Our office is called the Kaya. It houses the Open Institute and Thellesi Co. Once a week during the holidays we have a bring the kids to work day. On this day, we bring the kids to work and they get to play all day with each other and their parents, they get to watch their parents at work – but for the most part, we simply let them loose in the office compound and leave them to their own devices.
The reasons we do this are fairly simple. First, children hardly ever get enough time with their parents (no amount of time is ever enough). We work too hard in this competitive world and between rising too early to go to work, spending the whole day fighting fires, battling traffic back home – only to get home 30 minutes before their bed time – urgh, am I right?
Secondly, regardless of their age, its good for the kids to understand the concept of work so that (a) it is not too abstract a concept – “mummy has gone to work,” we often tell them, and now they can visualise it better; (b) the older ones get to have a view of what mummy / daddy does for a living for their own carrier development (we don’t preach to them, we let them observe and ask questions as they occur); (c) they understand what daddy means when he says, “I don’t have money to buy that toy now, but I will work extra hard at the office so I make enough money to buy it soon…”
I really like what Caroline Mutoko has to say on this subject:
Thirdly, it provides us as a team, a better appreciation of each other and the lives we live, the challenges of parenthood that we share and those that are unique. Some kids are very hyper and their parents share ideas of ways that they keep them occupied, others have timid kids who come alive during that day when they link up with other timid or more careful kids – and when a team member asks for the day off to care of their offspring, all team members care about it.
Lastly, its a way for the team to bond through the laughter of the children. There is nothing as real as a child.
We take the view that there was something to the idea that it takes a village to bring up children and success in parenting comes from sharing these experiences – especially with people that you spend most of your waking hours. During the day, they will learn something – even how to fix a puncture on their bike – watch this Conrad Cycles video to see it in action…
So what do we do in preparation
- We agree on the day the kids will come – preferably the day when most kids are available
- We coordinate with each other on logistics – car pooling etc on the day. Usually the kids bring with them their favorite toys and books.
- We prepare ourselves psychologically – we have to be okay with some noise and distraction for that one day. Frequently, kids will call on mummy or daddy for one reason or another – often to proudly say, “Look mummy, I can do this!” Or to tell on the others for some kind of transgression.
- We organise snacks and food for them for the day (taking into consideration that some kids are allergic to some things etc)
- We prepare ourselves to spend some time with the kids in the course of the day.
- We keep the first aid kit close (someone is bound to scrape themselves at one point in the course of the day) and many many hugs and kisses to be distributed to all kids.
All in all, we are flexible and not too prescriptive of the day and we just aim to have fun!