The next Stage of Retirement begins: Kindergarten

Today is a memorable day in the MMM family, as the Mrs. and I took our precious Junior ‘Stash to start his first day of Kindergarten this morning.

It was a wonderful experience, biking through the early morning’s leafy shade on our streets, and feeling the excitement and fear of the assembled crowd of young kids and their parents as we waited in the school’s courtyard for the opening bell. The simultaneous start of so many school careers, each one destined to play such a gigantic role in forming the future adults. I noticed quite a few shiny cheeks among the Moms, and even a few discrete fingers poking around the periphery of the sunglasses of the Dads.

It’s also a fork in the road of life for an Early Retiree. When our boy was born, we pretty much abandoned any other commitments to take some time to learn to become parents. Even though other parents with multiple kids and simultaneous jobs have it much tougher, we still found it to be quite a challenge*. For the first two and a half years, it was just us and him, with as much family and friends as we could fit in. Baby milestones mixed with years of sleep deprivation and new parent pride. Milk and mushy food, cloth diapers and little clothes, days at the creek and the park.

As the years have crawled past and both parents and child have grown together, we have started taking baby steps back towards traditional adult life. The boy started with one day of preschool per week, the next year it was two days, the next year was three. We started scaling up our part-time work again, and returning to more adventurous family vacations, and even having time for Independent Adult fun. Nowadays,  Mrs. M. goes out alone for a couple hours of crossfit three nights per week, and I’m heading to the mountains for a Gentleman’s Backcountry Camping weekend tomorrow, just as some recent examples.

And now all of a sudden, he’ll be in school five days per week for the next seventeen years or so. We’re still adjusting to this new idea. We celebrated the transition by having breakfast on a restaurant patio near the school and having a serious but fun conversation. What will I do with my days? How will I make sure they are put to good use? Will I get a TV and start watching sports, or perhaps get myself a walker and a golf cart so I can take up Sedentary Golf?

I’m just kidding.. there is actually a huge backlog of stuff to do with this new free time. I want to make my house Energy Independent by adding some solar heat and electricity systems. I want to fix up the gardens and lawns and build some high-end cold frames so I can grow vegetables year-round. I want to ramp up the guitar and drum playing since making music is one of the most basic and Native-style sources of pleasure to me (but for some reason I can only do it in the presence of excessive free time). I want to bike to places around here I’ve never seen, and go through a crazy fitness program like the P90x to force myself to get off the current lazy man’s fitness plateau. I would also like to crank out some profitable local construction projects like doing a classy renovation and resale of an undervalued house on my own street or setting up another rental property. And of course I want to read more books so I can talk through my hat a bit less and quote more respected researchers and authors when I’m dishing out the lessons.

Things like this really do happen in early retirement as long as you write ’em down in an artistic font on a nice piece of paper and stick it on your fridge. Lots of my current favorite hobbies in life (childraising, welding, plumbing, the aforementioned drums) started the same way a few years ago. It’s just that it is now time to take it up a few notches for the next seventeen. Here we go!



*My theory on this is that child-raising is so difficult that it blasts past your previous limits of human accomplishment even after the first one. Just as humans were made to do, you adapt and start doing what it takes. People with more kids, and/or full-time jobs, and/or dealing with poverty simply get even more badass and do even more of whatever it takes. Of course, there are limits to human capacity and both surrounding environments and individual abilities vary widely, so some kids fall through the cracks.. but overall I’m amazed every day at what parents do for their kids. It revives my faith in the ability of humans to accomplish things.


  • Oskar August 18, 2011, 2:42 pm

    Independent Adult, what might that be?:-) Are there any more examples:-))))

  • Kevin M August 18, 2011, 2:48 pm

    Good luck to MMM Jr! Sounds like you have a lot of cool stuff in store!

  • Moxie August 18, 2011, 9:39 pm

    In my own mind, I was referring to the little one as “Mini Money Mustache” rather than “Junior ‘Stash” (I like the continued pattern of alliteration, too)… but I suppose a mini ‘stash isn’t a good thing in the context of this blog.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple August 19, 2011, 11:18 am

    Aw. My son starts kindergarten next Thursday. It’s such a big milestone.

    I agree that people just take on more and more stuff and get more badass. I need to scale back a bit though, I think. In the last year, I became a manager. On top of that my manager left, and I’m temporarily doing some of his work (until we replace him). I have a 5 year old, and a husband who started traveling 2x a month. I am training for a triathlon.

    And last night after work I spent 4 hours canning salsa from a huge back of tomatoes. Next up: spaghetti sauce. That’s after making a big pot of homemade applesauce the day before.

    On a different note, I love P90X. I haven’t been doing it much because of the swim-bike-run training. But it’s a really great program.

  • Ryan August 19, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Amen! Your comments on child raising are dead on. We had an 18 month daughter already when my wife discovered that we were having twins for round 2. Needless to say, the thoughts of panic and “How am I going to manage this!” instantly began to flood my head. However, as you mentioned, parenting instinct kicked in and the details of how and what just seemed to work themselves out.

    Nowadays, when people see us out in public and say, “Oh my, twins! I don’t know how you do it!” I usually just smile back at them and say, “….you just do.”

  • SoCalGirl August 21, 2011, 2:00 pm

    TIME FOR HOMESCHOOL! That would fill up your free time nicely…

    • Karen December 4, 2014, 9:39 pm

      I second this motion! ;)

  • Vanna January 11, 2012, 7:50 pm

    It just occured to me that I sent my youngest to Kindergarten this year, as well. And, I actually did ‘purchase’ p90x this year for our 10 year anniversary. So, I’m thinking, wow MMM and I aren’t all that different; except then I realized that you retired right around the time I was completing my bachelors degree on borrowed tuition, my 2nd child on the way and a litter of puppies on top of our 2 full time jobs. I won’t mention how far in the whole we’ve gotten since then, but anyhoo…I’m glad I found you, it comforts me to know that we are around the same age with similar life scenarios. I have a lot of work ahead of me in order to assume the mustachian way of life. Yikes!

    Thank you for creating clarity and focus. I have been spinning my wheels for way too long.

    And congratulations on making it to school age!

  • DBestAQ February 17, 2012, 10:39 pm

    Seriously, really lovin’ your blog here. Perhaps slacking a wee bit at The Job in order to catch up, ironically, on Frugality muscle exercises. Your posts are pithy and short, and completely addicting.

    I’m curious how Junior ‘Stache will react to his new consumerism environment. Kids learn tons by measuring themselves to each other, I wonder how the values you’ve already distilled in him will mesh with the ridiculous lifestyle of potential spoiled classmates. Keep us posted!

  • GregK June 1, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Haha I’m just picturing “Raise Child” scrawled on a note stuck to your fridge…

  • AndySD September 27, 2013, 11:02 am

    First, thanks for the awesome blog! Fairly new reader, catching up on past posts.

    There was one mention of home schooling in the comments, and I was Shocked! Shocked!! Shocked!!! to see references in other posts I’ve read to Jr. being in “regular” school.

    I’ve got 11 and 13 year old girls in “regular” school and am reading about home schooling/unschooling and started a conversation with their mom about it.

    Did you consider not putting Jr. in preschool, kindergarten, etc.? Or was it, like I imagine it is for most people, just an automatic thing? This is the year Jr. is supposed to start kindergarten.

    It seems so Un-Mustachian!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 27, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Haha! Yes, I can see why you would think that. We actually thought about it a great deal and chose to go this route. I wrote a gigantic comment somewhere else explaining our thought process… I’ll try and find it.

  • Amy K April 15, 2014, 9:27 am

    “I’m amazed every day at what parents do for their kids. It revives my faith in the ability of humans to accomplish things.”


  • Anne-Marie September 30, 2014, 7:49 am

    “As the years have crawled past and both parents and child have grown together, we have started taking baby steps back towards traditional adult life. ”
    This reveals an interesting underlying assumption, namely that “traditional adult life” is life unencumbered by the care of children. I’d submit that such a view of adult life is not traditional but rather a recent development. Perhaps you could even call it an aberration, a by-product of our modern society that is so insanely productive that everyone can afford (through tax-funded schools) to outsource childminding for 12 years. For the vast majority of humanity throughout history, all but the richest adults have done their work with their kids alongside.

  • Rupert October 13, 2014, 5:47 pm

    It’s only natural that music exists only within copious free time. Because 1) It takes time to learn, and 2) You “play” it. (The only time mammals in nature “play” is when they’re well-rested, there is abundance, life is easy, bellies are full(ish), and there is plenty of free time.)

    I’m 3 years behind in reading the blog so I’ll be watching to see whether this happened or not. NO SPOILERS!


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