This is a guest post by Karelys Beltran. She works as an office manager for a small company. She has a toddler son, and just this month Karelys had a baby girl!

My child comes to work with me. I am not so much of a hot shot that I can dictate that my workplace revolves around my wants, and especially not around my children. But I made a way to take my child to work because my priority is to be close to my son. It became a priority once I realized that for my sanity, I had to work outside the home.

This post is not to convince you that it’s a good idea to take your child to work, or that it’ll be easy and dreamy and that everyone will love you for it. This is a strategy for those who want to pull it off against the odds because no matter what, time with your child is a bigger priority than the biggest hurdle you face at the time.

Sometimes a simple strategy can also be easy to execute. But this is not one of those strategies.

1. Decide why you want to bring your child and get ready for what you’ll give up.

You need to be clear on why you are taking on this challenge and how big of a priority is. It will be difficult, more than you even expect, and you need to remember why you’re doing it so you can push through.

Some people decide to live in poverty so they can be present for their children. I decided to give up on my ego and put on hold pursuing high-focus, impressive jobs for something that required less mental energy and wasn’t impressive in order to bring my child to the office with me.

2. Find a job that will allow bringing your kid to work.

I roll my eyes when people whine that they can’t homeschool or bring the kid to work because their job would never allow it or finances are a problem. It’s like when girls whine that they can’t find a decent man to date but they allow themselves to be pursued by mediocre men that do not respect them just because they are too scared to be alone.

No one is forcing you to stay in your job. If you can’t make a lateral move and then step it up one notch then you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t have open doors you’re bad at selling yourself. Good news: this is an easy fix.

I took everything I learned in Penelope’s career blog and went job hunting with a specific need in mind: bring my child to work with me. Implementing the advice gave me job offers left and right. If the interviewer refused to give that flexibility I interpreted it as: “this is not a two-way street. We want to use you, we want your commitment, but all we offer in return is just a paycheck.”

I valued myself more than that. So I cut the interviews short and told them there was no sense in wasting each other’s time. We were not a good fit.

Soon I found the perfect fit. I talked about work and personal life balance being a lie. I was about to invest a large part of my life to help someone realize their goals and asked the same in return.

Initially it was very difficult because I was a new mom with no idea how to make this work, and my kid was very high strung, I was breastfeeding, the job was new to me, and I was on a major sleep deficit. But I was ready to make it work no matter how hard Penelope tried talking me out of it and back into being a stay-at-home mother.

I would put on lipstick, curl my hair, and pretend I couldn’t hear my fears, then head off to work.

3. Do a partial day and make it fun for the child.

My son was in daycare for four months and we knew we hated it but we silenced our fears and pretended everything was great. Not being with my child during the long 9-5 workdays was ruining my life. I felt too guilty to go out with my husband after work, go exercise or go out with friends.

An entire workday is too long for a child under two years, so we do half days.

I am thrilled to tell you that everything is dreamy right now. He is not disruptive anymore. If we spend uninterrupted time in the morning and fill “his emotional tank” then he only comes in once in a while for a hug and I can work in peace.

We play games to encourage motor skill development: stacking paper cups on the floor and knock them down with a ball like in a bowling alley.

We read a book. Then he goes off to play alone or tinker with his electronics. This made our child much more relaxed because I give him a choice cut of my day, not the leftovers of me after work when I am wiped out.

4. Stand your ground.

Bringing your kid to work is going to be a steep learning curve. I was constantly worried that I would come across as an employee that cannot be taken seriously. A man can bring his child to work and everyone melts. A mom brings a child to work and she looks pitiful.

I just had to be okay with being frazzled and sometimes being lost. Develop the mental discipline and do not indulge worries of “What are they really thinking?” I made a deal with my boss, not with anyone else. I would not worry but only take action if someone said something directly to me. I planned to talk it out and find the best arrangement for both parties.

No one ever said anything.

5. Be valuable and restore the balance for your employer.

There is no perfect job and no perfect employee. There is going to be something annoying about everyone. I made sure that I was giving everything I could so I would be close to perfect. You don’t have the luxury to break the societal rules of no kids in the workplace regularly while still being mediocre or bad at your job. You have to deliver results and quality work on time and make up for the discomfort you’ll bring people for disrupting their preconceptions of how things should be. I made sure to be reliable and ready to be help at the drop of a hat even if it was after office hours.

Look, your kid will be annoying for only a little while or you are doing it wrong for your situation and you need to recalibrate. Let that be the one bad thing about you.

I am not a revolutionary and have no interest in rocking the boat. I want what I want, and I want people to be so happy with me that they’ll hand me what I ask for in a silver platter with a smile. There are so many jobs where kids can accompany their parents just fine– especially if they are older children. The reason we don’t see more of it is because people are convinced kids should be at very specific places and out of the way just like women were supposed to be at the kitchen and out of the way, back in the day.

If I’ve made waves it wasn’t on purpose but I don’t back out in fear either. I work really hard to strike a balance of asserting myself without irritating people. And fail miserably sometimes. I focus on pleasing people so that they will be happy to work with me and I can have the life I want. People are willing to compromise if you’re worth it to them.

So be worth it.

Don’t neglect to delight your coworkers.

It’s hard work but your options are either to only see your kid for a few hours a day outside of work, or to get creative to pull this off. If you’re not willing to give up what you currently have, then just call it what it is. Say that your lifestyle and everything else is more important to you than to make yourself over and be present for your kid during the formative years.

 

44 replies
  1. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    I love this! Thanks Karelys, some great points well made and alot to think about. Congratulations on your newborn

  2. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    I’m dying to know what field of work you are in. What kinds of jobs do you think would be a good match for this? I would have never considered this as an option until now. I commend you for structuring your life in a way that meets your family’s needs and reflects your values. I love what you said about offering your son a choice cut of your day as opposed to what’s left over at the end. Thats such a great point.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      The field is nothing glamorous (Admin. essentially).

      What this experience has taught me is to think outside the box and find a way to beat the system. The answer really is IN the problem.

      But it has taken me SO MANY years and recently a lot of focused effort to retrain myself at thinking differently. I am training my brain and my attitude to be more flexible. The moment I was determined to unschool (which was so odd at first) a lot of things seemed possible. It was just a matter of making a way.

      I would love to find a way to work from home. But I can’t right now. So in the meantime I do what I can and push the limits everywhere.

  3. marta
    marta says:

    Wow! Great post, Karelys, and congratulations on the baby girl.

    I work from home and have had my children around until 3.5 years old, when they start going to preschool.

    I’m now with my fourth (2 years and 3 months old) and boy do I know it is not easy at all! I’ve had my mom’s help on and off all these years though, and I guess that is the only way we’ve managed this arrangement.

    For example, right now I have a project due in mid December and my mom comes over to our place and takes my daughter to the park for a couple of hours in the morning during the week. Then she brings her back and leaves. I feed and put my daughter to nap and then work another couple of hours. When she wakes up we do the afternoon relax time: the other kids are home and/or heading off to their after-school activities and children number 3 and 4 and I go to the park. At night, when everybody under 14 is asleep, I work another couple of hours.

    It’s really exhausting and mind blogging, sometimes, but I don’t have to accommodate coworkers’ or boss’s needs and opinions on having my child with me all the time.

    But, honestly, I wouldn’t know how to do it with more than 1 toddler at the same time. Also, I know this doesn’t work when at least 2 kids are around. During vacation I just do not work (that’s more than 4 months out of 12) because I’m neither being competent in my job nor present in my kids’ lives if I try to juggle the two.

    So, yeah, what I’m really trying to say is that even if I did want to homeschool, I don’t know how I would be able to meet all that is required of me, workwise…

    I’ll be interested in knowing how you’ll juggle a toddler, a baby and work. I hope PT keeps inviting you back here!

    Cheers.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      We’re working on figuring that out right now. I mean, our sweet girl is tiny and she mostly sleeps but I know we’ll get there.

      A lot of my problem solving for major decisions are made by me sitting down and thinking of how things were in “simpler times” or how people who have it way harder than us do it. Then I sit with my husband and we tweak it until something is workable. God knows nothing is perfect!

      For when working from home here’s what works for us: splitting the kids (yeah, even the baby is so time consuming when awake). We send one over to my mom’s house and the toddler outside to play. We fenced our house so he can go outside without constant supervision and we made sure that the grass is just grass and no pokey stuff. The yard is clean of hazards. (At first he didn’t want to and now we can’t get him inside).

      Also, we use screen time and electronics for when we need focused work time. We “save” all the screen time for the day and sync it for when we need the toddler to be calm, quiet, etc. I know I have to work super focused and we dote on the kid first, make sure everyone has eaten, etc. Then it’s time to work. I would love to do screen time, then nap (or reverse) so then I would have 3 consecutive work hours, but I can’t make it happen just yet. Maybe never.

      So it’s a challenge I hear ya. But it’s exciting to also find a way and “beat the game.”

      So far what has worked for you?

      • marta
        marta says:

        I still haven’t figured out whether your husband works from home or “just” stays at home with your kid.

        When I had just two kids (22 months apart) I wasn’t really able to work. I do translations – films, books, academic papers – and just could not sit down and open the computer to read emails, let alone concentrate to do any productive work.

        So I just took the kids to the park, went grocery shopping, played with them at home, did house stuff – your know, sahm.
        Then, around the time the younger one had her 3rd birthday, the 3rd baby was born. By then the older one was in preschool, so I just had two at home again.

        But our financial situation was worse than ever so I had to picth in. I resumed the freelance translation I had been doing before the 1st was born, and would work during naptime and at night. That meant about 5 hours, (2+3) per day, which was not enough, monetarily speaking… But we got through.

        Fastforward to now. The older kids are all in school and the toddler is at home. I do the same work routine (nap+night) plus the extra 2 hours in the morning when my mom comes over. The deadlines are really tight and I’m taking in as much projects as I’m offered, because we are in a very dire finantial situation (it’ll get better by the end of 2015, when we finally pay off a big bank debt).

        This is our arrangement. My husband works in academia, has flexible hours but tons of work (teaching, researching, administrative stuff) and his wage, although above the national average, is just not enough to support us all on its own. So my work, which helps me keep some intelectual endeavour, is also what pays the food we eat.

        As I said on the 1st comment to your post, when I have the 4 kids around (vacation, weekends, afternoons) I am not able to concentrate and work.

        We live in an apartment.
        On weekends and Xmas/Easter/Summer breaks (4 months total) the three older ones get out on their own – the 9 year old usually with the 14 year old (both boys) – since about 3 years ago. They go to the park (a block away), to friends’, etc. But the toddler cannot be left with them. Also, they’re all around for mealtime, so even with their help – groceryshopping, cooking, cleaning up – there’s little time I can have to productively work on the computer.

        Having the 4 of them (or any combination of 2 or 3) at home means doing chores, mealtimes and family time. There’s really not a lot of hours left for translation or reviewing (by their bedtime – which on weekends&schoolbreaks is later – I’m too exhausted).

        So, if I were to homeschool/unschool, we’d have to have made two basic different choices:

        1. Start working from home only when they’re all older than 3 or 4.
        2. Just have 2 kids, 12-24 months apart max.

        But we chose to have a bigger than usual family while still in debt (not wise, I know, but we only get one life!) so this is how things have turned out.

        My kids are all in schools and afterschool activities (each kid in only one!) within walking distance from home. Their friends live nearby. They’re all fairly independent and have a great sense of neighbourhood community, so I guess it’s paying off to have bought an apartment in such a nice district in the city centre – one of the options we did make when we thought about starting having kids.

        One last note, on challenges and burnt-out: we all get it: sahm(d), wahm(d), work-outside-the-home-moms(and dads)… At times, there’s no way out of burn-out.

        What we’ve found is important is when we finally have our heads above water, look around and see all the beautiful sea and sand surrounding us and feel content, despite the ocasional struggles to breath, with the choice to have dived in headfirst.

        Take care!

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          Just recently we made the switch to my husband staying at home. He now is a bower and stay at home dad.

          I still take the kid to work most days because I noticed how he was super clingy and angry when I he wouldn’t see me all day once his dad stayed at home with him. It’s so nice to just go to work and arrange my work day as I see fit. If I expect a super busy and heavy workload I just don’t take him to work. But soon after I arrange for a very easy week or day so I can take him to work.

          It gives my husband a break and it gives me time with him so I can feel fine going out on a date with my husband after work, or with friends, or just carving time out for myself.

          The key to everything is that I think “temporary.” When it gets very hard I take comfort in that it’s temporary. When it’s nice and easy I try to take it all in and be very present and focused because I know it’s temporary. Things can change at any moment.

  4. MBL
    MBL says:

    What a great post!

    Before I knew this was a guest post and when I saw the title “plan for taking your child to work” I immediately thought “Hey, Karelys should do a post entitled “plan for putting your child to work,” since I have a great image of Murphy following Chris around the yard helping with projects. And then I saw the photo and thought, “Hey, that could be Murphy heading to work with his briefcase.” And then I saw what the post really was.

    I love that your first step is to decide what to give up, since the rest is moot if you are trying to keep everything else.

    Love it!

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Haha MBL you’re probably are alluding to the picture on my Facebook of Murphy doing yard work.

      I have this idea that if I manage to show my kids that chores are not punishment then they’ll effortlessly do good things for themselves like exercise and eat healthy and be neat and tidy. But it’s just stupid because those are not the things that trip people up in life.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        As cute as that was…nope, it was an image I had from a word picture you had posted on here a while back.

        Woohoo, I was actually able to find it (thanks Google!) It was the day 5/5/14 that you “announced” that Chris had quit his job to stay home with Murphy. It was a beautiful comment (clearly since I remembered it six months later) and seemed to be right around a real turning point in your lives and your comments here became even more insightful.

        Heck, I’m going to post most of it right here since it is as beautiful today as then.

        “I am not sure I want to say this online yet. I mean, many of our friends know but it’s such an uncommon concept that we still get funny looks.

        My husband quit his job to stay at home with our child and give other projects a try. We are so happy. Right now it feels like vacation.

        This morning him and our son put on boots and jeans and went outside to finish building the backyard. Lots of cement and stuff.

        It’s been two weeks since the change. And our son already demonstrates a connection, a love for his father, that just wasn’t there before. Because there was not enough time between them no matter how committed my husband was to fathering his son.

        My husband is not like me. He doesn’t get bored with the kid because it’s not all about the kid. My husband goes on about his day and the kid tags along (hauling the pieces of wood he can actually carry, playing in the dirt, 4-wheeling until the battery dies, playing in the dirt some more). I am ecstatic. I am so excited. We can finally see what unschooling will be like.

        Once we stopped letting fear hold us back and we took the plunge….now we can really see how it will be possible for us to unschool.”

        I love how this ties in with your comment above about how you fenced in the back yard and crafted it in such a way that your lives could function as you wish. I remember thinking, at the time, that “finish building the backyard” seemed like a funny phrase since people usually just do things here and there. But I love seeing that one of the first things that y’all did was set the groundwork (literally) for today.

        “I have this idea that if I manage to show my kids that chores are not punishment then they’ll effortlessly do good things for themselves like exercise and eat healthy and be neat and tidy. But it’s just stupid because those are not the things that trip people up in life.”

        Actually, I think those are the very things that do trip many people up!!

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        I really liked this post. Also very much like this comment about your effort to show that chores are not punishment. I think that’s very important. This is a good opportunity to include a link here on a short post titled ‘What Manufacturing Teaches Us about the Dignity of Work’ – http://blog.tifwe.org/manufacturing-dignity-and-work/ . I think chores are good preparation for the workforce whether you’re working for yourself or a large company. Work dignifies the individual and chores are a good precursor to prepare for future adult responsibilities.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          I was given the first book by Maria Montessori by a friend. I can never finish reading it. I had planned to leave it in the bathroom to sneak a few reads but even there I am not toddler free (totally cliche but it’s true).

          She talks about the need for children to do work. For dignity. And how naturally they gravitate towards organization. I used to think that children are rowdy and always make a mess. I mean, they do. But it’s amazing to see how they also have a need for organization. I see it when he lines up our shoes. And his toys.

          I think nature is just like that. In the micro view it makes a mess out of everything and you can try to control it but it’s futile. However, it has a pattern and rhythm of its own.

          When I lived in the dessert we would see that out of the norm whether always came in patterns of 3’s. Sand-stormy days, rainy days, extra-hot days….they all came in 3’s. So when we were at our wits ends because of the heat or the cold I’d take refuge in the thought that it’d soon be over. Right around day 3.

          And so it is with the child too. Normally, the extreme behaviors (whether they be too calm, too angry, etc.) nose-dive at a point of 4-ish days. When I remember it makes it easier to handle it.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            “I think nature is just like that. In the micro view it makes a mess out of everything and you can try to control it but it’s futile. However, it has a pattern and rhythm of its own.”

            Damn K, you are on a roll! With this and all of your responses to comments.

  5. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Hopefully by the time our kids reach professional age there will be millions of more bosses like the boss you have.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I feel like that was possible by selling an idea really well. Of course there are environments where thats not even a question. But I feel like the possibilities are more than just kids at work or not at work.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        A lot of the bigger places have onsite daycare, but if I was in this situation I would want my kids with me like you are doing.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          It’s amazing to me how much certain companies depend on employees executing their jobs effectively and how many jobs are normally populated by women but the benefit of childcare that provides more flexibility isn’t offered. Then women tend to take most days off because their kid gets sick. And the work suffers. Can you imagine if you have a large office and most of them are women? It’s chaos.

          Penelope mentioned how Google now offers insurance that covers Autism spectrum care. It makes sense because it’s obvious that people who populate Google and make things move forward there tend to be people in the Autism spectrum.

          Child care benefits in different forms should be included if you don’t want your workforce to constantly falter, or have high turnover, because they are women and women tend to care for children most of the time even if they have a partner.

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

            My husband’s company is similar. They are going to build onsite daycare for employees, but not only that, they are planning to create a private school for employees children to go during the day since the CEO often brings his kids to work. I think he is secretly homeschooling his kids…. I keep bugging my husband for info but he’s too busy building rockets.

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        I wanted to show that I am an office manager because normally people think that working and parenting only mesh when you’re totally in charge of your job. Like if you’re a freelancer, work from home, you hold a super high office, etc.

  6. Emily
    Emily says:

    I so needed this today! I work from home with my toddler, and I still worry what clients really think when they find out I have a home office. I really feel like society views this as unprofessional (working from home with your child) when in reality, my set-up is more professional than some of the offices where I have worked in the past. My struggle will be continuing to do this with (hopefully) more children. I am determined to make it work. These posts give me so much hope that I am not alone and that I am not crazy for wanting something else besides the standard working/daycare arrangement. My husband is working overseas this year, so it is just me right now. It has been really hard even though I have help from my parents and in-laws. When he is in the states, he is a full-time student, but we are able to juggle things pretty well between the two of us. Thank you for the inspiration! Looking forward to learning how you do it with multiple children at young ages! Love this blog!

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Emily you’re so brave for choosing to tune out the noise! I constantly worry about that too!

      Take heart in that it’s temporary. Things will get easier. And when they are their hardest they are hard for a tiny bit, then they return to normal.

      My favorite thing out of this experience is that we have come to cut out all the “fat” in our lives. There’s just no room for friendships that don’t make our lives better. There’s no room for anything that isn’t essential or makes life better :).

      I dislike when my friends think we’re either lucky, or that we have a secret weapon they don’t have, or that I am “superwoman.” I am just a girl that falls apart almost everyday because I am coming close to the line at the end of every single day. And then I have to dig in deep, find strength or make some, and get up everyday roaring like a lion.

      And some days I do the bare minimum :).

      There’s no secret weapon just taking charge of life and constantly tweaking it so that it works better for every circumstance.

  7. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    This is a great post, because it shows how creative you can be when you make a decision to do something.

    I think sometimes we need to change our thinking about work and family time. For instance, the only thing I cannot do with them is phone calls and online workshops, so I schedule a sitter for those tasks. The rest of my working time is a hybrid work/school/play day.

    The classes I took on Quistic, helped me redefine my work over the past couple of years so I could change how and what I do for work. Her latest course could help anyone wanting to pitch the idea of taking your kids to work. http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2014/11/13/4-day-webinar-with-penelope-make-money-selling-your-ideas/

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Kathy Penelope’s writing was life changing for me. It sounds ridiculous but it’s just the truth.

      I took everything I learned on the career blog to change my approach to work.

      First off, I stopped thinking in terms of going out to ask or beg for a job. I started thinking in terms of partnering. We’re doing business together. You pay for my services and I commit to dazzling you so you are returning customer (I don’t get fired and continue to be paid next month).

      I am excited about the idea pitching seminar.

      I can’t do phone calls either. Right now screen time is a life saver for those things. So I use it specifically for times when I need to focus and there can be zero interruptions. So I lump all that type of work for the length of a movie :).

      • Kathy
        Kathy says:

        It is not ridiculous at all that her writing had the effect on you – it did the same for me. She is so honest in her writing and the advice she has given me held no ambiguity. She is the best at seeing what will work, and is unapologetic in her advice. That is the gift to everyone that reads her work.

  8. Christa
    Christa says:

    Another post from Karelys! Such a great article. The general workforce encourages employees to separate from their families and keep kids in childcare (daycare, preschool, gradeschool), but everything in this blog says that’s the worse thing you can do to your kids and to yourself. Institutionalized care does not provide accurate training for adult life, but watching your parents at work on a regular basis does. This is such a great post in that it gives a real-life glimpse into what this looks like. I have a two-year-old too…I will be reading this post over and over :) Thanks for sharing Karelys!

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Thank you Christa.

      The career and homeschooling blog helped me realize how much of our lives we are dedicating to work! it’s not just 8 hours. It’s all the time before and after work. We end up living life only on after hours and weekends. If that.

      During the interview, once I was sure I connected well and had the sale in my pocket, I mentioned how I believed work and life balance was bs. That if I was going to help him realize his vision I needed him to back me up too. And family was most important to me at the moment. It wasn’t that I didn’t care daycare choices. It was that I wasn’t willing to leave my child in daycare for 10 hours.

  9. mh
    mh says:

    Good post, Karelys. I hope your new baby is a joy.

    I’m impressed with your idea. You’re absolutely right: there are no perfect employees. So decide the area you’re going to be imperfect and deal with it

    This is good timing for me. My personality makes it hard for me to catch the signals of how people are evaluating me. I am going to take your advice here and decide what to say if it comes up, and then get going, being awesome.

    I’m not the only person around with imperfections. Good post. Thanks for writing it.

  10. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    So what would really be interesting is a “day in the life”—what happens all day? How do you do the work you need to do with the child there? I worked from home, part time, with a 0-5 yo, but an office environment can be different. I envision how it would play out if I brought my 7 yo to my office now (I’m out of the house now) and it just seems like it would be too dreary for a child…all day.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I agree. I was in a position where I was CEO and I had an office full of employees and I could take my kids there whenever I wanted.

      So if I worked late I kept them there (vending machine dinners) and when they were too sick to be at school (they were in school at this point) I set them up in their own cubicle with a computer full of games and movies.

      But a cubicle is lonely and stifling for a kid. And they never felt taken care of in my office – they felt like I was using my office as a storage room for them.

      People always used to tell me that I was so lucky to have my own startup where I make the rules for children at work. But it didn’t help at all. It just made me sad to see that there was nothing I could do to make it fun to come to the office if you’re a five-year-old boy.

      (Caveat: my sons did actually like it when all the guys would stop and play with them. The more my sons could disrupt the office the more the office seemed like a good place to be. But that’s not fair to the company. As always, it’s work or home that is suffering. )

      Penelope

  11. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    The night prior we talk about going to work the next day. In the morning I make a big deal out of it while we’re getting ready.
    I try to get earlier than him to eat and just make it easier. Then we have a “coffee date” at our favorite cafe.

    We head to the office. He climbs the stairs. Everything is very slow.
    When we get there he runs to toys. Then I play music. We spend about 10 minutes with focused attention on him. Either reading or playing or something. Then I let him play with whatever he wants. If the office is alone he can play with balls and stacked cups. If there are people in the office I put a movie in the travel dvd player.

    Once in a while he comes in for hugs, then he goes back.

    Then we go to lunch.

    Normally he’ll fall asleep after lunch. His dad picks him up if he’s still awake. If he falls asleep I text my husband to pick him up after. I have blankets saved in the office.

    I try to not do a full day. He gets bored. But if everyone is gone and I’ve managed to minimize the work load then a full day is fine because we can take breaks, play a bit louder, etc.

    I don’t bring him in when I’ve scheduled meetings or I’m on tight deadlines when I can’t give him attention.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      Thanks for the more detailed account. It sounds like it works well…if I’m understanding right, it sounds, too, like it’s not an every day thing? You take him in when you need to, or when you can? One thing I don’t understand is if this is being presented as a sustainable thing people can do for years and we’re supposed to be bold and innovative and strive for this kind of life…or if it’s just meant as a temporary thing. Are we meant to think that through coming to work the child is being “unschooled” and maybe an older child would be given a computer or art suppliers or something to play with/work on while there? I’m looking for more on how/why this scenario, for the long term, is superior to school (for school age kids…)

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        It’s hard for me to tell you how to take it because I’m making it up as I go and no one is telling me how to take it.

        My point is to make sure I connect with my child so his needs for connection with us parents doesn’t suffer in favor of work. It’s not a lack of childcare options.

        We used to do 4 hours in daycare including the 1-2 hours of naptime and paired up with office time. At the time my husband worked full time.

        I’m of the idea that unschooling doesn’t have to be done all from home and all under the direct supervision of the parent.

        I’m not trying to tell anyone this is superior to other choices. I just know that right now we’re presented the option of either work or family. That’s it. And it doesn’t work for me. So I tried a different option. Whatever we do is hard anyway, might as well do what’s hard but with the benefits we like the most.

        When my husband became a stay at home dad I continued taking Murphy to the office. The point has always been connection and satisfying that need. Everything from discipline to growth spurts and teething (not to mention breastfeeding) is smoother when he’s secure in our relationship. Otherwise it’s waves of anger rooted in fear,the insecurity that I’m not there or will leave at any moment.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          I guess I get it for little kids like yours—which is why I chose to work from home part time when my kid was below school age. And I could somewhat see my child coming to my office with me now, but I just feel like she might actually get more out of being at school. If she came to my office with me, it would basically be me telling her to explore on a computer and having her make art with art supplies. There’d be only me to talk to, and maybe a benevolent co-worker. At school, she can build friendships and navigate different social problems, be in a variety of spaces, not be in front of a screen so much, etc. My office environment is pretty soul-sucking even to me, as an adult, so I would never subject my kid to that. So I guess the answer from many here would be that I need a new job? But on the other hand, the work is good, analytical, creative to some extent. Still, I fantasize about things like my own catering business (which would provide much more variety for a child “apprentice”…) but, oh, the golden jail bars. It’s highly unlikely I’d make as much money….
          So many interesting things to think about.

          • Karelys
            Karelys says:

            Often your line of questions explore whether or not homeschooling is really better than attending school.

            I suppose that the answer lies in a few aspects. Is school conductive to a successful (happy and thriving) life? It seems like in your case certain things (like having a two income family, the interaction in school for your kid, saving for retirement, having a certain lifestyle) are a non-negotiable.

            I too feel the responsibility to provide a safe and stable environment for my kids. So right now is not a good time to be risky with the bottom line. Maybe later (not too much later) I’ll get to hop on an engaging job that requires I give up the security of a paycheck on a certain date.

            Too late I have found out that the track that school puts your life on has set me back more than anything. Like asking a fish to run a race against lions and tigers.

            The options set before me I hate. So I make new ones. It’s not that we can’t adapt to school environments or that we’re too good for it. It’s that what’s asked of us to do so is too little return for such a sacrifice.

            Someone said here that kids need routine. Of course they do. And of course it’s not something that I missed in “freak out as a parent 101.” My kid has a rhythm and a pretty strong routine but with lots of wiggle room for him to be bored, explore, find out what he’s interested in, etc. His sleep needs are not something that sync with ours. His developments doesn’t spark worries. And believe me, I am a worry wart.

            For us it’s about not submitting to the demands asked of the lifestyle track that school, two jobs, big house, etc. because the result is not worth it.

            Maybe what we end up doing is not the best fit for you and your family. But that’s what unschooling is about. It’s about finding how to get the best when the options set before you offer nothing good for the price required.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Well, they’re non-negotiable more for my husband than for me…when I say “what do you think if I started a catering business” he says, how about after we retire…you need to build up your retirement and have those good benefits right now…and I am like, well, OK… For better or for worse, I’ve always been a “bloom where you’re planted” kind of person rather than scrabbling through something I think may be better…I admire those who are less risk-averse than me (til they require my tax contributions to get by…ha ha ha…half joking)…

  12. Christopher Chantrill
    Christopher Chantrill says:

    This is very important. A century ago German sociologist Georg Simmel predicted that modern women would redefine the public sphere to “a more feminine sensibility.”

    Feminists like Simone de Beauvoir tried to remake women to live in the man’s world designed by men for men.

    But what is more masculine than rigidly separating work from family and warehousing children in schools or in day care?

    Now, finally, we see women beginning to live out Simmel’s prediction. The change can’t come soon enough.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I love the topic you bring up. I’ve been contemplating this as well. I wonder how things are going to change in this aspect. Is it going to drive discrimination up?

      Commenter (where is he? I miss him in this thread) said something a while back ago that really changed my point of view “women tend to earn for themselves and men earn to support their families.” And it helped me see why women accept less pay for their jobs. Every time I am seeking or interviewing I think in terms of providing for my family rather than just a complimentary salary to make ends meet.

      I haven’t figured out how to walk the fine line between being feminine but assert myself BUT don’t be manly….or come across as manly. I want people to respect my work but I don’t want to be contrived into acting in a harsh way that is not me.

      I decided to find out more about you because I really like your comment and you seem so smart. I am excited to read all through your blog once I get a chance!

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        “women tend to earn for themselves and men earn to support their families”

        there’s much to argue with in this statement—it’s a very upper middle class place of privilege kind of statement

        I mean, tell that to the single mothers or the mothers who have to work in addition to their husbands just to pay the bills…. (as in your case?)

        I won’t even get started on women in other (developing) countries and studies that show how their earnings go more toward the family and community than (many) men who drink and gamble it away…

        the topic of equal pay for women in the U.S. is complicated…for example, would you expect to be paid the same to do your job, bringing in your child, as someone who does the same job and doesn’t bring in the child…to me, the bringing in the child is a “benefit” so you kind of have to factor that in… just like for me, I took 5 years to work part time from home and now I negotiated more vacation, more work from home time and special hours and so I don’t make the same money as a guy who started after me who never took any breaks and is available any time…

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          all that said, I am, too, intrigued by the comment and have to now look up Georg Simmel…

          that thing about women earning for themselves and men earning for their families just really rubbed me the wrong way

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            yes, that rubbed me the wrong way too. It is an overgeneralization and cements women in the position of caretaker.

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