The Lonely Life Of A Stay-At-Home Parent

I’m not someone who usually feels lonely. In fact, I’m more than happy – and often prefer – being on my own. As a stay-at-home dad, the question of whether I ever feel lonely is something I’m asked relatively often – hardly surprising considering that my company comprises of the toddler, dog and TV. My usual answer is that I don’t.

Recently though, the occasional feeling of loneliness has begun to creep in. It’s not every day and it’s not something I’m particularly worried about, but I guess I’m becoming more aware of it. By my reckoning, it’s been exactly ten months since my first day as a stay-at-home parent to Toddler L – it’s not a lifetime, but it is a significant amount of time of just us two (obviously ignoring the fact that the missus is around in the evening and weekends).

But when I reflect, my current situation isn’t actually something that new. I spent all of the missus’ maternity leave at home too – just me, her and the sprog – so that’s actually 19 months at home everyday with the little one. Going further back, it’s nearly three years since I left my last ‘proper’ job after the company went bust and I started freelancing from home. That actually means it’s around 1,000 days ago since I had the set routine of daily adult interaction in an office. 1,000 days.

Throw in the fact that my parents aren’t on the doorstep, that we live in a random town where we have no roots and that my friendships with both uni and work colleagues have diminished over time, it’s no wonder I can sometimes feel a little isolated. Hell, just reading the above makes me feel more depressed and lonely than I was before I put finger to keyboard!

Lonely life of a stay-at-home parent 1

I hardly have it bad though, particularly when compared to others. There’s very little restricting me from doing things to make myself feel less lonely. For instance, I’m able to drive, I have money, I’m healthy and I’m fine speaking to people – four things, which I’m sure isolate other stay-at-home parents and create feelings of loneliness. My issue probably stems more from laziness and general can’t-be-arsedness. Oh, and people tend to annoy me!

Don’t get me wrong. We still go out and do things. It’s not like I keep Toddler L locked up in the house like a modern day Rapunzel as I listen to the timeless classic “All By Myself” on repeat. I could have adult interaction if I wanted it – at our weekly Water Babies and Tumble Tots classes, at a playgroup, at soft play or hang out where the local school kids chill. Actually, scrub that last one as it sounds a little too paeodo-y.

What I’ve found though is that this random adult interaction doesn’t really fill a void. On the whole, it’s just meaningless conversation – usually about your kids – which does nothing to provide that closeness, shared interest and bond which we look for in relationships and friendships. In fact, it can actually do the opposite and make you feel even more alone.

I think that’s where blogging has helped. Not only does it act as a source of income and keep my mind busy whilst I do stay-at-home dad stuff, but it’s allowed me to feel part of a wider community. During the 20 or so months that I’ve been blogging, I’d say that I’ve genuinely made some good friends online. People who I want to talk to. People with shared interests that transcend children. People who get my humour. A huge group of individuals acting as a community and providing advice, conversation or a meme.

Lonely life of a stay-at-home parent 2

But this feels like it’s changed too. One look at my Twitter timeline and there’s very rarely any conversation now. Just a bunch of bloggers pushing out content, more concerned about clicks than chats. I’m not having a go, I’m guilty of this too. However, recently, it feels like I’m having less and less online conversation – the stuff that was probably keeping me from feeling lonely in the ‘real world’ as this filled a gap.

So, where does that leave me. I’m not quite sure. I’d usually finish a post with a witty quip or some kind of lesson learned. For this post, I don’t have one. Just a little niggling feeling of loneliness and isolation as I reminisce about the past. As I say, it’s only something I feel very, very occasionally. Hopefully it won’t become more frequent. I wouldn’t change our decision for me to become a stay-at-home dad. Perhaps this is just part and parcel of the gig.

What’s your experience of feeling lonely as a stay-at-home parent? Did you struggle with feeling alone and isolated whilst you raised your kids or did you have a strong support network? Let me know below!

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  • Kirby

    As a stay at home single parent the loneliness is a big thing. Most of my friends don’t have children and so I rarely see them. I do a couple of toddler groups a week with a couple of friends who also have toddlers/babies but like you said that short adult interaction doesn’t do much to curb that feeling. I have an amazing support network in the shape of my family, my best friend, who unfortunately lives a good 2 hour drive away, and close friends but there are sometimes when it’d be sooooo nice to have someone to talk to other than a 2 year old & 3 cats! ?

  • Totally get what you mean, it can be really lonely! I’m starting to feel it less now my 2 year old can hold a conversation, as I’m not just baby talking all day haha. We definitely need to bring back Twitter interaction! xx

  • Mummy on a Budget

    I can understand the loneliness. I relied very heavily on a small set of other new Mums at the beginning and then they all went back to work. I dreaded the days when Mr MoaB was working if I didn’t have some sort of action plan for getting out and about with my LO. But the adult interaction all revolved around her and so even when out, it could still feel that I was on my own. I started working again in an office recently and it’s been so nice to have adult conversation and banter etc. It’s something I worry about as I’m about to go on maternity leave again, so will be back to lots of days at home. I love the blogging community as well as it makes me feel connected with people and know that others are in the same boat.

  • I can’t say I know how you feel, I get to go to work on a daily basis and get to interact with non-child like people. My wife on the other hand has only spent 10 nights away from a child or children in almost 8 years! I cannot comprehend that. My feeling of isolation and loneliness is more a sense of rejection; I long for me and Vikki to spend time together, but her reluctance to be separated from the children makes me feel very lonely indeed. Great to read a serious post that can provoke so much emotion.

  • Separately, please get rid of Disqus! This was such a pain in the arse to post on a mobile.

    • Donna Wishart

      I agree completely. Disqus is pants!! Get shot of it Dave!! x

  • Donna Wishart

    I think that Twitter has changed tbh – and as bloggers get busier they have less time for the chat. That’s my excuse anyway. I schedule 4 tweets each day for the new posts that go live that day and don’t really look at Twitter until the following evening. But I’m glad we get to have banter on FB 🙂 If you’re ever lonely, start a random thread on FB and you will stop feeling lonely within minutes – I guarantee it! x

  • Totally understand how you feel. I live 200 miles away from family, I can’t drive but luckily we live in a fairly well-connected area so I can get out and about. I find other mums in my area are quite hard to approach, if we go to classes and soft play bar the odd hello they all seem to already know each other and so I find it hard to join in. All of the people from our ante-natal classes have returned to work as well so I don’t even see them a lot now. It’s one of the reasons I started blogging. I can definitely see a change in twitter as well, there’s far less converstation and more promo/scheduled tweets which is a shame as I prefer it to facebook.

  • DadvWorld

    I can see where you’re coming from. I’m really lucky, our house is a 10 minute walk and 2 minute drive from the town centre. Not that I often go, but it’s there is I need it. I also have nearly all my family in the same town. I do however like spending time alone. Alone meaning, me and the boy. I try to see it as time I may not get in the future. Too soon will be the time he doesn’t want to give me hugs and kisses or make me wear his spiderman mask or play boxing and kick a ball around. Right now I’m the coolest person he knows, soon I’ll be the uncool dad who serves purpose of taxi and bank roll only. Other bloggers do like to talk….. Aslong as you like their page, follow them and leave a comment on their blog lol !! DadvWorld 🙂

  • onemanandhissprog

    I think it’s particularly tough for stay at home dads starting out in a new town as there’s neither social ties nor are they as readily offered compared to mums. Over the 20 or so months I’ve been doing this gig though I’ve got to know a lot of other parents so most activities will feature a familiar face. That said it can be tricky to sustain a conversation when toddlers are constantly demanding attention. It does change over time – now preschool features short daily chats as we wait to pick up and I can talk to my daughter about a lot although it’s often about cops and robbers or doctors and nurses!
    I agree about Twitter – I’ve actually got a post about it in drafts that I might try to polish off soon.
    And do give me a shout if you get too stir crazy with your own company.

  • I didn’t find I was lonely until I had my third child. I made a tight group of friends early on which was great but when I had number 3, they were going back to work and later didn’t want a toddler hanging around. That combined with pre school and school pick ups, made doing classes near impossible. Infact i wrote a post about it a couple of years ago and not much has changed since. My OH working away doesn’t help either. I guess for you, there are less stay at home Dads as well. You are right about twitter. Less conversation and more post pushing. It is a shame x

  • Well written. I think everyone who does anything everyday all day, whether that’s a go out of the house job or a stay at home job, like parenting, can feel lonely. I think if i didn’t go to playgroups and have my blog id go crazy. But I’ve never really had many friends

  • Man vs Pink

    I certainly found it tough in our town at the start, as the more churchy groups were pretty conservative and no one would talk to me. But tbh, I was mostly keen to make those connections because of the kid, she was the age where she increasingly needed interaction with peers. One of the reasons my wife and I decided to switch roles was because I’m pretty happy in my own company, and let’s face it the baby years are often like that as your child is less person more demanding grub! Tat aspect gets better. I also think the fact it’s winter doesn’t help – more time inside and months of dull cold days doesn’t help with feeling good (he says writing smugly from sunny NZ). Anyway, dude – let’s grab coffee sometime…

  • Dave I absolutely related to this, particularly with my first son and moving out of London and far from close friends, it’s tough bonding and like you say a lot of the classes involve meaningless chat, just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you’ll click with parents. I have missed conversing more on twitter and have started chatting a lot more too. I will always share my posts etc but that friendship and camaraderie which makes it so wonderful is definitely lacking more. Anyway let’s meet when I’m next in London and you’re free OK x

  • Frank Priegue

    I can relate, because I am a fellow SAHD. However it does help to have a non-baby related conversations from time to time.

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  • mummyofboygirltwins

    I completely agree! I was a working ‘career woman’ before my twins and so desperately wanted to be a SAHM when they arrived. Mostly it was amazing but it is very lonely. I think social media and blogging saved my sanity!!! Still does! 🙂 xx

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  • Harry’s dad

    Spot on. I’ve just done my first year at home, although I do work on Mon and Tues to keep my sanity!! The worst is feeling like you’re a divorced dad whenever I go out with little ‘un!
    Just starting to find my feet and it’s certainly easier now that Harry is more mobile.
    Just enrolled him in a gymnastics academy so we’ll see where we go with that.
    Cool blog by the way!