During my professional career I encountered several situations where women, when asked about their occupation, would answer that they were „only housewives and mothers“. They were surprised to hear that I admired their organisational skills and their time management for which, running a household and family, must certainly require the highest degree of proficiency. So much so that, when we came across the term “clan manager” it stuck and has been in loving, smiling use in our family for years now.
Time-managing kids is not easy in any event. In Switzerland the federalistic school system makes this task even more difficult as much organisational authority lies at the communal level which can lead to a rather diverse picture in school timetables. Block hours and school dinners are not widely implemented so, if you have several children in different age groups, there will be a constant coming and going of young ones all day. At least this situation is eased a bit as Swiss children are expected to walk (!) their way to school and parents are discouraged from providing taxi services for their kids. So the clan manager (CM) can stay in the family command centre and make sure that their offspring leave the house in time and correctly equipped for the tasks lying ahead. Slipping-in some private time for the CM or even leaving the house for a couple of hours requires the utmost level of mastery to make ends meet. And still, somehow the CMs of this world get along just fine and take these challenges in their stride.
One should think, that managing children’s schedules was enough of a challenge and we were somewhat enjoying the fact, that our youngest one is now independent enough to be responsible for her own time. However, we had to learn that private business can be just as demanding on time management as school schedules. Having finished my long-term mandate in Lucerne, we abandoned the office flat there. This resulted in a lot of “stuff” to be sorted out, sold, given away, recycled, stored ore simply thrown away. And here the co-ordination for a decent itinerary starts: The waste incineration plant for the heavy stuff is open during office hours all week and on Saturday mornings. (Make sure to collect your stuff as you have to pay for the first 50 Kilos anyway, even if you only use a fraction of that.) So no problem so far. Off to the recycling yard which is open all afternoons and on Saturday mornings. (Glass and clothing can be dumped at any time as long as night-silence is respected.) The charity second-hand shop where you want to bring your sorted-out belongings for a good cause will happily see you all afternoons except Monday and Saturday. So will the post office (but it doesn’t open till 3 in the afternoon but closes at 11 on Saturdays). The dry cleaner had to cut down on working hours so he is now available from Monday to Saturday all mornings only, whereas the shoemaker decided to cut down on weekends and is now open from Tuesdays to Thursdays. And if you want to store some loved furniture at a warehouse because you can’t bring yourself to get rid of the thing, don’t forget to call and give them 48 hours warning. They might have varying opening hours….
Dear Mothers, Grandmothers, housewives and clan managers of either gender: I salute you!! You are mastering daily what would be a nightmare for any battle hardened business project manager. Last week-end, however, we all gained an hour’s sleep without too much effort from your side, when we changed from summer- to winter-time. For once, you did not have to worry about the time management. (Someone had to adjust all the clocks in the house though…..)