Tools & Resources


Child's Play

Raising children, organizing fun and involving youngsters in the world of quality


Kelly Mendes

Morning Madness Managed

I am a mother of three girls: ages 9, 11 and 15. A part of their chores is to empty the dishwasher and clean the kitchen. For the last year, this has been happening in the morning, along with all of other craziness when getting three girls out the door before school: showering, picking the right outfit, hair do’s, making lunches, eating breakfast and last-minute homework.

At supper a few months ago, I suggested we try a small test of change in the hope our mornings would become a little less frantic. I told them this whole process is a plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle. They looked at me with blank faces but agreed to the test of change. This change was to run the dishwasher after supper, followed by cleaning the kitchen and unloading the dishwasher before going to bed. The presumption was this would allow more time in the mornings and tone down the franticness of getting out the door to school on time.

My youngest even renamed her chores PDSAs. “It’s time to do our PDSAs, girls,” she tells her sisters. On initial testing, it did seem to allow a little more time in the mornings. However, with a little extra time, there seemed to be a little more sleeping in. Our second test of change is now to make lunches the night before. “Let’s make our PDSAs, girls!” It’s very cute!

—Kelly Mendes, quality improvement advisor, Vancouver, British Columbia


Organized A.M. Routine

It’s 5:30 a.m., and I start my mental list of things to do. By the time I get up, I have a plan of what is important to accomplish today. I knock on the doors of the children’s bedrooms and I sneak in to take their laundry. I start the coffee, while being followed to the basement by two hungry cats. I feed them and talk to them while I start the laundry and take clothes out of the dryer. Folding and sorting clothes by type and owner will save me time when putting them away. By the time I go back upstairs, hungry and sleepy kids are preparing their oatmeal breakfast. I kiss them good morning and head to my bedroom to get ready for work.

Most days go smoothly, but what family would we be without a “Mom, I forgot to ask you…” just a few minutes before the school bus arrives? Problems must be resolved quickly and efficiently.

—Lupita Roberts, working mom, STACI LaGrange, LaGrange, OH


Jumping to Conclusions

I was always so strict with my kids on name calling that I blundered. While my kids have always been fit, I noticed that because my girl was not attending summer camp, she gained some weight from being inactive and eating more than her one daily snack.

My worries got projected when I heard my son saying, “Uncle Fatso is getting chubbier.” I immediately jumped in to make sure my daughter’s feelings weren’t getting hurt. I told my son, “Please do not call your sister names just because she has gained some weight.” Both of them looked at me in surprise and said, “We were talking about the fish.”

By that time, it was too late, and my daughter was in tears. That reminded me not to jump to conclusions and try to provide false solutions to your worries.

—Lupita Roberts, working mom, STACI LaGrange, LaGrange, OH


Eric Wolf

Bringing Up Baby

My wife and I are expecting our first child this fall. To baby-proof our home, I suggested we use a time-honored tool of the quality profession: failure mode and effects analysis. As we went through the exercise, we were able to discern all relevant and potential failure modes in our house and busy daily activities, construct a Pareto chart of the risk priority number values for prioritization and develop a responsible, accountable, consult and inform matrix to help us implement the changes before our bundle of joy arrives.

As first-time parents, we know that our thoughts and activities will be consumed with caring for our little one. At least now we can rest easier knowing that we can ensure a high quality of life for all three of us.

—Eric Wolf, quality assurance manager, Windsor Foods, Bloomsburg, PA

Editors note: To see Wolf demonstrate quality techniques he uses in his home click here.


Jennifer Stepniowski

Setting Up Summer Fun

As summer break approaches each year, my kids know there’s a process to organizing how their time will be spent. This process was developed after realizing the tools I use at work were the solution to avoiding months of chaos, boredom and unmet expectations.

First, I ask everyone to brainstorm independently and generate some ideas about what it is they would like to do. I tell them to go all out and even include the craziest ideas they can imagine. My son once added he would like to visit the moon. Why not?

After the lists are completed, we use an affinity diagram to narrow down and group activities. With this, the kids don’t argue as much over who gets what. Everyone gets a voice—even parents. I take over with some mom kung fu after this to make things happen.

Aside from summer, our family uses checklists on a regular basis to make sure objectives are set and met. We even have a checklist for going to the beach! Incorporating quality tools into our everyday lives means we spend less time trying to figure how to get stuff done and more time having fun doing it.

—Jennifer Stepniowski, special projects manager, Pro QC International, Tampa, FL


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