Would You Bring Your Kids to the Office Full Time?
New England mom Denise Towne wasn't sure what to do about child care for her baby, until her company invited her to keep her little one by her side from 9 to 5.
"I couldn't imagine how it would work"
Denise was intrigued by the idea, but she wasn't sold on it right away. "I couldn't imagine how I would make it work," she admits. "What if the baby cried? What if I had to nurse in the middle of a meeting?" Even more worrisome to her was how her coworkers would react. "I was the first person at the company to try this, and I was afraid everyone would resent me for it. Would the people who didn't have babies think I was getting special treatment? Would they be mad at me if the baby was disruptive or the office smelled like dirty diapers?" So before she said yes, she went around and asked each of her coworkers if they were really, truly okay with the idea. Not only were they okay with it, Denise reports, but they were genuinely excited. "We're a children's clothing company, after all," she says with a laugh. "Having a baby around to model all the clothes for photo shoots was actually a bonus!"
So 10 weeks after her son, Patrick, was born, Denise bundled him up and brought him to her office, which had been outfitted with a crib and changing table. Working with a newborn next to her desk was easier than she expected. "He would spend the day either sleeping or nursing," Denise recalls. There were a few embarrassing moments, of course — loud diaper explosions in the middle of a staff meeting; the time a FedEx guy visibly blanched when she opened her shirt to nurse. Denise says she quickly got into the habit of plopping Patrick in the stroller and taking him out for a walk to cool off as soon as he got fussy — which was fairly often. Still, Patrick soon became a beloved office mascot. "If someone just needed a pick-me-up, they would stop by my office to see the baby, and they'd always end up leaving with a smile," Denise says.
"I actually wound up working more"
While the situation at work was great, Denise admits that it caused a few problems at home. "I actually wound up working more hours in the office, which took away from time with my husband," she says. "If Patrick napped at 5, I wasn't going to wake him up to take him home. I would just stay and pump out more work. Then I'd get these calls from Steve asking when I was coming home for dinner." And while she appreciated the 24/7 time with her baby, it could be draining, too. "When I came home, I would just want to hand the baby over to Steve and get some downtime."