Transitioning to becoming a parent can be one of the hardest things in the world. You lose a lot of your autonomy, a lot of your identity, and a lot of your freedom. At the same time, you have an entire human to keep alive, healthy, and happy. It’s a lot to get used to.
And while some of these things will return to you over time and as your kids get older, some things will never go back to how they used to be; you will never be the person that you were before you were a parent. Some of that’s a good thing. Some of it is worth mourning.
And one new dad of a 1-year-old is struggling so much that he went straight to Reddit’s parenting community to ask a very scary parenting question: Will he ever get his old life back?
Or is it gone for good?
“I have a lovely little boy, he’s awesome although has his moments,” the dad writes candidly. “I was expecting my life to change when we decided to have him — I have just turned 33 so I feel like I have reached the age to stop going out on the piss with my mates, etc. That’s fine.”
But now he’s struggling to get through the days, and he doesn’t know when there’s an end in sight.
“My little lad is 13 months now and I am struggling socially,” he confesses. “Every day feels like ground hog day my week days consist of: Get up, to work, come home, play with blocks then bed. My weekends are the same, except I don’t go into work. My question is when does it get easier? Everybody I speak to laughs and says: ‘It doesn’t get easier.’ Thats not helpful, it’s one of those really frustrating answers where people think they’re being comical.”
So, he asks the group to give him the hard truth.
“Realistically, I know my life has changed forever, but at what point do parents find that they started to get their life back? Is it simply when your child is old enough to entertain themselves for an hour or so while you do your own thing and take a break?”
Down in the comments, some parents tried to give him an age to look forward to — with many saying that things got easier when their kids started interacting more, or when they’re out of diapers — around 3 or 4 years old.
“Rest assured it does get easier,” one popular comments reads. “I found that from 3-4 you can start to (try to) reason with them and from 5 it’s noticeably better and then progressively better each year. I found it exhausting from 1-5 but now look back with fondness wishing I could spend time with my toddler kids who no longer rely on me so much.”
“My oldest is 4 and it’s great,” another added. “We can actually take her to things during the day and she’s pretty interested in everything. Can’t wait til my 9 month old gets to that stage and we can all have more activities all together that don’t involve me just trying to keep them alive.”
Others said that 7 is when things start to get fun.
“About seven or so, when they can start doing more stuff for themselves,” one dad posted. “Like bath time goes from being an hour long ordeal of constant lifeguard duty to just ‘did you use soap?’ Lunch and breakfast is, ‘there’s food in the kitchen, if you’re hungry that’s on you.’”
Others, though, had tougher love for the dad. They tried to explain that his life has been altered for good and he’d better get used to it.
“This is your life now, OP,” wrote one person. “I mean, sure — once they’re teenager they can be left alone at home and sleep in, but teenagers also bring other worries that make you want to go back to baby years where you’re more tired, but where you had total control of what was going on.”
Still others in the comments encouraged him to change his attitude, and his approach. They gave him advice on how to keep living his life even with a baby in it.
“Best thing you can do is be an awesome dad, take him everywhere, play sports, watch movies, walks, get a strider bike,” one dad recommended. “Kids can do a lot when they are young; I took my kids skiing regularly when they were 3. And before you know it he’ll be like your best little pal and you’ll find out it’s a lot of fun being with him, teaching him things, and doing things together. It’s tough when they are that little, but enjoy that ride too.”
Another said it sounded like he needed to do some child care trades with mom so they could both get their alone time and hobbies in.
“Work something out with your partner about each of you having personal time on the weekends,” one helpful dad suggested. “I thought structuring the weekend this way helped in the early years: Family time Saturday morning/mid afternoon, together time until nap time. Saturday afternoon: Dad has dad time, mom assumes care of kiddo while dad gets out of the house, 4-5 hours. Home in time for dinner. Sunday breakfast together, then mom goes out for her 4-5 hour chunk of personal time. Sunday afternoon is open, but generally used for chores and downtime at home. Incorporate date nights when you can, but definitely help each other get alone time!”
It’s so important to remember that parenthood is hard on most everyone, and dads can have an especially hard time. Our best advice? Invest in some alone time, self-care and your village, especially in those tough early years. It’ll pay off in spades.