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Take Your Kids to Work

Have you ever asked your kids what they think you do for your job?  We asked ours when they were younger, and their response was, “You talk on the phone and send emails.”  Their concept of what we do lies somewhere between the tasks they see us doing and I think, what they would do if they were doing our job.  Case in point, my oldest had shadow day at school, where the kids went to a business and shadowed a professional for the day.  This was an opportunity for them to see a person doing a job in which they had an interest.  I had six kids who wanted to shadow me at Miss Laurie’s Kitchen.  I was honored – until I found out why.

We spent the morning researching recipes, organizing them for specific classes, we cooked, each kid shot a cooking video, and then one kid raised his hand and asked, “When do we get to watch Law and Order?”  What??!!?? My daughter, who was standing right there, told everyone that ALL I did was cook and watch the television show Law and Order.  When I asked her why she thought that, she said, “Well, that’s what I would do.”

I was thrilled (sarcasm) when I heard that all 6 kids wrote in their reports that the thing that surprised them the most about what I did was that I didn’t turn on the TV all day.

Thursday, April 26th is the 25th annual Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day.  If your company allows this “holiday” to be celebrated and if you think your child can handle it, I highly recommend you do it.  It’s a great opportunity to expose our kids to what happens in the workplace and they might also get a better appreciation for what mom and dad do all day long while they are slaving away at school.  Here are some tips to make it a better experience for everyone.

  • Ask what your child is interested in. Don’t force your child to come to work if they aren’t interested in your job. Not all children want to follow in your footsteps. If that’s the case, maybe there is a family member or friend who could take your child in instead.
  • Be sure to talk to your employer and colleagues about the event. Make sure your company encourages participation and if so, find out if they have any scheduled activities.  Don’t just show up with your kid!
  • Plan. Consider their interests and tailor the day around those interests. Don’t let them be bored and don’t ignore them. Be sure to have enough for them to do to work independently if you need time to focus on your own work.
  • Be clear on the ground rules ahead of time. Talk to your kids in advance and spell out the ground rules and expected behavior while they are in the workplace. Be sure to tell them what appropriate dress is as well.
  • Introduce your child to your colleagues. Make it a point to introduce your kids to everyone you work with. Teach them how to respond by shaking hands, making eye contact and saying hello. Explain what each person does so they understand all the different roles within your company or department.
  • Put them at ease. It may be intimidating for them so be sure to let them know that it’s okay to ask questions if they want to learn more about something specific.
  • Make it interesting but keep it real. While you truly want to make it interesting, you also need to keep it realistic. It’s not a trip to Disney World. Let them see problems that arise and let them be part of the process to find a solution. Ask for their opinion, it makes them feel valued.
  • Show your enthusiasm. It’s important to be positive and to have a little fun. Convey some excitement about what you do! Maybe take them out to lunch if time allows.  Their impression of work could be molded by what they experience.
  • Take time to reflect on the day. Have a 20-minute meeting at the end of the work day to ask your child what they enjoyed most, what they learned, and ask what surprised them most about your job.