Parenting and the Big Mental Energy Dip

During my late teens and early twenties I had an incredible amount of energy. And I would mostly put that to good use. When I was a parent it collapsed incredibly hard, but the good news is, it does come back! This slightly self-absorbed post (sorry about that) is written to celebrate that but also as an encouragement to other parents.

I've always been blessed with a lot of energy to get things done.

1 - When I was 16-18, I worked 20+ hours per week while being a full time high school student. I also set out to watch all IMDB Top 250 movies within a year or two. On many weeknights I watched 2, 3 or 4 films after 9pm. I would go to bed around 4am and be at school at 8:20am. Healthy no, but it was fun and I did it for a long time. I never finished all 250, but got really close!

2 - At ages 18 to 22 I went for two full-time university degrees in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence simultaneously. I also started my own company, joined two study groups and had plenty of parties.

3 - Between 22 and 25 I started working, I learnt new computing paradigms, started a tech blog for the awesome company I had joined, I kept studying part-time and did an incredible amount of side projects. I also switched from Cloud Engineer to Product Manager and again partied a bit more than was good for me.

But then at 25 I got my son, a true bundle of joy. It was hard work but I still managed to have a decent work/life balance (in favor of work). When my wife got pregnant again and delivered twins at 27, things changed. My work dropped down to mostly 9 to 5. I was always tired. Side projects got replaced by watching Netflix and falling asleep next to the kids when putting them to bed, if I closed my eyes for a second too long.

I saw this meme and something didn't feel right:

I should be an adult (check) with no time (check) but with money (no, because I joined a startup, had 3 kids and was a single income parent) and energy (erm, no, I was exhausted). At this phase of my life it felt like I had nothing of the three. It wasn't awful by any means, but very tiring.

But then around 2020/2021 I noticed I began to pick up more side projects again. I started exercising for the first time in my life, I started meeting up with friends much more. When I started freelancing the money also got a lot better. The kids are now 9, 7 and 7. A year or so ago I was taking care of them on a Saturday but fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up the house was eerily quiet. I felt like something was wrong and I should be worried but also like nothing was wrong. That's when I realized my kids are old enough to take care of themselves, and they are now OK to run around the neighborhood. It really was the end of an era. Still no time, but money and energy: yes. I also have three amazing kids to spend the energy and money with ;)

I have to say it feels good to be back. If you are a struggling parent: it will get better.


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