For my mom, every day was take your kid to work day. She was single mom who couldn’t afford daily daycare, so I got to enjoy her company and learn a little bit more about the working world than your average toddler.
My mother was lucky in that she owned her own catering business, so she had the final word on all decisions – including whether or not I could hang around the kitchen while she filled chafers. But for many parents bringing your child to work doesn’t seem to be an option – when asked whether they allowed their employees to bring their children to work, 87% of employers answered ‘No.’
While many working parents apparently don’t have the luxury my mom did, it doesn’t mean they need the option any less; roughly 31% of children are currently being raised in single family households. Of course, not all children in single family households are too young to be in school all day while their parents work. But having the option to see my mother and her peers in a professional context while I formed my own ideas about ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ was a valuable opportunity, and one many children evidently do not have.
The official ‘Take your Son or Daughter to Work Day’ was started to encourage boys and girls to explore career opportunities at a young age, and the other myriad benefits to the holiday are obvious; you can show your child what it takes for you to support the family, include them in your life, even potentially bond with other parents in your workplace.
But in fairness to the 87% of employers not in support of the practice, they have a pretty strong argument as well. A day at work is often challenging enough without adding even one kid to the mix, let alone a group of little ones that will need some kind of activity to keep them from wreaking havoc in a non-child-proofed place of work. Children are clumsy, accident prone, and distracting – essentially, not great for productivity. As much good as a day of cohabitation might do for parents and children alike, their position makes sense.
But that doesn’t mean take your kid to work day – and all the good that comes with it – should be left to fade away and become nothing more than a trending hashtag. The challenges are surmountable with a little planning, and opening a workplace to children one day out of the year can be hugely beneficial for kids, parents, and childless employees alike. One indirect benefit almost everyone can agree on – kids are cute, and they make people feel good! Giving employees the chance to explain about their roles to children is a unique opportunity to get perspective and have some fun, breaking up a perhaps otherwise boring daily routine. One day of good-intentioned levity might actually work to boost overall productivity during the time that follows, even if employees are a little distracted on the day of.
There are major benefits to taking your kid (or a child that may not have a parental figure) to work. Spending that time with my mother not only enabled us to form a different kind bond, but it allowed me to see a woman at work doing something she was passionate about. Taking at least this one day a year to allow boys and girls to see their mothers and fathers doing something they are proud of can make a big difference in the health of families and companies alike.