5 Tips for Taking Your Kids to Work (and Making the Visit Great!)
Thursday, April 28th is National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day. How will you celebrate that day? To make the day go well, consider these five tips:
Tip 1: Plan Your Day around Your Child
- Taking your child to work isn’t about squeezing your child into your day. It’s about you squeezing into your child’s day. No child wants to spend all day with you at work. It will drive you both crazy. However, if you plan your schedule around your child and create a strategic time frame for your child to visit you at work, you’re more likely to both have a great experience.
- The younger your child, the shorter the visit. In our family, we always had another parent, grandparent, or other significant adult bring the child to work for a short visit. That way there was a designated adult who could focus on the child while the parent who was working could greet the child and bring the child around the workplace but then be able to go back to work.
- If your child has a disability, plan for that. One of my colleagues brought his daughter (who had ADHD) to work. She managed to push all the items off of three workers desks before her dad could catch her. (Her medication was off that day.) Unfortunately, this dad was a single dad, and he hadn’t planned on things going haywire. He admitted to us later, however, that this type of behavior wasn’t that unusual at home, which made us more compassionate about his family life.
Tip 2: Think about Your Work Space from a Child’s View
- Just because your office is great for you, doesn’t mean it will be great for your child. Look for parts of your job that may interest your child. Many kids enjoy meeting your colleagues (particularly the ones who love kids). My kids always loved seeing how many colleagues had candy dishes (or secret stashes of treats or toys).
- If you work in a factory or warehouse, make sure your kids visit for a short time and ensure their safety. One of our friends is a mechanic. He asked his brother to bring both boys to his work. Of course, the first thing the boys wanted to do was jump into the pit under the car where the mechanics work. My friend got into the pit and then had his brother hand him the boys from above. The boys thought it was the coolest hideout ever.
- When our kids were young, they thought visiting their dad at the office and then me at the office was the most boring activity ever. That’s because when my kids were young, my husband and I both worked desk jobs. My husband spent most of his days in meetings. My workday revolved around writing alone in a quiet office. So our big draw was having them visit around lunchtime. Our kids loved eating in my husband’s lunchroom, and they enjoyed going out to eat with me.
Tip 3: Ask Your Child to Draw You a Picture
- If you have a young child, ask your child to draw a picture of the two of you to display in your office. One of our friends asked her daughter to do this every year on National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day. She then displayed every single picture. Over the years, it created a gallery in her cubicle, and this made her daughter even more enthusiastic to visit.
Tip 4: Consider Visiting Other Family Members’ Work Places
- After a few visits, kids can quickly become bored with the idea of spending a day at work with you, so consider taking your child to visit an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, or even a neighbor’s workplace.
- Our eldest son loved visiting his grandfather on this day. That’s because his grandfather was a salesman for an electrical distributor. Even though his grandfather had a desk job, his grandfather knew all the workers in the warehouse. So my son got to ride on a forklift and ride in a delivery truck (even though the driver only took him for a spin around the block). My son thought his grandfather worked at the coolest job ever!
- My kids also relished visiting their other grandfather at his work. Their grandfather was a college professor, and not only did they get to eat in the college cafeteria (which is a very big deal for a young child), their grandfather also arranged for them to meet other fascinating professors. Since my oldest son is named Micah, my father-in-law arranged for the two of them to visit a geology professor who gave my son pieces of the rock mica.
Tip 5: Make the Day Fun
- You can always tell which businesses are most open to having kids visit on National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day. The employees plan for it—including the employees who don’t have kids. At one corporation I worked for, employees liked to do special things for the kids who visited. One employee did a magic trick for each child who stopped by his office. Another employee gave a yo-yo to each child. Another had a digital camera and took a photo of the child and parent together and then printed out the photo on paper along with the date.
- In many ways, it doesn’t matter how you have fun with your child. What’s important is to plan for some fun. Most workplaces are geared for adults, not for kids. National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day is the one day of the year when it’s time to make your workplace an enjoyable place for kids. So have fun with your child on this day.
1. National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day, http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=936.
2. Work and Family, Parentfurther, http://www.parentfurther.com/parenting/work.
3. Image via RDECOM on Flick’r.