Nikita Kazakov
Nikita Kazakov
7 min read


Today is the second time I celebrate Father’s Day. Truth be told, even though I was a father last year, I didn’t feel like one because I was dazed and confused from taking care of a young baby. It’s since been a year and I’m happy to say that on this Father’s Day, I do feel like a Dad.

There is a stark difference between my current mental state and from what it was a year ago. For the first few months, it was my duty to care for my child. Young babies give minimal feedback; they haven’t learned how to smile or show that they are satisfied. They cry, drink milk, pee, poop, and sleep. Through trial and error, I wrote about strategies I used to maintain my mental health while caring for my newborn.

A friend told me — Nikita, it gets better. I promise you.

I’m glad to say that he was right.

Daycare and Sickness

I did not expect my kid to have so many sick days while going to daycare. It’s true that daycares are germ-factories.

The good news is that their bodies are learning how to fight off germs early. Kids who don’t go to daycare don’t get sick as often, but that changes when they start school. They’ll initially get sick more often than kids who went to daycare, because their bodies haven’t had the same practice in dealing with germs.

You can’t get around it. Get sick now or get sick later.

One major benefit to being sick later is that toddlers are less fragile than babies. For example, if your baby gets RSV, there’s a small chance you’ll end up in a hospital. If your toddler is over 2 years old and they get it, it’s less likely they’ll end up in the hospital.

New Skills

It’s incredible how fast babies pick up new skills. I remember when my boy couldn’t sit or crawl. He learned to sit. He then learned to army crawl. With encouragement, he learned the full crawl. He then transitioned to standing and then to walking.

Each one of these transitions gave my boy a new freedom of movement and exploration. Watching him progress and seeing the satisfaction on his face when he succeeded brought joy to our hearts.

You know how people root for their sports team to win? It’s like that but deeper because you’re actually involved in the life of your little human.

He’s now crawling up the stairs and is slowly learning to come down from single steps. When your child succeeds, you feel that you succeed.

Days are long, months are short

I’ve heard this from several Moms — The days are long but the years are short. I first heard it during my first month as a father and I secretly wanted to respond — shut the hell up. I still maintain that this is NOT what a parent wants to hear during their first several sleep-deprived weeks.

However, I now see what those Moms meant. I don’t know about years but I fully agree that my boy is growing up quickly and that the months seem short.

I highly recommend parents to take a bunch of weekly photos and videos of themselves and their kids. I look back at the photos I took six months ago and I’m surprised by how small my boy was. Without photos and videos, I wouldn’t be able to see his physical growth.

Self-care is critical

Because I’m only human, I still have days every few weeks when I’m feeling low-energy. Keeping a regular weight training and running schedule is critical to keep my head from turning to mush.

Exercise takes priority over work. If I’m physically and mentally ill, I cannot take care of my boy and my family, let alone work.

Lowered Ambitions

I talked about Patrescene as the process of becoming a father. I’d be lying if I said my goals are the same as they were before my boy was born.

My life slowed down. I can’t keep trying to catch all the fish in the sea. I have to focus on only doing things that seem important to me in this stage of my life.

When my boy goes to bed, I don’t spend long evening hours working on a side gig. I spend an hour or so eating dinner with my wife, watching a show together, and on some nights, I fit in writing.

I’m in bed at about 10 pm. I’m not a night person and my creativity is shot at night. I could try to push through and work late into the night but that would mean depriving myself of sleep. Nothing is free. The tradeoff is not worth it to me.

I realize that this stage of my life is not permanent and my capacity to take things on will increase in the future. Still, slowing down was a hard pill to swallow.


Cuddling, roughhousing, and engaging in free-play with my boy is one of my favorite things to do. At 14 months, although they are not speaking yet, they can understand and they give you feedback with smiles, laughs, and cute babbles.

We have a structured routine around bedtime. Before going to bed, we’ll play hide and seek, and read. My boy will run to his closet while I hide, and he’ll come out and happily find me crouched on the side of his crib. He’ll laugh and giggle from the tickles I give him.

These moments are truly genuine. There’s no farce or pretense. You can’t help but smile and laugh with your toddler when they are genuinely happy.

This is exactly how mother nature tricks you into wanting more kids.

Hormones are a hell of a drug

The first month as a father, I was pretty damn sure that I was one and done. Six months later, I was thinking that I could be convinced to have another.

A few months later, we’re pretty sure we want to have more children.

Hormones are a hell of a drug.

I also realize that this doesn’t apply to all people. There are folks out there there are happy to be one and done and that we all walk different paths in life.

I can’t sleep-in

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up after 7 am anymore. My boy wakes up between 6:30 and 7 am and I’m up to get him ready in the morning.

I tend to be a morning person and my wife does better in the evenings. It made sense for her to be available to our boy at night time and for me take over in the morning.

Morning person or not, I still miss sleeping-in.

Having a dependable spouse

I can’t imagine being a single parent and doing all that we do together as a family by myself. Having a dependable, capable, and a loving spouse is critical to our journey as a family. I’m very lucky to have found that in my spouse.

I wrote an article — Should I have kids? Advice for my younger self — where I mentioned how critical it is to find the right partner to have children with. I still stand by that advice. All I wrote in that article still stands accurate for me today.


Having extended family who are happy to participate in the life of your child is incredible. My boy has grandparents who love seeing him. It’s a blessing that his grandfather lives very close and visits him almost daily.

It’s a blessing for us as his parents because when the winter months hit, sickness is abound at daycare. That means we have to juggle work and taking care of our boy at home. When our boy is sick, his grandfather saves the day by coming over and looking after him while we work.

Seeing how advantageous it is to have a supportive extended family, I further solidified my thoughts on the idea of a nuclear family.

Thoughts on a Nuclear Family

It’s a flawed idea and there’s a reason why much of the world doesn’t use this limited family structure.

A nuclear family is a family that consists of a father, mother, and their children in a single family home. It became a common family structure in 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in the US. The nuclear family model was sustainable at a time when families could thrive on a single income. We’re not living in those times anymore.

We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families

– David Brooks

A nuclear family means that grandparents live elsewhere. The only living role models children see at home are their parents. Look, I understand that if extended family is toxic, it’s better to keep them away. However, why would you keep away family that wants to be involved and help grow your family? It makes no sense in my mind.

The more kids you have, the harder it becomes to give necessary individual attention to each child. Having grandparents participate gives you breathing room. Grandparents are an extension of you and become extended role models to your kids to further build up a cohesive family.