I've not had a regular office-based job since January 2011. I don't miss it (at all) but sometimes I do wonder whether my inner project manager is trying to reassert herself over domestic affairs.
A good indicator of Project Manager mode is, for me, the number of notebooks lying around the house. At the moment I have at least three project notebooks on the go. Three!
I have my ultimate project (Operation Boy). My small business / social enterprising aspirations. And then some voluntary work with various mental health charities. My new PANDAS support group alone is crying out for a Gant chart! And Operation Boy is reaching a critical analytical stage, as we need some sort of spreadsheet to record all the different potential education options and choices for him. It is likely going to take me several weeks of research.
I'm not sure where this energy is coming from. If it's a hypo manic period, then I will embrace it and make the most of it. It could all come tumbling down into a depressive episode at any time. So before the mania wears off, here are my top tips for SAHMs to embrace their inner project manager and start getting those project lists ticked off:
- Time management. Cut out the time wasting. In my case - go cold turkey on pointless app games. I'm not even talking about Angry Birds or Candy Crush here. No, my gaming hours - that precious time between the boy's bedtime and our's - were spent on Solitaire and Sudoku. It used to seriously wind up the husband, but it occupied me and I was genuinely addicted. I've not played a game for over eight weeks now, and the extra time it's given me is coming in handy! (Well, I just use it for blogging and twitter purposes now...)
- Focus. Set achievable goals. Prioritise. Nobody can "do it all", be perfect, but often SAHMs think they should be. Technically I could spend several hours a day cleaning, but I'd much rather spend that time playing with the boy, or taking him to playgroups. So I'm happy to live in a not-so tidy house with a pile of laundry needing ironed and kitchen floorboards that are varnished with snot and tears. I've prioritised the boy over pretty much everything else, but I've also picked just one or two activities which are important to me, such as the PANDAS work.
- Regular appraisals. Meaningful feedback can be hard to come by in this job. There are no bonuses or pay reviews. Heck not even a salary - unless you count occasional usage of the family credit card on items that are strictly-speaking not essential. I try and ask the husband (the closest thing to a line manager I'll ever have now, although it's unclear who is managing who) how he thinks I am doing with the boy. His response is usually disappointingly noncommittal. He has nobody to compare me too as a parent. He is pleased with the end result (the boy is pretty Awesome) but he has no idea of the relative inputs from Nature versus Nurture. It's a quandary. My advice, after a little thought, is to try and be objective with yourself. Instigate a self appraisal regime - fashionable in most large companies these days. Take a few minutes at the end of a busy day to think about what you achieved (or avoided - hey, the baby is still alive!!) and be proud of yourself.
- Consolidation/reorganisation. If something isn't working for you, acknowledge this and fix or change it. This can free up even more useful time and energy. I am terrible at following this advice. For example, I persist in taking the boy swimming on a Tuesday afternoon, even though he clearly doesn't enjoy it anymore, because that is what we do on a Tuesday afternoon. I'm going to pluck up the courage and cancel it after this term. Most companies wouldn't persist with a loss-making enterprise, so why should mums?
Anyway, I hope this advice helps somebody out there! Embrace your inner Project Manager, but never be bullied by her!
A big thanks to "Mum Turned Mom" blog for The Prompt.
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