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Having Kids (paulgraham.com)
1992 points by yarapavan on Dec 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 863 comments

Hey guys. Anyone else have the experience of having kids, getting a burst of energy, but of course all that energy goes directly back into the kids and house, and you have absolutely no life for 3-5 years or more? Because my kids are 2 and 4 and so far it's been 4 years of no life, no freelance clients, almost no learning/hobbies, just 35-40 hours a week of working as much as I can at the office and then everything is about the kids. Until everyone goes to bed, then maybe I can think about something interesting to work on for a couple hours before sleeping well less than 7 hours of healthy sleep. Or do you even give that up, and as soon as the kids are in bed it's time for the bedtime routine for yourself?

Just looking for some dads who can relate and maybe give some wisdom on the subject of having young kids and losing your ability to work on something interesting--which to be fair I never did before having kids because I was unmotivated, having not had that burst of energy yet...

It gets better - My kids range from 14 to 9.The 14 year old is hanging out with friends and making jewelry. The 12 year old is sitting in my bedroom, reading. The 9 year old is playing games. I'm coding on personal projects, and my wife is in the basement making blankets. We have an entire day of just all doing whatever we want. Weekdays are busier with school and work, but you the point is that you do get your time back, once the kids are old enough to have some independence and interests of their own.

I'd recommend just enjoying being a parent while they are young. They need you at this age. Play with them, read to them, and all that. Write down ideas you'd like to pursue in a couple years when your free time returns. And you can be confident that it will return.

Thank you for this. My son is 2 and legally blind, so needless to say we have no life outside of him for now, but he is a joy. I would trade none of this for nothing.

Often I feel like I will never again be able to have a life, read a book, finish a project, have an idea. I know that it gets better and that I should cherish the moments we have while he is so young (and I do), but it’s hard to see more than a foot in front of you, so to speak. Thanks.

Our son is profoundly autistic and will probably need care all his life.

He's 4 now and I wouldn't change him for the world, but it's taken 4 years to really come to terms with his condition and our ongoing role as parents and carers.

Our son has a severe intellectual disability, non-verbal, and depends on us for all his daily needs, no matter how small they are. He's 8 now, and it took us a while to come to terms with his condition as well.

It's getting a little better as he gets support from his school for developing basic skills. And he's such a joy and a charming little fella. I'm grateful for having him, as he taught me to see matters in their right perspective, and he taught me what unconditional love looks like.

I still get some time after he (and his normal 13 year old sister) goes to sleep to code on some hobby projects (right now I'm trying to write an OS from scratch and read half-way through the Intel manuals). It's not consistent, and life can be interrupted by trips to the ER every few months (he's asthmatic too). But we still accept it and make the best out of it.

Hang in there, and know that you're not alone.

I always thought it would be incredibly hard to have a child with difficulties like yours. I teach a gymnastics club once a week and have an autistic kid there and instead of being problem she is one of the most rewarding ones to teach (in the limited time I have to spend with her). I’m not in any way a good teacher, but I’m learning a lot from her and actually get a lot out of it myself. I’m sure it’s much harder full time, but in the end it’s just the same challenge all parents have, to try and prepare your kids for life and hopefully give them a happy life.

It varies a lot from child to child and a lot depends on the environment. Our 5yo son, for example, finally starts speaking in 2+ words sentences and counts up to 20 after two years of therapy. Before we started the therapy we didn't think he could ever get even to this point.

That is tough. My mom was a speech language pathologist and I grew up around kids in therapy (and had fun learning sign with the deaf kids). I hope his progress is rewarding now that you can see some results. Going through it, for me, is so hard to appreciate the small improvements. I can only image two full years. I hope you continue to see progress!

That’s great to hear. Believe it or not, visual impairment usually leads to delay in speech and other development, so I get a sense of where you’re coming from. All the best to you guys.

Hi there, as a father of autistic son, I can feel You. But hang in there, your son is young enough for some interventional therapy. We pursued floor time therapy which is play based and it has helped our son since. OT and speech can go a long way in helping your child express them better and navigate their life better. If you do decide to send your child to a public school, make sure they can supper your child with special needs education program. They initially need a lot more of your attention but depending on now how their cognitive functions turn out they can go on to become more independent. Good luck, and if you need someone to talk to my contact info is in my profile.

I'm sure you are doing everything for him, and I've ran into an autism scare for 7-8 months with my daughter and I've read quite a lot(intervention options and books for parents). Anyway, the guy hosting a 3 day course/workshop described and showed proof of his son intensive ABA intervention which started age 5 to 7 which culminated to his son making a full "recovery" -- I know this only applies to 50% of the cases.

They call them seasons of life and you are in a season, I was there, I have 4 children and had two in diapers. I could not see past the next day sometimes. But it does get better, when they cross the 7 year old threshold they become a lot more independent. When they cross the 10 year threshold you hit another season where they pretty much take care of themselves. When they hit teens your involvement becomes nothing more than soft guidance. They are focused on their friends and building their social skills. They still like you but they start to exert some of their first steps into adulthood. You will move thru these seasons and they all have the good with the bad. But I remember the stress of little-ones. I remember seeing the youngest swim for the first time, and I realized right then and there that I felt like I caught my breath for the first time in years. I lost a nephew to a pool drowning so it was one of my big stresses when they where that little.

Did you by chance have any cats in the house when your wife was pregnant? Looking for anecdotal evidence relating to something I've read about.

I can jump in at being just a year apart from GP, mine are 3 and 5 now and it's already starting to get better massively. Having them so close to each other makes for some extremely hard first 2-3 years, but then they can actually relate to each other one and play together, which works out nicely.

Kids tend to be cutest from 3-5, so sit back and enjoy as much as you can, the time will come back — I'll confess I'm mostly enjoying the second one in that age only now, as the stress was too high with the first one.

To be honest, the second best thing about kids rather than themselves and getting to know them is what PG nicely put in the following way:

>> See what I did there? The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.

In the end, all these limitations will let you appreciate your freedoms so much more.

I can concur- we have got to the 3 and 5 stage and then choose to have another. That one year while they were both pre-school age was glorious, the kids were getting so much easier. Now we are back to never having time again.

For me the one of the best things about having kids is that they give me so much perspective. I might have had a great day or an awful day at work, but no matter what I’m feeling I still have to get to day care on time, get dinner on the table, help with the homework, get them into bed, read the story, and kiss them good night. By the time I’m at that point, the triumphs and tragedies of the work day have just faded away in importance. I just get to reflect on the day with a small feeling of accomplishment and the strange sound of a quiet house. And then one of my kids wanders in and asks for a drink of water :)

Can I ask what your age is? My wife and I are 36 and age is one reason I'm not as keen as my wife on having another child.

35. Our energy levels are fine for raising the kids, although there are always moments of doubt... :)

I'm 36 as well & have 2 kids (1.5 and just under 4 year olds). Why is your age a consideration at that point?

I know plenty of people who had kids later than 36 (including my own parents and my in-laws).

Mine are 15 and 16, they’ve been going out on trips with their friends for a couple of years. I will say though, the first years until they are in school full time are absolutely crucial. We reap what we sow in those few years for the rest of our lives, and they are crucial developmental time for the children. I never really knew how to deal with other people’s children much younger than myself, but having my own kids has been wonderful. Hard work, frustrating at times and yes it has to take priority over almost everything else for a long while, but it’s so worth it.

Thanks for this comment. My kids range from 8 to 3 and as I see the changes slowly creeping into our life’s (the occasional evening dinner or even weekend trips) the majority is a constant schedule. Getting up at 6am. Getting them ready for daycare and school (we have no longer time for a shared breakfast ever since my oldest is in school). The getting the younger ones to the daycare and head off to work. Here I get a relaxing morning as most others start two to three hours later. Then at five sharp going home and play with the kids and have dinner. After that the going to bed routine starts which can be, depending on the kids mood and of course oneself mood either be easy going or a terror ritual. I love the former ones. After all kids are in bed my partner and I have time for us. Or do we? There is of course the house and preparations for the next day etc. and the next morning the whole thing starts all over again.

All this! What a perfect day you described. The wisdom to just go all in with the very young kids is so important.

It's so good to read this!

>The 12 year old is sitting in my bedroom, reading.

I have some news for you chap.

Your kids are at the age before school where they are the hardest to deal with. Once a kid gets to school, magic happens. I mean it.

- They get tired from learning stuff. And the teachers know how to deal with them.

- They learn how to behave in a group. They start having actual friends.

- You get a bunch of friends who are in the same situation as you, and you can use their kids to cancel out yours. (AKA playdates)

- Having friends in the same boat will help your confidence a lot. They can help you directly with the kids, plus some of them will have older kids too, and they can tell you it gets better.

- As for your own time, try to be disciplined about the kids' bedtime. It helps a lot that school is tiring them out, and use that momentum to not let them decide when to go to bed. If you get them asleep before 8pm, how much different is your day really? You had to eat anyway, and you have to keep the house clean regardless. Your real problem is if they keep you up to 11pm each night, then your life is gone, and they end up in a cycle of having not enough sleep. Make them sleep, then code up your side project.

For example my kids started school at 4. I've put them in full time after school care as well, ending at 6pm. Now they're tired but awake when they come home and can eat a meal, then bath, then bedtime. You can read something to put them to sleep, then go and do your own stuff.


Forgot to mention, the kid will learn how to read. From there you can give them a book and that will keep them quiet. Remember to teach them how to code as well, so they have proper tools to explore the world.

> They learn how to behave in a group.

See this with my LO from going to daycare. Mob mentality is real, at home can't get a nap to save our lives.. at daycare napping at 12pm like clockwork.

Also the book thing is real, when my phone is off limits a book becomes the next fantasy reality for kids. For everyone reading, keep giving your toddlers something to do other than your phone. Everything is a teaching opportunity, and you are teaching them how to keep themselves preoccupied. Books, gadgets, legos, matchbox cars.. whatever, their imagination takes off exponentially once they hit 2

Just want to say, as someone recently on the right side of this, this reply is gold.

Sleep before 8pm?

Is that even possible?(my daughter is almost 2 and not yet in daycare, which means she never goes to her night sleeps before 11pm).

I want to bolster the reply you already got. Regularity Is everything for little ones, and it was hard for us to get in a good rhythm with sleep. My wife lead the charge ( as she was the one our LO wanted at night, even after being well fed before bed ) and read a lot of material on sleep patterns. She started a routine of dinner - bath - reading - bed, with a target of 7:15 for bed. the first two nights were hard. building the pattern means sticking to your guns, making sure he -really does- have everything he needs, getting him tired and then not getting him out of the crib. Having your kid wailing in the next room is the worst thing in the world, but knowing that you're working on something that will help everyone is the only reason to let him "cry to sleep." We did 5 - 10 - 15 minute interval checks to soothe him, remind him we were still there, build confidence and independence, and on day two he "got it" and went to sleep after the second check. Now he's down within 30 minutes of 7:15 and sleeps really well. He still gets up in the middle of the night, and being sick or cold throw it all off, but he gets back on track. He's 16 months now and has been sleeping well for four months. Its a life changer. I hope you get some sleep.

Yes it's absolutely possible. At age 2 my son gets one nap and goes to bed at 7pm (after dark). Use the circadian rhythm to your advantage.

Why did you decide to have kids? This is a serious question.

It makes your life meaningful in a way nothing else can.

Politely disagree. I feel like one should already have found a way to make their life meaningful before having a kid. Having a child just adds to it, changes the nature of that meaningfulness, enhances it ... but not be the cause of it.

Nope. You should find a way to be happy. Meaning is irrelevant although most people find meaning in responsibility.

But you cannot know about that before you have kids? Instead, that's something you discover afterwards?

(And I think the question was about before :-))

> my kids started school at 4. I've put them in full time after school care as well, ending at 6pm

> you get them asleep before 8pm

> you can give them a book and that will keep them quiet

And then people wonder why kids don't listen to and respect their parents when they grow up. You're basically just giving school teachers full control to raise your kids at age of 4, and they only interact with you for 1-2 hours during the day and don't really know who you are. I guess I am just raised differently but I can't understand this type of parenting.

Why have kids at all, if all you do is try to get away from them and make them not bother you and live separate life especially at such an early age.

Parents talk a lot about stuff that lets their attention be somewhere other than their kids because that's the hard part, not because they don't also want to pay attention and have quality time with their kids.

It's good for kids to see their parents with autonomy and goals of their own, and simply not exhausted. Doing so doesn't have to be antithetical to having a warm relationship.

If you're in a loop of surviving the demands of very small children, then even when they have your attention it can be hard for it to be quality time. Carving out some auto only lets you be intentional and actively thankful about the time you do spend with your kids.

>and they only interact with you for 1-2 hours during the day and don't really know who you are

As if 1-2 hours per day is "little"?

That's not in any way why kids "don't listen to and respect their parents when they grow up".

Kids spent even less "quality time" with their parents (a relatively modern boomer invention) back in the old times when they did fully "listened to and respected" them.

Hmm... I thought the 9-5, office work, working for other people/businesses are the modern inventions and for tens of thousands of years mankind spent 80%+ of the day with their offsprings/families/villages.

It's interesting to think that "quality time" which in this context simply means "2 hours per day together" should be enough. This is not how humans evolved.

As harsh as it sounds, the philosophical question above is quite legit: why have kids in the first place if they are then put into daycare until they are grown enough to not to have to care about them anymore at all...

>for tens of thousands of years mankind spent 80%+ of the day with their offsprings/families/villages

For tens of thousands of years kids played with other kids or hanged in the village watched by the older people in the community, while fathers did some guild style job or worked at the fields, and moms cooked and tended the house. They got together to eat and sleep at various points. For less fortunate families, kids started working as early as 8-10 years old. Little kids (even 8-12 years old) were also very frequently made to cater and babysit younger siblings while the parents were working.

>why have kids in the first place if they are then put into daycare until they are grown enough to not to have to care about them anymore at all...

This presupposes what it was supposed to prove, that 1-2 hours per day are not enough time.

It also comes from a place of big privilege, as for a hell of a lot of parents 1-2 hours per day are more than their hand-to-mouth work affords, so the point where it's like questioning why those bad parents of starving children that don't have bread are not feeding them cake!

> For tens of thousands of years kids played with other kids or hanged in the village ...

Weren't humans nomadic for the vast majority of our history, with agriculture (aka villages) coming about only a few thousand years ago?

Yes, make it "for about ten thousand years". Was referring to standard post agriculture civilizations and most of the ancient / classical ones we know of.

Most evidence points to this. Villages even predate agriculture and all the work associated with it.

There were still human groups such as the BaMbuti living nomadically into the 20th century.

If you’re living hand-to-mouth, that’s not a great environment for your kids anyway. Not being in that position is privileged, but it’s a privilege shared by all of the middle and upper class in western societies, which is who dominates this readership.

Not every comment needs to disclaim its privilege because the author speaks English, is literate, and has access to the internet.

Yeah, but hand-to-mouth is both relative and a continuum. It's not a black-and-white thing. More importantly, perhaps, having a high income and high expenses can lead to similar conditions and stresses as poverty, though, I suppose, it's better than actual poverty.

I wrote an article that touches on aspects of this a while back:


I've been doing all this as a single parent, and it's no fun. Most people would readily dismiss this as "not actually a hand-to-mouth existence", and indeed, I'm lucky to have this one and not some worse alternatives. But in terms of spending time with one's child, it can be just as hard.

>If you’re living hand-to-mouth, that’s not a great environment for your kids anyway.

Kids aren't supposed to be born to comfort and greatness, they're supposed to be born to life.

This talk is a talk of leisurely privilege anyway. If people in the past thought that "hand to mouth living" and harsh conditions mean you should not have kids, most of those making these claims today wouldn't be here, and the civilisation would be at medieval standards at best (since population growth is a crucial part of the economic engine in history - thou doesn't guarantee it).

Daycare isn't solitary confinement. The kids there are hanging out with other kids and the daycare employees. Kids who hang out in a variety of different social situations like this actually end up better adjusted than kids who only hang out with their parents the whole time.

I remember preschool (i.e. private daycare) as being a hell of a lot of fun. Same for summer camps. And if it gave my parents a rest away from me, then good for them. I still saw enough of them every day.

This question assumes that daycare is just, generically, a warehouse for kids. That is certainly true of some daycares. Some do perform a useful pedagogical function, more in line with what one can expect in more well-developed public state kindergarten/preschool/daycare systems in the Western European states. Moreover, as a sibling commenter pointed out, they get to see other kids there and develop socially--and this is particularly important given the propensity of most Americans to live in fairly insular suburban bubble-houses, and more generally the lack of a public realm and civic space that suburbia entails. It's not like they'd otherwise be out running around with other kids; they'd most likely be marinating at home in front of the TV.

I'd go so far as to say that not sending one's child to some kind of playgroup before school age is irresponsible.

American kids in the suburbs play with each other without being placed in daycare intern camps (at least out here in the west).

It surely depends on the suburb, and seems to be a regional phenomenon to some extent. It's definitely not true here in the southeast in my extensive experience.

> It's interesting to think that "quality time" which in this context simply means "2 hours per day together" should be enough. This is not how humans evolved.

Just pointing out that this is an assumption and should not be taken as fact.

If this is a fact and it's obvious, I would encourage you to write down in detail the reasoning.

The best way to improve your thinking is to do this. Usually writing to explain encourages you to study your own presumptions. Digging into your presumptions usually leads to realizing that your world view does not take into account enough detail and forces you to seek out more detail. This detail usually changes your world view, which then changes how you argue things.

No, you need to ask the opposite question. Why on earth would you think you need to hang around your kids all the time?

What is the correct amount of time according to you? Keep in mind school is off maybe 14 weeks of the year, plus weekends.

little of any modern decisions is based on what humans have experienced, historically. We have evolved a set of core emotional firings that do not have much to do with how we live.

Why start/stop at the initial decision, when these issues go so much deeper.

Where is the 1-2 hr figure coming from? Even for my oldest, who is in school, and on a day I work. I'm seeing him on average 2 hours in the morning before he's off to school (young kids wake up early) and then another 3 hours on average in the evening (and he goes to bed "early" by his peer standards). This doesn't count night time wake-ups. Then weekends/holidays it's all day, of course.

I read/heard recently that average daily quality time is 37 minutes in US.

Not sure why you’re being downvoted. That also sounds appalling g to me to see your kids 2 hours a day and putting them to bed early on top of that.

8 o’ clock isn’t early for your average 5 year old.

It sucks only seeing the kids for 2 hours during a week day but people have to work, because that’s basically how society works for most people. However working parents more than make up for that lost time at the weekend.

The point the GP made about books is because with the best will in the world, sometimes you need your child entertained so you can get on with other stuff. Sometimes that is doing chores. Sometimes it’s just because after being woken up at 4 in the morning and then having spent 6 hours running around after your kids (often quite literally running after them), you do sometimes need 10 minutes to switch off before the next activity. An adults energy is only finite. Plus let’s also not forget that independent play is also good for a child’s development as well.

Also, before someone inevitably chimes in with the “why don’t you incorporate children into the chores?!” remark, yes, most parents will do this too. However sometimes you just need to get something done quickly. Or properly. Or without an argument.

People are responding to how the argument was presented, not the premise. The post contained a lot of presumptions, logical fallacies, and judgment.

Some examples:

> And then people wonder why...

> ...they only interact with you for 1-2 hours during the day

> ...don't really know who you are

> Why have kids at all...

> ...all you do is try to get away from them and make them not bother you...

Combined with the username, it almost looks like deliberate trolling.

Which logical fallacies would those be?

Off the top of my head - nirvana. The post presented an idealized, "perfect" benchmark drawn from the user's own subjective experience, which is a problem in and of itsef, and suggested that anything less is not worth having.

Modern kids have a historically unprecedented opportunity to learn about the world they live in. In order to do that, they need to not be with you.

Do you really think that time spent is quality? People tend to remember emotion highs and lows. You don't need a lot of time for that. That trip to the coast that they'll remember as adults actually only lasted a few hours. The rest of the time is mostly drudgery like cleaning up plates.

And regarding behaviour, you'll notice they behave better when exposed to groups of people who aren't their parents. It's an important aspect of socialisation to expose them to other people.

No clue why you're being downvoted.

I too wonder why anyone would want children if they don't actively want to spend time and raise them.

Raising children is not about being a helicopter parent like many Americans understand it. It wasn't even in the US like that, until the 80s or so, when media people and book authors inspired profitable guilt to parents, and the boomers started making pandering and spoiling their kids the norm.

If we're talking about kids less than school age, then sure, parents are with them most of the day. After school age however, 1-2 hours per day with the kids is not "not spending time", it's rather more time than kids historically got.

In fact most kids will turn out Deliverance-level weird if parents insist of spending more time with them. It's up there to messing up your kids with homeschooling... Kids are not there to keep parents company, or for them to make into your image. They are beings of their own, and have interests of their own, and they should be let to do their thing.

> it's rather more time than kids historically got.

But... But... Any reference to this? All I can see here that some people think that "history" is how their great-grandparents were.


After industrialization and urbanization, so less then a couple hundred years ago did humans start this new lifestyle. You don't even have to travel back in time, just travel to places where tribes and their commons are still around (to a certain extent). You will see, that "history" is far away from going to an office 9-5 and then spend 2 hours with your offsprings.

If you check the people from the 15th century, 1950s villages, or even the "tribes" you mention, you'll find that the children are either helping (small tasks, actually working, after a certain still young age), hanging out with members of the community at large, or mostly playing around with other children.

They don't hang out with the parents after a certain age, and they don't helicopter them...

Most of the work children did was for the parents. That’s spending time with them.

That's neither, but it is better than what we have today, let me explain: I was raised by my grandparents in the countryside, the worst part was my parents randomly showing up every 2-3 weeks or so, letting me always longing for them.

Now, as to the relationship with my grandparents, even if I was doing chores for 1 hour alone, it was no big deal at all, as long as I knew they were in close proximity or other significant adults were in close proximity.

Again, what really sucked was when my grandparents were out in the fields in the summer until dusk and I didn't know when they would show up.

As long as the child has ACCESS to the attention of significant adults, he can develop longer and longer duration of time when he doesn't really need the attention, it's absolutely normal and beneficial for the emotional development of the child to grow independent of significant adults, but the child absolutely needs to have a firm support base in significant adults and know he can rely for their support.

Maybe it's my bad experience with overcrowded daycare/kindergarden, but educators there were absolutely not in the role as significant adults, maybe in places where there are more educators per child, better trained, they can take that role as a significant adult.

Even in industrial society 2 hours is much more than people spent with their kids as recently as the 1960s.


Grandparents etc were much more involved then compared to now.

> It's up there to messing up your kids with homeschooling...

Presumptuous much? Have you met a wide range of homeschooled kids?

It's being downvoted because it seems exactly like the kind of advice a non-parent gives to parents before they have to deal with the reality of the costs of children and how modern work is structured.

It's unsympathetic, unhelpful, and doesn't sound like it's based on anything except the author's prejudices about how "things should be".

Raising kids is hard.

As other posters have pointed out it's at least partially wrong, too in the sense that historically non-parents were much more involved than they are now.

This is utterly ridiculous. You live in the same house as your kids, they can and do get a hold of you literally at any time of the day. Yes, even when they are in school, they can get the school to call you for some issue.

To paint having 3 hours to yourself each schoolnight as somehow not wanting to be part of their lives is a cheap attempt at making people feel guilty.

Please be kind in life. Can you understand the hurtful implications of your comment to the person you are talking about?

Sort of agree, but sometimes hard replies can be the slap-in-the-face that makes people rethink what they're doing. Someday these parents may look back on the lovely little people they created and remember how much effort they spent trying to avoid being around them.

I am assuming you aren't a parent. We spent so much time with our daughter during her early years because we thought like you do. My wife didn't work, etc. Those were terror years. One day, my wife said she couldn't bear it anymore and asked that we bring her to the nursery for a few hours 1 day a week. My daughter LOVED IT. Her speech, everything about her development improved greatly. Every nursery day was the happiest day. She just wants to stay there and play. Now she goes twice per week. We wish she could go more often because it's great for her but we can't afford that

You would assume wrong about me not being a parent and you also assume wrong that you "thought like [I] do] based on a few sentences on a public forum.

Don't think of it as "I don't want to be around my kids" but "My kids will develop better with other experiences than just me".

I didn't say, nor did I imply either one of these statements in your false dichotomy.

Also, introverts need time alone. Quiet time. This is equally true for parents. It's not just a preference; it's a need. Without this, introverts are literally incapable of taking care of themselves or another human being.

It gets better. Way better.

Last night I explained quicksort to one kid.

Now we are designing cards to laser cut.

The kids get interesting and independent quicker than you might imagine.

The days are long, but the years are fast.

Same here.

Yesterday I fell in the Collatz trap (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21780068). So after a few hours my 7y old son asked what I was doing (what was I doing?!). Explained him how it works and then we did Collatz "by hand" for almost an hour. These sorta random triggered experiences are the best.

I'm not sure if you're referencing his post or not, but Sam Altman has an excellent piece about this exact mindset.

I meditate on this idea quite a bit.


I love how inquisitive my 7 year old daughter is. She doesn't want or take a simple explanation and I enjoy teaching her about seemingly mundane topics that she makes exciting for me again.

Oh, God, I hope my almost two year old daughter turns out that way too, right now she seems most enthusiastic about me chasing her, dancing, airplaning her around; though I see some seeds of inquisity because she wants me to help her open up every drawer and appliance, pushing every button, opening every faucet and so on.

Her godmothers son, which is just 4 months older is so happy sitting in my lap for ages as I explain ilustrated books to him; my own daughter gets bored real quick with that.

> The days are long, but the years are fast.

So true!

The most true, and also beautiful sentence ever posted to HN.

>The days are long, but the years are fast.

Nicely put. That's going into my "how to explain parenting" quotes right alongside "it doesn't get easier, just a different kind of difficult"

It’s definitely perfect for that. It’s from this book.


Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

Loved both frases. Will add them to my own. Mine is: "having kids is as beautiful as it is hard. And it's the most beautiful thing in the world".

My mom always says "the older the children, the harder the problems". Which is also true and quite counter intuitive. You might think that the harder years are when kids are young and demanding, but us humans turn into quite complex beings :)

Lots of fun epigrams. Little kids have little problems. Big kids have big problems.

As a father of 4 year old twins, all I can say is that you have described my life. We also bought a fixer upper when our kids were about 2 years old. I have nothing to contribute other than an upvote, and a plan to read through the comments in this thread.

Life is hard. I feel beat down and depressed a lot. I would also love some words of wisdom. All I can contribute to this discuss is that I can relate.

My kids (and I’m sure yours) are such amazing people. I love them so much. But I fear I have lost the ability to care about or love myself. We do finally have a great house to raise them in after many nights of back breaking labor done after coding all day.

I know so many people have it so much harder than me. Which makes it feel wrong to feel so broken. But there it is. I’ll probably delete this post out of shame but if you read it maybe you’ll know you’re not alone.

You aren’t broken. It’s helpful to remember that suffering is relative, so what other people go through is irrelevant to your current situation. We are all on our own individual paths.

My advice is to do less.

It sounds like you are trying to do too much stuff. Why? You are trading off being in a good head space with your kids when they are young to do what? Fix a house?

It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth it. You can buy a new house, you can’t buy back time with your kids.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed like this I make a list and prioritize it ruthlessly. This happens so often that I make a list daily.

Anything outside of the top 5 or so priorities, I ignore or delegage.

Oh and if you don’t like working on the house then stop doing it. Improving the house is going to have a marginal improvement. Use your time on things that are going to have a bigger impact.

Twin dad here. The struggle is real! This is just my 2c, but kids are designed to take and take until there's nothing left of you. It's not their fault, but that's just how it is. You can still be an engaged parent and have wonderful experiences with them, but you (major emphasis) cannot let your health suffer.

Keeping your mental sanity is as important as not letting them wander into a busy street or play with fire, etc. You are no good to them as an empty, stressed, beat down carcass of your former self. I have all kinds of strategies that I put into play when I find myself tapped out, but n=1 and I doubt it would be useful to others, I just wanted to share that I 100% get you. Take care of yourself, just like you would your kids.

As a father of a 6-year-old I suspect that it will get easier and easier for you from here on in. The kids will start to do so much more independently and so so many things to lift your spirits you weren't even imagining. Have you considered counselling? Just having someone to talk your thoughts through with can be very helpful. Stick in there.

Fellow father of twins, now 6.5 years old.

A block from our home, a neighbor couple had triplet boys, just a year behind us. One of little guys has special needs. Plus, an older singleton. They're our heroes.

Words of Wisdom: Manage your energy. The car is a great place to take a cat nap. Enjoy the simple pleasure of hanging out in your own backyard.

With your kids at 4 you're getting very close to it getting easier. Kids become much more independent and capable between 4 and 7.

Lol I thought this was my post for a moment. Hi copy of myself!

What is a fixer upper?

Is it a house that needs renovation?

Yes. A house with a lot of deferred maintenance.

-Do go on vacations with your kids. You are investing in having them travel with you in the future, and liking it. You can do it! Just give them tasks and treat them with respect.

-Ignore the kids menu. It's shit. Just order off the regular menu and share with your kids.

-Some kids are hard to raise, some are easy. You will probably have both if you many more than 1. C'est la vie.

-If you're like me and value time, get a job you can walk to. Have your kids go to a school you can walk them to. It makes things so much easier.

-Hire a cleaner every few weeks if you need a break.

-Buy used clothing if you can. Same with toys. No need to break the bank.

-Give them space, teach them to be bored on their own.

-Have scheduled electronics free time. Kids careers != Parents careers. They may end up doing things completely unrelated to your career. Let them find it.

-They will push you to the edge of your patience, and you will lose it. It's all good. Just try to keep calm. Even if you lose it once, just try to do better the next time.

-There is no instruction manual for kids - it was forgotten by the doctor inside the mother's womb - for every kid ever born :) So yeah, we're all winging it!

-My kids are 6 and 8. They have given me a new range of emotions that I never knew existed and have made me better for it.

-Kids make you value your time. Learn from that lesson.

I made it clear with my wife that I would need to have some time for my activities before we had kids. Luckily she has some friends that believe the same because she has no hobbies. So we take turns each month giving each other time away from the kids. So she might go out with her girlfriends and I might go golf or kayak.

Also, I don't subscribe to the notion that a parent needs to be playing with their kid every waking minute. My wife is more toward the opposite but getting more flexible. My son plays with Legos and other building toys by himself and I like that. I did the same when I was young. You have two kids so let them play with each other and you and your SO should dedicate more time as partners together. Get your date nights in.

Your kids are getting old enough that they should be playing with each other all day long soon and that will open up your time. Mine are younger than yours so I have a few more years but I hear having multiple is a game-changer for parents.

The other thing I would suggest is to just take your kids with you everywhere you can. I got a hiking backpack and I take him to music festivals, he's flown overseas and traveled around Europe, National Parks, etc. He doesn't make a peep in the hiking backpack and loves being able to see different things outdoors. I highly recommend!

As far as doing a side project, maybe do the planning/strategy for it while hanging out with them but when your kids are playing with each other. I can't code very well with kids around but I can still ideate.

And it’s important for kids to learn to entertain themselves. In this time of YouTube and social media and all the other things that are trying to grab kids time, they still need to learn how to be at peace with themselves.

I have two very young kids (19 and 7 months) and my experience is somewhere between OP and PG. Most of the time, kids feel to me like an endless, grinding to do list. The sleeplessness, sickness, and endless chores/cleaning are hard to power through. My career has definitely slowed down and I find that I already struggle with lower levels of professional ambition. That's not the worst part though: the worst part is the loss of control. Kids make life far less deterministic and most surprises suck. They wake up sick and can't go to daycare and so you don't go to work, you wake up sick and feel like death, they puke in their bed, they poop out of their diaper, they accidentally injure you, etc, etc.

The big redemption in my experience has been that I didn't really expect kids generally and this part of childrearing specifically, to be enjoyable or particularly meaningful. My wife and I agreed before having kids that at least the first 5 years were just gonna suck and we were just going to have to power through. I have still been impressed by how challenging it is, even coming in with that expectation.

On the plus side, I've always viewed having children as unrelated to happiness. If you care primarily about being happy, accomplishing great things professionally, or living an alternative lifestyle (and there's nothing wrong with any of these things) it seems pretty clear that having kids is not a good choice.

For me, I view the experience as a way to grow as a person and connect with something bigger than me. It's a way to become more human, and I'm getting what I came for.

> It's a way to become more human, and I'm getting what I came for.

I appreciate this self introspection. Humanity is a vast mysterious realm to explore and we've spent most of our lives focusing only on the concrete systems, like productivity loops or economics.

Although Briggs Myers archetypes are seen as pseudoscience, I've found that I totally relate to the postulation that archetypes need to develop their less used functions later in life in order to become more complete human beings, and I've found that is totally the case for myself, an INTJ with having my daughter.

Having young kids is like working 80 hour weeks. In fact it basically is that, just at two jobs rather than one. Plus you spend a lot more time keeping house, on top of it.

Most people don't have much left to give working those kinds of hours. Personally, I've had to dramatically cut back on hobbies and keeping up with various media, even, and all but drop some categories (I bet I spend 5% as much time gaming as I used to, for instance, and haven't even bothered to set up my gaming PC since a move about 1.5 years ago). I got a ton of reading done when each kid was young because you can just read them whatever, they don't know the difference, and you spend a lot of time feeding them or watching them in the bath so they don't drown or whatever, but now? Hahaha, so, so little reading.

Mostly I just watch movies or TV or read garbage on the Internet (ahem) because I don't mind as much being interrupted while doing those things.

My wife and I are having a discussion about this very point that has lasted since our first child 14 years ago.

She argue that I may have two jobs where one lasts 8 hours and the other lasts 16 hours whereas she as the one job that lasts 24 hours. The only difference is that I get to change my scenery and work environment, allow a refresh if you will, and allow a stresses to take a break. For her, she stays in the same office without any chance of a change and the stress does not take a break.

I heard someone, maybe it was Joe Rogan on his podcast after someone asked him how he stays focused and works so long and hard at his podcasting gig. His response was, "Are you kidding? I've got two young kids at home. It's like a vacation when I come to work."

And as a father, I totally get what he means.

Not saying yours does but my wife makes things way harder than they need to be at times. Like dinner. She lets my 2 yr old climb on her and eat her plate instead of his. So her dinner is often ruined. She gives in to his whining for snacks he doesn't need. Other things take way longer for her than me because she doesn't establish ground rules. He's an angel when I change his diaper and when I put him down for bed. He fights her getting into his car seat. Even at 2, they're smart enough to exploit. I don't think many parents understand that.

If you don't take time for yourself, let the kids own you, then yes it's really hard.

I put my 2 yr old in daycare twice a week and that really helped my wife's sanity and also helped him learn a lot. I encourage her to nap when the kid is and she rarely does.

I don't think you'll ever win that argument but whatever u can do to enable her to have more time for herself, get more sleep, etc, that will be good for you, your wife and probably the kid(s) too!

My theory is that the best thing you can do in raising a kid is having a great marriage. So I don't like this putting the kids first stuff. It's a bad perspective. You end up arguing over who's doing that more and you won't get the credit you deserve for working. If your perspective is focused on the marriage then I think the rest falls in place. What are your needs? What are your wife's? The kids will be great when you two are great. And they'll learn how to have a healthy relationship w a significant other!

Thanks for being open with your experiences. I can't disagree with any of your points. Tough love in parenting is essential part of bringing up kids, and that definitely allow a family to function in a sane manner, and not dictated by wishes of the child.

Our kids are on the Autistism Spectrum, and my wife has a genetic disease. She stresses about herself and our kid's future. I stresses about those two items and my work. However, I can switch my work stresses off when I leave the office. She does not have that option at all.

Yeah that definitely makes it even more challenging then. Thanks for sharing. I'm kind of similar with regard to stress. My problem is I rarely share any stress and I rarely show it, so my wife used to assume I'm never stressed. So sharing more has helped. She then understands why I might need some of my hobby time to maintain a clear mind and sanity. I also try to help her get time away from the kids because I know she needs adult only time. Playing and talking with a toddler and infant all day will wear you down. Does your wife resist time away from the kids? Does she feel guilty when she does?

In regards to taking time away from the kids, I would judge her resistance no more than typical when compared to other mums in similar situations. She sees it as a chance for father-child bonding time, so she does not feel any guilt from being away from the kids.

Have you found a way to balance family life against hobby life against work life for you and family? I am still searching.

That's great! So if you take more time solo w kids then she will get recharged away from them and get more friend or solo time. That opens you up for the same.

I do that to give me balance and help my wife out. I'll take a full Sat or Sunday with the kids. Then I just make sure to express in advance that I want to golf/kayak/fish/bowl/etc and she's very understanding now.

Golf and fishing are easier to balance because I can do them really early in the morning. So if I can make that work I do it. Then you can nap w the kids later. :)

I also hit the driving range on my lunch break which is nice. Or do a short par 9 during work time.

Actively encouraging your wife to do solo or friend time will open your game up. :)

And then just fitting it in when you can haha. Worth sacrificing some work output when you need it IMO, but I run a small company so I have some flexibility others may not

I think the good part for the wife is that there is no requirement to actually stay in the office. You can work from home anywhere!

See if she wants to trade places. Let her breadwin - same salary as you - while you slave away at the '24 hour office'. Bet she's won't take you up on the offer.

It is not the case where she wants to trade place with me. It is more of me whinging about my stress levels at my work. Her jobs at home are definitely much harder and more stressful than my work. Kudos to her for managing it and keeping the household in order.

Both of us knows what we are good at and how we can help contribute to our family life.

That...hits home. I could've written the same thing.

I've never had an unpaid job though

It turned my habits around. I worked remote for 6+ years when my daughter arrived. Had a generous 10 weeks of leave of which I took 7 and I stayed up late at night or all night for the feedings which meshed well because I was always a night owl.

That was 21 months ago.

This week I was in bed before 9pm at least 3 nights and up at 7 am with the spawn to take her to day care. I get a shower and get her dropped off and get back home by 9am and immediately start work. I don’t get up from the chair till noon for a quick break and back to it for another 3 hours. My wife and kid get home around 4:30 or 5 and I slap together something frozen and barely healthy for all of us and then my wife does the bath routine and I read slack on my phone and think about how much I didn’t get done. We play for an hour or so and bed time is at 7:30pm. After that I try to wrap up loose ends and make notes for the next day and usually so tired I just go on to bed. I’m stuck in this cycle. It is so hard to stay up after bed time because I know I have to be up and at em first thing in the morning and can’t lay in bed till 8:30 or 9 because I stayed up till 2am.

I would work 2 or 3 side gigs on top of my job previously and now I have no mental room or energy for it. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I put a ton of stuff on my google calendar. Friends want to play a game on Friday night? It gets on the calendar and I usually can’t make it past 10:30pm. It makes me keep the value of my time in the front of my mind. Do I want to play video games or read and play with my daughter? Sometimes I choose the games for my own recharging. I want to start my own thing so bad and I just can’t get the courage to make the jump and don’t have the energy to do it on the side.

Remote work is a double-edged sword I know that place you are at Remote work "illness" #1 - failing to separate work and life(free time) Not a problem when you are single and "on your own" Heart-attack territory once you have children Don't think playing a game on a Friday night will recharge your batteries, not that simple, not even if you'd spend the whole weekend doing it You can't escape a burned-out mindset withouth changing your habbits Most probably,your day job pays for a 8h workday This translates to 6h of active work time(optimistically speaking) Wake up at 6am Work from 9 to 12(3h) Then take the next 2-3h free, go outside, cook some non-poisonous food, no internet, whatever you do don't think about work Then work the next slot 15-18 and do a hard stop Learn how to say "no" - no I can't, no I won't Some of my projects are over a year late! I could easily spend an extra 2-3h a day just replying the most urgent emails I got within the last hour of my work day - won't do it - if anyone on the other side of the plannet is so brainwashed as to prioritize some corporate slaveowners well-being over his own health .. sorry but the thing you are living is a 21 century version of hell Buy a stopwatch or repurpose an old smarphone, setup a counter for 6h and work your day job only those 6h One very good excercise for self-discipline that helped me a lot 3 minute high-intesity workout every day Time of the day is for you to choose, just make sure its 3 minutes - use a stop watch! Always tell your self "If I'm not able to keep this f*ng 3min schedule how can I achieve anything else in life" It'll do miracles

Not a fan of using periods at the end of sentences?

Most likely the original post was formatted as a bunch of lines

But the author didn't double-space the lines so they got run together

I've never related to a single comment so much. It can be exhausting. How old is your daughter?

Apparently you cant edit comments here... your daughters age was computable based on your comment :).

Yea she’s almost two. It’s been as much fun as it has been work but it is WORK.

My kids are 8 and 11 now. I just spent the past hour working on my book while they puttered around doing... honestly I don't know what they were doing.

For me, the toddler years were the nadir in terms of having my own time. Babies sleep enough to give you some time. Older kids are independent enough. But toddlers, man, it's like living with a pair of destructive monkeys that you're legally forbidden to cage.

It will get better.

> destructive monkeys that you're legally forbidden to cage

In the same vain as "What you can't say", is there any solution to this problem that is ethical (at least under consequentialist morality) but taboo?

Foist them off on their grandparents. Not what I would do, but I know people who have. Works best if the grandparents are mid 50s or younger.

My wife did research for grad school related to this, so we went in to this eyes open.

Her studies showed that people who have a kid 3 or younger were less happy than equally situated peers. Their first smile is nice, but it's a lot of poop and your peers are going to Europe.

If your youngest is 4 or older, there's literally no difference in happiness. Europe is nice. Their first play, them as actual human beings - also nice.

When the _parents_ are north of 60, then happiness _and_ health go up if you have kids, by a rapidly increasing margin with time.

So when we decided to have kids, we just knew that for the first few years... Well, that's going to suck. It's made it easier knowing what we signed up for.

Your wife's research is almost surely correlational, not casual - I'm assuming it's some sort of OLS using the NLSY or some similar dataset.

The fact that happiness and health goes up dramatically when parents are north of 60 just reflects that in the past - if you didn't have kids - it's because you didn't get married. If you didn't get married, it was far more likely to be because you were somehow unviable as a marriage partner than because you didn't want to get married.

So, you're going to get a spurious, strong correlation between happiness/health and the interaction between age > 60 and having kids. If you run the same regression among Americans in 30 or 40 years, that same relationship will not hold, since whether to get married and whether to have kids are to ever-increasing degrees explicit choices.

Young kids go everywhere you go, so you can still go to Europe. It maybe take a cruise, that cash be pretty family friendly while allowing you to see a different city every day.

Knowing what you're getting into and having the rest of your life in order are golden, I guess.

I resent my wife for sort of slowly forcing it on me with promises of "nothing will change, my mother will help", I also resent myself for falling for it, but I wouldn't trade my daughter for anything in the world.

I've come to terms with the duality of being a parent, loving your children and raising them sucking at the same time, something I see non-parents completely unable to understand.

Great moments of being a parent, like 10% of the time, and sucking for the rest of 90% of the time.

Whenever I tell this to non-parents, they take it like "what, then what's the hype of being a parent, you must be broken somehow" or "there, that's another reason for me not to have children" -- both of which are far, far of from any conclusion I would take.

It’s not that hard to take young kids to Europe.

If you have the money, sure. Not everyone is in the silicon valley tech bubble and can afford it.

Sorry I thought I was on a forum for people in the Silicon Valley tech bubble.

I think the counter examples have already responded.

This was averages across all America, all income brackets. Privilege does make things easier, yes.

Ages 1-4 were absolutely brutal for me. I'd do it again, but I'd go in giving up any pretense that I was going to maintain anything like a life. I was an at-home parent for those years, and really struggled having no escape from it. I maintained a pretense that I was keeping up on my field and doing various other things, and I did put in a good deal time on that, but it was not well-spent. I should've given up that idea through preschool age. That's what I'd do differently, and I think as a society we'd be better off if we accepted and understood that parenting is an all-in big deal; it's not just another form of housework or chores that we all have to do and that are flexible.

That said, I agree with others that it gets way better. Ages 5-9 with my kids have been great. The stuff they do is actually fun and interesting to me, and since I was such a damn good parent, the kids are dynamic and somewhat responsible for themselves. We have a lot of fun now and I have choices for myself once again.

Warning: I hear the teenage years can be just as daunting at the toddler/preschool years, but for different reasons.

> I'd do it again, but I'd go in giving up any pretense that I was going to maintain anything like a life.

I really think it's best if you just accept that you'll be giving up most of what you used to do. You can find time for some stuff, but if you had a bunch of hobbies and were very social and did tons of side projects before something has to give—probably lots of somethings. There are only so many hours in the day and yours are largely spoken for—no large contiguous blocks of free uninterrupted time, certainly—12 hours a day, 7 days a week, now.

Trying to keep up with all of it is exhausting and frustrating. Gotta make the hard choices and actually choose. "Well, I'm not doing A, B, or C for a few years, seems like, so I'll stop trying, but I can keep doing D and E with the time and attention that frees up".

Exactly. This also reminds about what I call early childhood induced PTSD; it comes from the constant interruption and lack of sleep and endless dirty work. One's brain does not come out of that the same way it went in.

Good comment and yes, all-in parenting is a big deal. In fact, careers are obviously important because they're needed to survive and provide, but how we raise our children and prepare them for life is, in many ways, far more important than whatever tasks we may be performing at work.

"Warning: I hear the teenage years can be just as daunting at the toddler/preschool years, but for different reasons."

This was not my experience at all and it may not be yours if you've engaged your children in reasoning rather than "because I said so" disciplining; if you've developed a loving relationship with your kids instead of an adversarial one.

I'm in no position to offer advice, but I feel that in many ways having children in your twenties would be much better society wise -- if people had some psychotherapy to solve their issues and discover who they are and better relate to their spouse and if society was geared towards this, sort of like how the israelies have their military stage.

I know society is absolutely not geared to people having children in their twenties and having children is a big compromise between education, knowing yourself and what you want in life, finance, fertility and what's left of your life after you have children.

> Just looking for some dads who can relate and maybe give some wisdom on the subject of having young kids and losing your ability to work on something interesting--which to be fair I never did before having kids

Your problem is not that your kids have blocked you from interesting work. In fact it sounds like quite the opposite: you are so passionate and rewarded by childcare that it has inspired you like never before.

It just sounds like you need to look for a more interesting day job.

While I get the sentiment, I'd suggest many aren't built this way. Feelers are, and find value in the "feeling" of feeling needed, providing, caretaking. There are groups (of which I am one) who find literally no personal value in that. Childrearing is a series of rote tasks, performed repeatedly, that are performed on billions of humans raised.

If anything, childrearing made me suic-idal for years at the mind-numbing, repetitive, 'useful only to 1' tasks, and made me solely aware of the inefficiency of raising humans. My kids are 6 and 9 now, and things became much better when they're able to take care of themselves.

But isn’t it beautiful and awe inspiring that such an inefficient system has, over thousands of years, managed to produce such amazing technological breakthroughs?

It’s a slog, but changing your perspective can help you understand both the critical part you play in the progress of the human race yet the minisculity of everything that we do. It’s quite fascinating.

But the person I’m responding to is clearly built this way, and is just dealing with lack of interest in their day job. You’ve got a completely separate set of issues going on regarding caring for other humans. I wish you well.

The funny thing is, I have a pretty interesting day job. I think I have too high expectations to be able to also have, for instance, a side job. And friends. And a healthy marriage. Gotta prioritize, I think.

One of the reasons I'm never having kids is seeing just this pattern. For everyone I can recall right now, it lasts forever. They have more time later but the drive is gone. I've actually seen a few of people with a shared hobby and a toddler be like "kids won't stop me from doing X, in fact it's going to be better with kids to teach/inspire/...!", and then they disappear forever (up to 5 years so far). Or (skiing example, I don't ski in this case but the person as far as I know used to be good) in 10 years they tell you how it's nice to go to a ski resort, ride a couple of simple slopes and watch their kids ride then have a beer. Same applies to intellectual hobbies like coding (again, from my anecdata). Nothing wrong with that, just not my cup of tea.

From my experience, this is absolutely true. I figured children wouldn’t interfere with my hobbies because I’d still have evenings and the weekend to do stuff.

Turns out that during the week you are generally too exhausted, and in the weekend you always have to figure out where to leave your child if you won’t want to saddle your partner with them.

You could bring your kids, but people without children (rightly so) quickly tire of this, so you mostly end up interacting with other couples with children, and that’s glorious too, because suddenly there’s 4 instead of 2 qualified adults to pay attention.

On the other hand, I didn’t expect the amount of satisfaction I would get out of children to be this great either, and it was definitely worth the bargain.

> always have to figure out where to leave your child if you won’t want to saddle your partner with them.

Inartfully stated, but access to childcare is a huge deal. As a step-parent I've got Bio Dad taking the load off usually one evening a week, every other weekend, and he does the needful in an emergency. Grandparents aren't nearby but often take them home or on a mini-vacation during the major school breaks. A cousin spent last summer with us, which gave us a lot of freedom at much less expense than summer camps and babysitters.

I can't fathom how a relationship survives raising children without substantial outside help.

And then there are some people who actually seem to have time for all of that, which kind of makes it sad for the rest -- I remember a female coleague -- drop dead gorgeous, two kids, 28 years of age, always taking her kids for activities, full of energy at work, sometimes I wondered if she was on stimulants, which she couldn't be, because they are not legal in my country.

"and in the weekend you always have to figure out where to leave your child if you won’t want to saddle your partner with them."

That's one harsh sentence right there.

Consider that perhaps what they found is actually greater happiness. Not saying it’s true or that everyone should follow the kid path, but I’m experiencing what you describe and can confirm that the hobbies/interests were and still are fun but are turning out to be not the best part of life.

That's what I meant, to each his own. Also, as far as finding better happiness goes, PG is careful to qualify his view by referencing the chemical changes... That makes it more complicated; some people mention it as a positive (i.e. even if it turns out to be as bad as I thought I won't feel nearly as bad); as for me, it makes me even more wary, the thinking being similar to the cult analogy in the article... I don't view such things as positives.

Be careful, one day you might realize you missed something important.

After I'm dead, my kids can continue my work better than I could do it myself.

I would tend to think that, for people truly on the fence, it is much better to not have kids and later regret it, than to have kids and regret that. At least with the former, you can still have an otherwise full life, and you're the only one who bears the brunt of your regret.

If you have kids and regret them, the kids are going to suffer for it, even if you do everything you can to hide that regret from them.

You can always adopt or foster children if you really regret it later. There are plenty of children that exist that need good homes without having to create more.

As someone who knows several people who wanted to adopt - it's not as easy as you might think (at least unless you are able to spend a lot of money adopting children from abroad).

Adopting older kids who come from problematic backgrounds has a significant probability of them having experienced some sort of trauma before they got to you. It's absolutely a great thing to do to take care of these kids but potentially very difficult as well.

This is why it's very difficult to get to adopt babies - they are the ones that everyone wants. Not saying this should make anyone not adopt just that it's not as easy as you seem to think - western countries actually don't have that many orphans & a lot of people who want to adopt them (which is of course a good thing!).

You may also realize that you missed something important by not founding a startup, climbing Everest, travelling the world, paragliding, writing a fantasy novel, or getting hooked on heroin. This is a vacuous statement that can be used as a reason to do anything at all, or nothing.

After I'm dead they can toss my body outside the gates. And they can give me a stick so I could fend off the scavengers - that is, if I care to ;)

> After I'm dead, my kids can continue my work better than I could do it myself.

Assuming they find your work interesting.

I'm really hoping my son enjoys playing games (board and video) and programming, but he could totally turn into a jock. (Although genetics says he'll never be good at basketball.)

If he turns into a jock, then he can continue all the work you never quite got around to ;)

There are folks saying “it gets better.” I have a different experience I’d share- which is it gets different.

I work for a fortune 50 company. I’m about 25 years into my career. Ymmv.

You will hit a point in your career where expectations will increase. You’ll be the person folks look to for guidance. There will never be enough hours in a day, and you will increasingly look at your time as the single most valuable commodity. You will always have to ask- how much impact can I make in this slice of time? Is this thing someone asking me to do the best use of that commodity? Is it more important that I spend that time with my kids?

Conversely, your kids will need a lot of low value time from you as they get older. They need rides to sports, rides to class, they need direction on chores. At a certain point, you’ll realize that self care, so playfully bandied about by zoomers and millennials will literally become a life-or-death priority. You’ll have to make decisions about your time that are best guided by clear knowledge of your values.

I’m a bit surprised by this turn of events. I’d advise folks that are younger to recognize that this is a long process. Make sure you invest time early in figuring out your values, and start investing in them as soon as you have established your foundation. The teens are a time where your parenting gets complex. It may be less physically demanding, but you’ll likely spend a lot of time asking yourself if you are making the best choices possible.

Thanks for this comment. I was just about to close the tab, having read over the comments for the past couple days and finding mainly my age with kids my kids age or younger/childfree comments. Yours was the comment I was looking for and I see myself really asking these questions now about time management now. Actually as I type this out, my kids have converged on me in my office to play with random things around. Building the foundation of my values is something I never really did, or thought about, I always just approached life as a thing I did in the moment. I now see my inability to schedule-in time for exercise as the beginning of "time management" problems I'm already running into. What did you mean by, "values"? What kind of things should I be be figuring out now that my kids are 4 and 2? One thing that has gotten better is my marriage seems to be much more stable now that we're done "making babies", so I feel I am on the right track there--being nice, listening, being helpful beyond what I would do for myself.

>> What did you mean by, "values"? What kind of things should I be be figuring out now that my kids are 4 and 2?

What your life goals are. Identify what your purpose is.

I developed expertise and experienced in a field that was rare. I like what I work on. I knew that I needed to like what I do and find pride in my work.

I also have a long history of creativity. I feel like I will be judged by what I have created. I want to be able to look at tangible things I’ve made as evidence of my contributions to others and of my own creativity. So finishing things is an important value.

I had parents that weren’t great. I feel like I overcame them more than I was helped by them. I found that it is more important for me to mentor my kids than tell them what to do.

I have benefited from mentors. I decided I am obliged to pay that favor forward, even when I feel like a failure.

When you identify your values, it will help you decide what you should be doing. Do I need to take my kids to this appointment? Or can I put it off on family and spend time mentoring? None of the answers are easy, but they’re easier when I consider my alternatives and how they align with my values.

My life goals are to take care of my family and have a material positive impact on human health, in that order. I guess what worries me is that both of these are long-haul, compounding-type efforts when I've spent my entire life pursuing short-term goals like finish school-grade, finish college, finish grad school, finish post doc, start job. Now that I've been working in my career for the longest stretch of my life (just recently passing length of grad school), it's no longer a "sprint" and I'm not sure exactly how to do it fully. I have been taking on different functions at work every few years, so I have new and exciting things to do but there is no end-goal. Sure retirement is a possible end-goal, but I really, truly love what I do and I would love to not retire fully from science--I doubt I ever will. So then what is the life-goal? Keep on trucking, compounding the gains. That scares me because it's so nebulous, no count-down, no "number of steps left". Same now with parenting now that we're done having kids. Now what? Compound those gains. With children there are always new things since they're changing so fast, but that's so much of a gradient as to be unchanging when analyzed in the moment. I guess my wife and I discuss, "once the kids get into school" and "once the kids go off to college". sigh I imagine this is a common thing ambitious people feel at this point in their career-life matrix. Sorry for the rant, thanks for the opportunity to reflect. Didn't mean to take your time without asking.

Pro tip: Pick 'values' that don't require unlocking experience points, hitting milestones, or achieving things in this transitory world. Values that you can just do, now.

E.g., love well.

I appreciate that, and I've understood the sentiment for my entire life. I guess I'm just unable to grasp doing something that I can't follow my progress on. I think it's a personal fault of mine. Kind of like when people say you shouldn't compare yourself to others. How do you actually only compare yourself to who you were yesterday and only strive to be better than them? The whole mindfullness movment of recent makes me feel 'less than' because so much of my mental time is spent comparing myself to others' success...So when you say, "love well". Love well compared to what? What's the reference to compare against? I feel like at some point I'll hit a zen moment where I'll see with eyes crosses outward some inner "ah ha" and then I'll get it. But I'm not there yet.

There's not a lot you can do except be super mindful about where you spend your time and try to optimize your time management as much as you can. You basically can't waste any time, even the "time breaks" during work I acknowledge as a luxury "stress-free" period and try to make the most of by relaxing, clearing my head and not thinking about anything as much as possible.

I'm fortunate to be able to work from home which saves the time on commuting, but you'll want a private office to avoid interruptions, esp. important for any concentration-intensive work like programming. But there's no getting around it, all kids before school needs to be supervised at all times, either with day care, a full time in-house nanny or as it's now in my case my better half is effectively the full-time nanny during the work day. We're starting to see some light at the tunnel with the eldest just starting school but as our youngest is only 10 days old, it's going to be a long time before they're all in school. At the same time, you're going to miss this time you had when they are this young so you've also got to cherish the journey before the parental reprieve when you get to lock them in the school system during the day :)

The only tip I have for prospective parents is to get all your travelling, hobbies and interests out of the way pre-kids as your life after kids essentially is going to revolve around the kids and family commitments.

Another time saving habit I keep forgetting about (that differentiates from my childhood) since it's been eradicated from our daily lives is not watching TV, we only watch Netflix/Prime À la carte on occasion when we have downtime (i.e. kids are in bed), but the time you save is more productively spent on your interests and hobbies.

>Anyone else have the experience of having kids, getting a burst of energy, but of course all that energy goes directly back into the kids and house, and you have absolutely no life for 3-5 years or more? Because my kids are 2 and 4 and so far it's been 4 years of no life, no freelance clients, almost no learning/hobbies, just 35-40 hours a week of working as much as I can at the office and then everything is about the kids.

So, 35-40 hours of work a week, at an office, and then some family time, and then "at best" a couple hours of free time to work/study whatever you like, plus 7 hours of sleep.

Doesn't it sound better than what 99.9% percent of humanity had to endure for the latest 10,000 years and 80% of humanity still has (including a good 50-70% in the US itself)?

I believe the level of work and childcare you had to do some 8000 years ago to be quite a bit less than what it is now, since basically everything was communual.

Of course, you didn’t really have the same things to study either, so it might still work out positive.

If the best argument you have to do a thing which will make you miserable is that someone else somewhere else is worse off, that's no argument at all.

First, there are no "arguments" that solve life predicaments. There are explanations of one's predicament and relative estimations of its impact.

Second, whether something (a lack of a specific amount of wealth, a status symbol, a job, etc) makes you miserable or not is mostly due to a social comparison. It's not the thing itself, but the thought that others have it better, and that you could have it so much better. Nobody in the 1500 century felt bad for not having a "side gig" or a Porsche.

If that's all you know, or you understand that most are worse off, you gain a little perspective and can count your blessings better. So "you have it way better than a huge majority already" is a great reminder for people not feel bad about their situation.

You think people two thousand years ago, or for that matter two hundred years ago, didn't 80-100 hours at the office every week of the year?

Yes, I know how blessed I am to have what I have. Thank you for the reminder.

Older guy with advice here. Spend as much time as you can preparing financially for the future. Your kids when they get older will care more about what you have done and what you can do for them and forget the fact that you missed spending time with them for honestly what are trivial events (while that may be true in some cases it's also I feel a myth created by writers and Hollywood and certain 'whiners' where it mattered).

What my kids (grown now) care about? That I can afford to give them money to help pay with their rent and any financial issues and that their Dad is not 'a loser'. Not whether I read them books or went to games or school events. It's all perspective and how you present it to them honestly.

But to your question yes it's a huge energy drain. Not going to get better either. Just try not to get sucked into things 'because that is what you do for kids and if you don't they will resent it and they will be screwed up'. Not true. Ok maybe in some edge cases true but many of us that are older grew up in a era where Dad and Mom were not our friends and we didn't want them to be either.

Just a word of warning here: my dad thinks along similar lines.

He's extremely self-centered. Anything good that happens to him is his doing, and anything bad is someone else's fault. And he has zero empathy.

After he had his third affair and my mother divorced him, my my brothers and I gradually cut ties with him. He is just not pleasant to be around.

He doesn't understand this. He thinks he is "owned" some love, after all the money and time he spent on us. He thinks my mother manipulated us (it's always someone else's fault).

I know this because after 10 years not talking to him, I allowed him back into my life. But it was out of pity and a bit of a sense of duty, so he could meet his grandson. I don't love him and my siblings positively hate him. He doesn't know my nephews, and probably never will.

My dad too. And same thing, about a decade not talking and now a very superficial relationship that is more sad than anything. All he cared about was money, no empathy, everyone else's fault. Not fun growing up around this -- and can't remember a single time he ever read to me. But I remember my mother often doing such (amongst other things), and we have a very close relationship.

> What my kids (grown now) care about? That I can afford to give them money to help pay with their rent and any financial issues and that their Dad is not 'a loser'.

Well, maybe you should have done a bit more and this relationship would be a little bit less transactional. Something to think about.

> my dad thinks along similar lines.

I can't begin to imagine how what I said relates to what your experience was (which I am sorry to hear about).

Just because people share some things in common obviously does not make them the same or make a point of view incorrect.

It's like saying 'well my Dad was a hunter as well and he was a lousy father so therefore being a hunter is bad' (Not sure the name of this but I am sure someone will fill in the blanks for the concept).

Yikes.... that is a.... uhhhh.... interesting take on things.

One thing I do agree with is it helps to have your own retirement squared away. It will make it easier on your kids. But all those “trivial events” like reading to your kids... that is what they’ll remember. I remember my dad reading to me and singing me to bed every night. I love that I can pass that down to my kids.

There is way way more to life than money.

Another older guy here. I can barely wrap my head around how much I disagree with this comment.

Spend your focus on acquiring money for your kids leads to kids who want money from you. Spend your focus on giving love to your kids leads to kids who want love from you.

> Spend your focus on acquiring money for your kids leads to kids who want money from you.

I didn't say that that. And nothing wrong with kids who want money from their parents. It does not mean that they are worthless in their own right. I deal with many people (in what I do) who have very wealthy parents. And despite the stereotype they are not living off their parents but sure they take advantage of the things that money can buy. They are actually (the ones that I deal with) really nice people. Some of them have funded multiple startups and have well known names. I have been paid for what I do by their 'family offices'. But honestly they are really great people in how they operate (with me anyway). They don't appear to have the same 'dog eat dog' way of operating that some hard scrabble people have. This is all anecdotal but what I have found (and it surprised me). A few of them got into 'the good schools' as a result of money their parents gave to those schools (I am pretty sure).

Also what is particularly ironic in this entire thread and your comment is that everything revolves around the kids and not the parent and any of their needs.

Also ironic is the fact that the only reason that anyone is commenting in this thread is because the post was an essay by Paul Graham who surprise surprise 'is successful and has money'. And one of my points is what Paul can do for his kids because of the success and money that he has. Not to mention that people will listen to what he says as well and honestly drool over every single morsel of advice he gives as if it's more special in some way than what you say (as 'older guy') or what I say. [1]

> Spend your focus on giving love to your kids leads to kids who want love from you.

I dated a girl once whose father was a school teacher. He sat in the basement when he got home early from school and watched movies on the VCR. He watched so many movies that he wore the machines out (and as an 'older guy' you remember things were built pretty well, eh?). Anyway I remember her saying to me something like 'Honestly he gives us all the time and attention but I wish he made more money'. In short she kind of thought of his as a 'loser'. He was always there for the kids but was not able to provide a living that kept them up with their friends. (And keep in mind he had a solid job and wasn't an addict or criminal etc.).

[1] And you know this is the case. And it's not like he has some superior angle on parenting that he does on what he is an expert in. Right? It's just interesting because of his 'fame' with the other things that he has done.

"Also ironic is the fact that the only reason that anyone is commenting in this thread is because the post was an essay by Paul Graham who surprise surprise 'is successful and has money'."

Your posts are riddled with these very wrong assumptions, insinuations, conclusions, and pointless diversions.


I'm in the same situation kid-wise but I don't feel like I have no life. I do manage to get some time to myself to exercise and grab coffee with friends now and then.

The key to this is working remotely. Two major advantages that apply here:

1. Not wasting precious time on commuting (even 1 hour makes a huge difference)

2. Being way more flexible so I can run errands and house chores mid-day if I'm feeling unproductive and use the time I earned to catch up on work later.

If working for a distributed company is an option for you - I can highly recommend. If not - from what I see around me it gets way easier and more fun when your youngest is ~3 y/o.

For real. I have a 1 year old daughter, my wife stays home. I work remotely from a very nearby co-work space or from home some days. Life is still a constant challenge though, can't imagine having to be in an office 8+ hours plus commuting. My wife would lose it.

Commuting time is not necessarily wasted, at some point it was the only guaranteed private time I had as a father of 2. Sitting in the train, reading or just staring out the window, thinking.

It's ok if you choose to do it, but most people don't have much choice.

I only have one kid, but after becoming a parent I'm possibly more productive than before. I've managed to do as much or more learning and work on side projects than without kids. And I readily confess this point was a big fear of mine.

The key for me was learning to actually manage time better. The challenges of having a kid have made me see how little time for other things I have now, which in turn made me manage that time better. Previously, I'd fall into the trap of "there's so much time" that I could easily waste it. A whole evening free, planning to work on a side project? First I do something else, get carried away, then figure it isn't worth working for just two hours, and so waste the whole evening. Now I'm much better at using the time. An hour free? I can do some actual coding. Fifteen minutes free? I won't start coding, but I'll maybe update the SSL certificates on my server or read an article I've been planning to.

Yes, there are periods where that doesn't work. There can be three days where I have less than an hour combined to myself. Or some nights of such bad sleep that my creativity is at a zero. Speaking of sleep, I also made a habit of sleeping more after having a kid, and honestly it's a productivity booster. Sleeping for 7-7.5 hours means I can accomplish more the next day than sleeping for 6 hours. Having the right day job definitely helps. I'm very lucky in that my commute is fifteen minutes door-to-door, and that I have a quiet working environment.

Even in the best case, you have to give up some things - I haven't seen a full length movie in two years, rarely watch any series, and it sure takes me longer to get through a book. But at least in my experience, becoming a parent doesn't have to mean putting all learning and personal/freelance projects on hold for a few years.

Curious about the age of your kid. Mine is 3-4 yrs old, the only one. My life has changed, a lot, over those years. What you describe was the first 18 months for me. The next year was hell with zero productivity. Then 5-day a week pre-K changed everything again. I hear it will change again in a few years even better. Hoping for it.

Mine's 2, so I'm about to hit the period that didn't work for you. I'm sure a lot varies on the specific kid's disposition. Mine's now at a stage where he loves certain activities like sorting stuff into boxes, and can spend extended periods entertaining himself with those, as long as I'm in sight.

I'm more or less mentally prepared for rapid change now though. Having seen how rapidly a child's habits can change, I know that any day can mark the beginning of a particularly hectic, or quiet, period.

I read a sentence just before our first son was born that I’m glad I heard. “One day, your parents put you down and never picked you up again”. Every time my son woke me up in the night I would cherish every exhausted second of holding him.

I guess I finally figured out what value people see in weightlifting. They’re just making comfortably sure this never happens to them.

I feel the same (mine are 10 and 7). but to the other posters whining about how they don't have time for hobbies, suck it the f* up.

Yep i was there. Picked up bike commuting to work because it replaced time driving, not required more time. I also started drawing because you can do it in short spurts, and you can do it anywhere.

The time commitment has changed for me but not quite enough where i can sit for hours and code something outside of work. My kids are 5 and 7

Guessing by your name that you are a climber. How did having kids affect that part of your life? I am a pretty devoted climber at the moment, to the point that I left my job to pursue it more. Eventually I want kids though. Obviously I know that will affect how much time I can spend climbing but I'm curious to what degree it affects most climbing parents.

Not OP, but my wife and I were pretty avid climbers before having kids (we have a 2 year old now). To be brutally honest, I haven't climbed since he was born with the exception of a few gym sessions where we got a babysitter. I've gotten deep into biking and skiing, which at least where I live are things you can do over a long lunch break. If you live or work near a climbing gym then I imagine that's similar, but the sort of climbing I enjoy requires at least full toddler-free day. And when that happens there's a list of about 100 things that are higher priority than climbing.

That being said, some friends who live in our neighborhood and have a kid the same age hire a nanny twice a week so that they can go climb after work. If it's a priority, you can make it happen.

But I am looking forward to teaching my son how to climb in a few short years, and cherishing the stage before then...

I'm an absolute begginer in climbing, only did gym climbing, going only once a week meant almost no progress(going twice was much better) and I just loved climbing and how I felt after; I even loved the slow progress, I was like "whoaaah, I'll be entertained for years just with this gym", I've seen much younger climbers getting discouraged by their peers much faster progress(never mind those peers put much more training time), I'll be just happy to climb the same gym for the rest of my life; clymbing is one of those things I suck about, yet love, I love the gear, the almost empty gym on a friday evening, failing a route for a month and nailing it after, I love just how great some routes are that are just a biit out of my comfort zonr; my only regret is I didn't give it a chance when I was younger.

Anyway, I hope my daughter will love it too in a couple of years since she loves climbing on everything so we can take clymbing lessons in parallel.

I'm still getting a bit done, nothing like I used to, but getting out is all the sweeter when it happens. We have a toddler. She came to Scotland with us in the van this summer and my friends dragged me up two sea stacks... Lovely trip :-) The little one likes to hang in the the van side door like Alex Honnold. Last year my wife kindly spared me 2 weeks to go new routing abroad though honestly it felt like a long time to be away. (I returned the favour while she went on a yoga retreat, not for nearly as long though).

I do plot a return to fitness one day! Although I primarily used to climb outdoors (and now have a crag within walking distance of the house) I do miss living near an indoor climbing wall for the convenience of climbing any time of day, any weather, partner or no. It's all about the convenience when you have to fit it around job and parenting. Mountain biking as one sibling comment said is far easier logistically (and right now I'd rather teach the little one to mountain bike - lower consequence I think - climbing can wait a bit). Caving as well as it's a proper adventure I can do on dark wet evenings near home.

One climbing couple I know I saw in the wall for years taking turns child minding / bouldering. Anything can be done with enough dedication, it's just harder. Hey, Dave McLeod still pushes e11/12(?) with parenting responsibilities so honestly operating many rungs below that I have little excuse.

Paul's line in the op about not actually using all those freedoms before I had a child really resonates with me though. I went to a lot of amazing places and did amazing things but only for like 10 percent of my leisure time in the average year (maybe 70 percent in a keen one). The years when I was climbing my best came to an end long before we had a child purely because I got bored of maintaining the necessary fitness.

One thing I will emphasize is having a child ties you to a location more than ever before in terms of jobs, friends, support networks and before long, schools. I'd love to live somewhere more mountainous than the UK one day but now it's not the right time for the family. Will it ever be the right time before I'm too old to climb the routes I want? Who knows. If I relived the last 20 years I'd have done more of it in different places and possibly picked a different place to raise a family. But things are rarely that simple of course.

Would I change our child for anything though? No way :-)

It depends.

My experience is it gets "easier", but it doesn't get "better". Some parents really relate to their kids as they grow up, but it never happened for me. If you've ever seen the movie Rushmore, remember Bill Murray's character and kids? Just, no common interest and he's obviously defeated and burdened by them. That's about what it's like for some of us.

Yep. There’s a refusal to acknowledge this in polite company, as it definitely contravenes the party line. But I can intimately relate as a single parent conscripted into this role by an addict partner. My job hitherto was first and foremost and essentially "provider", and that's what I'm set up for.

> then maybe I can think about something interesting to work on for a couple hours before sleeping

Those "golden hours" in the night or in the morning where I got to read or learn or do what I wanted were precious. As others suggest, getting some alone time by trading with your partner (if possible) is rejuvenating. But it's ok for you to not be as productive as you were before, because you have less time to be productive.

I have older kids and can tell you that it gets better. The kids get more independent. They want to do stuff with their friends. I have friends with teenagers and at that age they rarely want to spend time with you and you can leave them alone at home for hours (or even days).

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the amount of time needed by my kids, I remind myself that soon enough they'll be teenagers and won't want to have anything to do with me. We're now halfway to that point with our oldest and I can say that with that much hindsight this advice has been spot on so far.

So yes they need lots of time now, but when they don't you'll miss it too.

"I remind myself that soon enough they'll be teenagers and won't want to have anything to do with me."

Is this really what you want? Because it depends on the relationship that you establish with your children. I found it such a pleasure to have teenagers who enjoyed being with me. I've always been kind of shocked by the desire of parents to be rid of their kids.

I never said I wanted that; I don't. The point is that I'm not going to assume that in the future they're going to want to spend as much time with me as they do now.

So, I have one 6-year-old. I will say the number one source of my hobby programming time over these past few years is sacrificed sleep, and while I feel it's been worth it, it's a finite resource. I'm in the back half of my 20's and feeling the age; I can't pull all-nighters like I used to. Thankfully, my son is also a little more self-sufficient now, so I find that if I've got some wholesome activities for him to throw himself into (Legos, visual art, writing, music, occasional movies) then I can find time to do my hobby programming. I also spend a lot of my spare brain cycles at work reading and having/developing ideas over time. Patience is key here - the idea for my current project came to me months ago, and it has taken a combination of reading, planning, waiting, and one all-nighter to get to the point where I can opportunistically use a 1-2 hour burst of energy in the morning / evening to accomplish something concrete. It's still not easy though, because at the end of the day you do need to relax and recuperate. I think I find this project relaxing to work on because I create a lot of pressure on myself to release it. If you don't have that pressure on yourself, you may not feel like it's worth it to use that time to work on a side project.

The thing I miss most from pre-kid days was occasionally having time and energy simultaneously. Now it's one or the other.

Excellent point! 2 or 3 times a year my wife offers to let me have a few hours off, but all I want to do is sit or lay down. Which confounds her, but she gets about 40x more work/kid free time than me, so kinda makes sense.

That’s a very succinct summation!

My kids are 7 and 1. I know what you mean about that burst of energy and motivation, and about how it gets plowed right back into the family and it’s needs. Frankly, I do little other than work and kids. And that’s okay. It’s a stage of life, and it will pass (and you’ll probably miss it when it does). It’s important to carve out some time for you and your spouse, for socializing, networking, etc., but be realistic about your expectations.

Dad of three kids + two dependents. One child special needs, no other income to dependent on. No degree, started in field at a late age after having two children.

First off, if I can find time anyone can.

I’ll be blunt. Sounds like you just don’t want to do it.

When you want to do something I mean you Really want to do something it will get done. Otherwise it requires discipline. Simple as that. No shame in saying you rather spend time with your family then work on a project.

I got married and had an “instant family” a wife and two sons who all needed my attention.

I made a rule shortly thereafter - no side projects. Anything we can’t afford from my main job, we don’t need. If I can’t learn skills that keep competitive while working 40-45 hours a week, it’s time to change jobs.

They are older now, but I still have the same rule. I spend my time on hobbies - not development side projects either for pay or resume building.

My kid is 2, so I've only had 2 years of this, but my experience is identical. I didn't get started in software until ~a year before she was born, so I definitely feel like I'm behind professionally because I simply don't have the time and energy to do all things it's implied you need to, to stay relevant. Socially, we've largely become outcasts—most parties don't start till 7 or 8 (otherwise known as bedtime for us), and we've only just been able to get our daughter to accept an evening babysitter for a couple hours at a time. I don't mind as much as I'm a fairly solitary person, but it's driving my wife insane. I'm lucky enough that I have a few very different projects to work on at work and enough room to play with them as I see fit to keep that side of my brain somewhat satisfied—if I didn't have that I think I would go insane!

If you are trying to work a full time job and then do side work on top of that, it won't happen with kids. Your full time job is even more important when you have kids because that's all the time you are going to devote to your career. You have to be in a place that's interesting and where learning happens at the office.

As for whether you have no life, well, I think this is life. It's far more fulfilling than when I spent my time outside of the office futzing around on somewhat productive hobbies that were ultimately not life changing.

The hardest part has been staying close with friends. I'm lucky there in that a bunch of my friends had kids at the same time so we all made the transition at once. Suddenly instead of going out to bars we all want to hang out on a Saturday afternoon with our kids. Without that I genuinely don't know how we'd keep our adult social life going.

Dad of a newborn here. I had to adapt. I had to make time for things that I want to learn. When I am on the train, now I take a book or even get work done on my laptop. I had to also cut down my netflix time to zero. I almost have no time left for physical exercise. Planning to fix that by getting a treadmill at home.

I have a NordicTrack foldable rowing machine. Fits very nice in an NYC apartment even. Haven't used it for a couple of months.... No kids, though.

I have been reading amazon reviews for the foldable ones. Not sure if I can trust them though. I have given rowing machines some thought. It will be a toss between the two.

One time I was watching some retrospective about the TV show MASH with my dad. I asked him what he thought about the show. He said he wasn't too familiar with it. I was surprised because the retrospective made it seem like MASH was extremely popular and a cultural institution for years. My dad said that, due to raising three young children during the time MASH was on, he missed most of the series since my parents had no time for TV, music, and movies. Later on my dad did get back into popular culture after the children were older.

I am now in a similar place with my own young child. I am totally drained after putting her down for bed and fall asleep within an hour or two. I'm not at a place where it's gotten better for me, but I know it gets better. Hope that helps.

Edit: typing out MASH correctly messes with the formatting on this site!

My kids are 1 and 3 and I feel like I get plenty of work done still. That was my biggest fear as I’m running a startup but don’t feel a significant difference on that front from before. My spouse is very supportive otherwise that would be much harder.

Oh and one of the biggest surprises for me was how much free time there was immediately post baby. I actually got a lot of work done because there was nothing else to do and I was bored out of my mind (both of our kids slept a ton in the weeks after being born)

As for personal activities? Definitely impacted, but only ones that took me out of the house on my own. Otherwise my gaming habits haven’t changed and I fit cycling in by taking my oldest kid to school on bike. Trying to just find new hobbies I can do with my kids instead.

> the baby just sleeps all day!

Be careful how liberally you express this sentiment. Many babies don't.

Both ours slept the majority of the day in the weeks after they were born, and that seems to be pretty common amongst my friends as well. Of course, every baby is different and YMMV!

The problem tends to be more that they don't sleep in long enough time blocks... So you get punctuated sleep. When my son was little we eventually adopted his sleep pattern as much as we could for naps to compensate for the broken sleep..

When he got a bit older, one of the highlights of the weekends was taking him to soft play because we knew it meant we'd get a nearly 3 hour nap afterwards.. The first time he came back from it and didn't fall asleep was soul crushing...

I have a 1 y/o and can see that this is the normal for a long while but it’s where I want my available time spent. I shifted my focus towards managing a remote team to build my ideas instead of building them myself. Truth is I quit giving a damn about knowing the lastest tech stacks long ago. I have more interest in building a business. Programming is not my profession, taught myself as a means to an end. So this shift is a good one that I needed to make. I just have a DIY approach when possible. The best thing is my time commitment is a daily review & feedback email and the other project management tasks. The down side is it comes with a cost; albeit quite affordable due to remote labor cost.

My answer is yes: I give that up, for now. My health —- and thus a proper amount of sleep —- is more important to me than side projects. I intend on o ‘sit this one out’: wait a few years until my kid is old enough so that I have more time again. Before I had a kid,I already prepared myself mentally for this possibility.

This works for me because work is already plenty interesting. Things can always be more interesting, but I have chosen to optimize for my health instead. I also see kids as an investment: raising them takes a lot of energy and pain, but long term return is increased happiness, reduced loneliness. Think about how life would look like when you are 70 and have no kids.

I made a change to go to bed when the kids do, i.e. around 8-8:30 and wake up naturally, which happens around 4-5. This gives me the same number of hours to myself as if I were going to bed later, but: they feel more productive because I am freshly rested, I can sip my coffee, and don't fall to the same distractions as at night. At night I feel my brain is a bit tired and more susceptible to just giving up and watching a bunch of TV or playing games. Also, at night there is no hard stop so I often end up eating into valuable sleeping hours.

Easier said than done though, been meaning to do this for 20 years and only managed to do it now.

I hear you, and I'm still at the beginning.

I have a 1-and-a-half year old. I'm very lucky because I work from home, my wife doesn't work and I'm in a good work-life balance situation (good company). The incredible advantage of working at home and being a Software Developer is that I don't need to sit at a computer all the time to do my job. Good chunk of it is thinking through a problem, I can do that while I lay on the floor and let my baby crawl on me ;)

That being said, I can relate. I end up an entire week where all I did was work, get groceries, get other stuff from somewhere else.

I did try to optimize my time though: when I'm in the washroom, sitting on the throne, I read 5-10 pages of a book instead of my RSS feed (I leave that to the moments when I'm too tired). That over the course of 1 years adds up, I almost finished 4 books, which is a lot with a kid!

I got a tablet to stream my PC there, so that I can play a few videogames when in bed, however most of the time I just fall asleep or play 30 minutes at most. I need 10 hour to get decent rest (the baby moves/do stuff during the night. Yes she sleeps with us, otherwise we would get 1 hour of sleep).

Audiobooks have proven very helpful, I listen to those when going to buy groceries, I manage to keep growing while I wait to get back my time.

What I'm missing the most is time with my wife. I mean, we stay all day together, but we rarely get to play something together. We recently made a big purchase: a board game table. This should allow us to play when the baby naps and keep the board game set, so hopefully we can go back to play board games without having to wait 4-5 years.

That's all the "wisdom" I have to offer. I bet you already figured out all of it since you are further in the parenting voyage, but in case you missed it, that's my 2-cents, hope it's of some help.

That being said, I do love my baby. Some weeks I really need that 1 hour of gaming or reading, otherwise I go crazy, but most of the time is either work or kids.

Some weeks I just need 10 minutes hugging with my wife, to recover lack of "us" time

Those years are intense. It gets better after age 6 or so. I remember when I moved into this house and the neighbors across the street had one age 8 and triplets age 5. When I saw Rick across the street in his front yard, that man just always looked tired :) Mine was 2.5 at the time.

Anyway, it gets better, and interaction gets more intellectually stimulating. Do your best to enjoy every day as it comes at you, because all too soon you will be parallel parking between orange cones in a big, empty parking lot, and soon after paying tuition bills to the fanciest school they can get into.

Yo, right here buddy. No regrets, but yeah, that’s kind of how it is right now.

Totally no regrets. And I don't blame anyone for anything. In fact I love my life with the kids and wouldn't trade it for anything. It just feels so surreal sometimes.

A few things helped me - part time child care/day care - putting grandparents to work, especially the first few months - wife cut her work hours - lots of YouTube as background distraction. I haven't seen any ill effects from screen time.. in fact he actually knows his colors, alphabet and numbers and he's only 18 months - get as much done during naptimes as you can It slowly gets better... Definitely a hit on productivity but less wasted time. I'm able to get at least 2-3 3h blocks of time a week to work on projects.

I have twins, they are 4, I do almost nothing other than work and be a dad. I struggled with that fact for a little while, but accepted it over time. It takes 100% of my effort to do my job, be a dad, take care of the house/cars/meals/etc, and fit in workouts and sleep. I typically go to bed immediately after them. My workouts are “dad workouts”, finely tuned brief basement fitness routine to try and stay fit enough to be a dad and somewhat mitigate the effects of a desk job.

If you can afford it, get comfortable with delegating. I also have a two and four year old. I have someone come over and do the dishes, laundry, pick up the toys and clean the house a few times a week. It has been a huge relief and now I get to spend way more one on one time teaching and playing with them. I can't say I understand what it's like to be a working Father. I'm a stay at home Mom with with a debilitating disease that can take up a lot of time and energy.

A good motto with kids is, if you can afford it outsource it. Part of what the US does not do well is provide a basic level of outsourcing (day care) to those who cannot afford to.

You are not alone. I also do have serious imposter syndrome. Not about work but about not being a good enough father. But as with work imposter syndrome, my head knows I am probably ok, it is meant to be hard. But I feel guilty for any time I spend on my computer and not playing with the kids.

However I always wonder how these robot parents do it, those that seem to be able to raise 4 kids, time to volunteer for PTA and kids sports, work full time, go to a gym, have hobbies, socialise, tidy house and look impeccable doing it.

When daughter number 1 came along it was hard. Cut down socialising. Gaming and coding only after 11 pm if not already asleep.

But then number 2 came along and it was near impossible. No socialising, no gaming, no exercise, not enough sleep, and no coding.

Though since I work as a contractor I have often taken a month or two off between contracts to both spend time with my kids and catching up with new tech. And lately not had full-time clients so been able to some personal coding during day time hours. Also if I have a client in London I have some me-time for coding on my hour-long train commute.

Though in September the youngest started school and suddenly the house is so much quieter. And daily routines are so much easier. We may resurface soon.

Have you tried getting a babysitter so you can go out at night and socialize? It’s expensive, yes, but well worth it.

100% in your exact shoes. With girls that are 9, 4, and 2, it is unquestionably the 4 and 2-year old that zap the vast majority of "extra" time, energy, and attention that could otherwise be going to many other things, such as hobbies, more time to exercise, hang out outside, think, start a company as a side hustle, you name it.

In terms of actual "available" hours to do what I want, it looks a bit like this:

Work ~10 hours (assumes some amount of commuting, getting ready, etc.) Evening/dinner/cleanup/nighttime routines (~2-3 hrs) Sleep ~7-8 hours

That leaves around 3-4 hours per day. Weekends are actually similar since that is a team effort of running the household and parenting along with my wife (And she needs a break too!). 3-4 hours sounds like a lot but the problem is that do you want to immediately go from activity to activity with no pause, no recharge time, no time to just "do nothing" and take a break from being around other people, tending to others' needs, work, etc. People need "recharge" time which might include resting, thinking, reading, or otherwise laying down and relaxing, with a spouse or not, or with a movie/show or not.

I can relate! I'm 13 months in with my first and while I love him to pieces and am very happy to be a father, ensuring he's cared for and gets what he needs at all times while also being there for my wife eats up a great deal of time and energy. I don't have any answers yet but hear similar things from friends a few years further ahead. The answer seems to be to just keep muddling along as best we can!

You're not alone. My kids are 4 and 9, and I've got a similar experience. Used to try and take on freelance work, but after missing some commitments, I've stopped doing that now as I don't have the time or energy for it, and take on very little freelance work now.

Still have the desire to build stuff and learn new technologies, and find myself watching random tutorials on YouTube sometimes late at night if I don't feel like watching anything on NetFlix.

It's been a challenge to get my kids into a good bedtime routine, so by the time they are asleep, I've usually got little desire to sit back down in front of the computer and actually work on anything else, including actually working through those tutorials.

Hoping things get easier when they get older and I have more time to myself again (and hopefully more energy) to work on side projects. Combined with working on stuff in my day job that isn't particularly fulfilling either for most of this year, it's a bit of a depressing predicament in some ways.

I'm right there with you. At about 915, after stand up and coffee I have this spike of energy that gets me into work and makes me think 'tonight I'm going to put aside two hours for x'. Where x is side project, exercise, date night, whatever.

By 7:30pm that energy is a vague memory. Often the best I can manage is not falling asleep while I put them to bed.

People talk about crowding out the bad with the good: don't make time for things, just do them and let the world mold around what you love. In this stage of life though, the consequence of don't this can be massively damaging.

Kids this age are relentless, if you push hard for yourself it can be very hard to recover. But in line with other comments, I can feel the change coming. At 2 and 4, the sleep is better and their needs on us are becoming less.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and this helps me recognise that right now just isn't the time to push hard.

I have 3 kids, all 4 and under. Exact same situation and I feel that exact same feeling. It's rare my spouse and I to find free time for hobbies. I find myself with a drive to work on things or learn that I never had before I had kids, but hardly anytime to do any of it.

I'm in a fortunate situation of having both my parents and my in-laws so close and that my kids love to have sleep overs with them. Those seem to be the only times where I have a decent amount of time to dive into something, but even then, there are still up-keep responsibilities and a desire to just rest during those times that causes that window of time to disappear faster than I'd like.

I don't have any advice to offer but just an answer to the question on if anyone else is in the situation you described. Just know you're not alone :)

My kid is in that age range and I'm going through the same thing as you.

I wake up at 4AM, walk the dog, get to work before 7 AM (some days as early as 5:30), work until 4 PM, get home at 5 PM, play with kid and eat dinner, get kid ready for bed and read to them, and then I have 30 min - 1 hour before going to bed. By this time I'm exhausted and when I try to do anything technical fall asleep 10 minutes in.

Our weekends revolve around my kid 100%. It is rare for me to be doing something besides playing with them or doing errands with them. I'm starting to see some independence though.

I really enjoy playing with my kid and it is a wonderful experience, but I've gotten out of shape and there are a lot of things I want to work on but never can. No hobbies right now outside of being a parent.

If you are working and commuting 10 - 12 hours a day it doesn't seem fair to blame your kid for lack of time.

I'd never blame my child and it isn't their fault.

Before they were born I had time to work out, put in more hours at work, go to movies and out to dinner regularly, time to read...etc. I now fill all that previous time with them. I don't regret it (not one bit). It does take a while to get used to though.

My local gym watches kids for up to 2 hours a day M-Sa. If you have similar options and want to do laptop work on a treadmill you could have an extra 54 hours per month to work or just, sit in a hot tub/sauna and not have to do anything, which is nice.

I have two kids (roughly 3 years apart), though compared to other parents, mine slept pretty well very early on.

I had to scale back on hobbies, but haven't given them up.

I wrote two books while I had small children at home, mostly while they slept and in the subway during commutes. I paused doing my favorite sport (table tennis) for about two years, and resumed afterwards.

It was harder for my wife, who breast fed (and my younger child wouldn't accept anything else). She had a harder time leaving the house on her own.

Wisdom is hard to come by from a sample size of one. I'd just recommend to reserve one evening a week for things you used to like to do, and do even if you don't feel it in the moment. Best to leave the house for it.

This is me now. I’m working on https://losthobbies.com because I think it’s a real problem for people. It’s hard to get back to your hobbies and interests when life gets in the way.

i don't understand what this service provides.

Thanks for asking

It helps people get back into their interests and hobbies that might have fallen by the wayside due to family or work commitments.

The problem I found was that I had been out of the loop for so long and found it difficult to find a starting point. My solution, or part of it, is to give someone a list of items that have recommended by people they follow on Twitter. This will narrow down their search and they could just get back into their hobbies rather than distracted by searching for something online.

Does this help? I’d love some more feedback! Thanks again...

It helps to make friends with other families and then hae pact of "one have all kids one day, other have all kids another day". Possibly with sleep overs.

Plus it will get better. The older they are, the easier it is. 2 and 4 is probably arouns low point.

I have two boys, ages 4 and 7. Here's my take: raising kids is not about you. It is a selfless thing that we do as humans because our DNA tells us so. Like others said, it will get a lot better. Just remember that what you do now builds the platform for your relationship with them in the future.

Believe me, I know how you feel. I have a basement full of half-finished projects that stalled out seven years ago. But, I've replaced those things with two little mini-mes that love football and trucks and travel. Looking back on the last seven years, I wouldn't trade them for the world. It's been awesome and it's getting a lot better.

Sure. That's just how things are when you have kids. You'll get better at management and they'll need less attention overall, but that's it you got your main project running now.

In the other hand, I never had such a fruitful experience. I can teach my kids. I can make them respect my daddy time. And I can let them help with the chores.

It all comes down to honesty. Honesty bro yourself, your partner, and your kids. If a side project is what you want to do. Tell everyone and make a schedule. The thing is, even if kids are the most fragile and beautiful part of a family they are but a part and need to understand that at some point.

It might be more difficult for you as you have 2 kids, but my approach is that there's a lot of interesting stuff to work on and learn that might align with your own kids' interests.

As for myself, just to name a few; I got the opportunity to build big stuff with lego, I learnt how to draw, got to know a lot more about mythology to tell him stories, honed my cooking skills, I even tried golfing (it was boring for both of us).

My kid at this moment is only 5, but I can say that my interests and myself as a human is greater than before. I might have delved deeper into some stuff if I didn't have him, but I think my perspective would be smaller.

The kids are your project right now, it pays off

Mine are 4 and 5 (with 13 months apart). I'm now BARELY holding my head above water. In terms of time allocation it's getting a bit better in the sense that I have more small time pockets for myself. But on the other hand it's getting more complex also (extra-curricular activities, etc.)

Sleep: it's better in the sense that If I get lucky and they sleep all night in their beds without coming to mine, I sleep for 7 hours, if not, then well, I don't sleep all that well.

Work: it's super hard and I work a few hours after everyone is sleep. I have tried waking up earlier but I'm using that time to try and hit the gym.

I guess the Indian system of living with your family comes to some use here. Kids are entertained and taken care of by their grandparents, cousins, etc. ever so often that parents do get a decent bit of time off.

It might be a similar feeling to getting a burst of energy late at night, right before bed time. Feeling like you're now ready to work on that project, but alas, you need to get up in the morning, so it will have to wait until another day.

The truth is, you weren't going to do that thing anyway. That burst of energy is an illusion. It's a defence mechanism to make you feel like you would be an extremely productive person if it weren't for your obligations. In my experience, if you take away the obligations from that scenario, the burst of energy disappears.

One day you might become a granddad. My socks, that I am wearing right now, have embroidered: "I love my grandpa".

You do have to lose yourself a bit for a while especially when the little loves are very young but there are so many repayments in kind if you notice them. Try and describe the first time your child looked into your eyes and you felt loved ... really, really loved and wanted and the best person in the world ever because you are dad and the little darling is ensuring that if mum is not around then you are the absolute dogs nadgers 8)

You are dad. You'll be fine.

My learning / hobbies turned around a bit. I now like to read stuff about kids, their mental development, hoe to stimulate their growth etc. I love it.

Yes, it's very different from the hobbies I used to have, but for my brain, making the kids a hobby/'project' works pretty well.

I do kinda agree with another commenter here that it does somewhat sound like you simply need more challenging / interesting work. My four day workweek is fun / challenging enough that I don't really need to do anything similar (i.e. write software) as a side project.

We have kids of 6, 3 and 0 and that's my experience.

It took some adjustment but now we have.. I really enjoy it. Playing games with my kids is fun, seeing them playing with their friends. Baking.

Our gym has a creche so I can still lift weights, read manga and get enough sleep (when the youngest allows it).

I don't code for fun anymore, but honestly I haven't done that for a long time. I've spent 30 years on computing, I keep up to date via work so my spare time is spent learning in other areas: history, the natural world, math, politics, physiology.. whatever interests me..

Just enjoy the time with them. You being a great dad is the biggest project you will ever work on. I'm not exaggerating. These kids will become adults and the good job you are doing now will pay off big time.

You will get your time back in due time. If you screw this up now, you wont forgive yourself. When you went to college (assuming you did), you probably focused on getting good grades. This is the same. Just get a ~4.0 in parenting, the rewards are massive not only for you but for society as a whole.

I can offer that I, too, have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and I’m often in bed at 9pm because I am completely wiped. I can offer that you are not alone.

The other thing I’ve learned is that all (and I’m banking on) is that none of these stages is forever, because right now I know I can’t keep this up. Like when my first child didn’t sleep through the first 14 months we thought we were going to lose our minds and then...he did. And it all changed.

So at the very least, this part is brutal but it will, at the very least, change.

My daughter will be 1 in a few weeks. It’s exactly that. Long hours at work, and at home nonstop her and house. I have about three to four hours a day, in the evening between 9p and 1am, to do something. That something is talk to / hang out with my wife, work on personal stuff, learn, shower, take a dump, etc. It is what it is, and works only if I have a schedule. I hope it gets better. It’s still definitely worth it, but really hard. Weekends are even worse, schedule-wise.

That is _exactly_ my life. Wake up early, kids, run out of the house, busy office day, get home and it's all kids until everyone is settled in bed and asleep by around 9:00pm (sometimes later). Then I clean up the disaster that was made in the house during the day. Now it's 10:30pm and I spend 1.5 hours trying to do something I want/need to do. Wash up at midnight and start getting to bed. Might be asleep by 1:00am. Rinse and repeat.

100% this. Throw in some obstructive sleep apnea for good measure and an unhealthy level of ambition.

Feels like just an impossible combination of things. Can't turn off the kids. Can't turn off the ambition.

AS they get older things might turn up better but yeah, once you have kids you are now only waiting to die while preparing your kids to carry the mantle of future.

Because this comment hurts a little, I believe there is wisdom in it. Thank you.

My kids are 3, 5, and 7. I feel your situation exactly. Luckily, I’m an early riser and have my creative bursts before most people are even in the office. I’ve learned to make my “me” time a priority but early enough that even on the weekends I’m still present and helping carry my share of the load around the house.

I’m usually up around 4:30 and have the dog walked by 5:30.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest means I’ve got plenty of light by 6 and I go hit the archery range or take the dog for a longer hike through the woods.

In the winter it’s pitch black til 7 so I go to the office earlier.

Go to my office between 5:30-7:30 where I’m going to focus on learning something new, side project, hobby project, etc. til 9:30.

Gym at noon (most days), home by 5:30. I don’t even try and do mentally taxing work after we get the kids to bed (around 7:30). Usually it’s helping cleanup, hanging with the wife, TV, and asleep by 9:30ish.

Because life is life, some mornings I’ve got the dog walked and am in the office by 5, sometimes I’ve got a meeting at 8, or have to take kids to school.

On weekends I do the exact same morning routine except I’ll be on the computer at home and usually no gym.

There are plenty of times where I’ve got a good flow going and my alarm buzzes at 5pm and I just have to tear myself away and get home.

Traveling is what kills me. My morning routine sets up my whole day and gets my head where it needs to be. When I’m traveling for work it’s not so bad because I hit the hotel gym and usually get even more morning time to myself. Traveling with the family (like over the holidays when I’m staying at the in-laws) leaves me jumping out of my skin without the physical and mental exercises I’m used to. I haven’t cracked that nut yet, but I’m really trying to not be such a dick about it to the wife this year.

EDIT: I forgot to mention the most important part! I’m definitely still working on this, myself. I found that really jumping in and ACTUALLY participating with the kids is a salve for that mental itch that seems to not be getting scratched when I am obsessing over something in the back of my mind. Building LEGO, kicking ass at Guess Who, etc. can still be pretty fun if we just get over ourselves and let go. Or if I REALLY still want to take the dog in the woods, bring the kids with and it’s a whole new adventure.

2 kids here (10 months old and 2 years old). The early morning schedule has been key for me too, it’s the only way I’ve found to get a consistent 8-9 hr workday in while still being around to help with breakfast, preschool dropoff, and dinner. I try to be in bed by 8pm, read for 15 mins to help quiet my mind, and try to be asleep by 8:30pm. I get up around 4:30am and can usually get a solid 1.5-2 hours of focused work time in before the kids get up around 6:30am.

Haven’t found much time for anything other than parenting + work, but I switched to biking for a portion of my commute so that gives me 40 mins/day of exercise every weekday (except when traveling).

Your point about participating with the kids also resonates with me. It’s easy to be grumpy/impatient after a tough week at work followed by a long night of multiple wake ups, but some of the best days I’ve had since my 2nd was born are when I manage to hit the mental reset button in the morning and get myself back into a state of mind where I can still have a good time with my kids.

Edit: also, I’ve found that getting up at least an hour before the kids do, even if I haven’t slept well and in principle should probably keep sleeping, helps me keep my sanity.

It changes dramatically once they start school. You'll probably be thankful you spent the effort you did when the opportunity was available.

I don't have kids. But I have three generations now of friends with kids. What you are going through is completely normal. Small children take everything you can give and then some. You have another couple of years and it'll get a lot easier. First off you won't need to watch them constantly. And then they get friends of their own and you'll get some free time back.

I have a 1 and a three year old and I’m going through the same thing — if you make a good tech salary, a live-in au pair is surprisingly affordable compared to full time day care for two kids and it has helped us so much. Not just for day care while you’re at work, but just little things like watching the kids for a 15 minutes while you run to the store or if you just need a break.

My three kids are now 17, 15, and 12. And yes, of course it gets easier as they get older. They learn to do more and more by themselves, want to enjoy their friends, and grow more independent. By the time they get there, you'll start to miss when they were younger and needed you more! smile

So, just enjoy it while you can. It's one of the BEST parts and you'll be happy you did.

Kids take time away, but it is what it is. Because of family circumstances and the ebb and flow of business I’ve become the primary caregiver of my 3 children, all under 5 years of age.

I’ve put my professional life on hold to kick start my children’s lives. I fought against it until I realized this was an opportunity I’ll experience only once in my life for a relatively short amount of time.

Enjoy the ride.

Same for me. Kids are 1.5 and 4. I used to do so much just hacking around, and now it's non-existent.

As far as bedtime/sleep stuff: I pretty much just wind down after the kids go to bed. Meditate if I haven't got that in yet (or maybe do a shorter session if I have and am feeling stressed). Read. Then try to get to bed early enough to give myself an 8-ish hour sleep window.

I have a 5 and an 8, and I can tell you things get better in terms of time savings and enjoyment at a few stages:

-Potty training

-Social play with other kids

-Full time school


-Interest in Legos and games

I am still coming out of an eight year productivity valley (and my wife's of course was worse), but as Paul says, it's worth it. For me two fun things are when they beat me at a game for the first time and when they say, "Look what I made!"

I really just look forward to the day when my kid can be unsupervised in another part of the house without an appreciable probability of some stupid coin-swallowing, furniture-toppling or power plug licking death.

Right there with you triangleman. My guess is that PG wouldn’t have written this when his kids were your kids age. A 2 years olds life is 100% dependent on your attention still. Now I can comfortably look at the tired in a new born parents eyes and say been there. Hopefully I will get to the PG point when my kids are both in school.

You pretty much sum up what I am going through. I'm optimistic things will improve. I think one of the more practical aspects of this essay was about "work finding a way". For me, that means an hour to 2 of quality focused time some evenings to counteract the brain fog during the day that makes me less productive.

I was very happy to be a Dad. Up til around age 8 I was 100% focus on family / work. Side projects, consulting, friends, video games tanked.

It's gotten a bit better. (My daughter just turned 10) It's more like 95%. And each year I get a sliver more back. I think that in a few years more it should shift even more dramatically.

Yep. That’s about it. That feeling of not being able to do something, but not being able to do nothing. I keep imagining that when they grow up and leave home I’ll have an almighty outburst of productivity as I get cracking on all the thoughts and ideas I’ve had that haven’t made it far up the priority list.

Your story is my story. And I am positive the story of most dads. When you have young kids to take care of, you absolutely have no life.

However as my kids grow older and they need less care for daily basic stuff, I find myself get more motivated. I have to provide for them so I am absolutely motivated to be more productive.

For the first few years I spent more time thinking about projects rather than actually implementing them. Often this pays of in the long run as you have a much better design by the end and save all that wasted time when you change part way through a project. Plus it made me feel better.

I have twin babies who are 2 years old. No matter now much you plan, nothing prepares you for life after a child is born. I agree that you do not get time for 2-3 years after they are born, but weekends become better as children become older and are able to play on their own.

Agree completely. Have found that, in addition to the bursts of energy, I've honed my already-refined productivity and organizational habits to the extreme as a result. Hoping these will retain usefulness/accuity after we get through the early childhood years.

Your story is a clone of mine (4 and 3 by now) I don't tend to hear others with older kids as the only to know it is to live it. So my cent is to wait patiently for the next stage. Until then enjoy this one till disgust, so you will not miss something nice.

Remote && part-time is the solution you're looking for :)

I recently saw a study that showed your happiness goes down relative to adults with no kids for most of the 18 years they live with you but then goes up after they leave

There have been a series of studies demonstrating that happiness of parents with l children at home is lower than non-parents.

However, if I remember correctly, parents with children at home also tend to have higher degrees of life satisfaction or meaningfulness, even with lower happiness.

Think about having kids as like starting your own start up which you want to invest in for years to come and will very likely IPO with huge investment one day.

Time passes fast, you will have plenty of time, you would want to spend time with them but they will be busy with their stuff. First 3 years are the busiest.

From my experience, I also had energy before having kids, but otherwise I can relate. Kids are just super high maintenance in their first years of life.

Find a way to feed your passion while you feed their minds - I think that's the best advice I can offer. All there is to it is to do it.

... and the everything is about the kids.

Think that’s your problem right there. Kids can and should learn to entertain themselves.

You’re prioritizing your family. Your kids will not demand as much direct attention in another 5-6 years.

I became completely disinterested in my career and decided to make a career change.

It’s a temporary thing. Once they hit five or so they require less direct help.

Your kids are more interesting and fulfilling than any work project you'll ever do. If that's not the case, pour that energy into making your kid project more interesting.

Where are you getting this overly broad statement from? Don't imply your own particular experience is what even comes close to being the case in other situations. People are different. What floats your boat or my boat is not universal or even close to that. There are plenty of people doing plenty of interesting things (or for that matter ordinary things) that are way more exciting than 'the kids'. And no the answer is not to pour energy into 'making your kids project more interesting' either. I'd even say it's the opposite. Don't feel you need to hand feed kids the experience. A parent has many responsibilities not just giving 100% to their children (or even close to that) the way I see it (and once again from my experience going through that with children).

Now that said sure if I worked at a job that I didn't enjoy or did unimportant work that was boring I'd probably think it's pretty exciting and find kids very interesting.

There's a cheesy saying that applies here. The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it. If your children aren't there most interesting thing you do in your life, then water the grass on that side of the fence. You owe it to them and yourself. Otherwise, why bother having children in the first place? 20+ years and hundreds of thousands of not a million+ invested in a project that just isn't that interesting? What a terrible waste.

I can relate, but no wisdom here.

Damn. This is me!!

I empathize, having been in a very similar position, but it's time for some tough love. You need to grow up and deal with your life as it is now.

You are getting 35-40 hours a week of structured time at the office away from your kids and you're complaining about not having enough time to absorb your "bursts of energy"? Only a "couple hours" to think about something interesting before getting 7 hours of healthy sleep?

You aren't having "absolutely no life". On which planet do people get to have 2 tiny kids, work full time, then have a jam-packed evening full of "freelance clients, learning/hobbies and interesting stuff"? Your expectations are just fabulously off-beam.

The good news is that you're at Peak Kid in terms of how much time they take - in a couple years they'll be at school, and a while later, you'll be looking at them wistfully wishing they needed you to entertain them all evening like they used to. I have 2 kids (13 and 16) and while they are not stereotypical sullen teens, they are almost too capable of entertaining themselves. One of the secrets of parenting is to let yourself enjoy each stage for what it is as far as that's possible (modulo scary events like illnesses and injuries and so on), not sit there waiting impatiently for the Awesome Next Phase of parenting when the workload is lighter or the kids are somehow "better".

I would suggest that if you have the luxury of a structured 35-40 hour work week (who is looking after your kids then, I wonder) that you find a job that can absorb the bulk of those bursts of energy and doesn't leave you thinking you need to work on something interesting for a couple hours. I joined a startup with a fun algorithmic problem and would often think idly about NFA matching and the like while watching the kids in the early AM (my wife called me, mildly exasperated, "notebook guy").

You are right, of course. My work is already quite rewarding so I do need to work on tempering my expectations.

Thank you. I will try to enjoy these moments as a parent more.

I'm glad this wasn't too obnoxious - rereading what I said did make me feel that I could have worked on the tone. A good deal of my irritation in that "missive" is directed at myself - I used to be one of those "I can't wait until X" parents (last diaper, last interrupted night of sleep, last faceplant on the sidewalk while learning to walk properly, etc.). But now I look at toddlers in the park and wish I could change another diaper or soothe a crying baby or bandage a knee one more time if we could have more of the good bits too.

Not to over-romanticize it all; I've had scary hospital visits and known parents with colicky babies who were genuinely run to the very limits of exhaustion, and parental depression is a real thing. I don't want to make it sound like everyone should find every single day of parenting an unmitigated delight ("or else you're doing it wrong, and are probably a way worse parent than I obviously am in my infinite wisdom").

Long story short, make your work meet your work needs as much as possible, ideally in 40 hours or less.

Ouch, I need to follow this advise I think. 3 children ages 2, 8, and 11.

This is something nobody can answer for you. Kids are all different. Some are low maintenance, some are extremely high maintenance, and it's a roll of the dice as to what you can expect. My kid was extremely high maintenance in his first few years, and remains high maintenance for his age to this day (he's 15). So for the first 5 years or so both career and personal life were basically put on hold, and our marriage very nearly fell apart because we felt trapped. I have friends whose kids just do the right things all on their own though, so I know for a fact not all kids are high maintenance.

2 kids (3 and 2months old). Since having our first, combination 3 new jobs, 3 international vacations, countless domestic travel and daytrips, both working and continuing to progress in both careers. My comp has grown ~3x while my wife ~50% (2 mat leaves). We both learn more now than we ever dedicated to before having kids.

Let me know if you want to chat offline.

I have 3 kids, 1.5 year apart, and I can completely relate. Not sure what kind of wisdom I can give you though... besides getting a baby sitter as often as possible

20 month old here. I go to bed at 8pm and get up at 4am.

i can relate. its pretty horrible.

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