How to make Take Your Child to Work Day a success

Whether you’re back in the office or still working from home, here are some helpful do’s and don’ts for this year’s Take Your Child to Work event.
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Take Your Child to Work Day will be celebrated on Thursday, April 28 this year, and for some professionals this might be the first opportunity they’ve had in two years to bring their son or daughter to the office — assuming the office isn’t still at home.

Created in 1993, and now officially called Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, is designed to be more than a career day. The program goes beyond the average practice of “shadowing” an adult. Exposing children to what a parent or mentor does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities of work and family life, providing boys and girls a chance to share how they envision the future, and allowing them to begin steps toward their goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success, according to the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation.

Take Your Child to Work Day benefits both kids and adults, according to job site Indeed.com. Bringing your child into work can help humanize you to your colleagues. If your child gets sick, for example, your boss or co-workers may be more understanding if they have met your kid. Additionally, it allows your colleagues to see another aspect of your personality and life. The same applies to children. They will see you in a different role than they do at home, and hopefully, gain some understanding about what you do all day at work while they’re at day care or school.

Indeed offers some helpful do’s and don’ts for a successful Take Your Child to Work Day:

Do

  • Research the programming: Know what to expect from the day so both you and your child will be prepared and ready.
  • Know the age recommendations: If the Take Your Child to Work Day planners at your workplace don’t recommend bringing in kids under 5 years old, follow their recommendation. Additionally, if you work in a location with heavy machinery or other potentially dangerous equipment, consider saving your kid’s visit until they are in middle or high school.
  • Ask about amenities: Consider important details that may affect your child’s visit, including whether your workplace will provide kid-friendly snacks or if there will be a place for younger children to nap if needed. Know what you need to bring from home to keep your child comfortable and what will be provided by your company.
  • Assess your schedule: Keep important or lengthy meetings off of your calendar on Take Your Child to Work Day. You may not get as much work done as you normally do, so prepare ahead of time to meet any goals.
  • Provide expectations: Your child should know how they are to behave at your workplace. Set clear expectations and consequences.
  • Have a backup plan: Younger children may not be able to make it through the whole day. Have a caregiver ready to pick up your child if needed.
  • Check with your boss: If your workplace is not having an officewide Take Your Child to Work Day program, be sure to check in with your boss and immediate colleagues before bringing your child in for the day.
  • Inform school: Call your child’s school and let them know your student will be with you for the day rather than in the classroom. Arrange makeup work ahead of time if needed.
  • Talk to other parents: Make a schedule with other parents in your workplace. You can rotate kids from colleague to colleague so the children can learn about more than one job.
  • Introduce your child: Present your child to your co-workers when you arrive. Model for your child how to meet someone new in a professional setting.
  • Reflect on the day: On the drive home or at dinner that evening, debrief about the day with your child. Ask them what they thought of your workplace, your position, and the program.

Don’t

  • Force your child: If your child does not want to go to work with you, do not force them to. It will only lead to a challenging day for you and your child.
  • Overstimulate: Know your child’s limits. If they are getting overtired or seem to be losing focus, give your child a chance to decompress.
  • Bore your child: Kids have shorter attention spans than adults. While you may be able to focus on a spreadsheet for several hours, your child may not. Bring something for them to do while you work if needed.
  • Ignore your child: Don’t expect to come into work and leave your child on their own. Make sure you are with them or know where they are at all times.
  • Have a bad attitude: If there are parts of your job you do not like or colleagues with whom you don’t get along, try to put that aside for your child. Keep a positive attitude at work with your child present.
  • Pretend your job is different: Your child will be impressed by whatever it is you do. There is no need to pretend you do something you don’t.
  • Bring your child several years in a row: Find an aunt, uncle, or friend willing to take your child to work with them after your kid has been to your workplace once or twice. Bring their children in with you in exchange.

Take Your Child to Work (at Home) Day

One final note for those parents who work remotely. Chances are, you might still be burnt out from having to share your workspace with your children when schools close their doors to in-person instruction early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, if the psychological scars of having to get your job done while also doing the job of those saintly teachers have sufficiently worn off, there’s still something to be gained from having your child see what you do at work (from home).

Jennifer Parris, a writer for FlexJobs, says a remote Take Your Child to Work Day is a great opportunity to explain and show your kids what you do for a living. “Explain the programs you use to accomplish your work and show them your company’s website online. If appropriate, introduce them to some of your colleagues via video, and/or walk them through your typical workday. That way, they can get a feel for your position, who you work with, and what your company does.”

Parris also suggest assigning your child small tasks, such as shredding papers or helping print out documents to make them feel like part of the process.

Finally, working from home can get stuffy and boring even for adults, so don’t forget to take a break together.

“Leave the house, steal away for a few moments, and share a snack together,” recommends Parris. “Or grab the pooches and take a leisurely stroll down the block. This will highlight to your child just some of the many benefits of working at home. After all, if you were in a traditional office, you wouldn’t be able to sit in the sun together, licking double scoop chocolate ice cream cones in the middle of the day. While you might think that you can’t celebrate the day, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a perfect opportunity to show why telecommuting is a wonderful option for parents — and why having a parent who works at home is a big gift indeed.”

For information about the 2022 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation virtual event on Thursday, April 28, which features a live career panel as well as both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for engagement, visit daughtersandsonstowork.org.

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