Last Thursday was Veteran’s Day here in the US, which meant that my six year-old didn’t have school. So I decided to bring her to work with me for the day. I’d just recently started my new gig and she hasn’t been to the office yet. I’ve brought her to my old job a bunch of times and she really enjoyed it (the fact that there was chocolate milk in the fridge, lots of walls on which you could draw, and many co-workers with cool puzzles on their desks definitely helped). She’d been asking to visit my new office so this seemed like a perfect plan.
Two of my co-workers also decided to bring their kids in so we ended up with five kids, ages five to nine, in our 70-person company office in one day. We have along office hallways and a bunch of Razor scooters which we use to get from one end to the other more efficiently so it wasn’t long until all five kids were scooting up and down. Then they played some ping pong. For about an hour or so (which was, to be honest, a lot longer than I thought it would be) they turned my office into a make-shift arts and crafts space (I’d grabbed some supplies at Target on the way to work). It was so fun and messy that even our CEO came over to take a photo.
We all went out for lunch, followed by cupcakes — because of course, when you spend the day at your parents’ office, you get cupcakes. When the kids started fading in the afternoon some watched a movie on my co-worker’s laptop while others played iPad games or read. There was some more ping pong and arts and crafts extravaganza as well. Overall, a fun and exhausting day for both the kids and the parents.
During this kids-in-office day, I managed to get a bunch of work done as well as have some meetings (some even in my office, while the kids were drawing right next to my desk). Was I as efficient and productive as usual? Of course not, that would be impossible. But I did get stuff done, the kids did have a fun day, and it was great to have my colleagues meet my daughter and for her to see where mom works and meet the people she works with.
But the biggest benefit of the bring-my-daughter-to-work day didn’t hit my until I was driving into work the next morning. It was a feeling that I had, a feeling of appreciation for working in a place where I could mix my work and my family, a place where I could bring my kiddo for the day and not get weird looks from my colleagues, a place where my boss, after seeing my daughter in my office, said that he wished he brought his daughter in as well. Sure, my productivity was down on the day she was there. But my productivity and my commitment and my drive to kick some serious ass are way, way higher when I work at a company that makes it possible for me to be a parent as well as a rockin employee. It’s not BS, it’s a real, concrete fact and I bet you’ve realized it too if you’ve worked in a place like this.
I know I am lucky. I work in a company where we work REALLY hard but one that also understands that many of us have kids and have to be able to be flexible and be parents as well as employees. (I did shhhh my daughter a bunch during the day she was there and worried about disturbing my colleagues, but for the most part, I think the kids stayed out of everyone’s way.) But boy, if more employers understood the value of creating a flexible and kid-friendly workplace, they would reap benefits from less stressed and more empowered working parents, who would feel less anxiety about juggling work and family.
Do you work in a family-friendly environment? Do you feel OK about bringing your kids to work or is it not accepted in your company?