Dreams or reality? This is how children imagine adult life

Do you live your life exactly as you imagined it as a child? Probably most of us can answer this question with yes. Looking back, it’s not so bad that we didn’t all become circus artists or professional footballers after all, but perhaps there are still one or two dreams we could pursue today. We look at how children today imagine life as adults – from dream jobs to sharing the household chores – and what our dreams are today.

If you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, they rarely say “office worker”, “mechanic” or “bank employee” as an answer. Instead, imaginative professions bubble up, often influenced by the worlds of experience that children come into contact with when they play. However, often the seemingly utopian dream job already hides an interest that comes to the fore again when it comes to choosing a career. What about family life and the household chores, on the other hand? How do children imagine their life as parents? The children in our video talk about their ideas for the future – and explain why they would also send their own children to day-care.

A dream job: Not so far-fetched at all

Will the kids in our video actually become circus performers, professional footballers and firemen? We’ll find out in a few years. Meanwhile, we ask: what actually happened to our own dream jobs? What does our former dream job say about us? And are there parallels between our dreams and today’s reality? 

Darius Notz knew he wanted to be his own boss – be it as a special agent or restaurant owner”

“I wanted to be a special agent. Or an architect,” Darius Notz looks back on his childhood dreams. “Now I run two restaurants with my brother. I actually still think my childhood dream jobs are great!” What already seemed clear during childhood: being a salaried employee is not for Darius. “I feel like I always kind of knew that I wanted to be my own boss one day. And I think having a restaurant has always appealed to me, too.” 

Nina Bachmann wanted to dig up treasure and created new worlds

Nina Bachmann also took up a profession she had not even dreamed of as a child: for a long time she worked as a set designer for Swiss and international productions. “As a child, my dream job was to be an archaeologist. Faraway countries and travel are magical for me. I really wanted to explore the pyramids and instead I set out exploring our garden. I made up a story about the things I dug up. Objects like stones, shards and coins were my treasures and were kept in a tin box. Even today I bring stones home from my holidays. I guess I am a born collector. When I worked for historical films, it was my job to research the particular period in detail and assemble or recreate props, furniture and objects from that era. This satisfied my urge to research and my fascination for old things.” In her current job, too, Nina Bachmann is closer to her former dream job than she thought: “For the past year, I have been in charge of sales and the office work at a large second-hand store. When we unpack the many boxes from a former household, it’s an exploratory journey through a life and there’s always a treasure somewhere.”

Natasha Forster found her dream job at 10 – and has kept it to this day 

Natasha Forster, who wanted to become a surgeon at the age of ten – and today works as a surgeon and specialist in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery – shows that her dream job from childhood does not have to remain a dream. Nevertheless, she states: “Dreams and reality often differ. Every dream job also includes difficult aspects – but in my case I was able to compensate for those with the joy I have in surgical work.”

Angela Berner takes care of sweet treats instead of cute animals

Angela Berner also had a classic childhood dream job. She wanted to become a vet. She doesn’t mind that it didn’t work out: “I love animals and think it’s great to do something useful and good. It is certainly a beautiful and fulfilling profession. But certainly not for me. My idea of the profession was quite romantic – I realised that when we had to put our dog down. Instead of being a vet, I worked as a fashion designer for 12 years and am now a branch manager at Berner by Walter Buchmann as well as a yoga teacher.” So, a fulfilling career doesn’t necessarily have to mean training for a supposed dream job and continuing with it for the rest of your life – it can also mean continually shaping a career for yourself that suits your own interests and needs. 

Don’t bend – even as an adult

There can be many reasons why a dream job doesn’t work out – but, as most of our interviewees agree, it doesn’t always have to be the dream job. Nina Bachmann, for example, has realised that high school is not for her and that she prefers to follow her desire for freedom, earn her own money and discover the world. For her own daughter, she wants her to find and learn a profession that makes her happy – whether that will be her current dream job as a vet and environmentalist remains to be seen. 

Darius Notz thinks children should learn earlier what it means to earn money and what you can or cannot afford with it. This could also help children to do a job not only for the money: “At school, you should also learn how to put money aside and increase it in a relatively simple way (at an early age). That way you can also choose a job that you would simply like to do. Without pretending.”

Natasha Forster knows that choosing the right job isn’t always easy – even though she herself works in her dream job: “I was lucky enough to be inspired to choose my dream job by an experience and then to enjoy the job in reality. However, children should not stress themselves out and certainly not let themselves be pushed into a career choice by outsiders (especially their parents). Often the best coincidences arise from unexpected situations – and your first career choice doesn’t have to be the job you do for life.” 

Angela Berner also believes that it is worthwhile to look into different professions – because that is the only way to find out what you like to do and what gives you fulfilment. 

What is true for our children should also be true for us. Or to put it another way: even as adults, it is worthwhile to question one’s own profession from time to time. That doesn’t mean throwing everything away and immediately wanting to become a Formula 1 driver or pilot. But especially when there are changes in your life – for example, starting a family or taking a sabbatical – there is also the urge to change your career. Maybe you want to do something more in line with your personal values? Or do you want to consciously reflect on what you most enjoyed as a child and steer your career in a new direction accordingly? Or are you satisfied with exactly what you do? 

Dreams versus reality managing the household 

The children in our video are sure that when they grow up and have a family of their own, the household chores will be shared fairly and both parents will be working. Currently, however, the reality (still) looks different. Even today, many couples would like to work part-time. In fact, however, it is mainly women who have part-time jobs. Only 13% of all couples today effectively share the gainful employment. The situation is similar with household chores. In 60% of couple households, it is mainly the woman who does the housework. In just 6%, the man is primarily responsible for the household. Women also take on significantly more tasks in the care of children under 13. They are the ones who stay at home when the child is sick (in almost 74% of households this is “mainly the mother’s responsibility”), help them get dressed (64.5%) or with their homework (54.5%). What does reality look like for you? Is it the way you both imagined it? It is not always easy to accomplish everything according to one’s own ideals – especially not when we are in the “rush hour of life” and want to have everything at the same time. Exactly then, however, it is important to regularly ask ourselves whether the current division at home and in childcare is still right for both parents. Or whether (even a small) change can perhaps alleviate the “rush hour” pressure a little and create more satisfaction. We explain how you can set priorities correctly, especially during the “rush hour of life” on our blog.

The family model of the future – not possible without a day-care centre 

Just like themselves, the kids in the video think that their children should go to a day care centre later on. After all, they are not only looked after there while their parents can pursue their careers, but they are also encouraged and challenged. If we take a look at reality, over 71% of all children under the age of three are actually looked after at least partially by others. Grandparents (40%) and day-care centres (33.8%) are the main providers. How will this figure change when the children in our video are grown up? Only the future will tell – as in order to make day-care available to all families, fundamental changes are needed in Switzerland on the one hand, as Gogo Schumacher, founder of Kimi Krippen and co-founder of Awina, explains in an interview. On the other hand, flexible financing options are also needed. You can find more information here.