I consider myself father first and geek second, though some people may have different ideas about this. Tonight it happened the two met. With their mother away for a week vacation, my two sons have ample opportunity to try out every trick in their book on their beloved father (that would be me). At the same time, with my significant other away, I can take out my book as well – and meet their challenge. One of the frequent battles in our home is bedtime. It’s not that they protest when asked to retire. They will happily go upstairs. But everything from there takes for ever – undressing, neatly folding up and putting away their day time clothes, getting their pyjamas on, brushing their teeth and… the bed time story.
I have tried several ‘instruments’ for speeding up this process. Some I am not particularly proud of either. And none really worked – it still takes perhaps an hour from ‘time to go the bed’ until lights out. Tonight for some bizarre reason, I decided to apply the MoSCoW principle together with a timebox. And that seems to work quite well. The ‘project’ of getting them in bed with all the Must haves, the Should’s as well and their one big Could to some extent was completed on time – the main objective. There was no real budget involved and the quality was satisfactory (especially with their mother out of the way and not able to perform inspection of facial remants, dirty nails and unfolded clothes).
It is quite silly of course to ramble on about IT project management concepts and apply them to such a private environment. However, I do see some parallels that will now make me more conscious both at work and at home. What happened (I think) was:
The priorities were pretty clear – the way I see it at least:
- Must – Undress, Pyjamas, Brush Teeth
- Should – Scrub Face and Hands, Fold clothes
- Could – read story
- Will not – yell, cry, watch tv
The timebox was set at 8.15pm. At that time, they would be in their own beds, lights out. I explained it to them, made it clear that whatever reading I could do would be over at that time and that it would be up to them to make the most of it. Of course they also were directly impacting each other: one bothering the other would eat out of their shared story time.
Well, obivously the analogy does fall flat very quickly. At the same, with this clear timebox in mind as well as the priorities (and order) of activities agreed between the three of us, things worked out very well. Hardly any annoyance on my part, lots of story time for them and an early start to my own evening as well.
Let’s see whatever principles from work I can apply in a similar fashion. Surely there are design patterns for raising children that are counterparts of OO or SOA design patterns?
By the way, MoSCoW sort of lacks a level when it comes to being a father. A Super M category as it were. Because whatever happens, whatever the state of the timebox: my children will not go to sleep without a good night kiss.