Parental struggles during vacation

I took the last two weeks off to spend more time with my family. We spent 5 days in the Okanagan and the rest at home. It was nice to spend more time with Baby T1.0, Baby T2.0 and Mrs. T. At the same time, dealing with an almost 3 year old and a 4 month old during all my waking hours was simply exhausting. I definitely had my shares of parental struggles the last two weeks.

A small sample of the parental struggles & craziness that I encountered:

  • Baby T2.0 refusing to sleep/nap unless she was carried in a baby carrier and bounced on a fitness ball.
  • Baby T1.0 deciding that he would put every single book and clothes in his room on his bed during “nap time” then refusing to take a nap even though he was yawning the whole time.
  • Baby T2.0 screaming on top of her lungs at random time of the day – middle of the night, early morning, during meal time. Only solution was to hold her.
  • Baby T1.0 throwing a tantrum because the banana he had in his hand broke into two pieces.

Unfortunately I lost my patience a few times and yelled at Baby T1.0, which made me feeling like I was the worst parent in the world. 🙁 My experience looking after two little ones the last two weeks has made me become even more appreciative of what Mrs. T does every single day – putting her career on hold to look after the kids. It has also made me realize that I need to help out more and to allow her to have her “alone time” breaks from time to time.

To be perfectly honest, I had a few “I wish the kids are older” moments when they were all over the place – throwing tantrums, not listening to directions, not wanting to nap, and etc. I thought about how nice it would be if both kids were school age, how they would simply listen to us and we would be able to have some peace and quiet time.

Then I realized that I was getting myself into the never-ending-looking-forward-have-to-be disaster. Constantly looking forward to something and not embracing the current moment is simply not the way to live life. When I managed to step back a bit, I realized that regardless how old the kids are, there will be parental struggles and challenges. We will face parental struggles and challenges when kids are in elementary school, when they are teenagers, and when they are adults. It is part of being parents.

The other night when the kids are FINALLY sleeping, Mrs. T and I sat on the couch and had some adult time. During our “adult” conversation, Mrs. T asked if I would still have kids, given what we know today.

We both decided that we would still have kids. Some of the moments are too precious that I would never want to lose. For examples:

  • Coming home to be greeted by Baby T1.0 asking “daddy how’s your day?”
  • Baby T1.0 sitting with Baby T2.0 while holding her hands and giving her a hug.
  • First time Baby T1.0 reading The Going to Bed Book all by himself.
  • Baby T2.0 giving me the most innocent smile while holding her.
  • Holding Baby T1.0 and T2.0 for the first time in my arms right after they were born.

There are a lot of challenges that parents face on a daily basis but they also get a lot of rewards from their kids. For me, the rewards definitely outweigh all the challenges and struggles.

Since this is a personal finance blog about becoming financial independence, you are probably wondering why I am rambling on about being parents and the rewards and challenges that parents face.

Because I just like to talk about being a parent?

I kid I kid!

Similarities between becoming financial independent and being a parent

I realized that there are many similarities between becoming financial independent and being a parent. Both have their respective challenges and rewards. Becoming financial independent and being a parent both require some level of sacrifices along the way. The sacrifices make the rewards even more worthwhile.

Most importantly, I believe neither of them have a set finish line.

You don’t all of a sudden get relieved of your parental duties when your kids turn 18. There’s still some level of parental responsibility even when they are in adulthood. Similarly, just because you have reached financial independent, it doesn’t mean you are all of a sudden free from all the financial responsibilities that you have been doing for years, like budgeting, watching out for expenses, and monitoring passive income.

Ok I will stop rambling on. 🙂 Dear readers what’s your view on becoming financial independent and being a parent?


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48 thoughts on “Parental struggles during vacation”

  1. Yeah, holy crap, that pretty much sums up the occasional moments of parenthood. And then they slowly grow up and turn 4 or 5 and it’s all better for a while. 🙂

    Our oldest 2 were 17 months apart (by choice) so we had 2 in diapers for quite a while. Our third kid is now 4.5 and he’s grown up so much in the past 6 months it’s amazing. I think age 4-5 is the sweet spot because they are still small and cute and light enough to still hold on your lap and still interested in everything you do. But they can also entertain themselves for an hour at a time if they get interested in something.

    • Luckily Baby T1.0 is a lot better since he started preschool. He’s behaving quite well most of the time. It’s getting slightly easier with Baby T2.0 as well. Boy I can’t imagine having to change 2 diapers for an extended period of time. Once Baby T2.0 is a bit older (i.e. can sit up all by herself) where she could play with Baby T1.0, things might get a bit easier.

      • Hey Bob, just came back and read this one for a second time around and noticed I posted before. And I was going to post the exact same thing again lol!! ” I think age 4-5 is the sweet spot because they are still small and cute and light enough to still hold on your lap and still interested in everything you do. ” There, I copy-pasted it. 🙂

        I’m still 100% convinced that the 4-5 age range is a local maximum of kid enjoyment. It just takes a lot of time and patience. Being early retired and destressed certainly helps. That banana snaps in half and leads to 30 minutes of screaming and crying? Bring it. We can handle it. 🙂 Floors can be cleaned. Bananas can be replaced. Books can be read to trick children into sleeping.

        And there’s always Netflix – a parent’s ultimate nanny for those times when you’re afraid you really might lose it and just need a flickering electronic screen to take over for a while.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I can see how things are very stressful sometimes when kids don’t behave and make a lot of noise.

    May I Ask you some questions?

    How common is it for parents to actually wish they never had kids? It seems like all this stress can really bring the persons happiness down. But I’ve never heard any parent admit that they wish they never had kids, even for a day or a minute.

    I’ve noticed a lot of couples divorce after having kids. Do you think this is because of kids? Or do you think this is just a coincidence after like the seven year itch and stuff like that?

    Given kids are so stressful, what was the trigger point in your mind to have your first kid and then the impetus to have a second kid? Wouldn’t having a second child be even more stressful?

    Or is the reason why people have second, third, fourth children etc. is because raising kids is actually not that difficult or expensive? The media blows things out of proportion and raising kids is actually quite affordable and fun?

    Finally, do you think that we will always love our own kids and take her own kids are smarter, cuter, funnier than someone else’s kid? Is it are inherent bias? Because we would favor our own kids, we can therefore deal with our own kids more than dealing with others?

    Other parents are free to pitch in as well!



    • Hi Sam,

      Let me see if I can answer your questions.

      1. I have to admit, there are times when things are going sideways when I wish that we didn’t have any kids. But when the storm is over and things are good, I can’t imagine not having kids. Challenges vs. Rewards, I think for most parents the rewards outweigh the challenges.

      2. I think there are many factors that may contribute to couples divorcing after having kids. Often moms spend all their times looking after kids, and the dads sort of get ignored. Tensions build up that way. Also once kids arrive, couples might not be able to spend as much times together without the kids, so out goes date nights and all those things to continue building their relationship. So they eventually drift apart.

      3. It’s definitely harder to have a second kid since you now have 2 instead of 1 do deal with. We decided to have two kids because we think it’s important to have siblings. When you’re the only kid you don’t have anyone else once your parents are gone. Neither Mrs. T or I are only child so we see the values of having a sibling.

      4. I don’t think the added cost with more kids is linear. We bought a lot less things with our second child because we kept a lot of things for the first one. For examples, no need to get new cloth diapers, a new crib, or new clothes because we already have them. I think the media sort of blows things out of proportion. You really don’t need those fancy items like baby wipe warmer, $2,000 change table, or $400 fancy designer diaper bag. 99.9% of the time there are cheaper alternatives available. Or you simply don’t need those items.

      5. Yes there are definitely inherent bias when it comes to your own kids. 🙂

      • Thanks for your thoughts!

        I’ve also noticed people with X amount of siblings want X + 1 amount of kids themselves.

        What are your thoughts on paying a nanny to help with the kid and the house if money wasn’t a problem? Would you hire one?


        • Hi Sam,

          Funny, I had 1 sibling while Mrs. T had 4 siblings growing up. I kept saying that 2 is the perfect number but she wanted 3 in total. Different different than the X+1 theory though.

          Paying a nanny to help with the kids and the house is a great idea if money wasn’t a problem. Would certainly reduce the “workload” around the house.

  3. I do not have any kids but I grew up as the 10th child in my family. A couple of my brothers are old enough to be my father and they actually have kids of their own older than me. I often wonder how my parents did it raising that many kids. When I was young there were 6 of us still at home. I remember my parents taking us camping, loading up the car with 5 kids, the tent, and supplies. I think it was almost relaxing for them when we got to the camp ground as there was so much open space they could let us run and play and tire ourselves out. I know it didn’t matter which age we were as we would get into something that would cause our parents concern. I remember I ran away (okay just wandered away) from home when I was about 4 years old. I was out playing and just wandered off. One of my sisters when she was 17 lied to my parents about where she was going and they found out before she got home, my mother was waiting in the dark for her when she did get home. Whenever we get together we sit around and still talk about those moments and many others from growing up. Sometimes my mother, who is 86 and still around, is shocked by some of the things she didn’t even know about that we talk about.

    I use to babysit my brothers and sisters kids when I was growing up. I use to enjoy it but then I only had to look after them for about 4 or 5 hours at a time. I use to play with them and tire them out so they would fall asleep. But that was when I was younger before I started working and use to have a lot of energy to do that. One time I was visiting home and my cousins twin sons were at my mom’s house and I started playing with them, they were 3 or 4 at the time. They liked rough housing and they would run and jump at me and I would wrestle with them. When their grandmother took them home they were very hyper from the playing and still wanted to continue. My cousin called me to thank me for getting them all worked up. She asked if I was ready to come over and look after them for the rest of the night. I miss those days as I moved away from home many years ago and do not get to see the family as much now and the kids are all growing up so fast. Many of my nieces and nephews who I use to babysit now have kids of their own.

    Relating this back to FI, although the end goal is be FI, you still need to enjoy the ride. Just like kids, you need to enjoy them at every age as there will be some trying times but a lot of good times along the way.

    • Hi Paul,

      Wow 10 kids in your family, your parents sure were busy with each other lol. 😉

      Camping is great because the little ones can run around and burn off some energy. I think babysit for 4 or 5 hours at a time is very different than looking after little ones full time. If you catch “good” 4-5 hours, you’re home free. But with full time care, you’ll have to deal with bad times for sure. Your babysitting experience is like when we send Baby T1.0 to my parents. He comes home all hyper and want to continue playing.

      Definitely need to enjoy the ride.

  4. I used to dread traveling with my kids, especially when they were under 3-years old. It’s so stressful on the parents. Now that mine are older, I miss the way they were at these ages. i don’t miss the travel experiences though. Airports and airplane don’t mix with little ones.

    • We traveled to Denmark a couple time and Japan before Baby T1.0 turned two (because we didn’t have to pay full fair). Now he’s over two and we need to travel with a young one, it will be interesting to see what traveling would be like.

  5. I know how you feel! I have a 3 year old and a newborn. There are times I wonder if it would be easier if they were older but there are also times that I think that time is flying and I miss the earlier stages. You just have to enjoy the moment you’re in. My older co-workers recently told me to cherish these moments because their kids are older and they have to beg/bribe them to hang out with them where as the little ones want to be with you 24/7!

    • I hear you Andrew! Haha funny that your older co-workers are begging/bribing their kids to hang out with them. Definitely a different problem to have compare to having younger kids.

  6. Ah, the terrible two’s. We are experiencing the same at the moment. it is very difficult not to yell….It’s hard to find rest as a parent, especially if the little ones don’t cooperate on the napping portion of life 😉

  7. I believe they both are on-going processes, always changing. My three children are all teenagers now and teenagers offer a different set of challenges as a parent. It does go by quickly. My son and daughter are entering their senior year of high school and it seems like yesterday that we were changing their diapers. I’m excited to see what the future holds for them.

    • Teenagers definitely offer a different set of challenges for parents. I recall what I was like as a teenager. Not sure how my parents put up with me during that time lol.

  8. Hey, we all lose our patience sometime. I used to feel bad about yelling at my kid, but I don’t anymore. He is a crazy little monkey and needs to be reined in a little. It definitely gets easier as they get older. Now he understands a lot more and can follow many instructions.
    Anyway, I think kids are definitely worth it. They give life more meanings. I’m sure your daughter will behave much better soon. Most girls seem a lot more calm than our boy.

    • That’s good to hear Joe. I think sometimes we might be expecting too much of Baby T1.0. We give him instructions and he wouldn’t follow them. We just need to step back a bit and remember he’s not even 3 yet.

      Funny you mentioned that girls seem to be more calm than boys. We had to baby sit a 2 year old girl a few days ago. The little girl would sit nicely and play with the toys while Baby T1.0 was running around throwing things. Mrs. T and I looked at each other and were like “gee we don’t remember Baby T1.0 sitting that nicely at 2 year old.” There’s hope for Baby T2.0. 😀

  9. Great correlation between raising kids and financial independence! Patience is definitely the key… although I’d have to say raising a child “properly” is harder than achieving financial independence… hehe. I have noticed that it gets a lot easier once the babies are more cognizant of their surroundings. Regardless, you’re doing a stellar job!!

    • Haha it really depends on how you define raising a child properly. :p

      There’s a sweet spot between when babies are more cognizant of their surrounding and when they start crawling/moving around.

  10. I enjoyed this post, Tawcan. I can’t personally relate to the details of childrearing, but I think that feeling of looking forward to something rather than appreciating the present moment is universal. I’m sure at times it feels like it would be great to just fast-forward a bit to when your kids are a few years older — but I’ve also heard from parents of older kids who feel like it all flew by too quickly. Similarly, we can yearn for our “ideal state” financially rather than appreciating what we have and the journey we’re on. Happiness is now — not something to put off for the future.

    • Thanks Matt. Looking forward to something rather than appreciating the present moment is quite universal indeed. It’s always funny to talk to older people and hearing that they “wished” they would do something when they were younger (or something similar). I’ve also heard from many parents that time just fly by so quick. Heck I sometimes feel that with Baby T1.0. Can’t believe he’s almost 3. Not too long ago he was just a tiny little baby. Happiness is definitely now, we can’t put it off to the future.

  11. I feel like this post, and this past weekend hosting a friend with her 4 month old, plus our toddler (nicknamed the JuggerBaby after the Unstoppable Juggernaut to give you an idea of zir personality), are both reality checks on whether we could handle a second kid. We adore our first to pieces, sometimes even during tantrums which are somehow funny to us cruel, evil, awful parents. But is adding a second is like compounding debt, a crushing pressure? 🙂 Most parents with multiple tell me shifting from one to two was harder than zero to one or two to three, four, or even five.

    Also with the cost of daycare in the Bay Area, there’s a strong correlation between increasing number of children and decreasing net worth, or increasing time to retirement 🙂

    • Haha JuggerBaby, I love that name lol. We had to babysit a 2 year old with our almost 3 year old and 4 month old this past weekend. It sure was crazy dealing with the extra toddler. Didn’t help when the 2 year old wanted her mommy around dinner time and we couldn’t calm her down.

      Adding a second one will bring more chaos but at the same time it’s also very rewarding, especially when the two kids are to interact with each other. Can say that it has been an interesting experience for us dealing with two little ones.

  12. Hey Tawcan

    Hopefully it’s not too long before we have to deal with these things too. I completely agree about enjoying the moment that you do have with your children – they will soon be older and you’ll miss the good parts of this stage 🙂

    Our kids are just like finances, when you give them love and attention, even in the bad times – they’ll grow up very well.


  13. I’m vacationing with my wife and two kids in Myrtle Beach. They are 8 and 11. They love to annoy themselves, testing our patients in the process. And at times, they hang around us like flies on shit. Anyway, at suppertime today, my wife asked me, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you like the kids to disappear back into my womb and never have them.” I said 10. She said 20. We both got a good laugh. And on other days, I dream of putting their heads through a wall. But all in all, my kids are entertaining, funny, and wicked smart. Family, friends and strangers keep commenting on how well behaved they are. So i guess my wife and I are doing a good job. The good times will be remembered over the trying times. Take care.

  14. I know the feeling Tawcan! Just today we decided to enjoy our State Fair. It was one of our first “trips” with the little one and it didn’t go overly well. She didn’t sleep on the way down, or back, instead she cried the whole time. Sometimes it can be overly frustrating but then she walks over, gives me a hug and I remember it is all worth it again

    • Oh boy, I know what that feels like, not napping and having a meltdown before/after. That is extremely frustrating for sure. The little hug must have been nice. Last night before bed Baby T1.0 gave me a hug and said “daddy thank you for taking vacation.” My heart just melted.

  15. We don’t have any kids yet (that I know of) but it really helps to hear about how others deal with all the myriad stresses and thoughts inherent to being a dad. I worry about yelling at my kids, as anger’s a problem with me. I say stuff when stressed that I often wish I could take back, which, you know, isn’t great for young kids to hear.

    • I know what you mean on anger problem… that’s something I’m definitely working on. Once you have a kid you definitely learn how to be more patient. 🙂

  16. I don’t have kids, so I am by no means and expert on the subject matter or feel comfortable giving a strong opinion about parenting. But all I know is that after two days of watching my niece last year, I have so much respect for people like Mrs. T. that dedicate it all towards parenting. I read your bad and good moments with the kids and I’ll tell you what, those precious moments seem to heavily outweigh the bad ones. Those happy moments you described are exactly what I look the most forward to when we decide to start our family. I’m sure in a month from now you’ll look back on the bad moments and laugh about them anyway.

    Thanks for the great read. Hang in there, the juice will be worth the squeeze!


    • The precious moments definitely outweigh the bad ones. Just thinking some of the moments can lift my spirit up. Kids are amazing and it’s really a life changing experience to be a dad. 🙂

  17. The life of a parent!

    When I read about parents talking about the struggles of dealing with their children I always get nostalgic. At the time it seems so tough but in hind sight they are some of the best memories. I look back and miss the days my children used to need me more. /sad dad

    Although it is nice when the can take care of themselves a bit more.

    • Not surprised to hear you being nostalgic when hearing about younger kids. I remember one of the moms visiting us when Baby T1.0. She was so pleased to see a tiny baby because her kids are much older. She told us to enjoy it when Baby T1.0 is young, because kids grow up so fast. It’s so true.

  18. Those struggles are real, oh man! Having a 3 and 5 yr old now, I remember going through some of those things when they were younger, and weeven dealt with some of them this past weekend. The youngest (3) is phasing out of daily naps, but still likes to load up stuffed animals in her bed and sing to them, tell them stories and whatever else, and then forget she should be napping. Around 3 is when our oldest started phasing out of naptime, so now we call it quiet time, because we all need some of that. 🙂

    FI journey is sort of the same. it can be rough making the transition from free spending to tracking stuff and getting used to watching your money. It’s even easier to look forward thinking it will all be better once you hit FI, just like thinking older kids aren’t going to ahve some different issue to deal with besides sleep and tantrums.

    Slowing down, taking a breath and remembering to just BE is hard in both situations. Like eevrything, practice helps, and being aware of the situation, whether it’s money or kids helps. The parallels are eerily similar. 🙂

    • We’re hoping Baby T1.0 will continue napping for a while. He definitely needs it. When he doesn’t nap he gets super tired by supper time and throws a lot of tantrums. We are teaching him that even if he doesn’t take a nap, he should stay in his room and have some quiet time. So far he’s not getting that message. Interesting to hear that both of your kids phased out nap time around 3 year old.

      Definitely need to learn to slow down, take a breath, and just enjoy the moment. 🙂

  19. I totally hear on the ousterm parental struggles and I only have one kiddo! There have been a couple times where my wife is traveling and I’m on single parent duty. I cherish my time when it’s just us two but it can be exhausting by the end.

    Just like you, I have caught myself wishing he was a bit older and through certain phases. I never want to get caught in that trap though.

    Thanks for the reminder to enjoy the journey, with kids and reaching FI!

    • It’s hard to imagine how Mrs. T does it on a daily basis when I’m at work. What’s harder to imagine is how she manages to look after the kids when I’m traveling for work. Staying home moms/dads should be considered as super human. 🙂

  20. I’ve definitely had days like those Tawcan. A lot of those days.

    It never seems to get easier, but your right — we need to enjoy the moment instead of trying to remember the days when life was easier.

    As far as financial independence goes, I think kids are one of the main reasons I decided to be financially independent. Both are definitely a struggle sometimes.

  21. Yes, yes, yes! Love the analogy. I have teenagers, but I still remember how hard the day-to-day with little ones can be. It’s exhausting, but believe me, it’ll be gone before you know it. And then you have a whole new set of challenges to deal with.

    Thanks for the reminder! I keep thinking of FI as an end, but, you’re right, that’s not an accurate way to think about it. It’s important to enjoy the journey!

    • That’s what I feel about Baby T1.0. Not too long ago he was just a baby that just lay on the mat and can’t even move. Now he’s running around all over the place. Definitely need to cherish the current moment.

  22. Hi Tawcan — This is a cool post about parenting and the conclusions you draw, I believe, are spot on! Speaking from experience, ENJOY the time when your kids are young despite the challenges… Every stage in life going forward will have challenges, and you just don’t want to wish you life away. But you said that yourself, so I’m just agreeing!

    I think the same is true for the journey to financial independence. I need to remind myself that frequently. Don’t wish the time away!


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