Parents in tech, how do you balance your time between coding and playing with your kids?

twitter logo github logo ・1 min read

First off happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there in tech! As far as I am concerned, parenting is the hardest job on the face of the planet. As well as the most rewarding!

I am highly passionate about coding and I have a side project in the works outside of my normal job. I try to spend as much time on it as my family deems fair.

If you are anything like me, how do you balance your time between coding and your family? Do you pull late nights or super early mornings? Do you ever feel guilty about coding when your kids are around? Or do you just code at work and call it a day?

twitter logo DISCUSS (14)
markdown guide
 

Before having kids I would always be coding. Nowadays extremely rarely outside of work hours, either because I'm with the kids or I'm doing something I couldn't do because I was with them.

But since I realised how little time I would have after having my first kid (no one told me before!) I've always looked for ways to be learning / studying / "working" on interesting problems when I'm doing other mindless tasks. I've tried a bunch of things. Started trying to learn subjects that don't need a computer like mathematics (I have no CS background) or economics. Listened to way too many podcasts or watched OCW courses while doing the dishes. All of that would work for a while but eventually led to a vague general knowledge about a bunch of things which I didn't feel was amazingly useful.

These days I'm just using anki to memorize anything interesting either related to work or whatever I'm interested in at the moment. Have been doing that for a year and can say it's worked wonders for my learning appetite.

So I guess I'm never coding, but always computing :)
.

 

Oh this is so good! Your advice is wonderful! I am going to start at the top.

What you said that really stuck with me was how no one prepared you. I sympathize with you. More than I can put into words. My world was turned on its head, granted in a good way, but still upside down. I think that if people really told the truth about having children, no one would do it 🀣. I am not complaining here either, my kids are my world. I just wasn't completely prepared for the new world.

Your passion for learning is extremely motivating. I am grateful that you have shared what has failed for you. I will actively try to avoid the same pitfalls.

That being said, I have never heard of anki. I am going to look that up, but first, do you have any tips that you would not mind sharing?

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, I really appreciate it!

 

Ok I just looked anki up. I am overly excited about the prospect of this. Much better than wasting my time playing Toon Blast. I needed to get rid of that anyway. 🀣

I do have a couple questions for you. Do you have any tips on what you put in your cards? Is there a specific format that you follow to increase your time investment/comprehension?

The reason I ask, I have only ever used "flash cards" for things like vocabulary (I should have done more...) so the idea of using it for other areas of interest is intriguing.

Thanks again!

 

Oh, do I have a reference for you:

Augmenting Long-term Memory by Michael Nielsen was a life-changing article for me. It is quite lengthy but well worth absorbing. It discusses the key importance of memory and how it's been looked down upon in education, how to use Anki for totally new knowledge as well as disciplines you're more familiar with. It outlines strategies for using Anki most of which I follow almost to the letter. I could (should!) write a full article on how deeply it has changed my habits and beliefs around memory, but it would probably be a shallower version of that article, so do go read that one.

Around the time I discovered that article I also took Coursera's Learning How to Learn and that was also really useful and motivating for lifelong learning. I didn't find it required a huge time commitment and it has paid off immensely too. Really recommended.

I am so thankful that I asked. You delivered on much more than I could have expected.

I will be tearing into that essay today and taking avid notes. Thank you so much!

I will also look into the Coursera course. I stumbled on that a few years back but I never got fully into it. Sounds like I need to take it again.

Thanks again!

 

I'm married with 8 kids under 12 years old. Most people can't even imagine what my life is like πŸ˜‹

That being said, I don't have much time.

Yet, I've got lots going on in terms of side-projects.

I (hardly) ever work on Sat or Sun since that's all family time. And, I can't do early mornings... sooo...

I work remote, so I usually take my lunch break as a chance to work on a side-thing.

And, I just work late nights whenever I feel like I have something I should work on... after everyone is in bed.

πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

 

You are an amazing person. I feel completely overwhelmed half the time and I have two. You have 8... I need to reevaluate my perspective on life 🀣.

I can imagine that you don't hardly have any time at all...

I am really happy to hear though, that there are others that just try to squeeze in their extra time. Time that is not necessarily scheduled for family time. You are an inspiration to be able to handle all of that with such a large family!

I too, pull a lot of the late nights. Thanks for sharing and making me amend my views on what being a busy parent feels like!

 

hahaha Ya either way, it's all about (like you said) squeezing it in somewhere πŸ˜‚

 

For me it all depends on productivity. I schedule my days accordingly thanks to flexible work I do as DevOps Engineer.

I pull shifts from 8/9am to 5pm, no coding till kids don't fall a sleep 8:30-9pm.
Then if I feel like I need to learn, code or research something I stretch out my day to around midnight as my wake up time is at 6:30am regardless.

On some other days, I would switch. Get kids to school, pick them up from school 4:30ish , bring them to Karate, do playtime-dinner etc... and once they are in bed 8/8:30 I go to bed at 9-10pm but I wake up around 5/5:30 do some coding and start with the new day.

It really depends on many factors throughout the day. The main thing for me is that I get 2 days a week 7-8hrs of sleep and other days I sleep 5-6hrs. For some people (mostly born in 90s/2000) that seems to be wayyy too low, but to be honest I hate sleeping more than 7hrs, as I feel more tired and low on energy. Been sleeping 5-7hrs for past 2 decades.

To sum this whole thing up back to that word 'productivity'.

If I feel like i'll be productive for that 2-3hr period of time I have, i'll do it. If I don't feel like doing any coding, i'll watch a movie or read a book to relax a bit and get my mind off ${environments}

 

That is great that you have the flexibility to move your schedule as needed. I am fortunate in that as well!

I really love that you have put time and thought into your sleep schedule. This is something that I need to incorporate into my life. I am similar in the fact that I hate sleeping, and I function very well off of little sleep. However, the benefits of planning your sleep could be so beneficial.

I am a bit of a productivity nerd at heart. So I am compelled to agree with you in everything you say here. I just need to take my productivity outside of just coding and learn to apply that elsewhere. Thank you for time in responding to this.

Quick question for you. Do you actively plan your day to day, as in a schedule? I don't necessarily mean your work time either. For me that is pretty planned out, but when it comes to free time, I feel completely disorganized.

 

What I can plan I will, but as you know things change rapidly. I do try to stay committed to something I chose to do , like right now dancing and gym.

Makes perfect sense. I am just trying to get a grasp on what works for others. My hope is to perfect my usage of time. Thanks again for the ideas!

 

Sam, I feel you on this, and I know we both lead busy lives. I do alos have this problem juggling my two kids along with side projects, new learning, and my personal hobbies.

I'd tend to lean more toward the late night coding session as I can manage to do that more than the early mornings, since I usually wake up at 5am to get ready for work, I just can't really get up much earlier and get anything done.

Most times that I have attempted to get up extra early, I end up hitting the alarm and not having the motivation while half asleep to follow through on getting up. If I stay up after the kids are in bed, I'm at least somewhat alert, and can accomplish some stuff before it gets too late.

I find that both attempts really do create burn out though, and so now I mostly code and learn new things during lunch breaks, and on the weekends.

Typically I will try and get up at a decent time on Saturday and Sunday to get "me" time where I can code kid free, then once the kids get up I'll dedicate the early afternoon to playing with them and doing some laundry/cleaning around the house. Then at night I'll dive back in for a bit around when the kids are getting in bed.

Hope you had a great Dad's day!

 

Adam, I wish that I could send you more hearts. Thank you so much for answering my question in such detail. And thank you so much for making me feel as though I am not the only one.

I am in the exact same situation friend. I would rather spend their hours awake with them, rather than in the basement on the computer. So I too, pull a lot of late nights.

I feel you on the early hours. I wake up at five as well to commute to work so I can be home at a decent hour to play with them and spend time with them. Because unlike your situation, I am blessed with a flexible schedule.

I get the feeling of burnout. I just feel like for me that I have to push through that.

Man we are living the same life. I am always the first one up in this house. Your comment made me smile, and feel at peace. Thank you so much for sharing. I can't express how much this means to me.

And I did have a great Dad's day, I hope that yours was better!

Classic DEV Post from May 7

Personal and Professional Growth Through Constructive Feedback

If you are constantly questioning yourself about your personal and professional growth that means you are already off to a great start!

Sam Ringleman profile image
Software Engineer && Husband && Father I suck at typing. I drink way too much coffee. I always love a good dad joke.