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How to turn a kid's day at the office into an adventure

Your babysitter just cancelled, your partner is sick or the daycare is been temporarily closed. Learn how to prepare yourself for an impromptu take-your-kids-to-work day.

Respect your colleagues

Managing your co-workers - especially the ones who don't have kids and aren't used to the noise - can be the hardest part about bringing your kids to the office, Jacqueline Green, a parenting coach in Edson, Alta., says.

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"Colleagues in some office environments get used to it being so quiet and calm ... There's a chance that somebody's going to have a reaction that you don't want, but that's their business," she says.

As soon as you arrive with your young one in tow, explain the situation to your colleagues, what your plan is for watching your kid, and ask, "Is there any way I can make this more pleasant for you?" Ms. Green suggests.

"Some people may say, 'Well, I have a meeting or a phone appointment at a certain time that's really important, so can you make sure the kids aren't in the area at the time?' "

Try your best to mimic their regular environment

A downtown office tower might be the polar opposite of where your child normally spends the day, but try your best to transform your workplace into a comfortable space - it will calm your child and make the day much easier for the both of you.

If your child takes daily naps, bring her favourite pillow and blanket from home so she can take one at the office, and see whether there's a sick room or lounge where she can go, Ms. Green suggests.

"If there's a song that the daycare would use [play it] Anything you can do to make the situation like what they're used to."

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Make sure you pack plenty of snacks and give them to your child at the times he's used to eating. If your child usually switches up activities every hour while at daycare or camp, Ms. Green suggests you bring an egg timer and set it for regular increments to maintain that rhythm - especially since a day at the office can seem extra-long to a child.

Get creative

If you can't grab your kids' favourite books, toys or art supplies when you're leaving your home in the morning, think about what you have at work.

"Kids really like office supplies - things like Post-It notes, paper, pens...paper clips. Kids can have a really great time with and create interesting things with them," she says.

If you have younger kids, frame the day not as a burden, but as a themed adventure.

"Talk to them about the fact that you're going to the 'concrete jungle' today to make it a little more fun," she says. "They're going to have periods of time when they can't talk to you or interrupt. They're supposed to be like a detective and quietly observe things around them."

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Get outside

Your kid will no doubt be fidgety if he has to spend a whole day in the office with you. To avoid an outburst at 4 p.m., Ms. Green recommends you take him outside for breaks throughout the day.

"You're giving your child a chance to be less contained and let their energy kind of overflow a bit and not be so controlled."

If you've packed lunches, go out to a nearby park or green space to eat it. If you haven't packed anything, take your child to a restaurant patio - not only will it be a nice treat, it will give both of you the chance to grab some fresh air.

*And don't do this...leave your children unattended in the cafeteria or lounge for the day - they're your responsibility, so keep 'em close.

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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