One Week

The Adventures of a Newly Returning Coder Parent

Cue the fanfare. Coder Mummy is back! Following six months of bottles, nappies and home nursery rhyme karaoke, the time has come to return to work. It’s constantly been referred to as my transition. In a way that’s true. Frustratingly, my first week has definitely been more of a mental and emotional metamorphosis rather than the regimented algorithm I would expect as a software engineer.

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Working as a software engineer and being a parent currently seem like opposing aspects of my life

Knowledge Me Again

One strategy I employed to keep abreast of domain knowledge during my leave was monitoring emails while out of the office. This was only partially successful. Many on long term leave may wish to switch off entirely from work. However, I seemed to miss that desire completely. Despite telling myself the purpose of email checking was to ease my transition back, the reality is that I also feared my inbox being full of irrelevant errors and warnings. These frustrations still remain, and I still support my previously mentioned musings on system alerting considerations for development and support teams.

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Email mountain was difficult, but not insurmountable

Lack of Knowledge

An unexpected surprise I uncovered was how much information I had retained. Although one must question if this is an indication of the capacity of my mental hard drive or how often I was digging into emails and catching up with colleagues. Yes part of the justification was the alerts and keeping up to date. However, the unfortunate reality is more that I never switched off from work at all. Instead I succumbed to an overwhelming desire to keep plugged into the matrix. Not exactly the healthiest of strategies!

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The mix of pride at knowledge retention, dread of information overload, and feeling of muscle memory loss is a rather odd combination

Buzz Buzz Buzz

Concentration on mentally involved tasks such as coding are proving to be exceptionally difficult right now. Originally, I attributed this difficulty to lack of use over the past six months. In a way my brain is much like a disused car abandoned in the garage for months on end. It’s going to take some time to get it started again.

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There may not be bees buzzing around me while I work, but without headphones it definitely feels like it

Song for a Friend

My support network has definitely changed. A big concern for me was lack of support. I’ve effectively grown up in my organisation, so my friend network consists of colleagues and my graduate class. All of these individuals were at work when I was not. Therefore, a significant concern for me was having to adapt my coping mechanism and expand my support network to include others.

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I’ve been having quite a few coffee catch ups since I returned

Time After Time

Most of the aforementioned challenges are specific to either office or IT working. One of the more normal struggles I’m currently experiencing is the “get up and leave on time” paradox. There is yet to be a day where I have left feeling productive. I am completing some work items, and managing to either delegate or negotiate deadlines for others. Just not always as many as I would like. Not leaving in the evening now will set an impossible precedent for when baby goes to childcare in a few months. So not getting a handle on this now will definitely bite hard later.

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Leaving both work and home at respective points in the day is yet to become easy

Please Be Kind

I haven’t covered every niggling thought that occurred over the course of my first week. If I did, this blog post would rapidly evolve into a book. The key themes of disparate knowledge retention, a lack of control and the endless quest for work life balance are definitely covered. Nevertheless, the biggest surprise has been that there is a wealth of support out there if you just ask.

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This new dual existence needs to be combined together for me to be my authentic self

Lead software engineer with a strong interest in Agile, UX and Usability. Lover of cooking, tea, photography and gin!

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