I did not expect to be the kind of parent that dressed my child in comedy outfits – in fact, before Jack was born I was adamant that I wouldn’t do that. Parents are embarrassing enough when you are 18 without having them bring out all the embarrassing photos of you as a child.
But as it turns out, I am exactly that kind of parent. Hence this month I have dressed my baby up in a Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit. In my defence, I did crochet it myself and had a great deal of fun doing so.
The learning from this is that you never know how you are going to be until you are slap bang in the middle of it. After all, how many times have you started a project thinking that you knew exactly how it would pan out and then you, a member of your team or a stakeholder acted completely differently to how you expected?
Here are some more parenting/project management cross-over lessons from this month.
Pare down what you need
I took lots of stuff to the first support group I attended. As well as the pram I took my handbag, a blanket, a fully loaded nappy bag, a book, the rain cover for the pram, and a coat and cardigan for me. I took up two chairs by the time I’d unloaded all my kit, so no one could sit next to me.
When I went along the second time I put my keys, phone and purse in a zip up pocket, put the baby in a sling and chucked a slimmed-down nappy bag over my shoulder.
The more experience you have, the more you make changes to your routine so that you only do what you need to.
When I started out managing projects I kept the PRINCE2® manual on my desk and referred to it often. I used all the templates. I followed all the processes. Today, I don’t bother and it actually makes me a better project manager. With experience, you learn to pare down what you need and therefore spend more time on the important stuff.
You can’t do it alone
You can’t manage a project by yourself. That’s why we have teams. I know many people do successfully bring up children by themselves, but it’s got to be easier with some helpers around.
We have had a long stream of visitors, plus a group of new friends with babies the same age as Jack made through NCT. I accept all the help I can get.
Do the same on your projects. If someone offers to do the minutes, say yes. Delegate everything you can. Find a mentor or a coach. Talk to your manager or project sponsor if you get stuck. We don’t know it all and we certainly can’t do it all. Don’t be a hero – share the load where you can.
Communication is important
Don’t say: “Is that a maternity top?” when it isn’t. Ordinary clothes may fit but appear tighter – mothers do not need to be reminded of this. So, just like on projects, think about what you say and how your message will come across before you open your mouth.
Keep your suggestions for project-management-in-parenting coming – I still have a lot to learn!