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Do your kids think you work too much?

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Working? Living?

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My daughter was humming a tune that sounded a lot like “Bingo” while she was drawing the other day. When I scooted closer to her on the couch to get a peek at what she was doing, I heard that she had made up new words to go along with the song:

There was a girl who worked a lot
and Lylah was her name-o
L-Y-L-A-H, L-Y-L-A-H, L-Y-L-A-H
and Lylah was her name-o!

The drawing was actually an illustrated guide to the song’s new lyrics (spelled phonetically, of course—she’s only in kindergarten). I thought I was doing a pretty good job of getting out of work mode and morphing into Mama mode during the window between school pick-up and bedtime. But apparently not.

I do work a lot. My kids know that I love what I do, and they know that I try hard to be fully present when I’m with them, but they also know that I stay up late to get all my work done, even if they don’t see me at my desk because they’re already asleep.

Last weekend, I had to research a local travel story and brought them along, asking for their opinions and observations. I thought they would get a kick out of “helping Mama work.” And they did. But they also came away with the impression that, even when I’m out having fun with them, I’m still on the clock. That I am always working.

That’s not how I want them to think work is. How can I underscore the importance of working to live, not living to work, when my main work-life juggling trick is to do both at the same time?

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One comment so far...

  • I’ve brought my kids along for work stuff on occasion, but not often enough that they think it’s what my whole life is.

    They kind of equate my work with their school responsibilities. They also know that sometimes, something for work is important enough to do at odd times. But most of the time we are out & about during “family time.” Come to think of it, a big reason for that is that it can be hard to separate home from work, since I’m a WAHM and my business partners share the same house. Boss-partner “lives to work” (she’s single and childless), so she thinks it’s appropriate to bring up work at any and all times, sometimes suggesting that I go to my computer for “just a few minutes” to deal with an issue in the middle of my kids’ time. Rather than get negative on her for that in front of my kids, or show them my stress over it, I just take them elsewhere between school pickup and bedtime. I leave my Blackberry in the car and ignore work during that time.

    SKL  |  June 18th, 2011 at 12:39 pm