Integrating Your Kids and Your Work

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I posted this picture of my daughter on Facebook the other day as a joke–but it also reminded me of just how much my work life affects my kids.

You see, I have this really cool job that totally indulges (encourages!) my obsession with Pinterest, visual content and blogs. And because I’m often discussing topics like Pinterest, or what bloggers are pinning, my daughter suddenly cares about these things, too. She wants to feel included in Mom’s work. So we end up doing “photo shoots” at home like this one, among other things.

One of the many reasons I like being a working mom is because I can serve as a positive role model for my kids. They get to see me as more than a caregiver, but also as a family provider and a professional, pursuing a career that interests and excites me.

In other words, Mom as Multifaceted Person.

Cassie, 7, has had the opportunity to observe me in a variety of workplaces over the years. As my first child, she made early appearances at a few family friendly workplace events when I was an ad agency copywriter (the original home base of this very blog!)

She didn’t really come to my next job, as the office environment was … how do I put this delicately? … NOT kid-friendly (or Susan-friendly, for that matter).

Then my son James came along, and I left the corporate land of white-noise machines to stay home AND work. Now that’s another interesting perspective for your kids to see. I would do laundry, make lunch, play with them, and … write stuff for money — all in the course of our daily home life. I also had to send them off to school and childcare during that period, because (NEWS FLASH) you can’t get a whole lot done with young kids to care for.

In order to meet my deadlines and maintain some amount of sanity, I sent the kids elsewhere and kept my office in our home. Of course, the work would sometimes bleed into family time, like if I had to take a client call while they played at the park. Or a sick kiddo cuddled next to me on the couch as I whipped up social media strategy for clients on my laptop.

No problem. I was my own boss, and I called the shots.

I’m glad my kids had the chance to see that side of me.

(I also practically stalked the mailbox waiting for the mailman to bring me checks. Such is the rollercoaster life of a freelancer!)

Now that I work at a startup–an uber-casual place where kids, dogs and developers mingle freely–I often bring Cassie to work (though James, a very ACTIVE and EXUBERANT 4-year-old, makes just a handful of cameo appearances).

Ever wonder how your job affects your kids? Whether you're lucky enough to have a family friendly workplace or not, your work experience matters to them.

Sometimes I pick her up from school and bring her back to the office for a couple of hours. She enjoys chatting with my coworkers, playing with our Nerf guns, drinking the free pop and watching Netflix on the big screen while I work. (Side note: How much would I have loved going to my parent’s office as a kid if it was this cool!)

Cassie will even design outfits and makeovers on iPhone apps, then show them to our pinners for their feedback (“Whaddya think of THIS? Wanna put it ON PINTEREST?!” she says.) Oy vey.

My husband has had a flexible job for years, so his work spans home and office as well. The kids are just as used to Dad picking them up for doctor appointments or staying home on snow days as they are Mom. They have a vague sense of what he does (reviewing laptops for a top-ranked website) and know that both of their parents are in the writing business.

We try to expose Cassie and James to our careers in little kid-sized chunks, whenever it seems appropriate and relevant to their lives. I hope someday they’ll grow up with a strong work ethic as well as an appreciation for doing what you love–and loving what you do.

How do you think your work has impacted your kids? Please share in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Integrating Your Kids and Your Work

  1. I love your comment about stalking the mailman! I do this almost daily now. 😉 I LOVE how my bank now lets me do mobile deposits. Seriously. Best. Invention. Ever.

    1. Girrrrl, you know it. I was OBSESSED with my mailman’s daily visits. There’s something to be said for the security blanket of a regular paycheck 🙂

  2. Sara Bennett Wealer says:

    Your new workplace sounds AWESOME! 🙂 As someone who works mostly from home, I like that my kids see me as Mom/Writer/Employer/Employee. A family-friendly environment makes us better workers AND moms.

    1. I must say, it’s my favorite one to date. Not fancy, but comfortable. And I love the freedom to bring the kids (or my dog — but he barks too much so that’s another story).

      I totally agree, family-friendly is just better for all involved.

  3. I agree with being a positive role model for my children. That is important to me. I also work from home and my children are in child care outside of our home. My 3 year old recently made the connection that I drop him off and go back home and he was not happy!

    1. Jillian, that’s funny how your 3yo just figured that out 🙂

  4. Ellen Edwards - says:

    I have been working from home for the last two years. I love being my own boss. My kids and I have struggled to keep me at home (single momma). We have had mac n cheese and top ramen on more nights for dinner than I care to admit! My son is 12 and my daughter is 8 and they are my motivation and the reason I work around their schedules. They pay closer attention than I realize sometimes. I have started and not completed website ideas in the past. This time I completed a site that I am passionate about. I remember by daughter saying to me one time…”Your going to actually finish this one right?” Well that was a wake up call and a slap in the face for me!” As parents we set the tone and example. Setting a goal, planning, staying the course and accomplishment has had the greatest impact on my kids by far! (Sorry for being a little long winded 😉 Thank you for this great post! And everyone (kids included) look so happy and refreshed in that picture from your work.

  5. Thanks, Ellen. It’s true. Kids notice EVERYTHING (or at least, a lot more than we assume). That’s why the responsibility of being a parent can feel like a pretty tall order: Be the ultimate role model so your kids will someday make the world a better place. No pressure, right?!

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