What to Do for Take Your Child to Work Day if You Work at Home
Take Your Child to Work Day started as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, founded in 1992 by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation. In 2002, it expanded to include sons as well. It’s a popular activity all over the country, because it’s a great opportunity for kids to see firsthand what their parents do all day and get in some quality bonding time. But what do you do if your office is down the hall from your bedroom and you spend your time telecommuting rather than gathering around the water cooler?
Work-at-home parents and their kids can still have a fulfilling, educational, and fun Take Your Child to Work Day. It’s estimated that about 20 percent of the workforce will be made up of freelancers by the year 2020—which means there’s a good chance that your kids’ office may look a lot like yours someday. So taking some time to show them how a home office functions is time well spent. Here are some guidelines to get the most out of the day.
First, do as much as you can to set your day up in advance. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to put in your usual amount of time with a little one around, so try to avoid scheduling any important conference calls or big deadlines.
Make sure you discuss the plan with your child ahead of time. He or she should be aware that it isn’t just a day off from school and that you’ll have tasks for him or her to complete (and that sitting in front of the TV all day isn’t one of them).
Come up with a list of small tasks that will keep your child busy while you’re on the phone or working on a project. Good examples are sharpening pencils, organizing a messy pile of paperwork, sorting mail, or stamping envelopes. If your child is older, he or she can even do filing or answer the phone.
A good way to start the day is to have your child help you work out your to-do list on a paper or digital calendar. Give them the task of marking each item complete as you go to help them feel more involved and engaged.
Chances are that you use technology pretty frequently in your home office, whether it’s for organizing your day, sending work to the corporate office, or having virtual meetings. Kids love tech, and showing them how you use it daily is a great way to get them interested. A video conference with a colleague (preferably one who has kids and is on board with the plan) can be fun and productive.
To replicate some of the excitement of going in to an off-site office for the day, consider making a big deal out of lunch. Where would you normally meet a client or co-worker? Take your child there for a grown-up business lunch to help break up the day.
Take Your Child to Work Day can be a valuable experience no matter where you work. With a little planning and some creativity, your child will gain insight into what you do to make a living and will also have a great time.