Lollipops & Laptops

The Sticky Life of a Working Mom

9 Reasons Why Managing Employees is the Same as Parenting Toddlers

9 Reasons Managing Employees is the Same as Parenting Toddlers - Lollipops & Laptops

A recent promotion at work has me managing a few new employees, and I realize I’m uniquely qualified for this big task because I parent a toddler. These scenarios are interchangeable for me whether I’m in the office or at home.

  1. When you walk into a room, they go quiet. It’s that awful transition from colleague to manager that makes them all squirmy when you walk into a room. Like my toddler, who refuses to continue her pretend phone call with her stuffed animals as soon as I’m within earshot, employees get all kinds of quiet when you enter a room. It doesn’t matter if they were talking about how horrible you are or the unseasonably warm weather, it’s clear you are not welcome.
  2. You’re regularly met with a blank stare. Whether you’re asking your employee follow up questions about the quarterly financial report or inquiring about your toddler’s day at preschool, you’re generally met with a wide-eyed, blank stare followed by some incomprehensible mumbling.
  3. You’re tasked with entertaining them. I mean, seriously, WHEN do toddlers learn to self-entertain for more than five minutes at a time? I’d hold out hope that within a few years she’ll be keeping herself busy all day, but my employees need free pizza, coffee, and donuts and all kinds of engagement tactics to get through one work day.
  4. You frequently have to pull rank. Whether it’s convincing a toddler to take a bath or insisting your employee’s PowerPoint use fewer slides for the presentation, “because I said so” never feels like the right answer.
  5. You can’t leave for a few hours without a babysitter. I can’t leave my toddler home alone for the same reason I can’t leave my employees alone in the office: nothing will get done, something will break, someone will cry, and all the snacks will get eaten.
  6. You are responsible for their growth. Granted, the toddler relies on you for basic life-giving things like food, water, and shelter, but in both cases the pressure is on to help them grow to be their best, and it’s on you if they suck.
  7. Building trust is a constant battle. Even though you know they’ll screw up, you have to (at least pretend to) trust them so they learn on their own.
  8. Skill vs. Will. Figuring out whether they aren’t capable or they just “don’t wanna” is an art form. Finding out that it’s the former in either case is never good.
  9. You’re terrified of them. Despite clearly being the one in charge, you’re terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing, making them angry, or hearing from a colleague (or their big sister) that they hate you.

All joking aside, both parenting a toddler and managing employees is a big responsibility, and the key to surviving (and thriving) is an open mind, a constant desire to learn, grow, and adapt, and most of all, a sense of humor.


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1 Comment

  1. Kristina

    This is such a great post and perfect for the Monday blues!

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