If you’ve just had a baby and love writing code and doing side-projects chances are that you are going bananas because all that time that you used to devote to coding is now GONE. BYE. Sayonara. Here’s some solicited advice from yours truly.
Note that this is under the premise (which I believe to be true) that doing things that you love, taking care of yourself makes you a better person, a better father or mother. In my case, after a few minutes of having some alone time to code or do something fulfilling I felt happier, energized and ready to go back to parenting with a smile in my face and heart.
Most of this advice will probably feel self-evident as you read it. The first 6 months felt like I was in a haze, everything was a blur, a fog of exhaustion. I remember sitting one day drinking one of those horrible, horrible powder coffees (no energy to make real coffee) while Teo was asleep and telling my wife: “This is the first time I feel awake, like me, for the past 6 months. What the heck…”.
Having a baby is tough as hell, words aren’t enough to describe it1 as you may have already experienced, so:
- Don’t have any expectations that you’ll have time to do any coding at all. Expectations are evil. No expectations, no chance for broken expectations, no chance for additional stress, anger or irritation. See every bit of “free” time as a blessing from the heavens. Embrace it and thoroughly savour it and enjoy it.
- When you have that “free” time don’t waste it browsing twitter, or instagram, or facebook, or any social network (Unless you really, really enjoy that. A good metric to discover whether you enjoy it for real is to reflect on how you feel aftewards. Does it feel worthy or like a horrible waste of time?). Have a pre-made plan of what you want to do with it so you can just do it when the time suddenly pops up. Be like The Navy Seals. Be ready to do it and leave it at a moment’s notice.
- Maximize for happiness. What makes you happy?
- Kill the multitasking. Focus on one task at hand. One project at hand. One thing at a time. Continued iterative effort applied to a single problem bears amazing fruits.
- (Redundant but) You’re not going to have time to do more than one or two things on your “free” time, so focus on the 1-2 things that make you happy, if that’s coding then do that. Don’t set too hefty goals or expectations. Within the realm of coding pick 1 thing to focus on if you want to feel any sort of rewarding sense of progress at all (which I think is good).
- Action begets motivation. If you are tired and are not feeling it, open your computer and start coding. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll get in the mood and feel energized after just a couple of minutes of coding.
- If you’re feeling like shit, sleep > coding. Sleep is magic. It makes your life worth living. :D
- Plan for some free alone time (but don’t be too hard on yourself or your partner if you can’t seem to find time. I mean, you would think that you could be able to find 1h of free time a week, but sometimes you can’t)
- In general don’t be too hard on yourself.
- For a while Teo would only sleep in the stroller so I’d listen to lots of coding podcasts and audiobooks. It’s not the same as coding but it is a nice proxy. :D
It will get better over time. Your little one will develop and need less of your attention, and you’ll grow stronger, tougher, more resilient and razor sharp focused. In the meantime, big hug!! Go you!
I bet Stephen King could though. His writing is amazing at producing visceral feelings.
Written by Jaime González García , dad, husband, software engineer, ux designer, amateur pixel artist, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You can also find him on Twitter jabbering about random stuff.