This morning I got a frantic call from a friend of mine who has two precocious and wonderful daughters aged 3 and 5. Her husband works a normal 9-5 job and she’s a freelancer. And when asked what mommy does the girls reply “Yoga.”
So she asked me for advice. “How do I show my girls that I work? I’m really upset and offended by the fact that they don’t get that.”
So here are my tips for her specific case.
- As freelancers we often say things like “I’m at the armory 6-11 today and the school 9-4 tomorrow.” In front of the kids let it be “I’m at work 6-11 today and again 9-4 tomorrow.” Let them ask you why you don’t work regular hours. When Dad works he just calls it work. You can too, no qualifiers needed. “Where is Mommy?” “She’s at work.”
- Define what it is to work. Going to an office is clearly work but dancing is something they do for fun, make it clear that when you do it it’s difficult and took training and makes money, which qualifies it as work. Tell them you’re exhausted from it and that you’re glad to come home and see them after working so hard.
- Every day your kids interact with people who they don’t know are getting paid to stay with them, most of them women. Working with kids is hard work, maybe your kids should see you paying the babysitter and asking her how work was today. Let the kids know what kind of training makes your babysitter or teacher qualified and what that means as far as payscale.
- Introduce them to other women who work. I’m a big believer that as soon as kids can form complete sentences they can be spending time with your friends. Ask your female friend how work is going and to explain what they do, what kind of hours they work, are the freelancers too, what kind of lifestyle does working that job afford them? Does it mean they tour or travel a lot?
- Why do you like your job and why do you dislike it? Tell them why it’s stressful but also important to go.
- Ask them what kind of career they’d like when they grow up. And be very clear that princess is not an option and why.