Take Your Child to Work Day: Remote Edition

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Vector image of an adult and child in front of a computer.

Each year, my son asks if he can participate in “take your child to work day.” Sadly, because I work remotely, and my spouse’s employer didn’t participate, he never got the opportunity. This year, since school isn’t in session, I asked him if he was interested in doing something special for the day. His response: “No, I used to want to do it, but it’s not the same now since we’re all here all the time.” AKA he isn’t getting to “skip” a day at school.

Being the mom I am, I decided to ignore his no answer. I came up with the idea for parents to interview their kids about what they’re learning about their parents’ jobs. As challenging as it is trying to juggle work, school, and parenting during the day, our kids are getting a unique opportunity to see us at work. Even if the work they’re seeing is only a small part of what we truly do. They may be used to hearing us complain about the parts we don’t like as much or have preconceived ideas of what we do each day. Seeing our daily work routines, they see more of the positive aspects of what we do—the community building, the helping others, the sharing, the fun. 

Some of us have looked for ways to include our kids in the day-to-day work we are doing.

  • A coworker had his daughter participate in his hackathon presentation. 
  • My cousin is a librarian. Her son has been participating in daily read-alouds and lego challenges.
  • I’ve included Jr in videocasts. Check out this one we recorded on working remotely

So what do kids think about this new situation?

We posed these questions: 

  • What does your parent do for work? 
  • Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?
  • Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 
  • What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 
  • Would you like for this time to be extended? (Spoiler alert: I was surprised by the number of no responses!) 
  • If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

Both the child and parent had an opportunity to add any parting thoughts. 

I thought about limiting the responses to people who work in tech but decided against it. This pandemic is not limited to those of us working in tech. We need to join together in empathizing, listening, and helping one another. One way to do that is by hearing stories from people outside of traditional tech roles. As technologists, we are creating solutions for all professions. We build better products when we have empathy for our users. These parents and kids may be the very people you’re building software for. 

To all you parents out there juggling work, home-schooling, parenting, and self-care: Congrats, you’re doing great. If you don’t think you’re doing enough—you are

Thanks to all the kids and parents who participated. Check out the responses below. 

Dawn Parzych and Junior (11)

What does your parent do for work? 

You’re a product manager at LaunchDarkly. You write stuff to help do talks. 

Seeing your parent working every day, what surprises you about their job?

Nothing. But you do get to see a lot of people which is nice. 

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

Yup. I’m working on perler beads, painting, and learning how to make strawberry daiquiris.  

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

I like that I’m with my family more often. I dislike that I can’t be with anybody besides family. 

Would you like for this time to be extended?

NO!

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

Snow owl. 

Any parting words?

You can play NEMO-net and help NASA help the coral reefs. 

Mom’s parting words? 

I feel like I should explain the daiquiris part. We’ve been spending two hours in the afternoon with Junior doing an activity. On Friday, my spouse taught him how to make homemade salsa and virgin daiquiris. This is NOT a new responsibility of his.

Matt Stratton and Henry (10), Joey (10), and Sophia (8)

Transformation Specialist, Red Hat

What does your parent do for work? 

Henry: He talks. He gives talks and stuff.

Joey: Web designer. 

Sophia: Work on a computer.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

Joey: Not that much. I usually have seen you do your work before.

Sophia: It’s surprising that you on lots of calls. 

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

Joey: I have to be responsible by doing my schoolwork at home.

Sophia: At school instead of normal writing, we are now writing poems.

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time?

Henry: I don’t get to see my friends.

Joey: I like that I don’t have to do seven hours of work every day. I don’t like that I can’t see my friends anymore.

Sophia: I like that it’s shorter, and I don’t like that I’m not able to see all my friends and my teacher every day.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

All three kids said “No.”

If you could be any animal, what would it be?

Henry: Tiger.

Joey: Galapagos turtle. 

Sophia: Giraffe.

Parting words:

During this time Sophia has learned that at his job, Matt gets red hats after doing something.

Jamie Langskov and Serafina (10)

Sr Community Manager

What does your parent do for work? 

MongoDB.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

That it takes so long. 

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

No.

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

I get to sleep in and stay up later.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

No.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

A dragon.

Parting words:

Serafina is thinking about cupcakes, while Jamie is frustrated because her kid couldn’t take this seriously. 

Julie Stoner and Lucy (11)

Vice President, Cerner Corporation

What does your parent do for work? 

In charge of the largest healthcare contract in the world… she does math and health. 

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

The little things they do it for.

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

Adapting new hobbies and habits.

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

Like: I can sleep more.

Dislike: I can’t see my friends.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

No.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

A dog.

Delores Brown, Zoë (5), and Michele (8)

Chief of Staff, LaunchDarkly

What does your parent do for work? 

Zoë: You help people.

Michele: You manage mysteries and have meetings.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

Zoë: It’s cool.

Michele: You have a meeting at the same time every week. Always. 

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

Zoë: Yea.. art.

Michele: Not really…except taking naps. I probably forgot some responsibilities. But that means it’s pretty much the same. 

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

Zoë: I like playing with my family, and I like that we have a TV. I don’t like that we can’t go outside without masks, not even one day, not one day without masks outside, without masks.

Michele: I like spending time with my family. I dislike missing my new friends because I had to change schools and four days later they closed. 

Would you like for this time to be extended?

Both said yes.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

Zoë: A horse.

Michele: A lion, no tiger, no snow tiger with white stripes.. or it’s white, with black stripes. Like a zebra, but tiger.

Parting words:

Zoë: I love my mom’s hair and my toy kitchen and that I have a bike and I love my jacket and I love my teddy bear froggy and I love the food my mom makes. 

Mary Kris Smith and Lucas (19)

Program Director, Workforce Development Board Herkimer, Madison, Oneida CO’s

What does your parent do for work? 

My mom helps people get training and find employment.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

The number of people she helps. 

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

I have been working on a watershed project for my Conservation training and I am trying to keep up with assignments for my other classes. I also just remodeled my bedroom.

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

It has been hard for me to stay focused, and I’m struggling more now than ever with keeping up to date, catching up, and even learning new lessons. I am not really good with computers and get very frustrated. I miss seeing my friends and teachers who were like friends too.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

Yes.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

A white-tailed deer. 

Parting thoughts: 

From Mary Kris: Sometimes I’m not sure who is more stressed about the work/learning environment. This has had so many challenges I could have never dreamed of. This is Lucas’ senior year of high school and though he is a very resilient young man, there are so many experiences he and his friends have had taken away or indefinitely postponed. I’m glad our kids are home with us and in our safe/healthy environments but I know I am not providing my son the tools, expertise, and education he deserves. Being a child with an IEP I don’t believe our school has done enough to provide the resources he should be entitled to in order to meet his graduation requirements.  

And on a side note, barking dogs, husbands, and adult children have been very interesting office companions during this “new phase of normal.”

Sheena Carswell and R(9), W(9)

Software Engineer, LaunchDarkly

What does your parent do for work? 

R: My mom is a coder and she works for LaunchDarkly.

W: Engineering.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

R: Nothing really surprises me. Her work is like I imagined.

W: There are so many meetings!

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects?

R: Making a daily newspaper. I like to bake too.

W: I have to do my schoolwork, and also I like to code on Scratch. 

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

R: I dislike that I don’t get to see all my of friends that are in my class. I like that it’s easier to work without interruptions.

W: Daddy is super-bossy and makes me do more work than I did at school. I like the trampoline.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

Both said maybe.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

R: Can it be an imaginary animal? If so, a cheese penguin.

W: A cheetah! Because cheetahs are my favorite animal.

Parting thoughts

From Sheena: I feel constantly torn between avoiding interruptions, to be more productive at work, and being there for my kids when they need help. I’m happy to hear that “Would you like this time to be extended?” got a maybe. I guess we’re not doing too badly.

Kari Tucker and Blake (8)

Assistant Director at Jervis Public Library

What does your parent do for work? 

Work at a library.

Seeing your parent working everyday, what surprises you about their job?

It’s educational because you read books and it makes you smarter. Plus it helps people.

Do you, as a kid, have any new responsibilities or projects? 

I have to do all my homework every day when usually I just do it at school.

What do you like/dislike about being home from school all the time? 

I don’t really like being home all the time. In the classroom it is more quiet and makes it easier to think.

Would you like for this time to be extended?

Yes.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? 

I would like to be a mouse because it is small and fast.

 

Dawn Parzych
Dawn is a Developer Advocate at LaunchDarkly where she uses her storytelling prowess to write and speak about the intersection of technology and psychology. She enjoys helping people be more successful at work and in life.