travelling tots

I’ve been out of town for work for several days, and finally came home this afternoon. I really missed my kids while I was away, and that was exacerbated by the fact that several of my coworkers brought their kids with them to the meeting we were all attending. Watching other people’s kids run around was fun, but it didn’t make me regret my decision to leave the kids at home with landisdad.

One of the senior managers asked me why I hadn’t brought my kids with me, and I told her I didn’t want to take the Bee out of school for three days, which I would have had to do. But the real truth is that I try not to make my kids have a weird life because of my job, and it would have been weird–for all of us–for them to be there.

Since I’ve been a parent, I’ve always had extraordinarily family-friendly work situations. When I first went back to work after the Bee was born, landisdad took paternity leave, so we didn’t have to put her in daycare until she was 5 months old. Even then, I didn’t want her to be in daycare full-time, so I worked out a deal with my boss to take her to work with me two days a week. I had my own office, and I brought in a Pack-n-Play for her to sleep in, and when she was sleeping, I would get real work done. At that point, I worked for a non-profit agency that did both advocacy & provided social services. We were doing a lot of work organizing women who were affected by welfare reform, and most of those women had kids with them when they came in. There were a ton of volunteers in the office too, and by the time the Bee was able to crawl/stand/walk, there were many people around who she knew and trusted.

I was able to schedule my work in a way that I wouldn’t have meetings outside of the office on days that she came with me. When I had to have meetings in the office, I had co-workers or volunteers that would watch her for an hour. She knew–and loved–everyone there. There were often toddlers or preschoolers for her to play with.

When she turned one, I decided that it was time for her to start going to daycare four days a week, instead of three. It’s hard to parent a toddler and get anything done, and I was feeling internal pressure to be better about doing my job. That pressure was only internal–my boss never gave me one iota of pressure–but it was mounting, and I needed to make a change. So Fridays became our day in the office together, and she would run around and act crazy while I typed or talked on the phone. She still napped in the pack-n-play, and we’d go out to lunch together. It was great fun, but when she was about 18 months old, it got to be too much again. At that point, she stopped going with me on a regular basis. She’d still come with me occasionally, but mostly that was when we had some daycare crisis.

I’ve changed jobs four times since then, and every time I’ve had the ability to bring my kids to work, at some level. They’ve come with me on business trips (although almost always when landisdad has been able to come too), and through that experience, I’ve discovered the joys & difficulties of parenting in public. It’s odd to be trying to discipline your kid while a bunch of other interested adults watch, and hard to have to leave a meeting early because you can’t get a willful preschooler to stop screaming about something.

One thing I was reminded of this past week, is that I haven’t brought the Potato to work with me nearly as much as I did the Bee. It made me realize that he’s almost gotten to the point where I will be able to travel with him alone, without his sister or his dad.

I’ve got another, similar meeting in a few months. Again, it would require that I take the Bee out of school for two days, so I don’t think I’m going to do that. But I just might take the SP…

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September 17, 2005. thoughtful parenting, work.

11 Comments

  1. elise replied:

    I’ve always stayed home with my kids but I need to compliment you on doing what you do. Everytime a woman or man for that matter does anything to show people in their work environment that they are a parent too it helps “the cause” of better balancing family with work. If you try too hard to keep family separated from work then it makes it more difficult for others who have kids. It gives off the impression that in order to be a good employee you need to either not have kids or act as if you don’t. I’m sort of rambling because this is a hard point to get acrossed. Anyway, good job!

  2. Sandra replied:

    That’s fantastic that you can bring your kids to work. My job had no flexibility so I ended up quitting. I’m sure more workplaces could accommodate kids if they really wanted to. Most don’t want to.

  3. Comfort Addict replied:

    I so admire how you and Landisdad integrate your family and work lives. I think that it makes you better employees and better parents than people without that balance.

  4. landismom replied:

    CA & Sandra–yes, I wish more employers allowed people to bring their kids to work, or had on-site daycare of some kind. Obviously, there are some situations that wouldn’t be great, but I think most jobs could be a lot more flexible than they are when it comes to kids.

  5. Jessica replied:

    You are SO fortunate to have had such positive, family-friendly work scenarios. My company is great about occasionally bringing kids to work with you – even if it’s a few days in a row.

  6. dawn replied:

    now I’m very curious about what it is that you do exactly that you can bring your kids in whenever???

  7. Jessica replied:

    When Meredith was a baby and I was still nursing, I had a business meeting in San Fran. I was able to take her because there’s an “emergency” day care center that various companies buy into called Children First. We were lucky enough that Bank One, where my husband worked, used their services and we often brought our kids to the Chicago center when we had day care emergencies. So I was able to make an arrangement with their SF branch to take Meredith there while I was at meetings. I went to the center at lunch and nursed her (I was lucky – the center happened to be across the street from my meetings). It was fabulous. Taking them to work more regularly wasn’t really an option but I’ve been lucky to have jobs that have allowed me to work from home on occasion when I needed to.

  8. MetroDad replied:

    Wow…That is really great that your work environments have been so accomodating. I’ve rarely heard of situations like yours. Whatever decision you make, it’s nice to always have the option. Wish that kind of thinking was more prevalent in the U.S.

  9. christie replied:

    Wow, you must have a great boss. He/She lets you bring your children into work.

    That is surprisingly awesome

  10. Suzanne replied:

    My former workplace was pretty accommodating, but not to the extent that kids were welcome under nonemergency circumstances. How wonderful that you were able to spend so much time with your daughter when she was so young!

    I also second Elise’s point about furthering the “cause.” I was the only working mother in my group, and I often felt that I was a slacker in comparison to the people who reported to me and to the people I reported to! In retrospect I don’t think I really was, but my availability and desire for extra work had certainly diminished.

  11. landismom replied:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I know that I’ve been incredibly lucky in my work situations, but just wanted to point out that it’s still not always easy. Part of my advantage is that I have a highly specialized skill and I’m pretty good at it, so the employers that I’ve worked for have been willing to make arrangements. But part of it, too, is that I’ve been willing to ask for things that I wouldn’t have asked for before I became a parent.

    I’ve told more than one prospective boss straight up in an interview, ‘look, I’m out of here at 5 most days, and I need more than 24 hours’ notice to work late.’ I’ve also refused to go on the road anywhere near as much as I get asked to do so, and have had those refusals respected. It helps that most of the jobs I’ve gotten in my life were through networking, so the people who hired me were already familiar with my work (and my work ethic). But I’m still the person who every day has to walk out the door while everyone else is still working. I’m not sure when that will stop being hard–maybe never.

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