Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, I had plenty of experience with separation anxiety from my children. As a mother of five, that anxiety kicked in way too often. I have probably brought my children into my workplace a total number of two times in 10 years. Even though my “office job” included being in the fashion industry as a footwear designer and department manager, it included constant overseas travel with everything being due yesterday. In my line of work, no time seemed like the right time to bring them.
In April, I decided to start my own footwear industry magazine called Last-Report. As the publisher and editor in chief, I conduct interviews over the phone and via email as well as locally face-to-face. But whenever you leave the house (for me it’s four to six times a year for three consecutive days), no matter what line of work you are in, anxiety is sure to kick your hormonal butt.
Recently, I attended a posh children’s and juvenile/baby expo in Los Angeles called PLUSH. The show lasted for three days, but what was most interesting to me was that the last day of the show was “consumer day” and children were welcome. I jumped at the chance to register as press and cover the show so that I could bring my family along. My husband took the day off and served as the magazine’s photographer and was hurled into the paparazzi red carpet area. (I did mention it was in Los Angeles, right?) This juvenile/baby show had its own red carpet area filled with celebrities, their children, and their baby bumps. It was so much fun. Disney was one of the sponsors promoting its new Winnie the Pooh app for iPad with an awesome reading room area. The kids got to walk the red carpet, and I was able to talk to the show producer and arrange a one-on-one interview as well as take a picture with Garcelle Beauvais who was debuting her children’s book. Work was achieved, the kids had the chance to come with Mommy to work, and networking was done with my youngest on my hip. Yes, this career does have its perks!
But not every mom has this occupational luxury. After some research, I found these kid-friendly ways and days that allow you to tote your little ones with you while crunching numbers or giving presentations:
If you are officially on a half-day at work, it is more than okay to bring your little one with you. Bring breakfast to keep him busy for the first hour, a set of crayons and a pencil, and have him write what you are typing. A business plan drawn out in color is a great piece to put up behind your desk.
If you work in an industry or at a product-driven company, there are different down-time days when 70 percent of the office is traveling. What a perfect time to show the kids where you work. It’s quiet and if there is a chance for catered lunch, then super! Your child can sit at the head of the conference table and be CEO for the day.
I do not know if anyone does this anymore, but my mother did and still does. To catch up on work, she goes in on Saturdays when it’s empty and she can achieve maximum check-offs from her to-do list. Having your kid with you makes the weekend in the office all worth it. Hopefully you can finish just in time to catch a movie with the husband and take a detour to the park.
Office Game Day
Some companies hold these “games” or annual festivities to boost employee moral. Usually this is designed for employees to bring their families, and you can enjoy throwing fastballs at your supervisor. It’s all fun and games, and your kids will wonder why you are so stressed out about work all the time!
National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
Next Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Yes, this day does exist, but no one thought to put it on the national calendar for some reason. Perhaps it was a fluke or that whoever nationalized it hoped it would not last for more than one season. Nevertheless, it does exist and has been governed! So go ahead and bring your kids into work that day and tell every mom and dad you know to do the same. To make the day more special, get together with your HR manager and COO and see how you can plan a day of fun work that does not compromise productivity but encourages that the company “cares” about family. Trust me; they will fold and bring out the colorful copy paper.
Plain Ole’ Regular Work Day
If your workload is light and you get the approval from your supervisor, any day can be a good day to bring your kid to work. With some discretion, of course. Not during deadline week or auditing week, for example. Bring some happiness into the workplace with your kid as they light up every office they step into.
Multiple children? No worries. Pick a day where you can best show off your multi-tasking prowess!
Manners are the key to the whole thing and a quick talk before you step onto the gray carpet of your office would be ideal. Even the most unruly kid wants to go with Mommy or Daddy to work and should be on his or her best behavior for it.
And what should your children do when they are at work with you? Well, you can put them to work! Whenever possible, you can help teach your kid about the order of operations. Yes, you brought them to your workplace and now you must … work! You can also turn the workday into a real school lesson. If your child is old enough, have him drop off meeting minutes to the office managers, deliver office supplies, or take notes while at the Monday meeting presentation (as long as he can be quiet). Have your child deliver cold water to your team- or office-mates; anything to keep him engaged and learn a bit of corporate etiquette. Heck, he may even be able to solve the water machine problem or the mystery of the missing Tootsie Rolls.
On your way home, have your child jot down what she did and prepare a report to present to Daddy, Grandma, siblings, and/or a teacher, complete with a colorful drawing. It’s textbook curriculum-style reporting of community, social involvement, and business with a pinch of economics.