woman working in home office with child on her lap, everyday is take your child to work day
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It’s Time to Cancel “Take Your Kid to Work” Day

Haven’t we had enough togetherness?

When it began in 1992 in New York City, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, a brainchild of Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Foundation for Women, was intended to give girls the opportunity to explore careers and broaden their horizons.

I remember as a child in the ’90s rolling around my mother’s real estate office on a desk chair, making copies of my face on the Xerox machine (you can look up Xerox if you don’t recognize that one), and listening in on board meetings. She was one of the few top-earning women in a sea of men, and even then I knew she was fighting for her place. I have no doubt the day had a positive effect on me as I’ve chased my own professional dreams.

Things have changed. The day grew to include children of all genders, and is now known as Take Your Kid to Work Day or Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This was undoubtedly a positive change — boys, it turns out, needed to see what a workplace looks like — and how their mothers and fathers can thrive there — as much as their sisters do.

Then came March 2020. When the Covid pandemic swept the globe, every single day became “take your kid to work day.” As the world shut down that traumatic Friday the 13th, my husband and I scrambled to figure out how in the world we would manage two full-time careers with four kids age eight and under... with zero outside help from grandparents or babysitters. He’s a therapist, I’m a writer. Clearly, his telehealth sessions with clients in crisis needed more quiet and protected time than my deadlines required, so I learned to write with children on top of me. I learned to manage Zoom interviews for myself while juggling Google Meets for my kids. Eventually, we just pulled our kids out of school to homeschool them, and I learned to write from a tent or a rest stop or a picnic table at a park. Before the pandemic, we all cackled at the infamous BBC dad when his kids and wife made a cameo on his TV appearance. All too quickly, his brief moment of fame became our reality.

I do have some good stories to tell. Glamorous Sex and the City star Kristen Davis had to put a mattress against her door to muffle the sound of her two kids for this interview, and I loved her all the more for it. Perhaps my wildest moment came when Chelsea Clinton herself had to calm my older kid during a phone call for this article. She was freaking out that the markers had the wrong color cap, and her kids, it seems, had also learned during the pandemic that it’s okay if your marker caps don’t match the color of the ink. While this was happening, my toddler pooped on the floor silently in the background and our pandemic puppy ate it. Honestly, I was more relieved I didn’t have to clean it up than I was grossed out.

Tom Werner / Getty images

So that’s why this year, I think we should cancel Take Your Kid to Work Day. It’s been our reality for two years — and I think we’ve all hit our limit. My kids have sat in on more interviews than they care to. I’ve asked their opinion on headlines, color palettes, and product roundups. My 8-year-old daughter chose every visual feature of this lovely article. They’ve learned about search engines, keywords, and quality journalism.

The kids have been taken to work for two years, and we are over it.

Do you know what I want for the fourth Thursday in April? I want someone else to take my kids to work. Take them far from here, show them something they don’t know, and expand their horizons. Maybe their teachers — the real heroes of the last two years — should talk about what they do all day and all of the machinations they accomplish behind the scenes to educate our progeny. I am surely not going to let them skip a day of scheduled school to hang out with me while I work. Been there, done that.

I have also realized that in the past two years, the entire axis of the professional world has shifted. The mystery of the work my parents did is no mystery to this new generation of kids. My kids know we work hard. They know that some meetings are pointless that some are meaningful. They know our bosses and our coworkers — maybe just through the screen of a laptop, yes — but the world of “parental work” has been wholly demystified for Generation Alpha.

Maybe we should just let the fourth Thursday in April slip by silently this year. Sure, this event was started with good intentions, but things have changed. Let’s send the kids off to school and get on with our work in peace.