Thursday, 25 September 2014

When I Grow Up

The other morning, when she didn't want to go to daycare, Molly informed me that she knew what I did all day at work.  She insisted that she knew that I stayed at home and cuddled with blankets all day long.  Next she told me that she would be joining me for my day instead of going to daycare - since there was no way that she was missing out on cuddles.  When I reconfirmed that I was not sitting at home wrapped in a Slanket all day and that I was in fact going into the office, she reluctantly agreed to go to daycare.  She had assumed that my day was a lot like her day: snacks, colouring, running around in a playground and playing with friends.  Apparently it is quite common for children to assume that you are doing what they know and that your day parallels theirs.

When I am working at home in the evenings Molly will often interrupt me because she wants to look at pictures online.  I often wonder if that is what she considers to be "work"?

It later occurred to me that when your job isn't one that is routinely featured in story books (like astronauts or firemen) or a constant in their lives like teachers, cashiers or doctors, then why should we expect our children to have any clue what we are doing all day.

Sometimes I feel like Friends character Chandler Bing when I try to explain what I do for a living to adults, so the added challenge of the perspective of being three years old makes things a little harder understand.

purple slanket
What Molly Imagines I do all day, complete with Purple Slanket.

8 Tips to Help Your Kids Understand What You Do For A Living and Encourage Work Ethic
  1. For older kids it's suggested that you bring them into work with you, even if it's just for a few hours.  Across Canada the first Wednesday every November is Take Our Kids to Work Day: "Spending a ‘day in the life’ of a profession or workplace is a fun and fascinating way to explore the world of work, think about career options, and make informed educational decisions." - Take Our Kids to Work website.
  2. Show your kids something physical that you did for your work, like a campaign you worked on, a fence you built or the results from a project.  Take them to your company website, show them what you would show to a potential client about what makes what you do/where you work special.
  3. Speak in terms that they understand.  The other week, Chris was at a conference congratulating someone on an award they had won.  When I told the kids that he was telling a large audience about someone thad had done a good job they were excited.    
  4. Let them ask lots of questions and answer them in terms they'll understand.
  5. To give them an appreciation of your skill set talk to them about philanthropy (without the 50 cent words) and show them how you use your talents in your volunteerism.  There is a great video called Mommy and Daddy do it Pro Bono that champions describing your passion for your career path and making it about how you use this to help others.
  6. All of us have tough jobs and bad days.  It's called "work" because it's hard.  Show your kid that you respect the jobs that everyone does, not just the ones who are celebrated in story books.  Don't be the parent who talks down to their waiter or criticizes the stay at home parent. We are all working hard to make things work in our homes, period.  Little eyes and ears are watching.  No one should be ashamed of what they do in an honest days work.
  7. So junior doesn't want to enter the family business?  Encourage your child to explore what they're excited about and introduce them to friends, family and colleagues who are doing work that they show an aptitude and excitement for.
  8. Get your kids to research things they love.  Odds are they'll have numerous jobs throughout their careers.  Some they'll love, some they won't.

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