Saturday, June 9, 2007

Kid Friendly Offices

We have all experienced the intersection of work and children at one time or another. You may work from a home office that you share with your children everyday, bring your children into work occasionally necessitated by an illness and no back up care, or possibly you have experienced a coworker's children playing in the office next door. But as Penelope Trunk explains in her post, Blending my kids and my career (ugh), sometimes a serious conversation with kids in the office is simply impossible. Having a kid friendly office, whether your child is welcome at work everyday or tolerated occasionally, is a sure way to survive the workday when any random Tuesday (or Wednesday) becomes Take Your Child to Work Day.
  1. Inform you boss and coworkers that your children will be at work with you. Do not let your neighbors find out that your children are with you by overhearing your children playing and talking, or worse, your child's misbehavior and your attempts at very quiet discipline.
  2. Stock up on some essentials to keep them busy. Bring several coloring books or books of puzzles and games that they can complete on their own. Buy a new quiet toy or two. The best toys are ones that do not restrict them physically; remember it will be hard for little ones to sit still for eight hours. Try an inexpensive game of jacks with a ball that is not too bouncy. Fill your desk drawers with snacks and juice boxes, because full mouths are generally quiet mouths. Include healthy snacks like dried fruit, granola bars, and nuts that will last in your office between visits. Lollipops are great but often leave sticky messes.
  3. Foresee any disasters. Keep a pack of baby wipes in your desk to clean up messes quickly. Try not to disrupt your child's eating and sleeping schedule. Nothing is more disruptive than a hungry or overtired toddler.
  4. Adjust your schedule to accommodate your child's needs. Try to structure your workday around your child's sleep schedule, working at nap time or after bedtime if at all possible. Consider shortening your workday when kids visit. Leave your office to eat lunch together and take an afternoon walk for another change of scenery.
If your child seems irritable, take a short break to spend some time with him or her. A little genuine attention goes a long way toward keeping little ones happy and well behaved in the workplace.

1 comment:

Penelope Trunk said...

Hey, Amy. Thanks for linking to Brazen Careerist.

The advice you give here is great. So often I should tell people that I need to adjust my schedule, but I end up not saying anything. Thanks for the reminder.


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