How to Start Bringing Your Kids Into the Office

Mother and daughter working on computer at home in the backyardBy Deborah Sweeney

Owning a business means you get a bit more freedom. As a mom and an entrepreneur, I’ll be the first to admit that I really love the fact I can usually take off a little early to catch my kids soccer games, or pick them up from school. But the decorum of mompreneurs is surprisingly controversial. For example, I never realized how touchy the subject of bringing your kids to work could be.

Now I’ve been bringing my sons into the office for years, and thankfully my team is great with them – there have never been any serious complaints. But I’ve talked to other mompreneurs who run their own small businesses, and usually their pretty apprehensive about bringing in their own children. The mompreneur is, after all, a relatively recent phenomenon, so this part of company culture hasn’t really been explored. I can, however, draw from my own experience, and advise other parents/entrepreneurs to think of the following before bringing in their kids.

Keep it age appropriate

Nearly everyone loves babies. Bring in your newborn and the entire office will dote over them – trust me. But bring your baby in every day, and they may not be as patient with the crying baby as you are. Your children should probably have some level of self-control before you start bringing them in with any regularity. Babies cry and toddlers throw tantrums, so the earlier years should probably be spent out of the office. But, as they get older, you can begin trying to bring them in. My sons started asking what early on in elementary school, and so I brought them in to show them what it is like to run a business. They had fun and behaved well, plus the office really liked them, so I kept at it.

Talk to your staff

No matter how friendly you are with your team, there aren’t many people that’ll openly tell their boss or manager that kids don’t belong in the office. But small businesses typically only have a handful of people on staff, so everyone is a lot closer. You just have to be willing to ask and listen. So, if you’re thinking about bringing in your kids, ask your staff how they feel about that. Tell them why you want to bring them in. If you have a reason, like you want to show them what you do or school got out early, your staff will be much more receptive to the idea. See how everyone acts when your kids are in the office and, if it feels good, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Manage everyone’s expectations

That means your kids and your staff. Tell your team how long your children will be around for, and let them know they don’t have to act like impromptu babysitters. As for your kids, sit down with them and tell them how you expect them to behave. Just remember that kids are kids and they will get bored. My sons have always been very well behaved, but they’re young – they sometimes act out. Do your best to keep them stimulated, but if they are causing too much of a distraction, maybe it’s too early to bring them in.

I would never recommend you bring in your children for a full eight hours. Let’s be honest, you aren’t going to get as much work done with them there. And after a couple of hours, they’ll want to do something else. But bringing your kids in can be a great way to help explain what you do as a business owner, and it can really help with scheduling conflicts – most of the time my boys are in the office, it’s because I couldn’t get anyone to watch them after school, or I have to bring them to one of their games. Just remember not to abuse your power as the business owner, and to give a little leeway to other office parents.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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