Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Default Parent Theory vs the Project Manager Approach

I read a pretty interesting blog yesterday.  To fully understand the direction of this post, you should probably read it too, here.  And then wander back to this blog to hear my take.

After reading this aloud to Kirk (omitting some of the words I don't like to say out loud), we agreed this "default parent" thing sounds exhausting!  We're grateful to have our own approach that, so far, works pretty well for us.  In the 22 hours since discussing our theory, the language has crept into our daily vernacular as we point out the parts of our kids lives over which we have become the "project manager."

Case in point.  Wednesday was Adam's first Pinewood Derby.  And, 6 days later, his big 4th grade castle project is due.  If we lived in a "default parent" household, one of us would be burned out and exhausted tonight.  Instead, Kirk acted as Project Manager of the derby:

And I headed up the castle project:

What does it mean to be the project manager?  The project manager is chiefly responsible for being aware of deadlines and requirements and should handle any logistics outside the reasonable scope of responsibility shouldered by the project-bearing child.  Trips to the store.  Power tools.  Brainstorming.  Re-focusing.  Motivation.  Scheduling.  Each of these duties fall to the Project Manager.

This is not to say the other parent is absolved of responsibility.  The Project Manager can delegate any portion of the project to the other parent who, as the other parent, is still required to be at least vaguely aware of deadlines and willing to help as needed.  I texted Michelle to arrange for red paint for the derby car's tail lights.  Kirk drilled the holes in the drawbridge.  I'm proud to say the Fife family acts as a team.

But as we discussed the internal workings of our household, we found that this Project Manager concept doesn't just apply to... well, projects.  We have each, over the years, stepped up and become Project Manager over the many tasks required of involved parents.

Kirk is Project Manager over daily homework assignments.
I am Project Manager over large school projects.
Kirk is Project Manager over administering medicine to sick children.
I am Project Manager of dentist appointments, well-child visits, and vaccinations.
Kirk is Project Manager of sports sign ups, practices, and fundraisers.
I am Project Manager of audition preparation, lessons, and rehearsals.
Kirk is Project Manager of making dinner.
I am Project Manager of meal planning.
Kirk is Project Manager of laundry.
I am Project Manager of new clothing purchases and meeting school uniform requirements.
Kirk is Project Manager of dinner.
I am Project Manager of breakfast.
Kirk is Project Manager of car maintenance.
I am Project Manager of home organization.
Kirk is Project Manager of throw-up and potty accidents relating to children or pets.
I am gratefully not involved in any way.  :)
Kirk is Project Manager of electronics, subscriptions, and utilities.
I am Project Manager of family pictures, traditions, and holidays.
Kirk is Project Manager of lost items.
I am Project Manager of keeping Kirk busy finding lost items.  ;)
Kirk is Project Manager of buying birthday party presents.
I am Project Manager of Christmas presents.

In our house, there is no "default parent."  Our kids generally go to whichever parent happens to be available for the solution to their dilemma, unless their question is specifically related to a clearly defined Project Manager.  For example, the kids would not ask Kirk a question about practicing the piano, and they mostly know better than to ask me questions about their video games.  We laughed when we read the part of the "default parent" blog that mentioned the calendar.  We both share a Google calendar that includes not only the details of our individual schedules, but also the daily obligations of each child.  At any given moment, we are equally aware of the schedules and commitments of our kids, and on any given day we are equally involved in pulling off the intricate plans required to get each kid where he belongs.

It can still be exhausting, for sure, but after contemplating what it would be like to be primarily responsible for everything on the list, I am grateful that the "Project Manager" approach works for us.