In most families, one or both parents work outside the home. The children have no clue how Mom or Dad spends the day, especially when it comes to Dad! There are lots of reasons why bringing your son or daughter to work is a great idea. Instituting a take your kid to work day once in a while can be a fun, educational opportunity for your child that enhance your relationship.
It’s good for kids to see or know what their parents do in the time spent away from them, and it’s good for them to see us in different roles other than the “Mom” or “Dad” they’re used to seeing at home.
Time Away From Kids Adds Up
For any parent that works outside the home, a lot of time is spent away from the kids during the day. When I worked full-time, counting the commute and the nine hours on the job, I was away from my toddler for 10-11 hours each work day. That’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of guilt!
Statistically, more Dads than ever are interested in work-life balance according to Pew researchers. They want to spend more time with their children and find it difficult to take time away from work.
Taking Your Kid Is Worth The Effort
I recently saw something in my own life that really drove the point home on the importance of Dads spending time with their kids. In this instance, my husband invited our son to tag along with him on an informal project at work.
My husband runs a video production business on the side. He invited our eight-year-old son to accompany him on an informal video project for an outdoor shoot. It was a hot and muggy outdoor project. So not like our boys’ favorite air-conditioned spot on the couch playing video games!
Though he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go at first, it meant a lot for him to be asked to go along with his dad. He walked a little taller when they got back. He was Dad’s little “production assistant”, helping to carry light gear and seeing firsthand what his dad does for a living.
He did a good job, learned something new, and earned a small amount of money. Not to mention the bonus cheese snacks and sports drink! Most important was the difference in our son’s pride and behavior when he “went to work” with his dad, and got Dad’s approval for a job well done. Our son will always remember the night his father took the time to teach him how to do something in Dad’s world.
Have a Virtual Take Your Kid to Work Day
Realistically, most Dads can’t take off, and can’t take their kid to work without advanced planning. Some workplaces won’t allow your kids in at all, for safety or security reasons. Time for some creativity!
If your company doesn’t participate in a Take Your Kid to Work Day program, you can get inventive with ways to include them in what you do while you’re on the job.
- Take pictures or short videos yourself and show them to your kids as you narrate what is shown (while of course keeping company policy and safety in mind).
- Take your kid along your commute route in the car, talking along the way about how you prepare for work each day. If you take a commuter train, that’s extra fun!
- Do you usually stop for coffee or a breakfast sandwich on the way in? Your kid will love it!
- Look for YouTube videos that show topics related to your work.
- Show them the end result of what your company does. For example, if you build cars for a living, drive up to a car lot and explain what your role is in the making of the car.
- Help your child cut pictures out of magazines and paste them to poster board, while talking about your job.
When you invite your kids into your world, they’ll invite you into theirs, with positive effects for all around. Even if it’s something they don’t quite grasp or fully understand, they’ll always remember the day Dad took the time to do some real-life teaching and involve them in seeing what takes up a big part of his day.
When You Hate Your Job
Even if you are in a job that isn’t your ideal at the moment, it’s a good teaching point to say “This is what I’m doing right now, and I’m working towards getting to do xyz.” There’s no better example to a child than watching their parent work towards a dream or a goal, and the steps you’re taking to get there.
It can even get them to think of the things they like to do and what kind of job might interest them when they grow up. That’s a great dialogue to start with them, even if they are really young or their interests involve something outside of what you do.
Talk about how proud you are that your kid goes to school every day, just like you go to work every day, even on days it isn’t much fun. Have a good conversation with them on what it means to be responsible and why we do the work that we do.
Dad As Teacher
Hands-on teaching seems to be falling by the wayside in today’s modern world, and it’s easy to take for granted that our kids just know how everything works. That may not be the case. It’s our job to show them. Having a take your kid to work day is showing by doing.
Whether you are working your dream job, or strictly for a paycheck, your income matters. Taking your kid to work with you is a great way to introduce the ideas of money management and budgeting.
Teach your kid the relationship between work and money. Explain what weekly wages are. Using coins or play money, give your child a “paycheck” and let him or her create a household budget. Teaching that your paycheck provides food, shelter and other things for your family will help your child understand why you have to say “No” to some purchases.
Children are eager to learn from their larger-than-life Dads. By teaching through strong, real-life examples of the “real world”, they will gain life skills, practical knowledge and feel closer to you. You may also find that they are more appreciative of your time, and respectful of your hard work. And it’s never too early to teach work ethic!
All Dads Are Important
I had the good fortune of reading Phenomenal Dad recently. It opened my eyes to the importance of a child’s relationship with his or her father. The book offers advice for single Dads on how to stay close with their children through a divorce, but the advice in this book can benefit any parent.
It means a lot for kids to be included in what Dad’s passions are. Work is often closely tied with Dad’s identity. Inviting your children into that world goes a long way toward making them feel loved and important to you. So, why not come up with a plan for taking your kid to work?
Ready for more helpful parenting tips? See what Brian Weiss has to say about Healthy Parenting With Your Ex. Divorced parents will want to know all about drawing that line, explained by Amber Kelsey in Kids and Boundaries.
Being a Dad ain’t easy! Tell us what you think about it in the comments below!