Logistics masterminds

Working parents may feel like they are constantly behind, but the logistics and crisis management skills that get them to the end of the week must surely be transferable, if the world could only see them as such.



I was talking to someone this week about what an asset parents can be in terms of their ability to problem solve on the spot. Amid the swirl of just getting to the end of the week, parents have developed some pretty nifty skills when it comes to logistics and crisis [or potential crisis] management.

Half our lives are spent thinking of logistics, often while simultaneously doing several other things. Not only that, but they are constantly in potential crisis mode. I was always struck by someone from HR who said they had noticed that parents were the least likely to take holiday. I’m not sure how widespread this is, but it’s certainly something I do, stocking up holiday in case of an emergency – everyone coming down which chicken pox or norovirus or childcare breaking down entirely, for instance. I feel I am constantly anticipating crisis and trying to flex [the term of the moment] around it so I don’t fall so far behind that I can never catch up. There is a constant feeling of potentially being overwhelmed. I thought this might shift as the kids got older, but so far it doesn’t seem to have happened.

Last weekend I had to pick up daughter two from university, meaning having to get ahead on all aspects of work. I normally spend half of Sunday preparing for the working week. Then there are the things like washing school uniforms, ironing and cleaning etc. Everything had to be done in the small hours. I got back late afternoon on Sunday after two solid days of driving, a bit of a disaster with the airbnb [no functioning oven and, worse, as I had two young people with me, no working wifi or tv], car issues, load of car issues, emotional turmoil [teenagers] and more. A friend asked in the afternoon whether my partner had been able to put his feet up for father’s day. He had been on a lads’ weekend in Margate…Sometimes I look at the cat stretched out on a sunny patch on the floor and think that humans have got it all wrong. I feel the same way at times about parenting…

In any event, using my logistics nous I sorted all the problems and had even anticipated some of them in advance. The more experience you have at this parenting lark the more you know the potential potholes in the road ahead. If I was ever to go on Mastermind, last-minute logistics would likely be my specialist subject. Surely this is a skill that has uses elsewhere, other than to make it to the end of the week. Maybe it just isn’t valued, not even by parents because there’s always another potential crisis or logistics problem round the corner.

I feel that work could almost throw any eventuality at me and I could get round it [as long as it doesn’t involve me fixing something technological…], even being in three places almost simultaneously. Whereas in the past I might have got stressed about logistics issues, my brain now automatically tries to find a solution. I was doing a podcast with two other working parents the other day. All of us were squeezing it around other things to work around the guests’ schedules. There were technology problems. There were ongoing issues with guests not replying to emails. One of the parents had childcare issues. There was a problem with the recording. This may have thwarted others, but we found a workaround and the podcast is ready to roll. Of course, we’re all absolutely knackered. It would be nice if somehow there was a way to acknowledge all the extra that goes into keeping everything afloat, or at least not sinking.

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