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!
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.
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![jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Like what you’ve read? Want more? Pop in your email to get all of the latest posts.”]