How to Survive Momming & Coding
A few months ago, I decided that it was time to apply to a coding bootcamp. As a mother of two, I felt that Flatiron School’s self-paced program was the best option for moms learning to code. I applied, got accepted, and haven’t looked back since. It’s been 4 months since I started the coding bootcamp and my goal is to finish by September 2019. The program has the flexibility of self-learning while also giving me guidance throughout the process. It is perfect for busy mothers without sacrificing quality education. For example, there are no hard deadlines for coursework and it feels like a part-time coding bootcamp. This is very beneficial to me because as a busy mother, I have to be ready to take on anything that comes up during the day. For that reason, I often code late into the night and create my own deadlines.
In addition to a great schedule, I felt the self-paced program was the cheapest option for me. I received the Women Take Tech scholarship which is worth $2000.Taking out a loan was not an option for me and my family because of religious reasons which is why we opted for the monthly payments. I feel privileged and grateful to have my husband who pays those monthly payments while I stay at home with my children and focus on being a part time student.
Currently, I am almost half-way through my bootcamp and have developed some strategies on how to balance life as a mother and student. One that I feel is essential to success, is discipline. I stick to my schedule and keep away from distractions. However, sometimes life happens, which means it is important that I adapt and become flexible when things come up. My schedule consists of coding an hour in the morning and coding a couple of hours at night, and when I need to, I break them into smaller blocks of time. The rest of the day is designated to household chores and time with my children. Although I often times would like to sink into my couch and watch youtube, I sacrifice that time so that I can code during the late hours of the night.
Another challenge I face is constantly being interrupted. It interferes with finding a solution to a problem that I’ve been stuck on for a while. Just when I come close to solving an error, someone will ask me for something or I’ll need to leave my coursework to do something else. I find that asking family members for help is necessary to reduce interruptions and get me through busy times. The silver-lining of interruptions is that I have time to clear my mind so that I can refuel before getting back into coding. Burnout is common with new coders and bootcamp students which is a result of being overwhelmed with the vast array of topics.
Granted that, there have been times when I’ve skipped days of coding. To put a stop to long stretches without coding, I committed to #100DaysOfCode. The hashtag is a twitter movement of coding for 100 days consistently. It has helped me stay accountable because of the large developer community on twitter who are participating. Participants come from all levels of the developer spectrum which allows for great interactions.
As a programmer, naturally, you’re in a state of failure most of the time. You get the satisfaction of a working line of code only to break something else. I’ve learned that there is no reason I can’t ask others a question to help move me along. When I become stuck on a problem for too long, I reach out to my network for help.
Coding is for stay at home moms just as much as anyone else. The balancing act of “momming” and coding is where patience and a growth mindset comes in handy. I’ve grown more patient with myself and learned to trust the process. I try not to beat myself up about things I will eventually learn. Keeping goals in perspective is critical to keep myself going during the tough times. I remind myself that setting a positive example for my kids of what it means to be motivated, disciplined, and work hard for something I care about is essential to their confidence. The outcomes of my efforts will impact them in many ways whether it’s giving them the best education or placing them in the best environment where they can be the best versions of themselves.
My children are young and have a vague understanding of the sacrifices I am making for my career. They see their mom learning to code on the laptop and understand that I need to practice to get better. However, when my son tells me he wants to spend more time with me, I close my laptop and think up a game to play with him. There are times when I feel guilty for not spending enough time with them, but I know this will have a positive impact on their future which keeps me going.
Behind success, you’ll find a strong support system. This could come in many forms, and in my case it was family and the online communities such as Career Karma, MomsCanCode, CodeNewbie, WIT RocDev, and Tech Stack’d. These communities are always there for me when I have any questions related to coding, interviewing, jobs or anything else that comes to mind. I am so grateful to have the support that I have. When you find your people (or person), hold on to them because they will be a guiding light that will help you get to the other side.