I’ve recently returned to work as a Savills planner from my second maternity leave. My commute between nursery drop-off and the office – and back again – allows a little time for my own thoughts and in a particularly reflective mood one morning, it occured to me how similar the skill sets of a planner and a parent are.
As planners, we’re often in positions of great responsibility and influence. The ability to lead projects and negotiate with key stakeholders is something we become expert at. What could be more true of parenting? The physical and emotional development of a human being is entrusted to us and we are their voice in the world, ensuring the best choices are made for them. Confidence is key to both these occupations.
Everything to do with parenting requires bucket loads of patience – just as it does with planning. But sometimes the way to solve a planning problem is to think outside the box. For example, exploring a creative finance structure to get a site off the ground or seeking permission for an alternative use as a stepping stone. Having a creative mind is massively beneficial to parenting, too, especially in the art of child entertainment and distraction. And another planning skill also comes into play here: the ability to work as a team (in the case of parenting, spending time with other families) can make the job much easier and more enjoyable.
I’ve learnt that central to achieving the best outcomes in planning and parenting is research. Understanding the market, environment and the political context all influence the best planning decisions and taking the time to do this research is time well spent. Research also equals success in parenting, from choosing which new baby products to fill your house with to selecting childcare and schools. Savills planners are fortunate to have a dedicated research department that ensures we have all the most well informed resources to hand. Parents have Google.
Most planners acknowledge that being prepared and organised is essential to the success of their work and I learnt very quickly that this applies to parenting too. I’m not sure which is worse, arriving at a meeting with the wrong set of papers or a day out with toddlers and forgetting to pack snacks. A good planner will foresee potential problems and take steps to avoid them to ensure a smoother ride through the system. This mindset is most helpful to parenthood where in my experience, spontaneity is to be avoided at all costs.
I think planners make great parents and parents make great planners. To anyone considering combining both I would recommend it. Your family and employer will reap the rewards from this mutually beneficial learning process.