Inevitably, kids are going to ask, “why do you have to go to work?”
And of course they ask it in the morning while everyone is rushing to get ready and tired and hungry. In these instances, its really tempting to answer, “I HAVE to go to make money to buy your food, house, toys…etc.”
As I heard this coming out of my mouth one morning, I realized that’s not how I want my boys to think about work–and WHY I go to work. Even though I am tired and may not want to go to work that minute, and they clearly want me to play with them instead (and I would love to do that, too!), that’s not the message I want to convey.
Instead, I have started talking to them about how much I love my job.
“Mommy really likes to solve problems with her coworkers–just like when you built that really tall tower the other day with Henry.”
“I have a project due today and the people at work are counting on me! Isn’t it fun to finish something, like when we made pancakes together and then got to eat them?”
“My job is fun! Today I’m going to [insert whatever thing here].”
The boys respond really well to these answers. Kids like to see their parents happy, it creates security. My tone sets their tone. They ask questions about what I do and who I talk to on the phone.
There is nothing wrong with going to work, and while money is great, I also get a ton of fulfillment from my career. Why wouldn’t I want my kids to focus on that? They certainly understand why I would do something I love all day better than the abstract concept of the electric bill.
Doesn’t it make more sense for kids to see us going to do something we love (or at least like) when we aren’t with them?
And don’t forget, they will work one day. I model for them that work is a good thing. It isn’t a four letter word (most of the time!). And as a mom of boys I model that women work and like it, so it doesn’t surprise them later in life, hahaha.
And I want them to see that ideally work is not something they will do just for money of because they HAVE to, but hopefully to make the world, their families and themselves better.
A note on privilege: I have lots and this is written from my experience of life and work.