have your kids take notes at your meetings, and other weirdly out-of-touch advice for the quarantine

I offer for your enjoyment this amazing email I received this week:

I thought you and your readers might be amused by a meeting that my spouse’s company had recently. The topic was “Tips on Staying Productive While Working from Home with Kids” and the meeting was hosted by three people from their HR department.

Some of the tips included:

    • Have your kids listen in on meetings and teach them how to take notes
    • Get them acquainted with technology by having them help you submit an IT help ticket
    • Delegate small tasks to them such as organizing your files or setting up meeting alerts on your calendar

And my personal favorite:

  • Make a prioritized list of schoolwork and chore objectives for them daily so that they’ll be able to work independently all day

A meeting attendee asked the meeting hosts for advice on how they put these tips into practice.

HR person #1 has a stay-at-home spouse that cares for their children.
HR person #2 has moved their parents into their home to provide childcare.
HR person #3 has a live-in nanny who is still working and quarantining with the family.

My spouse intends to send an email to their team tomorrow saying, “Help, I delegated tasks to my 2 year old and now I think all our data has been sold to [competitor]!”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 640 comments… read them below }

  1. Fibchopkin*

    I… I just can’t even.the sheer tone-deafness and absurdity of the original email from OP’s husband’s company. There’s just so much here that I really just… can’t even.

    1. Colin*

      I love that someone took the time to ask a question that undermined the whole thing. I hope they realized how tone deaf it was once they had to say that part out loud.

      1. Jess*

        I’m curious, Fibchopkin, why you assume it’s a husband? The op says “spouse” and “their”, no gender.

            1. Claire*

              I swear I also saw “husband” near the end of the letter! Maybe I just saw all the H’s in HR and decided to create the word husband? I don’t know, I was also certain that OP referred to a husband, I only went back to check when I saw this comment.

          1. M.J.*

            But wasn’t Alison just sharing an email from someone whose name was not revealed?

          2. jenkins*

            a) It’s a reader letter, not about Alison’s situation.
            b) Same-sex marriage, it’s a thing.

    2. mrs__peel*

      Okay, kids, time to play “Cube-Dwelling Office Drone Whose Will to Live is Slowly Slipping Away”! I need that Excel spreadsheet finished by COB or else! And the coffee is only for closers!

    3. NotDumbHR*

      As with 90% of the ideas I’ve seen for keeping kids busy, this assumes the kids are school age and at least 8 or so. My kids are toddlers and there is no cute way to include them or keep them entertained. I’m going to stab the next person who offers a “helpful suggestion“ like a sensory bin. When I was 8-10 my parents ran a business out of their home and I DID contribute to filing and such from time to time. But that’s not today’s situation at all!

    4. Amethystmoon*

      Unless they’re at least junior high age or gifted, most kids that are young are not going to have any idea how to organize files, much less what to say to the help desk. Wow.

            1. 2Teas*

              Depends on the District and State. I am in CA.
              Kinder is about 4 hours a day, 1st -3rd is 5 hours 55 minutes and add 45 minutes for 4th and 5th grade. That includes recesses and lunch.
              High School and Middle School run about 6 hours.

            2. Ducky*

              For schooling at home, it is no where near as many hours as regular school is. For young kids it’s like 1-2 hours a day and then builds from there, to about an hour per class for high schoolers. At least that’s what I have seen recommended- many places are trying to do way more, to the frustration and detriment of many.

  2. cmcinnyc*

    I have worked for all kinds of managers–men women, old, young, every race, every culture. Good managers and bad managers are, in my experience, evenly distributed among every type of person on earth. BUT.

    HANDS DOWN the hardest people to work for are people with stay-at-home spouses who take care of 100% of the childcare and domestic stuff. If that’s you, please, I beg you: never give advice to a working parent. Ever. You know nothing. You really don’t. Just stop.

    1. Justme, the OG*

      Especially a single working parent. I can’t even tag team someone to help with my kid’s school questions when I’m in a meeting or just don’t remember 5th grade language arts.

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        Thank you, Just me, for NOT referencing math! EVERYONE complains about the math homework!

        1. Justme, the OG*

          I have to admit that I was going to reference math, but my kid has been doing geometry which I am very good at. She’s in Greek and Latin roots in language arts and I am mostly lost.

        2. Quill*

          My aunt has me tagged in on the math homework, lol.

          It’s quadratics for one of my cousins, algebra 1 for the other… hopefully school resumes before anyone hits calculus or i’ll have to make my brother teach.

        3. hamsterpants*

          YES. I know that many people find math hard, but using “math” as a synonym for “unknowably difficult subject” is… bad.

          1. Tau*

            I will spare you my rant about this but 100% agreed. (I have a maths PhD – please have some mercy on my poor subject. :( )

            1. Dumpster Fire*

              No kidding! (I have an engineering PhD but teach high school math after ten years in industry.) I’ve always said that nobody brags about being functionally illiterate but for some reason “not being able to balance my checkbook” is a point of pride. Ummm, no?

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                No one brags about being functionally illiterate? I see you have not taught composition classes at a community college. I’ve had many students proudly tell me that they don’t read, can’t read, see no point in reading, etc.,

          2. allathian*

            Agreed. I just don’t understand those who are actually proud of being bad at math.

          3. Claire*

            It’s very weird! You wouldn’t ever hear a grown adult chuckle self-deprecatingly and say, “I never learned to read above a 3rd grade level,” but it’s very normal for people to do the equivalent with math! Which just reinforces the idea in kids’ minds that math is hard and most people aren’t good at it, especially because a lot of elementary school teachers have to teach every subject and are good at English and bad at math, and it just continues the cycle. Unless you have dyscalculia or something along those lines, I promise that you are capable of learning math and being good at math, it is a skill just like any other. (I’m sure there are ways to learn math even with dyscalculia but I’m not super familiar with them, so I don’t want to speak like I’m an authority.) /soapbox

            1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              There may be ways, but when you were never diagnosed with it because ‘it’s ok, honey, math is hard”, you are never going to learn any of them.

              1. Em*

                I tutor math to students who include students with dyscalculia (one of whom was my pre-school teacher! She taught me to count, I taught her the statistics she needed for her ECE Master’s, it worked out well) and I have yet to find a student who honestly Could Not Do It. Some took a little longer and needed a creative way to make it make sense (one student and I turned “how to round up or down” into a story involving snowboarding and whether you turned left or right depending on how fast you were going) but there’s always been a way to have things make sense.

                1. Daniotra*

                  I taught someone how to read an analog clock using a story about Tarzan and Jane. Tarzan swung around on the minute hand and helped Jane (hour hand) move each time he came by.

                2. Hester Mae*

                  I enjoyed math classes in elementary/middle school until about 5th/6th grade when we did flash cards. For some reason, I froze up (afraid of being wrong, I’m sure), and the teacher pointed out to me that I should be getting better times like (smart boy 1 and smart boy 2). I’m sure he meant it as encouragement, but it did not help.

                  I couldn’t be the numbers keeper for darts when I was in college because my brain would just freeze up. I wonder if there is a way to work on this? It is a small thing but sometimes still affects me.

            2. whingedrinking*

              Oddly enough, I think I’m better at tutoring math than English for exactly the reason that math was something I had to struggle to get. Anything to do with languages came so easily to me that I never really had to be taught it much at all, and as a consequence I didn’t learn anything you could strictly call a process (“read book -> write essay -> collect A+”, as far as I was concerned). With math, on the other hand, I had to pretty much disassemble everything a little at a time, so now I can help walk other people through it, at least up to the high school level.

            3. Alenna*

              I think it’s partly that fewer people remember how to do math once they are removed from school. No one forgets how to read, but even though I did well in high school and college, I would not be able to do most of my high school (or even middle school) math now. Sure, I would be capable of learning it again, but i don’t use it in my work life so if I had to suddenly teach it to kids, I would be in trouble.

          4. Clisby*

            Yes, it is. I don’t get people who can’t see that saying “I was never good at math” is equivalent to saying “I was never good at reading.”

        4. whingedrinking*

          My dad has an MSc in mathematics, so a parent who couldn’t remember how to do algebra was not a problem I had growing up. By the age of ten, though, I was definitely the household’s most proficient French speaker, so if I had trouble with my Francais Langue homework I was well and truly up the creek.

      2. A Teacher*

        Thank you. I’m a high school teacher and single mom. Common Core Math…I can’t even.

        We do have her logged into MS TEAMS and she’s learned how to email and do attachments. I’m teaching her CPR next week but Common Core Math. yuck.

        1. AKchic*

          common core math is evil.

          But I had to teach all of my kids and my husband how to do Zoom meetings. And I’m trying to teach my husband data entry and word documents (he needs an administrative job). And trying to teach my teenagers since they’ve only learned Google docs and need real Office software experience.

          My husband IS at home with the kids during the day. However he is… less attentive to the teens and their schoolwork than he should be so I am constantly following up. From my office. Like, c’mon… let me have my work day?

          1. so anonymous for this*

            I have a stay at home hubs, but he has been ignoring the emails from the kid’s teachers. Am I correct to be a bit batty? His life is definitely worse since he can’t take the kids anywhere, but I’m essential and work >45 hrs/wk at baseline, so isn’t this his job?

            1. Anonapots*

              I’m sorry. That sucks. I think it’s okay to be a bit batty. It might be you both have things you don’t feel good about bringing up because this is such a weird, stressful time. :/

            2. Clumsy Ninja*

              Sigh….that sounds like my husband. But he brings me the emails to deal with. I’m like, you can take care of that, can’t you?

            3. No Name*

              Having been both a stay at home mum for many years and now working full time with kids, I am telling you that you are taking your stay at home partner for granted. It is sooo much easier being the working parent who gets adult conversation, a break from your kids, blissful silence in the car driving home than being a stay at home parent. You might work hard but you don’t have the mental drain of looking after everyone, dealing with all the drudge work, having no break from your sweet darlings who you love but FFS, could they just stop goading each other into a meltdown over who had the bigger plate of chicken nuggets and actually do some work unsupervised for 20min so you can just recharge and regain the will to live because you remember that you do love them after all. I skip off to work every day thrilled to be essential and leave it all to my husband. And yes, that might mean coming home on my lunch break and helping a child with some some maths and taking on texting the school every day that the children are home schooling etc. I know I have it easy, despite my overtime at work lately. The poor man was excited to go shopping for groceries just to be alone for short break. Cut your partner some slack and don’t be the jerk who says “you were home all day. Why haven’t you gotten xyz done?”

              1. Karia*

                Oh come on. Reading teacher’s emails is basic, entry level stuff. They don’t deserve cookies for failing.

                1. No Name*

                  It is easy. So easy that the parent with the lesser burden can’t pick it up to help out the parent struggling with the heavier load. It is often something quite incidental that is the breaking point that you just can’t face doing. Marriage is a partnership of equals. The only reason not to step up is you don’t actually value what they do.

                2. Jojo*

                  We counted 21 school related emails last Thursday. Its not easy. And if you miss just one you’d better hope its not tbe one that says “oops, sorry that should have said 1pm, not 2pm for the zoom class” or “ignore that last assignment, it was for a different class.”

        2. Clisby*

          Eh, I don’t know about Common Core. I’ve seen a number of online videos where people are trying to demonstrate that Common Core math is awful, and all they really demonstrate is that they, themselves, don’t understand math.

      3. many bells down*

        I had a boss once tell me “if your kid is sick have someone else watch her so you can still come to work.”

        Me: WHO?? Everyone I know WORKS.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Same here. When I was newly back to work from maternity leave. I can’t leave a BABY unattended… or ask a friend to on mat leave to look after my sick kid! She was also someonw who’d moved their mother in to raise her own kid. I took it to HR to review what our policy for caring for dependents was…

        2. Lauren*

          This is a favorite of mine – I had someone ask me if my mom (who lives nearby and regularly spends time with us when we’re not in COVID-19 world) was going to take care of my son so my husband and I could work uninterrupted during the quarantine.

          Um….my mom also works full-time and always has. So….no, but thanks.

      4. Rachel1496*

        I probably would have used math as my example because if there’s one thing this quarantine has taught me it’s that being good at math and being good at teaching math are two very different things. I can show them how to answer any question they throw at me but when they want to know why I’m doing a certain step I have nothing beyond “that’s just what you do”.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Yes to that! I really dislike how math is being taught to my 5th grader because I think it’s needlessly complicated for basic math, but “my” way of explaining it isn’t helping her either. Between the two adults and her, though, we have been able to forge an understanding. I do usually have to add comments about how math isn’t “too hard“ and that it’s just a learning process and she’ll get it over time so that she doesn’t end up believing she’s bad at math when it probably comes down to whether the way it’s taught makes sense to the individual student or not.

    2. Jennifer*

      I don’t even have kids and I’ve noticed it. They never get how privileged they are.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        They see what is normal for them as being the new normal for everyone else. Not everyone can move grandparents in for the duration or even have grands that are available. Not everyone has a live-in nanny or can afford one. Not everyone has a stay at home spouse. Not everyone has kids old enough or interested enough to sit through a meeting and take notes(!) And not everyone is baking bread!

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          I’m picturing my youngest taking notes. This is the child who doesn’t reliably wash his hands after using the bathroom and must be reminded about wearing pants.

          Sure! Good idea!

          1. Folklorist*

            I’m picturing our surly IT guy getting a flood of tickets from two-year-olds. Actually, if we could make his reaction a Zoom meeting, I’d be all for it!

            1. many bells down*

              If I put my 19-year-old in charge of IT requests they’d never speak to me again. He’d be on them ALL DAY.

            2. kt*

              Just thinking through the first hour of the morning….

              “Daddy mixed the jam with the yogurt! MIXED THE JAM! High priority incident, immediate attention needed!”
              “My favorite shirt got wet! IT’S DIRTY NOW! DIRTY! I CAN’T WEAR A SHIRT WITH WATER DROPS ON IT! High priority incident! need updates every 2 minutes!”
              “Mommy took away my fake food because I didn’t clean it up! GO AWAY MOMMY! GO AWAY! GO AWAAAAAAY!!! Now I will use my books as fake food. We will chew on Goodnight Moon. Non-urgent, please resolve fake food situation by May 2 EOD.”


              1. SeluciaMD*

                This is one of my favorite comments EVER. You quite literally had me laughing out loud. I very much needed this today. I tip my hat to you kt!

            3. Grapey*

              Adults rarely make better tickets. A 2 year old’s at least might make me smile.

                1. Wired Wolf*

                  My mom does this all the time. If I guess the “wrong” thingy she gets indignant/patronizing…you need to specify what’s not working and how!

                  My dad and I have at least developed a weird kind of techno-telepathy so I can divine the “thingy” from his tone/inflection/the room he’s in…

                2. Claire*

                  I’m not in IT, but I am the filter that keeps IT from being bothered by stuff that doesn’t take any technical knowledge to fix, and I’m constantly getting tickets that just say, “i can’t log in”. Okay! Great! That’s definitely enough information for me to fix your issue! I don’t need to know what you’re trying to log in to, or whether you’ve forgotten your password or are getting an error message or can’t load the site! I will just fix it so you can log in!

                  It really is a good thing that my team reviews tickets before they get directed to IT, 7 out of 10 times the problem can be solved by turning it off and turning it back or clicking the forgot password link, IT really doesn’t need to get involved in that.

              1. Kate*


                Here you are – a ticket from my 2yo. Rather short, I’m afraid – she is not used to entering tickets.

                1. 'Tis Me*

                  Mine would just redirect to YouTube and watch Peppa Pig, and cry or strop if I tried to stop her…

          2. Elizabeth*

            Same here. When I was newly back to work from maternity leave. I can’t leave a BABY unattended… or ask a friend to on mat leave to look after my sick kid! She was also someonw who’d moved their mother in to raise her own kid. I took it to HR to review what our policy for caring for dependents was…

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          In the UK we were specifically advised by the government not to have grandparents providing childcare because they were more likely to be in at-risk groups.

          1. Batgirl*

            Yes I found that part shocking! Let’s pair up the greatest carrier group with the most vulnerable!

            1. Happy Pineapple*

              That’s what I wanted to scream at my coworker when she told us she’s driving her kids to her parents’ house and dropping them off every work day!

            2. Cambridge Comma*

              Fwiw there are a lot of new papers suggesting that kids under ten very rarely pass it on.

              1. Doc in a Box*

                Curious for that citation. All the data I’ve seen has implicated children as asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic carriers. They rarely get ill from COVID, and very very few deaths under 10, but young kids are not great at hand hygiene!

              2. M*

                That’s… a mixed story, actually. For example, there’s also a study out this week that finds no significant variation in viral load based on age: https://zoonosen.charite.de/fileadmin/user_upload/microsites/m_cc05/virologie-ccm/dateien_upload/Weitere_Dateien/analysis-of-SARS-CoV-2-viral-load-by-patient-age.pdf. That doesn’t mean children are definitely exactly as infectious as adults, but it’s a more data-driven analysis than the bulk of what we have on children and COVID so far, much of which has been reporting of case studies of individual children.

                1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

                  This isn’t too surprising though, right? I mean just logically: we closed all the schools and are mainly keeping the kids at home away from other people, so of course they’re going to be less likely to get it than adults who have to go out of the house more often than the kids.

                  Once we send them all back to school and they go back to touching everything and spitting in each other’s mouths and being vectors for everything again, then we’ll get some more useful data. (I don’t want this to happen. It seems like the worst idea but a lot of states are apparently going to do it, so.)

                2. Tau*

                  Ha, do you also listen to Drosten’s podcast? I’ve been following for a while, and he mentioned that study just the other day. He’s been doing a lot of talking about the kid situation, especially because Germany is reopening schools – the overall message seems to be that there’s some data showing kids are somewhat less likely to get infected than adults, but we don’t have enough information to say how infectious they are and it’s extremely difficult to study directly because in the current situation kids are likely to be at the end of infection chains anyway. The viral load is a proxy.

                  A few weeks ago he actually horrified me by spending a while talking about whether kids were likely to be more infectious than adults, which is apparently the case for many other viruses and I had no idea about.

                3. 'Tis Me*

                  Tau, I have affectionately referred to my kiddos as petri dishes. They’re definitely good at contracting and bringing home every bug they meet at preschool/school (and I then catch them and am more ill…)!

                  But hopefully Corona will be an exception to this.

            3. Jen*

              We’ve been keeping our son away from his grandparents for the time being, but I think that advice was more relevant before everyone started isolating. Now, kids aren’t going anywhere that they could catch the virus.

              1. Triumphant Fox*

                Yeah, we are all isolated together so we can help grandparents with the shopping and errands, they help with childcare. They really pushed for us all to be together – we isolated for 2 weeks and then moved in. I think they would be suffering from isolation and getting on each others’ nerves more than they already are if they didn’t have grandkids to dote on.

                1. allathian*

                  You’re fortunate in that you have a fairly large apartment/house to isolate together in. Wouldn’t work in a studio apartment with pretty much no privacy.

              2. Perse's Mom*

                Lucky for you. My boss still sees entire families (complete with children running everywhere) at WalMart.

                1. HouseHusband*

                  My dad is still visiting all four of my siblings to see his grandkids every week. It’s making me reeeeeeeeeeeally glad I’m the only one living 800 miles away from the rest, so we don’t have to have the “we’re supposed to be limiting the spread” argument with him about visiting me too.

                  We are including my mother in law in our social bubble. She lives alone and was already basically a shut-in, and isn’t even going grocery shopping, she’s having it delivered, so if we didn’t see her, she would have literally no human contact whatsoever right now. That makes for a bubble of four people, though, not the 20+ people situation with the rest of my family. And what if other grandparents are visiting too? And then visiting their other grandkids as well? Several of my siblings have essential jobs and are going out to work. That’s a huge pool of contamination if just one of those people manages to catch it! It’s driving me nuts just thinking about it!

                2. whingedrinking*

                  I’m a big fan of the Savage Lovecast, and every week Dan Savage has to tiredly explain that while coronavirus is not, technically, an STI, for right now you should limit your in-person sexual activities to people you live with all the time. There was a rather horrifying call this week from a woman who lived with roommates, who were mad that her boyfriend was coming over constantly. The boyfriend had an ex-wife with whom he shared custody of his kids, the ex had a boyfriend who was in an open marriage and whose spouse was also still seeing her extramarital partners outside of the home…it would be enough to make me *facepalm* if it were safe to touch my face. I too would be pretty mad if I had been trying to practice social distancing and someone I lived with was in contact, via an uninterrupted chain, with seemingly the entire known universe. I too am in a non-monogamous relationship, but seriously people, your genitals will not drop off if you have to limit yourself to live-in partners for a little while. Get a webcam and stay home!

          2. A*

            Yup, one would think. My best friend is a nurse on the front lines, and her husband is on paid leave through the summer. They have a 1 1/2 year old and he is a handful, but I repeat – husband on paid leave through the summer. Even so they still have Grandma watch him several afternoons a week so husband can ‘catch his breath’ and ‘work on projects’ (shoddily made, unnecessary wooden pieces of ‘furniture’) and ‘take work calls’ (one a week. ONE HALF HOUR CALL A WEEK).

            I love them, but it drives me nuts. Especially when Grandma started sheltering in place at her doctor’s orders, only to pick back up again when asked directly. My friends are usually so responsible and reasonable, I’ve been really disappointed in how they’ve handled this.

        3. alienor*

          I used to have a grandboss who was a lovely person, but had to be reminded over and over that I couldn’t travel overnight for work because I was a single parent with very little local family. Grandboss herself traveled constantly, a feat made possible because she had not only a spouse, but also a full-time au pair for her two kids (there may have been some grandparents in the mix as well). It’s easy to forget, though–now that my daughter is in college and I have a lot more time and freedom, I even have to remind myself every once in a while that people who have younger kids have different limitations.

        4. TootsNYC*

          This is a thing, in many arenas.

          On an “Organizing the Home” forum I used to frequent, someone once said, “You should store those in the garage.” Um, I live in an NYC apartment; I don’t have a garage.
          Or “Don’t store so much, just pick one up the next time you go to the store,” and I’m thinking, What if they live in the country? The nearest store is 30 minutes away, one way!

          It’s one of the huge problems–I see it in the publication I edit for; writer will write as though people live in apartments and not houses, take public transit and not personal automobiles, etc.

          It’s a very bad thing for the world, for people to have so little imagination that they can’t conceive of other people’s situations being different from what they see.
          It’s why ignorant white people say, “I never see black people being treated any different.” Because they are literally ignorant (unknowing) of other people’s experiences, and they can’t conceive THAT their experience is not universal.

          1. Barefoot Librarian*

            “It’s why ignorant white people say, “I never see black people being treated any different.” Because they are literally ignorant (unknowing) of other people’s experiences, and they can’t conceive THAT their experience is not universal.”

            This 1000 times!

          2. EH*

            I have some friends who call this “the usual error” – assuming that other people are just like we are. That they think like us, live like us, have the same experiences as us, etc etc etc. It shows up freakin EVERYWHERE.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              “I am the default. Anything you do or are that is different to that is weird and possibly a criticism of me.”

          3. Crampedforspace*

            I got irrationally angry at an article about creative storage/ space saving ideas and people kept commenting how the article was dumb and if you didn’t have the space just to get ride of the stuff. Cool if you live in a house but I live in 600 square feet near Boston and I need room for stuff like Tupperware and canned goods! Even if you don’t have room some of that stuff is still essential.

        5. Beth*

          If I had kids, I would totally be teaching them to raise a small village of otters. In Latin. After they’ve baked some bread, organized my files, defragged my hard drive, and rewritten my policy manual.

        6. Jennifer Juniper*

          Have those HR airheads never heard of CBS (Child Broadcasting System)? Children are the absolute last people you want knowing company secrets.

            1. mrs__peel*

              Corporate espionage is a cinch when your informant will spill the beans for a Snickers bar.

              1. Mel (Cow Whisperer)*

                Who needs a Snicker bar if you’ve got a chatty kid who likes adult attention? That was pretty much me during most of my childhood, lol.

        7. Amethystmoon*

          Right, some of us are not trying to gain a ton of weight during this, so we’re avoiding baking because we’re single and would eat it all. But I am cooking from scratch, which I did before, but not all the time. And my dishwasher is not great, and it’s a non-essential repair, so I’m doing manual dishwashing almost every day.

      2. Not a Girl Boss*

        Seriously. My husband is the only person in his department with a working wife. His coworkers are routinely and absurdly horrified about things such as:
        -The fact that he does dishes.
        -The fact that he goes grocery shopping with me.
        -Any time where he uses the phrases “I’ll have to check with my wife,” or “My wife thinks…”
        They constantly give him advice on how to get promoted so he can afford to have me stay home. As if, obviously, that is the goal here. When in fact, the goal is the opposite.

        I work at the same company and also work primarily with men who have a stay at home wife. Sometimes they let their opinions slip in subtler but equally amusing ways. Like complaining that their son’s girlfriend is bad for him because she wants a “stressful” career in finance. Or going silent and giving me confused looks when I mention that my husband is making dinner that night. Or generally referring to their daughters as helpless children, when they are all older than me.

        I swear it’s like we’re back in 1940.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I admire the fact that you haven’t stabbed anyone with scissors yet.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                And embroidery scissors tend to be nice and pointy. Good for stabbing.

                1. Barefoot Librarian*

                  You can take an eye out with embroidery scissors…then embroider a cute little bag to keep it in. ;)

                2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  I’ve got a permanent scar on my left hand from embroidery scissors! In my defence I was trying to stop the cat from eating all the threads and completely forgot I had them in my hand…

              2. Observer*

                This made me think of Ellen’s “pen talk”.

                It was a reaction to Bic releasing a product called “Bic for Her”.

                It’s a riot.

                1. mrs__peel*

                  My mom actually bought quite a few of those “For Her” pens- she said that (being pink and purple) they were less likely to be stolen by the male staff at the hospital where she worked.

        2. Batty Twerp*

          This is more of a jaw-drop moment than the original letter!

          I used to work (and still have to interact) with someone who every so often forgot that we (especially the underlings) *don’t* all have a stay at home spouse to do all the cooking and cleaning and household admin. The idea that I’d have to go home and then make dinner came as a surprise nearly every other day.
          In a bit of a twist, the stay at home spouse is the husband.

        3. Phony Genius*

          Do you mind if I ask what part of the country this is? (Or other country if not the U.S.)?

          1. Not a Girl Boss*

            New England. I think its more about the industry than the location (when we worked the same industry in the Deep South it was actually a bit better because many of our coworkers had working spouses).

        4. Pigeon*

          Thankfully not everyone at my company is like that, but enough older dudes are for it to be annoying. Especially because they’ll lecture you on their “time management skills” and how many things they’ve achieved in life, in a chastising way because they’re judging you, and every last one of them had their wife carry 110% of the domestic load.

          Yeah, it’s easy to be a high performer all the time when you can actually go home and relax. It’s easy to have meaningful hobbies when you never have to cook or wash dishes or do laundry or manage your own damn bank account.


          1. Not a Girl Boss*

            Oh man, the snotty time management kills me for sure. They all love to brag about the work they did after they got home the night before. As if they had time for that because of their time management skills and not because their wife already had dinner on the table, the house cleaned, and the kids in bed.

            1. Arbynka*

              My friend (with small kids ) recently barely made a deadline and vented on FB. Another friend tagged me saying “ask Arbynka about some time management tips, she has three kids and gets her stuff done.”

              My kids are 19,17 and 15. They are pretty much on their tech doing their school work and chatting with friends, only to come out when they smell food. Somehow I don’t think this to be expected within any realms of reality with 4 and 2 year old so…In conclusion, as far as those tips, I got nothing ;)

              1. alienor*

                A childless colleague was once complaining about another colleague of ours and said “X always has some drama with her kids. You’re a single parent and don’t have that much drama.” I pointed out that I had one child and X had three of them, therefore three times as many teacher conferences, three times as many activities, three times as many opportunities for someone to get sick/hurt/need something during the workday. Colleague said “Does it really make a difference?” and I was like “YES.”

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  Yeesh. I’m childfree and I still facepalmed at your clueless colleague, alienor.

                2. Clorinda*

                  I think that might actually be nine times as many opportunities for sickness, because each child who comes home with something gives it to the other three. And probably to the parent, also.

                3. Observer*

                  It’s not additive – it’s exponential. So, 9 times. Because on top of what each kid can do by themselves, you’ve got all the potential conflicts and interactions.

                4. allathian*

                  I’m the happy mother of a singleton. The added load isn’t linear, it’s exponential, especially if the kids don’t get along. I love my younger sister dearly and now we get along great, but while I remember that my childhood was happy, and presumably hers too, all I remember about our interactions is that we fought all the time. ALL THE TIME.

                5. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  My sister in law has 6 kids between the ages of 3 and 17. I have been offering to send her a bottle of scotch in the post…

                  (I’m childfree and very grateful my disabilities are all I have to manage)

          2. Ann Perkins*

            I was talking with a coworker about when to take the time to study for my next designation and how I needed to let life settle down a bit before starting. He gave me a lecture about how people will make time for the things that are important to them.

            I had a 2 year old at home and had just returned to work after maternity leave with my second, who was 3 months old. He is divorced and his ex-spouse has his kids almost all the time. Fumes out my ears.

            1. cmcinnyc*

              It would have taken all I had not to say, “I see why you’re divorced.”

            2. objection tango*

              He gave me a lecture about how people will make time for the things that are important to them.

              He is divorced and his ex-spouse has his kids almost all the time.


            3. Mary*

              I have mixed feelings about this, because while people tend to forget about their circumstances that make this stuff easier, your coworker isn’t wrong! People DO make time for things that are important to them!

              I’ve also observed that 90% of the time when someone says they “can’t” do something what they actually mean is that they don’t want to. I just don’t get why the extreme gymnastics to avoid owning that. I have four kids, one of whom is a 2yo and I would want to let life settle as well before taking on studies.

              I mean, your co-worker WAS tone deaf and clearly not hearing what you were actually saying. But I would also contemplate why you felt cranky about his comment that if it were truly important to you then you would make time. Is it because you felt judged that he was implying you didn’t feel it was as important as focussing on your family? There’s actually nothing wrong with acknowledging that your current priorities mean that you don’t want to (or think it would be wise to) focus on professional development.

              Something to think about anyway.

              1. Lavender Menace*

                First of all, I’m guessing it’s because of the implication that Ann Perkins could currently make time for the thing she wants with a two year old and a three month old, if she just “managed her time right” or something equally nonsensical.

                But also, even with a generous interpretation, the implication is that the thing she’s putting on hold is not important. Something can be really important and also not feasible right now. Believing that something is not a wise course of action is not the same thing as thinking it’s not important.

                1. Mary*

                  The thing is: technically Ann could make time if she really wanted to! Babies aren’t disabling! There are all kinds of potential solutions and if dealing with school was more important to her than looking after babies I’m pretty confident she could find a solution. She might not like the solution, but I’m sure she could find one.

                  Whether she should or not is an entirely different question. (I wouldn’t!) And your next statement is where I completely disagree. A generous interpretation is not that the thing that she’s putting on hold is not important. Not doing something does not make it unimportant! It just makes it less important that the other things you have prioritized. I think that’s a really important distinction and it’s hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around the nuance.

              2. Rollseyes*

                Let’s be real here. This woman has two small children and just got back from maternity leave, yes we all make room for what we need/want to do, but there are so many hours in a day. Inferring that she could just make more time, at what is literally the MOST time strapped part of her life is rude. Sure there are some people that will sacrifice their health, family, time with children, sanity etc to get things done at any cost but we shouldn’t as a society really ask that from people, especially someone with THAT much work on her plate already. This man is a deadbeat parent who has no place to talk. She wasn’t being cranky he was being patronizing. Has he given birth and done all the 24/7 work involved with those children? No.

          3. whingedrinking*

            There’ve been studies done about the question of how the gender gap can be balanced in academic publishing. Frustratingly, it turned out that giving men parental leave actually exacerbated it, because so few men are primary carers for their children. Instead, they use their leave as a sabbatical to get more writing done while women tended to use it to, y’know, look after their kids. A similar thing’s been happening during the pandemic – men are submitting more, and women less.

        5. BeachMum*

          That’s horrible. I’m a mostly stay-at-home spouse (I read AAM for advice for my business-owner spouse) and I regularly used to offer my house for play dates on those horrible random days where there’s no school. I figured part of the luxury of being at home meant that I was supposed to help my friends who worked.

          Those few times I was required to be at the office, I relied on others to help me. I assume that most parents can’t volunteer (so I do), can’t always pick up their kids at random times (so I offer), and so on. I’m appalled that some people just don’t get it.

          1. Peep*

            Bless you for offering to be a home base for kids whose parents have to work when school mysteriously has days off. My parents work(ed) full time, and couldn’t just take random days off. One of my friends’ mom would let me come over on those in-service days, or during midterms/finals when we would have a test from 8:30-10:30 and then parents would be expected to pick up their kids after. How is that normal??

        6. Jess*

          My husband *has* a stay-at-home wife, and still does dishes and laundry. Because I insist on some down time for myself, too. He’s also doing groceries (it was usually me) because last time I went I had a panic attack, people getting too close and whatnot.

          1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            Right? I know a lot of people who are the ones who are at home caring for their children (all young children though) and cooking, cleaning, groceries etc… are still things both adults in the home do. Who the heck is able to clean and cook much when you have toddlers running behind you destroying everything in their wake?

          2. Turquoisecow*

            My husband works waaaay more than I do and always has. But he does 99% of the laundry, takes out the garbage, cleans the cat litter, helps with dishes. Since I’ve been pregnant and more tired and less hungry he’s stepped up with the cooking. In normal times he went grocery shopping with me every week; now he handles the online delivery setup every week (with help from me on coming up with a list).

            In a good partnership, both people contribute.

          3. Clisby*

            Yeah, really. I’m retired, but my husband is doing a good share of cooking/dishes/cleaning up. Granted, I and my 18-year-old son do all the hunter-gathering at the grocery store because my husband HATES the grocery store and we like it. (His hatred of the grocery store has nothing to do with Covid-19; he just hates it. When I met him, his kitchen cabinets were filled with canned soup and his freezer with frozen egg rolls from Sam’s, because he could go once a month and then forget about it. )

        7. Sophie Hatter*

          This is bonkers. I mean I know you know that, but my jaw is on the floor.

        8. TechWorker*

          My company is thankfully not -this- bad but I am the most senior woman at my site & nearly all of the senior men with kids have wives that don’t work. It’s *just* starting to change with a couple of younger folks having kids though in a few cases that seems to be primarily because their wives are more successful/well paid than they are :)

          My industry is well paid so I guess it makes some sense that it’ll skew towards on average partners earning less (+ households being able to survive on one salary) and the less well paid one thus being more likely to quit work when kids come along.

          We’ve since been acquired and have more standard policies around part time, but I remember a few years ago having an AMAZING conversation with our then CEO about how to keep people working there once they had kids (without a stay at home spouse…). The policy they got to was basically that they’d consider people going down to 3 days a week up until the kid being school age (with some arbitrary extra criteria of being the ‘primary carer’, I think they just wanted to lessen the chances of people actually using it.) The CEO then said something along the lines of ‘and what would you do hypothetically for the other two days? Do you have family nearby?’ like, the option of my male partner also working part time, or of paid childcare LITERALLY did not occur to him as a possibility.

      3. nnn*

        Same here. Just in my capacity as someone who’s single I’ve noticed it. All kinds of life advice and pandemic advice assumes you have another person around. (And, to make matters worse, so much pandemic advice assumes that you have access to another person who is low-risk enough to leave their house, and is capable of driving a car.)

        1. Sharon*

          YES! So much quarantine talk concerns families and multiple things going on at the same time. I appreciate that’s challenging, but it would be nice for people to also acknowledge that some of us live ALONE and have different challenges – we don’t get to see our families or interact with any real live people, and if we do get sick – dunno.

          1. Quill*

            Ran cross-country to my parents’ house because I don’t think I can do everything alone for the duration of the summer.

            1. Tau*

              *raises hand* I did not think I would be living with my parents at this point in my life, but here we are.

              1. 'Tis Me*

                Have a husband (who is an essential medical worker) and 3 kids, youngest is 6 weeks, oldest is 5.5 years. The kids and I have temporarily upped sticks to my parents’. Husband is missing us, we’re missing him… But I had an extended emergency C section 6 weeks ago, and the idea of being the sole adult responsible for the wellbeing and happiness of all 3 and education of the eldest, plus keeping the house looked after, and all cooking, laundry etc, while he works 80 hours a week, indefinitely, sounded like a recipe for complete physical collapse (I have underlying health issues).

                We’ve been talking about him cutting back to potentially his core hours and us coming home though because it is TOUGH, and the 5 year old who is usually a happy easy-going soul is also really anxious her daddy will die and she will never see him again…

                1. 'Tis Me*

                  He has a few days off now, has no symptoms, and was screened for Corona on Friday so he’s going to come get us for a few days. It isn’t ideal as my mum’s high risk but at the same time a few days’ break will probably be good for her too. I think we need to be home properly by the start of June; I think just having a fixed date we’re working towards will be good for him and me…

            2. pandop*

              My mum lived in a care home, which is worrying enough on its own, and I am on the vulnerable list that should be staying home for 12 weeks. I am relying on the kindness of friends and neighbours

        2. Peep*

          Exactly re: being single! I do have one housemate, but she works full time outside the house and honestly I don’t think she’d notice anything. If I get sick (fingers crossed), and it gets worse…. nobody is going to check on me, friends can’t come over and do anything except drop off supplies (I don’t know if they will!), and my worst scenario — how will I get myself to the hospital? I can’t imagine calling an uber or taxi to be a plague wagon for me…. I guess you drag yourself there when you’re still semi-capable of driving a car? That seems insanely irresponsible. I know I worry too much sometimes, but what if??

          1. TootsNYC*

            you call the ambulance. They go “woo-woo-woo”-ing past my apartment building, 5 blocks from Elmhurst Hospital, on the regular.

            1. Peep*

              I think I’ve been inside too long, my brain didn’t even think about an ambulance. lol.

              1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

                In all fairness to you, at the beginning when things first got bad in some places, there were people who got really really sick (low O2, trouble breathing, pulse and BP too high) and they were told no ambulance was available to come get them, or they got a busy signal/disconnected when they called the emergency number, so it’s good to have a backup if that’s something you can plan.

                I think it’s mostly okay right now in the states, as far as being able to get an ambulance sent if you need one. Hope it stays that way.

          2. Vancouver*

            As someone else who lives alone, and is currently only socializing with the birds who land on my balcony, I know what you mean about it being challenging not having an accessible safety net. (And for what it’s worth, I think you’re worrying an appropriate amount here.) If you need do end up needing assistance, check with the local Red Cross, social services charity, religious organization, or other community group (depending on what works in your area). Or call the hospital ahead of time and ask for their advice (they may have ideas based on what other people have done, or there may be local options they can refer you to). I hope you don’t end up needing the help but know that there are people out there who can help, even if they’re strangers.

            1. Peep*

              Thank you!! Wonderful ideas. I hope not to need the help, but I’m just anxious that there may have been some way to prepare that I’m overlooking. (Which isn’t 100% realistic, but… worry brain!) Luckily I live in a very large metro area, and I think I’d be caught in someone’s safety net. My biggest waaay-down-the-line worry would be that I would somehow get too sick to realize I need help, and it be too late. I don’t think it’ll get there, I’d worry too much beforehand! Ha. Thanks for helping to think through this. <3

          3. IndoorCat*

            I understand if you don’t want to call an ambulance, because the last time I did it cost me $400, which I definitely didn’t have at the time. But, listen. If you’re not breathing well, don’t waste time. Figure out the money later. 911. Debt is survivable, respiratory failure isn’t.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              $400 is shockingly cheap. My last ambulance ride, 1 mile, cost $3500.

              Thankfully my insurance covered the whole thing, but I had to front the payment and get reimbursed later.

              1. A Silver Spork*

                In 2011, an ambulance ride cost about $1200, which my insurance covered half-ish of. Still cheaper than a funeral, but it definitely hurt, especially since I was an unemployed student at the time. It’s very dependent on location and insurance – I was on crappy student insurance at the time.

            2. Peep*

              Oh, I genuinely didn’t even think about an ambulance. My brain is out to lunch… I would definitely call an ambulance, luckily I can afford it. But you’re right! (My way out there worry would be that somehow I’d sink dramatically quickly and not be able to call on my own.)

              1. A Silver Spork*

                I haven’t looked into them, so I don’t know how well they actually *work*, but are those alert bracelets that detect if you’ve fallen a possibility? The ones usually advertised for elderly and disabled folks who are at higher risk of falling and who live alone.

                1. Eliza*

                  My dad has one and it produces a LOT of false alarms. They probably work okay if you can put up with someone calling to check if you’re okay once or twice a week because your alert randomly went off.

          4. Nessun*

            Single, no car. I’d have to call an ambulance. Really, if something happened to me my coworkers would probably have to call for a welfare check, since they’re not supposed to leave their homes either…and they don’t have my exact address or apartment number so…good luck, I guess?

            This is why I have to social distance carefully. Because being sick alone would be extremely problematic.

          5. Iris Eyes*

            People who live alone and get a moderate case is pretty scary to me.
            One blogger/podcaster who despite taking precautions earlier than most still contracted it told her story and it really opened my eye to the challenge of living alone far from a supportive family. It makes me wonder if this might change preferences for living arrangements. Hard to know but there are real health and safety risks of an isolated life even in the middle of a big city.

        3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          This. I have a spouse but he’s disabled AND high-risk, so I have to do pretty much everything. I’m so tired.

          1. SeluciaMD*

            Me too. I care for my brother who is also disabled and high-risk and so everything falls to me. I 100% feel you and think tired is an understatement. I just keep trying to remind myself that “this too shall pass” and there are other people out there struggling too. Exhaustion solidarity!

        4. RoseDark*

          Yup! I live alone too. I got super crazy lucky because I started dating someone with a car three weeks before quarantine, someone I trust to be careful and safe. Very occasional human interaction (less than once a week for over 6 weeks now) and the ability to buy groceries without having to take a bus or walk for 1.5 hours round trip, is saving my life and sanity.

          I’m almost glad to be recalled to work on Tuesday. Pandemic alone is the actual worst, and I’m getting off lightly.

        5. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I wish I knew how to convey this to my husband. The car is mine. I’m the only one with a driving license. I’m disabled and have an autoimmune disease.

          I’m not supposed to be driving places yet I am.

      4. pope suburban*

        Seconded. They’re only able to do what they do and have the time that they have because of someone else’s massive amount of unpaid labor. It’s super-obvious and yet they don’t seem to see it right in front of them. They’re the worst, these entitled people.

        1. Not a Girl Boss*

          They also love to brag about how they’re “Self Made” and “use hard work to make their own luck.”

          1. pope suburban*

            Argh, no, stop, it burns! But seriously, it’s like there’s a handbook out there on how to be an insensitive ass when you’ve got it good. They all seem to hit the same horrible, discordant notes.

            1. willow for now*

              The Idiot’s Guide to Being an Insensitive Ass

              Being an Insensitive Ass for Dummies

        2. Kat in VA*

          I can say with some certainty that part of the reason my husband’s career skyrocketed was because I stayed home for 20 years and handled everything – and I do mean everything – to do with house, yard, kids, bills, car things – you name it, I handled it. He went to work and mowed the lawn.

          After 20 years, the kids got older and more self-sufficient and I got tired of staying home. I went back to work full time in 2018 and haven’t looked back. There was a huuuuge adjustment period (and to be honest, there still is) because Mom/Wife wasn’t available 24/7 at the drop of a hat to handle whatever problem popped up. People got creative when it came to dinner. The husband learned how to handle grocery shopping deliveries. The kids learned to control themselves with whatever drama popped up and didn’t mob me the second I walked in the door. (The phrase, “WAIT UNTIL I AM OUT OF MY HEELS AND PUT DOWN MY SATCHEL” was used…often.)

          We were getting into a groove with housecleaning, shopping, cooking…and then The Rona dropped down and blew up everything.

          Adaptability is key.

          1. NOK*

            Can I just say I am SO impressed by moms who have played both roles in their parenting “career”? You’re like the Bo Jackson of motherhood.

      5. Oy Vey*

        Our CEO is frequently unavailable for hours/days at a time because his stay-at-home wife is working some vanity job and he has to do “daddy day care.” It irks me on so many levels the privilege of it all.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Ugh, the term “daddy day care” is just so ick. It’s not daycare, or babysitting, when it’s your own damn kids!

    3. Admin4Life*

      100% agree. As a solo parent of an autistic child…I would lose my cool and then some. So happy that my boss and the company I work for don’t do things like this.

    4. Memily*

      Both the leadership positions at my small company are held by men with SAH wives. They gave us notice yesterday that the office was going to back open Monday so yay, we can all come in! Um, no. I have a 3 year old and daycare doesn’t open until June, so I’ll still be working from home thanks.

      Our owner was upset on Christmas Eve last year—most of us had that day as a day off in our offer letters. He expected us to work, and that we’d maybe get a “half day”, meaning he’d forget and let us go at 3:30. It honestly didn’t occur to him that some of us needed to travel or take care of our kids or any of that.

      None of it is malicious, but dear Lord it’s still exhausting.

    5. CM*


      That was the worst thing about working at a big law firm — work had to take priority over everything else in your life, and if you didn’t or couldn’t manage this, you were inadequate. Just about everyone running the place had a stay-at-home spouse, a trusted person who they didn’t have to pay or manage, handling the entire rest of their life for them. They had NO CLUE what it takes to raise children, run a household, and do the thousand other life-management tasks they delegated, while also working an extremely demanding job, and to them it was a moral failing to even try to do both.

      Give your kids a chore checklist so they can work independently all day and you can focus on your company work is so incredibly out of touch, it seems more like satire than a real suggestion.

      1. Oof*

        I think the checklist could work – depends on the ages and family style of the people involved. Clearly not with everyone, but that’s not dissimilar to the way my parents managed things.

        1. Not a Girl Boss*

          Checklists I make don’t even work on myself, and I’m a grown up.

          I kept reading this letter waiting for the point where it turned into a hilarious skit where they had videos of people trying these tips and the walls getting painted in poop and highlighters, and that moment just never came…

        2. KWu*

          @Oof true, but I would guess that your parents didn’t decide on that strategy based on outside advice. For anyone for whom this would work, they probably already thought of it and are doing it. I think the group of “didn’t consider this but now actually makes everything better” is very, very, very small.

          1. A*

            Given that a solid portion of the advice needed/given on this site could be summed up by “speak with the individual directly about your concern”, it seems pretty clear that not everything that seems obvious to you/whomever is obvious to everyone else.

            And regardless, it doesn’t invalidate the comment so I don’t see what your value add point is.

            1. Airy*

              Perhaps that it’s okay to offer advice if it’s asked for but better to lead with “Have you tried/are you able to…” than “You should…”
              And if advice hasn’t been asked for directly and explicitly, a screening “Would you like some suggestions, or just to talk about your experience?” goes a long way to avoid hurt feelings and annoyance.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I think the number of people form whom this would work consistently is vanishingly small unless your kid is highly self-motivated with good executive function skills. My kids (tweens) have a daily, hour-by-hour schedule and checklists for their chores. I still spend half my day going, “What are you supposed to be doing right now?” or “Did you turn in your homework/classwork/etc.?”or “I really need you to clean out the dishwasher now because the dishes are starting to pile up on the counter.” or looking up and then explaining the formula for surface area of a cylinder. They’re not bad kids, they just require prompting and redirection. (The neurodiverse one is actually better at staying on track than the neurotypical one.)

          1. Anon for this*

            Agree! My neurodiverse child needs routine and is accustomed to having a written schedule to follow.

          2. allathian*

            My kid is pretty self-motivated once he gets going, but he needs to be reminded every step of the way… It’s exhausting sometimes. Oh well, at least he’s pretty good at following the directions his teacher sends her class every morning. But I have to remind him to open his Google classroom to get going…

          3. Claire*

            Yeah, I’m autistic, and I was always able to stick to to-do lists that my parents made—a lot of autistic people have trouble picking up on social cues, but have no problem at all handling something like “do this at noon, do this at 1, do this at 2.” It takes all the guesswork out of it, which was huge for me as a kid.

        4. Observer*

          Not with young children. It doesn’t matter the parenting style. Sure, some kids can be more independent than other and can be given a list that covers a more significant chunk of the day. But it is just to a reasonable or realistic expectation for young kids to take a list and use that to work independently all day.

          1. InfoSec SemiPro*

            I pulled out the developmental psych texts to double check when we could expect my kid to not NEED to be basically with an adult. She’s an extrovert who defines “alone time” as sitting in the same room as one of us working on a game on her ipad.

            Five is too young, developmentally. She’s just too little, she needs us.

        5. Koala dreams*

          I think the check-list is a good idea, but it’s unreasonable to expect the children to work independently all day long. Sooner or later you’ll need to check on the children. The check-list can provide some structure, which is good, but hardly enough for most children.

      2. WS*

        Yes! My brother worked for a big law firm, and asked if he could possibly have regular – not even shorter! – hours 2-3 days a week so that he could occasionally look after the kids so his wife could study. He was promptly taken off anything important because he wasn’t “committed”, then a few weeks later they realised he was the only person in this city’s office who was both a qualified lawyer AND fluent in a particular language they needed and tried to work with him…but too late, he went to work in the legal department of a financial firm instead.

    6. Slap_happy*

      I totally agree. Although in my experience managers with no children or experience with children are a close second.

    7. LawLady*

      YES. This reminds me of when I was in law school and the women’s affinity group brought in some lawyers to do a panel discussion over lunch about how to balance being a parent and a lawyer. This was pertinent to my interests, so I went.
      The speakers introduced themselves and of the 4 of them, ONE woman was a working lawyer with a working spouse. The other 3 were men with stay at home wives. I don’t mean to discount that they are still parents, and probably do a lot of parenting. But C’MON.

    8. BeesKneeReplacement*

      I work part-time from home and take care of kids who are in part-time daycare. Since having to work from home, my husband is constantly astounded at everything I get done. He’s no slouch in pitching in when I need to work, but I’m still doing the majority and he’s worn out by it all. It is all new and frustrating for him.

      1. Them Boots*

        Sounds like you have a good one. He’s trying and giving you kudos. Above the curve :-)

      2. allathian*

        The most exhausting thing I find is doing the mental PM of scheduling everything, etc. My husband has lots of energy for all kinds of projects while I need a lot of downtime for my mental health (still recovering from exhaustion/near burnout two years ago). I feel like I’ve achieved something if I manage to run a couple loads of laundry and fill and empty the dishwasher. Now I’ve delegated most of the emptying to my son (I’ll lift stuff to the upper shelves that he can’t reach yet), because he’s old enough to do other chores than just keeping his room reasonably presentable. Hubs does most of the rest of what needs to be done, like all of the yardwork, most of the vacuuming, most of the dusting, nearly all of the cooking from scratch… Sometimes I feel a bit guilty, but I need to do what I have to do to maintain my mental health.

    9. Veryanon*

      OMG seriously. They don’t get it, or worse, they act very condescending about your situation. It’s. The. Worst.

    10. Anon for this one*

      I do miss the days (in some ways) when I had a “stay at home husband” (we didn’t have children, though, so he wasn’t a SAHD as such). He had worked previously but quit voluntarily in a sort of crisis knowing that I earned enough to support us – I didn’t earn loads, it was just a case of living very frugally and cutting out anything that might conceivably be a ‘luxury’, living like students even though I had a professional job. All the time he was working it was at “blue collar”, factory type of jobs and he really wanted a job more like ‘professional poet’ so I felt guilty all the time that he “had to” work because I didn’t earn enough to support both of us, and yet when I did cross that threshold of earning enough, it was ‘ok’ for him to quit, but then I still felt bad because all the burden was on me!

      It was good in some ways though, like being able to take in deliveries or have repair people round without having to use up my own PTO. (Even then though, I had to arrange the repair people, his ‘role’ was just to let them in at the pre-arranged time!)

      1. SeluciaMD*

        Are you guys still married or did you murder him in his sleep? Just curious.

        1. objection tango*


          I mean, I wouldn’t murder him, but a clue by four might have been involved.

      2. willow for now*

        Oh, this sounds so familiar – I set up the appointment with the cable guy, the lawn aerator, the concrete workers, all you have to do is be there – and still you bitch about how it interferes with your busy day.

    11. MsMaryMary*

      At one point at OlderJob I realized that every man I worked with at my level or above had a stay at home wife. None of the women had a partner who stayed home. At my next job, it was slightly better. We had one power couple (she was arguably more successful than he was) and the men under 40 were either single or had working spouses. I am single myself with no kids, but I recognize how much additional flexibility that gives me.

      Memorably, the CEO at OldJob was chatting with a coworker who had recently returned from maternity leave. She joked about how having two children was exponentially harder than one. He shrugged and said he never felt that way, and he had five children.

    12. Granath*

      Cmcinnyc, how about you don’t give advice either? You know what one stay at home parent means for an average family? It means no Starbucks. Cheap vacations if any all. Strethcing the food budget. It means careful retirement planning and added pressure to the one who works because their entire world collapses if they are out of work. The grass isn’t always greener, so maybe you should take your own advice.

      1. Lisa*

        Granath, you know from reading the comment that she didn’t mean “an average family”.

        But also, I would point out to you that you are *very privileged* to have or be a SAH parent and you are not average. You chose to give up Starbucks and take cheap vacations in exchange for that privilege – many, many families don’t have that choice. There is nothing for them to give up.

      2. ZaDrCh*

        Their comment had nothing to do with the finances of families with a stay at home parent, and the advice they mention doesn’t have anything to do with finances either, so I’m not sure why you are focused on that. Cmcinnyc’s own advice that you’re asking them not to give is just about how someone shouldn’t tell a working parent how to balance childcare responsibilities and work responsibilities, if they have someone else who primarily handles those childcare responsibilities.

        Also, those things you mention are true of many families regardless of if someone stays home. That’s just how the American family is. My husband and I both work full time and are still stretching our budget and not going on vacations, and my sister just quit her job because staying home full time and not having to pay for daycare is cheaper than having two parents working. They actually are in a better financial situation now with a stay at home parent, and I know many parents who chose this route even though they wanted to keep working, because after having a second child, the childcare costs were more than one parents salary. This of course isn’t true for everyone and there are a number of factors that contribute to hardship on both sides, with stay at home parents also struggling just like you said, but I’m not sure why you are presenting the need to carefully plan for retirement and not being able to afford Starbucks as a stay-at-home parent family only issue, and calling out the OP of this thread for something they didn’t even mention. For all you know they could be in the exact same situation you describe.

      3. Claire*

        At no point did Cmcinnyc say that the grass was greener. She said that families with a SAHP have different experiences than families with working parents. The context of the letter is discussing how a working parent with a spouse who’s a SAHP has an easier time dealing with the demands of childcare. I fail to see how you could argue against that premise, nor do I see how you could read the letter and the comment and think that the statement was that families with a SAHP have easier lives overall.

    13. Lora*

      Am not a parent – was married for a while – and I would like these people to not give me non-work advice either. When I was married, I was the one responsible for everything as the then-husband was useless as a screen door on a submarine, and when I got divorced I was almost immediately made responsible for elder care.

      My job involves a lot of travel. I can travel! I like traveling! But I need several days of advance notice to line up a house-sitter, dog kennel, pick up enough prescriptions to last the trip, do laundry in advance etc. When I had elder care things to do, I had to line up extra home health aide visits, often from a new aide who would have to be found and interviewed and hired, and cook extra ready-to-microwave meals and pre-prep snacks for mom. All that stuff is a solid multiple days work for a long trip. The guys with stay-at-home spouses didn’t need any notice, they just tossed some shirts and a toothbrush in a bag and got on the plane and dumped all the work of managing the house and kids on their wives. So, I didn’t get the overseas travel and thus didn’t get the promotions – because asking for a week or two worth of notice before traveling and charging for a taxi to the airport was some kind of horrible imposition on the business and interpreted as “not ambitious, can’t travel.” These are multi-billion dollar businesses that regularly forecast out five years, and they couldn’t plan two weeks in advance to say “hey we need you on a plane to China in a couple of weeks”? They couldn’t. Over and over again they couldn’t. Because it’s not something they ever have to consider personally, therefore it doesn’t exist.

      One of my colleagues told senior management that we should have a nice holiday party because it’s really for the spouses who sacrifice so much so we could work long hours. He said this like he was a great Man of the People. My jaw dropped and I did not say what I was thinking, thank god. By his rationale, all the single people who have to vacuum the cat hair alone or whatever should definitely get at least a free drink ticket, on account of not having a personal assistant to Oxy-Clean their underpants free of charge.

      1. willow for now*

        Oxy-Clean their underpants – that’s gonna be my new catch phrase!

    14. babblemouth*

      A new manager in my department talked a lot about being a single mom, and how she understands those struggling etc… but it turns out her kid goes to boarding school, and is only with her every other weekend.
      Yeah, no, that’s not how it works for most people.

  3. HS Teaching*

    What. The. Heck. How can one be so mind-numbingly out of touch? This is insanity!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Wow. This could work. The 8yr old wears their Spiderman pjs all day and has lightsaber duels every hour. The 10yr old wants to binge watch makeup tutorials and then practice new techniques. The 5 month old baby just wants everyone to smile and play peek a boo.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I’m not sure what’s wrong with your new team- you have security, IT, and motivation/party planner all set to go. Your productivity should go up, not down right now.

  4. Jesse*

    Teacher here.

    I think number two is actually a decent idea and would work for a lot of kids of all ages.

    The other stuff would be appropriate for teenagers, but I’m sure they’re busy with their own school work anyways. If they’re old enough and independent enough to do those things, they’re old enough and independent enough to go away and leave you alone LOL.

    1. Blue Nerd*

      ITS Professional here- most of us are all really, REALLY busy right now trying to work with employees who are unused to and/or uncomfortable with remote work and with troubleshooting A LOT of WFH related issues. Of course, if you need to submit a ticket and reach out for help, setup, form creation, etc. please do it. Just a quick PSA though asking that, unless your ITS team has indicated otherwise, please don’t submit superfluous tickets just so your kiddo can get some practice. Also, if your kids are helping to submit legitimate tickets (or really, any time you submit a ticket yourself), please check them over and make sure they’re as succinct and helpful as you can. I always ask people to imagine they were receiving the ticket themselves and being asked to perform based on what is written.

      1. Jesse*

        I don’t disagree, I think kids of any age could do a help ticket but I wouldn’t actually submit it LOL. I give it to them as a task and pretend it was handed in.

        1. Zephy*

          But then that’s the parent using work resources for a non-work purpose. I think this company was seriously suggesting that employees delegate these real admin tasks to their children.

    2. LKW*

      This – any kid that needs to be monitored or entertained is not going to have any interest in a work meeting. My straight out of college colleagues have enough trouble capturing notes like “Confirm potential impacts to schedule caused by migration of SSO platform”. I can’t imagine a 10 year old being asked to do that.

      1. River Song*

        You dont think the meeting would be improved by having to pause and help spell every word? :)

      2. mrs__peel*

        If there’s one thing kids *love*, it’s learning about the arcane world of Medicare administrative law! They can come sit on my legal hearings about whether or not an inpatient hospital stay was billed with the correct DRG.

    3. georgia*

      I bet you’re thinking of school-aged kids here. Mine is 2 and has a vocabulary of 50 words, few of which would ever appear on an IT ticket.

      1. CG*

        Yeah, was definitely thinking my not-quite 2 year old twins are probably not going to take great meeting notes. And I don’t think the list is going to get us anywhere.

        1. EPLawyer*

          that … actually is probably more coherent than some actual help tickets that are submitted.

          1. Violet Fox*

            Yes, and from surprisingly smart and educated people too.

            We got one the other day from someone saying that their office computer isn’t work as well as it used to. Umm.. thanks for the info? No mention of a computer name (we have human readable ones even), no mention of office number.. no mention of what he is doing with it – remote computation I hope since we’re work from home right now.

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              One time we had a nightmarish scenario at work.

              We had to come in early and update the computer operating system ourselves – using a printed instruction sheet.

              Yeah, right. I got hopelessly confused around step 3 and ended up freaking out. Someone rescued me and gave me permission to call IT.

              There’s a reason my wife does all the tech stuff at our house.

              1. Violet Fox*

                Last time we had to do a major OS upgrade, me and the other IT person set up a window to do it (a Saturday), warned everyone well in advance, warned everyone close to, warned everyone the day before — kicked some people off their computers on Saturday (yes they were there – mostly phd students and professors who have issues reading email), upgraded everything in a day. When everyone got back on Monday (or Sunday for the dedicated), everything was working.

                That’s how it’s supposed to be, and yes we did get paid overtime for this.

            2. Claire*

              At least a quarter of the tickets I get just say, “i can’t log in”…and then the submitters are annoyed that I can’t just fix it right away and I need to ask them for more detail. There’s a reason why my company has a non-IT team filter the tickets that come in before sending them to IT—I have 0 training in any sort of technical fields, but I can fix about 70% of the tickets we get in about five minutes, so IT only has to look at the 30% of tickets that require more complicated solutions than “can you try closing your browser and opening it again?”

          2. Quill*

            I mean, most two year olds these days at least understand “turn it off then on again”

            1. Grapey*

              For real, watching a 2 year old show her grandma how to take a selfie was…something.

      2. blackcat*

        Mine is just over 2 and is entirely capable of “helping” with (aka not getting in the way of) cooking, cleaning, and a lot of household chores. But OMG if I try to talk to someone not him/sit at my computer and work/etc, the world ends. I can’t even park him in front of a TV–I have to watch with him, defeating the purpose.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          I feel you so much on this. I hear “SIT WITH ME MOMMY!!!!” so many times per day.

        2. Tin Cormorant*

          Mine is 3.5 and just starting to get over that phase. I’ve been pretty successful over the past few weeks at parking her in front of the TV with the Pokemon show from the 90s or a Switch with Mario Kart and having her leave me alone for at least a half hour at a time. I set up an old phone of mine with a couple dozen hand-picked ad-free educational apps and Luna Launcher to prevent her from accessing anything but those, and just let her play whatever she wants.

          I still check on her regularly, but it’s mostly just to make sure she hasn’t decided to remove the guppies from the fish tank. Again.

      3. Megan*

        I doubt the company was suggesting these be used with toddlers. This seems a bit like a “but not everyone can eat sandwiches” thing.

        1. Lavender Menace*

          I don’t think it’s really that, because these instructions couldn’t be used with the vast majority of kids. Kids that are old enough for this to actually be viable are old enough to be capable of* keeping themselves occupied and (mostly) out of your hair anyway. And kids that aren’t old enough to occupy themselves wouldn’t really be capable of this list.

          *”Capable of.” Whether they actually do it or not really depends…

    4. Malarkey01*

      I do t even see the value of that- it’s like a 2 minute thing. Maybe my help desk tickets are different but you fill your name, number, system your having problem with, and then a short description which is usually “won’t open” or “shows 503 message”. What are they learning there?

      1. Jesse*

        Spelling, typing, understanding for fields, form layouts, filling in target information accurately. It’s actually a task required in writing curricula for some required ELA/business units I’ve taught.

        Not saying anyone needs to take this seriously or actually do it (I don’t assume anyone would actually submit it), but it’s a worthwhile practice task for older kids.

        1. NN*

          +1, especially on target information!

          Plus, some older kids can figure out how to fill out a form well on their own; others worry too much (that was me), or are careless, or just give up, all because it’s not familiar.

          1. alienor*

            Even my college student gets stressed about filling out forms (due to worry over making a mistake). She does it, but she hates it.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Oh, hi mom, I didn’t know you were also on AAM.

              (this is a joke about me being a grad student who gets stressed about forms)

        2. Lisa Large*

          Actually, my teenage grandson is inundated with math, science, engineering, literature, history, social studies and french lessons being taught online. Neither he nor his parents need anyone to suggest ‘practice tasks’ from his parent’s employer. Too much corporate indoctrination in this country already.

        3. Observer*

          None of that is about “technology”.

          And do you really think that an IT ticket (assuming that tickets are necessarily being submitted that way) are an especially good way to learn those things? The way lots of schools (and a lot of life) works, kids get LOTS of practice essentially filling out forms.

          Sure, for lots of people it doesn’t stick, like so many other skills don’t stick. A few extra forms in the shape of your IT tickets is not going to add much to the mix.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Yeah, these suggestions would only work for older kids and even then only if they are already pretty independent and mature, studious types rather than bouncing-off-the-walls bored and acting out.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      I can imagine the “taking notes” suggestion working with my twelve year old, at least for a while. She is interested in adult skills, which modern society is sadly bad at teaching. My ten year old on the spectrum? Not a chance.

    7. HS Teacher*

      I’m not permitted to let anyone touch my teacher laptop, so it wouldn’t work for me. I don’t have kids, but my nephew stays with me and he’s a student in the district I teach in. I just think all of it is so tone deaf, and that it came from people who all have assistance with their child care makes it even worse!

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        Yeah, I work in medical insurance, and we’re not supposed to have anyone in the room with us who can so much as look over our shoulder when they might see proprietary information. I can’t imagine it being fine to let any kid d do any of these things in my company.

      2. Sophie Hatter*

        Yeah, I am supposed to lock my computer every time I step away due to data privacy! And these folks want their kids to play on it?

    8. I Herd the Cats*

      I have two teenagers and would ask for help on some IT stuff but naturally they’re still asleep because it’s only 1pm. If they don’t start foraging for food by 2pm I’ll go check that they’re still here. I have been up since 5:30am, by the way.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Mine tend to cycle forward, with a natural cycle of about 25 or 26 hours. In ordinary times getting up for school keeps them locked to the solar day.

        1. Gatomon*

          Oof, this was (is) me! By the end of summer I’d be going to be at 5 – 6 a.m. and waking up at 2 – 3 p.m. I still struggle with it in my 30s if I have too many days off in a row with no plans.

          1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

            Have you ever traveled overseas? If so I’m curious about how you handle jet lag.

            I have the same tendency towards keeping vampire hours and one weird effect of this (I assume) is that I experienced zero jet lag when I went on vacation from the states to Japan a couple years ago. The first four hours I was there I had no idea what time it was (evening? maybe?), then I took a nap, woke up for food after a couple hours, went back to bed at a normal time and had no issues for the rest of the trip.

      2. HR Jeanne*

        I had to remind my 14 year old son that we have a variety of rooms in our home, and he is welcome to come out of his bedroom and join us in the others. He grunted at me. I realize that this is so much easier than trying to work with small children! And I’m in HR. :-)

    9. PMgr*

      We did this, but not for my work IT. My son (6) was unhappy with something about his reading app, so we pulled up their feedback form and he dictated a description of his issue and his ideas for solving it. It was fun, but did not free up my time to get work done.

      1. san junipero*

        That’s actually ADORABLE while also being an excellent lesson. You are a cool parent. :)

    10. Observer*

      I think number two is actually a decent idea and would work for a lot of kids of all ages.


      There is so much wrong with that statement that I’m not even sure where to start.

      But some thoughts, a bit stream of consciousness style:

      Do you exclude toddlers from “kids of all ages”? Because if not, I’d like to know how you expect a toddler to “help you submit a help desk ticket”.

      Do you really think that it takes only a few minutes to provide enough information to create a useful IT ticket, to someone who doesn’t know anything about your technology and how it’s supposed to work? Unless you think the “the thing doesn’t work” is a useful IT ticket, you’re likely going to need a significant amount of time (that will NOT help your productivity) to get to the starting point. If you don’t need that much time, your kid knows more technology than you think.

      At the same time, as often as not, IT tickets don’t revolve around technology per se as much as the specifics of your systems and processes – which means more time and less useful information.

      I’d dearly love to see how someone “teaches their child about technology” by getting them to help submit a trouble ticket about the VPN not working…

      1. Jesse*

        Yes, I’m seriously saying to ask your pre-literate baby or pre-K to submit an IT ticket. I’m a teacher, so in my mind I’m thinking of children that are literate and of an age range (6-7+) that they can scribble on a piece of paper beside mommy or daddy, as part of a fun activity.

        Maybe I am less stressed right now than the average parent on here, but I took this initial letter as being rather humorous and silly (or fun), rather than a backhanded attempt to patronize (at best) or sneakily employ child labor to write IT tickets as part of a cost-saving agenda (at worst).

        1. Non-prophet*

          I think this letter has set off people’s “WTF?!” radars because it’s proof of how challenging it is to stay productive when when both parents work full time, and all your external supports have vanished over night. So this letter doesn’t feel humorous. It’s just more proof of how out of touch TPTB often are when understanding the realities that their employees—parents or not—are dealing with.

          Sure, these type of suggestions work for those who have a SAHP, a live-in nanny, or some other adult who is primarily responsible for tending to the kids all day. It might work for some kids who are school-aged or older.

          My husband and I both managed to be pretty productive this week while working from home, while also watching our active, curious, and very mobile 11 month old. My employer is very flexible and gracious about when the work gets done. It’s still a challenge. I can’t imagine doing this as a single parent or as someone whose spouse/partner still has to report to work.

          Here is what it took to be “productive” while WFH with a child during a pandemic. This list is absolutely not sustainable. We are going to burn out if this continues.

          *we each worked a full day, 8am-6pm Monday thru Friday. Each took a 30-minute lunch break.
          *we both have multiple video meetings every day. We do our best to stagger our video calls at differing times so someone is available to entertain/comfort baby if needed. She has a knack for having a total meltdown during important meetings.
          *baby doesn’t nap for longer than 20 minutes. So there’s no way to rely on getting a significant amount of work done during her naps.
          *we take two hours after work (6-8pm) to take a quick walk around the block, make dinner, clean our house, and put baby to bed. Our house is a disaster right now…entropy in action.
          *multiple times this week, but husband had calls scheduled from 6-7 pm, which messes with our nightly routine. They were important calls, but it meant he wasn’t available to tag-team on the dinner/bedtime rush.
          *we are ordering a lot of delivery right now for dinner. Because it’s a rush to fit it the dinner/bedtime routine, especially if husband is on a call until 7:00. Luckily, we have the financial resources to do this. Others do not
          *both of us then get back online and keep working from 9 pm until after MIDNIGHT. We did that every.single.night this week, and also plan to several hours on the weekend. Last night, I worked from 9PM until 2:30 AM. The baby woke up at 3:00 to nurse, just as I was drifting off to sleep.
          *then we get up sometime between 6 and 7 AM and do it all over again. Rinse and repeat with no end in sight.

          I’m barely keeping up with my to-do list at work. This is not a reasonable schedule. If someone wants to give me tips about being “productive”…I probably will not find it helpful or humorous, unless they’ve found us a safe and socially-responsible childcare solution, or a way to make the day longer than 24 hours.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            A way to split myself into multiple people so I could e.g. Nurse the newborn, set the toddler up with a drawing/sticking/building activity, help the 5 year old with her schoolwork, do the housework, and also do things like drink, eat and go to the loo, maybe take a nap if needed would be good…

  5. RG*

    I don’t even have kids, and I’m stressed just thinking about trying to decipher meeting notes written by someone with a grade-school education. The spelling alone will give me nightmares.

    1. Mockingjay*

      As a technical writer, I can tell you that the highly trained engineers and technicians I work with can’t spell worth a damn. My money’s on the grade schooler for spell check, lol.

      1. Anonny*

        I’ve dated two computer scientists. One time, it was my birthday and I got a card from my then-partner and from my then-4yo cousin. I tried to guess who sent the card via handwriting. I got it wrong.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        Hahaha, agreed! One of my parents is a highly trained engineer and I remember teasing them as an elementary student for misspelling words on the grocery list :)

      3. Quoth the Raven*

        Translator here. It’s always engineers. I’ve worked with documents that include run-on sentences that are over 2000 words long, or texts where the author showed an alarming disregard for punctuation and grammar.

        1. TechWorker*

          We’re not all like that (I am an engineer with imo decent ish spelling and grammar who regularly catches typos when I review technical documents). But I also see it as a positive that having poor spelling doesn’t hold you back much, if at all, in this career. It’s rightly very much not the important part of the job.

    2. Jesse*

      “Susan, why does your daily expense report make numerous references to ‘the haterz in roblox that r sooo annoying!!!!!'”?

    3. Kittymommy*

      Maybe it’s just me but I was thinking that the notes weren’t actually going to be used for anything, it was just more of a teaching/keeping them occupied task.

    4. Nita*

      Lol. It’s not as bad as you think, if you’re next to them telling them the key points to write down! Back when there was still actual school and office work, I had my second grader who was visiting the office take notes on a webinar. They were surprisingly good, and he was very proud of himself for doing this adult thing.

      Checklists for independent learning, now… that way madness lies. I completely lost it today, threw a tantrum (first one since I was a toddler, I think), and ended up crying in a corner when my husband suggested that the kid needs to spend more time on his essay before turning it in. It’s very hard to keep a child motivated when there’s no teacher or peers around, and I was all out of ability to motivate! It’s been a long week.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      EXACTLY. Mine three ARE old enough, and they still interrupt/need intervention every 20 minutes. Especially right before mealtimes, because even though ALL of them can cook, they feel like discussing recipes and tattling on their siblings when their blood sugar is low.

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        haha, I want to see a graph of “parental pain vs child blood sugar” now.

    2. enginuity*

      Yeah, my boss has been having her kids (8 and 10 ish I think?) doing this and it’s worked really well for them; her husband also works. But it’s more about the kids having some structure to their day and maybe cutting down on complaints about boredom. The way this email presents it is almost like a cure-all, though, which it’s definitely not, as every call with my boss now still has at least one kid-related interruption.

    3. Jesse*

      My kids are too young to work independently but I still keep a whiteboard with their schedule lined up for the day. It really helps them with overall organization and executive functioning.

      1. Mathletics x 1
      2. Fractions worksheet
      3. Movement break (which means jumping on the bed)
      4. RAZ Kids (1 story, 1quiz)

      And so on…

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        YUP. Mine looks like:
        1- Eat
        2-Exercise. 30+ minutes.
        3 -Homework
        4- Google Classrooms at 10. GIVE THE CAMERA TO YOUR BROTHER WHEN YOU’RE DONE
        5- NO REALLY, set up the camera. I have a webinar.
        6- Dust the house
        7- Walk the dog
        8- Play scrabble with your little sister.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      We have a schedule, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help getting through it (mine are 6,9,12) or that it would be remotely appropriate to leave them to it all day!!

      1. River Song*

        Same here! We have a schedule (4,8,12,14) and they are mostly great at it! But they still need help with schoolwork, reminders to move on to the next thing, fights broken up, yes you can have a snack, no the snack cannot be an entire tub of ice cream, and so on.

    5. Matilda*

      Under more normal circumstances I think absolutely yes. However, I think this also ignores that kids (more especially the older ones who can understand more of what’s going on) are stressed and anxious and all of this is hard on them too. They haven’t been able to see their friends (hopefully) and all their activities and events have been cancelled. These kinds of tips try to act like the world is mostly the same and your kids just happen to be around, rather than acknowledging that everything has dramatically shifted for everyone, including them.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      We’re having to build checklists for our kids because we parents can’t keep track of all the various assignments and stuff for their school. My 5th grader is using her class’ checklist but it doesn’t cover everything, and the kindergartener knows how to navigate to various websites but isn’t ready to track his own progress. We established a general daily schedule pretty early on and the kids are more strict about that than we are (usually the snack breaks and free screen time).

      I can’t even have the kids in the room when I have meetings, proprietary and all that, but they also would have no idea what to take note of, much less how to spell most of the stuff in the first place!

      The “advice” coming from people with those home setups (SAH spouse, live in help) is just as out of touch as “take a vacation in your guest room, which you all obviously have” that was circulating recently.

      1. mlk*

        I have twins in 2nd grade who have different teachers. One is more tech savvy and has made the move to distance learning pretty easy. We’ve had some issues with the apps she’s using, but nothing terrible. She has a lovely day-by-day schedule for the schoolwork with notes on which app to use, etc.

        The other, who’s what I would call a more traditional and stricter teacher, has struggled more, but is smoothing out. Here’s an example. She posted a 31-page worksheet slide-based document on energy sources and climate change. She assigned 10 pages. I double-checked that the other 21 didn’t need to be done. She didn’t know how to delete slides she didn’t need.

        She gives an overall list of items for the week. After a week of making notes about how many of each thing had been done and trying to decide when to work on which item, I made a daily schedule so I could have something we could mark up easier. I posted it on the class’ website. She thanked me for it which was nice.

    7. Harvey JobGetter*

      Yes, this! LW is just as tone deaf as the HR people. Like them, she can’t see past her own situation. (She’s not as bad as they are because being tone deaf on AAM isn’t as bad as being tone deaf as an HR person communicating with staff.)

  6. sofar*

    I am DYING over here. I think the tone-def company responses to people working at home with kids is one of my favorite parts of this whole miserable experience.

    We have an exec (who has been sending daily “night notes” out to employees as we navigate COVID-19) -emphasize the “importance of carving out time in your day to rest.” He, personally, enjoys “drinking a cup of coffee while watching [his] wife play in the yard with the kids.”

    That went over about as well as you might imagine. Night notes have since gone down to a “weekly cadence.”

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      He, personally, enjoys “drinking a cup of coffee while watching [his] wife play in the yard with the kids.”

      WHOA. That’s…beyond insensitive, both to the employees and the wife. And the kids too, to be honest. So gross.

      1. sofar*

        He’s an incredibly nice guy (and someone I like working for). I really believe he didn’t think twice about how it would come off.

        It was part of a longer (and well-meant) email about “slowing down.” And he went on about how working from home, he’s getting to see things he’d usually miss. And how his new daily ritual is making coffee and standing by the window watching his wife playing in the yard with his kids mid-morning before “diving back” into meetings.

        But, yeah, insensitive to everyone else who has their kids crawling all over them while they try to get their necessary work done, because both parents are working.

      2. Megan*

        How is it insensitive to his wife? Maybe later she’ll be enjoying a glass of wine while he plays with kids in the yard…

        1. So Silly*

          Yeah, I don’t understand that either. Readers of this blog have a tendency to get offended over things that weren’t really offensive. You’re mad at this guy because he enjoys watching his wife play with their children? On what planet should that bother you?

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            My point was that maybe his wife would like to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching someone else play with the kids. It is on this very planet that it bothers me that this guy wouldn’t think to offer his wife a break from the kids, maybe? (I mean, maybe he is doing that, but I’m not going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that like I might usually do.)

    2. Elaine Benes*

      I just love the idea that the reason (in his mind) that people aren’t getting enough moments to rest is because they just forgot about it or aren’t prioritizing it, and it will be really helpful to remind them.

      I’m sure his wife would looooove a moment to herself with coffee and I would bet $1000 he’s never offered her that time. And I would bet another $1o00 that if asked, he would say something along the lines of “I didn’t know she needed it” or “if it was a priority for her, I know she would ask me to watch the kids for bit to get some down time”.

      Just… insane.

      1. Goliath Corp.*

        Also — I’m sure there are lots of parents in apartments/condos who would LOVE to be out in a yard with their kids. He’s as clueless about the privilege of having a SAH spouse as he is about homeownership.

        1. WorkingGirl*

          A lot of “advice” lately has felt pretty tonedeaf, like washing clothes immediately once you get home. Um, my options are walk a few minutes over to the other building with a laundry room (apartment complex with many, relatively small, buildings; only about 1 in 6 buildings has a laundry room, limited hours and only a few machines available); drive to the laundromat (plenty of machines, but it means… sitting around other people for two hours!); drive to my parents’ house (least exposure to germs, but it’s 30 mins each way). No way in hell could I spend the time and MONEY to do laundry every day, even if I wanted to. Outdoor clothes go right in the dirty laundry bin, but yeah, those germy clothes just gotta sit in my hamper for a few days till I can wash…

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, when I lived in a apartment and did field work I couldn’t wash my clothes every day. I had a duffle bag that grotty stuff went in to, laundry was on the weekends.

      2. Not a Girl Boss*

        FOR SURE

        We had an exec remind us to “make time for rest” and then, the same exact guy, called at 7am on a Sunday because he had “a thought” about a non-urgent project he wanted to “run by” me.

        1. willow for now*

          Hah! I had my doctor prescribe sleeping pills once, then call at 7 am the next day to see how I was doing. I was SLEEPING, numnutz!

    1. MySherona*

      It has to be. (I don’t have kids and still think that these have to be all in jest, right?)

    2. NeonFireworks*

      I think it must be. Then again, we could say the same thing about the frustrated 30-year-old trying to tell other millennials how to have less unstable financial lives when their own personal solution is “my parents bought me a condo.”

      1. Karia*

        Yes. I remember an article about two young people who worked retail who’d bought their own home age 22. It smugly reeled off a list of very obvious money saving tips then briefly mentioned “oh and their parents gave them £30k”.

    3. sofar*

      No, it seemed genuine. It was part of a longer (and well-meant) email about “slowing down.” And he went on about how working from home, he’s getting to see things he’d usually miss. And how his new daily ritual is making coffee and standing by the window watching his wife playing in the yard with his kids mid-morning before “diving back” into meetings.

    4. EPLawyer*

      Nope. Based on the status of the folks, they really believe this. Because its what they do for the 5 minutes the actual caregiver brings the kids in during the day to spend time with Mommy “at work.”

    5. Saberise*

      TBH I thought the whole thing was a joke. Find it hard to believe that they really thought that any of those were good ideas. #1 would result in very bad notes and #3 as an admin asst I don’t even like the people I support messing with their own calendars, so can’t imagine a child doing it

      Still not convinced it wasn’t intended that way.

  7. Anonny*

    “Kids take notes during meetings” means you can go into the next meeting completely convinced that the last meeting was entirely about Thomas the Tank Engine, because that’s what is on your meeting notes.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          My older kids would probably enjoy the income. I’m thinking the company isn’t going to want to take the hit to their payroll/insurance costs.

          1. Amcb13*

            Maybe this is how they’re planning to get up to the 75% of previous workforce metric for the PPP!

        2. Phony Genius*

          Would it be legal to hire them as independent sub-contractors working for yourself, not the company?

          1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

            This was surprisingly difficult to find an answer to. Contractors have no protections under the FLSA, so those rules don’t apply. I can’t find anything about age restrictions for independent contractors, but I assume they’d need to be old enough to sign a contract since that’s right in the name?

            Potential loophole is the part of the FLSA that says kids of any age can “work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs),” so I think you could just hire them as an employee of your side gig consulting business as an employee rather than as a contractor.

            (Mostly joking but also I’m still pretty curious about this.)

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was wondering this too. This would technically be illegal in a for-profit company, wouldn’t it, because only non-profits can have unpaid volunteers?

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          I’m assuming they’re not actually suggesting that the kids truly act as a meaningful secretary, taking minutes. More “if you can’t send your kid to do something else, have them take notes as an exercise in note taking for their own edification”.

          I still can’t think of many children, motivated and studious teens included, who wouldn’t be bored out of their skulls doing that though.

  8. Guacamole Bob*

    I’m enjoying picturing the kinds of meetings my kids would elect to put on my calendar if I asked them to help with that. I can’t decide whether I’d have reminders pop up that said things like “fart poop butt” or whether it would run more along the lines of “give [child] a cookie and let her watch more TV”.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Fart poop butt meetings. I’ve had pop-ups for “Fart in fridge” and “Poopieduipiedoo.” To a kid, nothing is funnier than an important poo related meeting on mom & dad’s calendar.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I am honestly laughing at Poopieduipiedoo. This has to be the subject line on AT LEAST one meeting I set up this week. Except my coworkers with multiple children in different grades (and diapers) will laugh so hard they will sob and potentially break whatever balance they managed to achieve today. So I guess that just has to live here.

      2. Cobol*

        I’ve attended plenty of real meetings that could have been accurately titled “fart poop butt meeting.”

    2. Anonny*

      I mean, I’m in charge of my own personal calendar and it includes stuff like “National Kazoo Day” and “Leave A Zucchini On Your Neighbours’ Porch Day” because I find it funny. I’m 28. Maturity is for other people.

    3. nm*

      My coworker does indeed have a daughter who enters “Give Minnie 2 Oreos” in his calendar if left alone with his computer!

    4. YA Author*

      Funny poop meetings aside, I once shared my calendar with my kids without making it read-only. And while the added alerts were annoying, it was the unexpected deletions that really got me.

    5. PB*

      This is reminding me of a calendaring app my husband wanted to invent. If you missed any meetings, the app would punish you by moving all your appointments around. I explained, with a look of horror, that that was a terrible idea.

      It seems like letting your kids do your calendaring would have a similar effect.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Was he thinking “automate rescheduling” rather than “punish you for missing one thing by making you miss everything”..?

        Automatically adjusting deadlines for internal tasks that don’t have external deadlines, or subtasks with a fixed deadline with a proportional reduction in allocated time per task, could potentially be helpful but you would need to use the app reasonably precisely for that to work. Moving around things that have other attendees..? Automating that is inconsiderate and wouldn’t need many people using the app to descend into complete chaos.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      I remember something on here once about a guy who turned up to an interview with “shitting” on his CV. He later rang the company embarrassed because he’d just found out his son had done it.

      This could just lead to the kids sending an invite to their parents’ bosses that just said something like fart.

  9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    That’s an interesting combination of Olive Twist and Take Your Kids to Work Day…

      1. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

        No one knows what it is, because whenever you ask the bartender for it, they bellow, “MORE? YOU WANT *MORE*?”

    1. IT project manager*

      Right? I have to agree that I will not give my iPhone passcode to any family members in order to have work email on it (they reimburse me $50 a month if I also use it for work or I could have a work owned one I only use for work)

    2. LRR*

      I know security is the bigger concern but also – I only have one computer. How is my child supposed to occupy themselves with “useful” stuff on my computer while I’m working? Or should I just be creating meetings and IT tickets all day? That definitely sounds better than being distracted by kids doing stuff they want to be doing (/s)

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      I see your InfoSec and IP gasping and raise you attorney/client privilege and judicial protective orders.

      Clearly, whomever wrote this does not work anywhere near my industry.

      1. AnonAnon*

        Right. I work in a very confidential field. My log in screen on my PC says this is a restricted PC and violators will be prosecuted. Sure honey….log in and apply my electronic signature on this report that is going to the government. Wooooo!

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yep, that’s the screensaver my spouse’s machine and phone, too, and they’re required to take annual retrains on confidentiality and protection of PII in which it’s made very clear what the ramifications of not securing information diligently, much less leaking it to or sharing it voluntarily with other people (hint: it involves fairly nasty fines and possible jail time). They have carved themselves out a nook in the basement to ensure that their work stuff is not near any of the rest of us.

          1. Anon for this*

            So, my therapist embarks on her first telephone counseling session with me by telling me she has an area in her basement blocked off as an office where she can hold private sessions. About twenty minutes into the call, there’s some commotion and the therapist excuses herself and mostly covers the phone. I hear mumbling, then the therapist comes back on and apologizes saying she is going to have to go over what “emergency” means with her kids because an emergency is not “I can’t find the cheese.” Then she sighed.

            Her kids are college students, newly home because their campuses shut down.

          2. 3DogNight*

            Same! All I could do reading this is just blink in shock. My husband and I work at the same place, just different divisions, and we aren’t allowed to show each other our work. I’m not handing my calendar or note taking to an 8 year old. WTF?

      2. SarcasticFringehead*

        Right? I used to work at a law firm that occasionally did work related to some recognizable names, and even now I’m making this comment almost incomprehesibly vague because I don’t want to accidentally give clues. I’m just imagining so many “guess who my mom works for!” conversations…

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        TIL a new word :) I already knew ‘trifecta’ and use it occasionally … although I think ‘perfecta’ sounds like it should be predicting all the things correctly, not just the first and second, isn’t it?

    4. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

      *scroans in Personal Identifying Information, wails in HIPAA*

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Also, I work with company-issued laptops that are extremely expensive. I’d have to take a credit to afford even one of them.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I see I have a lot of company on this subthread. But seriously, wtf? lol

    6. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      Thank you all for a thread of pure gold. I laughed out loud for real!

  10. Christmas*

    As a long-time middle school teacher, I am so relieved to learn that I can just provide a “prioritized list of schoolwork” to kids and they’ll just scamper off to do it, completely self-directed. *thumbs up*

      1. Christmas*

        Aww! I’m currently taking a short lunch break, and then diving back into my online/distance instruction (on 5 different platforms)!

        1. J.B.*

          I have a class assignment based on the problems of 7 different pieces of software, meltdowns from parents and kids. I am sure it is just as frustrating from the teacher side!

      2. Mama Bear*

        Same. I have watched from afar the zoom calls…”Please turn off your video…please save your questions…yes, that’s my dog…um, that page is missing – I guess the lesson ends here while I figure it out…please be on time if you can…” It’s bonkers and I know you’re working hard.

    1. Just no*

      Christmas, your comment made me laugh aloud!

      I can’t get over the ridiculousness of this.

    2. Bostonian*

      This is the part of the letter that made me laugh the most! Yeah, all you have to do is give them a list and they’ll NEVER bother you for ANYTHING.

      This list is about what you would expect from people who aren’t the ones giving primary childcare during working hours: just completely clueless.

      1. Kaitlyn*

        Oh man, YOU ARE SEEN. My jerkhole kid starts kindergarten in the fall (fingers crossed!) and I’m so excited. (He’s not really a jerkhole, but he’s a human being, and we’re all jerks sometimes.)

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Right? I am well aware how much work teachers do. Especially once they stop being cute and start to smell. ALL THE LOVE to middle school teachers.

    3. Caroline Bowman*

      isn’t it a relief? You simply hand out a list and any child 6 and older will absolutely do it. without 1,000 questions or clinging to you like peanut butter asking ”but what must I DDOOOOOOOOO I don’t UNNNNNNNDDERRRRRRRRSTANNND, Connor is hitting me etcetera.

      I had no idea that this was so and I am not a teacher but know many and am certain they will be elated with this information.

      1. 3DogNight*

        Oh, thank God! We aren’t alone, whew! My kiddo will look at the paper for half of a nanosecond and start whining “I don’t understand it!” I’m ready to tear my hair out.

    4. Mama Bear*

      These people are obviously not in the trenches of “you have three zoom calls today, please check all your email, plus both assignment platforms for any new information or announcements posted by your teachers, plus write down the assignments with detail – is this a one-pager or really a three page intro to Twelfth Night that needs to be completed along with the required reading and video viewing? – and due dates and please don’t cry because the wifi went down because I am going to cry, too”. Someone with a nanny probably has very small children who aren’t in school. Take notes? My child doesn’t have *time* to take notes for anything other than their own classes!

      People are struggling and HR is being ridiculous if they think that folks without live-in childcare are able to do this. It’s not summer camp. It’s stressful. I DO help my child organize their day for mostly independent work but the fact is a child is still a child and needs help and attention.

      ALSO, this advice doesn’t take into account any special needs or learning disabilities. The kid with ADHD is struggling to stay on task while the kid with anxiety is losing it because we all are…etc. In my world parents are seeing meltdowns, regression, work refusal, kids not sleeping/having nightmares….

      It was honestly easier when my child was little and I worked PT from home.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        At first I read “parents are *having* meltdowns, regression, work refusal . . . ” and I nodded in solidarity, as a childless person with parent friends.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Friend posted something on social media about struggles and her brother chimed in that she forgot the meltdowns – from everyone.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, I had two heated discussions (one with the kid, one with the spouse) complete with crying in my house today on this very topic. The struggle is real.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As the parent of a middle-schooler, I read this to my husband and watched him nearly collapse in laughter.

    7. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

      As a 1st year middle school teacher, good to know that’s the trick that I’m missing!

  11. Cat Herder*

    Just to be clear:
    Make a prioritized list of schoolwork and chore objectives for them daily so that they’ll be able to work independently all day.
    This doesn’t. freaking. work. I have a 12 year old who is pretty independent and can manage technology (and would probably enjoy a jira ticketing session). We’ve been making these “prioritized lists” with them since distance education started. Lists get lost. or smashed, or eaten by the pet. And every day it’s a struggle.
    And to be fair, kids are just kids, and their lives are really messed up by this.
    (I wish they would just call the school year right now).

    thank you for letting me rant.

    1. Justme, the OG*

      I agree. I can’t even get my 11 year-old to do her 2 hours of schoolwork without complaining that she wants to watch television. And this really sucks for kids.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’m not a parent and even I know that this is exactly what happens to those prioritized lists, for cryin’ out loud. But then, I have a lot of friends with kids who are stuck at home with them right now so I’m pretty well aware that this is how kids work.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      We’ve had good luck with a daily schedule for our twin kindergartners. But that’s because it’s blocks of free play, TV time, quiet time/reading time, and time with each of us staggered through the day and we’re not expecting them to do stuff like schoolwork and chores independently. They log on to a 30-minute zoom call each morning and we save the homework worksheets for times we can be present.

      If we handed them a list of chores and school assignments it would be chaos and we’d all spend the whole day distracted and cranky.

    4. Fibchopkin*

      OMG- EXACT same situation. I laughed manically at the notions that A) I’m not ALREADY doing that since Fay 1, and B) that it is anything more than about 50% effective at making sure he is “ able to work independently all day.” Can’t even count how many times I or my spouse need to stop to help with a math problem, talk through a project, troubleshoot a Zoom issue, etc.

      As an aside, I have always been SO grateful for our amazing teachers who do such vital, difficult work for such inadequate compensation and recognition, but this quarantine has at least tripled that admiration and regard. 6 weeks and I’m pulling out my hair with 1 middle schooler- and that 1 middle schooler is a kid I actually enjoy and love deeply. How in God’s name a person Does this every day, with dozens of kids that aren’t ever “theirs,” I have no flipping clue.

    5. D3*

      I wish they would, too. Because they are still expecting work! Parent outrage led them to alter the grading scale so that 85%+ is an A 70%+ is a B etc. But the WORK MUST BE DONE.
      And I got an email from a teacher today that said “I know they altered the grading scale for you guys. This means there’s no excuse not to get an A!”
      *%&^% off, teacher, there are lots of reasons (not “excuses”) for kids to be struggling to get good grades right now!
      I know you teachers worked your butt off to move classes online, but you need to realize this is not a walk in the park for students, either. You’re making it harder for EVERYONE.
      I would say “screw it” and do nothing but my kid is a senior and I want him to graduate, not drop out.
      Three more weeks
      Three more weeks
      Three more weeks

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        WTF? So glad we’re in a working-class school zone with no expectation that parents can effectively homeschool.

      2. Justme, the OG*

        We got an email that third nine week grades are carrying over to fourth nine weeks. For my kid doing well, that’s fine – except she has the middle school version of senioritis (why do work if it doesn’t matter).

      3. Mr. Tyzik*

        My freshman son is really struggling even though he’s used Google Classroom for years. He’s having a hard time not seeing friends, not focusing, and he’s missing assignment. I hate having to be so direct with him on his grades, but he’s in danger of summer school or repeating the semester. He was fine before the schools closed 7 weeks ago.

        50% is passing, which makes me choke (anything below 70% was failure when I was a kid). He’s treading water. Some of his teachers show no empathy or willingness to help, which I kinda get since they are struggling too and my son ain’t the only kid in this boat.

        I’m with you – in my head, his mental health is more important than parabolas. But he has to figure it out to pass or there’s a whole domino effect.

      4. EndlessFiling*

        I also like how they expect all children to be able to do their work online… When not all of them have access to internet or a computer at home… and the libraries are closed.

        1. WorkingGirl*

          I heard about one district suggesting kids do work from the parking lots of schools or libraries.

          Because, you know, kids without wifi at home have laptops that they can take with them. And they have cars to take to the school/library parking lot and sit in.

          1. AuroraLight37*

            Where I am you can’t access the library wifi unless you’re in the building, so good luck there.

      5. Luceiia*

        Oh my god, I can’t even imagine. Where I live, they essentially called the school year on March 13, with the following provisions:
        * Your grade as of March 13 in every class was your grade. If you were failing it would be bumped up to a just-passing mark.
        * Any work provided by the teachers in your classes after March 13 is completely voluntary.
        * If you chose to do the voluntary work, it could allow you to improve your grade; it could not result in your grade being lower than it was on March 13.

        This has taken the pressure off everyone trying to home school their kids, for the most part, as there is nothing mandatory to complete for school, and no deadlines.

    6. Mama Bear*

      Solidarity. I spend a lot of time sifting work with the child and then crafting instructions for the day with highlights and details but there’s just really only so much the child can do without additional guidance. I worry about the kids with less help at home.

    7. PSB*

      We tried this early on with our 12 year old and yeah, didn’t work. I made a weekly printable list of chores and education time and, just being silly, made each item graded rather than a check. So if he fed the dogs without being reminded, A+. If he grumbled when we reminded him, B-. We were still hoping school might reopen back then and didn’t want him sinking completely into summer mode.

      It only lasted a week and a half. You know who quit bothering with it? My wife and I. Seriously, if we don’t have the attention span for something we literally print off once a week and mark off at the end of each day, how do we expect him to do it?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        We had to automate the allowance thing because it was *too hard* between the two adults to come up with actual dollar amounts in cash each week. It’s now an excel spreadsheet and if they need to know what they have available to spend, we just read off the number.

    8. Stephanie*

      I’ve actually had to check in with my college freshman son to make sure he’s stayed on top of his classes. And he’s an adult, who is generally very, very good at managing his schoolwork. (For a reference point, I never had to check in on his work–except for attending parent-teacher conferences, and an occasional quick “how’s math?”–past middle school.)
      Distance learning is hard, for everyone. I’m very glad the college semester is over.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      As a non-parent myself – do you think there’s anything valuable that the 12-16 year olds (for example) could practically learn about “how things work in the workplace” from this enforced work-from-home/school-from-home situation?

      1. J.B.*

        Nothing that your employer would want them to know. My Dad used to have something on his door about “how sh!+” Happens (workers recognize it as stinky, boss thinks it’s fertilizer. I bet my older child could process that.

      2. objection tango*

        Honest answer: how white collar professional meetings go, how to have an agenda and stick to it (maybe 30% of my meetings actually have this, but discovering ways of getting people to stick to an agenda is a lifelong learning experience), and how to work well with coworkers who do different things. School group projects are a bunch of kids all with the same expertise who are assigned to various parts and mostly don’t do them. Work projects involve people with actually different things to contribute… a lot of whom mostly don’t do them.

        So yeah, I think there is stuff to be learned. Can it be learned by overhearing meetings out of context and with no interest in the subject matter? Uh, doubt it.

      3. mrs__peel*

        Honestly, (parents’ time permitting) it seems like a better time to learn how things work on the home front instead– how to do laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill paying, etc. All the adult life skill “taking care of yourself” stuff that they don’t learn in school but will need to know someday.

    10. Susan*

      I am 46, and even prioritized lists I would make for MYSELF would likely end up the same way.

    11. Emilitron*

      Cat Herder, I’m now imagining the digital household, with you submitting their chores lists in Jira! Learn how to submit a ticket? Ha, we can do better, they’ll learn how to mark off schoolwork as a completed action item!

    12. char*

      Yeah, as a kid I had major executive functioning issues. I can guarantee you that if you’d given me a list of objectives and left me to it unsupervised, I would have gone into it with the best of intentions, but odds are good that I’d have gotten stuck somewhere around the second step of the first objective and been unable to figure out how to progress. Best case scenario, by the end of the day I might have eventually given up on beating my head against Priority #1 and maybe managed to take care of Priorities #5 and #8 instead.

      Heck, I still have days like that sometimes…

  12. AScreenName*

    Let’s train them early to be productive workers! That’s what matters! /s

    There are certainly skills we can teach children/young adults so they can be ready for the workforce. I don’t think that this is the time or place for it. This is so tone deaf.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Hard agree. My office had a “submit pictures of your WFH space” competition, and the winner was one where someone was parroting our cheesy marketing lines to his toddler. Kid sitting on lap? Cute. Kid being indoctrinated with business buzzwords? Not cute.

    2. Anonymouse*

      I taught some letters and numbers to the 2 year old across the hall, a few years back.

      I then taught her some engineering so she could help her mom take apart and put back together her little brother’s crib.

      Unfortunately, she took the engineering experience to heart.

      At age two and half, she knew how to get through every child-proof lock at preschool.

      I did point that international jewel thieves paid better than engineers.

  13. juliebulie*

    So I guess now people are giving out tips just to be giving out tips, and not to be helpful.

    Plus, if your company’s help ticketing system is as convoluted as ours, you wouldn’t expose your kids to it unless you were trying to scare them into a totally different line of work.

    1. Kaitlyn*

      “If you can’t say anything nice, say something helpful. And if you can’t say anything helpful, make up some bullsnook suggestion based on zero practical experience that will read as condescending at best and undermine your authority as a thinking human being at worse.”

    2. Pommette!*

      Tip-giving is an industry into itself!
      I’ve been deluged by tips from my employer, but also from city officials, healthcare providers, any and all companies and not-for-profits that have access to my email address, and media in general. People are falling over themselves to come up with tips because apparently tips are the way to stay in touch, stay relevant, show support, or just show off…

  14. Llellayena*

    1) Not the worst idea for older kids, though it’s highly likely they’re be bored and bugging you within 5 minutes. Younger kids: you do need to be able to write to take notes…
    2) Yes, lets give the overworked IT people dealing with everyone’s WFH issues more work by writing tickets just because you’re keeping your kids entertained
    3) Actually not bad for the mid-age kids. Sometimes they like being helpful. But it needs to be things you don’t mind being worse after the task is complete. However I don’t think you’ll be “more productive”, these tasks need oversight!
    4) Ha. Haha. *Hysterical laughing – you think the parents haven’t tried this? only really works for already conscientious older kids. Toddlers? No way.

    Feel free to counter my thoughts on this, I’m kid-free. My opinions are from observing my friend’s kids and hearing her stories.

    1. MayLou*

      Even with a really biddable genuinely interested child, these ideas might work once, possibly a handful of times. After a week max, the novelty will have worn off. Then what?

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      #1 and #3 are an absolutely terrible idea if you work in an industry that involves trade secrets, intellectual property, any professional duty of confidentiality/privilege, any information or data restricted statute or regulation, personnel-related materials, etc. Granted, I work in DC, so we are rife with law firms and government agencies/contractors, but I’m running down my list of my kids’ friends’ parents, and I’m having trouble coming up with one who’d be allowed to have anyone, much less a kid, present for and practicing note-taking in their meetings.

    3. SweetestCin*

      Number 1 isn’t the worst idea, mileage may very. I’ve been catching up on some continuing education (its all webinar based), and as I’m not dealing with trade secrets or anything here, and its science based (and in some cases pretty cool), yeah, my oldest has been sitting through the webinars with me.

      IT doesn’t need to deal with my kiddos, so no to number 2. Believe me, kiddo the oldest here could probably help them handle the incoming tickets.

      Number 3, mileage varies

      Number 4, well, kids are old enough that we use our Alexa device to set the schedule/reminders. Helps all of us keep track of time.

      Like I said – mileage varies, my kids are older but still elementary school, no trade secrets dealt with here.

      Pretty sure our HR wouldn’t have sent anything this tone deaf either though.

  15. AndersonDarling*

    I guess meetings never cover important topics or confidential information. I’d be really miffed if I was talking at a meeting about personal or work info and found out co-workers had their family members listen in.
    And good luck to the IT team that has to handle all the practice helpdesk tickets.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Yes, especially if someone in the meeting is a manager or senior type and the topics being discussed are things like “jane’s performance problem”, “client X is threatening to cancel the Y project if we can’t deliver function Z, what should we do?” etc.

      I’m enforced WFH at the mo and am lucky enough to have my own ‘office space’, but I’m working on a particular project alongside a team of 7 other people (similar to a Scrum team but we aren’t doing agile), 2 of which have family (adult and child) able to hear everything the person says and the rest of the team’s comments as well (they don’t have headsets for some reason), and one who has a partner they live with who works for a de facto competitor (!) and can overhear everything!

      Do we call them out and insist on confidentiality (especially with the competitor situation) or maintain the “fiction” that it isn’t being overheard?

      For what it’s worth I don’t think the ‘competitor’ co-worker would pass on anything, but that then relies on the temperament of the particular people involved, rather than the general situation. As an analogy – I would never steal customer information from a database, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to give me access to that database (when I don’t need it) just because I am deemed to be trustworthy!

      1. SweetestCin*

        I’m (eyeball popping out of head emoji here) over the coworker who has a partner who works for a de facto competitor and can hear everything.

        Honestly curious how the confidentiality is upheld here.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          There’s a long history between the two companies. I don’t want to give the whole story as I don’t know how identifiable it is (because I don’t know how frequently this happens!) but in essence: there used to be just the one company, then some of the people “split off” due to a Significant Ideological Dispute (about what the future direction of the company ought to be) that happened. Company management wanted to pursue “Everything about Llamas” while the other group thought there was more value in pursuing “Rolling out Llama Grooming to Other Animals”, for example.

          “My Former Coworker” went off to work for the other company, as MFC’s loyalties were with those people, and is still working there. MFC met their partner at Other Company. Partner then left Other Company and came to work for Our Company.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      If they’re anything like the 2nd and 3rd line techies I used to manage they’d be reaching for the nearest bottle of booze.

      (Or nearest cig, or coffee, or tea, or run around the block…)

  16. Just no*

    It’s been five full minutes since I read this letter, and I still can’t stop laughing.

  17. Former Retail Manager*

    While I don’t think your HR people are the best people to throw out these ideas, given their own personal circumstances, I also don’t think the ideas are horrible. However, it really depends on the child’s age, intelligence, and maturity level. For kids 12 and older, and especially high school students, I really don’t think it would be terrible to show them what a typical day is like in a professional job. I find that many kids finish high school, and some even college, without knowing what a professional job really is day-to-day. Obviously, I think giving them access to your computer or confidential information is bananas, but if you’re in a position to have them sit with you while you attend a meeting, submit an IT trouble ticket, plan your calendar, create a presentation, etc, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s certainly not a substitute for their own work or childcare, as I think these HR people meant to insinuate, but I don’t think it’s terrible, in the right context.

    1. frustrated fitness professional*

      *a* day, sure. But these are suggestions for how to handle *all* the days.

      All the days, for an indefinite period of time. Even the most agreeable child is going to stop going along with this by next week.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        I mean, I’m the employed adult and I’m very much over it already.

    2. Mama Bear*

      From my POV, it assumes a lot – like it’s more like summer than middle of the school year. Many of the older kids have 4+ hrs of their own meetings + associated work. This kind of post is like “go learn a language and pick up a new hobby and redecorate” which is aggravating to families in survival mode. It’s not the time.

    3. BlackCatOwner*

      Sure, but it’s up to the parents to decide what the right context is. No one needs parenting tips from HR. It’s doesn’t matter if the ideas are good ones. Just like it’s not HR’s place to tell you they need to eat less fat, more vegetables, it’s not their place to tell you how to parent your kids (or entertain them or manage their time).

  18. nuqotw*

    I am going to reach through the internet and find this company and punch it. I am so beyond furious. It would be entertaining if it were not for how remarkably screwed I am by spouse’s and my inability to work our jobs, parent our kids, and clean our home to the point that we do not live in ankle-deep stickers and duplo, all by ourselves.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Oh my god if I see one more bit of advice to working moms to “relax your standards on housework and focus on what matters” or whatever I will throttle someone. I finally spent several hours cleaning my kids rooms and play area over the weekend because it was making me so insane to step on things every time I walked in and not be able to find the stuff they needed for their school video calls and they weren’t able to really play because they had no open floor space, and it’s made our lives a million times better.

      So I hear you on the stickers and duplo.

      1. Generic Name*

        Seriously, and aren’t we supposed to be sanitizing surfaces to keep the ‘rona away? How does that line up with “relaxing our standards”?

      2. cmcinnyc*

        AUGH! Lower standards! My standards are flipping *low,* people. You drop below my standards? You have a biohazard. And yes, I do keep the place above biohazard. Barely.

        “Just hire a cleaning service.” Uh huh. And never travel or do anything fun again because there is X amount of money in the budget and my family prefers having fun to having a pristine living environment. YMMV.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I found a banana under my kid’s bed when I was cleaning last weekend. The less said about the condition it was in, the better.

          My standards are not House Beautiful or even Instagram. It’s still a lot of work. We’re working with the kids on doing some cleaning themselves, but they’re still young enough to need a ton of direction and it’s more work to have them do it than to just do it ourselves, so we’re maybe not as consistent about that as we’d like right now.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            It was recognisable as a banana, it could have been worse?

            When my husband was a washing machine repair man he put his hand through what he originally thought was a very decomposed sponge getting to the machine on one call-out until he realised it had the remains of a face and was actually a very, very much deceased rat. The people whose house it was were apparently pretty much unbothered by him telling them about this experience.

        2. AuroraLight37*

          And where is this mythical cleaning service going to come from during lockdown, anyway?

        3. TootsNYC*

          Years ago, when my kids were preschool age, I hired a cleaning lady. I mentioned it at work, and someone said, “Oh, good, you’ll have more time to spend with the kids!”

          I was like, “No, my house will be clean! Do you seriously think that if ever I have to choose between cleaning and spending time with my kids, that the cleaning would win?”

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Also, I think 50% of the reason to hire someone to clean is that it motivates me to do a lot of straightening before she comes so she can get to all the surfaces needing cleaning! I’m not hiring her to sort through the stack of mail sitting on the kitchen counter – she can’t do that effectively! – I’m hiring her to sweep and mop and vaccum, and that means we spend the night before doing a whole lot of cleaning of our own.

            If you have a toddler, a cleaning person will help keep the goldfish crumbs from getting quite as deeply embedded into the carpet. They won’t really reduce the amount of time you spend putting toys away day to day.

        4. emmelemm*

          Yeah, if I lower my standards any more… well, that just doesn’t bear thinking about.

    2. AnonMurphy*

      Housework: 1 full-time job
      Caring for kids: 1 full-time job
      My actual job: 1 full-time job

      I can only do 1.5 jobs successfully.

    3. Chikklet*

      Oh dear God stickers and kids. I keep thinking I’ve hidden every sticker in the house for use under strict supervision but low and behold these kids find another packthey’ve squirrels away and proceed to put them all over something, but never paper or anything appropriate! Of course this predates quarantine but everything feels so magnified now.

  19. Former call centre worker*

    This is just bizarre. I can’t even show my partner my work or vice versa despite us working for the same company – me due to an NDA and him due to data protection legislation. No I can’t let kids listen in on my meetings!

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I wish I could see the Legal department’s faces when they hear this advice from HR. Let’s open up ALL our company data and trade secrets to the under-10s and see what they do with it!!!

  20. Sara*

    I actually did help my mom with things like collating print jobs when I was a kid (probably from late elementary school through high school). On weekends. I liked going downtown to her office and “working”. But it was never a childcare strategy and it was NEVER a (serious or joke) suggestion of a childcare strategy from her HR department…WTF

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Same – stuffing envelopes, assembling binders, putting on mailing labels. But it was occasional, I was at least middle school age, and it didn’t count as child care.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I also did things like cut out laminated items for my mom but that was occasional weekend work. Not the same at all.

      2. emmelemm*

        Yeah, I used to do that stuff at my dad’s office sometimes (and it did sort of count as childcare, since my parents were divorced and it was when it was “his time” to have me). But a) this was the 70s, b) it really was stuff like collating copies (there didn’t use to be fancy copiers that did that for you!) and making binders and none of the info was confidential and c) hey, it probably did give me some office skills I later used to be a temp and stuff.

        Oh, and d) it was an office full of secretaries, all women (did I mention it was the 70s) and they loved having a cute little girl around helping them do all their stuff.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Plus, how many child-appropriate physical tasks will there be in a WFH environment?

      (Not going to lie though, spending an hour mindless stuffing envelopes does sound kind of relaxing right now.)

      1. Mockingjay*

        Oh, yes. I can’t wait for the workday to be over so I can color in my adult coloring book.
        (I wanted to change the PowerPoint template to rainbow colors because I thought it was pretty and would cheer people up, but noooo, got to stick with the boring “approved” branding template and stock colors…)

    3. Anon4This*

      My parents owned a print and copy shop when I was a kid, and I was in the business all the time folding, envelope stuffing, and doing any tasks that I could be entrusted with that did not have a risk of grievous injury (there were two machines my mother never allowed me to operate for safety reasons). My kids could do tasks likes that, but it’s not the type of work my spouse and I do in the office, much less at home, and there are real and not unusual/extreme prohibitions that prevent them from touching nearly anything that we work on. Maybe LW’s industry is very different, but I don’t know a lot of companies around here that would be open to having kids sit in on their internal meetings.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      These read to me like something that might work on take your child to work day. One day.

    5. Third or Nothing!*

      I have fond memories of helping my grandmother in the office of our family restaurant. I used to help her sort the mail and organize the food tickets by date, then when I was old enough I helped her with the calculations to balance the books. We’d chat about all kinds of things while we worked together. It was great bonding time. Sometimes I’d go back in the kitchen and help my uncle wash and peel potatoes, and every once in a while I got to take food out to some regulars.

      One kind of funny consequence of being so involved in the family restaurant is that I can’t eat shrimp after watching my uncle prep them. The whole process just grossed little 7 year old me out and now I can’t go near them.

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      Yup. My dad was self employed so I was his “admin” on weekends and school breaks to make some money. Quarterly flyers and Christmas cards paid for most of my first car (started at age 12). I got a raise when I figured out how to make and print labels in the mid-90’s.

  21. H. Regalis*

    Wowwwwwww. I don’t even have kids and I know this is bullshit. Have any of these people actually taken care of their own children, or do they see them as the human equivalent of a decorative bookshelf?

    I could *maybe* get my friends’ two-year-old to organize folders by color if she were in a good mood, I taped all the folders shut so they wouldn’t spill, bribed her with fruit and/or candy, AND supervised her the entire time. Maybe.

  22. Laura H.*

    Good advice would be “make time for your kids where you can. And make an effort to make time for your family.”

    Concurrently advice for family would be “understand when your loved one is in work mode, and keep distractions to a minimum.” Both parties as it were can hopefully make an effort to be a bit more understanding. This is a new normal.

    Your family isn’t unpaid labor. Your WFH loved one isn’t another warm body at your beck and call.

    Hell I’m 29 and still at home- if my mother asked me to take meeting notes for her, I think I’d look at her like she’d grown a second head. I don’t have the contextual know how to understand what’s good and what’s not noteworthy in her job. And I know how to take notes for stuff I’m contextually looped in for.

    You’ll get a doodle or scribble more than likely if you ask this of an ill-prepared child (Not intentionally ill-prepared; age, education level and temperament can all factor in, and those aren’t things to be controlled.)

  23. Fabulous*

    A meeting attendee asked the meeting hosts for advice on how they put these tips into practice.
    HR person #1 has a stay-at-home spouse that cares for their children.
    HR person #2 has moved their parents into their home to provide childcare.
    HR person #3 has a live-in nanny who is still working and quarantining with the family.

    I really hope someone chimed in after the fact, “And how do you recommend us peons, who don’t make 6-figures to afford these luxuries, accomplish this impossible feat?”

    1. irene adler*

      From the suggestions provided, I have to assume that the company is going to provide the live-in nanny. Or beef up the paycheck to allow spouse to be a stay-at-home-parent or afford appropriate housing for one set of parents to move in – comfortably.

      Otherwise, the sheer folly of these ideas is mind-boggling.

      There’s one HR dept that needs to check back in to Hotel Reality.

      1. BlackCatOwner*

        “Needs to check back in to Hotel Reality.”

        I’m so stealing this phrase. Former hotel worker here :)

  24. Lily G.*

    I had an impromptu video call with a coworker recently, and his 4 year old was on his lap. She got to click the big red button to hang up when we finished, it was extremely cute.

    1. Lilchickshan*

      I had just sent a text to my boss with a photo of my 4 year old on my lap while I worked and the comment that this new intern is not ideal. Thankfully we rarely video call so it’s all about the mute button!

      Teaching the 6 year old to email. Not sure my coworkers would appreciate all the emojis…

    2. DataQueen*

      One of my direct reports has her 2-year-old daughter permanently in her lap on Zoom, and i LOVE IT. She’s so damn cute and she even recognizes me now and calls me out by name on group calls!

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        AWWWW!!!!!! That’s way cuter than yesterday, when I was on a call with a couple of peers and my boss, and my husband came up offscreen and just kind of randomly rubbed the top of my head. So all my colleagues saw was this disembodied arm reach over and start rubbing my head.

        I think the 6 weeks off of work has eroded what little decorum he had.

    3. JMB*

      Slightly off topic but my favorite part of my meetings lately have been all the kids and/or dogs.

      1. char*

        I’ve gotten to the point where just getting a glimpse of a cat intruding on a coworker’s calls makes my week

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Our cat would, and has done, just show his…posterior to the camera. He’s a bit obsessed with showing that part of him to the world when he thinks he’s not being given enough attention.

  25. SpaceNotes*

    My dad is a college professor, and when he had to watch me at work he’d actually have me sit in on his lectures and take notes. I felt soooo cool at the time, but then again I was already a nerd at the ripe age of 8! My dad jokes that my notes were better than most of his students’, and to this day I remember that Titan is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere.

    1. Ruby*

      I had a professor do that, his daughter drew the circuit diagrams and everything. SUPER CUTE.

      I recently found out that his daughter graduated from that same school, and I feel very old.

  26. Scoop*

    “Make a prioritized list of schoolwork and chore objectives for them daily so that they’ll be able to work independently all day” –

    This is so hilarious to me…I’m 24 – I make a list every day of things I want to/need to get done during this quarantine but that sure as hell doesn’t mean everything is going to get done.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      I was thinking of doing this for my husband, who has executive function issues and was failing at weekly lists. Even for an adult, “objectives” could be a non starter, as opposed to tasks.

    2. Kaitlyn*

      I mean, I rely on a system of lists that live in at least three different places in my house (notebooks, whiteboard, different notebook), and on a good day, I get about half done. LIST LIFE.

  27. KR*

    I will now be delegating my expense report to my dog. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

    1. just a random teacher*

      I’m letting my dog do my grading. He thinks we should go back to paper rather than online assignments, and that students should make an effort to spill more gravy on them.

  28. DataGirl*

    WOWOWOWOWOWOW is all I can say. I am amazingly lucky to have teenagers right now so I do not have to worry about entertaining children or homeschooling- they are pretty much self-sufficient outside of grocery shopping and complex cooking. I actually do have a chores list for them (and husband) because I’m the only person working right now and I believe that I should not be doing all the housework when I’m putting in 8-10 hour days and they have almost nothing to do (the 16 y.o. has some online school but the 18 y.o. has NOTHING). If I had kids under the age of 13 though I’d be going nuts. Huge props to parents who have to care for kids and work at the same time. You are rock stars.

  29. SometimesALurker*

    Honestly, I would have enjoyed some of these as a kid, especially if it felt like a privilege and not an obligation. BUT they wouldn’t have amounted to time savings for the parent doing them with me! Cooking with me wasn’t a time savings (except in the sense that I learned to cook independently earlier than most kids) and my parents did it anyway, /because they had the time/.

    1. Generic Name*

      Seriously. I wonder what the responses were. “Grandparents/nanny/SAH spouse takes care of all that for me”

  30. EllenJay*

    I wonder if I could get my cat to help out – right now she thinks my ear buds are a play toy, but she likes they keyboard :)

  31. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Merciful heavens.

    I mean, this is hilariously out of touch, but the one that makes me completely furious is:

    * Make a prioritized list of schoolwork and chore objectives for them daily so that they’ll be able to work independently all day

    OK, first of all, that’s literal child neglect, but also what the eff. Children aren’t just an inconvenience – they’re going through the same trauma as the rest of us at the moment.

      1. MayLou*

        Depends on the age of the child. It would be for a two year, for example. “Get lunch” isn’t a lot of use on a to do list for someone who is too young to read.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          My 2.5 year old gets her own snacks. I put healthy parent approved snacks in a special bin in a low cupboard so she can pick them out herself. She can’t always open the containers on her own, but she does do a pretty good job for the most part. With me working from home full time and her out of daycare, we’re doing everything we can to encourage independence.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            My 2 year old will climb to help herself to things she likes the look of, including moving chairs so she can reach things right at the back of the kitchen counter. She is quite happy to snack on slices of bread from the bag *facepalm* She’s also really impressively good at opening containers.

    1. DataQueen*

      Yeah that’s not child neglect. It’s pretty pollyanna to think they’ll adhere to it, but it’s not neglect to ask your children to do thier schoolwork, make thier bed, and put a sandwich together for lunch?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It’s child neglect to leave *young children* without adult supervision for hours on end. Admittedly I was projecting on to my own children the youngest of whom is 6, and I read “children” as “little kids” rather than “your offspring” who could be teenagers and horrified by adult company.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah. I give my 13-year-old and 10-year-old lists. That does not mean they just work away, checking things off the list all day with no further guidance. But at least it’s a place to start.

  32. Dr. Doll*

    I wish someone would give ME a prioritized list of objectives blah blah. Making up my own is about 80% of my battle.

    I am childless by choice and never have I been more at peace with that choice. My stepkid and their spouse are about to have a baby and I hope my slightly mixed feelings (wow, amazing, yay, congratulations, lovely, so wonderful, awwwww, sqeeeee! what can I send you? …uh-oh) did not come through.

  33. Sara*

    Have your kids listen in on meetings and teach them how to take notes
    Get them acquainted with technology by having them help you submit an IT help ticket
    Delegate small tasks to them such as organizing your files or setting up meeting alerts on your calendar

    I work in security. This has data security issues ALL over it. NOBODY should have access to your machine except YOU or an approved employee repairing it.

    1. Not a Girl Boss*

      We got an email reminding us to unplug our Alexa’s, keep papers in the safe, and wear headphones so no one else can hear phone calls. Lol.

  34. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Two things: when I was about thirteen, my college professor father would let me grade his true/false and multiple choice tests, which made me feel very important; and:

    Have your two-year-old put on the smock and get the fingerpaint and “take notes”. After the meeting, get HR on Zoom or FaceTime or whatever so your kid can do their thing:


    … until Auntie HR gets the picture.

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      PLEASE do this and update us next week!
      Pretty please with sugar on top! :-D

      1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        I’m sorry if I was misleading. I was reminiscing about my son, who is sixteen now and eternally flopped on soft furniture with his phone and earbuds, despairing of his uncool parents. The upside, of course, is that no one could get him interested in work calls for love nor money (unless they involved Geometry Dash).

    2. Greengirl*

      I’m in grad school and one of my professors does the same thing with his 14 year old. She covers our quizzes in stickers and it is delightful.

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      BAHAHAHAHA! My 2.5 year old doesn’t really beg for us to look at her pictures, but she does insist on holding the phone for video calls with her grandparents. She straight up takes it and runs off and starts chattering away about unicorns and how she went pee pee on the potty earlier.

      Can Badger Cub sit in on the Zoom call with HR? I think she’d be a real asset to the team. ;)

  35. Anon100*

    Maybe I’m missing something or my parents are outliers, but #1, #3, and #4 don’t sound outlandish for teenagers. I’ve listened to my dad on work calls plenty growing up, helped my parents with translations to/from English from our native language, and my mom insisted on teaching us how to prioritize tasks/make and follow lists. Besides, #1 is kind of like “taking notes during class.”

    But then again, if they’re teenagers, they already have their own stuff to work on and most likely don’t need minute to minute supervision…

    1. oranges*

      The tips aren’t entirely outlandish, but “well behaved teenagers who can do 1, 3, and 4” are such a small sliver of the parenting pie. There are a million other parenting circumstances for which these tips are insultingly out of touch. Something the presenters might have known had they not all come from such places of privilege.

      1. Anon100*

        Fair enough, my upbringing was pretty privileged even though both parents worked and we didn’t have a nanny or grandparents taking care of us after the age of 5.

        And in general, I do think those “tips” are nowhere reasonable for parents of younger kids.

      2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Additionally, even if they aren’t bad ideas on their face it’s really patronizing to assume people need those ideas to be suggested.

        For the people whose kids (likely self-motivated tweens/teens) these things would be useful, they are likely already doing them. For everyone else, it’s not like they hadn’t considered making a list of activities or try to get their child engaged in a helpful/unobtrusive way with their work – it’s that those things aren’t realistic for them.

        “Feeling hungry throughout the day? Try: making gourmet sandwiches with the ingredients you have at home!” Cool thanks, hadn’t considered sandwiches. Some people are already making lovely sandwiches because they can afford/typically by artisan breads and grainy mustard and deli sliced meats and leafy greens. Most others are already making some kind of sandwich every day, but it’s balogna and butter on discount white but neat, thanks for the suggestion of ~gourmet~ sandwiches. And other people can’t have sandwiches at all, but it’s not like they hadn’t heard of them as a thing to help with being hungry.

    2. Caroline*

      They are asking people to assign work to their kids:
      Child labor laws (in the US) prevents children under 14 from working,
      And children between 14 and 18 will require a work permit that has to be approved by their school, and prohibit working during school hours,
      and finally, what pay rate are they offering as unpaid labor is illegal regardless of age.

      1. Anon100*

        Someone else said it better in another thread, but these tips don’t actually sound like what a kid would do would be real paid work, because would a parent really trust their kids’ meeting notes, if the kid was old enough to write but not old enough to understand the business context? More like keeping them occupied when they can’t/aren’t old enough to do school work on their own work or teaching them random things related to a parent’s job while the parent is trying to work.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          Yes, this. I think the suggestions are ridiculous for a number of reasons but people harping on “omg child labor” and “no one wants a help desk ticket typed by my 7 year old” are missing the point.

        2. Oxford Comma*

          Except it’s all under the guise of being more productive at work. It doesn’t sound like they’re offering childcare tips, which wouldn’t be appropriate anyhow.

  36. Campfire Raccoon*

    I am currently on a webinar for a major payroll company and the HR person who is giving the presentation wasn’t speaking yet and she screamed “YAALL NEED TO KEEP IT DOWN BACK THERE!!!”

    Then the main guy introduced her and called her out on it. She totally denied it.

    I wonder if she would like being told to give her kids a list.

    1. NightOwl*

      Oops! I’m currently job searching and feel for everyone trying to balance work/family/everything at this time. I feel for the presenter. Did the person calling her out do it in a joking/lighthearted way? Still, if the meeting hadn’t started, wouldn’t this be an appropriate time to pretend you didn’t hear anything other than work stuff as good video decorum? Sheesh!

  37. NYWeasel*

    My kiddo is thankfully no longer in school, so we’ve dodged these headaches, but when he was younger, our town had a significant power outage that took over two weeks to restore. The first day was novel and exciting, the third day of having to listen to my Webkinz obsessed kid wanting to tell me ALL THE WEBKINZ facts because he couldn’t go online??!! I couldn’t ship him off to my sister’s house (which had power) fast enough, lol! The funniest thing was around day 9 or so, we went out to breakfast and saw 4 other sets of parents from his class…and all 4 had shipped their kids off too!

    I have nothing but the utmost sympathy for today’s parents not having that option available right now!

  38. Exhausted Trope*

    Oh, please have your spouse send that email!! And provide an update here.
    It’s funny. Sometimes I feel like I work with 2 year old….

  39. Aquawoman*

    Next week: have a progress review with your kids! Violet, I don’t mind the crayon but your understanding of the financial statements is really subpar.

  40. Middle Manager*

    Please tell me this is the company that gave out “Future Employee” baby onesies!?!

  41. Turanga Leela*

    This is spectacular. I work in criminal defense. If my kid sat in on my meetings, he’d have nightmares for weeks and learn a whole new vocabulary.

  42. irene adler*

    Why stop there? Let the kids sub for you at the Zoom meetings, fill out reports, make management decisions.

    In fact, why not bring the kids into work – when folks are allowed to return? Let ’em have at the IT system, interact with customers, pay the bills, even make product-assuming there’s heavy machinery involved.

    After all, it’s all about teaching kids all about the working world.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > make management decisions

      With my cynical hat on my first thought was “the outcome on average probably wouldn’t be worse than the actual management decisions”.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I hit send too soon! I was going to add –

      This reminds me of something in my school experience; we were about 14-15 and the lesson was about “reviewing resumes in relation to a job posting”, but it fell under ‘English’ rather than ‘Career advice’ or ‘Business Studies’ and I’m still not sure why, but anyway…

      The job posting, among other things, asked for a minimum of 5 GCSEs (standardised exams taken in the UK when you are around 16, most people take about 8-10 subjects at GCSE level) as a selection criterion (among other things I can’t remember the detail of now). There were about 7 “application packs” and we had to select which 4 of them we would take forward.

      There were 3 obvious (to me) stand-out candidates who met all the criteria, and one who I had a good gut feel about meeting most of the criteria, otherwise gave a good impression, but only had 4 GCSEs (instead of the required 5), although they were taking night classes as an adult to gain a couple of additional GCSEs. It was obvious to me that this would be the other candidate, but the teacher (!) and my classmates questioned it, thinking that I hadn’t read or had ignored the criteria: “but they must have FIVE GCSEs! And this applicant only has FOUR!”, etc. Teacher asked me to justify it (in the way that teachers do when you are ‘wrong’ and they seek to use the Socratic method); teacher and classmates learned a lesson that day.

  43. Ray Gillette*

    In certain lines of work, it might actually be useful to have your child help with “rubber duck debugging” – instead of explaining what you’re trying to accomplish to your rubber duck, explain it to your child instead. Bonus points if they ask follow-up questions that stump you.

    But seriously, what a ridiculously tone deaf message sent by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Thanks for sharing this ridiculousness OP, we could all use a laugh right now.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I work in a field where I have ‘bugs’; I don’t have actual children to bounce them off (or a rubber duck, come to that: they were tossed out along with a bunch of other stuff in the Great House Blitz of 2018) but have occasionally asked my cats about the bug.

      I think there is a place for “ELI5” debugging, actually (even if it’s just in your own mind).

      I once solved a bug (in some code that was part of a personal project, not for work) in a dream, in what I now know as the Kekulé method. (I won’t add a link as they don’t seem to post, but he was the Chemist who discovered the circular structure of benzene after a lot of angst trying to figure ‘nonsensical’ results out consciously, in a dream in which a snake was eating its own tail.)

  44. PSB*

    I’m doing well to make sure I’m on the right Zoom account for each call. Yesterday I joined a big weekly work meeting as my 12 year old son.

  45. Megumin*

    Neither of my kids can read or write, so note-taking and ticket-entering would be…interesting.

    And setting up a prioritized list of stuff so they can work independently? HA HA HA H AH HAHAHAH

    I have a spouse, but he is an essential worker and has to be on-site. So I am operating as a single parent during the work day. That stuff just ain’t gonna work, y’all.

  46. George*

    I am having seven simultaneous responses to this…

    One is that I really want to email them and say, “I gave my 4-year old a set list of tasks for the day, but he seems unable to operate independently. I put him on a PIP, but it turned out he couldn’t read that either.”

    The other is that, before commenting on anything child-care related, a good HR person or manager should talk to either a professional nanny, a stay-at-home parent with multiple kids across several ages, or somebody with twin toddlers to see if the person laughs at their comments.

    1. irene adler*

      So when the PIP results in no improvement, do you need management’s permission to fire your 4-year-old?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Sitting down 2 children and saying “due to the economy, we’re going to have to let the lower-performing half of you go”.

        1. Phony Genius*

          Anticipating children not quite understanding business speak: “You mean my dancing legs, Mommy?”

          1. I'm just here for the comments*

            A little late to the game, but I’m a stay-home parent and my spouse is an essential worker (so gone all day and sometimes nights as well) (and yes, I read this website to live vicariously and also to help with the job search). My kids ages are 16 months, 4 years, 6 years, and 8 years. Between the older kids’ schooling (kindergarten and 2nd grade), their religious schooling (also through zoom! So no slacking off!! Yay!!) keeping the preschooler engaged and active, and not neglecting the baby, I’d safely say there’s no effing way I’d be able to handle a full-time WFH situation and have anywhere near the same productivity level. Either my work or the kids’ work would have to be sacrificed. I’d laugh if I had gotten this email.

  47. Mkindc*

    I’m going to hope for the best and try to find a silver lining in this email.
    YES, it’s tone-deaf and too directive and the emphasis on enhancing worker productivity is all wrong, but with slight edits, it could be:

    “Look, we’re all in uncharted, stressful territory here, so here are some ideas that may entertain your kids while helping you stay on task:
    1. You may have your kids join our meetings. Taking notes may keep them engaged, and teach valuable skills too. And to be clear, we don’t mind seeing your kids on zoom meetings (when appropriate). To the contrary, seeing kids and dogs is only good part of quarantine.
    2. Kids may know IT better than you. Before submitting a ticket, see if they can help you. And if they can’t, have your kids help with the ticket.
    3. For younger kids, make some real or pretend tasks that can help them feel engaged in your work, like color coding files, or alphabetizing papers. Kids want to feel like they’re helping, and this is one way to help.

    1. Violet Fox*

      Speaking as IT, please do not let you kid mess with your work laptop/phone etc. It’s a major security and privacy breach.

      We’re honestly still exhausted from converting everyone to work from home practically overnight, as well as trying to keep everyone working.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I built a working VPN out of the ruins of several testing department SQL servers.

        Then they got rid of the IT staff. Said we weren’t needed as ‘people can google for answers or get their friends and family to help’

        Now running bets as to how long before there’s a ‘everything is broken! What’s your contract rates?’ email.

  48. Rockin Takin*

    I don’t have a kid at home (well I’m 37 weeks pregnant so technically there is a kid but he’s a freeloader) but I wouldn’t be allowed to let a child anywhere near my work. We have a lot of confidential documents and we aren’t allowed to let ANYBODY use our computer if we are signed in.

    My husband is a DoD contractor so his work is most definitely not allowed to be touched by anyone either.

    I get that HR is trying to help, but this isn’t a normal summer vacation for kids. This is a difficult, traumatic time period for them. Just tell the parents to do the best they can and accept that they aren’t going to be 100% productive all the time.

  49. kristinyc*

    What about people with… babies? And toddlers? My boss has been absolutely wonderful and understanding that I’m not at full working capacity because I have a 1 year old, but our HR has been pretty out of touch too. (“Virtual Take Your Child to Work Day”, for example).

  50. Greengirl*

    I will also say that there’s a reason why I am very upfront with my childless coworkers about what working at home with a baby is like. They get to hear about how I had to yank the laptop power cord out of his mouth because he was sucking on it and then five minutes late he bit my toes. Or about my favorite productivity tip which is “let the baby play with garbage.”

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Chewing on cables and biting toes? Good to know cats are just fuzzy toddlers, lol.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Frequently when I talk to my sister about my cats, she’ll then tell me what her “cat” is up to. Her cat is a toddler. The stories are very similar, except mine will actually take napes.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Only time I ever did any work from home with a toddler, was when a friend of a friend’s daughter contracted me to do a small software project for her. She came over to go over the project with me, and in the 30 or so minutes she and I were talking, my toddler found my underwear drawer and emptied all of it on the floor, for my client to see. We were broke and my underwear reflected that. It was not pretty. I was mortified. At least my cats don’t do that. Probably only because they don’t have opposable thumbs, but still I’ll give them credit.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      My twin kindergartners have spent the last couple of days dreaming up all sorts of things they’re going to do with various things they’ve found in our recycling bin, so “let them play with trash” is a pretty enduring productivity tip.

  51. irene adler*

    Thinking the kid will demand to be paid for being tasked with some of my job tasks.
    Now what?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      As someone who occasionally works in places with billable hours: I’m having trouble figuring out what the billable hours for the kid should be. Should it be 0.5 * (or some other fraction) the standard rate on the grounds of reduced age and charge-out-able rate? Or 1.5 * to include the time spent by both the parent and child?

  52. Lena Clare*

    This is so funny! I get loads of work advice from here – including a co-worker and I always now sign off our messages to each other with ‘stay gold’, but this is unimplementable.
    And hilarious!

  53. wem*

    I think having your kids who are old enough take notes is frickin’ hilarious. You can only imagine how they’d actually translate the BS that comes outta some meetings.

  54. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    Meetings are the most boring things on Earth, why would you subject an innocent young person to this?
    My Dad only brought me to work once, I just sat in the corner and read a novel. His job was interesting but there was nothing I could have actually helped him with.
    My job involves a lot of field work where I could absolutely bring a teenager, but I’d have to cherry pick sites which would be safe for an inexperienced field worker. My productivity would be shot but I would sure enjoy it.
    No one tells people in my industry to bring your kids to work.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I went to really fascinating meetings as an intern at a museum (do we accession this item or not, where does it fit our mission) and I took notes and asked questions!

      … and almost fell asleep bc we’d been go go go in the summer heat and now we’re sitting in an air conditioned room.

  55. Not a Girl Boss*

    Before furloughs for my company were announced, a director (like 3 levels senior to me) casually remarked on a call that she couldn’t wait for the furloughs to be finalized because she was sick of trying to balance work and watching her kids.

    Must be nice to have the kind of money to be able to look forward to being unemployed…

  56. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    Out-of-touch advice aside… where does one draw the line on “keeping company information confidential” age-wise? Obviously a 2 year old won’t have any idea what is going on with most meetings, a 16 year old would be fully aware… is it ok to divulge company info to your 16 year old under their policy then?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      (This is a subject that strikes me because I was once the inadvertent “confidential information releaser” — I was younger than 16 and at the sort of age where I understood the story about “the ongoing court case in auntie’s company” but didn’t understand that the person telling me all about it ought to have been keeping it confidential, and I didn’t know at that age about divulging confidential info etc, I just thought it was an interesting story and told it to my school mates. I don’t think anything ever came of it, or if they really cared that much, but that’s the sort of thing that can happen.

      I think this is a risk with “people working at home from non-ideal spaces” actually, if they are in a role where that type of information (e.g. acquisitions) is being discussed but ought to be confidential.)

      1. SusanIvanova*

        There was a Perry Mason rerun on the retro channels recently with that exact scenario, only in that case an adult overheard the children talking about it.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            I misremembered – the children were neighbors, but the leak was because they were also pen-pals:
            “The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal”
            Just as they are about to merge with another company, Gregson Canneries sees its stock unexpectedly go up in price. This is bad news for the company and principal owner, Wilma Gregson, who tells president Peter Gregson to immediately go to Chicago and renegotiate the merger. Their company is nearly bankrupt and the rising price won’t help. Wilma is convinced that someone leaked news of the merger and suspects Peter’s former secretary, Karen Ross, who he was forced to fire due to leaked plans she put in a company car, supposedly on the orders of his alcoholic wife, in which the wife was killed. Also, Karen was involved heavily with Peter at the time. Peter is now a single parent and lives alone with his young daughter Sandra. When he learns that Sandra has leaked the merger information in letters to her pen pal, Paul Drake is brought in to investigate. Perry Mason is drawn into the case when Wilma Gregson is killed and Karen Ross is charged with her murder.

    2. Selene*

      I was probably about 8 by the time I had a proper understanding of confidentiality. For me though, as soon as I was old enough to talk my parents started teaching me about how some things can’t be shared (literally that they had to stay at our dinner table) because they were both government workers who dealt with lots of confidential information that they wanted to be able to discuss at home and there was no way to do that without me overhearing.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yeah, there were other things (I won’t elaborate too much) that had been made clear to me that I couldn’t share, and I did understand that, but wasn’t yet able to “infer” for myself that something shouldn’t be shared if I hadn’t explicitly been told that. I think you must have been quite self-aware (?) at age 8 to be able to infer that!

        I guess “not really respecting confidentiality” is in my blood line (although I should make clear I have been very aware of this since about age 14 or so and haven’t repeated the pattern!) … a “close but estranged” family member got called up to do jury duty (‘jury service’ here in the UK) and you know how that goes… you have to take an oath, you can’t talk about any of the evidence you hear (or pretty much anything related to the court case) outside of court (like to your acquaintances).

        Well, this family member apparently went to dinner with my other family member in a packed restaurant and talked on.. and on.. and on… about details of the case (breaking all confidentiality) — “anyone” could have been listening. I mean pretty much verbatim details, as I understand it. “Then they showed us Exhibit P. It was obvious that he’d forged the signature on the document and I pointed that out, and also they seemed to have forgotten about Evidence X where he had done something similar 10 years prior, so I reminded them that he had done A and B and C” etc. (I made up the details here, but it was literally that level of detail.)

  57. Kate*

    Tbf, the list thing would work for my 5yo if the list looked like this:
    1. Watch My little pony on Netflix
    2. Eat snack
    3. Repeat till dinner
    Pretty sure the outcome wouldn’t be great for any of us though.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      My 2.5 year old’s list:

      1) Watch My Neighbor Totoro or Frozen for the bajillionth time
      2) Beg for snacks
      3) Put stickers on everything
      4) Play outside in the mud
      5) Chase the dog

      1. Selene*

        I misread your comment as your 25 year old and all I could think was that sounded exactly like my kind of list

  58. cheeky*

    You laugh, but my mom used to give me reports from people in her team to proofread and mark up for revision, haha. She’d then tell them her 7th grader made the corrections. I later went on to edit my high school principal’s doctoral dissertation.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      It’s a funny story but I would have been livid if I was one of those people in her team. There’s an implicit “hur hur, a 7th grader is better at report writing than you, why do we keep you around again?” which is actually quite ugly.

  59. Pigeon*

    Those replies about having available childcare remind me strongly of a seminar I attended at work about work/life balance. It was a group of high-ranked people in the company talking about how they manage their personal lives. After listening to an hour of them discussing their parenting and their marriages, someone eventually asked them what they felt was the most critical part of maintaining balance.

    Every last one of them replied: 1) maid service, and 2) delivery grocery service. Absolutely nothing to do with their personal organization or resilience, but everything to do with what they could afford to outsource to someone else. Which is almost always the case when faced with too many responsibilities, including childcare on top of work.

    (On a personal note, my sister and SIL don’t get along very well, and one of the reasons is income disparity… specifically in the case of quarantine, my SIL having a live-in nanny and naively questioning my sister why she didn’t do the same, as if the problem was my sister simply hadn’t thought of it.)

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > someone eventually asked them what they felt was the most critical part of maintaining balance.

      That’s… not the question I would have asked. (devil face emoji)

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Wait, I am re-reading this… it was a group of people, so at least 3-4, right? And each of them answered with “maid service and grocery delivery”? I’m not doubting you at all!, I’m just picturing it in my mind… a kind of cookie-cutter exec level response, kind of an inverse corollary to the Stepford Wives.

  60. SusanIvanova*

    “A meeting attendee asked the meeting hosts for advice on how they put these tips into practice.”

    Ah, the “Lean In” problem. Everything’s easier if you can afford awesome childcare.

  61. Shakti*

    Hahahaha is all I can say because I hope this is a joke. I know it’s not though and wow is it both unrealistic for people taking care of kids and people who work! It’s really really something

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I don’t think it is a joke, from the context that was given, but if it is: I think it’s even more ‘tone deaf’ to say stuff like this as a joke, than it is saying it sincerely.

      1. Shakti*

        I understand what you’re saying. I also acknowledge it is not a joke in my previous comment. I was being hyperbolic though like when people say what a joke as in what a terrible thing that the only thing you can do is laugh because it’s both awful and absurd. It can be hard to read tone in comments though!

  62. Cheesehead*

    My husband’s work group has a weekly lunch check in where they just chat and catch up. The first week, someone made a slideshow quiz; it was silhouettes of different countries and you had to guess what they were. I think there were 20 with a few for extra credit. He replayed it for us later and my son and I took the quiz too. We sat in on the next week’s quiz, as did some other spouses and kids (it was encouraged to have others in your household join in). One week, there were slides of extremely zoomed in pictures of common things (it was multiple choice) and you had to guess; things like grass, a pencil mark on paper, eyelashes, etc, and another week, you had to identify different types of bugs (I did horribly on that). We even gave my son an assignment to make the quiz one week, and he did logos of different things, like restaurants, car symbols, or other famous brands. He’s 15, and it gave him a task to do that was NOT playing Madden or doing homework so that was good. I missed it this week because I had a conference call of my own, but my son now willingly gets ready for the quiz each week (it’s always fun to see if you can score better than your dad!).

    This is something that kids CAN do if they’re old enough. Sit in on a conference call or take notes…..yeah, not so much. Heck, even *I* don’t want to participate in my husband’s conference calls!

  63. TootsNYC*

    One of the other things that fuels this sort of stupidity is the need to come up with something, anything, to “fill the column inches,” as they said in newspapers back in the day.

    They decided they need to come up with tips, so they make them up off the top of their head.
    Even publications, editors, and professional writers do this. You need an idea to fill that gaping maw that is “the need for content.”

    Instead of feeling that they can say, “I got nothing,” or even to turn to someone who maybe DOES have any expertise, they make shit up. And it’s ridiculous.

    Too many people are unable to say, “I don’t know.

    1. Claire E Ritterhoff*

      I agree! This is a time of much advice giving, and a lot of it is just plain “Duh!” or stupid (and now) or dangerous.

  64. Anonnington*

    I love the last paragraph. The note should come with a picture of the two-year-old holding a bulging wallet and a (fake) plane ticket, or something like that. The kid sold everything and cashed in.

    About the other stuff, there’s an obvious issue with having kids listen in in meetings. It’s multi-sided. 1) You don’t necessarily know what your kids talk about with their friends and what adults the friends know. I think there’s a risk of private information ending up in the wrong place because of this. It might sound like a stretch, but you never know. 2) In light of this, meeting participants also have a basic right not to be listened to – without their knowledge – by participants who are not professionals and whose judgment and maturity are not at the adult level.

    Really, your 14-year-old might be really smart and a great kid, but they are 14. I can just imagine a kid talking about their parent’s work meeting with a friend. “And then the ugly guy said the merger’s not gonna happen so the stock might go down and they’re already losing investors.” And the friend’s uncle owns stock in the company and hears about that. And then what happens? The kid is 14. They’re not responsible for that choice. It would be the parent . . . or company policy, in this case.

  65. Third or Nothing!*

    Error. Took the advice and now my work notebook is full of scribbles, the laptop keys are stuck from being hit so much, and all my files are either ripped or covered in glitter stickers.

    (Badger Cub is 2.5, in case anyone is wondering.)

  66. AuroraLight37*

    I just tried to picture this with my brother and me, when we were about 9 and 7. He could have been quite helpful, or else gone and hidden in his closet, it’s a tossup. I would have been either exaustingly, annoyingly helpful, or the world’s most adorable nuisance. Especially during meetings, where my dad’s coworkers would have been all, “Dear Lord, man, kennel your child! I see the dog crate behind you! And she just climbed in it to pet the dog- damnit, she’s out again.”

  67. Falling Diphthong*

    … Would these tips work with cats? One of them is quite skilled with a track pad.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      A cat would just wait till your back is turned and drain your bank account/set themselves up as beneficiaries in your insurance/hack the planet.

  68. VanLH*

    I think that the 2 year old who sold the company data is bound for a bright future in corporate espionage.

  69. cold feet*

    On the kids-taking-notes side of things, when I was in high school, my sister and I were brought on to a national nonprofit volunteer board of directors as “youth advisors”, so we traveled to DC and annual conferences twice a year to sit through days of board meetings and presentations. (As you might imagine, not coincidentally, our mom was an official board member.) I was a studious, mature kid, but even I found these meetings SUPER boring.

    So I would “take notes”, meaning that I would write down ridiculous things people said entirely out of context — and then at night, my mom, sister, and I would all sit on our hotel beds while I read my quotable quotes out loud and we all died laughing. Maybe that’s what HR meant by having kids learn how to take notes in a meeting?

    1. HR in the city*

      Ha Ha Ha. I can just imagine how wonderful the notes from a small child will be. We start with the red crayon, then a pen, oh wait I found a marker, now i have a Sharpe. Probably just the same word over and over. And it’s probably not even what someone was saying. Kids love words like poop. That’s something they can spell. And my son has to always draw a sad face on his spelling words so I bet there will be some of those on there.

  70. Dancing Otter*

    Doesn’t delegating work tasks to non-employees mean the children are performing work without being paid for it? (Whether they do it well or poorly is beside the point.) Does the employer have a formal internship program for children, or are they expecting unpaid volunteer labor? After all, for profit businesses are forbidden to use volunteers other than heavily rules-driven internship programs. Even training wages are not zero.

    Not to mention child labor laws apply to office tasks, not just factories.

  71. Schnapps*

    LOL at the “give them a schedule so they can work independently.” My 10yo just can’t yet. A coworker with a 13 and a 15 year old at home is in the same boat. I read somewhere that teens can’t really fathom preparing more than a day, possibly two, ahead of things (something to do with brain development). They literally can’t do it because that part of their brain hasn’t developed yet.

    Oh and then I saw this meme on facebook (transcribed for your reading pleasure):

    Someone should have told me in 2020 I would be my child’s personal assistant.

    Me: Good morning, you have two zoom meetings today at 10am and 3pm, then a video call with grandma after lunch.

    Kid: Ok, cancel the 3 pm and ask grandma if she can video chat before lunch. How are you coming on the spreadsheet of the 18 different website names and passwords?

    Me: Still working on it. Here is your snack and the copies that you needed for your report. They are due tomorrow.

    Kid: Thank you. Please leave them outside my fort. And let’s pencil in some time discuss dinner plans.

  72. HR in the city*

    What the actual what what!!!!!!!! This was a waste of everyone’s time and indicative of an HR department that actually doesn’t have enough to do. I work in HR and we haven’t slowed down between all of the short-term hires that the health department has to make and then sorting through the leaves that we have to provide. There is also the eye rolling that goes on because someone needs to stay home with their 14 & 16 year old because their daycare is closed. Umm your kids are too old to go to a daycare anyway so I kind of think this might not be the truth. I have a six year old I have to homeschool and get through first grade so between working and homeschooling I don’t have time to put out a product like this.

  73. FreelanceCatServant*

    While the email to the husband is horrific, it did bring back a wonderful memory for me. When I was eight, so in the late 1960’s, my mom would occasionally bring work home on the weekends. At that point she was doing some kind of work with contracts dealing with commercial real estate.

    The first time she asked if I was interested in helping. It was a chance to Learn. New Words!, so I was thrilled. She took a few hours to explain the basics of the work, the terminology, and how the contracts should look when she was done, along with providing a template or two and the relevant dictionary, and then let me proofread her work. She also paid me something like $3 an hour because “You’re doing entry-level professional work; you’re going to be paid like an entry-level professional.” Those were some of the best days I had with my mother.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have a very vague memory of it, but apparently one of my aunts, who taught 8th grade literature and language, had me grade her students’ work when I came to visit that side of the family during the school year. I was 8! (Mid-70s in Belarus, which is where the aunt lived at the time.) I’d taught myself to read at 3, and somehow had an intuitive feel for correct spelling, so hopefully I didn’t mess up too much with the grading. I vaguely remember it being a fun activity, but honestly, I would’ve long forgotten about it if it hadn’t become a family legend, that she told people frequently at gatherings.

  74. nnn*

    Also, I’m thinking surely a child with the focus, maturing and intellectual skill to take notes in a workplace meeting is capable of entertaining themselves for the duration of a workplace meeting! I can’t imagine a situation where a kid could follow a meeting and take notes but also couldn’t, like, find something to watch on TV.

  75. Nervous Nellie*

    Floored. There are no words. Wait – there are: is no one concerned about the toddler meltdowns that will come when they get a subpar performance review?

    Joking aside, I sure hope this nonsense was presented as optional, and that OP and their colleagues are now not also going to be roped into a painful routine of ‘show and tell’ of kids’ “contributions”. What’s next – look how my dog ‘organized’ the confidential files I brought home? Sounds like a painfully forced attempt at morale building. I hope that the delete key is all OP needs to escape this.

  76. Tenebrae*

    Speaking from the perspective of someone who did help her dad with his work as a little girl (I marked his multiple choice questions, I was paid in ice cream and I *loved* it), I can almost see how this started in a good place. But oof, “children might enjoy being given little work related tasks” is so, so far removed from “children are basically extra labour force, right?”

    1. WS*

      So did I – my school bus stopped right opposite my dad’s work, so I would go in and “help” him for the last hour or so. But I’m sure it wasn’t actually labour-saving for him in any way until I was considerably older!

  77. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Somehow this reminds me of a rumor I’d heard circulating at an OldJob. We were on a 24×7 on-call support rotation, and rumor had it that one of our teammates did not like working on support calls at night. So he’d given his wife (who was also a dev, but at a different company) *the admin passwords and logins* and, whenever a call came in when he was already in bed, he’d have her get up, log in, and do the work. For the longest time I thought that, for sure, no one can top that. But here we are!

  78. mrs__peel*

    But how many hours per week should my toddler be reading Ask a Manager…?

  79. For goodness sake, wash your hands!*

    I would be livid at this “training.” I have a toddler who has turned into an emotional terrorist, begging for cuddles and throwing temper tantrums every time I turn on my computer. Nothing makes you feel counterproductive like a toddler screaming “hugs” while you try to respond to client emails.

  80. xtine*

    That’s hilarious! I do hope this was optional and that they gave a pass to anyone without kids!

  81. Cricket*

    Holy crap, they are blatantly using this crisis as a way to get free work from their employees children. My brain has liquified and is dribbling out my ears.

  82. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    I don’t have kids but I’ve been hearing a lot about my sister’s kids and how everyone is coping with this. Everyone in the family except my Dad is working at home, online, mostly full-time and thus don’t have time to make sure the kids are staying on task. My niece is mostly OK at doing her work on her own steam, but my two nephews are either playing Minecraft at every opportunity or running around harassing everyone else. Also, my niece has discovered google hangouts so she has been doing all her school work while chatting with her friend. But sometimes they add me into the video call and they do an awful lot of singing and game playing in there, plus fighting with their siblings and asking their parents pointless questions. Giving them a list of things to do and expecting them to be able to do them is totally unrealistic. I can hardly do that and I’m a fully grown adult with nothing much to do all day except projects I’ve devised for myself.

  83. Harvey JobGetter*

    Oh my. This letter is at least as tone deaf as the original suggestions because it makes the same mistake: assuming everybody’s situation is the same as yours.

    Let me go through this list:

    * Have your kids take notes at meetings. Okay, this one is probably idiotic for nearly any job.

    * have your kids help submit an IT ticket. I literally did this with my 7-year-old. He didn’t do it himself, but he had just finished some reading and asked me what he should do next. I asked if he wanted to help me send an email. And, together, we wrote an email question to my company’s help desk. I don’t get what is laughable about this. I guess I don’t know what is appropriate at my job or for my kid.

    * delegate small tasks to your kids like setting up a calendar alert. I don’t see why this is inherently inappropriate. My 10-year-old cousin (once removed) is better at this than half the people I work with. I probably wouldn’t do it, but I don’t see why she couldn’t occupy part of the non-school portion of her day doing this if she wanted to (and she probably would want to).

    * Make a list of schoolwork and chores so they can work independently. THIS is the most absurd one? I mean, we all understand that not all kids are two-year-olds, right? I know several high school kids and at least one middle schooler who are thriving with that sort of setup. I mean, they don’t literally not go to their parents at all during the day. But They are basically able to work independently. It is VERY WEIRD to think that this suggestion is inherently inappropriate.

    So, yeah, the HR people don’t get it because they all have help and can’t conceive of what it’s like not to have help. You don’t get it because you have a two-year-old and you can’t imagine that’s not everyone’s exact experience. (I get it, when our first was two, I didn’t understand anything other than “how do you survive a two-year-old.” But only one of these suggestions is patently absurd and the last suggestion is a really good one for a lot of kids.

    1. James*

      In the case of submitting IT tickets and delegating scheduling to kids, the company is having you make your kids work for the company, for free. It’s treating your kids as a secretary. I mean, if your kid is Hermes Conrad or Sheldon Cooper and WANTS to submit IT tickets and update schedules for fun, I suppose there’s no harm in it–but that’s a rather unique set of circumstances. Most kids would rather play with Legos or watch TV. But that’s not the real issue. If it was a coworker saying this, it would be annoying–but coming from HR, it comes from a position of authority. The company is telling you “We expect your family to work for us, for free”. It’s disrespectful and demeaning.

      The final one is tone deaf because every parent is already doing this. This is basic parenting. To suggest this as a tip is akin to suggesting “Breath in and out occasionally to avoid passing out”. Further, it implies that parents are too stupid to come up with this on their own, which is insulting.

      1. alittlehelpplease*

        I think the point of the trouble ticket, etc., was that you can involve young children in certain aspects of your job to engage them while working. Obviously, nobody should HAVE to do this, but it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The fact that most kids would rather play Legos has nothing to do with this. The argument that this is the kid doing the company’s work is specious.

        You’re way off that every parent is doing the last tip. OP’s reaction was that it was ridiculous because she CAN’T do it with her two-year-old. She’s right about that, of course. But if your objection is that nobody should be giving common sense tips about how to handle shelter-in-place or parenting or work, then you’ve got like 48 million other common sense tip sheets to argue with, too. Many people appreciate getting common sense tips. OP just didn’t understand that that’s what this was.

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