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Amy

You know, my boss actually suggested that I set up a crib in my office ... but I could NOT imagine getting anything done work-wise in that scenario. I would be constantly worried about the distraction this would cause to others, nervous about juggling everything at once (when baby has a crying jag and it's raining outside, where do I go to walk and shush??), the frown of clients, and just simply being able to take my eyes off of my baby long enough to do ANY work. My boss also welcomed my baby at meetings, as needed, but in reality it never felt comfortable for anyone in the room.

I also find it very hard to work at home with a child. I don't feel I do my best work or my best mothering when I'm blending the two together - I just end up a frantic, frazzled mess.

Compartmentalizing is the best method for me, even though it means too much time away from the babe.

i also know a mama who owned her own retail shop - for two years, she tried to juggle baby and work, and the strain proved to be too much for her. She just couldn't keep up with her product line or much of anything else, and finally shut her shop doors this year.

Hats off to women who have the incredible ability to do both at once!

Kristin

Before I had kids, I complained to our office manager about another co-workers children who were running wild and yelling loudly. I would never let my son do that and I have struggled with this question often, as I often have to take my son into my office with me. In the beginning it was fairly easy because he was contained in his carrier or was content to ride in a pack. However, all that changed when he started crawling and only got harder when he started walking. Most people at my office love to visit with him but I feel very stressed when he's re-arranging co-worker's shelves and playing with supplies. I reserve it now for emergencies only because I get so little done.

I also work from home a lot since I had him (BTW-I'm a Realtor and he is now 19 months old). I am often torn because I feel like my work suffers and my son suffers because I'm trying to do too many things at once.

My recent compromise has been part-time daycare and a kid swap. My son goes to daycare all day twice a week and one day he goes to a friend's home for the day. Then one day a week, I watch their little boy. It's worked out a lot better and my work and mothering have both improved.

There are still times when I have to take my son on client appointments but I try to limit it to clients who also have their children. It usually work out fine.

Motherhood is a full-time job and trying to balance working on top of that can take it's toll quickly if you don't have a game plan!!

Ana

I brought my baby to work with me from the time she was 3 months until she was almost a year. I'm an engineer and was working there part-time (this is after having worked at the same office full time for the previous 7 years). It was a really small office, and my boss really needed me/wanted me, so he was very very accomodating.

At first I worked about 20 hours a week, and was actually able to get a good amount of work done. My daughter would nurse and nap in the sling throughout the day, and I was able to get the most done during her couple of naps.

Also, since my daughter was one to nurse all the time as a baby, I had to constantly watch out for exposing my nipple/breast to my boss/coworkers. I had my own office, which was great. Once I was talking on the phone to a client, and he asked me what my baby was doing at the moment. I said "she's nursing" and got an embarrassed chuckle on the other end of the line.

As she got older, it got harder and harder. It was constantly a balance of doing work, then concentrating on her, etc.

Finally, as she was getting up to a year, I was pretty much just going in to the office to talk to my boss about things, get more work, and then took it home to do at night. (All while trying to keep her entertained, too) It was pretty tough to actually get anything done with her. I'd be able to do snatches here and there, but nothing serious. If I really needed to get something done at that moment (that couldn't wait to do it at home), then our receptionist would play with my daughter while I did what I needed to do.

I was lucky that I worked in a very small office, with a boss who was very accomodating and understanding. But I was pretty stressed out doing it this way. So now I am happy to be a full-time stay at home mom (which is pretty darn hard enough!)

Melissa

Bringing my daughter to work was something I dreamed about. That or being able to work from home. I realize now that, like those who have commented above, it would be near impossible to get anything done, and my mothering would suffer.

My compromise (and my office has been very accomodating about this) has been to work four 10 hour days. I leave the house before she wakes up (she is almost 19 months old) and return home at least 3 hours before her bedtime. Having three full days to spend with her never quite feels like enough, but I am able to really concentrate on my job M-Th and really concentrate on her Fri-Sun.

Lori

I think it really depends on the temperment of the child, the age, and the type of work environment. Fifteen years ago, I worked in a small engineering firm where my co-worker brought her son in from 3 months to almost 12 months old. He was such a happy, content baby and rarely made a peep. He also was the best de-stresser. On days that were unbearable, I would pick him up and he was wonderfully calming. Fast forward to my baby. My current office, a small consulting firm, is amazing about allowing me to bring my daughter in, but I too found it impossible to get any work done. She is a mover and a shaker and not content just hanging out. She is now in daycare 3 days a week and I do bring her in to work every so often, but I am careful on which clients will be coming into the office. My coworkers have older children and they hang out mostly on sick days. I am very thankful for my employer and my coworkers on such a supportive environment.

Erin

I work for a family company and it's just my dad, myself and my 20 month old here in the office. She's been here with me since she was a month old and I work full time. It's a challenge to say the least. I nursed for the first year and as the receptionist I always worried about someone coming in unannounced, but it was a great way to get rid of a salesman quick! She's still a great sleeper and that helps a lot. Without that, I wouldn't get much done. She has a large play pen set up and a tv to watch Sesame Street and a small playpen in the kitchen where she sleeps. We're still babyproofing as she grows but I wouldn't change things at all. It's so awesome to have the chance to work and be a full time mother. I've considered day care part time, but I just couldn't leave her for a second. The customers who come in, think it's wonderful. I'd say that with the right set up and right temperment of the child it is very possible to do.

Lisa

When my son was born 3 weeks early we hadn't yet hired a temp and there were things that needed to be done that only I knew how to do. So during the last 2 months of my maternity leave I would come in with my son one day a week for 4-5 hours, at first he slept the whole time and it worked well, but there were periods where I felt awful, like I couldn't accomplish anything or like I was neglecting my son or both. Some days I left work shaking. I wanted to help out at work, but even the most friendly/accomodating office environment just isn't the right place for infants, babies.

arabee

I work at a little food co-op, Food Front in NW Portland as the Wine and Beer buyer and I have been bringing my 4 month old to work with me since my maternity leave ended. When I was negotiating me leave, my boss suggested that I bring her to work with me. I was totally floored, this is a retail food store after all, not a baby store nor an office. So far so good, she just hangs out with me in her Moby carrier while I help customers and meet with sales reps. I have been uber conscious about my coworkers, doing my best to respect their space. I did have a bit of a realization today when I had to listen to a fellow coworker singing 80's songs at the top of his lungs....maybe I shouldn't stress so much on my baby girl's infrequent crying after all. Yeah sometimes I feel like an inadequate employee and so-so mother. But most of the time it works pretty great. She is only with me 2-3 hours a day and then she goes to Daddy and I go back to work to get the things done that I wasn't able to do with her strapped on. I am eternally grateful to my employer and my coworkers for being so accommodating. And so far I have only gotten positive feedback from the people I work with. In this day and age, it is important to reevaluate the 9-5 gig and try to find new ways to create balance in our work and family lives. I LOVE MY CO-OP!

Jenny

Oh, I'm disappointed to hear that bringing baby to work hasn't worked out smoothly for so many of you! Mothering magazine painted such a rosy picture of it several issues back. I have been fortunate to enjoy having both children with me at work running my preschool, and love being able to allow my employees to bring their kids too, but of course, ours is an environment set up for kids. Apparently we are somewhat rare in allowing parents to bring babies when they help in school as well, which seems like the only logical arrangement to me.
I'm wondering, those of you who tried working with your child there and then opted for other arrangements, would it have felt very different if you hadn't been allowed the option to try it out in the first place? I'd like to see the day when the default policy is to allow kids unless it just doesn't work out, or if the workplace is obviously unsuited (manufacturing, etc.).

LTF

I sure like the idea of employers allowing employees to try different systems to see what fits best. Great point. I had my kids with me at work this afternoon for an hour, trying to get one simple thing done - took an hour to do 10 minutes of work done and it created a far more frustrated me. Expectations are too high form pre-schoolers in an office setting, though my 5-year old could type letters and count in Word on 72 font for hours, I think. And quietly, to boot!

Amy

Jenny, to answer your question, I knew pretty quickly (while still on leave with my new baby) that there was no way I could merge the two roles and feel anything less than totally overwhelmed. I'm really glad that there was some openness for me to try it, but I never really did bring my daughter for more than an hour or so - it's just a matter of too many hats at once, and no ability to focus. Bringing a child to a place where it's quite literally a child's environment, where they can have the run of the place with plenty of entertainment and adults who are there specifically to tend to children (like your preschool) is probably a LOT different than bringing them to other working environments. I think that even the most well-meaning bosses expect that your child will make zero impact on the work environment when they're there - which we all know is pretty much impossible! (-: Older kids are probably easier to entertain for stretches of time, but infants and toddlers are much harder, I think.

More than openness to bringing a baby to work, I would love to see a huge expansion in companies offering flex time options, greater family leave, and on-site (or at least subsidized) high quality daycare!

Sara

Bringing my child to work is not an option for me, but it is for my husband, at least for a few hours here and there -- he works in a more liberal/creative environment. He's brought our infant to several staff meetings, among other things. His boss has told me she thinks it is good for morale - people like seeing the baby and it lightens the atmosphere. The only complaints I've heard are from co-workers who say he doesn't bring the baby in often enough (maybe once or twice a month on days when he's working part-time).

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