So lately I've been juggling being a stay at home dad, teaching at DigiPen, and making games. Not surprisingly, my game-making productivity is a lot lower than I'm used to. Kids tend to interrupt your train of thought often and unpredictably, and we all know that coding requires large blocks of uninterrupted time.
I'm wondering if there are any tricks I can use to get crap done, above and beyond the usual productivity tricks you hear about. (Shut off your social media, only check your e-mail a few times a day, track your time, etc.)
I tried googling 'house husband programming' and 'stay at home dad programming' but mostly got articles on how society looks down upon stay at home dads.
Anybody got anything? If nobody does, I suppose I'll try some experiments and then report back.
I work as a developer full time from home (www.youneedabudget.com - blatant plug, but it's awesome!), and I've got three kids - two at school and one still at home.
I've found getting a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can help, as it prevents the constant little noises kids make as they play/walk around/whatever from pulling you away from the screen. It's not perfect, but for a few hundred dollars, it can make a big difference in getting stuff done.
Also, you can shut the office door for a period at a time, and teach them that when the door is shut, they stay out. Then do half-hour blocks of work, and pop out for five minutes or so after each, so they know they haven't been abandoned :)
Posted by: Rodeoclown.wordpress.com | February 07, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Have a physically separate area you go to work, that's either on a different floor or outside (shed, garage, RV). Have it understood that when you're "working" you're not available. Make everyone understand that just because you are physically more available, you're actually "working" and you shouldn't be expected to drop everything for errands, chores, or straightening out squabbles.
As I say this, my 3 year old is insisting I help her with her train game on her LeapPad. But 3:30 (when she gets out of day care) to 5:30 (when mommy gets home) is her time, by arrangement.
The main thing is getting everyone to take your work seriously, including you. It's just too damned *easy* to get sucked into the minute-to-minute of the house when you're in the middle of it (hence the need for a separated work space).
Posted by: A Facebook User | February 07, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I know a guy that goes to the office like every other week only, as he lives far out.
At home, he has a 3 and 7 year old. His solution: made a deal with his neighbor and rented a small room down the street as his office.
As Dave here said, it is probably most important to draw the agreed upon line around the "office". Its also important to establish a "protocol" on how this line can be crossed, when really needed.
Posted by: reader | February 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I spent the last ten years writing changingminds.org whilst bringing up a family, holding down a day job and doing another master's degree.
It was all about time management, putting things into slots, plus having catch-up buffer space in the calendar. Like working weekends when the family goes to town. Like a late night or so. Like sitting in the corner typing when others were watching TV.
And things have turned out ok. My daughter's a hot-shot Accenture consultant. My son's in University. And after 35 years I've still a great relationship with my wife.
Posted by: David Straker | February 08, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Duct tape? http://mommaneedsabeer.blogspot.com/2011/05/joy-of-duct-tape.html
Posted by: Andy | February 08, 2012 at 07:34 AM
I know it kind of defeats the purpose of being home, right? However, the baby sitter can handle most of the stuff. If things get out of hand, you can help out. It tends to be cheaper than full-time daycare. Schedule some core hours and use those to the max. Then pepper in the rest. My experience also indicates that depending on evening hours is a f*cking fairy tale. By the time they go to bed all I want is a beer, a couple of minutes with the significant other and sleep. But that's me.
The honest truth is that until they're gone at school all day, you're pretty screwed unless there is someone running interference or you team up with another person to alternate. Some places will do co-op day-care... So you serve one day's penance for several other days of freedom.
Best of luck. I love my children, but each one sucks 1yr+ from your productivity.
Posted by: Casey O'Donnell | February 08, 2012 at 10:02 PM
All of these ideas are great but there at least two major factors that are necessary, at least that I can think of at this moment. These are training and discipline. This applies to both you and your family, wife included.
First, the children. If your children aren't properly trained and disciplined then it would be best for either you to get out of the house and hire a babysitter or get them out of the house (i.e. daycare). Without the proper training and discipline, it doesn't matter what you do if all of you are at home, they will always be a disruption. Assuming that your children are to young to go to school, you can't leave them unattended, because you will be asking for trouble if you do. This would be considered child abuse. Assuming that your wife is at home leads to the next subject.
Second, the wife. If your is a stay at home mom and she is properly trained and discipline, then she will always be the buffer between you and the family. She will keep the children constantly busy by entertaining them while you are working. She have your meals ready. She will be a buffer with all distractions. She will run the house with an iron fist. If she is not properly trained she will become a distraction herself. If not, then follow the first rule.
Last, you. If you aren't properly trained and disciplined to learn to deal with the above then follow step one. If you decide to send the kids to daycare and your wife is a distraction then it would be best that she get a job. Or else, leave the entire family at home and go somewhere else.
I'm not a programmer yet, at least by any standards, but I 've been through all of the above. I homeschool my kids, I sent my wife back to work, and I am studying java and xml and making my own android programs. It's a lot of juggling and a lot of late nights but it works. Hope this helps.
Posted by: Chris | March 02, 2012 at 09:31 AM