Sure, the official Take Your Kids To Work day was in April, but I don’t think this should be a once-a-year kind of thing. In fact, when Laini was younger, she came to the office every other month or so. Now, it’s more like two to three times a year. But bringing her in with me is still a priority to me. Why? Read on and consider the benefits of taking your kids to work this week!

Laini in my IHG office
Laini had her own seat (corner!) in my office when I worked at IHG.

Kids develop empathy for their parents.

Seeing us at work helps them understand what we do all day. As a result, our children develop a more complete picture of who we are as humans. In the office, they can witness relationships we have with people they’ve never met, and see that those people count on us. Furthermore, this exposure creates a sense of empathy on the nights we can’t get home before bedtime.

Taking your kids to work builds empathy. Laini and I chat

When I worked at Apple, we often orchestrated fun activities for our kids, many of whom were about the same age. This built a real sense of family in the office – and not only among the kids! The parents came to see each other holistically, which opened up a deeper level of engagement between us.

Laini and the kids at Apple

We extend grace to one another.

My life changed when my co-workers first met one of my Spare Room kids. A 13-year old girl named Lexie lived with us while I worked at Apple, and my team was surprised to hear that my family was caring for a vulnerable child we didn’t know very well. Due to her unusual circumstances, Lexie didn’t go to school so she often came with me to work. She got to know many of my team members, and helped me in more ways than she can possibly know! I think that sweet teenager broke down a lot of walls and helped people see me in a softer light.

Later when I worked at IHG, Lotus (from Chapter Five) had moved in. This teenage girl proved to be one of our family’s toughest challenges, though she later became one of our greatest inspirations. Born to a prostitute and her pimp, then raised in a brothel, Lotus had been raised under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. But I was moved beyond measure when my Brand Marketing team met the girl. That’s because they immediately took the initiative to collect donations for the girl, proudly serving up two huge bags of clothing and gifts. This kind of generosity was so moving, and created a very different kind of relationship between us at work. Not to mention, Lotus looked fabulous that year!

Work and Family come together in harmony.

It may be chaotic harmony, but it’s harmony nevertheless. You see, I find the concept of “work-life balance” to be ill-conceived. First, work is a part of life, not something separate. Second, balance implies the perfect equilibrium between two opposing forces. Not to say we can never achieve balance, but we’re more often skewed to one end or the other, vs. perfectly in sync. And that should be OK! With a little creative thinking, we can orchestrate ways to harmonize work and family.

Laini and me at McCann

Most recently, a special little guy named Wayne lived with us for about half a year. With both adults working, we had to create a solution that worked for everyone. We believed we could find a solution to integrate Wayne into our lives without adding stress or breaking the system that worked so well for us. And in fact, we did!

Wayne hanging out with me at work (McCann)

Have a listen to this five-min talk I gave on work-family integration and the delightful solution we developed for Wayne.

At the end of the day, we’re all humans.

When people can see the human behind the title, trust is built and a real connection can be made. Bringing my kids to work has helped co-workers see me as more than the boss… they begin to get to know me as a human. At the same time, when my family experiences my workplace, they begin to see me as more than “wife” and “mom”.

For more on Wayne, check out the Spare Room photo album here.

Check out what we learned and what Wayne inspired about adaptive clothing here. Read about Wayne’s background here.

To glimpse our family chatting about our Spare Room kids, check out The Spare Room Chats here.