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Programming with Kids

by Anonymous Monk
on Jan 15, 2009 at 01:04 UTC ( [id://736431]=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Anonymous Monk has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

I might get more specific answers here. What is the best way to deal with a 4-5 year old kid, when you are working from home? Of course, it is not to teach programming to them, but have them occupied in such a way that they feel your company and at the same time, you can get your work done.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Programming with Kids
by tilly (Archbishop) on Jan 15, 2009 at 03:52 UTC
    Kids only "feel your company" when you are involved with whatever they want to do. Personally I would suggest accepting that there is a certain amount of time that will be taken up that way, and budget for that in your schedule.

    The best thing to do is find other activities that will involve your kid with minimal effort on your part. For instance is there a neighbor who your kid likes to play with? Other parents are usually happy to trade kids back and forth, which gives you half the time totally uninterrupted, and half the time with 2 kids who are entertaining each other with minimal supervision from you. (Better yet it gives them exercise, helps their social development, and doesn't cost you anything!)

      Update: moving to other node! Sorry!
Re: Programming with Kids
by Your Mother (Archbishop) on Jan 15, 2009 at 06:12 UTC

    tilly's advice is very good. Probably a neighbor or two is the same straits and you can get organized about it so you each end up needing to pay for child care less frequently.

    A good nanny or sitter can be had (if you carefully vet) for as low as $10-18/hour; This site is worth the subscription if you're in a location it covers: Sittercity. Bite the bullet and get one and look to extended family (if you carefully vet) for more help. An au pair is an option too, especially for a single parent. It ends up costing $15-$20K for a year for dedicated full time child care and can be very good for a family because of the cultural exchange and fresh outlook.

    Working with kids underfoot is a mistake; it creates an environment wherein you can, almost certainly will, get overly crabby with them because you have a boss or client barking at you over a production bug or a deadline while your child is trying to get attention any way possible.

    When it just doesn't work out for a given day there are lots of great activity books out there (e.g., McNally has a nice travel/activity book series which can be very engaging to the 4+ set). There are also DVD sets from Noggin (Backyardigans, Little Bill, and Lazy Town are some of the better series for kids; Dora and a few others are becoming a sort of Pokemon-lite to push merchandise) and such which you can rip to put on an iPod Nano (which has a master/lockable volume setting to protect hearing; set it at 50% and set the lock code). That way you can have the kid in the room with you, safely in view, silently engaged for a couple of hours.

    By the age of 5 some kids are quite ready for a Nintendo DS or a Wii and they have a handful of games that are just right for that age set (Animal Genius for the non-reader comes to mind). I'm personally acquainted with a 6 year-old girl who dusted all the high scores on a non-kid PS2 game recently.

    Good luck. Don't get too frustrated. Get organized. Realize you'll have difficult days. Take care of yourself and your attitude. Work is important. Happy, well-attended kids are moreso.

      I definitely agree with Your Mother. Having been in exactly this situation, you soon realize that, if you are going to work from home, it's best done with no one else in the house (pets aside). At least, if you want to get things done. On the days when my kids have been sick, I have stayed home and cared for them, although an awful lot of TV watching or video game playing happens. (Our kids are older than yours.) When our kids were the 4-5 year age, many of Your Mother's suggestions were undertaken: books, TV, movies, etc.

      It is a better approach to plan for a care giver or good daycare arrangement. Otherwise, you will get crabby with your kids, you won't be able to spend the time you should, and what looks like it should be a good experience takes a huge hit for everyone involved.

      Now, to head back home and try to get some work done while my kids are off school. :)

      tubaandy
Re: Programming with Kids
by kyle (Abbot) on Jan 15, 2009 at 02:13 UTC

    I don't think you can get your work done and keep a child company at the same time. You can occupy the child (perhaps with TV or other children), but programming requires too much attention for the child to get any of it. Maybe you're a super genius who can read Dr. Seuss with one eye and write code with the other eye (and hands), but I've found that pretty well impossible. I'm with my children, or I'm with my work, and never both.

Re: Programming with Kids
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 15, 2009 at 03:18 UTC
    Hire a nanny, or hire a programmer and be a parent.
Re: Programming with Kids
by JavaFan (Canon) on Jan 15, 2009 at 11:03 UTC
    I might get more specific answers here. What is the best way to deal with a 4-5 year old kid, when you are working from home?
    It's probably similar to what you'd do with the kid if you were working from an office.
Re: Programming with Kids
by stonecolddevin (Parson) on Jan 15, 2009 at 10:48 UTC
      Chloroform?

      Don't be cruel.

      That's what duct tape is for...

        Cruel? Naw, cruel would have been staples :-)

        meh.
Re: Programming with Kids
by andreas1234567 (Vicar) on Jan 15, 2009 at 14:05 UTC
    [Keep] kid occupied and [..] at the same time [..] get your work done.
    I say xor: You can have either, but not both. I can't get anything done with my kids around, except when they are asleep, and then I tend to be exhausted myself.

    So take the advice from the monks above and organize yourself (with babysitter, kindergarden, etc.) so that you can focus on work while working, and give the kid(s) 100% attention when you're with it/them. They deserve it.

    --
    No matter how great and destructive your problems may seem now, remember, you've probably only seen the tip of them. [1]
Re: Programming with Kids
by jeffa (Bishop) on Jan 15, 2009 at 15:14 UTC

    I too am a bachelor, and as such i really don't see why you shouldn't just harness your child to a small "merry-go-round" device that allows your child to run run run while generating energy for your house at the same time. Maybe dangle a candy bar or a toy in front of them. Clean energy! Friends tell me i really should get a girlfriend. :/

    jeffa

    L-LL-L--L-LL-L--L-LL-L--
    -R--R-RR-R--R-RR-R--R-RR
    B--B--B--B--B--B--B--B--
    H---H---H---H---H---H---
    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
    
      "I don't wanna work, don't wanna play, I just wanna bang on the drums all day!"

      Super idea, attach the "merry-go-round" to a generator and develop DC current to charge the gel batteries in the basement, most of your energy for night-time reading would be supplied with a 0% carbon footprint!!!

      ki6jux

      "No trees were harmed in the creation of this node. However, a rather large number of electrons were somewhat inconvenienced."

        Super idea, attach the "merry-go-round" to a generator and develop DC current to charge the gel batteries in the basement, most of your energy for night-time reading would be supplied with a 0% carbon footprint!!!
        A 0% carbon footprint? Are you suggesting to not feed the child? ;-)

        Anytime a human (or animal) performs labour, he/she/it uses muscles. And just like a combustion engine, muscles need to burn a fuel to get their energy. The fuel comes from reducing sugars, carbohydrates and fats; producing CO2. And in the digestive system, CH4 (methane) is produced.

      Friends tell me i really should get a girlfriend.

      Yeah I heard the same thing. Girlfriends can push the merry-go-round faster than kids.....thus generating more power for ya. :-)


      I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth Remember How Lucky You Are
Re: Programming with Kids
by zentara (Archbishop) on Jan 15, 2009 at 13:01 UTC
    I'm a bachelor, but I found kids want to immitate what you are doing. Buy them a toy computer, and telephone, and tell them to help you. Who knows, maybe by the time they are 8 , you will have a trained slave. :-)

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth Remember How Lucky You Are
Re: Programming with Kids
by DrHyde (Prior) on Jan 15, 2009 at 11:23 UTC
    Lock it in a sound-proof cupboard.
Re: Programming with Kids
by jvector (Friar) on Jan 15, 2009 at 19:32 UTC
    My first thought was
    1. Develop a way of working that allows you to very smoothly 'save your state' and resume it;
    2. Divide your time into small chunks (how small is To Be Determined);
    3. Find things that you can do with the kid with full attention that fit into a chunk;
    4. Find other things that the kid can be given to do in your space that occupy them, that also fit into a chunk;
    5. Alternate between the two states of $working and $parenting.
    6. and then veg out with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day

    I then read the OP to my wife (she works as a psychologist partly at home, while I work as a developer-consultant mainly at home but only started doing that when our kids were in their teens).

    She simply said "You don't." Your time must be either fully one or fully the other, and while you are 'at work' the minding has to be down to some other adult.


    This signature was ready by Christmas but it broke
      My first thought was
      1. Develop a way of working that allows you to very smoothly 'save your state' and resume it;
      2. Divide your time into small chunks (how small is To Be Determined);

      If there's a way to really successfully do that with programming, I haven't heard it.

        If there's a way to really successfully do that with programming, I haven't heard it.

        That's why you have to develop it ;-)


        This signature was ready by Christmas but I lost the USB stick
Re: Programming with Kids
by gwhite (Friar) on Jan 15, 2009 at 21:25 UTC

    Take them outside and run with them nonstop for about an hour and a half, work while they nap for the following 2 hours, repeat.

    g_White

      I'm afraid it would rather be "Take them outside and run with them nonstop for about an hour and a half, then sleep exhausted while they destroy the house for two hours, repeat."

        That's about right.

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