Do kids belong in the office? What about when you have to choose between taking the day off or bringing your children with you to work? Are they a distraction for others? Are they a distraction for you?
These are good questions. That’s why FGB’ers are talking about them in the FGB Community! FGB’er Jayme M. recently admitted, “Unpopular opinion: I hate when people bring their kids to the office.”
She prefaces her post by saying that she’s not a parent and “can’t imagine the headache (not to mention financial strain) of having to arrange for after-school care for a child.”
“When colleagues do bring their kids to the office, I find it incredibly distracting and disruptive,” she says, nonetheless. “It’s not like we have a child-care facility in our office building; when the kids get bored (who can blame them), they’re out making noise in the main work area with the rest of us. And to suggest that this noise is a problem is tricky; I fear being seen as unkind or non-understanding.”
She asks the FGB community if anyone else has had to navigate this kind of issue. She’s not alone. Here’s what other FGB’ers have to say about whether or not kids should be allowed in offices.
1. Kids shouldn’t really be in the office unless it’s super necessary.
“If it is an everyday thing, then yes, I would agree that is annoying (this coming from the mom of three), and you should address it with your manager, being a kind as possible,” says Butynski. “If this is a temporary thing, then show some grace for the week or so, and try to enjoy the disruption — it can be a learning experience for you and the kids!
Ultimately, however, she agrees that “the workplace typically isn’t a place for kids, and being respectful to your co-workers means limiting distractions.”
Other parents agree, too.
“Out of consideration for others, I work with my son to be a strong independent child who can entertain himself and not make much noise, and who is also aware that a workplace is not the same as a park,” says Crystal Rhineberger. “However I would never bring my son on a regular basis! It’s unfair to him to have to behave like a small adult 24/7, it does not allow me to focus on what I need to get done, and for others around, no one needs to hear the arguments and discipline.”
Emergencies are different cases, of course.
“I have three kids and took the two older ones to work with me one day — I didn’t accomplish half of what I needed to do,” admits lkrystall. “To me, unless the kids are 10 or older, can distract themselves, and you have ur own office space, they shouldn’t be at your work unless it’s an emergency.”
2. Help out to make it a better environment for everyone.
“In our office, on the odd day that school is out and work isn’t, co-workers have brought their children to work,” says an anonymous FGBer. “I’ll admit that kids can be a distraction, but a few of us try to help when the kids get bored. I have crayons at my desk, along with colored paper for the kids who like to draw. I ask them to write a story with pictures and help them to bind it into a book. I have a toy car in my desk for any child who might like to try that. If they are old enough, one of us takes them up to the break room to play ping pong or foosball for a little while. We also have video game consoles in a few small conference rooms to help pass the time.”
Of course, she adds that it’s important for the parent to be responsible for their child and their behavior, but says that “a little patience and a handy distraction” can go a long way to make the visit a more pleasant one for everyone.
Other FGBers are chiming in with tips, too!
“Utilize noise-canceling headphones or book a conference room for yourself for those times,” adds Maggie S. “Alternatively, can you hook up some movies or games in a conference room and corral the kids in there?”
3. Talk to human resources about options.
“If this is a recurring child-care problem that more than one mom has to deal with at your job, perhaps management would consider an on-site child care option or some remote work hours for mothers that need help,” adds Nia-Alyese Rae Boyd. “When women who don’t have children stand in solidarity with women who do, together, the workplace dynamic can be changed in ways that support all of us!”
Beyond child care options, flexible hours and the ability to work remotely can also help parents.
“As a parent, there are times when inevitable,” says KatieM45. “What we REALLY need is more flexible work schedules and the universal allowance to work from home (if you’re a parent or not) AND the understanding that sometimes people HAVE to work from home. My VP has a rule: no teleworking on Mondays or Fridays. So when my daughter has a half-day on a Friday (as she often does on holidays), what am I supposed to do?”