“Mom, what does a consultant do?” “Dad, what is like to be an architect?” Kids of working parents understand that mom and/or dad “goes to work.” Beyond that, though, many kids have little to no idea what their parents do “at work.” Often, “work” is a nebulous concept.

Unless you have an easy-to-explain profession (for example, you’re a doctor who keeps people healthy, a vet who treats animals, or an auto mechanic who repairs cars, among others) it’s often easier to show than tell what your job entails. Even if you do have an easy-to-explain profession, your kids probably don’t understand the full scope of what you do on a daily basis. If you’d like your child to gain an understanding (and appreciation) of your job, Take Your Child to Work Day (now known as National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day) is the ideal opportunity to achieve that.

The Origins of ‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’

The fourth Thursday of April is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation for Women launched the movement, then known as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, in New York City in 1992. Her goal was to reverse a troubling trend: research indicated that an alarming number of girls dropped out of school by eighth grade, presumably because they lacked self-confidence. On 1993, the Take Our Daughters to Work Day Foundation launched the program nationally.

In 2003, organizers changed the name to Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day to include boys. Organizers of the movement made an intentional choice to use the word “our” rather than “your” because adults are encouraged to bring their own kids or any other children who could benefit from the experience. The White House has participated in the event for the past eleven years, most recently opening its doors to local school children.

Tips to Ensure a Successful Day

The more you prepare for the day, the more valuable and enjoyable it will be for all parties—you, your child, and your co-workers. Here are some ways to ensure the day goes well:

  • Only bring your children to work with you if they are interested in going! If you’ve participated in the program for several years in a row, and your kids seem unenthusiastic, ask if they want to go. If the answer is no, consider inviting a niece, nephew, or neighbor who might benefit from the experience.
  • Make sure your employer and co-workers know in advance that you’ll be bringing your children to work.
  • Find out if other employees are participating in the event. If they are, brainstorm to identify group activities. Consider going to lunch as a group.
  • Before the day arrives, ask your children what they are most excited to learn, see, or do at your workplace. Then, create a loose schedule based on that information.
  • Give your children a written list of “ground rules.” These will vary depending on the workplace.
  • Introduce your children to all of the people they will encounter during the day and explain what their jobs entail.
  • Make sure your child is supervised at all times, especially if your workplace includes hazards.

Arguably, the most important tip to ensure a successful day is this one: vow to keep your cool and have a positive attitude, regardless of what happens. Kids, especially younger kids, will be kids. If your children’s interest seems to be waning, be prepared to deviate from your planned agenda. Let them take the lead. Remember that you have only one day to educate your kids about what you do “at work” and instill in them the motivation to find jobs they love one day. Make the most of these precious hours and be mindful that you’re making memories!

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