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Translation and little kids
Thread poster: Nadja Balogh

Nadja Balogh  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
Japanese to German
+ ...
Nov 6, 2007

Hi everybody,

Though I don't have kids yet, this is bound to change sooner or later, and I'm very curious to hear about the experiences of those of you working at home with small kids or babies around.

How do you manage to maintain your concentration? What are your typical working hours? Is it possible at all to find time and energy for translation right after a baby was born? Though your answers are not going to influence my decision to have kids I'd appreciate it to hear your opinion on this.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:00
English to Dutch
+ ...
Depends Nov 6, 2007

on your own flexibility.

My three kids are still rather young, but two of them go to school and the youngest is a very independent little character.....

Still, I find productivity is better when they're not around. In really busy times, I use my evenings to make good progress.

School holidays are bad, where steady production is concerned. And being on the phone with clients when kids are around isn't ideal, either.

On the upside, you're home when the kids are, so you don't miss any part of their lives. I don't know about other mothers, but I had a really hard time when my kids were in day care and the care givers told me all sorts of nice things they'd done and said, and all that was left for me to do was to put a very tired toddler to bed....

Also, I (or my husband) used to have to take the day off when any one of my children was sick- not anymore! (I had an office job back then)

Concentration can be trained. I work with all kinds of children's sounds in the background and it does not distract me, unless I'm really stressed out. Then I send them upstairs to play in their own rooms. Somehow I manage to pick up the sounds that indicate trouble, though. Funny how the mind works...

All in all, I think it's very workable, and the older your kids get, the easier it will be.

Good luck!
Margreet


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Carolin Haase  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Only one little kid here... Nov 6, 2007

...so far, a three-year-old daughter.

When she was little, I found it hard to concentrate - with constant lack of sleep, and I sometimes I typed away with her on my lap. We even had a pretty dangerous situation once when she started to chew on the cables of my computer...

Now, I feel it's great - I work when she is in kindergarten, and the afternoons after 4 pm are ours.
Often I start working at around 4-5 am, especially when I have to meet a tight deadline or have to work on different jobs at the same time. This works well for me and normally, I take the evenings off.

All the best,
Carolin


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 09:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You can manage... Nov 6, 2007

We are both full time, freelance translators and have a 3 year old. Luckily, she sleeps until noon, so we can work 6 hours in a row in the morning. She also takes a long nap (for around 2 hours). If we're overloaded with work, we call a babysitter from 2pm to 4pm, then she takes her nap.

Of course, the first months will not be that easy. It's a matter of time and patience until both you and the baby adapt to the whole new schedule. Think of a reliable nanny at least for some hours a day when you have a lot of work to do.

Well, that's our experience with the first one We are aware every child is different and we don't know if the next one will sleep this much!

Have a wonderful day and a happy family!

Letty


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alessandra bocco  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:00
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Two kids Nov 6, 2007

I have two sons, one is five years old and the other one is 13 months. I started working as a freelancer when I was pregnant of the second child; the other one was in kindergarten. I stopped working some weeks before the child was born and started again when he was 2 weeks old. My mother or my mother-in-law came here at home to look after him while I was working. It went on like this until September, when he started going to a day nursery. It was a great thing for me! I don't have lots of work since I really looked for clients only after the baby's birth (so less than 1 year ago) and I'm not perfectly established yet, but I found it really hard to concentrate when he was here. The grandmothers always had something to ask me, my mother-in-law used to sing all the time, the baby cried... The worst period was when he started stalking around and tried several times a day to switch my computer off!!
Now I work until 4 pm and, if I need more time, after the children have gone to bed; if I'm not busy, I go and catch them at school earlier, in order to spend some more time with them. For me, it's the best solution.


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 08:00
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two girls Nov 6, 2007

I have a four year old and a three year old, who are in school in the mornings, when I try to work for a couple of hours. We have a mandatory siesta in our house after lunch, so when they come home and eat I get another hour or so of work in.
Since they have activities, dance, swimming, etc. in the afternoons I generally do the bulk of my work at night, once they are asleep.
Since I have no nanny/babysitter, things sometimes get hairy here, and when I have a work overload I often have them hanging over me, trying to "help", and it is those moments that my angels decide to fight with each other.
When they were babies it was not so bad, because I figured out a way to nurse and work at the same time!
Next year the older one will be in school all day, so it will be a little easier, and a year later the little one will be too. I am already projecting my plans for then...but in the meantime I am happy I have the time with them. It passes very quickly.


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Nadja Balogh  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
Japanese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
All in all it sounds quite manageable Nov 6, 2007

Thanks everybody for your stories. All in all it sounds like I've imagined it would (I have two brothers much younger than me, so I have some ideas about how kids are like).

In fact, one of the reasons I always wanted to be a translator was the possibilty to see my kids grow up around me without having to be "only" a housewife.


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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:00
French to Italian
+ ...
not easy for me Nov 6, 2007

I do not want to discourage you, but my own experience (my 2 sons are grown up now) was not so easy.
My first baby was a very sweet one, so I could work while he was sleeping, and that was most of the time at the beginning. But my second one would not sleep at all; he wanted to be in my arms all the time, and started screaming as soon as I put him in his bed.
Moreover, when they grew up a bit, and started moving around, I never found it possible to work while they were at home, so I had to put them in a kinder garten all day long.
And, as I like interpreting, it was really difficult for me to travel to other places, or to be with my clients in the evening.
If I could get back to that time, I would certainly choose carefully my assignments, in order to work part time. But I had just started my free lance activity, and I thought I could not refuse jobs, because I wanted to get established.
So, it was really a hard time for me!
But now they are almost adults, and they even help me with my work, and are my best secretaries!


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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:00
French to English
+ ...
I couldn't do it Nov 6, 2007

Hi Nadja,

Like others have said, I think it really depends on the baby and your own personality.
I have 2 children, and this is the first year they are both in school all day long. But prior to that, I took a full 3 months off from translating after each baby was born to recover and establish breastfeeding, and then I put my daughters in daycare. The nanny lived not far from me, so I was able to dash over during the day to nurse and then come back to the quiet of my office.
I just knew myself and knew I would not be able to concentrate with a baby/toddler around. I found it easier to have a shorter day that was highly productive and then enjoy quality time with my children, as opposed to a long and non-productive day. I found it to be the best of both worlds because I could still get my work done, and enjoy the flexibility of being my own boss - I never missed a dance recital, birthday party, etc. And if I had a stretch of busy, fruitful days, then I could decide to take a few off and enjoy quality time with my kids.
On the few days they were home with me when I tried to work, I found I was doing everything half-assed - not fully concentrated on my work, and not really there for them.
This way, when I'm in work mode I'm 100% there and when it's family mode, and I'm 100% there.
Ah, balance!


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Elena Pavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:00
Member (2005)
French to Italian
+ ...
My experience with 4! Nov 6, 2007

Hi! I have 4 children: 11, 9, 4 and almost 2 years old. I first had three girls; they were all very quiet, I used to have some toys in my office and I could work while they were playing. But I proofread my translations early in the morning or during their naps.
Everything is different with the last one... a boy! He doesn't play a lot, he loves climbing on everything to grasp candies, switch on TV or radio and play with CDs and DVDs, find the vacuum cleaner and put the plug in the socket, climb and take the products to clean up the house... Well, I have to be careful all the time. So I used to wake at 5 in the morning to work as much as possible while everybody was sleeping, I worked during his nap or late at evening.
Now I have found a baby sitter for the morning: he has somebody who spends time with him and he also plays with other children, while I can work in total peace. He comes back home for lunch, I spend some time with him and I continue my work during his nap.
Sure, it is not easy all the time, especially during school holidays, but I can spend time with my children and enjoy them. As Margreet says, I could stand picking up my children at the day care and hear somebody say "Guess what: he has said his first word" or "Today he has started walking".
And I can also take care of them when they are sick.
I think that everything depends on the children, how quiet they are, and also on the mum's patience!
Good luck!


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Aline Canino  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
Chinese to French
+ ...
A 3 years old daughter here Nov 6, 2007

Hi,
As it was already said, I think it will depend on the baby's personnality and this is a fact nobody can know in advance. One thing more, it also depends on your habits and your way of working.
I started to work as free lance this year, my daughter was almost 3 at that time so I can't tell you how I would have manage with a baby.
Before she began to go to school in september, I used to work on the evening. I have the chance that my husband works on evening too and comes back home near 1H30 am, so I could work for almost 5 hours very productively.

Now she goes to school (only the morning) it's easier because I can work early in the morning till 12H and late in the evening. That means... I don't sleep much! But this is the way I work.
The worst time (for my job only) is holidays, but my husband is at home untill 15H so he can play with her and it's a good help. I also avoid to use the phone when she's around because it's very hard to have a serious conversation with her asking loudly "who are you phoning ? give me the phone please I want to speak too..", and it doesn't look very professionnal anyway!
Well, that's for the negative points but there are plenty of good things too. You can see your baby grow up day after day, be here for him (or her) at any time and if you find your way of working, you will feel happy so the time you will have with your child will be very pleasant for both of you.
Good luck,

Aline


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:00
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Nov 6, 2007

Hi
I am a single mother of triplets aged 9.
I think you basically have to adjust your schedule around your kids.
I resumed working 1 month after giving birth. At that time I had a girl helping me for 8 hours a day. Then I sent them to daycare and still needed help after daycare hours and during sick days & holidays. Now they go to school from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I take them to school, then do some shopping and cleaning, then work for about 5-6 hours. Then I pick them from school and I spend time doing homework with them, etc. until dinner time (7 pm). Around 9 pm I resume working and work until midnight. Therefore I basically work 8 hours a day.

Holidays are a big issue, during the summer I usually work a lot so I have to spend a lot of money for summer camps or other activities to keep them busy.

I try to avoid highly stressful jobs/high maintenance clients. I gave up a US-based agency who used to send rush jobs on Friday nights due on Monday.

I am also trying to restrict my client base. I used to have 7-8 clients but this was really too much. It was too stressful. I am trying to keep only 4-5 regular clients with a steady workflow.

In short, translating full time and raising kids is doable but you need to be good at stress management.

Laura


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:00
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Three kids here... Nov 6, 2007

6, 4 and almost 1. I've been translating for about a year now, because I decided that with three kids, my teaching job had me away from home too much. I'm fortunate not to be the sole breadwinner, so I work about 30-35 hours a week. My sons are in school from 8-3, so I work when my daughter naps in the morning (2 hours), a bit in the afternoon when I can and usually for 3-4 hours in the evening. I'm also willing to take some projects over the weekend, time permitting.

I am very careful when scheduling work to be certain I can meet deadlines with my unusual working hours. Since I'm in the U.S., I've occasionally surprised my European clients with quick replies to their early morning e-mails. In the summer when the kids are home from school I plan to hire a neighborhood kid for a few hours a day to give me a chance to work. Once my youngest is in preschool, I expect my hours can be more regular (5-6 hours/day, less work at night).

So far it's working well. I'm always available to my kids, yet I feel I've maintained a viable career.

Laura


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:00
English to Spanish
Two demanding kids Nov 7, 2007

Hi,

In comparison with many female translators who replied to your post, I am complaining for fun!

My kids are 5 and 10, so no apparent problem there. During the day, when they´re at school, I´m most productive. I have learned to concentrate when I have the chance to do so and not when my brain decides.
When they come back from school, it´s relatively easy: they demand snacks, a program on TV or whatever.

However, there is something I struggle to make them understand: I am not in front of a computer ignoring the rest of the world, because I´m bored. I am working !
To them, being in front of a computer can´t be work and that´s why they constantly come to my office to distract me.

But if their Dad decides to work from home, they don´t dare bother him. Why ?


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:00
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
a 2 years old one Nov 7, 2007

I have a 2 years old son who is very curious and just like Elena's son loves to play with CD's, X-box. But it also helps - he is not bored, so we have just bought some Lego sets and a lot of cars, so he builds garages. It is not always easy to concentrate that is why I prefer to proofread my texts when he takes his day nap (approx. 2 hours). And I prefer not to take interpreting jobs.
I came back to work when he was 3 months old.


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