Kids aren’t born knowing that they can’t barge in at any time when you are working. They see Mom and/or Dad at a desk typing away as an opportunity for grabbing our attention.
What is work?
Little do they know yet, that what we’re doing when we’re working is so much more than just sitting idly, staring at screen and randomly pressing buttons on a keyboard. They haven’t yet grasped what work is for grown-ups. To them, work is math assignments, cleaning their room, or sweeping the floor.
In this moment, when they want our attention, there is an opportunity to educate them and help them to develop an understanding and respect for our work time. It’s not effective to instruct them to “leave mommy alone when she’s on the computer” (honestly, when does this approach ever work?)
Sharing what you do
Instead, share your work with them. Share with them the tasks you do as part of your job. Let them know you meet with people all day, work on complicated reports, build software – whatever it is you do. Help them connect by keeping it at their level.
At some point, they’re going to calmly ask you the golden question: Why do you work? This is your opportunity (and possibly only chance) to share with them WHY you work – the basis for respecting your work time space.
Here is what I shared with my 8 year old in this moment:
I work because I like to help people learn how to share and teach each other (I help clients build Intranets for a living for those who don’t know) and in return, my company pays me for my work so our family can pay for the things we need – a home, food, heat – and yes, even Minecraft and Netflix. I do my best work when I have quiet and no distractions.
That helped her build an appreciation for what I’m doing and its importance to our family. It started a dialog over time about what work is, and its place in our lives, and life/work balance.
Keeping the calm
With many of you working from home alongside our children to help slow the spread of the pandemic – creating calm, cooperative, respectful environments in our homes is more important than ever. Turn the pandemic response into an opportunity for your family to grow together.