Bringing Kids to Work: Tips and Advice
As a working mom with a busy job, I try to avoid bringing my kids to work. Not that I don’t enjoy spending the day with my kids or that my workplace is not kid-friendly, but mostly because I am often plagued with work/life guilt when my child comes to work with me. I worry about leaving my child with a computer as a babysitter. Or, I feel bad that I don’t get as much work completed as I wanted.
However, there are inevitable times, like the gap between camp and school for my school-age daughter, when child care falls through and I am stuck trying to balance work with life responsibilities. On those rare days, I make a “special” exception about bringing my child to work. The key to ensuring it works for everyone is to plan ahead.
Advice and Tips for Bringing a Child to Work
• Check in with your manager and co-workers before bringing kids to work. I am fortunate to work for a company that supports working parents. But it’s a workplace and people are there to do a job. As a common courtesy, I check with my manager and co-workers before bringing my child to work. That way, it gives them a chance to prepare or voice concerns about a possible disruption during a busy day, a big meeting, etc.
• Coordinate with a co-worker. A few of my co-workers have children close in age to my 8-year-old daughter. On those typical out-of-school weeks, I check with them to see if they are bringing their child to work on one of the days. If so, we coordinate our schedules so the children come into the office on the same day. This way, the kids have more fun and the moms can coordinate meetings so there is always a parent “on duty.”
• Pick a day that aligns with your meeting schedule. If I have the choice, I choose a day when my meeting schedule is light or I reschedule non-essential meetings. I like to fantasize that I can be in a meeting while my child quietly plays on the computer but it’s never ends up that way (like the time she came in looking for a snack while I was interviewing a job candidate).
• Locate an empty office or conference room with a door. Prior to bringing a child to work, I try to find an empty office or conference room where she can set-up for the day. It’s a lot less distracting when she is not in my office and has her own place to spread out. I try to find one close to me so she’s not wandering around the office and where I easily check on her.
• Pack electronics. I’m fairly conservative when it comes to screen time but I’m all about making exceptions for special circumstances. This is one of those instances where I always pack a personal computer or tablet loaded with my child’s favorite apps, games or movies. And headphones are essential to control volume and noise levels.
• Pack quiet activities. Surprisingly, my daughter does get bored of the computer and usually looks for some other form of entertainment. We’ve found that bringing a book, drawing or coloring supplies, a simple craft project, cards for Solitaire, and 1-person games or puzzles are good distractions for her.
• Set ground rules. Prior to bringing my child to the office, I remind her about my expectations of her – be polite, maintain inside voices, walk don’t run in the hallways, be respectful of people’s time and space, etc.
• Plan a special lunch with some activity time. Bringing your child to work should be a “special” treat for everyone. I like to plan our lunch together which usually involves take-out and eating in the office cafe. I also have to remind myself that she is not accustomed to sitting around all day. So, I try to plan some time outside or a walk around the office after lunch to burn off excess energy.
• Find small work projects for kids to do. Bringing a child to work is also an opportunity for them to get firsthand work experience. Plan some small work projects – such as filing, stapling, or other simple work-related projects. It’s a good idea to check with the office manager. In our office, the kids love to fill-up the conference room candy dishes.
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