I started bootcamp when my daughter 2 months old. Yes, it was tough. But it also helped me understand what I wanted from a tech career. These two aspects of life -- tech and parenting -- don't have to be in tension. Here are some of the ways I've adapted to being present for other developers as a developer advocate, while being present for my daughter.
The biggest thing is having a hard line on what you will and will not accept from work.
These hard lines can revolve around:
- How many hours/week you work.
- How much you travel for work.
- Whether there is parental leave.
- How much pay you receive.
- Whether you will work remote.
I actually found that this made it easier, not harder, to narrow down opportunities. If you eliminate some of them because they won't work with your lifestyle, you have a filter by which to figure out which jobs you're really interested in.
The other big thing to remember is that parenting is not limiting. Yes, you won't make the same choices as you did before. But you will make choices based on a new aspect of your life that will enrich it.
And, it's ok to make choices based simply on what you want. There's a lot of pressure on parents to do the "right" thing, but the most important thing is to take care of yourself so you can be there for your kid.
'What aligns with my joy?' vs 'What do others think I should do?'
It will free up a lot of work/life tension if that's the first question you ask yourself -- what aligns with my joy?
There's a lot of pressure on developers and parents to behave in very particular ways. You don't have to participate in what doesn't suit you.
If your joy is found in a life pattern that's not attainable yet, you can make small daily changes to work towards your goal. If there's another tech subfield you want to work in, make a goal to talk to one person in that field per week. If you want to have a job that's more flexible and allows you to pick up your kid from school early, apply to one of those jobs a week.
We all know that a life that aligns with your inner peace is not necessarily easy. There's a lot of external turmoil in the world. It can be exhausting, scary, and downright overwhelming to be a parent, especially a new parent, in tech. But it's a lot easier when you pay attention to what you, as a whole person, delight in.
There are a lot of systemic issues out there that make life difficult for caregivers. This post is not intended to say you can solve all those difficulties with an attitude adjustment. Laws and cultural expectations need changing. This post is solely intended to help with any internal friction you may be experiencing, since these thoughts have helped me.