What if every day was Take Your Child To Work Day?
The idea may sound (I’ll just say it) ridiculous. But taking your child to work every day is an option at 180 employers in the US, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute (PWI). Currently, 110 babies are snuggling up with their mothers at their work stations at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Seven little ones don’t have to worry about separating from their mothers who work for W.S. Badger, an organic body-care company in New Hampshire.
Zutano, a clothing company, employing 20 in Vermont, allows fathers and nonbiological parents to take advantage of the program to bring babies up to a year old to work.
As Business Week notes, the “bring you child with you to work” concept took hold around 2008, to “convince young mothers to return to work earlier—it was the recession, and maternity leave wasn’t cheap—or to make sure they didn’t quit after having children.” Michael Belenky, president of Zutano, notes that finding a replacement for someone for a sustained block of time was challenging and that having babies in the office has “been a surprisingly easy and cheap program to implement.”
Belenky’s statement bears repeating. Having babes-in-arms in the workplace has “been a surprisingly easy and cheap program to implement.” That’s a bit of a different view than most people would have on hearing about babies, diapers, breastfeeding, etc. in the workplace and a refreshing one.
Admittedly, toddlers and the preschool set — curious, roaming around and capable of “playing” in potentially, ah, destructive ways with things like computer keyboards — would not be the best candidates for becoming fixtures at the office. There are plenty of professions (in medical fields, for instance) at which regular appearances with a baby would be more difficult, if not impossible. But employers like those mentioned above show that small accommodations (an empty room for a crying child) can make it possible. Bringing a baby who’s nursing to work would certainly eliminate the none-too-fun activity of pumping one’s breasts and contention about providing women with a private and comfortable place to do so.
Joanna Caravita, a doctoral candidate in Hebrew at the University of Texas at Austin, simply says that having her daughter, Ziv, in class while she teaches is “not as disruptive as you’d think,” in contrast to the brouhaha raised when an American University professor nursed her sick child while lecturing. Caravita says that, as Ziv is now a toddler, she has not been bringing her to class. In other words, parents who are bringing their children to work every day are doing so in ways that work for both their child and for their co-workers or others at their workplace.
I quit one job to stay at home after my son Charlie was born in 1997; I taught part-time and, when he was sick, brought him with me to class. Though the students did not at all object, I remember feeling very sheepish and apologetic to appear with my babe-in-arms. But if there was a sense that it was culturally acceptable to bring a child routinely to work, how many more women would take advantage of such an option?
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