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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Project in its infancy

The return to work is looming.  Not for a little while yet, but I'm more than two thirds through my (generous) maternity leave.  So it makes sense to start thinking about it.

Over the years I have been astonished as clever woman after clever woman at a wide range of different companies tells me that they're treated differently on their return to work - as if they can't handle difficult situations, complex problems or multitasking.  They are seen as a "mum" who comes to spend a bit of time in the office, before going home - presumably to lick the kitchen clean and bake cupcakes with soya milk.

This is a real shame as over the last ten months or so, I have definitely had the opportunity to hone some skills and to practise some new ones.  Yes, stupid spell checker, that is "practise" with an "s" because it's a verb.  Honestly, you can't get the virtual staff.

Here are the skills I've polished up since having a baby:


Never a strong suit of mine, this has probably been the skill brought most sharply into focus.  Be it trying for (literally) the fifteenth time to get a pair of tights on a baby who would really rather not be wearing a pair of tights without shouting, slapping or throwing either the baby or the tights down the stairs - or be it saying, "Shh, shh, shh" in what started as a soothing voice (but started to become very slightly threatening after sixteen attempts at settling the baby at 4 in the morning).  I have patience sorted.

How will this transfer to the workplace?

Managing Director: Laura, this performance is unacceptable.  You have missed your deadlines and come in over budget.  What on earth were you thinking?  Shouty shouty shout.

Laura: Oh dear, someone's cranky.  Do you need a nap?  Shall we go and see your teddy bear.  Who's got a tickly tummy?  You have!  You have!

OK, well, moving on...

Problem solving

Once a baby is past about four months old (before that they like to practise random demon screaming at nothing at all, just to keep you on your toes), generally there's one of the following list wrong: hungry, tired, too hot, too cold, nappy needs changing.  If it's none of the above, they're probably teething.  Stick some Calpol down their fat little neck.

Actually, that paragraph above could save you a lot of time reading all those wanky baby books.  You're welcome.

OK, so back in the office, it's mid-morning and a perfect temperature.  We will give the senior management the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are toilet trained and not currently teething.

Managing Director: Laura, this performance is unacceptable.  You have missed your deadlines and come in over budget.  What on earth were you thinking?  Shouty shouty shout.

Laura: Hmm, well you aren't tired or cold or hot...  Someone must be a hungry bungry!  Who's a hungry bungry?  You're a hungry bungry.  *Whips tit out to give breastfeed*

That could either go really well or really badly.  I stand a 50-50 chance of being promoted, I reckon.

Time management

Those early days of having a baby are so horrific.  You can't put the thing down because it yelps.  So in order to do anything - and I mean anything - you need to plan about fifteen steps ahead.  For example, let's say you need to go to the toilet.  You are holding the baby.  Your internal process will go like this:

- I need to go to the toilet
- But I can't put the baby down because she'll cry
- If I fed her first, she might fall asleep
- But I can't feed her before I've expressed because I won't have enough milk for later
- But I can't express before I've sterilised the equipment
- So I'll unload the dishwasher and put the stuff in the steriliser.  This is tricky one-handed but achievable.
- Oh dear, she's pooed again.  And it's leaked again.
- So whilst the steriliser is on, I will change the baby, put more laundry on, come downstairs, then express some milk, put it in the fridge, feed the baby, put the baby to sleep and THEN I can go to the toilet.  And whilst I'm expressing, I'll order some useful baby equipment from Amazon.

There isn't a mother alive who couldn't give a PRINCE2 project manager a run for her money.

I would promote me immediately.


Anonymous said...


bethamphetamine said...

Preach! Especially the time management steps towards going to the toilet. Happily Lila can now be put down from time to time in the bouncer or activity mat so I can frantically run around doing things.