Take The Kids To Work Day

Meeting Kate.

Once upon a time my children and I lived a completely intertwined life. I worked from home and they saw first hand exactly what “mummy’s job” involved. As they grew older and went off to school we still kept close, I was at the school doing maths groups and reading time. Our lives were glued together.

Then they got older. I went back to a mainstream job. There wasn’t any time to put in appearances at the school. Their sense of the work I did faded. They were busy with finding friends at lunchtime, surviving the battlefield of the school playground, keeping teachers happy and trying to understand the latest lesson.

When I worked from home they saw me interact with customers and team-members, they attended meetings and training sessions I ran, (in their PJ’s hiding in a cubby under a table because their Dad was a shiftworker and couldn’t always be home to look after them), they learnt how to put up and pull down promotional stands or set up a room for a workshop because the whole family had to come along to help me do those things.

When I went back to work they had no idea what I did for a living, “it’s some radio thing” I heard them tell friends once but details were sketchy. They didn’t meet the people I worked with for a very long time. Work and home were separate lives. Never the twain should meet.

I left “the radio thing” and went to an office job which was even less of a concept they could understand “she helps kids do work experience”.

Recently, I was helping organising an event for local students. A Building Aspirations – Get the Life You Love forum where guest speakers were brought in to help the 800 students attending find motivation and inspiration in planning their future goals.

I took the girls out of school for the day because I felt they would benefit from hearing what the speakers had to say. It was the first time in several years they had seen me at work. They were called in to help with blowing up the balloons, putting up posters and anything else that needed doing. They saw me handle a couple of challenges, they watched me silently freaking out when our two keynote speakers were still grounded in Sydney due to bad weather and the event had started, they overhead conversations with a variety of people, reassuring nervous local speakers, meeting and greeting politicians and chatting to the young musicians about to perform.

They were particularly thrilled to meet  an actress from Home and Away, Kate Ritchie. I was particularly relieved that Kate was a gracious, kind woman who gave each student she spoke to her undivided attention and respect.

I’m not sure what the girls took away from the day, but I know I felt good letting them have a glimpse into my working world (maybe not a typical day in the office but a day that utilised a lot of work skills nonetheless). I hope they see that when we are apart there’s a lot going in my life and I hope it allows them to understand a little bit more about the working world and how you function in it.

Do you think it’s important our children understand what we do? Can it help them gain skills for their own working life to spend some time witnessing yours?

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10 thoughts on “Take The Kids To Work Day

  1. I work from home, as a writer, so I think it’s hard for my son to distill that writing from say, blogging. I’m often hearing, “What did you do all day?” from him. I’ve been trying to think of ways to help him understand that it is actually *work* that I’m doing, but the subtleties elude him still.

    • Yes it’s hard for them to link the time you spend at the computer with “working” particularly when there is no visible result (for them at least). When I was working from home I remember doing treats like going to Maccas and making a point of saying “yesterday’s workshop is paying for this”, but it is hard for them to grasp that the “money that comes out of the machine in the wall” actually has to be worked for! Perhaps they won’t truly understand until they are out there in the workforce doing it for themselves. Thanks Lauren

    • It was a good experience for them to be involved and get a slight sense of all that was involved in putting on such an event – perhaps when they go to the next one as participants they will be appreciative of all the work that has gone on behind the scenes to give them an inspiring opportunity.

  2. Years ago I worked in travel, my two girls came into the office now and again to say hello but only ever for a few minutes at a time and I never thought they actually saw me working when they were there yet one weekend afternoon they played “Mummy’s work” and K4 sounded very professional as she explained to A7 how great taking a cruise would be and used her brochure to advantage in pointing out the different decks and where the pools where, etc. That made me smile…

  3. There were several times when I took my kids to work with me out of sheer necessity when they were younger. Given those experiances, I’m sure they thought that all I did was eat biscuits, colour in and play on the computer. It was terrific to be able to have them visit when they were older and could grasp what I actually did. Its important for kids to see how their parents act in a non-parental role.

    Good to hear that too about Kate Ritchie.

    • It can come as quite a shock to them seeing you in a different setting! Kate Ritchie was a delight – happy to do anything that was asked of her – spent ages talking to students after the event – one girl burst in tears at meeting her and Kate was so sweet to her.

  4. Since I was approximately… 0, my dad has been answering the question, “so what exactly do you do, Dad?” with “computer stuff”. So I actually, to this day, still have almost no idea what my father has done for the 23 years of my life.

    It would be really cool to see my mom at work though. My mom is a math teacher to 7th and 8th graders. I used to see her tutor, and I used to see her come volunteer in a classroom, and I even taught her teach catechism at church, but I’ve never actually seen her stand up and present in front of a full classroom of students. I’ve got a feeling I’d have a different appreciation for her. Definitely something to think about…

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