You also need an exit strategy, if possible. Have a caretaker ready to whisk your child out of the office if things go south, Williams Yost said.
Give other options if the official day doesn’t work. Whether your kid’s behavior is not ready for prime time, or for whatever reasons you feel your office isn’t a great place for him, you can create other opportunities to expose your child to your work. “Regardless of the company or organizational size, I think days like these are important,” said Harts. “And, we can also reimagine what success looks like around bring your kids to work day. Maybe it’s a pizza party at a local restaurant. Or renting out the movie theater for an upcoming film. There are many ways that companies can invest in their talent — it doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all.”
If your kid does have a mega-meltdown … Remember that most people, especially parents, will be understanding — because they’ve been there, said Laura Moser, a writer (and former colleague of mine at Slate) who ran for Congress in Texas last year.
Moser’s daughter, Claudia, then 2, infamously threw herself facedown on a carpet in front of President Obama at a White House Passover Seder, because her mean mommy wouldn’t let her strip naked and put on a sheet. “When Claudia had her tantrum I wasn’t even nervous or worried about it, because the Obamas have children and understand the children’s outbursts and vagaries don’t reflect on you,” Moser said.
Moser also tried to take her children with her when she was campaigning for Congress, without much success. The kids found it boring, which is understandable. Moser has connected with other mothers of young children running for office, and some of them had the same experience — their kids wanted minimal involvement. There were definitely moments when Moser wanted to tell her children, “People won’t vote for me if they think you’re a brat, be quiet!”
She realized pretty quickly that she could only bring the kids with her in small doses. And when she did, her advice is to bring entertainment. “Bring a tablet. People might judge you” for letting your kid stare at screens, Moser said, but if it keeps them from causing a scene at work, it’s worth it.