Talk to Your Kids About Working and Why It’s Important (Secret 5: Balancing Work and Single Motherhood
Talk to your kids about working and why it’s important
Talking to your child(ren) about working and why it’s important is Secret Number 5 in my five part series on gaining a better balance between working and being a single mom.
It’s important our kids recognize the importance of working and what it brings into our lives (food, a place to sleep, vacations, toys); it’s also important our kids understand that we gain some satisfaction from working. The two messages together reinforce the tangible and intangible benefits of working. In my daughter’s case, I gained a third benefit too: she started imagining herself behind my desk, being “in charge.”
As your child begins to comprehend the concept of work and why you do it, he or she will get more comfortable with the idea that mommy has to do something else besides focus on me, and I know why (disclaimer…there will still be times when your child demands 130% of your attention – but you already know that). The point is that by communicating with your child about work, he or she is better equipped to understand why you work, thus making it easier on you. And that’s always a good thing.
Naturally, you cannot converse with your kids in the way you can with an adult. I’ve used differing strategies based on how old my daughter was. My main goal was to try to get her as familiar as possible with what I did and why I did it. Here are a few examples:
- Introduce “Work” to your child in an Age Appropriate Manner: When my daughter was just two years old, I would tell her I was leaving to go to work. I’d also bring her back little things from work – a giveaway scrunchie ball, a cup holder, a teddy bear from an in-house health fair; whatever I could find that she could relate to. I told her my job was to help people as I worked in human resources, and she seemed to understand this explanation.
- Let Your Child See Your Work Space: As she got older, I would take her to my office every now and then (most people can do this on the weekends) and set her up with a marker at the white board; she would draw me a beautiful scribble to look at all week. And she’d get a sense of what I meant when I said, “I have to be at my desk by 8:45am.”
- Let Your Child Experience Your Work Environment as Appropriate for Your Work Situation: When she was four or five, I had my nanny bring her by a few times at lunch so we could eat together and she could meet my co-workers – and she could feel the ‘buzz’ of the office. She started asking more questions about what I did all day long and what my team members did all day long. Interestingly, she also wanted to know if my team members were happy.
- Explain Not Only Why Work is Important, But Also Why It’s Important to YOU: My daughter and I talk about why work is important like paying for food and our house; by the time she got to age six, I also started telling her that I really enjoy it and it’s another thing in my life that makes me happy. I wanted her to know that it’s essential to do something you love and it’s ok to enjoy things that make you feel happy.
Before I end this post, I must share an anecdote with you. One Saturday I had to go in to the office (my daughter was six). We signed in at the deserted lobby desk, went up the ever-so-lonely elevator, and then I used my badge to get in to the floor. As we stepped through the door to a darkened hallway, I reached over to turn the lights on…and my daughter blurted happily,” Mommy, you get to be the only one who gets to come in on a Saturday! Is that because you’re the boss of everyone?”
“Yes Sweetie,” I responded, in the only possible way to answer that question.
So, I’ve now shared my five secrets for gaining balance between work and single motherhood; I’d love to hear any ideas you have as well – or challenges you need some help with.