We moms are used to hearing what the outside world thinks of our choices regarding career, from "you can have it all," to "don't abandon your children for a job," and every conceivable position in between. But for most of us, our bigger concern is how our kids regard our jobs. What do they really think we do when we go off to work each day? How do they feel about it? Are they proud of us and our accomplishments? Or do they think we spend too much time away from them?
We work for any number of reasons, from true desire to absolute necessity. Which camp do you fall into? I both love to and needed to work, and was able to work at home for the first two years of my son's life. We had a wonderful nanny, but even with our combined family income, we could barely swing it financially. My son started pre-school when he was 20 months old, and I like that our choice of a Montessori program has introduced him to the notion of work — in a good way.
At school, my son now learns that his work is play, and it's every bit as serious as mine. At home, because work is important, we respect each others' space. He knows that I won't disturb him when he's working, and he has learned not to interrupt me when I am. (Well, he's mostly learned.)
What do Your Kids Think of Your Work?
My son and I discuss everything, and work is even more of a hot topic now that I have a job outside the home. He doesn't really notice that I'm gone because he's at preschool most of the day as well, but we make it a habit of asking each other about our days. I'll ask him what he did at school, who he played with, whether he ate his lunch, and which book ia his current favorite. And he asks me if I had a good day and if I like to go to work. When I tell him I do, he is happy. We also share stories about what we saw during the day (from birds to dump trucks) and we talk about specific things we do. One day he even asked me if I'd been writing — and indeed I had!
The Circle of Moms Working Mums group has been debating these questions from various angles as well. Abby N. says that having a working mom was great for her kids because it made them more independent. Laura E.'s son, on the other hand, does not like that his mom works the graveyard shift because she is often too tired to play with him during the day. She hopes as he gets older these feelings will transform into gratitude as he begins to understand that she works so he can have a better lifestyle. And Rachel V.'s 4 1/2-year-old daughter has learned to be a good helper because she knows her mom has worked hard all day. This helps boost her self-esteen and confidence.
Narda A. offers yet another perspective: "My children always understood that I work because I love working, but they also understood that they came first. I reserved vacation days to attend school events, and I called in sick or left when they were sick." This seems to be the ideal situation to me, as Narda both actively pursues her career, but has the wherewithal to prioritize her family.
Work/Life Balance Requires Support
"I am so lucky to have such an understanding family," says Jackie F., whose husband assumes half of the childcare responsibilities. Alice T. and her husband work opposite shifts at work so that one of them can be at home with the kids at all times. We operate similarly in my household. I work the early shift so that I can pick my son up at the end of the day, and my partner covers the morning.
And we talk to our son about why we go to work, telling him it's where we make money to buy things that he enjoys — like pizza! He understands that his work has value, and so does ours. This concept helps a lot when he wakes up wanting to pour his own milk at 3 a.m. We now say, "That's mommy's work. I'll get the milk for you while you wait here in bed."
Still, there are often conflicts when he has to get up earlier than he wants so that we can get him to school before we go to work. He'll say, "No work today, no school today," knowing that when we don't go to work and school (like on weekends) we all get to stay home and have fun.
It all works out nicely when we get that quality weekend time. Kids are hard workers and need this kind of balance — just as much as we do.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.