Seven Ways Toddlers Are Like Project Managers


I'm gonna need those TPS reports and an update on Experiment 626 by bedtime Mom.

I’m gonna need those TPS reports and an update on Experiment 626 by bedtime Mom.

My usually sweet, easygoing four year old was in a foul mess of a mood this weekend. Threenager? Hell. I actually asked her if she was getting her period. My husband and I were both just praying to make it through to Monday morning and taking turns hiding behind the other one. If this was a peek into what she will be like as a teenager, I see wholesale quantities of Xanax in my future.

And as she was invariably unhappy with whatever it was we were trying to do at the moment despite the fact we were one step away from a virgin sacrifice to appease her, a thought occurred to me. This was a lot like my job. Because toddlers are an awful lot like Project Managers and perhaps (crappy) managers in general. In so many ways.

Let’s take a look at a few of them shall we.

1. They regularly demand (literally) the impossible.

Toddler

7:00 A.M. on a Saturday

Toddler:Make me a costume. A pink witch costume. And it has to sparkle.Parent:

Um. Wow. Haven’t had coffee yet. Maybe. Wasn’t really prepared for that. Don’t know if I have pink sparkly anything much less cape worthy at 7 in the morning on a Saturday without notice. Let me see what I can do.

Toddler

Toddler:

Not macaroni! I want corn. Corn! Corn! Not macaroni!

Parent:

There is no corn in the house. I thought macaroni was your favorite.

Toddler:

COOOOOOORRRRNNNNNN! Marcaroni is EEEEWWWWW

Parent:

I really don’t have any.

Toddler:

COOOOOOORRRRNNNNNN! NOOOOWWWW!

Project Manager
3:30 PM on a Friday Afternoon (often before a holiday weekend )

PMRemember that enhancement that you gave me the 1 week estimate for. Well it was really important and the business needs it for (fill in emergency reason here). I need you to do that before close of business today . I am confident you can do it.

2. They have no concept of or concern for how much time/effort something takes. And can thusly be a tad unreasonable.

Toddler

Toddler:

Pink witch cape Mom.

Parent:

Well I have some sparkly old fabric. Let me work on it. I have to find the fabric, figure out a pattern, cut it out, and sew it together. It will take me about 30 minutes.

Toddler:

But I want it now! Why isn’t it done?

Parent:

Give me a few minutes

Toddler:

I want a witch cape. Now.

Project Manager

PM

I need a fully functional website with a flexible API back end, mobile friendly and good looking user interface, new database back end, with full security that integrates and replaces six current mission critical mainframe or desktop systems.

This web stuff is easy.

We have no requirements.

Three months sound good?

Anyone within earshot

No. We are going to need more time to even figure out what the old systems do. Is there even network and infrastructure in place for this? What about a transition plan and training?

PM

Three months then. I will let everyone know.

3. They want a million things at once

Toddler

In the span of five minutes (usually when you need to go to the bathroom)

Toddler:

I’m hungry.

I’m thirsty. Get me milk.

I want to watch Sophia. No not that Sophia. The other Sophia.

I want to get dressed.

I need help with my shoes.

I want a blanket. No not that one. The pink one

I want to feed the dogs. Help me feed the dogs

I want to feed the fish. MOM! Help me feed the fishies

Get my dolly down.

I need my umbrella.

Fruities!

I can’t find Daddy. Where’s Daddy. Help me find Daddy.

Project Manager

3:30 in the afternoon a month the entire team has vacation or training scheduled

PM

This quarter is going to be busy. Project 1 has been green lit.

Project 2 Has been green lit.

Project 3 is out of mothballs and now active

Project 4 has been green lit

Project 5 is back to the drawing board…ditch all the work you just did.But the deadline hasn’t shifted.

We need fifty reports for Project C.

How is the huge R&D project going. We need to see something on that right away.

And XXXXXX needs help with her printer.</>

Now I know there are only three of you. But…Go Team.

4. Everything is Priority #1

Toddler

In the span of 5 minutes

Toddler

I’m hungry.

Toddler

I’m thirsty. Get me milk.

Parent

I’m working on your food. Give me a second.

Toddler

I’m thirsty now. I want something to drink now.

Parent

Ok. Let me get you milk.

Toddler

But I’m Hungry

Parent

Fine. Let me get you food.

Toddler

I want to watch Sophia.

Parent

OK. Let me find the remote.

Toddler

But I want Milk.

Parent

Here is your breakfast. There is Sofia.

Toddler

I want to get dressed.

Parent

I am getting your milk.

Toddler

I need help with my shoes.

Parent

Here is your milk. Where did you go.

Brings whole drawer full of random clothes into the kitchen.

Toddler

Now Mommy

Parent

Fine.

Toddler

But my shoes

>Parent

Lets work on clothes first

Toddler

I want to feed the dogs. Help me feed the dogs. The doggies are starving.

Parent

Don’t you want to get dressed. Feeds the dogs

Toddler

But I don’t have shoes.

Parent

Clothes first.

Toddler

I want to feed the fish. MOM! Help me feed the fishies

Parent

Did we ever get your milk? What about your shoes.

Toddler

Get my dolly down.

Parent

Not right now. Shoes? Fish?

Toddler

I need my umbrella. For my Fishies.

Parent

What about your breakfast I made you waffles.

Toddler

Fruities!

Parent

Seriously?

Toddler

I can’t find Daddy. Where’s Daddy. Help me find Daddy.

Parent

Go find him. Please. Please Go find him.

Toddler

What about my cape?

Project Manager

More succinct but still really the same thing.

Developer

Which one is my priority. The estimates for these individually are at least a month of work a piece. One of them is a year with a full team.

PM

We need them all by July 1.

PM

And I am going to need fifteen minute status reports on all five of them twice a day.

Developer

I have a vacation this month. Developer X has mandatory training. And Developer Y also has vacation. You want a year’s worth of work done in six weeks half staff. That isn’t possible.

PM

Of course it is.

5. They are wholly unimpressed with whatever you manage to accomplish.

Toddler

Parent finally finishes impromptu Pink Sparkly witch cape made from scraps that fits the child (has sleeves and all).

Parent

“I present to you a pink sparkly witch cape. Now I am going to eat and shower”

Toddler Puts on the cape. Looks unimpressed. Drops the cape on the floor after 30 seconds.

Toddler (in the whiniest voice imaginable)

But there is no hat . A pink sparkly hat.

Toddler

And you didn’t make you a green one.

Project Manager

Developer

I managed to get project 1,2 done working nights, weekends, and through lunch. I came in early most days too. 3 is patched to the level that users are happy. 4 is 50% done. I just did six months worth of work in 6 weeks. I need a day off Friday.

PM

There are 3 bugs in project 1. 4 in project 2. The users don’t know what they want, 3 absolutely won’t do. And 4 and 5 are critical and unfinished. This is a disaster.

I need you to make these a priority and do what it takes to get it done.

And project 6 that everyone has known about for two years but you weren’t made aware of isn’t finished. Get on that.

6. They are the only person in the world that you should pay attention to

Toddler

Toddler

Push me on the swing.

Parent

Let me get your brother’s shoes on.

Toddler

But I want you to push me on the swing!

three seconds after that.

Toddler

Push me on the swing

Parent

“Let me hand this list to your Dad real quick

Toddler

But I want you to push me on the swing!

and three seconds after that

Toddler

Push me on the swing

Parent

I need to take this phone call it is your doctor’s office about that appointment we have been waiting on for six months

Toddler

But I want you to push me on the swing!

and three seconds after that

Toddler

Push me on the swing

Parent

This is work. I need to log in and fix this real quick.

Toddler

But I want you to push me on the swing!

Project Manager

PM

I need you to finish up Project 4 and 5.

Developer

PM2 has needs Project 7 and 8. I need to work on those.

PM.

Those aren’t your priority. No one told me you were on those projects and I have you allocated 150% to Project 4 and 5.

Three seconds after PM1 leaves

PM2

I need you to finish up Project 7 and 8.

Developer

PM1 has needs Project 4 and 5. I need to work on those.

PM

Those aren’t your priority. No one told me you were on those projects and I have you allocated 150% to Project 7 and 8.

Three seconds after PM2 leaves

PM3

I need you to finish up top secret Project 6

Developer

PM1 has needs Project 4 and 5. PM2 has needs Project 7 and 8. I need to work on those.

PM3

Those aren’t your priority. I have you allocated 150% to Project 6. You need to figure this out. And what about Experiment 626? What is the status on that project?

Three seconds after PM3 leaves

PM1

What is the status of Project 4 and 5.

Developer

That is my kid’s daycare. I really need to get that.

PM1

Can you get me that status first.

7. They always think they can do it better themselves.

Toddler

Parent

Let me help you

Toddler

I do it myself!

Three seconds of struggling later

Toddler

Help me

Parent

Of course sweetheart.

Project Manager

PM

I used to do this stuff back in the day. I’ll take a look at it and get it knocked out.

Developer

No really. Let me look at that. I have a pretty nifty solution in mind.

PM

I’ve got it.

Three Excel spreadsheets, 5 text files, a batch process, an Access database, and a broke ass Word document with embedded Visio diagrams later….

PM

Do you mind taking a look at this…

Developer

Thought so. Move.

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