A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer with a Toddler and in Quarantine
First of all, I want to emphasize that the challenge is real! Having a toddler at home 24/7, while you are trying to focus to get some work done has been one of the most difficult experiences lately, though I’m also extremely content of having him around much more than I used to.
What does the day look like?
My day typically starts 6 to 7 am when my kid jumps into my bed for us to read a book or play before we get up and change to start the day. Around 7 to 7.30 we usually have breakfast which most of the time consists of delicious Bretzel. By the time we are finishing I need to start working, so I go upstairs while my kid and my wife remain playing downstairs. I usually start working 8 am, with a review of what happens since last log-off (so reading emails and chat communications). I try not to spend too much time with this activity and focus on what’s critical. After that, I start planning my day based on how many meetings I have that day and the sprint board, which US I’m gonna work on, and in particular which tasks.
After all is planned, is magic time!
This usually goes uninterrupted until my first call of the day, it’s my most productive time and I really enjoy that moment.
The day goes by and at 12 I take a break from work as I need to switch and take care of my kid while my wife does some work. This usually involves preparing and serving him lunch and then going to bed for a nap. Here is where all my plans start getting messed up, he can take from 30 minutes to 90 minutes to fall asleep, he would jump in the bed, sing, play with his hands, just stare at the pillow, anything but sleeping, and there’s no chance I can leave that room until he does (I know it’s terrible and we are working on it…. any advice is appreciated!)
After he sleeps I have magic moment number 2, where I usually have some online meetings, I do some research, catch up on pending emails / chats while having some lunch. I usually don’t start big tasks unless I know I can finish them. When I’m super lucky my kid would sleep for around 2 hours, after which we usually play some music (probably some version of the “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat, time after time….) and we do some creative activities (which I would like I would plan those better). Some of the things we do involve playing with cars, drawing, cooking, reading books making shapes out of clay, and when nothing works and the situation gets out of hands…. some good old TV, though I hate it, it’s a necessary evil.
I really love my moments with him, I feel we are connecting much more now that we spend so much time together; before with regular working times was very hard to find time to be with him, I bet it will be hard to go back to normal.
The day goes through and it’s dinner time, we enjoy a good meal in family, we tell stories about our day, what each of us did with the kid, we laugh, we play and we get ready for bed, at least for my kid. Getting him to sleep at night is another challenge, but it’s fun, the bath, the bedtime stories, the singing until he falls asleep, and then…. magic time number 3. It’s the end of the day and I still haven’t completed my hours, so I need to work at night, usually starting 9 pm until I finish all I had planned for the day, there’s really no saying when exactly I’m done, but it would be at least a few hours more. And then straight to bed as there’s not much time left for sleeping.
As you have realized by now, the day is a bit messed up, and it certainly would not be possible to deal with this situation if not because of my employer who’s very supportive of the situation and allows me to split my hours as long as I deliver (for obvious reasons), and also because of my wife, without her support would also be impossible. We both work full time and we do all we can to keep up with home and work.
- Plan your work ahead
- Try to secure slots of time where you can work uninterrupted, you need at least a few hours each to be able to get things done
- This situation can’t last forever and hopefully, things will go back to a new “normal” soon as COVID cases start to drop, or we have herd immunity, or vaccines or whichever end we find.
- Until then…. hang on tight and enjoy the ride! See the good side of things and make the most out of it.