What’s Going On While Mom and Dad Are At Work?

What’s going on with your kids during the day? If you’re a parent who works in the office, you have to rely on others to give you this answer: a babysitter, daycare staffers, teachers, a stay-at-home spouse, or even your kids themselves.
All working parents have horror stories about things that happened at home while we were at work. Innocuous version: Who knew that the jar of Nutella I bought to serve some brunch guests had become sandwiches for my children’s dinner? Scary version: A friend of a friend fired her babysitter after she observed, via Nannycam, the woman putting her baby on the changing table and walking out the door.
Technology can solve much of this problem for you. Some daycare centers offer webcams that allow you to see what your child is up to. You can ask your babysitter to text or email you photos of your children (proving that they’re reading books rather than watching television). Older kids can call you themselves on their mobile phones.Too much connectivity between home and work can get in the way of your work. Worse, it can make you look distracted to your colleagues. The last thing a working parent needs is an image problem. 
In many ways, it’s easiest to keep track of babies. One mom I know returned to work after maternity leave only to spend much of her day obsessively checking the streaming Nannycam video feed of her baby at home. This reassured her that the baby was fine, and that the nanny was doing her job. Another mom would text her nanny on and off throughout the day — Did he like his lunch? How was the park? Did you make it to music class? — and would be rewarded in return with photos that she delightedly “lapped up.”
Plus, at some point, you have to cede control to whomever you’ve hired to look after your kids. That means sometimes, your kids will eat Nutella sandwiches for dinner.
Readers, how do you track your kids’ activities during the day? How connected should — and can — working parents be to their families while at work?
Tomorrow: reader’s comments