Every year in the U.S. and Canada, the fourth Thursday in April is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The day is traditionally observed with mothers or fathers keeping their kids out of school for the day, and letting them “shadow” their parent at work and see what their typical day is like. The event, which falls on April 25 this year, started in 1993 as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and was launched by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation for Women as a way to empower girls and teach them to explore and aspire to a range of possible careers. In 2003, the program was changed to give boys the same opportunity to experience a work day with one of their parents. The day is now often referred to as Take Our Children to Work Day.
Maybe you’d like to participate in Take Our Children to Work Day, but you work at home, you don’t have kids, or your child has been to work with you enough times that the novelty has worn off for him or her. Here are four great ways to mark the day, and give a child—yours or someone else’s—a taste of what your career is like, and help a little boy or girl appreciate the potential and possibilities that lie ahead.
HELP A CHILD IN NEED
If you don’t have kids of your own, but you’d still like to help a girl or boy learn more about your line of work, contact your local homeless shelter at least several days ahead of time, and see about having a child resident spend the day with you. Introduce her to everyone in your office and briefly explain each of their jobs. Give her some tasks to help with, like organizing your filing cabinet or helping to collate a mailing. Not only will you be treating a child in need to a special day of attention, you’ll be reinforcing to her that while her family’s current situation may be difficult, her life is still full of choices and possibilities. The National Mentoring Partnership and Big Brothers Big Sisters also pair interested adults with kids who’d love to spend the day at work with them.
DISCOVER THE HOME OFFICE
If you work from home, maybe your child is accustomed to seeing you hunched over the computer all day, or sending emails from your phone while you prepare dinner. But instead of just another day of “Mommy’s working,” try having your child spend the day with you in your home office. Explain to him what you’re working on, and what is required of you. If you write freelance, for instance, maybe he can help you compile research for your next article. If you’re a blogger, show him your blog site and show him how you can see how many people have read your page, explain how you publicize your posts, etc. Have him send a sample tweet and post something to your Facebook page. The meaning of “Mommy’s working” will seem a lot less mysterious after a day at your side.
Read Related: Yes I Work From Home, But I’m a Professional!
SCHEDULE A DAY OF HOUSEWORK
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, consider keeping your child home from school so he can see just how hard Mom works all day. This might be especially useful for boys, as gender roles still dictate that they’ll grow up to do far less housework than their sisters or female peers will. Have him help with dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, pet care, housekeeping—all the things that “invisibly” get done while he’s away at school. Of course, he’s just a kid, so make sure all that housework is rewarded with an ice cream cone or a trip to the movie theater in the afternoon.
RESEARCH POSSIBLE CAREERS
No matter if you work from home, or take your own or someone else’s child to work with you on April 25, remember the purpose of Take Our Children to Work Day is to get kids excited about possible careers. Help your child or mentee make a list of his or her dream jobs and activities. Travel? Taking care of animals? Being an NBA player or a pop singer? Then have the child research these careers, and learn training and education it takes to “make it” in a given field. How does one become a travel writer? What degrees are required to be a zookeeper or animal behaviorist? Since not everyone can make it in the NBA or onto American Idol, what are some related careers? What about being a sports agent, or a talent scout for a record company?
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day isn’t about teaching kids the drudgery of adult responsibilities, but about all the possibilities that await them as they grow up and enter the workforce. However you choose to observe the day with a child, be sure to make it interesting and fun, and help our girls and boys realize that their potential is as limitless as their dreams.