Parkinson’s Law for Parenthood

If this is common mom knowledge, I missed the memo because I am only learning this now. When my kids have a task like clean their room, make their bed, sweep the floor, fold the clothes, and so on, it seems to be a constant thorn in my side and struggle to get them to do it, no matter how quick or simple the task.

If I tell them, “you have to sweep the floor” they walk around doing everything but and avoid it like the plague. If I tell them they have to clean their room “today” it ends up taking the ENTIRE day even though I could have done it myself in literally less than 10 minutes. What the what?! I have struggled with this issue awhile and very recently the lightbulb came on in my head.

I myself am a procrastinator and struggle keeping up with my own “chores.” I have learned to consider Parkinson’s Law and it has helped dramatically. Parkinson’s Law is the concept that work expands to fill the time for its completion. When I give myself a week to write an article, it will take an entire week, but if I give myself a half-day, I will complete it on time and probably at a higher quality than if I had more time.

The lightbulb illuminated the possibility that this would probably be useful with my kids as well, given that they are also, well, human. I tried it. Instead of telling my son to clean his room (vague and with no deadline), I told him he had to have his room clean (everything off his floor where it belongs and bed made) within 15 minutes. I checked the time and he began…excited…shockingly.

As if that were not enough, when he finished, he had six minutes to spare! Without giving him that hard limit and clarity, it would have been an ongoing battle the entire day. The same worked for my daughter. The result: We were able to have conflict-free family fun time for hours which normally would be time wrought with arguing about them getting their chores done. The grand finale: Mommy doing a happy dance!!!

Thankful for bright ideas,

Nikola Rosa