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."