Confessions of a Work from Home Dad

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure to see how we make money.

Work From Home Dad

As anyone who is a regular reader of Frugal Rules knows, Mrs. Frugal Rules and I run our own business and do so from the convenience of our home. There are many perks to be found in running your own business, like not having to be confined to a cubicle all day but, then again, we lose out on nice perks like a 401k and paid vacation.

Thrown in to that mix, for me at least, is that I am a work from home Dad – which has its own perks and drawbacks. While I may not be a stay at home Dad in the truest sense, being a work from home Dad has its own unique issues that must be dealt with. We actually discussed this quite a bit before I took the plunge in early 2012 as to if I could really work from home and do so effectively and efficiently.

*Related: Want a part-time job with benefits? Check out our guide on the best part-time jobs with health benefits to help stretch your budget.*

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I would die for them and I’d kill for them. There is little I wouldn’t do for them, but having three little ones age six and under running around while trying to write and work on marketing plans can make life just a bit on the interesting side. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my confessions of a work from home Dad. If confessionals are your thing, then you can check out my other confessional posts:

So, without any further ado, here are some of my work from home Dad confessions:

  • I have grown to have an unhealthy hatred of certain cartoons and shows. If I ever see another freaking Dora episode I just may lose it!
  • Those typos you see aren’t necessarily bad grammar, just the result of typing with one hand because I am breaking up a fight between the two oldest little Frugal Rules.
  • I have grown to love getting up at 5:00 am or earlier as it’s the best time to get work done.
  • Diaper changing time is much preferred to dealing with a nasty client.
  • It’s amazing that lines from Jake and the Neverland Pirates never end up in blog posts.
  • There’s nothing quite a like a lunch break with your kids to make a stressful day go away.
  • Yes I have worked in my pajamas all day and likely will again.
  • Even though our youngest likes to climb to the top of my office (aka the dining room table) and play with my computer he is still more mature than my previous self-grooming cube neighbor. He smells better too.  😉
  • It can be a little eye opening to see the oldest two Frugal Rules’ play on their toy laptops for longer than a few minutes – they have the attention of a fruit fly.
  • I love that I can have a cold one with lunch if it’s been that kind of day.
  • For some reason, kids don’t understand that having three separate conversations at once isn’t conducive to writing.
  • Taking a “free day” is much easier now and I absolutely love that I don’t have to clear it with anyone beforehand.
  • Mrs. Frugal Rules is MUCH better at handling it all then I am. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be in the fetal position in the corner sucking my thumb.
  • I am all for art. Granted, I suck at it and don’t particularly enjoy it – but it’s amazing what can be used to “finger paint”…yeah, NASTY!

I know that some of my confessions may sound a bit on the complain-y side (if that’s even a word), just being honest. If I’ve learned anything throughout this whole process of being at home and running a business, it’s the importance of rolling with the punches on all levels of life as life is too short to not roll with it all.

At the end of the day, while being a work from home Dad does pose its own unique challenges, I love it. I absolutely love that I get the privilege of being home with them and have the opportunity to build into them on an ongoing and daily basis. Yes, I do wish there were days that it would be just a little quieter, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Being around my kids all day is a refreshingly good thing that has come out of me leaving the grind last year.

Ok, so now you have my confessions of being a work from home Dad. What challenges do you think you’d face working from home? What cartoon do you hate?   

The following two tabs change content below.

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)


  • MMD @ My Money Design says:

    This is great John. I’m also a big fan of getting up 1-2 hours before anyone else in the house does too just so I can get some work done in peace. I also don’t know how you can get anything done with cartoons playing in the background. I swear all they do in SpongeBob is scream for 75% of the episode.

    I’m curious – Do you ever have situations where you have to Skype with clients or have a face-to-face meeting? Plus how do you guys hunt down or attract your leads?

    • John says:

      Lol, I know what you mean about SpongeBob. I listen to my headphones quite a bit so that helps drown out some of it.

      We do have quite a number of face to face meetings or Skype sessions. With the first, usually just one of us will go so the other can stay home. In regards to Skype, we generally schedule that around naps and them waking up. Most of our clients now come through either our business site or referrals.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    “For some reason, kids don’t understand that having three separate conversations at once isn’t conducive to writing.” I SO get this one, John. πŸ™‚ And I’m with you on the hatred of cartoons as well. That being said, I wouldn’t trade it either for a job outside the house. It’s just so awesome being with them all day. Well, most days. πŸ™‚

  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    I’m with you on the whole Dora the Explorer thing… If I have to hear about that bloody map one more time I think I’ll lose it!

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    “Taking a β€œfree day” is much easier now and I absolutely love that I don’t have to clear it with anyone beforehand.” Yes! This is a huge reason I want to work for myself. You can’t beat having control over your schedule. Ditto on the cold one at noon as well. That would never be allowed in a corporate environment today.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I have trouble focusing when working from home. So many distractions… and that’s WITHOUT children running around. I’d be good if I never had to see another “Ninjago” episode.

  • jefferson @See Debt Run says:

    The early morning productivity is essential to being productive, when you have a house full of little ones. Also, It’s odd how I look sometimes look forward to bedtime.. not so that I can relax.. But so that I can get things done!

  • Alexa says:

    I commend you for working at home with your kids. I really, really don’t know how you do it. I can’t even check my email with my girls around. They are constantly climbing all over me, they think they need to be involved in everything I do. I plan on still taking my kids to the babysitter the majority of the time when I start working from home. There is no way I’d ever be able to get anything done.

    • John says:

      Thanks Alexa. A lot of it has come down to setting a good schedule and changing things up for the kids so they don’t get bored. I feel the same way with the email, they hear my phone go off and want to know who it is. πŸ˜‰

  • Blair@LifeDollarsandSense says:

    I have so much respect for you. I think being a parent is the hardest job there is, esp while holding a day job. I think your confessions are minor compared to what you are juggling. Many in your situation would have the kids go to daycare still for some time to focus.

    • John says:

      Thanks Blair! It can be a challenge, I won’t lie, but it makes life interesting. We want to be able to teach them, when appropriate, about running a business so it’s a good fit…most days. πŸ™‚

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    Ha! I don’t hate Dora but I have some serious disdain to Cailou. It’s actually “broke” on Netflix at our house right now. Ha!

    • John says:

      Ah…good ol’ Cailou…thankfully ours never got much on to that show. Lol, don’t you just hate it when Netflix is “broke”?! πŸ˜‰

  • Matt Becker says:

    Haha, good stuff! Our son LOVES Dora and I have to say that I don’t think it’s too bad. But maybe by kid #3 I’ll be a little more sick of it. I love the early morning productivity as well and I have to say that I’m mixed on my feelings during the days I work from home. There are things I love about it, like not having a commute and those random moments with the family in the middle of the day, but it can be tough to get real work done at some points. I think I would need a more dedicated work space than the dining room table. And I really think I would struggle if I was both the primary caregiver AND trying to work at the same time. I honestly have no idea how that would be possible.

    • John says:

      Just give it some time Matt – you’ll come to hate Dora and that freaking map πŸ˜‰ That is the one thing I do wish we could change – having a dedicated office, but that’s just not in the cards right now.

  • Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt says:

    I work from home too and it’s tough sometimes to concentrate but worth it! I do find that getting up early helps. In England, we have cartoons called Waybuloo and In the Night Garden and they drive me crazy!

    • John says:

      I agree Hayley, it can be difficult to concentrate, but it’s much better than the alternative in my opinion. πŸ™‚

  • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says:

    Ha, great list! A cold one with lunch…that’s the life! πŸ™‚

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    Well, this makes me happy that we haven’t gotten to the cartoon stage yet ,because when I watch them with my nieces and nephews, I want to pull my frickin hair out. Who in the hell creates those things?

    • John says:

      I know that feeling all too well Grayson. I would like to know that myself and would love create some money making idea like that myself.

  • Budget and the Beach says:

    “I love that I can have a cold one with lunch if it’s been that kind of day.” Ha ha! I’ve totally had those days. I commend you for being able to work from home with three kids. I get distracted easily with no kids. For me all the lawn care that goes on outside my apartment during the week drives me crazy, especially the leaf blower guy. I swear he does it to push my buttons. Im sorry we never got a chance to chat more at Fincon! πŸ™ I’m still recovering…

    • John says:

      I hated that too Tanya. We ran into that all the time at our old townhouse and was always distracting. I know, I felt the same way…my wife wanted to be able to talk to you some, she lives vicariously through those who live in SoCal. πŸ™‚

  • Richard Jonas says:

    Wow, this post makes me feel sooo much better. I’m building an online business from home with a 2-1/2 year old son that loves to “help” Daddy and who also has a deep, abiding love for Caillou. It truly is challenging but I thank God that I get to be involved with my son’s life so deeply. At the end of the day, the challenges are somehow always dealt with and I’m just grateful that I got to spend the day with my family.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    Great stuff John! We are also part of the “Ban Dora Fan Club.” I try to hide in certain places of the house (like the basement or the deck) when I’m writing as to avoid interruptions. Somehow the kids are always able to sniff me out and interrupt my train of thought. Then I feel awful for telling them to leave. πŸ™

    • John says:

      I know, it’s something about kids and their timing. I can relate to that feeling as well. I feel like the world’s worst Dad when I tell them I can’t play with them because I am working.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    We had to outlaw Spongebob a while back. It makes our daughter go crazy and jump off things. The one I really can’t stand at the moment is Dragon Tales. Why do they all have to be so whiny? I do think it’s great you get to spend so much time with your kids. My Dad worked from 6AM to around 8 every night, so I remember him coming and going, but not much in between. I think he really regrets that now. I’m hoping not to have those regrets when I’m older, except for maybe that we watched too many Dragon Tales!

    • John says:

      I had to do something similar with Dora. I had to tell our daughter that she went on vacation. I’ve seen a bit of Dragon Tales and would definitely agree. I can relate to that feeling of hoping not to have those regrets in the future. I really struggle with not looking past the moment and looking at matters in the grand scheme of things.

  • Anthony @ Thrifty Dad says:

    Ha! Great stuff! I took some time off when my new baby was just born and I don’t know how you get any work done. Although she can get annoying, I can’t bash Dora – she’s actually saved me a few times. Sometimes you need that half hour breather haha. (Toopy’s another story haha!) But good for you! My wife works from home, and although it’s a big challenge getting much work done (and in between naps), I can see the special bond that she has with my 2-yr old.

    • John says:

      I am all for those breaks- but Dora, no break is worth that! πŸ™‚

      You’re right though, it does help form quite the bond when you’re able to spend that time with your child.

  • Girl Meets Debt says:

    Awwww what a treat to read this Monday morning John! πŸ™‚ 3 kids under the age of 6 must be challenging at times. Just wait until they’re teenagers. πŸ˜›

    • John says:

      Thanks GMD! I know, I think I’ll definitely be in the fetal position then. πŸ˜‰ We had blast meeting Jeremy at FinCon!

  • Broke Millennial says:

    I wish I could have a cold one at lunch too!

    From my years on the babysitting circuit, I empathize with the children’s cartoons. I lucked out when one little boy loved watching the Knicks, so we got to watch basketball together instead of obnoxious cartoons.

  • dojo says:

    Working from home is really great,since you can spend time with your family. Both me and ‘mr. dojo’ work from home and it will allow us to raise our daughter ourselves, not leave her to the nanny. Sure, it’s not an easy deal πŸ˜€

  • C. the Romanian says:

    I am in a similar situation, but fortunately Baby Romanian is just three months old, so we’re just starting πŸ™‚ For me, since my wife dedicates all her time to the little fellow, and since he can’t run and scream and drive me crazy yet, things are pretty OK for now (and just as I was writing this comment my wife entered the room with BR who started crying and completely distracted me). Still, there are many positives in working from home and being with your kids which by far outnumber the negatives. I wouldn’t give it for anything in the world!

  • midlifefinance says:

    Nice man. I need to do a post like this too.
    Our guy keeps watching the same kinder egg videos on youtube everyday for months. Now he’s moving on, but for a while there, it was repititive.

  • Kyle | says:

    Tell ya what, for me, it took about a year to establish some clear work-from-home boundaries. I found myself working way more than if I had a regular 9-5 gig. Going back in the office after the kids went to bed became a regular occurrence and resulted in 60+ hour work weeks. It took awhile to find the right balance and start treating it more like a regular job. For me it was so important to clock in and clock out and only go back in office on extraneous occasions.

  • Michelle says:

    Haha love this post. We don’t have kids (yet), but I have been working from home full-time for the past week. It’s really hard to get out of my pajamas πŸ™‚

  • MoneyAhoy says:

    I love this one: “For some reason, kids don’t understand that having three separate conversations at once isn’t conducive to writing.” I can just image kids trying to interrupt you while you’re deep in thought wading through a sea of thoughts to finish up the latest article. I am the same way – I have to have just about complete silence to write at my best.

  • Catherine says:

    Haha. This is great, I used to nanny so am well aware of the super annoying shows- Like Holly, Caillu drives me nuts and anything that has grownups in child’s costumes is just weird to me. Our little one doesn’t really see much TV but has taken a liking to Thomas (the train) which I think it sort of cute.
    I only have one and know I couldn’t work from home full-time with her around. If I ever have a change in career that kept me home I would likely do at least a few days in daycare so I could have a day or two kid free to get work done! Kuddos to you and Nicole.

    • John says:

      “and anything that has grownups in child’s costumes is just weird to me.” Lol, I love this Catherine! I could not agree more, there is something quite wrong about it indeed.

  • Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr says:

    Well, I’m a work at home Mom to a mischievous cat, does that count? Yeah, I didn’t think so! I’m not sure if I could manage as well as you and Mrs. Frugal Rules are. Writing requires concentration, which I imagine kids doesn’t always understand. I’ve never watched Dora but I have watched Sponge Bob Square Pants with my nephews and niece. It made me feel old! πŸ™‚ I do enjoy working from home overall. The commute is awesome, working in PJs is fantastic and I love being able to walk away when I need a break! Some days I do miss being able to chat with co-workers but I don’t miss the office dramatics either.

  • anna says:

    Aww, love that picture of your little one! Great list, John, I don’t know how you and the Mrs. do it, especially with you working at home! Much props to both of you. πŸ™‚

  • Deacon says:

    Hahaha! I can relate since I work from home as well. I don’t have kids yet so I can use both hands when I type, however, I do work in my pajamas quite frequently. By the way, It was great finally meeting you in person at FinCon this year!

    • John says:

      Yes, that is quite a nice bonus, isn’t it? It was great meeting you as well Deacon – looking forward to FinCon14 already. πŸ™‚

  • E.M. says:

    I love how you see it from both sides. While it’s difficult juggling work and children, you realize how awesome it is to be able to spend all that time with them that you wouldn’t have gotten in the corporate world. Time spent with them, even when breaking up fights and telling them not to climb on things, is better than no time!

    I remember when I was still in college and my boyfriend had already graduated. It was so tough to focus on things with him around. I can’t imagine having the whole family around to distract you. I’m sure you get used to it and find ways to focus, and luckily my boyfriend works a decent amount now so he wouldn’t be home. My cats might get in the way though – whenever I’m actually being productive with the blog, my one cat loves to be in my lap or on my desk, blocking the screen. Never at any other time!

    • John says:

      I agree E.M., it is definitely better than no time at all.

      Our cat used to be the same way, until the kids started riding him like a horse. Now, he only comes out when they’re gone. πŸ˜‰

  • Nick @ says:

    Luckily I have steered my daughter away from Dora for her whole life so far. πŸ™‚

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Love the pic, John! Such a handsome young man. πŸ™‚ My husband telecommutes and is on the phone the majority of the day. The girls had a nanny when they were younger so he could hold calls without two little girls climbing all over him! But I was definitely envious that he could take a break or eat lunch with the girls.

    • John says:

      Thanks Shannon! That sounds like a great set up and wondered if we’d be better served by having someone watch them a day or two a week to be more efficient.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I remember when my dad worked from home, it was almost impossible for him to take a true free day, because he had so many business obligations. Looks like you’re doing this work-at-home thing right! It does sound nice to be able to be at home with the kids during the day, even if the cartoons are a little..grating.

  • Chad | The Stock Market and I says:

    Yea, I get the whole I need to compartmentalize to get things done but right now I have to take the time to go interrupt the latest art creation that is taking place on the family room wall. All in all it sounds pretty good. Something to aspire to.

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor says:

    Aww, I think it’s wonderful you’re able to be a work at home dad. My mom stayed at home with me until I went to school and says it was one of the best decisions she made because we got to spend so much quality time together during those early years. I hope when we have kids I’ll be able to work from home.

    • John says:

      I had the same experience with my Mom until I was in high school and she has said the same thing. I think it’s so invaluable to have that time when they’re growing and younger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *