What do Mum and Dad do at work?

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How well do children understand the jobs that their mums and dads do?

We surveyed our international community of customers, speaking to both parents and children to find out the answer. The majority (73%) of parents we spoke to thought that their little ones knew what job they did. This was, however, quite optimistic, as our survey results were to show!

It turns out that many children aged between 2 and 6 have quite funny ideas about what their mums and dads get up to when they leave the house for work. Some examples of the answers we received include:

“My dad does the beer in the bottles.” – Technical engineer at a brewery.

“My mom always brings gifts around.” – Courier.

“She tells other people how to do their jobs better to have more money.” – Accountant.

“My mom knows all the secrets of the earth and put them on Facebook.” – Secretary.

…and the list went on! It was interesting to see what lovely descriptions the children came out with, so we picked some of our favourites and created visualisations of their fantasies versus their parents’ realities.

Reality testing in children

With so many funny answers cropping up in our survey, we decided to look into how children manage to come up with such creative versions of what their parents do at work.

In their book, And if we learn again how to raise our children, Gitty Feddema and Aletta Wagenaar discuss the subject of fantasy and reality in children.

“During the toddler period, the dividing line between fantasy and reality is not so clear, with children enjoying listening to fairy tales and stories but never completely realising that it is make-believe. In other words, what is fiction and what is reality?”

Feddema and Wagenaar noticed that, over the years, our ability to determine between the two improved, due to our increased life experience and our ability to process information.

So, when toddlers are asked about matters of reality – such as what their parents do for a living – their answer will always contain an element of fantasy. Older children will be able to judge better, so it will be interesting to ask these 2-6-year-olds again when they are closer to 10!


Do your children have funny or cute descriptions for your job? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know via Twitter: @Viking_chat.

Whilst your kids might not really understand what you do on a day-to-day basis, you certainly do! Get yourself organised with diaries, calendars, and other desk essentials so that at least one of you knows what’s going on, even if the kids don’t!