Home > Family, Parenting, Personal, Work > Babies: the most aggressive project managers

Babies: the most aggressive project managers

I walked away from negotiating technology contracts two weeks ago today.

I traded in those technology contracts for more time with my young sons. By the time we arrived home daily previously, I had only a few waking minutes to spend with my seven-month-old. The time I had with my five-year-old was longer but task driven–homework, dinner prep, and chores, oh my!

It’s a gift to have a little extra time with my kids for now. As I slowly search for my next paying position, I savor these precious additional minutes with my children.

Most of them, anyway.

OK, some?

It’s an adjustment moving from full time contracts work to full time mom work. I knew it would be; I have known all moms are “working moms” since I was little, thanks to watching my single mom juggle an impossibly lengthy list of to-dos on the daily. And yet, knowing it in the abstract didn’t prepare me for the reality.

At the office, I block one or two hours of contract review time for each contract. I ignore phone calls and emails while diving into the finer points of software licensing issues. Only the most tenacious of project managers show up at my desk during these sacred review times, which enable me to slash through my to-dos with simultaneous focus and abandon.

I have to-do lists at home, too. There’s a lengthy list of chores I’ve been putting off because I just didn’t have the time for them. And now? Now I have it! I can smite those to-dos and create order in my household!

That was the idea, anyway.

The reality is that my seven-month-old is the most aggressive project manager I’ve yet met. He doesn’t care what other projects I’m managing. He doesn’t care if only seven of the dishes are done, a quarter of the room is swept or the dog is unwalked. He has needs, and each of their deadlines is RIGHT NOW.


Littler J is an extremely effective project manager. Granted, he only has a few tools in his project management arsenal, but he really only needs the one: screaming.

Going into this week, I had all kinds of ideas about what I would get accomplished. Exiting this week, I am starting to take a more realistic view.

First and foremost, my job is to care for my tiny project manager. That doesn’t mean he will get my every moment or bit of attention, but that this will be my primary objective. Both he and I will be much less frustrated if I define his care thusly.

Other objectives will be subsidiary, and broken down into individual tasks capable of being completed in five minutes apiece. Some days I might achieve only one. Others, like yesterday, I might be lucky enough to knock out six or seven.

It didn’t feel lucky yesterday. I’ve gotta be honest about that.

It’s only this morning, reflecting on my goals as a mother as I would assess them in my paying work, that I am able to see how differently “effectiveness” will be defined in these two very different workplaces.

It will take me a little while to apply my new vision, but that’s OK. It’s easier to get somewhere once I know where I’m going. Where I am going is not toward a completed task list, but toward building tender connections with the little project managers whose presence lights my days … if only I remember to look not at the tasks undone, but at them. Sweet, relentless, exuberant them.


Many thanks to my littlest Project Manager for sleeping long enough for me to get this all out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. November 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

    This is great – babies as “project managers”!

    • November 7, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Seeing the likeness enabled me to embrace the new regime … or start embracing it, anyway! :p

  2. November 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Congratulations on getting more time to spend with your little “project managers” !

    • November 7, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Thanks! I will probably only barely adjust to this kind of project management in time to return to the more traditional kind, do it will be important for me to keep my real objective close at heart and savor the heck out of this time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jen
    November 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I’m sure it must be quite an adjustment! Definitely a different sort of time management as you say. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kind of nice that you get to experience both sides.

    • November 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

      I am definitely grateful for the chance to see both! Having spotted a third tooth bursrinf through Littler J’s gums, I am also grateful to have confirmed that he is indeed extra grumpy. (You never have to worry about how teeth are impacting projects in the office!)

      • Jen
        November 7, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Lol this is true!

  4. November 7, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Ha ha… motherhood is a relentless job, but so worth it in the end.

  5. November 7, 2014 at 9:41 am

    This puts a very good perspective on things. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the to-dos that need done, but at the end of the day, the kiddos won’t notice a messy house, they’ll notice how much time they got to spend having fun/cuddling with mommy

    • November 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Exactly! There will be certain things that must get done, but a number of things that won’t really impact the bottom line if left undone one more day. For example, I like having a clean dining room table … but the earth’s not going to stop spinning on its axis if it’s still cluttered at bedtime!

  6. November 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Ha, love the idea of a baby as a project manager. Luckily, as they get older, they develop projects of their own. Oh, wait, maybe that’s not so lucky. It means more things for us to do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • November 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

      I can only imagine now … but I get the sense they get even more effective at developing there “but YOU need to do this for me!” strategies. Yelling is great for a baby, so I’m guessing some finesse develops over time. Kids of all ages are great negotiators. :p

      • November 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

        That they are. The good news is, at some point, usually about when they can drive, those project managers become quite handy indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. November 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I can totally relate to this post when I quit my marketing job to be with my then 5 month old and 2 year old. Such an adjustment, but the best decision! I definitely had to change my expectations on what I could get done. Now I work part-time, and it’s a good balance. Enjoy!

    • November 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      It would be beautiful if the adjustments could be quick and easy, but the good news is growth is in the challenges! I look forward to honing my flexibility skills from this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. November 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

    This is such a good development! Those times are exhausting, but so, so sweet – and they are gone in a flash. Build memories now; you will need them to nurture your spirit in the years to come! (Speaking as the mom of a 30-something … So glad I chose to work from home; so sorry I let so many deadlines get in the way.)

    • November 8, 2014 at 8:28 am

      If either of my sons is anything like me as a teen, I’ll need these memories in as soon as seven or eight years! If my mom is right, payback will be mine … a part of the circle of life. :p

  9. November 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    The most aggressive project manager, the most demanding – and the most rewarding.
    Take some time out for yourself when you can. Time to breathe…

    • November 8, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Truly spoken! Yesterday or the day before, I took a few moments to just lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling. I did this all the time in college and law school, but have lost touch with the art of engaging in stillness. I think it’ll be crucial for me to make more of these still moments instead of cramming activity into every second of naptime.

  10. November 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Children are so impatient, aren’t they? And demanding, too.

  11. November 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    it’s pretty amazing just looking at them just being very dependent on you. at the end of the day, when you see them soundly asleep; so angelic, so fragile, so at peace.. subconsciously there’s an uplift in your heart that lets you feel accomplished! and no monetary incentive can equate that.

    that’s how i feel too for my 5th month-old baby….

    though i got to work from 8 to 5. then when i arrive home in the evening till the morning after I’m the one taking care of my precious little one, which includes breastfeeding her in between sleeping time! (^_^) it meant less sleeping hours but totally worth it! ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. November 8, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Be sure your little project manager gets tickles when he least expects it…surprises tickles can make things turn to grins quickly. Sounds like you are enjoying every minute.

  13. November 8, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I’ve often said that I work harder as a stay-at-home-mom than I ever did as a working mom. People don’t believe me, but they should.

  14. November 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Oh, how I remember my transition from Marketing Manager to business owner/SAHM to solely SAHM. I remember thinking how much “easier” it would be when I wore only one hat. Bwahaha! Enjoy that little project manager–he and Lil’D are the best bosses you’ll ever have. โค

  15. Utuh Wanyi
    November 9, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Reblogged this on utuhwanyiblog.

  16. November 9, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I wonder, hmmmmm. If I start screaming will I be more effective at my job? Will my career goals be met more efficiently?

    I wonder, what do you think?

    โค โค

  17. November 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve been away too long. I’m happy for you to have this time with your boys, for however long is right for you.

    Much love.

  18. November 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Yair Shalev.

  19. jottlings
    November 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Love it.

  1. December 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

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