The invaluable lessons we’re imparting to our kids through working from home
Many kids don’t know much about what a job really means. They know it’s something astronauts, firefighters and pilots do. They know it’s the place mom and dad go after they drop you at school. And they know – based on various levels of grumbling at the dinner table each night – that it’s a place that can be pretty frustrating a lot of the time.
Even when kids learn a few things about work, it’s often only surface information. They may know the name of the company you work for, your job title, or that Nancy is perpetually late, or that it’s not safe to leave your lunch in the work fridge. They may even have some basic idea of your day-to-day work. But their understanding of a job is purely theoretical. It lacks context.
There is also the hard reality that having a good time in the yard far outweighs the importance of understanding the nuances of mom’s job. Rightly so.
But online jobs, if undertaken from home, create an interesting new dynamic between your kids and your work. Escaping to the office is no longer part of the equation, and for reasons beyond human comprehension, your kids always seem to be around (water pistol, trumpet or paintbrush in hand) whenever you really need to focus. The whereabouts of your children, and the moments that require deep concentration, are the two great mutually attracting forces of the household.
So usually the first thing kids learn about your work is that they mustn’t disturb you (Shhh, mom’s busy working).
Yet teaching your children to keep calm and carry on somewhere else is only one part of the interaction kids have with your online job. Something else is going on that provides a far more valuable lesson.
Unbeknownst to even themselves, they are witnessing some of the deeper, more nuanced aspects of a job. They are subconsciously learning about work ethic, responsibility and discipline. This is no longer the definition of work, but instead it’s what the act of ‘being at work’ entails. Things they would otherwise only be faced with during their first jobs many years into the future.
They learn about WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Work-life balance in traditional desk jobs can usually be summed up fairly succinctly: will I get home in time for dinner? A work-life balance is leaving your responsibilities at your desk and avoiding overtime like the plague. And it’s not always easy.
But working from home means that work-life balance is an actual balancing of activities to ensure both can exist in harmony. Something your children will witness you undertake on a daily basis. Understanding this from an early age will mean your kids receive invaluable insight into an important component of their future working lives.
They learn about RESPONSIBILITY
On some level they already know that work comes with certain responsibilities. But other than the responsibility to get out of the house on time, it becomes vague and hard to imagine. While you actively dedicate portions of your day away from Stranger Things and Master Chef, towards sitting down to get things done, your kids see a parent acting in a disciplined and responsible way towards their work.
They learn from an early age that sometimes work can take precedence over even the most time-critical things, like finding the Dominoes set.
They learn about the VALUE OF HARD WORK
In a traditional desk job, upon completing a project successfully or just generally kicking butt at something, you still have an entire 40-minutes of dealing with angry people on the freeway, or annoyed train riders on the subway, to temper your mood to a cool 60 degrees before you even step through your front door. So understandably some of that initial excitement has left you. But when working from home, your kids are exposed directly to the joys and elation of your hard work paying off.
They bare witness to your whoops of delight as a project is accepted, or tears of joy after teaching an emotional class. They come to understand that work is not only about dealing with the rat race, but about the joys of achievement that can be found in hard work.
As you go about your work from home, remember the lessons your child is learning about work, and make sure you are inspiring and empowering not only the kids on the other side of the screen!