"Can I complete a coding bootcamp if I am a parent?"
The short answer: YES!
But it will take organisation and support. We've helped dozens of parents graduate Northcoders and find rewarding, flexible work as Software Developers. No two sets of challenges are ever exactly the same - but there are things which will help! We asked our parent graduates to tell us about their top tips and advice for managing your family life alongside a coding bootcamp...
1) Look After Yourself
Plan downtime and live a healthy lifestyle! In order to get to the other end with your sanity intact, it's vital that you look after yourself and take some time out. We tell all of our students to get used to the idea of not finishing everything - that's even more important for our students who are parents. Don't worry about that function you didn't finish earlier. Almost nobody finishes everything, and most people leave many sprints unfinished. And that's ok!
"It's really important to plan in downtime, and stick to it - remembering to include mental processing in that time!" - Jonny, Dad of 2, graduated in November 2017
2) Get Support
Solicit the support of your friends and loved ones, and help them understand the magnitude of the commitment you are making. Manage their expectations as to what support you need and what you might not have time for, and delegate your household tasks wherever you can.
"You need a good support network to pick up the slack - don't think you can do it all, and make sure no one else thinks you can either" - Sally, Mum of 2, graduated in February 2018
"Include your family - they can be a sounding board, you can explain what you are trying to build and trying to achieve. You want them to be invested in it, even if they aren’t techie" - Jonny
3) Be Flexible
Our resident parents told us that they recommend expecting the unexpected! Things tend to happen at short notice when you have children, so don't let that throw you off. Our course is structured to support flexibility - and if you find you spend a few days (or even weeks) needing to focus on your family life for whatever reason, we can re-start you on the course once you're ready. Family first!
"I think it's been fortunate for me that Northcoders have been so flexible; given that I had to miss a couple of days due to unavoidable childcare issues. I think that's a huge strength of the new Developer Pathway. I was able to re-do a block when I had a really difficult week with the little one being ill, otherwise I'm not sure where I'd be now in terms of my progress" - Nathan, Dad of one, current student
4) Break Things Down
Working on a project? If you want to do this outside of core hours at home, don't expect to have entire evenings to work on it. Rather, set small goals and work towards each goal individually in small blocks. This reduces your chance of feeling disrupted when all hell breaks loose at home!
"Break everything down into manageable chunks as it’ll be harder to block off big bits of time" - Tom, Father of a daughter and baby twins, graduated February 2017
Do you often use your laptop to stream TV programmes for your child or children? We loved this idea from Kasia:
"I split the screen or cast the show to another screen and let him watch Peppa Pig, while I focus on a bitesize chunk of code for 15 minutes!" - Kasia, Mum of one.
5) Have A Safe Space
"Have a ‘safe space’ where you - by familial arrangement - won’t be disturbed (as much as possible!)" - Jonny
If you're able to, we'd highly recommend setting aside some space where your family agree you won't be disturbed. This is great for times where you want to consolidate your new skills, work on your portfolio or just get a few moments of peace!