Building Work-Friendly Families

Home & Family
on September 18, 2005

People work most effectively in an environment that recognizes and supports their home life. Supportive employers, however, are only half of the equation. A work-friendly household is just as important to the success—and the peace of mind—of moms and dads at work.

Are your children sensitive to the demands of your workplace? It isn’t an easy task, but the payoff—a happier family who understands and appreciates the value of your work—is well worth the investment. Start teaching your children “work appreciation,” by following these tips:

Work is good—Don’t make the mistake of pretending work isn’t your choice. “You should never apologize for having—and enjoying—a career,” says Dottie Enrico, content director for Primedia’s

“They should realize work isn’t a burden. It’s something you find enriching and enjoyable, and it makes you a happier person,” Enrico adds. If your attitude about work is positive, theirs will be, too.

Top priority—Your children should know they can reach you if something important happens. Define the parameters of “emergency” and, if possible, schedule some time each day to “conference” with your children, such as when they first come home from school.

Make it real—Children will understand the importance of your job if you explain what you do for a living. The easiest way to make your work “real” is to take your child to the workplace.

“My children come to the office and help with a few tasks, so they understand where mom is all day,” says Michele Borba, author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids To Do the Right Thing. “There’s nothing better than actually experiencing workflow and scheduling to help children understand where mom is coming from—or why she’s so exhausted.”

Visualization—Posting your schedule—and theirs—will help your children see your work demands.

One big calendar hung in the kitchen where each family member lists his schedule in a different color is one way to visualize where everybody is. It also helps a child see what is possible (parents attending Thursday’s ball game) and what is not (the game Monday, when dad has a meeting).

Write a memo—If the child has something to tell you that isn’t pressing, she should write it down. “Even as she’s writing, the child will feel connected to the parent,” Enrico says. After work, make time to go over each child’s memos. “This gives them valuable one-on-one time to look forward to,” she notes.

Keeping your child aware of your working side will help ease the juggling pressure. That’s one way to make all the partners in your career happier.

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