This week I waved off the last of my five daughters.
At the same time (actually, almost as fast as the jet she took to Japan), my husband emptied the girls’ rooms and packed everything off to teenage storage.
Clearly, his way of grieving the end of fulltime parenting was to remove all reminders of the kids. And I’m trying to be brave by talking up how proud we are of these confident, well-adjusted young women finding their own way in the world. But secretly, I wish I’d taught them to be just a little bit needy and insecure, instead of independent and strong!
Our five girls, aged 18 to 24, are now scattered from London to Melbourne, Sydney and Japan.
While at least one of them was at home, I held firm to the view that a good parent’s job was to become obsolete. Now that I’m down to zero kids in the house (and a lot less furniture), I’m considering whether I set my parenting aspirations too high.
So, to maintain the parenting skills I honed and refined over many years, I’ve brought them (and a pot plant salvaged from my husband’s clean-out) to work.
We call it PRenting
In PR terms, nagging is more commonly known as following up. Just as nagging helps make good ideas happen at home (e.g. picking up a wet towel or tidying your room), following up a media pitch can help make them happen at work. Of course, knowing when to nag and when not to is also a parenting master skill.
- To do lists
With five daughters in different schools, doing different sports, having different social lives and studying different subjects, trying to keep across it all required constant organisation and a child-to-a-page calendar. In agency PR with different clients, with different communication goals, different messaging and different timelines, staying on top of it is pretty much the same (but with the names in capitals).
Naturally, one client being awarded a prize will be at exactly the same time as another client is in crisis. Same for the kids. So, having great trust in the expert support around you and making sure your crisis PR plan is in place will ensure co-ordination is clear and all balls stay safely in the air, regardless of whether you are at home or work.
Connections, contacts and community help a busy parent and, at times, favours are requested and reciprocated. It’s a skill easily adapted to PR. Asking for assistance is not a weakness; offering it will always be valued and finding friends will help with the hard times.
Say it simply. Speak clearly. And remember what you said.
“You said I could,” says Child A, who claims I agreed she could stay out all night – when she was 11.
“I didn’t hear you,” claims Child B, when the bin remains un-emptied for hours.
Communication is paramount when it comes to Public Relations and numerous clients but, I’d argue, it’s even more important when having to wrangle a handful of children. I solved the recall part of communication by taking notes. I now apply that in my PR role.
Of course, I could add so many more parenting proficiencies that are transferable to PR. But, as I water my pot plant and watch my husband ruthlessly spring clean as he mourns the loss of our full house, it’s quite clear that a parent working in communications will never be obsolete.