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 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."
Still, experiencing her baby's first steps and seeing his first tooth come
in were well worth any sacrifice. Not to mention the hours of stress in the
morning she was able to eliminate. "If I had to pump or pack up formula and
then drive 45 minutes each way to drop him at day care, it would have been
exhausting," Denise says. Instead, she spent a leisurely morning nursing, then
drove to the office, just five minutes away.
As Patrick got more active toward his first birthday, crawling every which
way and stuffing important papers into his mouth, Denise knew it was time for
him to move on. "At that point I started realizing that he needed more
interaction than he could get just hanging out in my office," she explains.
Luckily, by that time, a former Zutano employee had opened a home day care
nearby, and Patrick was the first baby to enroll.
Zutano has since made "Babies at Work" an official company policy, and over
the last seven years, 18 other babies — including Denise's daughters, Lauren,
5, and Morgan, 18 months — have come to work with their moms (and one dad). The
company has even begun "Doggy Days" so employees who don't have children can
bring their furry loved ones to work occasionally too. When Denise was looking
for a new assistant a few months ago, she found the perfect candidate — who
just happened to be seven months pregnant. "It'll be nice to have another baby
in the office!" she says, laughing. Denise's three children are now in school
and day care, but she says that the program has profoundly influenced how they
view their mother's work. "It's surprising how much my kids remember and how
close they feel to my coworkers," she says. "It makes it so much easier for
them to understand why I go to work every day. They really understand what I do
and why I love it."
How to get babies on board at your job
Zutano is just one of more than 150 companies, including state agencies in
Kansas and Arizona, that have babies-at-work policies. If you think this plan
might work at your company, follow these tips from Carla Moquin, founder of the
Parenting in the
- Ask yourself: Is it really doable? Consider whether having a baby
around will truly mesh with your job. Safety is key, so if you work in a
factory, you're probably out of luck — though you can ask to be moved to a desk
job temporarily, Moquin says. Also, if you frequently work off-site or meet
with clients all day long, consider whether there's an option to stay in one
- Go in with a plan. Once you've figured out whether it can work for
you, approach your boss with a solid plan for launching a babies-at-work
program. Download a detailed list of business benefits — such as moms' taking
shorter maternity leaves — and a template for a company policy from babiesatwork.org.
- Suggest a two-week trial run. "It's much easier to get someone to
agree to this plan if they don't feel pressured to sticking with it if doesn't
work," Moquin says. The first days will be rough for everyone, she notes, but
don't give up right away. "Once you and the baby get into a rhythm, work days
will become easier."