Many project managers have to try to reconcile their life as a project manager and being a parent. I am one of them living this challenge, having two kids. And I am inspired today by one of my friend, a project manager who just had his second child. How can we live successfully this challenge? At first glance, it may feel like an impossible one. Sometimes, you feel like you should dedicate more time to the project, but if you do then you will not see your kids. And just being successful in your professional life and losing everything else feels like losing one life to make a living.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I like to successfully deliver projects. My professional life is an important part of me. But nothing can replace my family on the top spot. And despite using the same word, loving my job and loving my family is not quite the same kind of love.
So what am I to do? Honestly, sometimes it feels as if I may be on the losing side. It feels like the other project manager with no kids will always be able to perform better. And let’s not talk about the one with no kids and no spouse who can spend all hours of the week in the office (… sleep in the office)!
Despite what it may look like at first sight, the reality may be more complex than that. Let’s see…
When you are a parent, your time is limited. You have to go home, you cannot just “sleep” in the office. You have to take care of the kids and integrate their schedules with yours. It is the combination of your professional schedule, the professional schedule of your spouse, the schedule of the first kid, the schedule of the second kid, etc.. And somehow you find a way to make this work!
This is why being a parent is an asset. You have to be creative, and find the most efficient way to work. It is often said that work will expand with the time available. When you are a parent, you have limited time so you have to value efficiency. As a project manager, it is actually must better to value results over busyness. Busyness is like having no net worth and driving a luxury car to make others think you are rich. It is just appearance. Busyness is just being busy.
Having limited time also forces the project manager to delegate, delegate and delegate. And that is also a strength. It is much better than trying to do everything yourself, or micromanaging everybody.
Because you cannot delegate your role as a parent! You have to learn to delegate at work. And that is actually good for your project and your career.
Project management includes appropriate planning for the successful completion of the project. Appropriate level of planning is important, but it is absolutely impossible to create a plan that will match reality 100 per cent of the time. Issues will happen, problems will appear, dates will be missed, resources planned will no be available, schedule requirement will change, budget will change.
The project manager can spend is life complaining about all of those events, saying that they should not happen. Or can be someone extremely quick to adapt to emergency, new facts, and find a solution to new problem.
And that is the life of any parent. With kids, you have no other choice but to adapt, adapt and constantly adapt.
Kids will force you to think differently, and be creative. They will develop your creativity by making sure thinks will not go as planned all the time, and forcing their parents to find solutions. But kids also help us being creative with their thoughts, games, questions, all innocent way to look at life. They also help us be creative by giving us an opportunity to disconnect from work and just play.
With kids, parents have some “authority” but it is very limited, and it is something that tends to diminish as they get older. Parents may try to raise all their kids with the same values and approaches, yet they all have their own personality. So being a parent force you to develop collaboration skills if someone wants good relationships with their children.
As a project manager, engaging good discussion and collaboration with various stakeholders is an important skill.
Make it your asset
So are you a project manager who has limited time and other constraints because of your children? Make it your asset! And enjoy your kids!
Michel Dion, PMP, CPA
Founder and Developer of Project-Aria
Discover my book:
Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers: Achieve Better Results in a Dynamic World