If you are one of the 37 million Americans about to celebrate ‘Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ on April 27th, you’ve got some serious planning to do. Over 3.5 million workplaces will be hosting this special ‘more than a career’ day this week – an initiative that began back in the 1990s and is since celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April each year. Designed to expose kids to a day in office in the life of a working parent, while the concept is a great initiative to help kids envision their future and the importance of work life balance, it comes with a set of do’s and don’ts – much like anything else related to kids. Here’s how you can maximize this day’s impact and make it fun for your kids too.
#1 Arm yourself with the right weapons
Think of yourself as a one-man army and pack all the stuff you would need through the day – depending on your kids’ age, this could range from diapers, rattles, and a makeshift crib to video games, iPod, comics, etc. If your child is older, sit him/her down at least a couple of days before the event and talk about what he/she would like to see most in your office. This will help you understand which line of work your child is most interested in and you can then make arrangements by talking to your colleagues in those specific departments to plan for the same. Remember, this event is going to be a profoundly impactful one for your child – put in your best efforts to make it worthwhile.
#2 Make your office space kid-friendly
Lock adjustable chairs to avoid kids’ fingers getting stuck, pick up stray staples (if any), get electrical outlet covers from home (if your office isn’t providing them) –basically do everything you can to prevent nasty surprises. Most offices dedicate a kid-friendly space especially to celebrate ‘Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ and even plan age-appropriate activities to keep them occupied and entertained. At any time and whatever be the case, make sure you don’t leave little kids unsupervised.
#3 Keep it real – the day isn’t about kids ‘shadowing’ adults
This is no trip to Disney World! Through the ‘Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ initiative your kids should understand what you (and other co-workers do), learn the importance of fulfilling responsibilities, team work, problem solving, decision making, as well as sharing and caring. Making the event interesting for kids isn’t about letting them be all over the place and having a field day (at your and everyone else’s expense) – it’s about engaging them in work-day relevant activities that can help them get a unique experience learning what you do at work, while still enjoying their summer holidays.
#1 Overexpose: Bringing your kid to your workplace each year and showing them the same thing is hardly going to be a value-add. Instead, talk to your friends / colleagues to arrange for your kids to experience different job roles/departments, etc. so they can broaden their learning.
#2 Assume or ignore: Even if your kid is older, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s easier for them – it can be intimidating for children to experience an office environment, greet so many people, and see the adults’ world, especially for the first time. Ignoring them too is a big NO – instead make them feel comfortable and special by talking, laughing, and being at ease yourself.
#3 Expect colleagues to babysit: While most co-workers will be delighted to ooh and aah over your tiny tot(s) for some time, remember, everyone has work to do and timelines to adhere to. Be it Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day or any other day when you are forced to bring them to office – nanny emergency, summer holidays, spouse on business trip, etc – the reason could be any, make sure you have time to look after your kid yourself. Re-schedule important calls, client visits, or any other activity that requires you to be at your productive best for another day.