How to write code when children run around you and ask: “What will you work on?”

8 min

“I look forward to a family madhouse,” my colleague answered a few days before the workdays on self-isolation began. Before that, it was easy to hide from the family in the office, where there is also a children’s room. The employees brought their children there, and the tutor worked with them. But now everything has changed, and many have to get out on their own to find, let’s call it, work-children balance. Is this even possible? We asked our developers and team leaders to share experiences on how to simultaneously work from home, raise small children and don’t go crazy survive this month of self-isolation.

Arkady, developer, son 4 years: Most of the time the son spends with his mother: they play games, draw, sculpt, read. And I take breaks to play with cars or catch-ups, hide and seek and other active games, to do squats or push-ups together. This works great for me as a warm-up and at the same time is interesting for a child.

The son is now actively interested in everything, absorbs information and understands everything. He knows what the job is for, and when he asks for more play, I remind him of this. We always agree. For example, if I can’t play with him right now, I suggest he do something else. Sometimes we can agree on a couple of episodes of a cartoon, but no more. New toys and books, as well as old toys that the child has not used for a long time, help well. A great option is lego, it can take a long time.

It is great that we have a flexible work schedule, since it’s difficult to fully work at home, like in an office. In the current mode, I sometimes use the evening / night time, when no one is distracting to work quietly.

Tanya, PM, child 6 years old: Previously, the nanny mainly helped, now she is not. Now I am making up a schedule that the child understands: when I’m busy, and when I have a break and we can spend time together. Every two to three hours of work, I try to arrange a break for half an hour. At a time when I’m busy, we agree on what he will do. There are books, manuals, toys. You can see something, audio books, skype with grandma work well.

And the child’s pastime is rapidly migrating towards the tablet. I even decided not to bother with this: in the end, a pandemic, quarantine and an attempt to work remotely when there is no one else to occupy a child is an exceptional circumstance.

From what goes well:

  1. Documentariesdownloaded to the tablet. Documents like Megastructures and How it works. YouTube, ivi and the like do not suit me because they palm off recommendations that I do not control. In general, it happens normally, the child now knows what the Gimli glider is and how the landing on the Hudson went, but I do not want to risk it.
  2. Audiobooks Chevostik – just a hit. He has been listening for 1.5 years, and still does not bother. This series has several dozens of audio books.
  3. Have tried physical education with a trainer online. While the trainer didn’t go very well, the trainer didn’t have a panoramic camera, but I liked the topic, I want to physically wind up the child at home. Let’s try again. Probably, you need to buy a TV and a webcam for this business.

Dima, head of the development team, daughters 4 years: My wife and I work in different companies on the remote. We did not synchronize our work schedules, so we can pay attention to our daughter in turn, after hours or during short breaks from work. In addition, the daughter often after playing with her father or mother is ready for half an hour to work on her own (lego, drawings, stickers).

Ira, Team Lead, daughters 7 and 12 years old: First graders are great at Zoom, they get it no worse than our meetings. First, they learned to learn from Zoom: teachers switched to video lessons for all classes, and now the children realized that a teacher is not necessary for communication.

You just need to help them create a video conference and remember that the length of the free session is 40 minutes, so you need to go to the conference. And to make not very long meetings – a maximum of an hour and a half. Otherwise, they get tired and start to quarrel.

It may be worth limiting the number of children or composition. For example, my chatting with four friends. At this time, a couple of hours of quiet work is provided, then you need to breed.

Another teacher of my seven-year-old daughter came up with a remote production of the poem “Aibolit” with the participation of all students. The scenario is such that everyone will be both in the role of Aibolit and in the role of any animal. We need to make masks and costumes ourselves, some kind of drapery for the background. Children will rehearse on Zoom, and then mount a general performance.

And today, one girl from the Zumovskaya company has a birthday. My daughter came up with the song “Happy Birthday to You” from the Barbarikov repertoire to sing to her. First they sing in Zoom without a birthday, and then they all meet together and congratulate. Yesterday, the children held each other’s fashion show in Zoom: they measured all the dresses and put marks. Then those who practice played the piano to each other. All this is absolutely without the intervention of adults. In general, life goes on.

Lesha, Team Lead, children 3 and 6 years old: No way, this is not compatible, especially if the living space does not allow fencing off. But there is a night, sometimes children even sleep at this time.

Dima, deputy director for consulting, daughter 9 months:
In the past two years I have been working a lot from home, so I am joking to myself that I was long ready for the regime of self-isolation. Accordingly, I already have my own rules for working remotely. This allows me to switch from work tasks to the child when my spouse needs my help, and get back to work without falling out of the work context.

Until 6-7 p.m., I primarily focus on work. At this time, the wife devotes 90% of her attention to the child. In the evening we change these proportions. However, we do not have a distribution of responsibilities: dad works, mother works with her child. Often there are situations when the wife, for example, prepares dinner, and at this time I look after the child. For me, this is a moment of relaxation and emotional release. We can walk with my daughter, she crawls around the workplace, climbs into a chair. Sometimes I take it to my lap and do a job that doesn’t require typing. Several times I successfully conducted online meetings with colleagues, and the child sat on my lap.

For phone calls, I use headphones and a headset, so I can absolutely calmly conduct any negotiations and go after the child, wherever he crawls. Of course, this does not last long, because my wife usually saves me and takes my daughter.

The life of a small child is subject to a very clear regime. For me, this is a plus from the point of view of efficiency: I can focus on my work tasks and not be distracted, because I know for sure how much time I still have and what is important for me to do during this period.

Julia, engineer, child 4 years old: What helps me?

  1. I work and play on the timer: I play for 30 minutes, I work for an hour and a half and answer the question “has the timer already squeaked?”
  2. Gouache in large volumes and carte blanche for her in the nursery.
  3. A huge order of several bookstores.

Ilya, Team Lead, children 3 and 6 years old: The daily routine is very helpful for both an adult and a child. When a child is forced to sit at home all day (we have quarantine, because we recently returned from vacation), it is important for him to know what to do. Otherwise, he will constantly distract. Accordingly, the daily routine is drawn up when we play, when we study, when we eat, when we draw, when we watch cartoons, etc.

Compliance with the routine is already a game.

Sasha, Team Lead, children 1.5 years old, 4 and 6 years old: I have a separate room in which I work. The spouse helps a lot with the children, she is on maternity leave, so no one resorts to me, she makes no noise. It happens, of course, that they will flirt and begin to distract me, but my only stern look is enough for them to calm down and run back.

Every day I tell my wife what my plans are for today: let’s say when the meetings do not need to distract me, but when I can interrupt and go to the store, nail a nail, hang a shelf, and take the children onto me. We have real teamwork, it helps me, I help her.

What do children do? We have a daily routine. In the morning or in the evening we do exercises: we do it ourselves or look for something on YouTube, for example, children’s yoga or home training for athletes. About 11 hours, sometimes we show children informative films. Today, for example, watched the BBC series about the ocean. Before that there was a film about primitive people, pyramids, myths of Ancient Greece. The topics are interesting, the children watch, and in the evenings they ask me questions. At 16 o’clock they watch cartoons for 20 minutes – they are waiting for this moment all day.

Our relatives are also saving us, we’ll call them via video on WhatsApp and FaceTime. The spouse’s grandmother and sister hold master classes for children, for example, how to make a mask hat from a newspaper or an origami crane, to mold something from plasticine.

It should be mentioned that before that I had been working from home every two days a week for a couple of years, so the process has been set up for us. You could say I was waiting for this quarantine. Now I don’t spend time on the road at all. “Having returned” from work from another room, I feel much more strength to work out with children. The most difficult thing for me now is not to exceed working standards, because it’s easy to work, no one bothers, a minimum of meetings and generally beauty.

Misha, PM, 8 years old son: My wife and I work and do without a nanny. With how to take a child, everything is more or less easy with us. This week distance education at school has begun. The son goes to the second grade, every day he has three lessons of 20 minutes each (via Zoom), as well as homework. He also studies at a music school. They also now teach lessons remotely, via Zoom and Skype. The child attends classes three days a week, in the afternoon: plays the balalaika, and also does homework.

In his free time, he sits on the phone, calls up with friends. In particular, simultaneously talking on a mobile phone and playing computer games together with his interlocutor.

Khabrovsk citizens, share your experiences in the comments: how and what developers (and not only them) occupy their children with when the whole family has to be at home.


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