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Take your kids to work with you?

Thanks to a childcare gap, must you take your kids to work with you? Everyone I know has had a childcare gap at one time or another. Whether it’s a school vacation or another issue, and no matter how many alternatives you look for, sometimes it comes down to two options: Your child tagging along to work or you not getting to work at all.

Mom with Daughter at WorkIt’s less than optimal, to be sure, but — depending on your work situation — bringing your child may be an acceptable choice for your employer and a rewarding and educational experience for both of you.

Can you?

Many companies across many industries participate in formal “bring your child to work” programs. These days are filled with activities and special programs meant to introduce the concept of teamwork, strengthen the connection between education and employment, and build the parent-child bond. These are great programs.But what about those gap days? Can you take your child with you on an emergency basis? That all depends.Some industries are definitely not child-friendly, and if you work in one of them, you know it. In those cases, you might want to look into whether your company has a stop-gap childcare service available as part of your benefits. Otherwise, in those industries, staying home may be your only choice.But in other industries, the occasional child in the workplace during one of these gap situations is okay, as long as it’s a rare occurrence. Check with your management if you have any question.

Should you?

Sometimes the bigger question is not whether you can, but whether you should. Can your child handle it? Will you be able to get anything done?If your child is able to sit still and occupy herself for periods of time, it might just work. A very young child might not do so well, but a school age child might do just fine.

Make the best of it

If you must take your child to work with you, consider the following tips:

  • Set some ground rules and expectations beforehand.
  • Have your child bring a backpack with several quiet activities.
  • Take regular short breaks, if you can, and keep your child fed and watered.
  • Show your child what you do. Explain the parts of your day and how your work fits into the bigger company picture.
  • Can your child help with some simple clerical tasks? We may not enjoy copying and stapling, but kids might. Plus, they will feel like they are contributing.
  • Reward good behavior.

Taking your child to work with you when other care options have failed may not be an optimal situation, but you can make the best of it. Your child might come away from the day with a new appreciation for the work you do, and you may have a new appreciation for your child’s ability to cooperate and help.

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