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Keeping children entertained during a pandemic while I was also working has been the struggle of many working parents across the world. With schools shut down, daycares not opening for months and in-house childcare not being an option for many, working parents have juggled tending to their jobs while also being at home with their kids. For older ones, it might mean Zoom classes and playdates, but for younger ones, like my three kids, it means I have to keep them engaged with pretend play.
Toddlers love to pretend play—if they didn't, we wouldn't have play kitchens, fake veggies with Velcro for them to pretend cut with a fake pretend knife, doctor sets, vet sets... you get where I'm going. So it only makes sense that this home office set exists, because it's what many kids have been experiencing (and not just in the last 12 months). I worked from home even before the pandemic started and my then 2-year-old son would love to smash the keys of my backup keyboard and say he was working like mamá.
What is weird is that this particular playset is going viral on Twitter after Drew Harwell, tech reporter for the Washington Post, tweeted about it calling it "so bleak."
This (real) Fisher-Price My Home Office toy set is so bleak: "Better grab a latte to go, that report is due this mo… https://t.co/T9rcMwL8n4
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) 1614608696.0
However, many parents came to defend the playset for the reasons I stated above. Terre Hanson Burkhart replied to Harwell's tweet with "What's the problem? Kids are watching their parents work from home. Children love imitating adults. How is this any different than a kitchen set, or cleaning tools: mop, broom, & vacuum? Or a doctor/veterinarian office set? A teacher/classroom set? Adults must set a good example." Proud mom Jane Aylward shared her daughter's story with playsets "My daughter never cooked in her Fisher Price Party Kitchen. She made coffee, used the flip-up table as a desk and talked on the phone all day while 'scrabbling' notes on a legal pad. She's 36 and has her own tech marketing business--from home." Gail Parenti shared how she would've loved this as a child "I'm ok with it. I grew up with a working mom, and it would have been nice to feel like that was normal."
But of course, for every positive comment about the office playset, there were ten more calling it dystopian and asking to allow kids to be kids. And to be fair, some parents do cook, clean or take care of animals for a living, and playsets to pretend play doing all those things have existed for a while allowing kids to take on those roles, so why not an office one?
Anyway, if your kid loves to pretend play, here are my favorite playsets: