Leadership 101

I’m baking cookies today; a lot of cookies.  I’m speaking at my son’s “Career Day” on Friday and I have to do something to beat out the accountant who’s coming.  I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say.  I’m sure the teachers who were selecting the parents scratched their heads when I volunteered to speak about being a “homemaker”.  I looked up career and one of the definitions read:

a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking

Well, that’s me.  This homemaker’s effort is my current course of action.  It’s not that we couldn’t spend the money I’d earn if I went back to work but who’s going to do the all the things that need doing when you have four children.  What the heck were we thinking? 

Of course I wouldn’t trade any one of them for anything, but between doctor’s appointments, dental appointments and the god forsaken laundry, well there’s just not a whole lot of time left for anything of a professional nature. 

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to present this choice at the 3d grade level.  I want to let them know that if their mommies or daddies stay home, it isn’t because they couldn’t be doing something else with their time.  I  don’t want to be clinical and go through the litany of “skills” it takes to do what we do; chef, chief financial officer, budgeter, cruise director, home educator, and most of all family leader. 

We moms sometimes write off our requirement to be the leaders of our children.  That’s a big job.  We have to set standards, hold the standards in place and make sure our children get the standards.  Sammy was telling me the other day how a friend of his uses a lot of ugly words.  I was very surprised.

“Sammy, I’ve never heard him speak like that.” I said

“Well he doesn’t do it around you.” Sam said, “He knows he can’t say that stuff when he’s here. I make sure all my friends know.”

“What do you mean” I asked.

“I tell all my friends before they come in that they have to say please and thank you.  They’re not allowed to say stupid, or shut up, or crap or anything like that;” Sam said, “especially if they ever want to come over to play again.”

How cool is that I thought. 

“Thanks for letting them know that stuff Sam.”  I praised.

“Well I just don’t want to be the kid that never has any friends over” Sam confessed.

Still, he got it.  As leaders, we’ve got to stay in front of our children and help them understand that they have the obligation to work as a part of the team and emphasize that this family unit is the team.  I sometimes get so bogged down in the boredom and routine of staying home, that I have to smack myself to shake it off and get back to the business of leading.  One of our favorite statements we use when the boys are trying to explain why they messed up on something:

Child who has messed up:

“But I thought (fill in the blank).”

Mom who told him exactly what to do in order to be successful at the task:

“Don’t think, it hurts the team.” 

Now don’t go all purist on me.  Of course we don’t tell them everything to do and every way to do it.  They make a TON of mistakes and so do I.  But that particular statement just reminds them that we all have our part to do and sometimes you have to do it just like you’re supposed to for the team to be successful.  Trust me-I’ve gotten it back from them a bunch of times when I haven’t paid attention to what they’ve said needs to be done. 

“Mom-you didn’t put the note in like I asked”.

“Well I thought since I was coming in you wouldn’t need it.”

“Don’t think mom; it hurts the team.”

So I guess that’s what I’m going to tell the kids tomorrow.  I’m going to tell them that careers change and paths change.  Sometimes you lead by being in charge of a huge group of people, sometimes you lead by being in charge of yourself, and sometimes, if you choose to be a parent you lead by setting standards, creating environments for growth and nurturing, by coaching and mentoring and by making choices that are sometimes tough for you personally.

And then I’ll give them cookies.  I’m sure the cookies will make sense. 

Parenting Tip of the Day:  Chores are important.  Let your children start doing them as soon as they’re able.  They won’t do it right, they won’t do it perfectly but they’ll get in the habit of doing it.  Once they’ve gone to bed you can reload the dishwasher, re-vacuum the rug or re-wash the windows but letting them be a part of the household only solidifies that they are a part of the team.  Plus, in a few years they’ll get better at it.  Life gets so much easier. 


8 responses to “Leadership 101

  1. Well it all went very well. On their timelines I put when they could start to drive so they all loved that. The cookies were a good idea though. Project Manager is a good point. Ha..so many hats.

  2. Very inspiring, D! A friend of mine puts “Project Manager” on anything that requires her to fill out her “career”…she’s a full time mommy, too. Project Manager is just so much more appropriate 🙂

  3. I’ll bet you did. You’ve got a long enough one that’s for sure. Bring the helicopter–it’s way cool even to us grown ups…

  4. I’ll meet you for breakfast in the “Fish Bowl”. This is my first elementary school career day. (They picked my husband last time and dissed me.) I am excited because I usually talk to somewhat disenchanted 8th graders, many of whom are wondering just HOW they got in MY classroom.
    When the elementary school coordinator called to let me know they picked ME. I asked her which ‘career’ do you want me to talk about? (I provided a list – really! 🙂
    My 2nd grader informs me he would like me to talk about “houses” or “real estate, ’cause it’s cool”, but I might just bring a laptop or model helicopter.

  5. I just created a career path timeline for them to work on if things get slow. It was so weird calculating when Ben would be graduating high school and oh lord getting a drivers license. Weird to see it down on paper.
    Keep your fingers crossed.

  6. I think you have all of your bases covered…what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the way to hear you and see what their “questions” might end up being for you…might be worthy of another post later on…out of the mouths of babes and all…

  7. Ummm…CEO of Chaos–that’s a good idea. At least the teachers will understand :). Happy Halloween to you too Sunny!

  8. I agree with the chores. Tooters has to do one chore everyday before playing with her friends after school.

    I don’t know how you do it with four, I have one and that keeps me running circles. Between working a million hours a week, taking care of the house, the dog, and the kiddo I am exhausted by the weekends.

    Try condensing your titles. Before I went back to work I used to tell people I was a Child Developement Education Specialist and CEO of Chaos.

    Happy Halloween and good luck with career day.

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