Summer At Home Dad – Wrap Up

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote about the unique opportunity I had to spend much of my summer home with the kids. I regaled you with tails of what we’d accomplish, goals I had set, and adventures we’d take.

Well, reality proved that my sights might have been set too high and time does in fact change when kids are involved.

Let’s Get the Failures Out of the Way

Turns out my academic goals may have been too lofty. Neither of my kids was anywhere close to the 100-book goal I had set for them. Nor did we spend much time on math.

We also didn’t get in much hiking. During my first attempt to take them on a nature hike, a swarm of mosquitoes descended on us. The following week was filled with itchy complaints putting an end to any future nature hikes.

The Successes

Despite my lack of focus on keeping their academic skills up to par over the summer, we did have some successes. First, my youngest did make significant progress on being able to tell time on an analog clock. In the past couple of weeks, he’s also read chapters from a chapter book for the first time.

My oldest has mastered 6 of the times tables, we are currently working on the 4 times tables. He has also become proficient at tying his shoes. Which may not sound like something to celebrate, but if time speeds up when you have kids, it slows down when they are tying their shoes.

We also spent a great deal of time on outdoor activities. Mostly going to local playgrounds and the community pool. (One of the pool trips was cut short when one of the other kids pooped in the pool.)

Reflections

I wasn’t sure what to expect as a quasi-stay at home parent. Prior to experiencing it this summer, I had certain assumptions about stay at home parents.

The general narrative that would run through my head whenever I met a stay at home parent was: “That is amazing, your kids are so lucky! But how do you do it? Don’t you go crazy with all that time with your kids?”

I never thought I’d enjoy the stay at home parent lifestyle, but I was wrong. Turns out I loved it. Which in many ways was an affirmation of my pursuit of Financial Independence.

My time with my kids has been a completely different experience than what I’m accustomed to. I’ve previously written about how I feel I’m often the ringleader of a circus, attempting to usher my kids through their daily routine.

However, this summer that all changed. With no specific routine to follow, we leisurely strolled through our day. Instead of tensely commanding them to “hurry up and get your clothes on, we are late for school!” I casually informed them, “When you get your clothes on, we can head to the playground.”

All of our interactions were more relaxed and that lead to a whole new level of appreciation and enjoyment of my kids. I hope to find a way to bring that low-key parenting persona into the school year.

Adult Interaction

I was lucky to have the best of both worlds. I worked 2-3 days each week, so I got plenty of adult interaction. As an introvert, I don’t require a lot of interactions with others. However, I always imagined the hardest part of being a stay at home parent, is having your kids be your primary social outlet.

Not to get too granular with my work schedule, but throughout the summer, I worked every Monday and Friday and every other Wednesday. On the weeks where I was home three consecutive days with my boys, I was definitely ready to return to work on Friday.

This is a valuable discovery and will help me better shape the Financial Independence that I seek.

The Draw Back

The biggest casualty of my summer at home status was this blog. I thought I’d have all this extra time to work on the blog, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I tweeted earlier this summer that my kids are extremely well behaved as long as they have 100% of my attention 100% of the time.

When I did try to get some writing done on the blog, I found myself being constantly interrupted. This put a damper on the creative process and made it hard to find any kind of rhythm as a writer.

Additionally, the mental reserves that I used for this blog were now being spent on my kids. I didn’t realize how much of my mental energy my kids took up until I spent all day every day with them.

Final Thoughts

With school starting next week, my Summer At Home Dad experiment will come to an end. Despite not accomplishing every goal I’d set for us this summer, I consider it a massive success.

Hopefully, I will be able to get back into the blogging flow and dedicate more time and energy to this site.

I’d love to hear about your summer! Did the summer live up to your expectations? Did you meet all the goals you’d set for yourself?

18 Comments

  1. I am happy for you that you were able to spend so much time together. My summer had a lot of goals too. At most cases life happened. If you can achieve 50% of your summer goals you are better than the average. Also we have a couple of days to finish some more off. The most important part is written in your last paragraphs. That conclusion and the fact that you all enjoyed the situation is a 100% success in my opinion.

    1. Thanks, Peter! Life does sometimes have a way of getting in the way, but as you pointed out as long are having fun you are usually on the right track. Ultimately I think my kids will benefit more from having a fun summer with their dad than achieving some arbitrary academic goals.

  2. MSF, I love your blog because of articles like this. You show that you’re human and you don’t gloss over the realities of life! Yet you’re also not whiny about it. You just observe and reflect on what’s happened. I really relate to that.

    I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom, and everything you’ve said in this article reflects my experience as well – and I’ve been at this for more than 12 years! I always know that as school comes to an end in June – that’s the end of any work or projects for me until September rolls around again. So your experience with blog writing is just like what I’ve experienced.

    Thanks for candidly sharing a slice of your life with us.

    1. Thanks, Chrissy! I really appreciate your encouragement. As much as I’ve loved spending the summer with my kids, I’m looking forward to them starting school next week. I might actually be able to get a few things done!

  3. I had to go back up and re-read, to make sure this wasn’t written by Mr. 1500. (We had a pool incident cut short by poop, too.)
    This is great! It’s so nice to read about other parents who have complaining-on-hike kids. We live near the foothills of Colorado, and I’d love to take them on more hikes but I can only take so much complaining…
    And I totally get the accomplishment of shoe tying. Congratulations, oldest MSF child!

  4. Your comments on “blogging with children” hit home for me. My 3-year-old needs to be asleep or across town when I write, or I ain’t getting a moment of peace.

    My wife and I also love hiking, and aspire to do it with our children. At the moment, our oldest is less than enthusiastic and asks for the carry about a mile in. Maybe if we put a cookie or an iPad on a string we could lure him a bit further.

  5. Not too bad! Can’t wait to have little ones who can distract me from my work at times . Congrats to your little one learning his times tables – what a great accomplishment. Crazy to think I still remember doing the games during class to show who knew them best!

  6. Wait, summer’s over? I feel ya, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped. Too much to get done and not enough time. I definitely need to work on my time management skills in effort to make better use of time and hopefully accomplish more. I think this will be one of my new goals for the later half of the year.

  7. So cool to see how this turned out. Nothing’s ever exactly as we expect, is it? I’m finding the same in the first two months of my mini-retirement, now joining my wife as a stay-at-home parent.

    We got outside lots (but not as much as I had hoped). We didn’t get the kids as far along on learning to ride bikes as I was wishing for, but we had lots of great time playing games, drawing and coloring, and building forts. Our kids also spent a lot of time exploring their creativity *without* my wife and I, as we encouraged them to be in charge of their own boredom 🙂

    It’ll be crazy to see how everything changes as school starts back up – I imagine having a ton more time for my blog and app, but we’ll see how it all goes!

    1. Today is my kids first day back to school and it is bitter sweet. It’s nice to have an uninterrupted hour to work on the blog before heading into work, but I do miss having them around. Even though we didn’t check everything on my to do list, it was a blast just spending time with them. Sounds like you had a similar experience with your summer. I hope the transition back to school goes well for your family!

  8. Sounds like you did great! That’s more academic work done compared to most kids in summer I think (well more than when I was a kid). Working part time seems like the best option- you get to talk to adults and also spend time with your children.

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