Playmobil family sitting around table

“It’s too quiet in my house” A parody of Julia Donaldson’s ‘A squash and a squeeze’

From one self-employed person to everyone who now finds themselves working from home and home-schooling children – Georgina Lewindon 

A middle-aged lady worked home by herself,
with a tidy table shared with no one else.

The PM man must have heard her grouse
“It’s too quiet in my house.
PM man won’t you help me please?
I need conversation, reprise.”

“Work with your husband,” said the PM man
“Work with my husband? What a laughable plan.”
Well, the husband came home and took over the table,
covering it with various cables.

The middle-aged lady cried “What shall I do?”
It was peaceful with one, it’s distracting with two.
My brain isn’t working, I can’t focus on calls,
I need a new kind of reprise.”

And she said “PM man, won’t you help me, please?
I need a new kind of reprise.”

“Home school your child,” said the PM man.
“Home-school my daughter, what a laughable plan.”
Well, the daughter came home and poured glue on the table,
rendering it pretty much unusable.

The middle-aged lady cried “What shall I do?”
It’s too much with three, it was testing with two!
My brain is exploding, I can’t focus at all!
I’m not prepared for this kind of reprise.”

And she said “PM man, won’t you help me, please?
I’m not prepared for this kind of reprise.”

“Take home your son,” said the PM man.
“Take home my 4-year old? What a laughable plan.”
But the son did come home and he sat on the table,
rendering it now very much unstable.

The middle-aged lady cried “Oh my Christ!
It was loud enough, now there’s far too much strife.
My son goads my daughter, I’m ill at ease,
I need a different reprise!”

And she said “PM man, won’t you help me, please?
I need a different reprise!”

(post-Covid 19)

“Send them all out,” said the PM man
“Send them all out? What, you mean that I can?!”
So, she dropped her son off to nursery again.
He’s loving it even more than he did ‘back then’.

She waved to her husband as he walked out the door,
Two people is certainly quieter than four.
She walked to the school gate and kissed good-bye to her girl,
and bear-hugged her friends she’d not seen in a while.

“Thank you, PM man, for during the strife,
I realised what was most important in life.
There’s no need to stay in a quiet house,
now I can go out with my kids and spouse.”

And now she’s full of frolics and fiddle-de-dees,
normality’s back and she’s very easy at ease.
Yes, she’s full of frolics and fiddle-de-dees,
Now she’s much more at ease.

 

The ‘product’ portfolio of discipline

If you’re familiar with the challenge of disciplining children, the Boston Matrix approach to product portfolio analysis can be a surprisingly helpful model – if you change the traditional axis labels from:

  • Market growth rate to Level of transgression / patience required
  • Relative market share to Relative success rate

discipline portfolio

In this revised format, deciding which discipline method to opt for becomes instantly more logical. Hear me out:

Stars

The stars in the discipline portfolio are ‘consequences’; you chuck a box of lego across the room in a fit of rage, you tidy it away.  The stakes are high, but so is the success rate. However, this method often requires superhuman strength to see it through. Sadly, the impact of ‘consequences’ may eventually wear off and and your ‘Stars’ may become ‘Cash Cows’.

Cash cows

The good news is that cash cows, aka ‘distractions’ in this revised portfolio model, require relatively little patience i.e. investment, yet the results are still surprisingly high. However, distractions are usually only appropriate when responding to mildly annoying transgressions rather than the ones that make you question your child’s very essence.

Question marks

Time-outs are a great alternative to consequences for managing more serious transgressions, but require the same – if not more – effort and are often less successful. So while they are worth investing in on occasion, selective use is advised.

Dogs

‘Ignoring’ is another low-effort technique to manage annoying behaviour, and is the ‘dog’ of discipline. In other words, it’s rarely successful in stopping said behaviour and thus is best avoided, but it may often be the only way to maintain your sanity!

 

 

representing research results children

Child’s play: a fun exercise in primary research (with free worksheet)

How much have you learned over the past couple of months while trying to home educate children while juggling work? Personally, I’ve learned (and struggled) a lot. But when I asked the question ‘What do you think Mummy does for work?’ I became acutely aware that my children only get a limited insight into what I actually do. (N.B. Her answer was ‘Goes on the computer’.)

With that in mind, I’ve started a series of ‘marketer minis’ worksheets to help teach my children useful business lessons through play, that can benefit them in everyday life. I hope you will find them useful too.

The first in the #marketerminis series is a ‘detective investigation’ activity – and it’s a great one for helping your little ones stay connected with their friends too.

As well as allowing my daughter to and I to learn together constructively, we got to practice writing and typing skills, talk about data privacy and percentages and learn how to reflect and make decisions based on the information we gathered.

Our research topic was snack preferences – which unsurprisingly did nothing to lesson the usual number of morning snack requests.

Why?

In any research proposal, we should always analyse our reasons for carrying out the research. In business it’s often about understanding our customers better; in this case, we wanted to get an idea of which snacks my daughter’s friends  liked so that when we hosted a playdate we could be well prepared to meet their needs.

Detective investigation worksheet

What?

Next we explored what we wanted to find out through our investigation. It’s easy to dive straight into designing questions without thinking about the answers you need. We wanted to know whether her friends preferred Nutella, jam or peanut butter – those being the three things we already had in the cupboard! We also wanted to see if it would be worth getting bread and pancakes in and if there were any other spreads or snacks they liked too.

Who?

We needed to be clear about who we wanted to involve in the research. Like most 5 year olds, my daughter has friends in lots of places, but we decided to focus on a group of her school friends – more specifically, the ones whose parents I had contact numbers for and could therefore invite to participate – and attend said playdate.

How?

What with it being the summer holidays, we decided a survey was more practical than one to one interviews or a focus group (which would essentially be a pre-playdate playdate) – so went about setting up a SurveyMonkey. We chose 2 multiple-choice questions to get some quantitative data on different spreads and what they like to spread them onto, so that we could see which snacks would be most popular.

We also gave the respondents a chance to select ‘other’ if none of the choices were relevant. We then added a third, open-ended question giving them free rein to list other snacks.

Since we were collecting names, we made sure we included a data privacy statement at the top as well.

Survey data disclaimer

 

Analysis

The results came in fast – who would have guessed kids liked to express their opinions about snacks?! It was soon time to analyse the results and draw some conclusions about which snacks her friends liked the most.

Chart showing results of detective investigation for children

As well as using SurveyMonkey’s inbuilt chart tools to draw conclusions, we used some Playmobil figures and learning blocks to visualise the proportion of friends per spread for ourselves.

representing research results children

The main conclusions were:

  • Jam is on the shelf; the majority (60%) of her friends preferred Nutella – only 1 (20%) preferred peanut butter – the other 1 (20%) said honey. So, we should get some more honey.
  • We should buy both bread and pancakes; there was an even split between the friends who chose toast and pancakes as their preferred option (40% for each).
  • Her friends like a diverse range of snacks; apples, carrots, cake, cherries, bananas, chocolate, ice cream, rice crackers, fruit bars, fruit, cucumber, biscuits, tangerines, crackers and strawberries. Basically, anything goes.

If you’d like to plan your own research exercise with your children, please download my free Marketer Minis Detective investigation worksheet.