Project Management and Parenting: Initiate, Plan and Execute
written by: Chris Greco
• edited by: Tricia Goss
• updated: 3/28/2016
This article discusses the project management process and associates them with conventional parenting wisdom. As a caveat, this article does not in any way point out the best method for parenting. It is an attempt to make it a process for which parenting and project management both apply.
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All parenting models can use the parenting schema presented here. For the purpose of these articles, parenting will be construed as the raising of children to be successful contributors to society. In this way, it is about the children rather than the parents.
With that in mind, we focus on how to parent children and how that is associated with the project process. In order to standardize the project process, we stick with the simple five steps of the process: Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor/Control and Close. We get this from the Project Management Book of Knowledge (called the PMBOK) (www.pmi.org) and from the various project management books. We will take parenting and use those process steps to better define parenting as a project. This first part will take into consideration the first three and the next part the last two.
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When a child is born or enters a family, the parenting project is initiated – right? From the physical part of living with the child as physically separate from the mother that is true, but the preparation is part of the process for initiating the parenting project.
Those that are soon to be parents, are you preparing your house for your child? Are you making room for your child, setting up a nursery, getting a crib, painting, establishing a plan for the birth, etc.? This is all part of the initiating process, since this preparation is part of the process. However, this also shows that the project process for parenting (say that phrase five times fast) sometimes combines the process steps.
Initiate and Plan are often connected. When we initiate a project, we do some pre-planning during that initiation stage. Getting the environment prepared for the child seems just as important, and is probably associated with raising that child.
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The planning portion of parenting is getting the physical environment as well as the parental environment ready for your child. This parental planning could be talking with other parents, reading books on parenting or going to parenting classes. This preparation and planning are all part of the parenting project process.
By planning for their children, future parents are preparing themselves as well as their physical surrounding for the addition of a human who will need constant care. Planning is more than part of the process.
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Tools for Planning
Many free tools are available to parents are planning for the child from educational institutions to parent-coach planners and more (see the Resources section for some free tools) that will help new parents confront and overcome the challenges that accompany having and raising a child.
The project process is a valuable tool, specifically from the planning step. The most important part of a project is determining the requirements for the project.
Parents need to ask, “What kind of parent do I want to be?" Although this is very early in the parenting process to ask that question, talking to other parents and reading on the subject will help you determine your parenting goals. For instance, you may determine that acting as a team is essential. This will come with experience and time, but some preparation helps with the transition from a couple to a couple with a child.
Parenting goals also include the goal of the child. Do you want him to exhibit good manners and respect for others? Do you want to ensure that he is kind and considerate? These are separate from vocational or avocational pursuits and are an essential part of the requirements for both the parent and the child. A parent can and should consider these qualitative goals when preparing the plan for raising the child.
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Probably the most important part of raising the child is the implementation of your plan. The execution is arguably the most difficult stage, since you must face the challenges of current circumstances. For example, if the child is very stubborn, you will have to determine the appropriate discipline for that will not squelch his creativity.
As with execution of any plan, communication is the key to success. The same applies for parenting. It is essential that parents have consistency in their execution. The child will pit one parent against the other if there is no consistency.
If you do not think this happens in a project, just look at a project manager that does not wield consistency in their communications. The project team tends to perform independent tasks until the project is fraught with delays and then fails.
In addition to communication, a timeline is as important in the execution as it is in the planning phase. You can standardize your timeline with the average timing for certain events (turning over, crawling, etc.) or use a baseline from others in your family.
As for long-term goals like college, it is best to see what your child’s interests are at any one time in their life and then facilitate that interest through incentives as the time for higher education nears. Again, communication is the key, but also timing is essential. If you consider both of these, execution of the plan will come together.
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The fourth part of the project management process is monitoring and controlling, which will be discussed in more detail in Part II of this article, but should be introduced here. The reason for introducing it in this section is the fact that setting a goal, and achieving that goal through planning, does not necessarily mean that goal is maintained. Observing that your child says, “please and thank you," the first time does not mean he will continue the trend.
Monitoring your child’s behavior (or having others do that for you in your absence) will help to monitor your parenting. You should also monitor your own behavior to ensure you are setting the example for him. The second article in this series will include more on this.
The five basic phases of project management are conception and initiation, definition and planning, launch or execution, performance and control and project close. Learn how these principles can apply to successful parenting.