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?