Applying some ideas from your work environment at home can have some great results.
young and child-free, you dreamily and somewhat obliviously fantasise about your
future family. I imagined three, maybe four children, all of us around the
dinner table, sharing jokes and gently teasing one another. We’d be like those
stock photos of families with fabulous teeth who find their food hilarious.
Flash forward to
now, with three kids ranging in age from nine to 16, and the reality is somewhat
messier than I’d imagined. Dinner times are rarely idyllic. Breakfast time is
often sullen and rushed and evenings are a blur of homework and panicked
requests for cotton wool and polystyrene for projects.
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The fact is that
family life can be chaotic. I often say I go to work to rest. I think the
reason is that work is controlled and regimented. Home life, not so much.
With that in
mind, I’ve applied some basic ideas from the work environment to see if I can make
family life a little less disorganised.
1. Be the boss
would forget to breathe if I didn’t remind them. “Mom, where are my...?”; “Mom,
how do I...?”; “Mom, where does this go?” are common refrains in my house. They
like to know that someone is in control of their life. This scenario is the
perfect reason to be the boss of the family.
Delegate to them,
remind and manage them, and schedule them. Ensure that they’re motivated to
perform well. Remember, though, that a good manager doesn’t do everything for
her employees. She empowers them to do things for themselves and learn through
Be a team as a
family: everyone pulls their weight and pitches in. Being part of a team
enables us to get tasks accomplished faster. A team with members who have
diverse skills allows you to accomplish some things that you wouldn’t have been
able to do on your own. Have someone in your family who loves cooking? Make him
head chef and get the rest of the team to do the washing up. Someone who’s
great at DIY? Put her in charge of changing the light bulbs while another team
member holds the ladder.
Being in a team
means that you have to communicate constantly. Remember that communication
involves both talking and listening. In my house, this translates to regular
check-ins with my kids. Did Kid1 just lose it over something trivial? Time for
a chat about what’s behind it. Kid3 particularly teary tonight? Time to check
in with him about how his day went and whether he’s perhaps coming down with
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Team leaders (i.e.
– parents) should also check and re-check members’ needs regarding projects or
homework assignments, and whether anything in their schedules has changed. My
worst is when a team member comes to me at 6.15am to inform me he needs three
corks, two skewer sticks, and a length of string for a Technology project.
Communication and planning is essential.
4. Scheduling and prioritising
While we’re on
the topic of planning: We don’t think twice about scheduling tasks at work, so
why not at home? As “the boss” in our house, all schedules and reminders go
onto my electronic calendar. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 10am meeting with my
boss, a 6pm meeting with the teacher, or a reminder to fetch Kid2 from string
ensemble practice. It’s all there. And notices and school letters are dealt
with the night before school. If I only see it in the morning, it’s invisible
to me. You snooze, you lose.
5. If it works at work, it could work at home
I think it’s
clear that some of the fundamental concepts that we take for granted at work
could benefit us in taming the chaos at home. I’m off right now to delegate
some tasks to my team members...
How do you manage your household? Send us an email to email@example.com and tell us your tips for effectively managing your kids.