Balancing family, Work and Learning How to Code

Learning how to code

Sometimes your plan won’t work in the way you want it to be.

There are things in life you have to consider.

Like in my case.

I’m a family man now. I have a wife and son who needs me: my attention. My time. My money. 

Of course, I’m a father. A provider. I had to earn a living for them.

Today’s pandemic affected my job as a full-time virtual assistant. I’m now earning less than usual. 

It’s hard. It hurts.And that’s life.

That’s the downside when we do linear income like a job.

Now, all of my plans have to rearrange and my spare time has to be rechanneled to venture to a new skill to earn more.

Let me tell you what my challenges are.

Of building a worthwhile skill while at the same balancing work and family.

On finding another source of income

This is the hardest part. 

Imagine my problem today: I’m a virtual assistant and used to be earning well like a thousand dollars. 

(It’s a good income here in the Philippines.)

But today, I’m earning half. My client was affected by the pandemic.

There’s a need  to create another source of income. 

By doing that, I have to be competitive. My skills are limited within the virtual assistance realm. 

Pretty common skills. Generic even. 

Anyone can do it with little training. For as long as anyone has strong communication skills and a fast-learner, anybody can be a virtual assistant right away.

It’s a low-entry job in the online world.

If I apply as a virtual assistant again, the competition is wider and stiffer. Because there are more  jobless people who go online due to the global catastrophe we’re in. 

I believe I can get another client. But… and a big but, when?

Getting clients online will take more time today.

Knowing that I’m competing for those people who lost their jobs in the offline world. Knowing that I’m doing a low-entry job. Acknowledging that there are more hungry people who’re ready to go toe-to-toe to pick up a bloody fight just to get clients, it’s the harshest jungle online.

Oh not to mention: 

There are also virtual assistants who lost their clients and now joining the fray. It’ll be a big fight online, right?

Learning how to code

Instead, I propose a solution to my dilemma: to learn a valuable skill. And learning a valuable skill from scratch will take a little bit of time. 

This means, I have to address both short-term and long-term problems.

Short-term plan: 

A skill I can pick up in three to six months like Advanced Excel skills and WordPress development. I’m familiar with these two but on a beginner or intermediate level. 


I’m writing in WordPress platform.

Long-term plan:

I need to build a skill that I can pick up in a year or two and become good at it. Which is for me to learn how to code. And I chose to learn JavaScript programming and become a web developer in due time.

Web development is one of the most in-demand skills online. There’s no shortage of hiring.

I even wrote a whole page why I want to learn how to code. This is the ultimate solution to all my money problems: to provide the best for my family and address my biggest dream at the same time.

Two months ago, I started my journey in learning to code on FreeCodecamp. A month later, I bought Colt Steele’s course about web development  on Udemy. 

I took both classes at the same time.

Struggle is Real

I struggle a lot because my weakness was exposed: MATH.

Programming has a lot of logic and Math.  

Also, without a computer background, it may take longer than expected to learn how to code. 

JavaScript has a complex syntax. It’s the biggest beast that I have to conquer in web development.

It’s my biggest headache of my life.

I get lost a lot to understand the concepts especially Functions and Loops.

The solution: stop comparing myself to others.

Be patient. Drink a lot of water (Suffer brain dehydration analyzing codes). And never mind being slow.

To learn how to code is not a race. It is a marathon especially for non-computer graduates.

Prepare for uncertainty

This pandemic opened more eyes. I have to prepare for eventuality. For catastrophe. For uncertainty.

Here are my mistakes:

I was relaxing a lot before the virus hit us. I threw most of my money in investment schemes and relaxed and traveled and bought things I don’t need.

In short, I wasted money and collected credit card debts.

I didn’t even bother to learn a new skill.

What a waste!

I didn’t invest my money in Bitcoin or altcoins (Which are giving more than 100% returns today. I thought of this before but was too negative.) and other investment vehicles to grow my money. 

It’s not too late so I joined and enjoyed the tide today.

(Warning: Do not invest in cryptocurrency if you don’t understand what you are doing. Prepare to lose. It’s a high volatility market.)

Hence, the pandemic is giving me three lessons. 

  1. To prepare
  2. To be smart in handling money
  3. Continue learning and build a valuable skill

I’m taking two courses in web development today to address #3.  

While taking these courses, I also have a few offline activities like attending to the needs of my family and serve a small Christian community.

Yes, I believe spiritual life is very very important to have a balance and fulfilling life.

It’s a pretty busy life then. 

I apply again online. I created a profile in Upwork and joined other job hiring platforms. 

So far, all applications or proposals were rejected. It feels like I started all over again before I got my first client online.

I’m stepping back. Reflect. Save time and money.

Realized what I did wrong.

I searched online and read strategies on how to apply effectively  on Upwork. Connects on Upwork are not free. It’s expensive. I don’t want to waste Connects.

Let’s see what will happen next in trying to get new clients.

Final Thoughts

I believe the only way to secure my income online and have steady streams of clients is to learn one of the most in-demand jobs which is web development or programming.

That’s why I need to learn how to code every day. 

No compromise of my schedules. No ifs and buts. By hooks or by crooks, I have to learn every single day with a minimum of an hour (I do more).

The goal is to get a junior front-end developer job in six to 12 months. 

Next, learn to become a full-stack developer and chase my biggest dream to create my own mobile app and start a tech company.

It’s a lofty goal.

Someone said, “A journey of a thousand miles start with a baby step.”

Yes, I’m taking the baby steps today!

***What do you think of my plans?

Do you have some suggestions? Please comment below. I’ll be glad to hear your thoughts.

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Marleo Enobio

Marleo is a work-at-home father. He blogs about his journey towards learning how to code and some online opportunities and tech news. When he's not working or doing anything online, he spends time with his family and serve a Christian community. He lives in General Santos City, Philippines.

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