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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
I know plenty of people who had kids later than 36 (including my own parents and my in-laws).
I have some news for you chap.
- 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.
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
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).
(And I think the question was about before :-))
> 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.
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.
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.
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 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!
Weren't humans nomadic for the vast majority of our history, with agriculture (aka villages) coming about only a few thousand years ago?
There were still human groups such as the BaMbuti living nomadically into the 20th century.
Not every comment needs to disclaim its privilege because the author speaks English, is literate, and has access to the internet.
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.
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).
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.
I'd go so far as to say that not sending one's child to some kind of playgroup before school age is irresponsible.
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.
What is the correct amount of time according to you? Keep in mind school is off maybe 14 weeks of the year, plus weekends.
Why start/stop at the initial decision, when these issues go so much deeper.
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.
> 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.
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.
I too wonder why anyone would want children if they don't actively want to spend time and raise them.
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.
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.
They don't hang out with the parents after a certain age, and they don't helicopter 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.
Grandparents etc were much more involved then compared to now.
Presumptuous much? Have you met a wide range of homeschooled kids?
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.
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.
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.
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 meditate on this idea quite a bit.
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.
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"
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is it a house that needs renovation?
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.
-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.
Regarding travelling, to each their own. Remember though, seeing new things and meeting new people is what broadens horizons. No need to even take a plane if you don't want. Simple driving trips to start are a great way to begin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And as a father, I totally get what he means.
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!
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.
Have you found a way to balance family life against hobby life against work life for you and family? I am still searching.
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
Both of us knows what we are good at and how we can help contribute to our family life.
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.
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?
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.
But the author didn't double-space the lines so they got run together
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.
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.
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.
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 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".
"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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That's one harsh sentence right there.
After I'm dead, my kids can continue my work better than I could do it myself.
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.
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!).
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 ;)
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.)
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.
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.
E.g., love well.
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.
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)?
Of course, you didn’t really have the same things to study either, so it might still work out positive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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 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 :-)
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.
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).
So yes they need lots of time now, but when they don't you'll miss it too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 
> 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.).
 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.
Your posts are riddled with these very wrong assumptions, insinuations, conclusions, and pointless diversions.
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.
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!
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
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.
Be careful how liberally you express this sentiment. Many babies don't.
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...
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.
Easier said than done though, been meaning to do this for 20 years and only managed to do it now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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...
Plus it will get better. The older they are, the easier it is. 2 and 4 is probably arouns low point.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
Feels like just an impossible combination of things. Can't turn off the kids. Can't turn off the ambition.
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.
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.
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.
So, just enjoy it while you can. It's one of the BEST parts and you'll be happy you did.
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.
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.
-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!"
Let me know if you want to chat offline.
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.
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.
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 that’s your problem right there. Kids can and should learn to entertain themselves.
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.
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").
Thank you. I will try to enjoy these moments as a parent more.
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").