back to work?

37 thoughts on “Nature Will Dictate The Best Time For Parents To Go Back To Work”

  1. Ex Fed Employee

    We would like to ask what the financial samurai would do in a similar situation. Significant other who is 35 has 12yrs of federal employment. Has since gained a degree in preparation for nursing school. The consideration is working for the Veterans Administration long enough to earn a pension after graduating a program.

    Our question is if you had 48 months of free education at 35 to go back to school and start a new career from scratch, what would you choose? Assuming it would have zero impact on your personal finances.

    We look forward to your insight,
    Planning for the Future

  2. Really enjoyed all the different comments and discourse about this article, plus the article itself. Nice to read about other people in the same boat as us (married, both work from home, share the watching of our 8-month-old baby every day, both interested in FIRE). Also, I’m scared that if I don’t comment, you’ll stop writing these great articles due to a lack of support. I hate commenting! :-)

  3. Hi Sam,
    This is my first post on FS.
    I was a stay-at-home dad for the first 1.5 years of my son’s life and it was a great fun experience bonding and raising him. My wife and I had the opportunity to do that when we sold our condo in Redwood Shores CA (25 miles south of SF) in late 2014 and moved to Lexington KY to be closer to my wife’s family as it is where she is from. It’s been a change to say the least to all aspects from the new location, parenthood and career decisions. My son just turned 5 and my daughter is almost 1.5 years old, and it’s been a rewarding, joyous and comical experience watching them interact…sometimes very loving and affectionate, and other times a complete 180.

    I’d say don’t take it so hard and just roll with it. The kids will sometimes gravitate towards mom, and sometimes towards dad, depending on the situation and setting, along with their moods.

    Below is a interesting read and take on Why children need a male and female parent. Some people might not agree completely, but it gave me a different perspective and insight when I read it a few years ago. Hope it finds you well. And thank you for all the financial advice and knowledge you’ve shared!

  4. Sam – very interested post. For us we had the best of both worlds as my wife and I are PhD faculty with flexible careers at a University. With much juggling and help from grandparents we were able to avoid day care up to 24 months. Now we have our daughter in pre-school, we knew immediately when she would tell us to leave and want to stay with grandparents or other caregivers as a sign to get rid of us! So true, we also are laughing out loud at your “threenager” as we’ve never heard the term but see it now.

    Nature does ineed know when they are ready. For me personally I eased off the gas regarding my career to help my wife and take care of my little one. While my career and income to some degree has’nt climbed like I have wanted, the precious time and bond I have with my child is something I can’t put in words – wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that my wife’s career has risen and our little one can fend for herself to some degree if another child comes along – not sure how I’ll handle that one!

    Good to see posts like these that interlay career and balancing family life – building all the wealth its important to have legacy plan’s beyond monetary – time with your kids invested pays very high dividends later.

  5. There seems to be a lot of social pressure on stay-home parents to go back to work. Every working parent seems to praise their magical daycares which they call “schools” for their 6 month olds thinking that they are putting their kids in the hands of “childcare experts”. The truth is that it prohibits natural development as kids only think of their survival as there is no one around to look after them, protect their best interests (daycare staff is there to protect the daycare center’s interests, not of kids’). This probably leaves a massive scar on mental health of a growing kid that probably hasn’t been properly researched. Never through the history of humanity we left our kids in hands of some strangers for full workday until last 50-60 years or so. It’s a terrible experiment to do.

    My wife quit her 6-figure paying job to enjoy raising our children. I remember when we took a boat ride to a diving spot during our vacation, my wife was chatting to one of the ladies who also was a diver. The conversation was going equally until both asked each what they did. The lady very proudly announced that was working at Youtube. When my wife said she was a stay home mom, she looked down on her and pretty much stopped chatting. The tragedy here is that the youtuber chick probably does some stupid office job that doesn’t make any change in the world but we as a society created and environment where that nonsense job is perceived as something more important.

    1. Famil-

      Your comment is a serious Mansplaining of why women shouldn’t work. You sound very judgemental of any woman with a professional career who decides to keep working after having kids.

      I worked as a manager at a Fortune top 10 for 20 years, 10 of those years were after becoming a mom. I stopped working when my husband I decided together it was the best time for our collective family time for me to stop working, and that choice will be different for every family. Shame on you for shaming every mom who keeps working after they have a baby. The choice is very individualized. And also, us working professional moms really don’t care what your judgement is, as a married man with a stay at home wife, on when we should or should not work.

      1. Karin, I think you misinterpreted Famil’s discontentment. It seems to me that he was upset at the person who worked for YouTube because she completely disengaged with his wife after learning his wife was a SAHM.

        Obviously his story is one-sided so we won’t ever get the full, objective picture, but if Famil’s story is true – it really is a shame because there are plenty of stories of women looking down at other women who are SAHM because they have a superiority complex. That or they think taking care of their kids is beneath them. Or they may think that SAHM won’t live a healthy life because it isn’t mentally engaging or challenging enough to grow as a person.

        Obviously every family should make a tailor-fit decision that best suits them. We also shouldn’t pass judgment on other family dynamics just because it doesn’t fit our way of thinking, our way of living, and our biases.

        1. Jeff, you got the point. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me to separate roles of women or men in this example. I could have easily been a stay home dad on a boat being looked down by some pretentious Youtube guy. It just happens so that my wife chose to quit first, not me. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a tragic situation that generally people in our society take pride in their meaningless “big shot manager” careers over raising their own children. Again, I do believe in freedom of choice and individual preferences but I’m not ok people looking down on stay home parents thinking they are better than them. In fact, here I am, sitting in my “Mr. Big Shot” office doing meaningless BS whereas my wife is beyond happy and fulfilled spending her time with the most precious people she could ever come across.

  6. I went back to work after about 6-7 weeks in each case (my sons are 3.5 years and 2 months now). My wife took a year off and then went back part time and is planning the same again. I’m planning to retire once they are both in grade school, because I don’t want to be a stay at home dad. Weekends and evenings are enough :) In daycare they get different experiences, most importantly playing and making friends with other children and learning to deal with other adults. And as you say, my eldest son is very excited when I come home.

  7. Way to spin the terrible twos into something positive :)

    I hear you on possibly delaying some developmental aspects of a child if you are constantly with your kid. My daughter never crawled (went straight to walking) because she found it a lot easier to get one of her parents to carry her everywhere. And if we did not do it, she would start wailing and one of us broke down to get her.

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess it applies to toddlers as well :)

  8. TheEngineer

    Go back to work or project that you have passion for as soon as you can – your kid/kids do not want to spend his/her early years 24 hours a day with two grown adults with emotional baggage.

    We had our daughter when I was 26 and my wife was 24. We had exactly one-year worth of after tax saving in the bank – zero balance in retirement.

    Those were the best years of our lives. We were young made few mistakes here and there, but nothing major that put our daughter secure and comfort at risk.

    Our youths were the blessing for our daughter. Slowly and surely she grew up with two young lovers with so many goals – yet fulfilled.

    Any problem or situation we faced as part of living life were momentarily forgotten when we interacted with our daughter. We were truly live in the presence with her – no worries and none of the anxieties that come with age as we get older.

    Frankly, I was not able related to many of the hardships of parenthood in this article.

    Actually, it was the parenthood that gave us the motivation to work harder for the livelihood today!

      1. TheEngineer

        It was fortunate (really meant fortunate) that I did not have the opportunity to stay home because I am the main bread winner. We planned for my wife to stay home for five years, but, she got bore after one year.

        We decided to rework the plan for her to get out the house part time in the evening and I got full responsibility of parenthood as an additional benefit – I enjoyed every seconds with her (starting at 3 PM).

        From my daughter’s perspective, she truly got fresh play mates – two shifts a day.

        It may sound illogical for me to suggest for you to have the courage to have another child as soon as possible (may be right after you started the second 529 plan) – make sure you have a grin on your face at every mission – successful or not!

        You and your wife are relatively young (I assumed) – you both will only get older and child-bearing in older years is bad for the parents and the kid.

        The second kiddo will balance out the over-parenting efforts both of you are currently exerting on one very young child.

        If I knew ahead of time of my current financial status – I would have taken my own advice.

        Good luck!

        1. To Sam’s point, it’s easier to be a father if you don’t have to take care of your child full-time. I wouldn’t have hardships either if I didn’t have to do a hard thing.

          It’s interesting how so many working fathers believed raising a child is easy when they don’t have to raise a child.

  9. I feel that everyone is hating on daycare as being emotionally sub-optimal from a child’s development standpoint. I had a stay at home mom for my entire childhood and I believe I was socially underdeveloped when I started school, having not been around many children and other adults most of my first five years. I think this lasted into middle school. Our 2 yr old has been in daycare since she was 6 months old and I feel it has been very beneficial for her development. She gets to interact with hers peers as well as new adults. Plus the daycare provides educational lessons each day. She has learned a ton of new words and phrases taught from daycare. We spend time with her every morning and every evening (she spend 30hrs/week in daycare). I don’t think she would get as much development if she spent every waking hour just with me plus a few trips to the park. Not sure why everyone thinks staying at home with your kid miraculously develops them better than daycare. Maybe everyone else is an amazing child development specialist, IDK. I’m just not sure where this mindset comes from. I’m guessing it is about trying to control everything in life. If you spend every waking minute with your kid then you feel you are in better control of their development.

    1. Jeff, you and Mary Keenan down below should discuss!

      I would think preschool starting at age 2 or three would do enough to help social development and so forth. My parents said that I didn’t go to preschool.

      Under age 1, it’s more about one on one care and survival. I think many parents feel uncomfortable having a stranger, no matter their expertise, take care of their children during the first one year of life the least.

      Of course, everybody’s different. And I think we all have a bias for whatever we are doing. I know many dads who love to go to work full-time because it’s much easier than taking care of their kids.

      Do you believe that the ultimate scenario is to send your child to daycare at six months old and for both parents to work if you could do anything you want? If so, that is great. It is good not to have to feel the guilt of someone raising your child and choosing work over money.

      1. I do feel daycare is optimal based on my childhood experience as well as my child’s positive experience so far. I might make daycare a bit shorter each day but we are only averaging 6 hours per day. Like you said, everyone has their idea of what is best. We all are just doing the best we can in the end.

  10. Hahaha I remember those days well. And just wait — I got a screaming “you’re the worst father EVER!” from my son when he was six and I forced him to continue an expensive tennis lesson that he wanted to quit half way through. It was hurtful and also embarrassing because there were a lot of people around staring at us, but I just laughed it off. I was like, “Worst EVER? Come on, Marvin Gaye’s dad was a drug addict who shot him three times! I mean, I might be bad but ‘worst ever’ is a little exaggerated, don’t you think?”
    I highly recommend taking a humorous and self-ironic approach to the inevitable hurtful comments, especially since you yourself have such a great ironic sense of humor. Deep down you know your son loves you – kids just lose control of their emotions from time to time.
    As for going back to work when your son is school-age, there’s one really important thing I would focus on before that. If you’re not doing it already, use that newfound free time to strengthen your romantic relationship with your wife. Having kids leads to great family love, but it can really undermine the romance if you’re not careful. There’s probably no job that will make you as much as not getting divorced will save you — trust me, I’m speaking from experience on this one. It sounds like you guys are amazing parents and very focused on the kid, but don’t forget to find time to focus on each other!

    1. Hilarious!

      Yes, definitely great advice to take a humorous approach to a child’s rebuff.

      Man, I know it’s coming, because I remember when I was six years old I told my grandfather to get out of my room, and maybe I told him I hated him as well. I felt so bad so Many years later. It has stuck with me for 36 years.

      Most excellent tip about rekindling a romance. We’re definitely going to have more date days and go to the beach when he’s at preschool.

  11. Mary Keenan-Sadlon

    Sam—–oh Sam! A financial genius you may be but as a Child Development/Developmental Psychologist you’re a disaster! You wrote about your child “rejecting your love” when preferring mom. Nothing could be further from the truth! You’re projecting adult rationalization upon toddler verbalization and mindset. F-a-i-l. The two year old (as well as the early threes) will almost Always call for the mother over the father when in physical or emotional distress. Heck, it’s a documented fact that for men dying on the battlefield it’s not an uncommon occurrence for them to call for their mother (and I’m speaking here of married men as well!) Children don’t “talk back” at that young age either. Such thinking implies that the young child is intellectually capable of argument, which they are Not. Children are not merely “little adults” in pint size bodies. The mind of a child is a living, evolving, growing phenomenon with measurable milestones. Warehousing a young child for 6 or more hours daily in a daycare/school setting is detrimental to the emotional and mental health of the child. This is not politically correct thinking today but was common knowledge to those of us who were early childhood educators and play therapists in the 1970s and ’80s when the wide spread use of full-time daycare began. The human personality is fully formed by the age of 5; daycare & preschool is fine for a few hours a day but is not an optimal choice. For those of your readers who are young parents and want to understand their young child’s mind and behavior I suggest a series of short, readable paperback books published by the Gesell Institute of Human Development at Yale. They are titled “Your One Year Old”, “Your Two Year Old:Terrible or Tender”, etc. written by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D., & Frances L. Ilg, M.D. They are written for parents as well as for those in the Early Childhood Development/Psychology professions. (I have no connection to either the Institute or these authors and therefore no financial interest in sharing this information but have found these books to be an indispensible aid to educators as well as parents seeking relief and answers about their children.) I greatly admire Financial Samurai and look forward to every post but after reading the misinformation in this one I could not refrain from critical comment. Sam, you’re a great parent who is in the midst of the “Terrible Twos” phase of parenting. No need for guilt. It’s a v-e-r-y challenging time. All the Best.

    1. No problem! I definitely realize I’ve got a long ways to go as a parent, but I’m trying my best to do better and hear from other parents on how to do better. I’m not sure if there is a certification for expert parenting, but I definitely know I don’t qualify.

      After 28 months of being a stay at home dad, I am so tired that I’d like to go back to work to take a break. So of course I’m rationalizing my boy’s rejection as a green light to no longer have to take care of him all day like the majority of my peers.

      What do you recommend I should specifically do after both of us have been stay at home parents for the past 28 months? When do you think the ideal time is for a stay at home parent to go back to work and why? I always want to hear some action points after a very long criticism.

      Can you also share with me your journey as a parent over the first 5 to 18 years, and how your kids turned out? What was the arrangement between you and your partner? And also, what is your background in terms of child education?


      1. Mary Keenan-Sadlon

        “No problem! I definitely realize that I am a disaster as a parent, but I’m trying my best to do better and hear from other parents on how to do better.”

        Sam, you must be sleep deprived as a SAHD this morning because Nowhere did I imply or state that you’re a “disaster” as a parent nor was I criticising you. I regret you read my reply that way.

        Taking care of an infant for 28 months is utterly exhausting—mentally, physically and emotionally. You and your wife have done so without family members to regularly assist you. The scourge of the present time is that so many young families are literally on their own, living far from family members who could, at times, lend a hand. The isolation of the parent creates burnout and sometimes depression. This is not a family-friendly age.

        That said, I know how that can be on a personal level because my husband and I were in the same boat. And if one’s child needs special care due to physical or other post natal challenges (as mine did) it can get a parent to the breaking point. Mine was a screamer for hours on end, diagnosed back then as a high need high touch infant with all the physical issues that came with that and who didn’t sleep through the night until age 3. One week after she was born my husband left for active duty. I was totally alone and looking back I have no idea how I survived. Enough about that.

        You asked for some action points so I humbly offer just a few:

        1. STOP being s-o hard on yourself! This is the bane of young parenthood. The guilt can be crushing. You’re doing an outstanding job as a young father. Running a successful business in the home and being a good husband on top of being a SAHD??? That’s Gold Medal worthy.

        2. ” What do you recommend I should specifically do?”
        The Eighteen to Twenty-one month period you’ve just been through is incredibly difficult. You know you need a break and only the two of you can determine what that would look like. Nannies, personal assistants, daycare, an au pair, an office outside of the home—–I think you get the picture. You are your own Expert when it comes to what is best for you. We, too, had a home business and it’s almost impossible some days to get away from the family circus going on in the background.

        3. “When do you think the ideal time for a sah parent to go back to work and why?”
        The ideal time to go back is when you no longer want to care for your child and want someone else to do it! An emotionally happy mom and dad are crucial for a child’s sense of well being. You’re a loving family so you do whatever you need to do to have a solid feeling of well-being. Again, there’s no ideal time written in stone.

        4. As for my parental journey it was a-typical for the time. We were a one income family with my husband working and running his business and I was the SAHM. Our arrangement was rather simple. He worked and built his business and I did everything else. Everything.

        When our kid turned 3 1/2 we decided to homeschool so we homeschooled all the way through. In fact, we used Financial Samurai as part of our highschool curriculum for Personal Finance. At fifteen she was taking college courses and at nineteen decided on architecture so she went off for five years to do that. She’s an assoc Architect and a young Samurai today.

        5. As for my background in Early Childhood Education—-I was an infant, pre-school & kindergarten teacher, principal, and Head Start administrator as well as an Afterschool Program admin for kids 6-12 years old. I was also a Corporate Trainer & Educator. I hold certs, credits & degrees in Early Childhood, Child Psych, Developmental Psych, Instructional Design, and Political Science. My research included studying the effects of living in a communist system upon childhood personality development.

        1. Yes, I misread your initial “disaster” commentary and changed my response. But don’t worry, I’m used to criticism. It is all good. Keep them coming! I just also love to get some actionable takeaways.

          I’ve got a solution for #2 that I might share in the future. But the Internet might be too judgmental for me to share.

          #3 sounds like age 5-6 due to kindergarten. I’m aligned with this thinking.

          By the way, can you ask your husband how he felt not being a SAHD? I’m always curious how dad’s feel too since I’m a dad

          Those are some great credentials! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more questions going forward if you would be so kind to oblige.

          Congrats on your daughter!

          1. Good for taking the advice of this writer. I also appreciate your financial recommendations, and at the same time had a visceral reaction to what was written in this article. Good insight into you rationalizing returning to work. I second what the person above wrote returning to work if that will make you feel more calm when with your son. If you read attachment theory, they say 0-3yrs old is important, but that’s a bit old school. We sent our kids to preschool at 3 1/2yrs b/c we knew it would be good socially for them, but we limited how many hours and days per week. Over 6hrs, if you don’t have to do it, would be great. I have a background in doing therapy work with children and their families. Guess what, I’m not a perfect parent despite giving other people parenting class. But if we acted like perfect parents, imagine the complex and unrealistic expectations your child will have. A fantastic book for behavior change The Everyday Parenting Toolkit by Alan E Kazdin…it’s evidence based practice. I’ve read a lot of books, but my mentor was adamant I read this one, and it blew the rest out of the water. You can take the Dr Kazdin’s free Yale Course on coursera

          2. re: “I’ve got a solution for #2 that I might share in the future. But the Internet might be too judgmental for me to share.”

            Share the story in your newsletter. ;)
            I for one am very much interested in your solution. :)

    2. If Sam is a disaster, are all other parents to go back to work once their parental leave is over also a disaster?

      What is your solution for parents who want to balance career and family?

    3. Your judgmental comment is exactly why people don’t put them selves out there and ask for help.

      Hopefully you can learn how to deliver criticism better. Because I know for a fact you are not a perfect parent and you don’t know everything.

  12. Very timely. My wife went back to work today after six month at home. Today is the first day with our nanny. We got very lucky to find a professional nanny after rejecting dozens of candidates.

    It stings though. We probably could live off our savings and both me stay at home parents for two years. It’d be tight.

    We are both scared to have one or both of us stay home and we didn’t take action to move to a low cost of living area.

    We’ll see what the next 3-6 months brings.

    The good news for me is I work from home so I still get to see my son during the day. Watching and listening to the nanny gives me confidence he’s stimulated.

    But for my wife, today is devastating as she goes back to work after being with our son every day for the last six month.

    On a separate note, I totally empathize with the fear of your son rejecting you after giving him so much. I have the same fear because he is so loving and sweet right now I can’t imagine the rejection in those moments of “only mommy!” or “no daddy!”

    1. It’s great that you can work from home and check in on your nanny and little one. The best thing you can do for your life is to reassure her that two people are there to look out for your little one’s best interest.

      Dealing with the guilt of not personally raising your child is definitely one of the toughest things so many parents have talked to me about. But full-time nanny’s and daycare folks are professionals at taking care of children. So hopefully they will do a great job.

  13. I totally hear what you’re saying about how emotions over logic winds up dictating how we make a lot of decisions as parents. It’s incredible how tiny little humans can pull on so many heart strings. They sure are pros at being the sweetest most innocent cuties one minute and impatient terrors the next. Glad to hear you’re able to spend more time to yourself guilt free. Self care is really important when it comes to getting through toddlerhood and beyond!

  14. Just wait until you get an “I hate you!”
    From my experience, 18 – 24 months old was a really good time. Our son was super cute and he didn’t talk back much. From 2 to 5 years old, it was tough. So if you want to back to work, 2 years is a good time to do so.
    If you’re not so driven, I’d wait until the kid starts kindergarten. They’ll be a lot more mature and make many friends. They won’t need you that much then. You also save a ton on daycare.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on “I hate you!” Oh boy, I know that is going to hurt both his mom and me. If only little ones knew how much time we spend into raising them. But I think difficult children appreciate their parents once they become parents themselves.

      I ABSOLUTELY understand why some parents ship their kids off to boarding school at age 14 now. Besides being good schools, they are using their money to buy 4 years of vacation! I gotta write about this topic.

      1. Ages 5 and 7 here and already thought about boarding school hahaha! Our kids both attend a great public primary school and I think part time work is a good idea during these years, I love volunteering in their classrooms and being able to pick them up from school.

          1. Our neighbor sent their 2 daughters to a 4-week summer camp. That’s awesome. They get time to relax and don’t have to deal with the kids. I’ll have to see if we can do at least a week next summer.

    2. My kid is almost 7 and I haven’t heard “I hate you” from her yet? Come to think of it, I haven’t heard “No daddy” either. I am a SAHD, but she’s been in preschool since 2.5, so we don’t grind on each others’ nerves much.

      She’s been in preschool/school for 4 years already and I haven’t gone back to work yet. I still feel I’m too busy to even look for work… I’m probably doing something wrong. My days are filled with errands, laundry, tenants, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, gym workout, after school activities like swimming, dancing, language classes, drop-off and pickup from school, dentist & doctor appointments, auto maintenance and repair, managing investments, quarterly and annual tax forms, paying bills, health insurance issues, planning activities, etc etc.

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