Do you feel guilty every time you open a book or magazine? Perhaps you stay up late studying or meal planning and then feel frazzled and sleep deprived the next day. Well, I believe it is actually in your child's best interests to do some of those things while she is awake, where she can see you. Obviously not all the time, and it isn't the same as long afternoons to yourself, but 20 minutes here and there are a really good thing.
Here is what your child learns when she sees you reading or writing:
Adults enjoy reading for pleasure, it's something fun.
Reading isn't a childish thing, used only to tell tales to babies and given up as soon as you reach your teens. But if your child only sees you read to her she has no way of knowing that! Set the example of a lifelong enjoyment of good books and you will encourage the same in her.
Adults don't know everything, but they can be interested in finding out new things.
Children are naturally curious about everything and part of a parent's job is to keep that enthusiasm going. Curiosity and a love of learning will stand any child in good stead through school, college, university and beyond. When your child sees you wondering about things and looking up the answers (yes, even on google or youtube) they learn that there is no shame in not knowing the answer, and much to gain from finding out.
If your child sees you working they will develop a realistic idea of what adult life is like, and what adult work looks like. Children who understand that there is room in life for play but that the work also needs to be done are more likely to have a good work ethic and be less disappointed when they discover adults don't usually have long summer holidays.
When you want to learn something new, you have to practice.
When a child sees a parent practicing the piano or doing French homework they realise that practicing and learning are a part of life, something everyone can do and enjoy. If Daddy wasn't good at piano when he first started, but has practiced and improved, then there is no shame in not being good at something new. And if Mummy has to do her homework from her accountancy course then homework isn't a strange punishment given only to children.
When you think about it, children evolved to see their parents work. A child growing up somewhere like a farm might follow his parents around, playing with toy versions of their tools and copying what they do. As he grew bigger his actions would go from toddler "helping" to gradually becoming truly helpful until one day he was capable of running the farm himself, without any sudden change.
When we devote all our time to entertaining and educating children, we separate them off from the adult world and deny them the chance to learn about adult life. They may not be able to visit many offices, but 20 minutes reading a good book or 10 minutes to write a shopping list can go a long way to redress that balance.
What do you think? Do you read or work when your little ones are around? Let me know in the comments.