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Reaching early retirement in 2018 at 43 isn’t something that a lot of the population is interested in or trying to pull off. But change that to being in early retirement with kids to raise and that puts us in even more of a niche.
We have one child, our daughter Faith, who’s a great kid. She’s 9 but acts like a really short adult most of the time. That probably makes life a little easier for us and we love spending as much time as we get with her.
Early retirement with kids is probably one of the best gifts you can give a child. Being able to have so much time to raise, mentor, and play with them is amazing for all involved. I wouldn’t trade this for the world!
But, I’ve been frustrated on and off shortly after I left my job at the end of 2018. I actually had a hard time sleeping for about a month in the beginning, too.
At the time, it took me a while to realize what I thought was going on. I was so excited to knock everything off my to-do list and try out new things that I became disappointed when I couldn’t quickly knock it all out.
I realized that I had to start pacing myself and strike a good balance with raising my daughter and working on “my stuff.”
So that’s what I did and that’s been somewhat helpful. But here we are well over a year into early retirement and I still get frustrated regularly and lately haven’t been able to sleep again.
I think I finally figure out why.
Early retirement with kids
We’re certainly not the only ones out there who are in that area of raising kids while in retirement. Some bloggers in this group include:
- Joe from Retire by 40
- Mr. Tako from Mr. Tako Escapes
- Justin from Root of Good
- PoF from Physician on FIRE
- Michael and Ellen from Uncommon Dream
- Pete from Mr. Money Mustache
- Michael from Financially Alert
- Chris from Can I Retire Yet?
- Brad from ChooseFI
- Jillian from Jillian Johnsrud
- Carl from 1500 Days to Freedom
- Mrs. Frugalwoods from Frugalwoods
- Sam from Financial Samurai
There are plenty of others as well (sorry if I missed you!).
But even with a list like this, folks actually in early retirement with kids aren’t commonplace. We’re kind of in a world of our own in a manner of speaking. It’s not like I can just reach out to a close friend or neighbor to see how they’re doing in early retirement.
In a way, we’re on our own on this. And that’s ok, but sometimes we’ve just gotta figure things out as we go.
I think I’m doing a great job in the facet of spending time with my family. Remember, the whole reason I went down this path was to do exactly that. We go through our days playing cards or video games together, learning together, or just watching movies or documentaries together. And before this whole lockdown here in Panama, we were spending a lot of time outdoors walking around town, hiking, playing, and swimming.
Life is good… really good. No complaints on that front in the least!
The dream I was sold
As I led our family on the path to FIRE (financial independence / retire early), I was sold on the dream of more time.
And that’s a gimme. Suddenly, I gained around 50 hours a week that I would have spent between work and commuting. That’s still incredible to think about.
Along the way to FIRE, I watched hustlers like Steve and Courtney Adcock retire early and work on so many different things. Steve was crushing it with Think Save Retire before he sold it and now blogs at Steve Adcock.us along with a couple of other sites. Both of them work on the popular YouTube channel, AStreaminLife. They just got done touring the country in their RV and now they’re spending countless hours building up and renovating a small property they bought in the middle of nowhere.
They might be the busiest retirees I know… and I like it!
It’s fun to watch all the different things they’ve been doing with their newfound freedom.
This seems to be the common theme in the FIRE community – work your way to early retirement and then spend your days trying to figure out new and exciting ways to fill your time. And that doesn’t even include all the time book-reading, movie-watching, and other lazy ways to occupy the days. It almost seems daunting – will you eventually get bored with all this extra time or will you keep finding new projects to keep you going?
It didn’t matter. I was sold on the dream! This is the life I was after – all this extra time wouldn’t be wasted on me!
What the hell happened?!
Here I am retired and I still don’t have enough time in each day. And yes, I know that’s what a lot of retirees say, but I’m not referring to socialization and goofing off. I’m talking about not having enough time for productivity.
I go to bed a lot of nights thinking about everything that I didn’t get done.
It drives me bananas!
Granted, I’ve added a couple of things into my routine. I haven’t missed a day of studying Spanish for about 20-25 minutes every morning in 397 days. As the weeks go by, I feel more and more comfortable having small conversations with Panamanians who don’t speak English.
I’ve also been proud of how steadily my workouts have been going. I’ve been routinely busting them out 5 days a week. I’m actually starting to gain some muscle – how cool is that?!
And then, I spend a fair amount of time writing for Route to Retire. That takes up roughly 8 hours for a post (spread out over a few days). Then you have all the emails, comments, social media conversations and sharing related to it, and you can probably throw in another few hours.
Even so with those activities though, you’d think there would be plenty of time for new endeavors. But I’m not finding that. Heck, by now I thought I’d be doing at least 2-3 posts every week, but I just can’t find the time.
I have so many things I want to get rolling on:
- Write a couple of books
- Learn to play the harmonica
- Get better at playing the piano (or keyboard)
- Start a garden
- Learn martial arts
- Learn Kotlin and create an Android app
- Figure out a cause to get behind and grow
This is just a small part of the list – it goes on and one. But the question is when??!!
Spending time with Lisa and Faith tends to take up a big part of my days. And I do enjoy it (we really do have a lot of fun together!), but I’m still surprised that I don’t have more time for working on other things as well.
Expectations were wrong
Fritz from The Retirement Manifesto is someone I’m happy to have as a friend. I’m currently reading an advance copy of his new book, “Keys to a Successful Retirement: Staying Happy, Active, and Productive in Your Retired Years.” Yeah, I’m special like that with my advance copy … and even more special because he mentions me in the book! What a guy!!
Fritz and his wife Jackie are having the time of their lives filling their days with whatever makes them happy. Fritz talks about enjoying the simple things in life like waking up and not rushing to get out of bed – just laying there and dozing in and out.
Then he heads to the gym to give his life a little structure. Beyond that, he likes to leave most afternoons unstructured so they can just play it by ear and see where it takes them. Boy, that sounds wonderful!
He talks about you can draw your retirement to be whatever you want. Whatever you want to do is completely in your court – endless possibilities. They’re living proof of how all this extra time works wonders. And the same goes for a lot of retirees.
But that’s when it hit me – the vision I had in my head was created by the dreams and realities of early retirees who don’t have kids or their kids are grown.
Early retirement without raising kids is so much different than an early retirement with kids in the picture.
This isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s just something I didn’t fully think about until I was reading Fritz’s book. My expectations for early retirement have been wrong for years. I’ve been attempting to live life raising a daughter while still trying to have the productivity level of someone without kids.
It’s not possible to do both successfully. And that’s totally ok. I just needed that a-ha moment to realize that.
I’m not going to be able to get done everything I want to right now and I just need to accept that. Right now, the primary mission for me is to raise a daughter. I’m free to fill in any cracks of time after that with whatever I can on the productivity side of things.
Eventually, that will change, but for right now, trying to do it all will just end miserably. That’s actually a huge relief. Once I had this epiphany, I slept like a baby the next night.
As a side note, “Keys to a Successful Retirement” comes out on 5/5/20. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far, it looks like a book you’ll want to add to your collection!
Early retirement with kids
Early retirement with kids is not like a “normal” early retirement where you can easily follow dreams and chase new passions. You’re raising a kid and that responsibility is still there until they leave the nest (and sometimes after).
It’s wonderful that it allows so much time to spend with your kids – you get an opportunity most parents don’t. You can be there to play with them more, help and teach them, and actually pay attention to what’s on their mind instead of worrying about the other obligations so much. That’s truly a blessing that I recognize and appreciate every day.
But, that comes with a price. Early retirement isn’t just for you and your spouse – it’s for your child, too. I have so many things that I want to work on, but after more than a year of early retirement, I’m finally starting to get it. It’s not my time… at least not yet. Sure, I can try some things on the side – a little bit here and there, but I can’t go all in. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Before this post, I was starting to consider jumping ship on this blog. I love writing for it and it’s awesome to entertain and hopefully help you as readers. But it’s definitely a time suck and I’m worried about Lisa and Faith resenting me (or the blog) because of all the time I spend on it.
Since then though, I’ve talked a little with them and we decided that I’m going to keep going (it’ll be 5 years in May!). We tossed around ideas like having some type of set hours for me to work on it so it just becomes routine out of the way.
But trying to grow it by doing a lot of additional posts and other ideas I have aren’t likely to happen anytime soon. It’s a good thing I’m not relying on income from this!
This is not some “woe is me” post and I’m not complaining. We’re extremely blessed to be in the position we’re in and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Every day (even most of the days stuck in lockdown here) is a joy.
I just want to acknowledge that early retirement with kids is a whole different ballgame than one without kids in the picture. Realizing this should help me to sleep a lot better now.
An early retirement raising kids would be a lot different than one without – would you agree?
Thanks for reading!!