What if your co-workers were toddlers?

The following is an illustration of why it is so stressful and so annoying (and so wonderful at other times but I’m leaving that bit for another day), to manage kids generally and particularly while working from home under this lockdown. The below shows scenarios demonstrating what it would be like if your co-workers modelled the same behaviours as toddlers (or children under five years old).

If you don’t have kids, or if it’s been a while since your kids were infants, you may think to yourself, “Why is everyone making such a big deal of it? Can’t you just plonk the kids in front of the tv?”

Firstly, it is extremely difficult to concentrate on anything when in their vicinity, whether you are attempting to listen to an important webinar or just following a recipe. Here’s why (imagine the toddler co-worker is a mature adult exhibiting these behaviours):

  1. Constant Questions – often about the bleeding obvious.

Me: So, we’ve been asked to complete these reports a day early.

Toddler Co-worker: Why?

Me: I guess because of the updated budget schedule.

Toddler Co-worker: Why did they update the budget schedule?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe because of the pandemic.

Toddler Co-worker: Which pandemic?

Me: The one that’s been everywhere in the news and is why we’re all on lockdown,

Toddler Co-worker: Oh yeah. I don’t like that. When do you think we’ll be out of lockdown?

Me: I don’t know.

Toddler Co-worker: Do you think it’ll be tomorrow?

Me: Probably not

Toddler Co-worker: How about the day after tomorrow?

Me: Probably not either


  • Continual Train of Noise – usually includes discussion of the obvious

Toddler Co-worker sits opposite you and speaks in a loud sing song voice (including some high -pitched squeals), for 25 minutes without stopping. This is a small excerpt from the soliloquy, “My computer is grey. I don’t like the colour grey. Today is Tuesday and it’s raining. I think I will eat my lunch today and I have sandwiches and fruit for lunch today. Do you like sandwiches and fruit? Fruit is all sorts of colours. Oranges are the best fruit because they have vitamin C in them etc etc….”

  • Constant Interruption – especially annoying when the interruption is a request to perform something which they are perfectly capable of doing themselves

Me: Typing on computer, very focused.

Toddle co-worker: Could you turn on my computer for me?

Me: You know how to do that.

Toddler Co-worker: I know but could you do it for me?

Me: I’m actually really busy right now. Can you please do it?

Toddler Co-worker: I don’t want to.

Me: Please do it.

Toddler Co-worker: Ok. But can you turn on the printer then?

Next, there are some obvious problems around their socialisation, which leaves a lot to be desired. They speak the language, but their social behaviour hinders every day.

  1. Pointless Infighting

Toddler Co-worker 1: The stapler is mine.

Toddler Co-worker 2: No, it’s mine. My friend gave it to me.

Toddler Co-worker 1: I don’t care. I want it and I’m holding it.

Toddler Co-worker 2: Only because you just picked it up off my desk.

Me: Hey guys, here is another identical stapler. Why don’t one of you just take this one?

And then they both roar crying.

  • Being a best friend

Toddler Co-worker 1: Will you be my best friend?

Toddler Co-worker 2: No

Toddler Co-worker 1: Hey (to me), number 2 won’t be my best friend. Will you be my best friend?

Toddler Co-worker 2: No, I want her to be my best friend.

Me: Eh.. I don’t want to be anyone’s friend….

  • Creating A Mess – followed by agreement to clean it and then ignoring that

Me: Wow, guys, there is a massive mess in the kitchenette.

Toddler Co-worker (nonchalantly): Oh yeah, I did that

Me: Um.. do you think you could tidy it up?

Toddler Co-worker: Absolutely.


Toddler Co-worker: Can I go now?

Me: Eh, you haven’t tidied up.

Toddler Co-worker: Can I go now?

Me: Umm, you still haven’t tidied up.

Toddler Co-worker: Right, I’m bored. I’m going.

Me: ?????

Toddler Co-worker: You can tidy up. You’re great at it.

Lastly, it’s their inability to be organised and follow any type of plan, even when you agree it with them, check their understanding, check again, check a third time (three times a charm) and then write it or draw it out for them.

  1. Ignoring the Agreed Plan – and not caring

Me: So, do you understand what needs to happen everyone?

Toddler Co-workers: Yes absolutely. We get it completely. We are going to spend the next week figuring out the scope of Project Apple – this includes documentation of background, analysis of impact group and identification of key stake holders.

Me: Brilliant. Let’s do it.

Then they go off and work on financial analysis for the marketing department for three days.

  • Being Completely Contrary

Toddler Co-worker: Can I please have tomorrow off?

Me: Gosh, it’s really late notice and we are in a complete bind. There is so much to be done and the deadline is Friday.

Toddler Co-worker: Yes, but I really, really want it and it would mean the world to me and all my family.

Me: Ok well, I guess we could make it work. We will have to move heaven and earth. I’ll work late with you tonight.

You work until 1am with them. Then the next day they come into work as usual and act as if the conversation never happened.

  • Inability to Locate a Desired Object – especially when it’s in a very accessible location

Toddler Co-worker: Have you seen my neon orange scarf?

Me: Yeah, it’s in the kitchen.

Toddler Co-worker goes into the kitchen and comes back: I can’t see it.

Me: It’s right in there on the work top.

Toddler Co-worker goes back into the kitchen and comes back: I can’t see it

Me: Seriously it’s right there in the open, in front of you, on the left- hand side beside the bright yellow fridge.

Toddler Co-worker goes back into the kitchen and comes back: I can’t see it

Me: Honestly, it’s right there.

Toddler Co-worker: Can you get it for me?

Me: I’m actually very busy and don’t really want to.

Toddler Co-worker: Please.

Toddler Co-worker starts to cry so you get the scarf for them. 

And yes, there is an uncanny resemblance between the above conversations and the behaviour of some western world leaders. I’m not mentioning who, but the name rhymes with “stump”.

Published by gillsheeran

Former CFO/COO who quit my job to emotionally support my family at the start of the pandemic.

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