What to Expect On Take Your Child to Work Day
The 24th annual Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day takes place on April 28. Officially the event is geared towards kids ages 8-18, but participating workplaces may expand the age range. Also, if their companies are participating, employees who may not have school-age children are often invited to bring relatives or children they mentor.
It’s a wonderful opportunity, although I have to admit that I was nervous the first time I signed my kids up for the event. My work and home lives were both busy, and I worried that sacrificing a day would put me behind on both fronts. At the time I was employed at an international non-profit organization that adhered to old-school professional mores. I was concerned about inviting my children into such a neat, tidy and professional environment.
But I also felt the need to bridge my worlds. My workplace welcomed school age or slightly younger children. When I talked with the HR manager and told her I was thinking of bringing my 4- and 5-year-old, she wholeheartedly welcomed my children.
I loved my job. I had been at the institution for nearly ten years, and I felt like I had grown up there professionally and personally. I wanted my children and my colleagues to meet. I also wanted my children to see where I worked. It is a unique workplace: People travel from around the globe to visit and to meet the leaders of the organization. I wanted my kids to experience this, and I was proud to invite them to see me as a professional.
So I signed us up. I’m glad I took the chance.
What to Expect
It’s great for kids to have the chance to see their parents, guardians, relatives or mentors in action. It gives them the opportunity to learn about what grown ups do at work. It also offers older children a sense of how a subject or a major they may choose later in their academic careers may translate into a professional job.
Plus it has a positive impact on a professional culture to invite a little chaos. Just visually it’s inspiring to see young people shadowing professionals everywhere you look. As with all kid-related events, unexpected things happen. For example, my daughter lost her tooth during our lunch meeting. The kids also say adorable and off-the-wall things. I was surprised when my son told the executive director a knock-knock joke (which killed!) You can’t edit the kids as carefully as you edit yourself at work. But your colleagues can’t either. It doesn’t matter. It’s all ok.
If there is anything you really don’t want your kids to say, then prep them for that, but otherwise, just encourage them be themselves. Even if surprising things happen, or the kids go off script, that’s part of the charm that the kids bring to the event.
The day is about mentoring children and sharing the joy of work life with them. It’s also about helping families find a bit of balance by bridging their worlds. And it does just that.
Why it’s Valuable
This occasion has a delightful and cohesive effect. When I participated, I was the only parent on my team, and I was so moved by how kind and generous my colleagues were to my kids.
We decided to invite the children to a team meeting, but we wanted to make sure it would be a kid-friendly topic. My team was planning an event honoring Japanese and Taiwanese guests, so we met to discuss what kinds of treats to order for their visit. Hosting international donors was a significant part of our work, and the children were fascinated to hear our discussions about how to make these special travelers feel welcome.
This was a great experience for me, because my kids’ enthusiasm gave me a new perspective on my role. My team regularly discussed international hosting responsibilities, and my children thought this was awesome.
I left work that day feeling exhilarated and exhausted. My colleagues enjoyed my children’s visit, and my kids were asking when they could visit again before we even arrived back home. If you have the opportunity to participate in this event, take the chance. It’s worth it.