Programming – The Ultimate Parenting Career

WHY?

  1. Flexible Schedule
  2. Great Salary

HOW?

Know your worth. Don’t be afraid to share your needs (time, working environment, etc.) Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Communicate with your partner, manager and development team. However, knowing your needs and having the confidence, as a woman in industry, as a woman in a male-dominated feel, to ask for what you want is hard.

As most women with a career, I started in my early 20s, right out of college with a lot of drive, a perfectionist nature and a need to prove to myself and others that I could do this, that I belonged, that I was just as good as all the other developers (men) on my team. Did I put too much pressure on myself? Probably. But I succeeded in proving myself as a valuable team contributor. Over time I’ve come to see my differences as an asset rather than something to hide.

Thankfully most tech companies recognize that programmers are nearly always working. How many times have you figured out your bug or coding problem only after leaving work? during your commute? after dinner? in the middle of a shower? Our minds are always working and puzzling out solutions.

Thankfully most tech companies recognize that developers can program just as well (maybe even better and more focused) in a quiet corner in a coffee shop or uninterrupted from home.

A flexible work schedule has been paramount for me to achieve the work-mom balance I want and need to be both a great mom and a great programmer. Knowing that I can work in the evening so that I can pick my son up from school on his music day (and seeing how happy he is to see me) makes those post-kiddo-bedtime programming hours worthwhile. At this point, I should mention that my husband is also a programmer and dropped his hours down to 30 hours a week so he could be home with the kids on the day our nanny has off. We both have flexible work schedules and can be there with and for our kids whenever they need us.

By the time I was pregnant, I was already 7 years into my career. My confidence had grown and I knew I was a valuable employee. Even if you don’t have the confidence yet, push yourself to consider that you are valuable to your employer. They have invested time in you learning their code base, software stack, industry or vertical. You have a lot of knowledge that it would take a new employee some time to learn. You bring a new and different perspective to your development team. You are an asset to your company.

After my three month maternity leave, I went back to work doing the typical 8-5 schedule and it truly wasn’t working for me. I always felt miserable (to be honest some post-partum hormones probably had an impact here but they also helped me realize-to the extreme-that I needed something different). Leaving my kids just as they were eating breakfast and getting home only to battle them through dinner and bedtime was not the type of time I wanted to spend with my kids.

I told my manager that I couldn’t do 8-5 anymore. And he understood (mostly). I started working 9-3 in the office and then a few hours in the evenings after bedtime. Life felt better balanced, but I recognized that the company I was at did not fully support my decision and my needs. I was not getting a promotion because either I was a woman or I wasn’t in the office enough. Boo.

So I got a new (old) job; I went back to the company I started at and my husband currently works at. While management had changed and was unfamiliar with my history and value, people I worked with before were able to vouch for me. Again, it’s critical to build relationships with your co-workers. Yes it’s a form of networking, but it feels more like friendship or camaraderie. As long as I am meeting my commitments to my team and helping my team meet its commitments to the rest of the company when and where I work is irrelevant.

Some people have hard rules that they don’t respond to work messages while home. I have a different perspective. If taking 15 minutes to respond to a work message at home means I can pick my kiddo up from school then it’s worth it to me. You need to find what works for you.

  1. Trust and know your worth. You are valuable and bring a unique perspective.
  2. Work with your significant other. You are a team and co-parenting. They should know your needs. Can your partner also flex their schedule?
  3. Tell your manager what you need to do your best. It’s not a request, it’s sharing what you need. Bring some different ideas and work with your manager to find that happy middle ground. For me it was more time at home with my kids and more flexible schedule. I program better at work because I get enough quality time with my kids when I’m home. Some ways to flex your schedule:
    1. Shorten your hours in the office and work from home in the mornings or evenings (me!).
    2. Work 4-10hr days to have 1 day of the week off.
    3. Work 9-9hr days to have 1 day off every other week.
    4. Work from home 1-2 days a week to reduce the time you spend commuting.
    5. 1 parent goes into work early and leaves work early (7-3) – the other parent goes into work late and works late (10-6). My husband and I discussed this option, but we already have opposite schedules (I’m a morning person, he’s a night owl) so we would basically never see each other.
  4. Define for yourself, your development team, and your partner your plan for responding to work messages at home. My husband and I let each other know when there is a release or a fire so that when one of us gets our laptop out in the middle of dinner, the other understands that the interruption at dinner is what allows us the flexibility every other day. Whatever your plan is, define and share it with others.

One thought on “Programming – The Ultimate Parenting Career

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: