My husband is an insightful businessman with the unique ability to create something out of nothing, envision the future, work efficiently and strategically, and quickly get to the bottom line. In his books and seminars he teaches useful business strategies to high level executives so that they can grow their businesses successfully. His clients rave about the results they achieve when they implement his lessons.
Eager to have the same successful results parenting that my husband’s clients have with their businesses, I have incorporated four of his business practices into my parenting technique.
When one thinks strategically he or she devises a careful plan of action to carry out and achieve a goal. Strategic thinking is a helpful tool for today’s busy parents who are pulled in many different directions and pressed for time. Set a goal and devise a smart plan to achieve the goal. Strategic thinking can be used in conjunction with meal planning, grocery shopping, leaving the house in the morning, etc.
For example, getting the kids to bed at the same time every evening is a great goal that can often go awry for many households. Creating a step by step plan, in this case a bedtime ritual, is an excellent means towards achieving the goal of consistent bedtimes. As children become more and more familiar with the bedtime ritual their internal clocks get set and falling asleep gets easier and easier.
Strategic thinking makes parenting easier because the whole family knows and adheres to a good plan and with a minimum of stress, achieves their goals.
Good time management asks two questions: Is the activity of value? If the activity is of value, what is the best way to do it efficiently? Parents who find that the day is overwhelming, should ask themselves whether the majority of their time is being spent doing important activities efficiently.
There are four questions that should be asked when determining the efficiency of their activities: Should the activity be done at all? Does the activity need to be done now? Can someone else do it? Does the activity have to be done perfectly or is good enough, good enough?
A simple example is setting the table for the evening meal. The answer for most families is, “Yes, this is an important activity.” Does mom or dad have to step away from the stove to set the table now? “No, a child would feel proud to do it now.” Does it have to be approved by the Queen of England? “No, good enough will do and I am proud my child completed the table, not guilty that it isn’t perfect.”
Create Possibility and Move Things Forward
Creating possibility opens the future to bright and wonderful situations and creates opportunity. Moving things forward happens when the person acts on the possibility created.
Parents should be coming from the possibility of love for children when there is opportunity to express it. For example, when a parent is faced with a challenging discipline situation, he can scream and lose his marbles or he can come up with ideas or possibilities to express his love while still managing the children’s behavior.
“Maybe my kids are out of control because we have been in the car all morning, if I take them to the shore and let them run on the beach for an hour I bet we would all calm down.” Moving things forward is then simply Dad driving to the beach and having a wonderful time rough housing with the kids for an hour.
Another way of thinking about this is Stephen Covey’s concept of choice. As he says in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People:“BETWEEN STIMULUS AND RESPONSE IS OUR FREEDOM TO CHOOSE. We have self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will. Responsibility is the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”
With every activity in life there is the chance that something could go wrong. Putting a baby in the tub and feeding whole grapes to toddlers are high risk parenting activities. Moving the baby from the crib to a bed with a rail is medium risk and coloring at the counter with washable markers is low risk but risky all the same.
Thinking ahead will help parents manage risk and will minimize the likelihood that something might go wrong. Parents need to get in the habit of asking themselves, “If I let my kids do this, what is the most likely outcome.”
Parents should measure the probability of something (good or bad) happening multiplied by the negative impact if it does happen. They should then ask, “What is the cost of eliminating the risk?”
For example: Electrical outlets are dangerous if a child sticks a fork in one, so parents are willing to go to the baby store and buy outlet protectors. A child might possibly be able to remove an outlet cover, but is that slight risk worth the parent hiring an electrician to come in and move all of the electrical outlets up to the ceiling?
Parents who overestimate the probability that something will happen, compulsively worry and hover. People who underestimate risk don’t provide a safe environment for kids. Good parents are able to correctly estimate risk so that they protect their children when the risk is too high and loosen up the reigns when the risk is low.
Applying these business management practices to the everyday challenges of parenting will help give parents tools to parent more efficiently and with less stress. Parenting thoughtfully and creatively will model effective adult behavior to children and create a calm and peaceful home.