Bringing your child to work is a dilemma that most parents face from time to time. You may do it deliberately to prepare them for their future careers or it may be a necessity when childcare arrangements fall through.
Your options usually depend on the nature of your workplace. Some companies are more flexible than others about having children on the premises.
Whatever your employer’s policies are, you also need to be sure that the arrangement is beneficial or at least tolerable for everyone involved. To protect your child and your job, follow these guidelines before having your child join you at work.
- Check company policies. Read your employee manual or ask Human Resources about what’s acceptable. Some companies discourage bringing children to work while others welcome younger guests as long as the visits are infrequent, and the parents supervise. There may also be age distinctions.
- Ask your boss. Your supervisor’s perspective may be just as important as the written rules. Approach your boss directly or observe their reaction to similar situations.
- Consult your child. Your child’s personality is another factor. Can they quietly entertain themselves or are they extremely social? Talk with your child in advance about whether they want to see your office and what they’d like to do.
- Set limits. Few employers will be able to accommodate your child on a regular basis. Research back-up child care providers or use your leave time to stay home as needed in case of sickness or rough weather.
- Stay safe. Some workplaces or areas may be unsuitable for children. Leave your child home or keep them away from any hazards.
- Contact the school. You also need to communicate with your child’s school. Let them know about any planned absences and discuss how to make up missed lessons and assignments.
- Pick a slow day. If possible, schedule your visit for a time when things will be relatively quiet. Check the office calendar to avoid big meetings and client visits.
- Wait for April. The fourth Thursday in April is the official Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Volunteer to help organize the activities.
- Plan your schedule. It may be unrealistic to expect your child to use their indoor voice for 8 hours or more. Consider bringing them in for just an hour or two instead.
- Pack some toys. Fill a bag with games, snacks, and other distractions like you would do for any long trip. Ask your child what they want to include.
- Close your door. Be prepared to close your office door if your child has a tendency to sing or make other sounds that could disturb your coworkers. You may be used to the noise level, but it could be difficult for others.
- Create teachable moments. Take advantage of your time together. Demonstrate some of the more interesting tasks you and your coworkers do. Give your child a chance to pitch in.
- Have fun. Your child may be fascinated by the company cafeteria or colorful post it notes. Encourage their creativity and playfulness.
- Focus on business. At the same time, remember that it’s still a work day. Take care of your responsibilities and ensure that your colleagues are able to do the same. You may find that your child will be welcomed back with more enthusiasm if you can remain productive.
Bringing your child to work can be a valuable opportunity to spend time together and teach them about adult responsibilities. Consider your company culture and plan carefully so it will be a positive experience for you, your child, and your colleagues.