On April 25, millions of parents in the United States and Canada will head to their jobs with kids in tow to take part in "Take Our Children To Work Day." And to no one's surprise, moms have feelings about it. Some warm and fuzzy, some prickly, some ambivalent, some straight-up rage-filled. So, what's the purpose of take your children to work day? Turns out, in part, to give us parents all the feels.
Observed annually on the fourth Thursday in April since 1993, the unofficial holiday was originally conceived as "Take Our Daughters To Work Day" by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation (though boys have been participating since day one). The idea is to give girls (and as of 2003, officially, boys as well) opportunities to explore careers and combat sexist and classist ideas that there are places where they "don't belong."
A lot of the moms I talked to (and I only talked to moms, which I think is very relevant) were supportive of the concept and are eager to bring their kiddos along with them for the day. Others took issue with the idea of the day, from how it's changed to how it's observed. More still were like: "How is this different than all the times I have to bring my kids to the office because childcare statistically falls more to moms than dads and society hates working parents in general and working moms in particular."
There's a lot of ways you can think about Take Our Children to Work Day. Since I work from home (and, therefore, every day is Take Our Children To Work Day) I'll let the following 16 ladies speak for themselves:
"It makes me want to go hide in a hole somewhere with a big bottle of tequila each and every time I attempt it."
"It depends. At one company I worked for, they had breakfast, treats, and activities for the kids to keep them busy. My current company does not do that, but once in a blue moon I do have to bring one or both of my girls to work with me (ages 7 and 4). Since it's not very often (maybe once a year), I enjoy that they get to see what I do when I'm not with them and I can share a little insight into this part of my life."
"As the parent of a child with ADHD, the thought of bringing my child to work is the stuff nightmares are made of. No work would be done whatsoever. I know this because he used to come to my office almost every day after school last year, and I basically had to babysit him and got absolutely nothing done."
"I really love the welcoming of kids to an office environment. I want my kids to see me at work and the people I interact with and what it means to be a professional attorney. I totally grew up going to the office with my mom, who was the only female executive in a major company. It had a huge impact on me. My daughter has been coming to work with me since she was 4 months old."
"So, I have no problems bringing my kids to work with me for a day, and usually have them come for at least one full day in the summer and a few afternoons during the school year. However, I find the switch from "Take Our Daughters to Work Day" to include "And Sons" to be some serious #AllLivesMatter/#NotAllMen BS. The whole point of the day was to bring young girls into professional spaces and introduce them to job opportunities. No one is telling some 12-year-old white boy that he doesn't belong in advanced math because he's just going to be home raising kids one day (I was), and he doesn't need to see the corner office to know he might one day occupy it. Moreover, most companies never specifically excluded boys anyway, so it was really just a matter of branding and another reminder that a rare girl/woman/femme-only space or idea is too frequently abolished in the name of equality, with no thought about whether that is actually equitable. "
"I’m a teacher. This career is the last thing I want for my daughter until it undergoes a serious facelift. Therefore, this is one holiday that goes unobserved in our family. Maybe she’ll go with my husband and learn about the fascinating world of transportation planning... and by that I mean be spoiled by his coworkers for eight hours and probably be taken to a nice lunch."
"I have to take my children with me to work more than I would like on days when school is closed (and I have to work) or during Summer Break when camp is soooo expensive, so I send them to school on Take Your Child To Work Day."
"I’ve never taken my kid but would like to. Except the really fun thing for them to watch — me in court — they can’t. Other than that, it’s mostly me sitting and my desk reading and writing and making the occasional call or meeting. Also, I remember when it was take your daughter to work day and I’m still kind of annoyed about it. I feel like it works best if the place you work at makes a program out of it."
"I loved it as a kid, and my dad was a CPA so it wasn't like an exciting work environment. It was interesting to see what an office was like, and where my dad was all day. (My mom was an elementary school teacher, so I never went to work with her, but had a pretty clear idea of what it was like!)
I know "take your daughter to work day" was supposed to help promote independence and opportunity for women, but it fails to take into account class differences — children would only be seeing what their parents do for a living, rather than a variety of options. And of course, some work environments are not safe for children. On the other hand, normalizing the idea that employees have children and that they (especially women) shouldn't have to hide that fact all the time doesn't seem like a bad idea. One of the departments I work for explicitly banned children from attending the end-of-semester social event, which meant that I felt unwelcome as a single parent. If I absolutely had to I could afford a sitter for an evening, but paying $60 to drink cheap wine and boring hors d'oeuvres in the lounge at work is a burden my colleagues don't have, and something I'd rather not have to do."
"Maybe unpopular opinion but I hate it for multiple reasons. It was a feminist program to have girls see careers they didn’t know were accessible to them, [but] it got watered down to all kids. Now it's about companies bringing in carnivals and snacks and activities for kids that have nothing to do with work. I hate it."
"As a child I loved it. I went to work with a family friend, as my mom was a stay-at-home-mom and my dad was the janitor at my school. I got to go to the mayor's office and go through the underground tunnels from the city buildings to the court house and county jail. I remember it as one of my best days as a kid. As an adult I hate it. I am in constant fear of my child blurting out “my mom says you are a jerk” or “my mom folds laundry when she works from home”. It takes a lot of work to arrange activities that will hold my kids interest and this year I just can’t deal with all the extra stuff so she will be going to school."
"My work does a fantastic job. I work on a five-building, 2,000 employee campus and all of our business units put together amazing sessions for the kids, like Lego robotics, flying drones, etc. (items we produce are in each of these products). My older boy, who wants to be an engineer, is always over the moon and struggles to pick sessions. Younger, arty, Ballet middle boy is a bit meh, but I found sessions he liked, like going to our gym (he loved the treadmills and our trainers thought he was adorable) and making a key with our locksmith. If I worked at an office where your kids just literally sit with you all day I’d never bring them. I’m an analyst and I think they’d cry to sit and stare at my computer all day."
"I think it’s important for kids to see that their parents have an existence besides boss of 'only the purple cup will do' and 'my crusts are going to kill me.' It shows them that parents are multidimensional, and that work is important and exposes them to things that help shape them."
"My previous company only allowed kids 12 and older, so I took the teenager a few times. They did some activities and then shadow their parent. He thought it was lame. My current company allows kids ages 6-12. This will be the first year my 10-year-old gets to come with me. They have activities in the morning and then the kids sit with you for the afternoon. We will see how it goes."
"My kids come with me to [my company's] events, and with their dad to his restaurant, all the time, so it isn't so exciting for them. But! Last year [my company provided] childcare at a couple of places for half of the day so parents got the benefit of donuts and tours and excitement in the morning, then we watched the kids so they could actually work. Seemed like a win-win for everyone."
"There are a lot of 'take your kids to work' days at [my company], but usually not on the official day and then my kids get annoyed, but I'm like dude — every time you're home sick and I keep working is a 'take your kid to work day' for you, too."