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Off topic: Managing to translate with small children at home
Thread poster: workfluently

workfluently  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 11, 2004

I'm wondering how other freelance translators cope with working from home when they have small tots around wanting to pound keyboards, "plaaaaaaaay!" with them and needing their loveable yet very needy needs attended to.

... naturally, I'm posting this at 11:45 pm with the babes in bed!


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Sonia Gomes  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:08
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Not tots but a little bigger Feb 11, 2004

No tots but a little bigger. Most of my work is done when my son (9 years old) is at school, once he is home we have lunch together but I can never begin work after that. There is always the cry "Do you still want the computer, I was planning to play Age of Empire" or I need to get on to the site for Pokemons. You see whatver the age it never ends.

But I would miss it too !

Regards
Sonia


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umsarah
Local time: 03:38
Member (2005)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Little children are inevitably a distraction Feb 11, 2004

My daughter is just a year old, and translating when she's around is nerve-racking. The main problem is that concentration is crucial, and that is virtually impossible when a baby's around. However, a good father is the best answer.

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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:38
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Feb 11, 2004

My triplets are 5 and I went back to work when they were 1 month old. I had girls coming to look after them while I was working in another room. There is no way you can translate and have the kids in the same room. When they started daycare I used to work when they were out of the house and in the evenings. This has changed only recently. When they are at home I can now leave them for time segments of 1 hour and getting some work done. But not when they were toddlers!
Anyway I love it this way, being always in the house and hear their voices (in another room) when I work.
Good luck!


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:38
English to Polish
+ ...
Discipline and imagination Feb 11, 2004

Yours and your children's.

My daughter is four-and-a-half and she realizes quite well that when daddy is sitting at the computer, he is doing it for the purpose of being able to bring home a Barbie doll.
We installed an "office" for her in the computer/office/study room. We bought a little table and chair and some boxes for her to organize her stuff in. When I (or my wife - a teacher) work, she often comes in and "works" with us - draws, or whatever.

It works quite well. It took a little training, of course, and I realize that the child must be at least three (depending on temperament) to be able to do this.
My daughter cannot stay quiet for extended periods of time, but I learned to answer her questions as I work. It's not _that_ distracting, but if it gets too distracting then I remind her that I'm working.

Otherwise you must organize your time around your child. Work when they're asleep or in kindergarten. If you share your time fairly, they will learn to respect your work time eventually.
Now I'm working in a project outside of home, but if I have more work in the evening, I always make sure to devote an hour or so to play with her. Then it's time to end and daddy must work at the computer.

There's another thing. Since she was little, we have always made sure that she's in bed early. Our daughter is in bed by 8:30 at the latest. Some parents will cry "impossible!", but it's not. It's all a question of training and time. That leaves me more time to work from ca. 9 pm to 11 or 12.

Your mileage will vary of course, but with a little (or not so little!) support from your spouse and grandparents, you will do fine.

One other thing - whenever I say "training", I mean it in a peaceful sense, not like boot camp!

Good luck,

Pawel Skalinski
Warsaw, Poland

P.S. If worse comes to worse, there is the last, ugly resort - television. We try not to abuse this, but a movie buys you that extra 80 minutes or so. Again, this works with older children.

[Edited at 2004-02-11 07:20]


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Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 03:38
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
Be patient : everything goes better when they are at school Feb 11, 2004

Be patient but bear in mind that a mother or a father working at home, is (for children and even for grown ups) not really working in the sense that she/he is at home. When they were younger, when asked what mother was doing my daughters used to answer : "nothing", dad is cooking and mum is in front of the computer all day.... Wonderful.
Now things have changed, but there is always one good reason to come in my room saying: "I am hungry, my sister is...., I am always alone, ..." and they are 8 and 13. But they now can understand when I have a rush job. I must explain them the job I am doing, if it is hard and so on.
Love, and understanding are the key. Try to make them understand how good it is to have mother at home, when they are ill, during the holiday period.
And enjoy it.


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Sonia Gomes  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:08
Portuguese to English
+ ...
It's a good feeling too.... Feb 11, 2004

It feels good to hear voices laughing or when my son comes a stokes my hair and says " Are you having a rough day ?"

Regards

Sonia


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danilingua  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:38
English to German
+ ...
Daycare or Nanny Feb 11, 2004

Hello mums,

to be straight? There is no way you can produce intelligent work when the kid/s is/are around - it is either Valium or daycare or Nanny (those who know me know that I am kidding on the heavy drugs*g*).

When MAxie as a baby, I used to to telephone marketing while he was asleep. I had turned into a clock! I had to decline jobs, because I would have had no time to do them (being a single mum, too, I forgot to mention... from the time when Maxie as 1 year old). Later on, he went to Mini-kindergarden, and I had, yihhaa, 2 times 2.5 hours. Now the brain cannot be turned on and off like a switch, any any little quarrels, fights or major stuff (my child needed therapies up until 6 months ago) burden your mind and you are not free.

Maybe just typing or filling Multiterm in Trados or other "easy" things can be done, with the kid around. But there is, even when the child is with someone in another room, a constant distraction going on, relfecting on your work. It does take indeed a lot of strength and willpower (and late night work.....) to produce decent results.

Kindergarden was a break - he was there until 4 pm, starting a 9 usually, this was the beginning back into at least "my office time" - but even then, interruptions through doctors' calls, injuries in kindergarden and so on.

Now, my little sweet heart is in school, pre school in a special school for speech impaired children, where he is doing excellently, and from where ne goes to daycare until 2.30/3.00 (I need to pick him up there).

Yes, it does get better.
No, lookking back, it is not worth the fighting, shouting a them and being under constant pressure (of course I had not other choice, already went in debt between 1 and 3) just to get a job done. However, customers are a sensitive commodity and need to be pampered, too

And then I took the open approach. I started to get more personal with my clients, and tell them about my life with a child needing therapy as a single mum. I have to say that 98% of my clients were very understanding and also grateful to get in insight into the life of a mother beyond "the norm" and from a source other than the tabloids and talk shows.....

So, summmarizing, what can I say:
a) If you have the money to afford daycare or a nanny/sitter/xyz - DO IT and buy yourself peace.

b) If the kid is old enough for kindergarden, raise heaven and hell to obtain a full day, at least til 2 oe 3. You can do your work and have your mind and conscience free for your child (I know how it feels when you want to spend time with your child and cannot because of external constraints - hurtful - and they grow FAST - believe me!! and there is no winding back the clock!)

c) If a and b fail, grand parents? Negotiate a set time, if possible - dont agree to their style? well, time for priorities - and kids need to be spoilt by their grandparents, they can deal with it - I used toi explain to my Maxie that real life takes place at hoime.... and I told him a lot of my stays with my grandma, too

d) BUILD A NETWORK talk to other mums. you have to start to be active - I was very lucky to have had two families with 3 kids each, where I could drop Maxie off at all times, almost.... We started the thing to be just a mutual exchange circle for helping one another out. I ended up using their time more than I could give in return, however, in the long run, I have paid off my debts Here, too, it helps not to be nitpicky, but to see the big picture.

So finally, I was able to master it with the help of

1) Grandparents
2) Friends
3) Kindergarden
4) paid babysitter when all else failed - planning like a general in the army, though - and this is why we are so valuable and such assets, US MUMMIES!!!

I wish you all the best and of course, I am available for questions etc.....


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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:38
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
It will get better! Feb 11, 2004

I have 2 kids (18 and 14), and I started translating before they were born. Things certainly changed the minute the first one, Christoph, arrived. The first 6 months was fine as he slept a lot, but then... It was really hard, the only time I could think straight was when he was asleep – and I was lucky, he usually slept from 2-3.30 in the afternoons and was in bed by 8 pm. He had this rhythm from the hospital (4-hour feed routine) and I certainly encouraged it. During this time, I felt it was a privilege to be able to work. Which is why I have turned into a workaholic, work was never a chore, it was "wow, he's asleep, I can work at last, waahooo!". After the afternoon naps finished (he was about 2), things became difficult again. Luckily I had a friend in the same boat, so we took it in turns to look after two about once or twice a week. Otherwise, Christoph's needs came first until he went to Kindergarten (ahhh joy!). At the toddling stage, I found that 45 minutes of intense play meant that he was then happy on his own for the next 30 minutes or so. During this time I was able to work quite well, especially if he was in the room next door. The whole cycle started again when Alex came along 4+ years later.

So grab any hours on offer, whenever. You can't always predict them, but a pattern often emerges. Tight deadlines, however, are pure poison to the family atmosphere. The only alternative is to work in the early mornings or late at night – I became an early riser.

Keep your chin up, things will improve!


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 03:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Papa work now" Feb 11, 2004

My 2-year old is always around. Happens that my office is in the kitchen (warm & roomy), which also happens to be her favourite area. There's food there, y'know. Every now and then she comes over and says: "Papa read book" or "Papa libro", "ven, ven (come, come)", "look, caterpillar!!", "papa, find chupete (pacifier)". Some times, when restless, she starts to pound on my keyboard and pull my sleeve, signalling that nappy business is up...
Whichever the reason, it's good enough reason to take a break and spend some time with her. Good for my back too, so hey!
Errr, do they have to grow up????
P


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Sandra Alboum  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:38
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm terrorized! Feb 11, 2004

We don't have children yet (only married a bit under three years), but my brother and sister-in-law came to visit over New Year's with our very adorable 5 1/2 month old nephew, Joshua. The child needed stimulation 100% of the time (if he wasn't asleep, which wasn't very often). You had to be holding him or jingling the keys in front of him... he couldn't just sit on a blanket for 5 or 10 minutes and play with a soft toy.

I have to admit, I was terrorized. I love children just like the next guy, but ... I also love my profession, and I'm seeing that it's tough to mix the two.

It's been interesting reading everyone's comments. Thanks.


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danilingua  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:38
English to German
+ ...
pls dont Feb 11, 2004

I have to admit, I was terrorized. I love children just like the next guy, but ... I also love my profession, and I'm seeing that it's tough to mix the two.

sacrifice a child for your work. ONe day it will be too late. Has a text ever said to you " I love you", "You are really pretty today, Mummy", "you are the best mummy in the world"

No translation income, may it be millions, can replace the warmth and enrichment a child will bring to your life!!!

Among mothers, we "understand" our lingo.... tough on the outsider and very "frightening" but is only half as bad :;-)))) I would do ANYTHING for my kid!!!!!!


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Andrea Ali  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:38
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It is possible Feb 11, 2004

but not easy! My kids are six and four. They go to school from 8:00am to 4:00pm. That gives me plenty of time either to work or sleep (when I work at night -which I love!).

Weekends might be more complicated but daddy does understand that mum is working and takes care of the children.

Winter and summer holiday get even more complicated but there is always the chance to send them to a good club where they spend the day in the pool, doing sports and playing with other children.

I also had to work with the children at home, and in that case, the working periods were shorter. I just stopped for a while, played or read with them and then back to work. The truth is we also need a break!

Sometimes they just sit next to me and play quietly. One glance at the screen and they realize I am working, that is enough... for a while!

Do not feel you are neglecting them because they feel it and then it is really impossible to work!

Think you are working outside and the truth is nobody takes their children to the office!

This of course takes some time to get used to, both for the mother and the children.

It is all up to you. I would never give up my job and I love my children!

Good luck!
Andrea


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Elissaveta Toteva
Local time: 04:38
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Experience of grand-mother of 4 Feb 11, 2004

A second PC solves a lot of problems.

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Flossie
French to English
Consider a babysitter Feb 12, 2004

Hi Jennifer, you could give serious consideration to hiring a babysitter to come in, even if just for a couple of hours a day, so that you have a solid block of time to work. I know your children deserve your time, but your clients deserve your attention. I found this to be a happy compromise. The kids knew that when the sitter was there, they were not to interrupt mummy.

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