Loneliness after the kids go back to their mum

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  • #63284 Report


    I have been a single dad for about 7 years. I co-parent with my ex, I have the kids all weekend every other weekend, and for a single night in between. I work in a school so I get plenty of extra time in the holidays, term time it’s difficult as we live about 30 miles apart.  I now have a good relationship with their mum, but that did take a few years to happen, for a while we couldn’t stand to be in the same postcode!

    Recently when the kids have been with me for the weekend, and they have been picked up, I start to feel really unsettled and restless. I guess it’s a bit like empty-nest syndrome? I pine for them, I end up spending time in their room, I don’t know why, maybe to feel a bit closer to them while they are away? Nothing I do helps, I can’t find anything to watch or listen to that will distract me. I just kinda feel low and a bit sorry for myself. The next day I’m usually back to myself and I’m counting down the days until I see them again!

    I’m looking to see if there are any other dads that feel this way? I’m not excluding mums from commenting at all, so please feel free to share any advice or experiences you have 🙂

    #63286 Report


    Hello Franko,

    it is probably in fact loneliness. I remember it well. And even still, when he spends the weekend with his mother, I have to force myself, not to think too much about it. After hitting the same road block that you seem to encounter, I spend a good time to find a way to handle it. In my opinion, it all boils down to the emotional imbalance. When little one is here, I am forced to be 100 % present. Everything is under pressure and time is the rarest commodity at hand. Usually there aren’t many choices to make, and one thing leads to the next. It is a bit like A&E in a hospital. We are a team and everything just works hand in hand. And then I have to let go. All responsibility is taken away and due to the separation it means a complete shut out. It is like he is going to the end of the world. No contact until he turns up again. Mentally, it is like he is vanishing from my world.

    The French call love ” le petite mord”, the little dead. Because you can’t live without the other person. You cease to exist as a single individual. So it seems to be a healthy feeling, the underlying problem, the separation, is producing. You love your child and you miss it. Since I figured that out, I concentrate on the love I feel for the children. This makes me feel calm and composed. I can enjoy the time without the children, the eldest one is at Uni now, so an even bigger step when it comes to separation, and still function very well. It is all good.

    #63294 Report



    it’s very normal to feel like that, especially if you have young kids. way I try to look at it is it’s now my time off, my rest days. can chill out and be ready for when the kids are coming over again. try to keep yourself busy. theres lot of parenting/dad groups on facebook etc.

    #63295 Report


    Hey, sorry I’m not a dad or even in a similar position to you with child care arrangements, however I do get the feeling you explain all too often. I also work in a school, which is great to juggle work around my 4 year old son, however unlike you his dads very inconsistent with visits. He can go from seeing him 2 evenings and 1 overnight to nothing for couple of weeks. This means my life revolves around family time and work commitments, leaving little to no time for me. I do have a great support network offering to help, although I only take up in these offers when I have plans, they do insist sometimes when it’s for a special event or play date. Although I appreciate these unplanned times and know I should be making most of them, I can’t help but feel lost in the house myself. I end up lieing about, watching the clock, counting down the minutes until he returns. I’m not sure if this like a guilt for not spending time with him when I’m free, especially as he already has to be looked after while im at work all week, this is when I have to tell myself he’s enjoying himself experiencing things u can’t provide him with. I’ve tried numerous things to keep me busy, but housework or school work just isn’t fun, that’s when I decided I needed a hobby I could do in the house myself. I started doing jigsaws again, they’re time consuming but need so much focus, the time just flies by without realising. Also gives me a wee fresh start as I have cleared my head without realising it. Sorry I can’t be of more help, however just know we are all feeling the same and try to find something you enjoy to focus on.

    #63310 Report



    When the kids leave perhaps plan to go and see a friend or family member, even if it’s just a phone call.  A happy presence in some way might just be the pick me up you need during these down moments.  The following are all good mood boosting activities: eating chocolate (in moderation, of course!), exercise, relaxing Radox baths, planning something enjoyable and positive, mindfulness, connecting with nature, etc. I do think what you are describing is pretty normal for all single parents who co-parent.  You tend to miss the energy children bring along with them! I hope my advice is helpful in some way. Have a great day! 🙂


    #63341 Report


    Dear Franko

    I’m so sorry you are struggling with this – I know the feeling well.

    When my child leaves me, I take some time to make myself some tea, i get comfortable and then I write in a journal all the things I don’t want to forget from our time together. The funny things they say, and what we have done. It may seem silly, but if you keep doing this, in a few months you will have a lot to read back through and it will make you smile. Doing this occupies you, makes you relive your time with child, and helps you to keep those memories.

    It also helps me reflect how I’d do the things that didn’t go well differently – we are all still learning!

    Lastly, I use this time to prepare for the next time. I gather info for craft projects, games, ways to connect. I plan and make sure I have everything we need to do a fun activity, and then when my child is here I know we can do it. It’s fun and engaging planning for them. They are with you in mind.

    I hope this helps Franko. Doing constructive things for your children will help you when you’re apart.


    #63525 Report


    Babette put it so well- I was going to say similar.

    I get the same feeling and (when I actually have time!), I try to put it into something positive for the kids, like:

    buying them a present, researching books they might enjoy, planning to cook their favourite meals, writing them a note, even folding their laundry and making their stuff clean and tidy, searching tickets for nice activities, organising parties or playdates, just generally planning lovely stuff for them!

    It turns the sadness into something much more joyful.

    #63606 Report



    I am a mother and my daughters father wants 50/50 which I am trying to work with it feels too much for a 5yr old to be away from her mother for that long. But I totally get the importance of both parents in bring up the child as best they can together but separate. my daughter is with her dad tonight 2nd night in a row  this is so hard from. I can’t get anything done worrying about her. So helpful reading your post and also understanding the situation from both a mother and fathers view. I don’t think there is any right or easy way. I am getting better and getting stuff done for her when she’s not here. One sleep and I see her again. Also I could relate to you spending time in the kids bedroom I was sleeping in her room to feel closer to her but not anymore. Sending you much understanding  and finding inner peace.

    #63866 Report


    Hi all,


    I just wanted to thank everyone who replied. It was a relief to know that I’m not alone feeling this way, that in itself actually made me feel a bit better!

    I will be trying out all the suggestions.


    Thank you



    #64064 Report


    Dear Franco

    your feelings are normal and I used to go through the same , in fact I still do in occasion.  Always remember you are your own person and although you may feel lost its temporary.  Like lots of people have said spend some time on you and don’t feel guilty about it.  You need to start building a life outside your children  of your own.  Go back to who you were before children…

    I am a absolute 100% advocate and supporter of 50/50 co parenting.  We live in a society that needs to encourage and be equal regardless.  It’s a fallacy to think only a mother can bring up a child and they needed to be with the mum more often.  Both can provide the same equally, gay marriage with children, bereavement can lead to a child being with only a dad but they do well and they will succeed.

    I fought tooth and nail to get 50/50 because my ex wife believed that a mother is more important, misses the children more etc.. I called it out and I know have 50/50.  It’s hard and it’s a challenge but I want my children to see and know that I did what I can to be an equal parent to them.


    my advice is if you miss them and want to co parent go for it.  If this is not for you then build a life for yourself


    I hope this helps. Just another angle


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