As the owner of my own business, I'm frequently asked why I gave up my stable career as an attorney to run a company. And my answer is always the same -- my family. I worked 60-70 hour weeks as an attorney, and I was barely able to spend any time with my husband and sons. I didn't like this so I decided to change it and grabbed hold of the reins to being a CEO and life fell into place. But even though I have more time to spend my family, I'm always looking for excuses to bring my boys into work - to me, that's just part of being a mompreneur!
That's why I love 'Bring your Kids to Work Day,' which this year fell on April 22nd. Not only is it a great chance to show your kids what you do, but as a business owner, I get to show my boys a career path to entrepreneurship that not many kids think about. I'm one of the few small business owners I know that take their kids to work too. When I ask others why they don't participate, they usually tell me that they wouldn't know what to do with them, or even what to show them. To encourage small business owners to break from the fold and start showing off their job to their kids, here is my advice on what to do when you bring your kids to work.
Show them what you actually do
Running a small business is A LOT of hard work, and I think a few people are afraid of bringing their kids in because they may feel like they have to entertain them. Don't look at it that way -- remember they're supposed to be learning what you actually do at work. You'd be surprised at what kids think their parents do all day when not at home! Let them sit in on meetings, or have them next to you when talking through weekly agendas with your employees. Saying you 'own a business' is a bit nebulous -- your kids may have no idea what that actually means. But a small business owner is a leader, and there are few better role models than a good leader, so show them how you lead, and what it takes to make your small business work.
Let them talk to and meet your employees
A kid visiting their parent's work shouldn't be seen as a nuisance, but it seems like some parents are worried their kids are going to annoy everyone in the office. Instead of hiding them away, bring them out onto the floor and introduce them to your team. It is important that kids learn how to interact with, and behave in, professional settings, so I always introduce my sons to any new employees and let them talk for a little bit. Remember this is supposed to be a learning experience for them, so it is important that you foster their education while at your office.
Remind them that they should also watch and listen
This part is definitely easier for the older kids since they'll probably have a bit more focus, but even if your children are only in the second or third grade, they'll still pay some attention if they know what's going on. When you have a meeting, or you need to talk to somebody, spend a little bit of time telling your kids what is about to happen. Explain the context of the meeting, what you'll be doing, and what you'll probably say. My boys really like it when I try to involve them in running my business. And when they feel engaged, they stay interested.
Finally, don't forget that they're still kids
Sometimes I feel like I have to remind some people that children, no matter how bright or focused, are still children. I've heard stories from small business owners that tried to bring their kids to work, but they just spent all day entertaining them. As with all things related to business, sometimes you need to know when to cut your losses. I always try and have a few books on hand so my boys have something to do when they get tired of listening to Mom run the company. At the end of the day, even if they have lost interest, it is still really nice to be able to look across your desk at work and see your kids.