Dev parents, how do you do it?

Sloan on August 24, 2019

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usuall... [Read Full]
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I've written and deleted my answer like 4 times now ... because I'm trying to answer you without writing a dissertation πŸ˜„

Let me say this: As a mom of 2, I would never EVER give back the fact that I am a mother. It's the singular most incredible achievement and calling of my life. Having said that, I completely understand and applaud anyone who says they do not want to have kids. I consider it a blessing that such people KNOW that about themselves, why? Because parenthood is as selfless a calling as they come.

I wish you deep wisdom as you make your decision. Good luck either way ❀️ πŸ€— I blog a lot about the intersection between motherhood and my transition into tech arit.dev

 

Like @msarit , I've tried a few times to write this. Someone once said, and I'm paraphrasing, that the point of parenting is not that adults raise children, but that childen raise adults. Parenting pointed a searchlight at my own childishness and immaturity. I'm a better adult for the experience.

For example, I remember feeling an enormous amount of jealousy toward our first child when he was born: now there was another man in my wife's life who was demanding all her attention (and getting it!) No longer was I the centre of her world. Having kids forced me to grow up. I was 30 years old. It was about time.

Now, I'm down the other end of the demographic spectrum with my 60th birthday a little over a year away. My kids are adults themselves. My career is no longer my ultimate reality -- the thing I sacrifice anything and everything for the glory and advancement of -- and arguably never should have been. But would I have even realized that without having been the dad I have been and still strive to be?

 
 

My speaking career has really exploded and I am consistently getting asked to talk at conferences.

I think this is an area you might be able to look for more vertical growth instead of horizontal. Instead of looking for more speaking engagements, maybe you could angle towards being selective, getting more noteworthy opportunities, and generally saying no to more stuff.

Otherwise, it seems like our industry is becoming more and more flexible in terms of remote-first organizations which might give you a lot of your time back, conferences which offer better childcare than they used to, and generally more compassion for how parenting and careers need to work together.

I don't think that "compassion" is super evenly distributed, so I can't say it's better for everyone, but if you're in a leadership role, if you're getting these opportunities, understand that you have the leverage to have the career and personal life of your choosing. You will likely face new stigmas, but you'll also find new opportunities.

I'm 30 years old and not a parent, and not a woman, but I think about some of this as someone who may become a parent and would like to help make this industry a better place for moms and dads. So that was just my 2 cents.

So take my thoughts in complement to @msarit 's reply and everyone else who may come at it with a different perspective.

Here's a comment that may also be helpful from @kaydacode 's wonderful post

This is a topic I have soo many thoughts about!! ❀️

I've had 3 children during my career as a developer & an extended 7-year stint as a full-time mom, only working very part-time on dev projects during that time.

These problems are very real. And unfortunately the challenges compound if you have more babies. The 'pregnancy-brain' (a horrible mix of nutrient-drain, dehydration, sleep-deprivation, distraction with thoughts & worries, and the exhausting hyper-alertness you have when taking care of young children & babies) only compounds on itself over time.

And time outside of our rapidly changing industry is difficult.

The good news is that it isn't permenent. Your focus will return both with proper self-care (drink water, sleep, recuperate nutrients) and as your children grow less in need of hyper-vigilance (approx 2-3yrs old).

My focus is fully back, and I used my out of industry time to binge a ton of learning resources & tackle projects I'd never have done otherwise.

Not to mention my 3 amazing sons. Worth it x 1000!

We need to talk about this more, to normalise & raise awareness of women's issues in our industry. Creating life, has some side-effects on our professional lives - that is very OK & should come with support from our colleagues & employers.

This is the perspective of someone who took a substantial time devotion full-time parenting and still came out of it with new perspective and opportunity that wouldn't have had before.

My focus is fully back, and I used my out of industry time to binge a ton of learning resources & tackle projects I'd never have done otherwise.

Still coding, still taking part in the community, still finding new career opportunities, and they seem to say it was worth it. πŸ˜„

 

I have a 1.5 years old baby, I’m Tech Lead in one of our company projects, I have a babysitter taking care of my son from 9 to 6 when I work as much as I can and then I leave my computer behind and spent my time with my baby. Weekend are also family only time, basically a baby give me a better work-life balance.

I occasionally talk at local meetups where I go with my son and partner.

A baby will negatively affect your career only if you let it do it. Most of the time it will not and you will be happier than ever spending time with it.

 

It's incredibly challenging. But you have to decide what the most important thing is for you.

It's just like accepting speaking opportunities. Those more than likely pull you away from some other area in your life, wether it be alone/recharge time, time with your partner, time with your friends. You are giving up something to get something.

I have 2 girls with 1 more on the way. The last 5 years have been some of the most challenging in my life. But I have learned so much! I've transitioned from being a full-time contributor to now leading our entire engineering department.

Everyone sacrifices different things. For me it's been side projects and basketball, which is one of my favorite things to do. But that being said, I've still pushed to make time for it, and now that my girls are both over 2yrs old, it's much easier for me to schedule that time for myself. It just looks different than when I was 25.

You did ask for honest feedback, so I will say, my advice would be to remove all other variables and decide if you really want to be a parent. Your job will more than likely change. Your hobbies will more than likely change. Your child will be your child for the rest of your life. I think you just need to decide if that is something that excites you. If it is, then I would say everything else will work out.

Benefits I have seen:

  1. My kids have helped expose my areas of weakness and selfishness. Much like my marriage did for the first 5 years without kids.
  2. My wife and I have become much better partners in life because we have faced a lot of challenging times together.
  3. Not many things in life have brought me more joy than connecting with my girls.
  4. I get to watch classic 90's kids movies with them! 🀣
  5. Truly disconnecting from my work and 'grown-up' life during play time with my kids bring out joy from deep within my heart.

Downside:

  1. It's much harder for me to have 'me' time. I recharge during alone time, which means I have to get up super early, or leave the house for that to happen.
  2. Waking up with a baby in the middle of the night just sucks really bad. But it's only a season.
  3. Traveling 'can' be harder, but some people overcomplicate it or make it seem impossible to travel with children.
  4. I'm a very focused person, so working remotely from home is very challenging, but I choose to go into the office because it's easier for me to focus there.

Kudos for being vulnerable in your posting this and asking for feedback!!

 

From someone who'd like to remain anonymous:

I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice and tips from parents here. I
want to answer from the other side of the spectrum - as someone who
had a big battle in thoughts until fairly recently, and eventually
settled on the decision NOT to have kids.

I am 36 years old, and similarly to you, I love my life, my career,
but also the overall freedom and flexibility that not having kids
provides. I met my husband quite late in life (just turned 30, he's a
year younger) and that has impacted a lot of things too. Around the
similar age as you, so still fairly early in our relationship, I
started having similar doubts. Should we try to have kids? Neither of
us was really terribly excited about the idea, but we also felt a bit
"if not now then when". At the same time, we had so many things we
wanted to do and kept postponing trying to conceive. It just never
felt the right time.
I went through a phase where the "clock ticking" sounded really loud.
Even then, the idea of motherhood did not sound very appealing. I
mean, some kids are okay, in small doses, but the pregnancy, then
birth (I'm absolutely terrified by this), then the period with no
sleep, infant crying when you don't know the reason... I think I'd be
much more likely to think about having kids seriously if I could get
them at around 3 years old.
Basically, my whole thinking back then was around the lines of "I
still don't really feel the need to have kids, I am still not sure if
I want them - but if I ever do want them, I kind of need to get into
it NOW".

In the end we had more and more conversations, more and more often
saying that well, maybe it really is not for us. And once we finally
settled on this, I felt such an incredible RELIEF. That I can stop
thinking about it, stop reconsidering, stop obsessing about it.

You say you didn't think you wanted kids, but you're reconsidering
now. You don't say what made you reconsider - is that you actually
feel you do want to be a mom, or is it just that you feel the clock
ticking (now or never). You also completely don't mention the
potential father - what does he think, does he want to have kids, or
is he indifferent, or maybe you're thinking of being a single mom
through in vitro or something similar.
When you talk about "informed decision", I can't help but wonder if
it's a sign that maybe you are still not fully in the "I want kids".
When I watch other parents, it's very clear that in order to have kids
you have to sacrifice, a lot. Things will change for you, there is no
question about it. Yes, of course people make it work, of course it is
getting better - and of course (most) parents say it's worth it. But
you will leave your previous life behind, and there'll be something
very different on the other end. I am not really sure if it can be an
"informed decision", where you look into "pros and cons" and the pros
outweigh. Because I'm not sure if from pragmatic / cold perspective
this "calculation" can ever come out in favour of kids. From pragmatic
perspective - there are soooo many cons and limitations and drawbacks

  • and yet, and yet, people decide to have kids, because deep down they simply know that it's worth it, for them.

But I think the whole "worth it" is very personal. Since I settled my
decision, with a bit of "but what if I change my mind", I've come
across more child-free-by-choice people. Some of them quite a bit
older. All of them say they don't have any regrets. Of course I'm sure
equally there are some that do - maybe they prefer not to hang out in
certain places. But the point is, it is possible to go through life,
not wanting/needing/having kids, and be completely fulfilled.

So I think ultimately the question should be: do you really want kids?
If you do, you have your answer, you will make it work, no matter the
challenges, just like thousands of people do. And conversely, if you
still don't feel you want it and it's more of "but what if I miss the
time when I can do it" - it's a personal choice. But for me, I decided
that "fear of missing out" is not a good enough reason to bring
another human onto this planet.

 

I can relate to that and I must say that I exchanged a lot of time that I previously used for mentorship, public speaking, conduct workshops, etc. for time with my family and I don't regret it. Those things are something that will always be there, but the kids are growing so fast that you want to enjoy every moment :).

 

If you decide to have kids, you'll have to make sacrifices. And that's fine.

Whatever you do, it comes with a cost and an opportunity cost. You only have that much time and energy. Does this mean you'll have to give up your career and public speaking? Definitely not. Maybe you'll force yourself to find - as Ben said - better speaking engagements. Maybe you'll force yourself to work not harder, but smarter.

If a career means to you - I don't judge or even imply - working 50-60+ hours a week, then yes, you'll have to give that up if you want to raise kids.

Of course, there are parents, who barely see their kids, but I think if you have the choice, it's better to be part of their lives and let them be a significant part of your life. Hence I use the expression raising kids. In my view, there is a big difference between having kids and raising them.

You can also consider another aspect. You'll work for decades. For long decades. You'll still have plenty of time to speak even more and work even more than you'd ever want. While having kids in older ages is a possibility, but it has both some dangers and probably more cons than pros. (I speak only of personal experience.)

I don't think you'd be perceived less seriously with kids unless you'd be the dad/mom who does nothing but shows his/her phone around the office with their little ones all day long. :)

While being a parent is a difficult job, more difficult than writing code or speaking in front of hundreds of people - at least to me -, I didn't regret and I can only encourage people not to hesitate and not to be afraid if you ever want a family. But that's something you should know!

 

My wife does most of the parenting and I do the working.
She hates it every time I have to do a talk but I'm going to do it anyway because she has to accept I have to do them (because that's what my brain tells me to do)

So I just have to pick and choose my events carefully and ensure their high impact.

So I can't do as many events or meet as many people as I like I just have to put more effort into each and everything I do.

 

From someone who'd like to remain anonymous:

Hey Sloan thanks for posting this and hey to the anonymous person! I hope in the end you make the decision that makes you happy and keeps you happy!

I am a father of two extremely energetic boys, one is 5 and the other is just over 1. I am a computer science teacher by profession and love programming on the side as a hobby and some personal work.

I love my children they are a blessing in my life and this is something I could never regret! They make me happy at sad times and annoy the hell out of me at worst of times :-)

I have my set 8am to 4pm Mon-Fri work, as soon as I come home I find energy to speak to them, cuddle them, basically make time for them no matter how tired or tied up I am.

There will be sacrifices needed to be made that's just how it is. As I am writing this I have been interrupted four times (now six and counting) by my elder one, he's got questions about cars, what's faster a Lamborghini or a Ferrari? Why didn't I buy a Sport's style Audi instead of a Saloon :-)

Yes it has taken me probably twice or more times longer but that's the juggle I have to do when I am at home. I may have to put my laptop to sleep in a moment to see if the toddler is stuck under a table and then continue when I come back.

This isn't about my life around children, I just want to point out that this is what my life is like now and I love it, yes it is different but good different. I embraced it with many sacrifices, these sacrifices are my investment to my children.

Life changes when you have children, cherish it! Give up some work if you have to for the children. They bring better happiness I promise!

Check this video if you haven't already.

bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-39232538/b...

Good luck and God bless!

 

If you really want a kid then do it now.

You can speak and work when you're older, but having kids gets riskier with every year.

It is a lot of work and will probably be the biggest challenge of your life, and it will impact your career heavily, since you'll be out for at least a year. But it's also the best thing there is and ultimately the reason we're all here.

I'd say after the first year it gets easier to leave it with the dad, babysitter, kindergarden, grandparents for longer, so you can take up talking and working again.

 

You can do many things for your career and have kids. I have two girls. Not a problem. It's only the wrong mentality and the lack confidence that can hinder you.

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