bringing a baby to work when your child care falls through

Here’s another angle on the “kids at work” questions that have come up here recently. A reader writes:

I have a 14-month-old son. I returned to work from maternity leave in January after New Year’s when he was four months old. He is in daycare, and this week there was a breakout of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the kindergarten room. Even though he is in a different room, we didn’t want to risk him getting it so we decided to keep him home. I booked some time off, but there was one thing I wanted to get done and since my husband couldn’t get time off and our backups weren’t available due to vacations or illness, I brought our son to my office with me. (My husband works in a warehouse not suitable for children and neither of us have jobs where work can be done from home.)

I brought him in through the side door because I didn’t want to disturb or distract anyone who was already working, and I put a blanket and some quiet toys on the floor of my cube so he would be entertained while I worked. An hour later, my manager saw him when she walked by. She immediately said my son could not be there. When I told her I had no one else to watch him that day, she sent me home for the day and said we would discuss it when I got back from my time off.

After I got back, she called me into her office along with her boss and they and explained that our office is not a place for children. I mentioned that I didn’t have anyone to watch my son and was only going to be in for a few hours. They said it didn’t matter and I should have used time off and stayed home because none of our work involves hard deadlines and that while the company does things like offer more than is required by law for paid maternity leave and gives parents who submit receipts from licensed childcare a small stipend, it doesn’t mean that employees can bring children into the office. They said I would still be paid fully even though I left early that day and that they wouldn’t hold it against me this time, but it was not to happen again.

I am a bit taken aback by this. I understand that we can’t have children running amok, but my son was playing quietly to the point where my coworkers on either side of my cube didn’t know he was there and no one noticed until my manager walked by. Unlike the warehouse where my husband works, there is no machinery or chemicals; it’s a regular office and he was fine playing on my floor. It was my first time doing this and is not going to be a regular thing at all.

I asked about 10 of my coworkers about bringing a child to the office in case of emergency, and every single one (parent or not, younger or older than me) expressed horror at the thought and said no way should it happen ever, not even just for a parent to drop by so everyone can meet their baby. Am I really that out of touch with professional norms for not seeing this as a big deal? Is there anything I can do to convince my manager that this should not be a problem?

It’s a thing that varies by office. Some offices are totally fine with bringing a kid in for a few hours or even the whole day when your child care falls through. Some offices are not.

There’s certainly an argument that giving people some flexibility on this, within reasonable limits, is a good thing in offices that are able to accommodate it, as long as the person is being considerate of coworkers. But there are downsides for employers too — like that you can’t work at your normal level of productivity when you’re also watching a child, that kids can be loud and distracting to other people (even though yours wasn’t in this case), and that there can be safety or liability issues for the company if something goes wrong. It’s legitimate for companies to decide that they don’t want to take that stuff on.

It sounds like in your case, your employer is telling you that your work is not so urgent that you should feel you need to show up with a baby in tow. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, I’d argue that it’s far better than if they expected you never to let a child care emergency impact your work. It also sounds like they try to support working parents in other ways, like your company’s additional paid leave and childcare stipend.

You asked if there’s anything you can do to convince your manager to change her stance on this. In an office where the culture is so strongly “we don’t do this” — as evidenced by the reaction not only of your boss and her boss, but of the 10 coworkers you asked about it — I suspect the answer to that is no, at least not easily. If you really feel strongly about it and want to tackle it, your best bet is probably to enlist other parents in advocating for a policy change as a group. But I think it’s going to be a hard sell in that culture.

For what it’s worth, I do think your office is an outlier on their opposition to a parent dropping by to let coworkers meet a new baby — that tends to be a pretty common thing, even in offices where people wouldn’t bring a kid in for anything longer than that.

But I also think the degree of your surprise of all of this is an outlier too; a no-kids-at-work culture isn’t so terribly uncommon that it should be shocking to encounter it. So I suspect you and your coworkers are just on opposite ends of a pretty normal continuum of opinions on this stuff.

{ 446 comments… read them below }

  1. chumpwithadegree*

    I certainly have done this when mine was younger-picked her up at daycare due to a non-contagious illness, brought her to work for a couple hours while I caught up, then took her home. That was 20 years ago. My employer would not allow it now.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think one reason a few employers may be more strict is that 20 years ago, few of us would have thought we could do that very often. But now I’d actually be concerned that you’d end up with lots of people doing it often. It’s easier to just say “never” rather than trying to say, “hey, you’re abusing it.”

      1. designbot*

        That’s a good point. My mom used to do this with me fairly often so I’m inclined to say it’s a good thing to give parents a little flexibility here, but at the time she was also the only woman on her team and none of the men ever would have thought to do that. Now that offices are more balanced, and hopefully men are also sharing the burden of childcare a bit better, it’s a different situation.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          My FIL used to do it, occasionally, even 30 years ago. He was in computer engineering, and there is a family legend that my BIL, when he was 2-3, hit “the big red button” on the mainframe….

          But today, companies are a lot more worried about liability. *I* can’t even go into my husband’s office building now, not even to use the restroom. No one other than people who work there and registered (escorted) corporate guests are allowed. In a building with zero manufacturing in it.

          At my last job, it was technically not allowed either, but it wasn’t enforced, and a coworker did regularly (at least once every month or two) bring in one or both of her kids, and even though they were good kids, it was disruptive for the whole group.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, 30 years ago I would often to work with one or the other of my parents when school was closed but work was open.

          2. SignalLost*

            Liability was my thought. I was explicitly told at a previous job (instructor at a 2-year college) that a student could not bring her infant in because of fire code, that the fire department had to know approximately how many people were in the building in the event of an emergency. Which doesn’t make any sense at all in that context, because it was effectively a public building, where people brought spouses/partners relatively commonly and children more uncommonly but not never – given the scheduling of spring break in my area, it was really usual to have one or two people have their kids in class with them for a week because the child’s school was on a different break schedule. And that’s to say absolutely nothing of the number of students who had absences, or the rare occasions where a class moved to a different classroom, or the number of visitors in the office, which could vary a lot over the quarter.

            But yeah, in OP’s case I would expect it was at least partly a liability issue that kind of turned into a no-kids-is-a-good-rule kind of a thing. And I’ve been in several workplaces that don’t have a problem with kids under 6 months in the office as long as they’re quiet; it’s when they get mobile that there are even more potential problems for the employer, which also might lead to a clampdown on no kids in the office.

          3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            We went with my mom to work a few times, 25-30 years ago, but she worked in a nursing home. We would visit with the residents and hang out in visitor areas (we were old enough to not be watched all the time, but not old enough to be home alone).

            My last place you could have your kid in your office (if you had an actual office) for couple of hours, but no one in a cubicle could bring a kid in. It had to do with our contract with one of our clients. The people in cubicles processed payments and absolutely no one was allowed in that area unless they had signed various confidentiality documents.

            At my current job, no one can come in if they don’t work here.

            1. the gold digger*

              OT, but if I ever have to live in a nursing home, I want it to be the kind that is paired with a day care and with living accommodations for foster children and for college students and that allows pets. That is, I don’t want to be warehoused with a bunch of old people; I want to be in a place where there is youth and energy and life.

              1. Jessesgirl72*

                With the move toward multi-level-of-care places, even being surrounded by old people is a lot better than it used to be. And when you make friends at the independent living level, even when you move to the assisted living and medical care levels, there are people around to visit you and make life still worth living.

                The centers around here almost all allow pets, at least at the more mobile levels. Our church choir does concerts at the Holidays and in the Spring at various centers, and even in the one “memory unit” where we all had to be buzzed in and out, the nurses and aides were encouraged to bring in their own dogs, which the residents love. There have been so many improvements in the last decade for those who need to live in them!

              2. Mookie*

                That sounds marvelous. Now that some subsidized housing in the US is being planned along similar lines — integrated into city centers, near universities, in mixed-use spaces, and with adjacent green space — I hope we can all look forward to something similar.

            2. KR*

              I remember visiting the nursing home my mom worked at as a kid when I was too young to be alone or she was just running in for a short shift. All the elderly knew me very well and I couldn’t keep their names straight. At least there was tons of food both from the residents offering me candy and my mom bribing me with fast food. Good memories now that I miss. Thanks for bringing this up.

            3. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

              Yeah one can never be sure. Two-year-olds are known for trading financial secrets for candy :P

          4. rubyrose*

            The hitting of the big red button – brought back a fond memory.

            I would occasionally take my nephews into work for brief periods. This did involve being beside the mid-range computer console. I taught them to not touch ANYTHING. They were good kids and they obeyed.

            Once a year a large computer processing facility opened to the public for tours. One year, I took my nephews (age 8). We were in one of the computer rooms and a red power off button to the room was on the wall. My nephews, who were about 15 feet away, pointed to it and asked the guide what it was. Heart attacks all around, except for me.

        2. Anonamoose*

          Yep, I used to come into work a lot with my mom during the summer. Luckily she worked at a university so they were more relaxed in general about ‘youth’ in the workplace but today I don’t think she’d get away with it. I find that strange, actually. When did this start happening?

      2. Eighty's Kid*

        I think this is the reason too. I remember going to work with my mom on occasion in the late 80’s. I was old enough to not be supervised constantly, but not old enough to be home alone. She’d set me up with a book or she’d put me to work putting things in alphabetical order and filing paperwork for her (which would probably never happen these days with all the department of labor and worker’s compensation rules.) My mother recalls me telling her that I was definitely going to go to college because I didn’t want to file things when I grew up (that didn’t work out how my 8-year old self planned) — I went to college and still have to file from time-to-time).

        Despite my fond memories of going to work with my mom, I don’t believe that babies, toddlers, and young children belong in the workplace (other than introducing a new baby, or stopping by quickly to drop or pick something up). They require too much attention from the parent (even the very well behaved ones). I am okay with older children, depending on their maturity level from time-to-time.

      1. Kristine*

        Really? I went to work with my mother a lot as a kid. Until I was old enough to walk home from school with my sister (around age 10) she would pick us up from school and take us to her office for a few hours. My sister and I would do homework or play quietly in a conference room and it was never an issue.

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Some of my favorite stories I’ve read in the AAM comments are people sharing about going with their parents to work when things fell through.

        1. chumpwithadegree*

          Interestingly, it was with the state, but our office was relaxed..people would work till 9:00 if they felt like it.

        2. Bandit1970*

          Oh yes. While it was rare, occasionally my father would have to take us into the bank he managed on a weekend when Mom had to work or just wanted to get away from my sister and I. I remember being placed in a conference room with a TV and endless supplies of paper, markers and even better, cookies. The best was when we got a little older, the head teller (also a neighbor) would let us “help” her scan the checks under the blacklight for authenticity (it was the 70s). We felt very accomplished for a pair of grade schoolers.

          1. Chomps*

            @Bandit1970-My dad also managed a bank for years and I got to go there for take your kid to work day in 7th grade. My favorite part was when the tellers let us send those canisters to people who came to the drive-through teller area. So. cool.

        3. RJ*

          I remember as a kid sitting in the break room by myself of the factory my parents both worked at. It wasn’t even because of child care falling through, just that my parent’s shifts overlapped by about 20mins.

        4. MillersSpring*

          Yes, but if the commenter remembers it, it’s likely they were at least five or six, not a toddler or baby.

        5. KR*

          As a kid my grandmother and aunt both worked at places that had big office Christmas parties. There would be a Secret Santa, a toy drive, a Santa to sit on, food, all sorts of things. I remember feeling so special because when I went in my grandmothers cube there was practically a whole wall plastered with pictures of me and her together.

        6. Whats In A Name*

          Yes! My mom is an engineer and would take me to work with her on the weekends when they were working on a big project. They used to let me sit at the receptionist desk and play secretary. When I got to be 10-11 they’d let me “file” paperwork, which was really putting things in neat piles by subject. It was fun!

        7. Anonamoose*

          me too! I was totally one of those kids and it fostered my love of university as a culture/employer/community contributor (and now I am a lifer here at that same university. :) Sometimes a culture can get it right and sometimes they get it wrong.)

        8. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          My mother worked from home. Mostly at night. But being allowed in her office was always a treat.

        9. Dorothy Mantooth*

          When I was young, my father was a Manager/Director at our city’s zoo. So as kids if there was an unexpected day off from school and we had to go to work with Dad, it was a fun day! He would take us around the exhibits for behind-the-scenes tours and we would get unlimited rides on the train.

        10. Daddy's Non-Binary Offspring*

          My dad was an odd mix of salesman and engineer for a company that made custom manufacturing machinery, like pressure vessels and industrial mixers (and sometimes parts for aircraft or even things that ended up going into space). Dad was also an incredibly messy, chaotic worker, whose desk was organized more on the ‘geographic layer’ system than anything resembling a filing system, with Post-Its and scrap jotting paper liberally scattered about and moldy coffee cups adding to the pungent smell of vintage cigarette butts (people still smoked in offices back then). The ever-present office mice loved Dad’s office, so whenever there was a PA day, Dad brought me to the office…. to clean it!
          I found mouse turds in the drawers of his desk every time, and I always ended up with at least 3 huge trash bags full of paper (pre-office recycling… man, I feel old right now) he no longer needed to keep. This started when I was in grade 2 and just began cleaning his office one day because otherwise, I’d have had no place to sit. Or stand. The stacks of papers were so high as to be structurally unstable. It went on until I left for university, ensuring that Dad’s office got cleaned at least a few times a year. I did it voluntarily. I liked being there. While I’d complain, whine, pout, drag my feet, procrastinate, and generally be a brat if Mum asked me (told me.. nagged me) to clean something at home, I did it for Dad with enthusiasm.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I went to work with my mom in the mid-80s when I was around 5-6, after kindergarten (which was half-days)… she worked in a preschool that was part of a church, and I would sit in a conference room and watch TV and read. Granted I was a quiet kid who entertained herself well.

      4. Felicia*

        My mom brought me to work a few times when i was a toddler, up until I was 10 or so, and that was over 20 years ago. but only super rarely .

    2. Rachel*

      My dad was a high school teacher, and my sister and I would go to school with him when we had the day off but he didn’t. (He taught in a different school district.) I loved it! He’d bring us out and introduce us at the beginning of each of his classes, then we’d go back into the department office and I would sit at his desk and read until the class ended. We all ate lunch in the teachers’ lounge and I felt so privileged. : ) (Needless to say, we only got to do this until I was old enough to stay home with my sister while my parents were at work.)

      This was in the early – mid 1980s. I can’t imagine this would be allowed now.

      1. Anonamoose*

        Did you totally drool over the high school boys and put on too much chapstick to try and entice them? (what? not like I ever did that myself…*cough*)

      2. anonderella*

        I went to school with my grandmother a few times when she was a city-school elementary teacher and I was a public-school kid a grade or two above her class. Not sure why I wasn’t in school but my grandma was, but I have some fond memories of teaching her kids the more ‘advanced’ art class techniques that I was learning at the time, and I’m glad I got to have that experience – for a while, I wanted to be a teacher.

    3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      We didn’t have options available 25 years ago that are available now.

      I did it with my first baby quite a bit. I had no family support and was a straight commission salesperson in an industry that was transitioning from totally male to female inclusive. Since I was a rainmaker, I was pretty much middle finger to anybody who gave me the side eye (which, the female clerical staff gave me the side eye and the male sales staff gave me the side eye but freaking bite me see: rainmaker).

      My most hilarious story was when I had little Buster in one day, set up in a swing, after having gotten bounced out of daycare for whatever lamo reason of the day was. My “office” was actually a cavernous empty former showroom space that was to be transitioned to office space but wasn’t yet so it was me, in a huge room with a door that closed, and Buster swinging happily away.

      Door opens. It’s the principal of our company with a VIP from the company’s HUGEST most important client, principal’s account. He’s taking her on tour and nobody was expecting to see me and swinging Buster.

      I don’t know if I blanched first and then turned purple or the other way around. GIANT PAUSE. VIP breaks the silence with ‘well, you are a family friendly company that’s so nice”.

      So, wow.

      Today tho this would never work. A large percent of our employees are young parents but we have options available and we’re family friendly in the “you don’t have to drag your kid to work to keep your job and move things forward” kind of way.

  2. TootsNYC*

    Your manager and your company have sent such a very strong message that I think it would be really damaging to your reputation if you were to push back in any way.

    The thing you can do it in the office is to bring up the idea of making remote access available and useful for a situation like the one you found yourself on. Focus not on the childcare aspect of it, but focus on the idea that you all would benefit is ANYone who is out of the office could get to files on the network (a VPN, for example), or the intranet.
    And lay in plans to have a colleague who could snap a photo of the paper you wanted off your desk and email it to you.
    In other words, approach that problem with WORK at the core to both the problem and the solution.

    Another option is to suggest that the company help find a drop-in daycare center for situations such as this. Some companies subsidize; others just create the relationship and publicize it, leaving you to pay for your own childcare.

    The personal thing to do is to widen your search for people or facilities you could call on for such baby-watching needs.
    We most of us don’t lay those complicated plans in until -after- we need them once.

    1. Charlie*

      Yeah, this. Even if she persists in thinking this is acceptable professional behavior – and, newsflash, it’s completely against typical workplace norms – she has not been left much of an opening to change this. She was told in the strongest and most absolute terms that it’s never to happen again. Drop it and find a backup babysitter.

      I agree with everything you said about improving remote access and managerial acceptance of telework, but as a parent of a young kid myself, I’m reaaaaaal skeptical that anybody gets much work done with a 14- month-old around.

      1. MJH*

        Yeah, sitting on the floor with toys is cool for a smaller baby, but a 14-month old? I’m shocked she was able to do anything. At fourteen months my kid wasn’t walking, but she was into everything.

        1. NoLongerMsCleo*

          I misread at first and thought it was a 4 month old. I had to go back and read after seeing your comment. I was thinking, ok, 4 months, maybe but that’s about the oldest mine could have just played on the floor quietly without being entertained. She’s 11 months old and there is no way she would sit still and quiet enough to not distract those around her and for me to be able to work (granted she REALLY enjoys people noticing her). She isn’t walking yet but is cruising everywhere and is into everything. I just laugh at the idea of her being here and me turning my back long enough to work.
          Although I can work remotely when needed, if I’m home with her, I know I can’t do much work except for when she is napping.

        2. Anonathon*

          I was quite impressed by that, actually! My daughter is just a couple months younger and no way will she sit quietly in one place for more than, say, 2-3 seconds. (She also likes to close my laptop on my hands and laugh maniacally if I even attempt to work in her presence. But all kids are different.)

      2. MoinMoin*

        Normally yeah, I don’t think you’d be as productive in an 8 hour shift at home while watching a kid. But in this case, it sounds like she had a specific task to complete before taking time off so in that case I think it makes a little more sense. Maybe it’d take her an hour in the office and three hours at home, but completing it is the important part (whether she’s exempt or non-exempt notwithstanding).
        I agree with everything else you and Toots said though.

      3. TootsNYC*

        well, my thought wasn’t that it would be full telework, but that it would be a way for her to do that “one little thing” that took her in to the office that day.

        That it would be a way for someone w/ a single urgent task to complete it, or that the VPN/telework would make it easier to hand something off to a colleague, to lessen the impact of being out.

        Much like creating a relationship with a colleague so that you can say, “would you get that folder off my desk and give it to Bob?” Only perhaps electronically in addition to this sort of thing.

        And maybe that’s a mindset thing for the OP as well–for her to think now about how she might be able to accomplish that one semi-urgent task without going in to the office. Survey her resources.

      4. Sketchee*

        “I am a bit taken aback by this. I understand that we can’t have children running amok, but my son was playing quietly to the point where my coworkers on either side of my cube didn’t know he was there and no one noticed until my manager walked by. “

        Even with all of that being true, they’re not obligated to let you bring your child into their office. Why not call the manager beforehand and workout a solution? Just as you would if you had a sick day or needed someone to cover for any other reason? Your manager and company gets to decide this based on any criteria they choose.

        I personally have worked at child friendly offices. My officemate would bring his kid to work. I understood it was a great benefit to him and so did my best to accommodate. I’m with your coworkers in that I don’t want to spend any of my office time around children no matter how well behaved. I love the children in my extended family, they’re not here in my daily life. I enjoy conversation topics that while work appropriate have a more passionate adult energy.

        If that is something you’d like, better to ask before doing. Now that it’s happened, have those discussions and be honest about how you had a different expectation and now understand their point of view.

        It sounds like your manager would have (and now has) worked out a reasonable alternative where everyone wins. That there’s a childcare stipend and flexibility both in workload and timing makes this seem like it would be an ideal situation for many people. Either way, move forward and try not to dwell on it too much.

      5. KR*

        I wouldn’t say it’s completely against typical workplace norms. So many people have shared stories of bringing their kids/babies quickly into work that it must be acceptable somewhere, even if not in your experience. She didn’t go in there with the intention of working a full 8-hour day. I think she just had a specific thing she really wanted to get done that day.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to find a daycare center for emergencies, but all parents should certainly have an emergency backup in their pockets, whether it’s a daycare center, babysitter, nanny, family friend, etc.

      1. TootsNYC*

        It’s not the company’s responsibility. But I’ve worked now at 3 companies that did, and if this company is as family friendly as it seems to be (which it is, except for the “in the office” thing), that might be a useful thing as well.

        Some of the backup daycares I’ve been involved with don’t take people unless they are affiliated with a client company, but they charged the full cost to the employee.

      2. Laura*

        It does’t even sound like it was an emergency. A child in another classroom having HFM does not really constitute a good reason to bring your child into work with you. There are always illnesses going around daycare, if I took my kid out every time someone else was sick I could never work a full time job.

        1. Anne*

          That’s all I could think when I was reading this letter. If I kept my kid home every time we got a note that someone in another classroom was sick he’d basically stay home all winter. Granted, maybe this child has a medical history that necessitates being more cautious, but otherwise I think part of sending your kid to daycare is understanding that sickness happens.

      3. Bend & Snap*

        My company offers emergency backup care for kids, pets and the elderly. It’s a really nice perk that I’ve used a couple of times when my kiddo couldn’t go to daycare or it was closed and work was open.

      4. PH*

        “all parents should certainly have an emergency backup in their pockets, whether it’s a daycare center, babysitter, nanny, family friend, etc.”

        Easier said than done….

        1. Spiny*

          This week, my daycare is closed unexpectedly- death in the family- and my sister is traveling, my father-in-law’s contract was extended another week, and my mother has conflicting appointments.
          And a backup center? It took me months to find anyone with an opening, let alone a standby opening.

    3. KellyK*

      I think this is a really good suggestion, because it focuses on how you can be a productive employee and get done what you need to get done. It’s fantastic that they’re happy to let you use time off when you need it, but you really do need some kind of backup plan if you have a major deadline or an important meeting on a day you also have childcare issues (because Murphy is a jerk).

      That backup plan might be something you need to arrange yourself, like your husband staying home that day, or a friend who’s available as a backup. But, if your company can allow work from home in situations that require it, that’s something they should consider.

    4. SignalLost*

      Given the area I live in, I refuse to drive in snow. I am not a good driver in snow, and there are a lot of people in my area who think they are but aren’t. (Four wheel drive isn’t a substitute for good driving.) Plus, I live over at least three huge hills from every job I’ve ever had, and generally more than that. That might be a direction to expand the request for access in, depending on the area. If OP is in Chicago I don’t imagine that flies, but it’s potentially a way to shift the focus from just parents to all employees.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Eh, snow can get pretty bad in Chicago, depending on how far you’re driving. I live in the Chicago suburbs, 30 miles from work, and when the snow hits the traffic can get horrible, so I work from home just to avoid being stuck on the road for ~2 hours.

        1. Trig*

          I think the implication was that people in Chicago generally know how to drive in snow, and usually get winter tires, whereas people wherever SignalLost lives aren’t as used to it?

          I grew up in the Vancouver area, where it mostly just rains with the occasional snow, and no one had winter tires. I knew people on both ends of the spectrum- those who thought AWD was enough to those who refused to leave the house if even a few flakes were falling.

          I live now in a place where the snow flies in November or December and sticks around until March or April, and if your company doesn’t already allow working from home, snow is not going to convince them otherwise. Of course some people still suck at driving, think they don’t need winter tires, the roads are always a mess at the first fall of the year, and anyone taking the bus is going to be late, but the general opinion is that we can all suck it up and plan better, because it’s gonna be like this for 5-6 months.

          1. ThatGirl*

            It is true that we’re more used to snow, but you’d be surprised at the number of morons on the road, especially the first time it snows every season. And I lived in Kentucky for two years, so I know how southerners react to snow. (Total. Panic.)

            And most of us have all-season tires, I think – I certainly don’t know anyone who puts winter tires on every year.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              No, we’re in Milwaukee, and we’re in all season tires. My inlaws in Wyoming are the only ones I know of who have snow tires. They come in use right before/after they close the passes on I-80

    5. lawsuited*

      OP doesn’t need remote access as a childcare-emergency solution; her boss has already indicated that if all OP’s childcare options fall through she can stay at home with her child because her work is not urgent and deadline based.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Some jobs, though, simply cannot be done remotely. Mine can’t–I have to physically handle the material and I can’t take it home. There is very, very, little I could do remotely even without a kid to watch.

      The bottom line is, people need to have backup plans for children, pets, elderly parents, etc. If you’re responsible for these things, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll have a conflict at some point. She had a perfectly reasonable solution in using her PTO to take a day off, she just tried to get around it.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      She had an option: To stay home. The company made it clear they were OK with that.

      In spite of what most of AAM commentors seem to think, not all jobs, even desk jobs, can be done remotely. Mine can’t because I need access to our physical material, which cannot leave the building. It’s not my employer’s job to provide or find daycare. They gave her a solution, and the solution was that her work was not so critical that she couldn’t stay home with her kid once in awhile.

  3. LisaLee*

    I think this might be an issue with communication too. I would be a little irritated, even in an office where bringing a kid was OK, if my employee just showed up with a toddler. I’d much rather get a quick, “Hey, here’s the situation, little Bobby will be here until 2” email so I know about the extra person in the office. At the very least, you want others to be aware that your kid is there in case of a fire or other emergency where people need to be accounted for.

      1. jm*

        Agree 100%. OP definitely should have asked her manager before bringing her son to work. At that point, her manager would have probably said, “No, just stay home all day — none of your work is that urgent.”

        Honestly, I have two kids, and I would never consider bringing them to my office for more than a five-minute visit (and since they’ve gotten bigger – and louder – I don’t bring them at all. Pictures represent them nicely!) It’s just too distracting. The only companies I know of that let employees bring their children to work are small, family-run businesses and 99% of the time, the children are related to the owners.

        1. kac*

          I worked at a small office and during snow days one employee would bring in his 2 kids (ages about 7 and 9) and they’d play quietly in one of our conference rooms. It was nice to have them around, they were quiet and well behaved, but even at the time this was recognized as something that wouldn’t be okay at every office.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I think it depends on your area as well.

          I worked for a large fortune 500 company where people commonly brought their children in before or after doctor’s appointments. But they prode themselves as being seen as family friendly.

            1. Bartlett for President*

              I think Not the Droid You Are Looking For almost certainly meant “pride” and simply made a typo.

        3. BeautifulVoid*

          All of this. The conversation might not have been so sternly worded had it happened while asking permission, not forgiveness. If it’s not the office culture (as in, OP hadn’t seen her colleagues’ kids around, ever), then the manager should have been given a heads up.

          My two are 19 months old, and I can’t imagine them sitting and playing quietly for an hour. It sounds like OP planned to be there longer, and if her son could have handled it, great. However, my experience with toddlers (mine and others) are that their moods can do a total 180 in the blink of an eye, and that’s not fair to the nearby coworkers, even if she planned to jet out of there at the first hint of a meltdown. And at this age, you never know what’s going to trigger the meltdown. I’ve seen mine do a total faceplant, pick themselves up, and keep on going as if nothing happened, but then fling themselves on the floor and scream for ten minutes because they took the plastic blocks apart and can’t get them back together the same way. Ah, toddlers.

        4. Amy G. Golly*

          I work for a small public library, and there are several staff members who occasionally bring in kids. For the most part, it’s fine: in general, they’re quiet kids who can entertain themselves with books or by playing on the computers. On the whole, I’m happy we’re able to let them do that, because I know that for at least one staff member, getting to work when her kid is out of school would be a hardship if she couldn’t bring him.

          That said: while it’s usually fine, it’s occasionally much less than awesome to work with someone who has their kid with them. Even the best-behaved kids are bound to want (and sometimes need!) attention from their parent when the parent should be focused on working instead. Not to mention when more than one child is in that day, and the parents have to take time out to mediate squabbles between them.

      2. Poster Child*

        Agree! Always ask your manager about doing things that are outside the normal working procedures. Part of the reason management reacted so strongly is possibly because they were offended that you didn’t have the respect to ask permission.

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          Plus I’m sure she was very taken aback to find a hidden baby in a cubicle! I think that was the worst way she could have been looped in on this, so even if otherwise sympathetic this would have soured the situation. Even if you didn’t ask in advance, I don’t know about sneaking the baby in a side door and hoping nobody would notice – I would have probably at least checked in at my bosses office to explain the situation.

          1. INTP*

            That’s a good point. The OP meant well and didn’t want to distract anyone, but sneaking in a side door and keeping the baby hidden on the floor of the cubicle could also come across like OP knew it wouldn’t be kosher and was trying to go unnoticed, which could explain some of the intensity of the reaction.

    1. Annie Moose*

      This is what I was thinking–I’m kinda surprised you didn’t ask your manager first before bringing another person in the office! Then again, I’ve always worked in offices that were fairly strict about visitors (needing to be signed in, at least).

      1. LA Gaucho*

        Mmhmm. I was going to say the same thing – OP, you didn’t even ask. And had you asked, they probably would have said no, our work isn’t that important. Take care of your family.

        1. Anna*

          Yeah, it felt a little disingenuous to say she brought her son in through the side door so she didn’t disturb anyone. Especially since she didn’t talk to her manager first.

    2. Anonathon*

      Very good point. I don’t think the issue was “children must never be in an office,” but more, “don’t bring an unannounced visitor, child or otherwise, to hang around in an open plan office for multiple hours without at least mentioning it first.”

      At both my current and previous job, I’m 99% sure that it would be totally fine to swing by with my kid for a couple hours because I needed to accomplish a quick task or pick up something. But even so, I wouldn’t do that without clearing it with my boss first just because it would be rude to do otherwise.

    3. Product person*

      Yes, exactly. The assumption that it would be OK to bring a baby to the office would concern me as a manager.

      I wouldn’t mind to be asked, even if the answer had to be no due to office policy. But just taking it for granted and not asking for permission first would be a problem for me.

  4. Kassy*

    My office definitely does not see this as an issue if it is only very occasional (but, I work for a child welfare agency so perhaps that is to be expected). It gives me pause when I think about changing jobs because I know it’s likely I won’t find a culture that is quite so accepting of it as this one is.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      One of my colleagues has turned down offers for this exact reason. She sees her company’s flexibility and culture as a huge benefit.

    2. cake batter*

      Ditto. Folks here (both moms and dads) in our child welfare agency “central office” bring in kids occasionally. Never infants (that I’ve noticed) but a variety of other ages from older toddler to teens – and it’s never been an issue. I’ve never been sure if that’s because it’s state government, or a child welfare agency, or just a place with a family friendly culture. Never once has a kid bothered me, and I’m not even a kid person. Most of the time, they just quietly draw on white boards, read/do homework, or play on some device with headphones.

      1. RKB*

        My mother works for the provincial health system and my sisters and I come by 3-4 times a month to visit/go for lunch/say hi to coworkers. My uni campus is nearby and my sisters’ respective work and school are too.

        I also work for the municipal government and I get visitors all the time. So do my colleagues. It may be a government thing if your office is casual enough.

  5. princesspeach*

    Here is where I think the letter writer failed, she should have let her boss know what was going on before hand. I work in a pretty laid back job and there are times that my 1 year has to come along, like after work meetings, etc. But each time that this may occur I let my boss know that she’ll be with me for a few minutes before a meeting/event and that my mom or husband will be here to get her before the event starts. There has been a few times that she’s had to stay with me during an event or meeting but my boss knows and he okays it. Also in my line of work I’m working mostly with kids so it is different than most. But I just can’t see trying to sneak your kid in with out letting your boss know whats going on.

    1. BPT*

      Yeah, the fact that OP snuck the baby in through a side door tells me that she probably knew it wasn’t going to be ok. I mean I get not wanting to disturb others, but not letting anyone know means OP probably knew there would be pushback.

      1. RD*

        The fact that no one knew there was a child in the building causes an additional safety issue. If there was a reason for an emergency evacuation and no one knew about the child, the results could be tragic.

        1. fposte*

          That’s what I was thinking. And an unexpected kid on the floor is an easy accident for both adult and kid.

          We do let people bring kids in here, but they always ask first. I’d definitely tell her she needs to ask first.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Not to mention the fact that most offices aren’t baby-proofed. If Mom gets distracted by work for a few minutes, there are probably lots of things in the immediate vicinity that might injure Kid if he gets into them.

            Honestly, I would probably be more comfortable with a parent bringing an elementary school aged kid into an office than a younger child. At least with a kid that’s a little older it’s less likely that they will be in a position to get injured underfoot or get into something that might harm them in the office.

            1. Candi*

              I cringed when I read the baby was on the floor. It’s amazing what can land on a floor and go unnoticed until vacuuming time at the end of the day. Like pushpins.

        2. Jinx*

          My office’s security gets really up in arms about kids in the building, but I’m not sure the root cause. Knowing the company, it’s probably safety / liability related (even though it’s just a boring old office, there’s plenty of places for a kid to run off to). There have been several stern emails about it and my manager got into trouble once when his wife stopped by with their kids during lunch.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            Although now if I was writing a sitcom, the following would have happened. Mom would leave baby to run to the water cooler. Mom would pass out and be carted away by ambulance. Coworker would find orphaned baby under a cubicle and not know whose it was. (Baby crawled to another cubicle.) Police are called.

            1. Annie Moose*

              Coworker ends up adopting baby while mom is in coma in hospital. Zany hijinx ensue when mother wakes up and realizes her child has been adopted by her coworker. It all culminates in either their manager pulling a King Solomon and telling them to cut the baby in half, or in the whole office crowding around while the baby is placed on the floor of the break room, halfway between each person, who is frantically waving toys at the baby. First person to get the baby to crawl to them wins.

              (please overlook the number of laws and common sense this hypothetical sitcom would violate/ignore)

              1. Maxwell Edison*

                “Tonight, a Lifetime Original Movie…”

                (Do they still have those? I haven’t had cable in a decade.)

              2. Been There, Done That*

                How about: Adopting coworker is guy who has worshipped (single) mom from across the breakroom for ages. Heart wrenched that mom is in coma and upon discovering baby is hers, his devotion grows to provided a lifetime of loving care to the child. takes baby to see mom. baby coos and calls for mama. mom awakes, sees coworker in a new loving light…and they become a family.

      2. Lemon Zinger*

        Agreed, this was a sneaky and inappropriate thing to do. Bringing your baby to work is NOT an appropriate secret to have!

      3. Susan*

        Yes, exactly. The OP knew on some level that this wouldn’t be ok because (1) she’s never seen anyone else bring in their kids, (2) she didn’t ask or tell anyone, and (3) she went out of her way to sneak the kid in the side door. If you know that something is not the norm in your office, you need to ask if it’s ok before you do it. If you find yourself lying or covering up what you’re doing, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not a good idea.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I disagree with this. Our OP states quite clearly that the motive for the secrecy was to not be disruptive to others.

        It might have looked less honorable to her bosses; that’s something for us to alert her to be aware of.

        But *we* can take her at her word as to her intentions.

      5. Jen S. 2.0*

        I also think LW failed by understanding full well that you can’t have kids running amok in an office, but thinking an exception should be made for her child, who was (…that day…) being quiet. Kids run amok quite frequently. It’s a good part of being a kid. But that means best way to guarantee that you will not have kids running amok is for there to be no kids. I felt there was just a whiff of “no kids makes sense…except when it’s MY kid.”

    2. Miss Displaced*

      Agreed. It might have gone far differently if she had called, explained the emergency situation, and that it was only for a few hours that day until other arrangements could be made. I do think people can understand an emergency like that.

      But yes, children, babies etc., are generally not welcomed to spend time in most offices on the whole unless it is in more of a “passing through” kind of thing. Same thing with dogs, pets, and spouses and parents as well in most offices.

    3. Lady Blerd*

      From the boss’ reaction, I have a feeling that had she advised them ahead of time, she would have been told to just stay home because they sound like they simply wouldn’t make an exception.

      1. TootsNYC*

        The boss might also have found some other way to handle that “one little task” that the OP felt was so urgent. Or might have assured the OP that it was OK to let it wait.

  6. nofelix*

    As the boss I’d be pissed I wasn’t asked first. What if there was an emergency? Nobody but OP knows there is a baby in the building. Assuming it’ll be okay seems very presumptuous.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      I think that it’s this plus the liability side that most offices come down on. Babies and wee folk have a notorious ability to stay in one place for a long time and then suddenly disappear in a moment. You also can’t predict when they’ll suddenly begin to cry–or even babel (I work in a job where neighboring baby babel, as much as I love it, would prevent me from doing my job).

      I’m not against babies coming in for a quick visit, but babies do not belong in an office unless that office it’s specifically set up to accommodate them.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Also, there may not be chemicals lying around, but I know in my office there are frequently random staples, paperclips, rubber bands, bits of plastic packaging, etc. that can blend right into the carpet.

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          Yes! My office has very, very dirty carpet. It’s shampooed every six months or so, but that keeps it usable and certainly doesn’t disinfect it or prevent paper clips and staples from getting dug into the carpet. I shudder to think of a baby on or near our carpet!

        2. Joseph*

          Yeah. And honestly, even if you did vacuum your office regularly and kept it organized, there’s still plenty of dangerous job-related items – wall sockets, electrical cords/cables, stacked boxes of old project files, and so on.

  7. Charlie*

    Count me among the ranks of the aghast; bringing a child to work is staggeringly bad judgment on several levels, and her manager and colleagues are right to think it’s barmy. My son was 14 months old not so very long ago, and bringing him to work isn’t something I’d even consider, let alone want to do so strongly that I’d try to convince my boss to allow it. He’d be a distraction for me, inevitably would become a distraction for others, and many workplaces’ insurance make the presence of unauthorized kids a liability.

    But more than that, it’s just….not done. It’s not the norm in American professional culture. It comes off as entitled, clueless, and out of touch with general norms of conduct.

    1. TL -*

      I’ve worked in places where kids are brought in like this – the manager who brought her sick kid in while she was leading a meeting was not so great but I had a different manager who brought her kid in for a few hours, apologized, and offered to reschedule her one on one. It only happened the once and I didn’t find it shocking.

      1. Charlie*

        I can maybe understand bringing a sick school-aged kid, if you have a closed office or some other appropriate place for them to be. Maybe. But even so, even if it doesn’t strike me as shocking, it strikes me as poor professional conduct.

        1. TL -*

          The first example was definitely poor professional conduct. The second, I feel was actually handled fairly professionally – I was given the option to reschedule and profusely apologized to, and we kept things brief.

        2. Starbuck*

          What? A sick kid? No way! If they’re too sick for school, they’re definitely too sick to come in to work and contaminate everything.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            The ventilation system in most office buildings are really poor. Plus kids touch everything to/from the office. No, not even in a closed office!

        1. K.*

          That’s what I keep thinking – everyone should stay home if they’re sick, but you REALLY should not bring your germy child into work. That’s a quick way for the entire office to come down with a cold, pinkeye, whatever.

    2. NonProfit Nancy*

      I think there’s some room for variation here depending on office culture. It sounds like she’s in a cube situation so it’s less likely to fly, but I have worked at a few places that had closed-door-offices and a more casual culture where this would have been okay for a few hours. Other commentators are agreeing that in some workplaces, especially ones that involve children anyway, it can be okay. In a formal, traditional office setting I agree this would really raise eyebrows.

      1. Machiamellie*

        Agreed. I work for a small business (less than 50 employees) and folks bring in their kids sometimes when they just have to run in and do something. I’ve brought one of mine when he had to go to a dr’s appt or some such within two hours of the start of the work day. My company is A-ok with it, perhaps because the owner is a woman who raised 2 boys by herself. I think saying “OMG I AM AGHAST” is a little over the top. It depends on the company in question.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Oof – that’s a little harsh. I think what the OP did was in retrospect misguided, but born out of a sense of responsibility to her company. It’s clear that she felt an obligation to get her work done (although she learned later from management that there was less urgency than she thought) and she wasn’t even asking to be paid for the hours she was at work. How is that entitled?

        1. Rat Racer*

          It’s the arrogance implied in both terms (entitled, presumptuous) that bothers me, since the OP’s actions stem from her sense of duty and responsibility to her projects. She miscalculated the risks of bringing in her child against the gains of a few hours additional productivity. I see misguided intentions, not presumptuous or entitled behavior.

          1. Charlie*

            She may have been motivated by misguided intentions, but I think trying to do it on the sly and without asking her manager was presumptuous, and I think trying to rally her coworkers to her support and trying to argue that she was in the right was too. It’s the sneakiness and the lack of contrition that I find arrogant.

            There’s also a lack of consideration and respect for viewpoints and priorities not her own.

            1. Pari*

              Agreed. Unless there’s some precedent that signals it’s okay you just shouldn’t assume it’s allowed.

            2. Rat Racer*

              I’m sorry – I just don’t see that. I totally agree that the OP made a mistake, and that assuming it would be OK to bring her child to work with her for a few hours was a bad decision. But dishonesty? Sneakiness? That would imply that she’s trying to somehow pull a fast one on the company, when in fact, she was coming into work despite taking PTO. Look – I’m not making excuses for her decision, but I think you guys are reading more maliciousness in her intentions than what’s in the letter.

              The lack of contrition part I’ll give you. Although, because I’m reading the situation as “I was trying to do the right thing and it backfired” I can see why she’s frustrated (rightly or wrongly).

              1. Charlie*

                We can by all means agree to disagree – but consider this: if my initial take was “she’s trying to sneak the kid in because she knows what she’s doing is totally inappropriate,” chances are, a lot of managers would have the same reaction. Maybe she really was trying to do the right thing, and failed, but it looks bad.

                That said, I can’t really see how you can defend coming in the side door and bringing quiet toys as anything but disingenuous.

                1. AnonAnalyst*

                  Hmm… I can actually see someone doing those things as an attempt not to be disruptive. I agree that it was bad judgment, but I think I would describe the OP’s actions as myopic rather than disingenuous. I think she was trying to do the right thing but didn’t think through the larger concerns from the company’s perspective (and she perhaps failed to realize that most of her coworkers would also find this inappropriate).

                2. TootsNYC*

                  It’s one thing to say, “be aware that it might look like you know you’re doing something wrong,” and completely something else to ignore the OP’s actual wording, and directly accuse her of knowingly and defiantly doing something wrong.

                  She was very clear about why she came in through the side; it’s really NOT COOL to start maligning her motives. She told us her motives. Alison has asked us to take people at their word.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That said, I can’t really see how you can defend coming in the side door and bringing quiet toys as anything but disingenuous.

                  You can defend them as attempts to minimize the disruption to her coworkers.

                  As TootsNYC says, we should take the letter-writer at her word. Thank you.

                4. Observer*

                  That said, I can’t really see how you can defend coming in the side door and bringing quiet toys as anything but disingenuous.

                  On the contrary, that’s the expectation in pretty much every office where children ARE welcome. Not so much the side door, but “Don’t disrupt” and “Take measures to keep your kid quiet.”

      1. Shazbot*

        Because it wasn’t something she *needed* to get done. It wasn’t something that had to be done or her job or future work for her company was on the line. It was something she *wanted* to get done, and then when told she couldn’t have what she wanted, she tried to go around it by enlisting her coworkers, and when THEY told her she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, her only reaction was confusion and no acknowledgement of being wrong.

        THAT is entitlement.

        1. Charlie*

          Yep. It’s the lack of consideration, respect, and honesty throughout the whole incident that I’m reacting to – not just the act of bringing the kid in.

        2. Rat Racer*

          Honestly, unless you’re an EMT or CEO, how often are lives and company futures on the line for any given project? All I’m saying is that the OP was acting in good faith. She made the wrong choice. But let’s leave loaded words like “entitled” out of the lexicon. These issues crop up when work and life lines blur, and sometimes working moms make the wrong choice. How many times have we seen letters from co-workers of working parents saying “my co-worker dumped all this work on me because she had to do something for her kid,” or “my employee left me holding the bag because she has a baby”?

          I’m not advocating for bringing children in the office, I’m advocating for a little compassion for working moms who try to do the right thing by their kids and by their jobs, and sometimes strike out anyway.

      2. KR*

        Yeah, this. I think it was a misunderstanding and a situation where she should have asked permission rather than forgiveness but it’s not completely crazy.

    4. Cat*

      I think you’re overstating. I’m at a law firm – people bring their kids in under the described circumstances pretty regularly. Nobody bats an eye, and I don’t think that’s particularly unusual. Occasionally someone abuses it and it gets annoying, but a few hours so a parent can finish something during a child care emergency? Bog standard.

      1. Charlie*

        I work at an environmental consulting firm, so not too different a setting. And I would never dare bring a 14 month old to work. Maybe a grade-school kid, maybe if I had a completely closed office where I could close the door, maybe for a few hours.

        And as you said: it’s ripe for abuse.

            1. Charlie*

              Seriously?! There’s nothing noisier and more disruptive than a toddler. I would be distracted to the point of being unable to accomplish anything if there were a toddler anywhere in my office. I’ve tried to get stuff done with my two year old around, it’s impossible.

              I can see school-aged kids, but under 5 or so? Forget it. I think your management is remiss.

              1. Cat*

                One kid in the office for a couple of hours once a month or so is hardly going to ruin productivity. I’ve absolutely told parents I was busy and needed their kid out of my office, which they were fine with, but it did not need to be a management issue.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Fortune 500, and explicitly against the rules.

          So that proves that it’s not standard in the working world, by definition. Some allow, some don’t- that means not standard.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            Interesting, I’ve always used standard as more “universally or widely accepted” and there are enough people on here sharing that they are allowed to bring children in, so it would seem to me that the ide of “no kids at work” is not universally accepted.

            That being said, your company contrasted with mine is a perfect example that people need to know their own company’s culture and understand that what may be acceptable at one company is not at another.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              In this case, there are a lot of people saying it’s not allowed too. So the truth is, I think there is no standard for it. Like with most things in corporate culture, it probably varies both by region and industry.

              And even if it were the norm, it doesn’t mean her company has to allow it, or that she could use “everyone else does it” to force a change. As Alison always points out, unless something is explicitly illegal, a company can have any rules they want. Your choice in the case of managers or companies with strange rules you don’t like is usually to learn to live with it, or look for a job in a company whose culture is a better fit.

          2. Jessesgirl72*

            I don’t think she was automatically wrong for thinking that some/most companies allow it. Certainly the media portrays it as usual, and the female Silicon Valley execs and their highly publicized accommodations.

            I think she showed a lack of awareness, however, of her own office culture.

    5. Merida May*

      Yeah no, there are plenty of places that this would be perfectly acceptable, the OP’s office just isn’t one of them.

      1. Charlie*

        Plenty? Maybe “a few,” but I don’t think it’s possible to overstate that in most typical professional situations this is not acceptable.

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          I don’t know, read the comments – there are many folks chiming in to say that this would be fine in their workplace.

          1. Charlie*

            I see a lot of people saying it’d be fine with closed offices and older kids, but not babies/toddlers.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I think we are all assuming our experience is the most common one. I’ve never worked in an office where people didn’t bring their kids in once in a while, so I would assume it’s ok in most workplaces. But you probably have had the opposite experience so you assume the opposite…

          1. JMegan*

            I think we are all assuming our experience is the most common one.

            Absolutely. It seems like it’s very much a “know your culture” type thing, and the OP misjudged. I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that, except that if it’s important to the OP to be able to bring her son in to the office occasionally, this is not the right place for it.

        3. TootsNYC*

          In every single place I have worked, it would be totally OK to bring your kid in as the OP did.

          And people would appreciate her keeping it on the down-low so as not to be disruptive.

    6. Mustache Cat*

      It has been done at my previous office. Everyone was perfectly fine with it, and the parents were careful not to bring in their kids past a certain age or on days that they could disturb meetings. Like dogs in offices, this is a norm that varies widely in American culture.

        1. nutella fitzgerald*

          My dad worked in finance, and about 23 years ago I remember being taken to his office for the day when my nanny had a chicken pox emergency. But then he did go on to raise a special millennial snowflake.

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            I should also probably add that my dad had his own office and I was school-aged and loved to read.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I’ve seen it accepted at major Universities, non-profits, and a fortune 500 company.

          This is more about an office/business culture than industry.

          1. AD*

            I’ve worked at universities and non-profits, and this has NEVER been a thing.

            Furthermore, all these comments are moot. The OP has been told explicitly that this is not allowed in her office. How is this helpful at this point?

            1. NonProfit Nancy*

              Well, some people are saying it’s unreasonable to ever bring kids and the OP should have known better. Others are countering this point by saying in many workplaces it would be okay, but OP’s is apparently not one of them. The debate is about how reasonable it was for OP to think this might be okay.

              1. AD*

                Considering OP felt she had to “sneak” her kid in, I’m guessing there was at least some awareness on her part that this wouldn’t be kosher at her office.

                Regardless, a lot of people are saying bringing kids into work is the “norm”. It is not.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  She was very clear that her reason for “sneaking” her kid in was to keep it from being disruptive to her coworkers. Not that she knew it was forbidden, just that she knew it would be disruptive.

              2. Charlie*

                It’s unreasonable to ever bring babies/toddlers for an extended play session in your cubicle. I’m comfortable drawing that hard line. It may, depending on established culture and precedent, be acceptable to bring an older child who’s capable of reading quietly without supervision to a closed office or conference room.

                1. Observer*

                  You can be as comfortable as you want, but the truth is that even toddlers are acceptable in many workplaces. Not so many that it’s “standard”, but enough to not be able to say “it’s just NOT done”.

            2. chocolate lover*

              OP also asked about norms in general and whether she was off the mark, so I think it gives a bigger picture perspective to that part of her question, and to think about what to ask when job searching in the future.

              I also work at University – dropping by briefly to visit, or for an hour or two before/after an appt, etc is ok in my current office. Child hanging out all day (regardless of age)? Not done.

              1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

                This is mostly how I saw it. Though there was one day when a VPs very bored 13 year old spent the day sitting on a chair in his office because childcare fell through.

            3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

              What’s funny is that I am on my phone waiting for a 12 pm meeting at the flagship university of our state system and the receptionsist daughter is coloring on the floor behind her.

              I think this is a YMMV situation. The OP asked if it was the norm and I think a lot of us are trying to share that it is completely based on an organizations culture, so it is important to know your individual company’s stance.

      1. DogOwner*

        Yeah, I work at a company that allows dogs, and this letter reminded me of my situation with our puppy last week. We had him neutered, and the vet sent him home with a cone to wear unless he was being supervised, since he was licking at his incisions. I set up his travel crate under my desk and brought him with me all week so he only had to wear the cone at night. He’s unusually quiet, so most people were surprised to see him in the office when I’d take him outside or to meetings.

        The difference here is that we have an explicit policy about allowing well-behaved dogs and bringing them to meetings is typical. I wouldn’t just show up with him otherwise.

      2. AD*

        I’m going to need to push back and say this isn’t a “norm” in US offices. It may happen in some places, and there might be different expectations that vary due to workplace culture and industry and other factors. But to say this is a “norm” is subjective and anecdotal.

        1. IowaGirl*

          Well it’s subjective and anecdotal to say it’s not a norm. We don’t have any statistics here, it’s all anecdotes.

          (Before reading comments from the “aghast” commenters here, I would have assumed it was the norm and I’ve been in the workforce a loooong time)

    7. Amtelope*

      Wow, I completely disagree that it’s completely “out of touch with general norms of conduct.” Plenty of parents where I work sometimes bring kids to work if their childcare falls through, on snow days, for minor illnesses, etc. It’s specifically allowed in our employee handbook as long as the parent stays with the child, the child is kept away from high-security areas, and it doesn’t cause disruption to other people’s work. That’s not every workplace, but I don’t think it’s a completely bizarre outlier, either.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        Well, it’s allowed and specifically stated in *your* handbook.

        In most other environments, it’s a no-go and beyond the norm.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I don’t think you can say “most.”
          I don’t think any of us can.

          Certainly there are many places where it would NOT be OK at all. And there are many places where it would be fine.

      2. Susan*

        Just because it’s allowed in some offices doesn’t mean you should assume it’s ok in yours. Based on the responses of the coworkers and boss, I’m willing to bet that the OP hasn’t seen anyone else in the office bring in their kids, which should be a pretty big clue right there that it’s not the norm in that office, and she should have at least checked with her boss first. I mean, telecommuting is allowed and perfectly normal in many offices, but if you had been working at your job for 10 months and never once saw or heard of anyone in your department telecommuting, would you just assume it’s ok — because it’s the norm in so many places — to decide to work from home one day without asking?

    8. Emmbee*

      It would be fine at my place of work (a very large children’s publisher). So I think the level of your outrage here is reflective only of YOUR experience, not the rest of America’s.

    9. I used to be Murphy*

      I think saying it’s not the general norms of conduct is an over-generalization. Sure, in some workplaces it is, but in others, including my current and last job, it’s done on a not infrequent basis. I’ve had many different colleagues bring in their kids (age ranges anywhere from 2-8) when they need to get a bit of work done and child care fell through. Sure, sometimes they’re a distraction (the 4-year-old scooting down the halls on a chair was pretty distracting), but so are lots of things in the office and we all manage to deal with that. I like that I work in a place that acknowledges that I’m a whole person with a life outside of work and that if necessary I would have that same flexibility (even if I’ve never taken advantage of it).

  8. NonProfit Nancy*

    Some workplace culture things are just very hard to change, and I think can become the price of admission to work there. Even if you think it’s outdated, this entrenched stuff is a real uphill battle. [For example, my workplace does not believe in any kind of telework or work from home – ever. In fact they prohibited any work on personal devices of any kind. I think that’s silly but the policy is clear and has been in place since I started without any signs of wavering, so I accept it.] If that became a priority factor in my job satisfaction, it would be easier to look for a new job than trying to change this culture. So, back to you OP: It sounds like your workplace is not at all child-friendly in terms of children in the office – some are, some aren’t. So now you know. If it’s the hill you want to die on, of course you can try to push for changes, but I think you might have better satisfaction by either accepting that bringing your child in, ever, will not be acceptable, or looking for a different workplace.

  9. KathyR*

    My employer allows us to bring our children when child care issues arise or school is closed. Granted we are a small office of 5 plus owner who is in the office everyday. Besides owner we all have children of various ages from middle school to 1 year old (my child). We each have our own offices where we corral our children if they can be otherwise they older kids float from office to office visiting with each of us. It’s a really great environment and as a newer mom its been great to have this benefit. I am newer to the office so it was huge surprise to find an employer like this as its rare! My MIL watches baby two days a week so its been nice when something arises with her to not add to the daycare bill or use up PTO. It also helps that all of us besides owner has children so they help with the babies and are welcoming to the children and not put off by it!

    1. Charlie*

      The older kids float from office to office? Like, distracting people from working? And this is okay with everyone?

      If I had a child show up at my office door wanting to chat, I’d find that incredibly distracting and irritating. As someone who needs to get into the groove and doesn’t like getting punted out of it, maybe I’m more sensitive than most, but if I were your boss, I’d be very concerned that children were floating around distracting people.

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        Depends on what the work is though, right? Maybe they’re doing something artsy or creative and there’s time for chat, who knows. In concentration-heavy traditional office settings I agree this might be distracting for some, but there are unique office situations out there.

        1. D Minor*

          I have a creative job, and a kid showing up to break my flow would be most unwelcome. Creativity doesn’t mean a lack of concentration!

          1. NonProfit Nancy*

            True that came out wrong, I apologize. I was just picturing them doing some kind of task that can be talked through.

            1. TootsNYC*

              In my world, that would be my accounting or filing tasks, not my creative ones.

              But yes, your point is that some tasks can be chatted through and some can’t. But even stuff like filing, it’s often best not to.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Where on earth did you get the idea that doing anything creative doesn’t require concentration?

          I’m there to work, no matter what type of job I’m doing. I didn’t sign on to babysit. I like kids, and I don’t mind if someone brings their little one by as they’re coming in or leaving, but I don’t think I’d be too happy if I were expected to take care of someone else’s kid when I have work to do. Or my own, for that matter (if I had them).

        3. ali*

          I don’t ever want to chat with anyone’s kid. ever. I don’t care if I’m at work or at the grocery store. I would quite honestly turn down a job in an environment that allows such a thing.

      2. Cat*

        People do that at my office. I can’t say it’s never annoyed but, but “very concerned” seems like an over-statement to me. I don’t have kids, but I understand my co-workers aren’t robots and sometimes things come up and kids are, indeed, hard to corral.

        1. Charlie*

          And for that very reason, I think parents should work at home or find alternate arrangements when things come up.

          I don’t say that lightly; I have a two year old, I’m right in the thick of it.

      3. KathyR*

        Yeah its ok with everyone. Most the people have been here a few years and their children have grown up coming in the office. It’s maybe once every few months someone bring there kid in. Honestly its nice to see them and catch up. How’s school going.. How is your sports team doing, etc? Honestly most of the time they are on their phones or tablets for the majority of the day but I find it nice to be distracted and visit with them through out the day.

        1. Charlie*

          You’re a sweeter soul than I am, then, I guess. I don’t mind talking to kids, but I’d find it very problematic to be interrupted like that.

      4. Observer*

        Maybe they are floating around and HELPING people?

        I’m not being snarky. Just a few weeks ago the 9 year old (I think) son of a colleague help someone out with a computer problem. I found out about it, because I was going to help the person and she told me, “Oh, Jane’s son fixed for me! He’s so smart!” He also spent a lot of time running small errands for people.

        The point being is that you are making some very broad generalizations. In some cases, having kids drifting around would be distracting and impair productivity. But that’s just not universal.

  10. AdAgencyChick*

    Yeah, I think if your ability to do this is really important to you, you should seek out an office culture that allows it, rather than trying to get them to change for you.

    My office does allow it, and people for the most part don’t abuse it, which is cool. I like that if I were ever in a position that my child care fell through, I would have an option besides burning a PTO day. On the other hand, remember that if they allow it for one person, they have to allow it for others, and this is a policy that can be abused. I’ve worked at an agency where a higher-up brought in her super-rambunctious children and let them run around the office. It was incredibly disruptive to those of us in the rank and file, but she was a higher-up and thus we didn’t feel comfortable asking their mom to get things under control, or even asking the kids to play somewhere else. (Part of me thinks they *knew* their mom had power over us and that we therefore had to deal with whatever they chose to give us.)

    I think this is an area where people should try and find a place with the culture they like best, since there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” culture.

  11. Mary*

    I’m reading this thread feeling slightly guilty–I brought my pet rat into work today because she has a vet appointment during my lunch hour. Among our senior staff, bringing children and pets into work occasionally when care falls through is pretty normal, so it never occurred to me that it might be a problem.

    But then, I work for a church, and a lot of things that are normal for us (for better and worse) don’t seem to be generally done elsewhere.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming your rat hangs out in a cage, right? Totally cool. With me, anyway. Is his name Remy? :)

    2. NonProfit Nancy*

      No need to feel guilty, there’s just different workplace norms out there. A church is a good example of the kind of place where this might be totally fine! A fortune 500 cubefarm where library silence is maintained, perhaps not.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Well, a pet rat is VERY different from a dog or cat, and certainly much more acceptable in most workplaces than a child would be!

      1. SimontheGreyWarden*

        I don’t know, I even own snakes (so am no stranger to unusual pets) and I would be much more surprised to find a rat than a child at my place of employment.

    4. Jean*

      The cage is good. If I came face to face with an uncaged and unknown-to-me rat in my workplace I would probably be standing on a table and shouting.

    5. Anonathon*

      I brought my cat to work once, but he was completely stoned from a medical procedure (my office at the time was right near the vet) and he literally just lay in his carrier, utterly immobile. He’s fine now, for the record.

    6. Moonsaults*

      My first job out of high school, my supervisor had pomeranians. They were show dogs -.- They spent time in the office frequently in a make-shift kennel.

      I’ll take a rat over poms any day.

  12. Stellaaaaa*

    I’d imagine that if they let OP do this, they know they’d have to let everyone else bring their kids in too. OP works in a cubicle, not a private office. And what of diaper changes or feedings? Is the larger office set up for that?

    All of this stuff is variable, but I admit to being surprised that OP brought her child to the office without checking first, and on a day when she kept her child home by choice. The daycare was still open that day. I don’t think op’s employer would have seen that as an emergency anyway.

    1. BPT*

      Yeah, like to me it wouldn’t be a big deal for a person to briefly bring their kid into work on a very rare occasion. But that’s the thing – once you let someone do it, you’ve sort of opened the floodgates. OP, I know your baby was probably fine for that short period of time, but you can never assure anyone that your child will be fine. Babies can cry uncontrollably. Toddlers can be little hellions. Older kids can be bored and disruptive. Not every child in every instance, of course, but even the best kids have bad days. You can’t promise that your child won’t be a disruption.

  13. RD*

    OP – I think you are going to have some issues if you keep your child home every time there is illness at daycare. It’s an unrealistic standard to maintain and will impact your ability to do your job. You are going to miss enough work being home when your child is actually sick, that you will likely face problems if you take on additional missed days. Unfortunately daycare centers are breeding grounds for illnesses and it’s not possible to completely shield your child from that.

    Also, it may not be in the best interest of your child to do so. You didn’t mention that the baby had any additional health issues that are leading you to be hypervigilant about exposure to illnesses. There are absolutely situations where that step is warranted like if your child was a premie or has asthma or some other condition that makes he or she immunocompromised. If that is the case your caution is understandable. If that is not the case, you may just have to let you child get sick and start building up his/her immune system.

    1. the_scientist*

      Do you know a lot about hand, foot and mouth, though? Normally I’d agree with you, but hand, foot and mouth disease is HELLA contagious, and generally miserable. I don’t blame the OP in this case, although I agree that it’s going to be well nigh impossible to keep the kid at home every single time there’s something going around the daycare centre.

      1. RD*

        Yes. I’ve had it myself and I’ve had it tear through my children’s classrooms. It’s miserable, but it’s not life threatening. Even in a situation where an illness is extremely contagious, you still have a 50/50 chance that your child won’t catch it.

      2. BPT*

        Yeah I was going to say this. Normally exposing children to germs in a daycare like setting can be beneficial in the long run. But that’s more for colds and things like that. Hand, foot, and mouth disease can cause painful sores for children. I wouldn’t pull a child out of daycare for a runny nose going around, but this is a little different.

      3. princesspeach*

        But it is contagious before any signs or symptoms show up. I know, my daughter was exposed. I did the research to know what to look for. We were on day 7 after exposure and I thought we were in the clear. That night her temp jumped up really high and the next day the blisters were showing up. She goes to in home daycare where the parents know that typically she’s pretty lax on bringing them in sick. I told her that we had been exposed 1. to let her know so she could tell the other parents and 2. she could help watch her for the symptoms. She told me that my daughter wouldn’t wasn’t her first and probably wouldn’t be her last to have it. Now we can’t bring the kid in if they are vomiting or are known to have a highly contagious illness. So when we knew she had it we kept her home and I actually kept her home an extra day to make sure she was good to go.

        1. the_scientist*

          This is not strictly true- it is contagious for ~7-10 days post infection onset, which means that it’s generally still contagious after symptoms start. It can also remain in the intestines of an infected person for up to 2 weeks, so there’s a possibility that it can be spread that way as well. Plus, it is spread through direct contact, droplets, and indirect contact (i.e. shared toys) which makes it far more contagious than something that can only be transmitted through close contact. No, it’s not fatal and doesn’t have serious complications, but it’s an unpleasant, extremely hard to control virus, so I don’t totally blame the OP for being concerned. On the other hand, keeping the kid out of daycare for a single day is also unlikely to reduce risk by a measurable amount.

          1. RD*

            That is my point. One day home doesn’t do much, if anything, to protect the child and, though unlikely, may actually have exposed the office to the illness.

            The one time I had it as an adult, I contracted it from my children’s daycare when I only spent approximately 15 minutes a day there, but neither child caught it. Happy 4th of July to me. I spent it in urgent care with two healthy toddlers, because my husband had to work. Fantastic strategy for not exposing them to extra germs. Plus they were probably traumatized by the screaming man with the dislocated shoulder. They still didn’t get sick. Life is so unfair. :D

            1. Lovemyjob...truly!*

              “One day home doesn’t do much, if anything, to protect the child and, though unlikely, may actually have exposed the office to the illness.”

              Wholeheartedly agree with this! I stayed home with my kids until they started Pre-K / Kindergarten. It was then that I was introduced to the petri dish for bacteria that classrooms can be. That first year they were in school was miserable…and I was a new hire for a company that I was desperately happy to be working for and wanted to stay at so every time I had to call out I died a little inside, but I never considered bringing my child to work.

              This year is the first year that I’ve been able to not use my PTO for my kids sick days (general sickness only- nothing with high fevers or vomiting). It’s been awesome! Babies are cute and cuddly and smell so sweet but older kids can watch TV and sleep all day without supervision. :)

              1. RD*

                The first year my daughter was in daycare I used 5 weeks of PTO all on sick days for her or me, or doctor appointments, and that was with my husband taking more than half the off.

                I’m sure that colors my opinion here. If I had wasted my time taking days off when she wasn’t sick, I would have faced serious issues towards the end of the year.

          2. princesspeach*

            My point was that it’s contagious BEFORE symptoms show up, so they are shedding the virus before they run fever or the blisters show up. My daughter was exposed at the church nursery, she was one of 7 kids that was exposed. They all got it to different degrees. 2 had it basically head to toe and had the big horrible weeping blisters. My daughter ran a high temp for 1.5 days, had a few blisters in her mouth, and the rest looked like heat rash. My ped’s nurse told me to keep her home from the onset of symptoms until the blisters were dry, she didn’t even really develop blisters. But I kept her home from daycare one extra day after the rash went away just to make sure it wasn’t going to reappear. Also from the OP’s letter her child wasn’t even in the room of the outbreak, not that it doesn’t mean that his classroom wouldn’t have been infected.

    2. JMegan*

      All of this. Your kid is going to bring home plenty of germs all on his own, there is no need to take additional sick days when he’s not actually sick! Yes also to building up his immune system if that’s safe for him, and to asking your boss rather than sneaking him in the side door.

      You sound like a conscientious worker, and you’re obviously a good mom who wants to do the best for her children. But it sounds like the message here is that the best way to accomplish both of those things, is to stay home when he’s sick rather than bringing him into the office.

    3. KR*

      Ehhhh if OP has enough PTO they can really take it however they like. I trust the OP knows their child enough to determine if they need to miss day care and will post in the open thread or go to a parenting advice blog or doctor if they want help with parenting.

  14. Cube Farmer*

    Seeing a child in our office would cause a 2319 alert on our floor.

    Seriously though, it is definitely a know your culture and inform your boss first issue.

  15. AnotherAlison*

    My boss does this with her elementary age kids, but it tends to be a situation where she has to take the kids to camp or something and drop off is at 9:00 am, and she starts work at 7:00 am. (And home is 15 miles away from work and camp, so it doesn’t make sense to go back and forth.) I’ve seen it done by others over the years with older kids, but I do think it would be kind of unusual to be the first one in your office to do it, to bring an infant who needed cared for, and to not ask anyone for approval ahead of time.

  16. MV*

    Given the strong reaction I think you need to accept the office norm and not come in with baby in tow. Honestly, this company already provides for parents with a better leave policy and a stipend for child care (as a child-free person I find you are getting a benefit I will never qualify for and this is enough imo). They sound pretty friendly to parents. I don’t like babies in the office and am glad to see an employer take a hard line on it.

  17. the_scientist*

    I think if the OP wants to advocate for anything in this situation, it’s for creating an office culture where remote work is allowed and the company infrastructure supports it. I understand that not every job can be done remotely- but I work with sensitive data on a pretty regular basis and my company allows employees to work from home at least 1 day per week (you just can’t access the secured data on an outside network)- so I think that many companies wildly exaggerate how crucial face time and onsite work actually is. In fact at a recent company-wide meeting, our executive team mentioned that they are exploring 100% work-from-home for some roles because we are simply running out of physical space.

    My company is a young and primarily female company, and it’s quite normal for people to bring their babies in for a visit while on mat leave, or to drop by the office with the kid to pick up a laptop (often because kiddo just got a shot or is being kept home from daycare due to illness and mom wants to try and get some work done while the kid is sleeping). But, it would not be acceptable to bring your kid in for several hours at a stretch even in this generally family-friendly environment.

  18. Anon 2*

    I’m anti-kids in the work place. I do appreciate that there are sometimes critical emergencies when an employee has to be in the office for a specific thing and they bring their child in. However, I understand why so many employers don’t want children in their offices. Because it can quickly get out of hand. I’ve worked in more than one office, where children in the office became really distracting. Not necessarily even for the parent bringing them in, but for their co-workers. For example, in one position I had, a co-workers daughter (who was about 9 or 10 at the time) wanted to hang out with me for hours. She wasn’t loud or disrespectful, she just wanted attention. And I’ve seen many people get distracted because of a child in the office, but they don’t want to rat out their co-worked saying that it’s distracting.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      One of my coworkers brought her infant twins to the office when she had to bring her equipment by on her last day. It struck me as extremely unprofessional and tone-deaf to our workplace norms. We work with secure information so NOBODY can come back into our office unless they’re employees. Of course her twins couldn’t read or speak, but still… it was remarkably distracting. Last impressions are a thing too, but she didn’t seem concerned since she was quitting to stay home with the kids and finish her graduate program.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think “critical emergencies when an employee has to be in the office” is key.

      The situation should go something like this:

      Employee: I’m taking off a couple days because of a contagious disease at daycare. Is that okay?
      Employer: Well, we have that deadline on the Jones account.
      Employee: I could bring Junior in for a few hours and work with him in the office, if you are okay with that.

      The head scratcher for me on this one was that the employee didn’t really need to be there to do any urgent work.

    3. A.*

      Also anti-kids in the office. If one well behaved one is allowed then others will want to bring theirs too. It ends up becoming very disruptive, with things like an elementary school kid going cube to cube for school fundraisers and a frantic colleague running people down in the aisles looking for her stray 2 year old (who I found happily smashing my keyboard around when I returned to my desk).

      I don’t work there anymore.

      1. A.*

        Oh and I almost forgot about the time I got pinkeye after someone brought their contagious kid to the office when the daycare sent her home!

      2. Trig*

        Aaaaaaaaaah fundraiser kid! The worst!

        I hated doing fundraisers as a kid, and all my family lived too far away to be badgered to buy from me, but I never ever asked my dad to sell things for me at his office. And he wouldn’t have. Because he was a manager, and that would have been all kinds of wrong, but also the worst even if he wasn’t.

        A few years ago we had someone in my office use the office distribution email list to ask people to join a hockey pool fundraiser their kid was doing (and put a sign-up sheet on the door to the lunch room). This sparked a series of annoyed reply-all “this isn’t what the distro is for” emails, and I can only assume the person got a talking-to, because we haven’t seen anything like it again.

        It was bad enough over email; I couldn’t IMAGINE the gall it would take to actually BRING YOUR KID IN AND SEND THEM CUBE-TO-CUBE.

    4. Feline*

      Children can be really distracting in the workplace to others when they aren’t distracting to the parent. Parents seem to build a certain amount of tolerance for kid-noise or they would never get anything done in their lives until after the kids’ bedtimes. Those of us who don’t have kids may find that same level of “quiet child” sounds very distracting.

      In a previous job, I had a cube-neighbor whose very well-behaved, school-aged daughter came to work with her on school holidays when coworker was unable to take a vacation day herself. Despite her being a good kid and being quiet as children go, I found the noise she did make very distracting, and it impacted my productivity when she was there. I gritted my teeth and dealt with having to work extra hours the next day to catch up on tasks, but it was frustrating because I shouldn’t have to do work extra to make up for coworker’s lack of childcare arrangements. Cube environments aren’t a place for kids.

  19. KatieKate*

    My department brings their kids in all of the time–any time there is a day off from school and there is no one to watch them. It’s not exactly quiet, but we find little jobs for them to do and everyone gets through it. I understand where the boss is coming from, though.

    But my office would revolt if we couldn’t meet babies!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      That works best for school-age kids, though — if they are old enough to watch a movie or draw on paper or whatever. Not a toddler!

      Also, not sure what parents do today, because when I was a kid, there was always collating to do! Not so much of that anymore.

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      I am now imagining the “little jobs” I could find for a kid to do at my office. We are all programmers so there isn’t much you can do without a degree in computer science. The only thing that comes to mind is “here kid, wear my step counter and walk around the building for an hour.” Although I’m enjoying imagining some alternatives… attend a status meeting for me, change the toner, organize my email inbox…

      1. Trig*

        I fondly remember the one ‘bring your kid to work day’ thing I attended at age 13 or so. The morning involved a tour of the facility and some hands-on stuff, which was cool. Then we got to eat in the cafeteria, and the afternoon was supposed to involve shadowing your parent. For a few of us, that would have meant sitting in on meetings with our manager-parents, which wouldn’t have been particularly fun or appropriate.

        Instead we got sent to a conference room with a slot car track that the organizer either brought in or discovered in a closet. We spent a few good hours playing with that. I didn’t have toy cars growing up, so it was actually pretty fun!

        So, y’know, ‘play with the toys we have here for no apparent reason’ is a great task! I imagine startups would be especially fun… Who wouldn’t love 13-year-old kids running through the office playing nerf wars or foosball all day?!

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I completely agree with Alison here. In fact, I think your boss was being very generous with you. It doesn’t sound like anyone was screaming or abusive, just stating policies and facts. You’ll be paid for that day, don’t do it again, no harm done moving forward. There are all kinds of reasons why children might not be allowed in your office, but the reasons themselves don’t matter. Had you called your boss and explained your situation, she probably would have told you not to worry about the task you wanted to come in to do. It sounds like the company is pretty understanding about parental issues (“none of our work has deadlines” and a small stipend? That’s pretty good), so taking this as a personal affront feels misguided to me.

  21. Lauren*

    What struck me first and foremost was that the OP snuck the child in: “I brought him in through the side door because I didn’t want to disturb or distract anyone who was already working…” Let’s be honest here; it wasn’t the desire to disturb anyone but to do it on the sly because you obviously hadn’t planned to say anything, and didn’t. I think your manager and manager’s manager were very generous with you. If you worked for me, that kind of underhanded action would warrant an official reprimand.

    1. cheekypup*

      Agreed – the way the OP’s boss handled it when they eventually found out was supportive and responsive to her needs as a mum so why the secrecy around the childcare issue she was having and needing to bring the little one in to get a piece of work finished? To me it demonstrates a questionable attitude and honesty/good communication counts a lot with employees.

    2. NonProfit Nancy*

      I don’t see it as underhanded given OP’s account, but agree that might be how it appeared to the manager. Also, I just would be extremely taken aback as the manager if I came around the corner on a regular workday and found a baby in someone’s cube, with no warning. That would really put it on bad footing for me.

  22. hit the wall*

    My coworker recently asked my boss if she could bring her kid(s) in to the office because they didn’t have school and she didn’t have a child care option and he told her no, that was not allowed. However, with my job, you can easily work from home, so maybe less of an issue, but she did ask ahead of time and I think by the OP sneaking in the side door and not asking beforehand knew the answer would be no.

  23. Zoe*

    When I first read this, I assumed the LW had an office with a door. But a CUBICLE?! Girl, no. Believe me, your coworkers knew your kid was there. Even the most well-behaved toddler makes noises that are distracting in an office setting, and all kids have the potential to have a loud meltdown. Super disrespectful to your colleagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if your manager didn’t just “walk by” by accident — one of your coworkers alerted her to the situation.

    NEWSFLASH PARENTS: No one likes or cares about your kids as much as you.

    1. Charlie*

      Yeah, I’d bet this happened. Year-old kids aren’t quiet for any length of time. Your coworkers were silent due to awkwardness, not acquiescence.

        1. amapolita*

          I mean, I have a kid this age who is calm and plays independently, and she still shrieks from time to time because she needs to communicate, doesn’t have the words, and gets upset. I’d be terrified to bring her into an office if I were also trying to get work done.

        2. NonProfit Nancy*

          In my experience, people get acclimated to their circumstance and learn to tune stuff out. I lived on a street with a lot of sirens and didn’t even hear them after a while, but it always drove my mom crazy when she visited. Meanwhile, my sister doesn’t even notice when her kids scream, and as a visitor I’m often a little rattled initially with how loud and busy they seem to me (then I adjust.) But it’s true that you can be a little deaf to how noisy your own surroundings are.

    2. KitKat*

      While I agree it is unlikely that nobody knew the toddler was there, your last line is out of line. The OP may be misguided in this case but she never suggested that her colleagues would be interested in her child and there’s no need to be rude.

      1. executive assistant to the stars*

        I do understand that it comes across as a little bit rude, but I prefer to ‘hear’ it in more of an exasperated/humorous way.

        In every work place that I’ve ever worked, parents looooooove bringing their kids (or grandkids) in with the assumption that everyone wants to see them. And, I mean, I love my niece and nephew, but I get that they’d probably annoy some people. I think they’re adorable little buttmonkeys. ;-)

        At my last job, I had a shelf around my desk for privacy with a cool little jellybean machine on top of it (I worked with faculty … they love free candy even more than students do). My boss’ granddaughter wanted “Jellies!” and, when lifted up to it, yanked it off the desk. Not only did $15 in delicious Jelly Bellies get trashed, but so did the cool machine I got for Christmas. My boss actually laughed and told me how cute it was how excited the kid was.

        Yeaaaaaaah. Not really. I gave up on a candy dish after that!

    3. TL -*

      That last sentence was a little bit harsh!

      But I do think that parents get really good at tuning out and ignoring sounds and distractions that non-parents are so much more likely to notice. So you may not think of your baby as distracting but other people might.

    4. Aurion*

      Amen. As someone who was accidentally late for work by 45 minutes today…even as an adult fully capable of keeping to myself, my coworkers know if I’m in the next cube. Unless I am literally sitting there like a mannequin and doing nothing, I, a fully-cognizant adult, am making noise. I’m typing on my keyboard or clicking a pen as I write or tapping my foot or rustling paper or something.

      Given that a toddler’s idle-noise is different than an adult’s, and would be in addition to any idle-noise Mom makes, no, there is no way the coworkers didn’t know there was someone else in the cube. No way.

  24. BRR*

    Speaking just to the LW’s situation, it’s been made clear that they do not want employees to bring children in. You seem to be really focused on the safety aspect, which is definitely important, but there are a lot of other things to consider that Alison mentioned. Your son was only their an hour but I can’t imagine a child that young being quiet the entire time you planned to stay.

    It honestly sounds like your employer is really fair in that they aren’t making you prioritize work over family responsibilities and to me, that’s much more important than whether or not you can bring your child in.

    1. NonProfit Nancy*

      I actually think OP’s workplace handled this pretty well! Some places would have been a lot harsher.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      It honestly sounds like your employer is really fair in that they aren’t making you prioritize work over family responsibilities and to me, that’s much more important than whether or not you can bring your child in.

      I agree. They’re making it really easy for you to stay at home with your kid, and I don’t know why you’d want to push to change that.

  25. GertietheDino*

    The fact that she told no one, brought him in through a side door and gave him his “quiet toys” is evidence that the LW knew this would be looked upon unfavorably. Don’t bring your kids to work, it’s unprofessional and disruptive no matter how quiet he/she is.

      1. Observer*

        Because, this is actually the kind of behavior you WANT parents to engage in when they bring their kids in. You WANT them to bring the child in unobtrusively rather than a parade that interrupts everyone. And you ESPECIALLY WANT the parents to bring “quiet toys” so you aren’t subjected to rattle, rattle or squeaky renditions of “Old McDonald had a farm” for a few hours.

    1. Ashley*

      Totally! Just because I didn’t confront you and ask why your child was in the office doesn’t mean that I think it’s okay/wasn’t inconvinenced/didn’t notice.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, of course they were quiet toys–the alternative would be so much worse! Although now I’m imagining doing my job while one of those “The cow goes…. MOOOOOO” pullstring things was going off a cube over.

          (It’s also interesting to me how many people are invested in the idea that the LW was being deliberately deceptive. I get that the appearance of sneaking the kid in is a little weird, but it is not at all hard for me to see how it could be a totally innocent attempt to keep the disruption to a minimum. It’s a fair point that it might have looked bad to the manager, but it’s hardly outrageous to think that it was a genuine honest mistake.)

          1. Emma*

            Not bringing the kid in openly is deceptive, though, regardless of the type of toys. Hiding the kid is deceptive. I don’t get why that’s so hard for people to see.

  26. Jubilance*

    My office tends to do “kids in for a quick visit only” and it works well. New parents will bring their babies in, or a parent may stop up to introduce their kid to the team and show their kid the office, and then they leave. It would definitely be strange if someone brought their child in for hours while they were working, it’s simply not done here, as most of our space is cubes and only senior managers or higher have their own office. Our company does offer the ability to telework whenever needed as well as subsidized backup daycare for parents who need it.

  27. Critter*

    I do wonder why LW asked if there was anything she could do to convince the manager that it wasn’t a big deal. Does she want to change the perspective, or does she not want to have been reprimanded for something she doesn’t see the same way? She seems to have taken it a touch personally and I’m curious about that.

    1. Ashley*

      Agreed. I think ‘expressed horror’ was probably a little dramatic compared to how people actually responded. I see a huge difference between bringing in a new baby to visit with your office and having a toddler in your cube for a few hours.

      It was a pretty light reprimand considering she didn’t have to take PTO and her boss said they wouldn’t hold it against her.

  28. Rusty Shackelford*

    I asked about 10 of my coworkers about bringing a child to the office in case of emergency, and every single one (parent or not, younger or older than me) expressed horror at the thought and said no way should it happen ever, not even just for a parent to drop by so everyone can meet their baby.

    Honestly, I found this part surprising. Even in workplaces that don’t welcome children to spend the day, it seems like a brief visit to meet a new baby is usually considered appropriate when you work in an office, as opposed to a worksite that doesn’t involve desks. But this makes it really, really clear that this office’s culture does not include visiting children, and the LW should absolutely not push to change that.

    1. Lady Blerd*

      What struck me about that passage is the fact that she potentially got her coworkers in trouble unless she didn’t mention names. If anything I assume an office wide email was sent to clarify this employer’s policy to all employees.

      1. BRR*

        I’m not sure I’m following. I read it as the LW was asking their co-workers for their thoughts on the children in the office issue. I’m not quite sure how this would get anybody in trouble.

    2. fposte*

      Some of this may be a bit of overreactive backlash, too, especially if the OP seemed to be coming with an “it’s no big deal, right?” slant. But overall, yeah, the employer is very clear, and the OP is really asking for trouble if she doesn’t take that seriously.

    3. Doe-eyed*

      FWIW, our office does let that happen and I think it’s the worst. It’s something you can’t avoid. I’m not a big baby person but you get hunted down and corralled up to meet the baby. Once I break away there’s another hour of loud chatter over the baby. (Usually right outside my cube door because I’m near the break room). Inevitably, the baby wakes up and is not pleased by this. Then the baby cries. Then everyone hears the baby and stragglers show up, ad nauseum.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        Thank you for this comment, because I thought I was the only one! I really don’t like “meet the baby” visits.

        A quick in and out with baby for the parent to pick up something left at their desk? I’m fine with that. It’s the “hunted down and corralled up” part that grinds my gears.

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        You are just sure you are coming down with something, and absolutely should not go near the darling little baby. I’m fairly certain I haven’t held a baby since my youngest nephew was born and I have had a TON of meet the baby visits at my OldJob.

        Doesn’t help with the noise outside your office, but it does keep you from doing the meet and greet.

      3. Pommette*

        I’m not a baby person either, but I’ve been able to get out of those obligations by being frank about it. “I’m not a baby person, but congratulations! It’s great to see you.” When the colleague is someone I’m closer to, I just start an adult conversation with them while the colleagues who enjoy babies enjoy the baby. As often as not, they’re happy to have a chance to talk in full sentences.

        If you’re worried about being stigmatized for not being a baby person, That Would Be A Good Band Name’s faking-illness solution is pretty awesome. No one can fault you for looking out for the baby’s health.

        The loud chatter is another story; I have no good suggestions for dealing with that.

    4. Bartlett for President*

      I have never understood the whole “meet the new baby” thing. But then, I’m not a kid person so maybe my lack of understanding is because I see it as no different than “meet my the car”.

  29. Punkin*

    I agree with Alison. If it is that important to you, find a workplace that allows kids (or telework) occasionally.

    This question and comments caused me to remember my single mom bringing my sister & me to work with her (in the late 60s) when she did not have a babysitter. Alas, no office. She was a waitress in a truck stop. We stayed in the storage closet (think sacks of potatoes and boxes of canned goods) with our coloring books. The cook (a wonderful grandfatherly type named Issac) would feed us biscuits and gravy & keep an eye on us. It was a small town. Issac and my mom worked in several restaurants together. It was not a perfect solution (and did not happen often – maybe 10 times over 4-5 years), but it is a fond memory (we had no extended family – just us 3). However, if there were an emergency, it indeed could have been tragic.

  30. Colorado*

    And I just jumped on AAM while I’m waiting for my sick kiddo to wake up so I can drag her into my office to pick up some work and my computer. Granted, I won’t stay but she’ll tag along a short time to catch up with my boss, grab some work, and head back home.

    This is a side note but before I was a parent, the whole “just drop them at drop in daycare or somewhere else” thing was my point of view too. Well, last week I was informed by the PD that my beloved daycare where I thought I did my due diligence and my kiddo was safe was just charged with sexual assault on a child from a position of trust (their own child, long story but daycare kiddos were not hurt, allegedly). She left there in July to go to Kindergarten but my entire POV with leaving my child with anyone right now has drastically changed, as in it’s not happening. There are some real sikkos out there, even when you thought you did your best research.

    1. Electric Hedgehog*

      Yep. That’s reason #1 my husband is a stay at home dad. Most expensive child care there is, but at least in my case, the very best. I know it’s not an option for everyone (or even something that everyone might want to do), but dang, it’s nice to be able to have her be watched by someone I trust with my life and hers, who loves her and takes marvelous care of her in a one-on-one setting.

      And no, I wouldn’t bring my kid into the office even in an emergency – I doubt I could get her past the armed guards and if I did, I’d surely be fired.

  31. MuseumChick*

    People have touched on this but I wanted to add my 2 cents. You’re child’s presence in the office is a liability risk for your company. When if he/she had crawled away while you were focused on something? Gotten into something dangerous for a baby, tripped a co-worker who wasn’t paying attention, found the stairs…. there are just so many things that can happen.

    I agree that you also should have asked before bringing the child in. It sounds like over all your company is pretty supportive of parents so I would let this go and just not bring the kid in again unless you get the green light from your boss.

  32. hbc*

    While I love kids, here are the reasons why a business might not want them around, regardless of whether you or I might agree with the reasons:

    1) Hazards. Yeah, you don’t have forks driving through, but is the underside of your desk smooth? Are you sure there aren’t pennies, thumbtacks, or grapes that rolled in there? Are there drawers that can smash tiny fingers?
    2) Slippery slope. If one day is okay, why not 2, or 10, or I’ll just bring in the kid every day?
    3) Uncomfortable conversations/judgments. No one wants to have to tell an employee “Sorry, your kid isn’t well-behaved enough to hang here” and then debate whether Little Jimmy’s occasional giggling is bad compared to little Jenny’s sneezing (or Big Jenny’s sneezing) or if the repeated crinkling of a puffy book is a normal work noise.

    1. executive assistant to the stars*

      Oh my gosh, seriously. I had to crawl under my desk recently to plug something in and ended up scraping against an exposed screw. That was an embarrassing one to explain to the 24-hr emergency medical people (tetanus shot) and HR (because my boss told me I should file a workers comp claim just in case).

      And I’m a grown woman!

    2. LBK*

      Your third point is what I came here to say. I’m really wary of the OP’s line of reasoning that she could see it being a big deal if the kid was loud but in her case he wasn’t, so no harm, no foul – do you really want to put your manager in the awkward position of being the arbiter of acceptable baby disruption levels?

  33. Ashley*

    I feel like such a Grinch, but I don’t think (most) offices are a place for children. I have a 14 month old nephew and I have a hard time believing a 14 month old would play quietly for a few hours in a cubicle. Just because your cube-mates didn’t say anything doesn’t mean they didn’t know or that they weren’t annoyed or inconvenienced. It means they didn’t say it to you. It seems really strange that you didn’t get any clearance from your boss that this was okay.

    I hate when kids are in our office – a few weeks ago someone brought in their kid with a fever. Uh – thanks a lot.

    I think your manager was pretty generous – she let you go home, didn’t penalize you for your time off and explained that your kid couldn’t be there. Then you polled 10 people because you didn’t like her decision. It really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks – your boss gave you firm guidelines and now you can decide if you are comfortable with this working environment.

    I agree with PP, you snuck through the side door makes it seems very shady. Then you ‘asked’ people – which means you asked the people you are most comfortable with to side with you. I don’t know if anyone would say to your face, you were wrong and I don’t want children in the office.

      1. Emma*

        It sounds very much like trying to do an end run around her boss, too. Like if she polls enough people and finds enough who think babies in the workplace are okay, her boss has to let her bring baby in.

        1. Candi*

          Okay, now I’m thinking, in a semi-serious way, ‘maybe a petition will change things’ might have been running around in her unconscious mind. If so, there’s a post about trying to use majority opinion to change dress codes, which are far less serious then child safety and liability.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t know if anyone would say to your face, you were wrong and I don’t want children in the office.

      Except that, according to the letter, every single one of them did!

    2. Jialis*

      It’s easier for parents to tune out their children. I can work straight through WW2 with my kids. I think some parents forget this.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        YES. I think parents sometimes think that crying is the only thing that might disturb other people. But kids make plenty of noise, even when “playing quietly,” that can be distracting to others. Especially in an open plan office that is otherwise fairly quiet.

  34. Lady Blerd*

    As I read this letter, I think of the upcomig school Holiday in my province that is coming late February-early March when the parents who can’t take the time off for whatever reason bring their kids in. Always suprises me every year only because of the number of kids suddenly in our office. That said, they don’t run amok, they are usually at an empty desk or helping their parents with minor stuff.

  35. vanBOOM*

    I think that the manager should have been informed before you brought your child, and I do think it would be a mistake to push back (on this specific situation) when you’re going up against what appears to be very clear org policies and cultural characteristics.

    That said, I’m the only non-parent on my team and have met and seen my co-workers’ kids at work on an occasional basis (and on very rare occasions those have been half-day or all-day events). However, we all have private offices and the culture of our team is very much supportive of taking this approach in emergency situations as long as there aren’t consistent, prolonged, and/or sever distractions.

    However, this has me wondering about what strategies other working parents use to navigate issues like these while working for an org with a strict (or mostly strict) “no kids allowed” culture. What do you guys do when illnesses break out at day care, or when day care closes for a week, etc., and you have limited (paid) days off left and no available support from family or friends?

    OP, you mentioned that your job isn’t a telecommuting position, but could a case for temporary telecommuting be made for situations like these? (I don’t want to convey that telecommuting isn’t “real work” because that’s not true, and I hope that making the case for it wouldn’t reinforce that stereotype–but if distractions and kid liability issues have your org worried, I wonder if that could be an option to advocate for.) Also, do you have the option of flextime arrangements where you could stay at home with your child in situations like this but make up the hours later (shortened lunch breaks, coming in early/staying late, working weekends, etc.)?

    1. RD*

      “What do you guys do when illnesses break out at day care, or when day care closes for a week, etc., and you have limited (paid) days off left and no available support from family or friends?”

      • I don’t take my children out of school unless they are actually sick. Second, I picked a daycare center instead of an in-home daycare for a variety of reasons, one of which is that there are back-ups to the back-ups so that they do not close down when a teacher is sick. They are closed on major holidays, in which case my work is also closed
      • My husband and I trade off staying home if necessary, frequently working half days so each can go into work when a child is sick.
      • I telecommute as needed. My son will play solo when sick, so I can get work done. Not so much with my daughter.
      • In dire emergencies I have 2 people who can babysit during the day.

    2. Laura*

      Yep, pretty much the same as RD. We don’t keep our daughter out of daycare unless she is actually sick. My husband and I trade off who can take a sick day if we need to miss work. My daycare doesn’t close down for a week at a time, they only are closed on major holidays, otherwise they are open. Worst case scenario my mother could watch my daughter, but I’ve never needed this to happen yet (2.5 year old).

  36. Greengirl*

    I think it depends a lot on the office culture.I’ve worked in two places which were kid friendly.
    One, an arts education nonprofit where our we managed people who worked directly with children, it was ok to bring children in occasionally in an emergency. There were several parents on staff and most of them were very cognizant of the fact that their kids in the office was disruptive and would do their best to minimize the disruption. I still got very annoyed at one particular nine-year-old who hated being baby sat so was there more often and would do things like hide office supplies.

    At my second office my coworker brought her baby in regularly (once a week) and it was fine because we were in a building with a preschool and mommy and me classes so we were all used to small children being around. There were kids around constantly even though none of us worked directly with them. Also our jobs frequently required 12 hour days with time sensitive work so if her baby didn’t drop by for an evening dinner break she wouldn’t have seen him that day. Frankly if we hadn’t been flexible about things like letting the baby spend the day at the office when her breast pump broke, work wouldn’t have gotten done and she would have had to look for a new job and we would have lost a terrific employee. She was also very considerate about when her baby was causing a disruption and would try to minimize it.

    1. Observer*

      I still got very annoyed at one particular nine-year-old who hated being baby sat so was there more often and would do things like hide office supplies.

      THIS is TOTALLY unacceptable. I think that having a child friendly office should be more common than it is. But, parents who get this HAVE to be reasonable. Allowing your child to be a brat is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination. And, even if the kid is not actually a brat, and there a sympathetic reasons for this kind of behavior, it STILL doesn’t fly. If the kid is not able to behave in a reasonably non-disruptive fashion, then you really, really need to find alternatives.

  37. ConantheLibrarian*

    I’m surprised no one has said anything about parents receiving a small stipend for childcare (unless I missed it). That seems like an incredibly generous thing for an employer to do. Is this common? I’ve never heard of it.

    1. fposte*

      It’s not unheard-of, but it’s not like 401k level of common. It does sound like this company has been impressively cohesive and fair-minded–they really don’t want kids in the office, and they’re willing to offset the cost and difficulty of having them elsewhere.

  38. Jialis*

    Yes, you’re out of touch. Sorry. You should have cleared this prior with your manager. I think your manager handled this quite well, and you should appreciate a firm, stern warning about it. Many places could have easily just of fired you.

    I do truly sympathize, I have small children myself, including a disabled one where backup care isn’t so simple as just asking around. But this is a reason some parents choose to downgrade their jobs to more “young child-friendly” positions, such as work-from-home, telecommuting, or positions they are generally overqualified for. I’m in a position that I’m overqualified for, my management knows, and they are completely happy to have me at a much lower cost. I also save $1500/month on childcare. Win-win! It’s worth exploring if this is the sort of work-life balance that you need in your life right now.

  39. Case of the Mondays*

    I’ve posted about this before and people were shocked. My old firm (35 lawyers?) would allow kids in the office on snow days. They set up the employee lounge for them with snacks and movies and coloring books. Readers here liked that part. What they didn’t like was that support staff worked rotating shifts of two watching the kids room on snow days. I’m guessing they could have said no but it would have been seen as grinch like and not a team player. Often attorneys would hang out in there too with the kids for a bit but the official class room monitors were from the support pool for an hour or two at a time. It was equated to covering the phones at lunch.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      Uh, “Let me transfer you to Abyssinia” is not equitable to “Torvald, stop pulling Millicent’s pigtails!”

      1. chocolate lover*

        Agreed. There’s no reasonable expectation in a law firm of having to babysit someone’s children. Was this conveyed to support staff candidates when they interviewed?

        1. Emma*

          Yeah, I’d be totally pissed if that was sprung on me. Pissed enough to quit, unless I had literally no other option for a job.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I… don’t really find it horrible? I mean, it wouldn’t be my favorite job task, but I’ve certainly handled many assignments that weren’t what I signed up to do when I applied for this job. And presumably it was done for the good of the firm, and presumably the support staff were assigned to it because they support attorneys and not because they were all women and it’s “women’s work.” I think the analogy to covering the phones at lunch is pretty apt. But I’m sure I’ll get my head handed to me momentarily. ;)

      1. Trig*

        Yeah, I like to think the support staff were literally just there to make sure no one got hurt rather than being expected to provide any kind of enrichment. And unlike a teacher or normal babysitter, they could say “Corinthia, if you throw your marker at Smirle one more time, I’m getting your mom, and she’s going to be REALLY MAD that you made me pull her away from her desk.”

        But ideally, the company would have hired an actual babysitter for this job. Maybe a teenager also off school for the day…

      2. Mike C.*

        I certainly do. I have no training or experience in taking care of children, nor is that part of my job function. Why should I be saddled with that responsibility?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I don’t know about you, but I’m occasionally given assignments that I have no training or experience in. I tend to end up doing them. In my job description, it’s called “other duties as assigned.” If that never happens to you, I guess you’re luckier or higher-up than I am.

          1. Aurion*

            Other duties as assigned tend to be relevant to the company and the work the company is doing. Childcare is so afar out of most companies’ purpose that I don’t consider it relevant enough to be “other duties as assigned” unless your company is a daycare. For the record, I work in a small business where we wear a lot of hats. I am also not high up on the ladder.

    3. katamia*

      If I were support staff, I’d quit over that, honestly. If I wanted to be a professional babysitter, even occasionally, I’d get a job as, well, a babysitter or a nanny.

  40. CA Admin*

    Oh no. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is horribly contagious and spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, even before a kid shows symptoms. What if your kid was sick and spread it to the whole office? Just no. If your kid is sick or has been exposed to illness and can’t go to daycare, then don’t bring him into the office. Your coworkers don’t want to be exposed to that anymore than the daycare does.

    1. Annie Moose*

      In fairness, adults are significantly less susceptible to it than children. (although I suppose someone could unwittingly take it home with them)

      1. Momonga*

        My husband is immunocompromised. If I were to bring home a communicable disease from a child brought into my office I’d raise holy hell.

      2. CA Admin*

        Tell that to the head Executive Assistant who got it from her husband’s grandkid. She’s only in her 50s and she was out for a week until she was no longer in pain/contagious. Anyone who knowingly brings a kid who’s been exposed to that into the office deserves a suspension, as far as I’m concerned. It’s deliberately exposing your coworkers to an illness because of a non-employee who shouldn’t have even been present.

    2. Lia*

      Yeah, no. Kid exposed to a contagious disease, and you bring them to a cube farm? No, no, no.

      IF you had a private office and IF you’d called ahead and asked permission, then yeah, but I don’t think anyone should unexpectedly bring a baby or pet to the office, and doubly so if it is ill or has been exposed to something.

  41. Moonsaults*

    The only thing I’m taken back by is that you didn’t ask management about it. You assumed it was okay and I know that you said you brought the kiddo through the side door to “not disturb” anyone, it could also read as sneaky as well.

    I have worked in environments where kids aren’t unwelcome for the most part because the working owners are just as likely to bring their kids to work than anyone else. My old job, I had one coworker who would bring his daughter to work on short days and she’d hangout in his work area and do her homework or some project to keep her busy. She was a great kid. The woman who ran the office prior to me taking the job had her daughter in the office frequently to save on childcare costs. It was always a very relaxed atmosphere like that.

    However you still have to clear it with the management. In my cases the owners of the companies were the ones who were well aware of what was happening and just fine with it. To just think “well he’s not in the way and is quiet, so it should be okay.” isn’t the right path of thinking when you’re dealing with a structured work environment.

  42. Sue Wilson*

    I mean, they said you can’t do it, and none of your co-workers like it, so don’t.

    That said, I wonder if this depends on industry and area and time period. My mom worked for a beverage company (top Forbes company, regional office) as an HR professional 20 years ago and brought me to work all the time (I know a lot of people are talking about how unlikely it would be for a baby to be quiet for long periods, but I was indeed such a baby and small child and grown adult). The only time my mother deliberately brought me up was to, well, manipulate the union reps into not cursing, and they then had to remember I was there. Her boss did not mind in the least, but she was also in the South, so idk.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      “The only time my mother deliberately brought me up was to, well, manipulate the union reps into not cursing”

      ha, that’s awesome.

  43. Voice Of Experience*

    Trust me, your cubicle neighbors KNEW you had your kid in your cube. They didn’t want to make a scene or call you out. I’ve been in that situation. It’s very distracting and annoying and uncomfortable. Parents tend to be oblivious to the noise children make, but others are not. There are some places kids do not belong.

    I have 2 kids and they never came into the office until they knew how to be dead silent and it was a true emergency and I had cleared it with my supervisor before I arrived. Childcare care wasn’t easy for me to find in an emergency either, I was a single mom. Truly single, no family in the area and ex spouse out of state. So while I sympathize, please don’t do it again.

    Children in the office are a legal liability. They are a distraction. Sick kids are the worst, your co-workers don’t need to catch your child’s illness. I have children, but I don’t enjoy having them in the office when I’m trying to work.

    1. Charlie*

      It’s a good point that parents are oblivious to the noise. I had to travel internationally when my son was about 18 months old, and when I came back, I was astounded by how much general noise such a small person could generate. Lips smacking, little giggles, half-words, burps, thumps, rustling, sighs….even when they’re not actually crying, they’re making tons of noise.

  44. Queen Anne of Cleves*

    OP- Your boss is being very reasonable with you and you should consider yourself lucky!
    I do want to say for all those who believe you can make alternate arrangements when your young child, toddler or baby is sick….there are NO alternate arrangements. 1) Nobody wants your child when they are sick and many places have policies against bringing in sick children 2) Your child does not want/need anybody but mom, dad and/or close family when they are sick. 3) Not all of us have close family that can help out in an emergency and some of us are single parents 4) Kennels only take animals – sarcasm 5) I would not trust a drop in daycare where I know nobody, nobody knows me, my child knows nobody etc.)
    Parenting is HARD. We as parents know what the right choices are for our children but the world does not always accommodate those choices. We feel guilty when we are at work away from our children and guilty when we have to stay home away from work because of our children.

    1. Charlie*

      Parent of a 2-year-old here: alternate arrangements include telework, taking sick leave, or FMLA.

      And I trust drop-in daycares just fine.

      1. Queen Anne of Cleves*

        I suppose I meant alternate arrangements that still allow you to get to work. Not all companies allow working remotely/from home. FMLA does not apply to many companies and does not apply to a child being too sick to go to school for one day or at the parent’s discretion. Not all companies allow you to take sick leave for a sick kid (I left a company who insisted sick leave was only for the employee’s illness). I worked for a company once that thought you should always have a Plan B and make it to work no matter what. Working from home was not an option there. Not all companies have a generous vacation or PTO policy.

    2. NW Mossy*

      Parenting is difficult sometimes, certainly, and for some more than others because of their particular life circumstances. But in general, there are usually some options available to handle the commonplace of a child that’s ill – it’s quite a stretch to say that there are no options for anyone in this circumstance. Some people have access to a broader range of options, while some have fewer. Some can more easily access costless options, while others have to tap into options that require payment. Some need to tap into these options more frequently than others, which has its own pros and cons.

      It troubles me a bit when I see parenting framed as a hopeless catastrophe from which there is no escape. While I can’t say that this scenario never happens, it’s far less common than the scenario where being a parent means you have to choose between bad options sometimes but over the long run, these choices don’t cause lasting and severe damage.

  45. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I’m on the side of child in office as long as not a distraction to anyone else. But, obviously, this varies enormously from place to place.

    Personally, I really object to the “bring your new baby to work to show off” thing. I don’t want to admire your offspring. You didn’t do something amazing by having a child. You’re creating more of a distraction than a well-behaved child who stays in your cubicle while you work. And, yes, I have a child. He has been in my office several times; however, it is always incidental to the fact I need to go to the office and he’s with me. He definitely stayed in don’t-speak-unless-spoken-to-mode while there.

    1. Momonga*

      I’d like to second this. I don’t understand the culture of showing off so freely. I remember the thread about the letter writer who thought it would be totally normal to send out photos of her engagement ring. I got married a month ago and the very thought gives me shivers.

      1. Momonga*

        .. forgot to specify – the LW was planning to send out photos of her engagement ring to her coworkers.

        1. Browser*

          Oh man, we had a new employee start last month – like, the week before Halloween – and when she came in the first week of this month with an engagement ring, the receptionist felt it necessary to take multiple pics of it and send out an office-wide email about it. There are anywhere from 80-100 people in our office, and most of us didn’t know who the hell she was.

          But this is the same receptionist who thinks it is appropriate to put memes on company birthday cards – including ones of Bill Cosby talking about spiking drinks.

      2. Emmbee*

        “I don’t want to admire your offspring” – clearly you don’t have close relationships with your coworkers. Which is fine, but keep in mind a lot of us do. I LOVE when people bring in their new babies. We all get a sweet little break and some baby cuddles!

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          No, it is that I do not have a close relationship with babies. I had one. He is now a young man. I cuddled him. I wore him in a sling. I still hug him (when he lets me). But, I have no interest in making a fuss over someone’s baby at work. I don’t work in a daycare.

        2. executive assistant to the stars*

          I’m a weirdo! I have no desire to admire someone’s baby pics (a brief coo is okay, but a coworker who makes you endure long iphone vids of baby antics is exhausting), but lemme see your puppies! ALL THE PUPPIES!

        3. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Keep in mind that a lot of us don’t and standard women-in-offices culture seems to direct us all to want to make a big deal about any baby. So, know that you needing to make a big fuss anywhere near someone else’s cubicle may be (1) a distraction and (2) actually offensive. I’ve gotten lectured to frequently in my life that I “would be happier if I just had children/more children/get married/stayed married/what-don’t-you-want-grandchildren!!??!?!. That is rude and no one’s business.

        4. katamia*

          Some people just aren’t baby people. It doesn’t have to do with how close you might be to your coworkers (or friends and relatives–I’m still thankful that last month my cousin didn’t make me hold the baby she had back in Jan or Feb). They’re sometimes loud, they sometimes smell bad, and their presence can make it difficult to get work done. I’m willing to fake an “Aww, cute!” on Facebook or email reply, but I don’t actually want to be around anyone else’s baby.

        5. Emma*

          Yay for you. Don’t force it on the rest of us, and don’t pressure us – especially us women – into cooing over them. It should be opt-in, not “awkwardly opt-out in front of the entire office.”

      3. AnonAnalyst*

        My last company did this well. When new parents brought their babies into the office to show them off, they would hang out in the break room or a conference room and other employees who were interested in seeing the baby would come to them. It was a nice way to let employees socialize with the parent, particularly if that person was currently on parental leave, without cornering people at their desks.

        I don’t have any children and I don’t really like kids so I always feel awkward around them, but I did like having the opportunity to say hi to coworkers I was friendly with and hadn’t seen for awhile. I always feel awkward when people bring their babies by my desk, though, because I feel like I am supposed to have some built-in baby reaction that I am somehow missing, so I always kind of come up empty.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Meant to add: Having more of a group dynamic takes away some of that awkwardness because there was usually a larger group conversation happening that was easier to join. The dynamic was less “look at my baby” and more “say hi to Jane, and look, she brought the baby!”

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        I found that one horrifying too. Especially since the rationale was “well, people will ask!” Just send a photo to people who ask, then. And just introduce your baby to people who want to see your baby. Sheesh.

    2. Gem*

      I think the bring-your-baby-in time is beneficial for new moms, who might otherwise get pegged with “oh she’s going to change her mind and not return to work post-baby.” This was a common issue in my area.

  46. Erin*

    I 100% sympathize with you and see where you’re coming from, but I do think you have to let this go. The fact that they support parents with kids in the other ways you mentioned – which are truly significant and I’m jealous – I think lets them be more strict on something like no kids in the office, period.

    I can see how that would seem silly when your kid was so perfectly well behaved, but it’s one of those things that if they let one person do it it would open up the door to other people doing it, and potentially abusing that privilege.

    If it were me I would have called my manager beforehand, explained the situation, and asked what she’d prefer me to do, giving a few options: I can come in for a few hours with the kid who I assure you will play quietly on the floor of my cube, I can put in some extra hours later in the week when I know I’ll have kid coverage, or…I don’t know. You said working from home isn’t an option, so I guess your only choices were to come in with the kid or not come in.

    But either way I would have discussed it with the manager beforehand and gotten her preference. It sounds like they’re really understanding about this sort of thing.

    The good news is, you haven’t been penalized for this and can move forward with clear ideas of what’s okay or not okay. And yay for your kid not getting sick.

    1. NonProfit Nancy*

      Agree, OP can console herself by thinking that, even though her kids was perfectly well behaved, this opens the door to other parents whose kids might not be so quiet, and management can’t abide that. I can’t imagine as a manager, explaining to a parent that some other kid can come in because s/he’s well behaved, but your little hellion isn’t allowed.

  47. AK*

    30 years ago when I was elementary-school aged, my father brought me to work with him a few times during the summer. Normally he worked nights and Mom worked days, but occasionally his job required him to do a few tasks during the day when I was at home. My Mom’s office was an absolutely NO KIDS EVER!!! corporate office while Dad’s was a small family business. I don’t think his boss cared, he didn’t seem to mind stepping over me while I played on the lobby floor with some toys I’d brought.
    My point, I guess, is just that different workplaces are different, what’s perfectly ok in one may be a big no-no in another, and I don’t think that’s a new thing.
    My Father still works at said small family business. A few months ago I stopped to drop something off with him at work while my dog was in the car. His boss insisted that I bring the dog in and even spent a few minutes playing with my puppy, and my Dad introduced my dog to all of his co-workers. I would never even think of doing that at my own job!

  48. CanadianKat*

    There certainly are potential liability issues, where the child is so young. The child could crawl unde the table and touch/pull wiring. He can put in his mouth staples dropped on the floor. He can climb on a bookcase and tip it over. A court may find that an employer who permits such a young child on the premises would have the obligation to ensure the space is babyproof. Even if that isn’t the case, the employer may have decided not to take the risk or incur the expenses of doing the research.

    Might be different for an older child, who can be trusted around power cords under the desk, shelves, etc.

  49. Bananarchy*

    I’ve worked in two separate offices now where people brought their kids to work pretty often, and it was tolerated very openly by management. Personally, I found it a little annoying, but it was also the kind of office where I could just go work someplace else if someone’s kid was being loud or disruptive– easy as that. In an environment where people are really nailed to their desks with nowhere else to go, I imagine it would be harder to put up with the disruption.

    1. Charlie*

      It’s nice that people were accommodating, but I still don’t get why people had to accommodate that. Seems awfully rude to bring a loud, disruptive kid to work and watch your coworkers scatter to conference rooms just to do their jobs.

      1. Bananarchy*

        I partly agree, but so many of my coworkers seemed to really like having kids around (occasionally) as a morale boost. They would even encourage each other to do it– “Oh, we haven’t seen little Bobby in a while, why don’t you bring him in for an hour!” Both environments were small offices and no one wanted to be That Person who complains to HR and ruins everyone else’s fun.

  50. Museum Worker*

    I really have nothing to add except that I agree with those stating that by not asking first and bringing the child in the side door seems like OP knew that boss would not be ok with it.

    We have an employee in our Cafe (I work in a museum) that used to get a call from daycare to come get her child at least once a week (now that the child is in school it’s about once a month). One day she was called to come get him because he was sick and running a fever. She didn’t have anyone else to watch him and the dept. head said she could bring him to work for the remainder of her shift. Note, she works in food service and the kid was sick, including a fever. I went to the Cafe and I heard a child crying hoarsley.I didn’t see anyone so I start searching for the source of the sound. They had the child stashed in a corner, in a high-chair, with boxes in front of him to hide him. The mom was sitting in the office with her direct boss, just chatting away and I know she could hear her child. I asked the boss- do you know there is screaming child hidden in the corner? Mom of child jumped up and said “I had to bring him! He’s sick and the daycare won’t keep him. Dept. head said it was ok!”.

    I went to my boss, who is the executive director, briefly explained the situation and boy did he clear it up fast. He sent Mom home immediately and boss and dept. head had a closed door meeting in the ED’s office. I sympathize; I have 2 now-grown children and 1 was sick all the time. But I never brought a sick child to work and stashed him in a corner. It was pitiful- poor sick child stashed in the corner, crying it’s eyes out and his voice was hoarse and should have been at home or the doctor’s office.

    Dropping by with your kid for a quick visit or to introduce a new baby to coworkers is fine, but to bring a sick child into a food service area? Nope. Call someone in or boss can fill-in.

  51. some1*

    “I booked some time off, but there was one thing I wanted to get done and since my husband couldn’t get time off and our backups weren’t available due to vacations or illness, I brought our son to my office with me.”

    Am I the only one who caught this? You were already given time time off to stay home and you came in anyway? Why didn’t you just talk to your boss when you asked for the time off, “Hey, I’d really like to get a jump on that report so I’m not playing catch-up tomorrow, can I bring in my son for a few hours?”

  52. Caroline*

    I think workplaces have the right to deny parents the ability to take their kids to work, for whatever reason. I don’t personally have a problem with a quiet kid in the next cubicle watching a movie with headphones or something similar, but I think it is within the rights of the workplace to make policies about this, and neither allowing nor denying is unreasonable.

    What is unreasonable is expecting that workplaces don’t have that right, and that is what OP did when she brought her baby in without checking about whether or not it would be OK. I think that was a pretty unprofessional move, and she’s lucky the response was not harsher.

  53. Observer*

    The thing the struck me the most forcefully is that you were told very, very clearly – even forcefully – that this is NOT acceptable, and you are still looking to change their minds. It’s kind of hard to see this as a one off, when you are pushing back on something that both your management AND your colleagues are telling you that this is NOT acceptable AT ALL.

    I believe you when you say that you went in the side door to keep from disturbing people, rather than to sneak the child in. But, it’s easy to see why it would look differently to others. So, that’s another layer on this.

    You’ve already burned some capital here. Trying to push this is a battle you won’t win, and you’ll just harm your relationships and reputation if you take it much further.

    Your employer is actually being quite reasonable about this. You don’t have hard deadlines, and apparently coverage is not a big issue and your employer is willing to let you take advantage of that. On the other hand, even the best behaved 14 month old can wind up creating unexpected mess and disturbance. That’s the nature of children that age. Now, one would hope that parents would be smart enough to take their kid out if something like that comes up, but I can’t blame an employer that says no. Especially since they are reasonable about taking off to deal with childcare emergencies. Also, there are liability issues. So, while I see why you see it as no big deal, and many office do allow children in, you really are out of sync with professional norms in thinking that your work is being unreasonable.

  54. snowball*

    I haven’t read through all the comments but I am surprised that the OP did not run this by her manager first – I would be really surprised if someone used PTO and showed up anyway to complete a task. In this case, I would have said, “Yes, that needs to get done and you can/cannot bring the baby” or “No, that can wait until you are back in the office next week” or “Thanks for telling me that, it is high priority so I will assign it to someone else to cover until you return”.

  55. Happy Cynic*

    The whole story – bringing the kid in through a side door, not clearing it with anyone beforehand, and the stereotypical reaction of “Noise? Not MY baby, never!” all adds up to a fairly severe lapse in judgment, even given the extreme circumstances. OP’s bosses sound sympathetic, but I’d predict OP’s reputation might be permanently called into question from this incident.

    1. Charlie*

      I don’t think this incident alone will permanently harm her reputation. Trying to push for a change or exception to the rules after being told in the most absolute terms that it was not accepted? Continuing to question her coworkers and managers? That will.

      1. Happy Cynic*

        Well, for OP’s sake I hope it isn’t harmed permanently! But I’d be suspicious.

        To address OP’s questions –
        1. Yes, you are wildly out of touch with professional norms, both general and in your office’s specific case.
        2. To even try to change things, you can take the next year and toe every line, make sure every teapot is polished to make sure no one can find fault. Only then would questioning policies that seem pretty entrenched be any sort of safe idea. Let them forget this and show them what a great worker you are – then you will be on solid ground to ask for changes.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But plenty of the responses here from people whose offices would be fine with this show that #1 just isn’t true. The OP was off-base for her office. She was not off-base for every office.

          1. AD*

            I hate to play devil’s advocate, but a handful of anecdotal responses on this page don’t indicate that bringing infants/toddlers/kids into the office is widely accepted in the U.S. or anywhere else. I did a search to see what data/info is out there about this, and couldn’t find anything.
            That’s not to say it doesn’t happen (it clearly does).

            1. TootsNYC*

              I haven’t counted, but my impression is that we’re hitting a roughly even split.

              I’m sorry, you just cannot state that there is “a norm that everyone should automatically know.” There isn’t one.

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                I still think having kids in the office is atypical enough that anyone should ask before bringing them in for more than a quick visit.

              2. Emma*

                The fact that it’s an even split itself indicates that “no kids in the office” is common enough that, yes, a reasonable adult who is vaguely aware of how other workplaces function should know that in at least some of them, kids aren’t acceptable.

                The OP’s talk of how very shocked she is that anyone finds kids at work unacceptable rings rather hollow. She snuck the kid in, hid the kid, and professes to have never ever even vaguely heard that some workplaces ban kids. That’s ridiculously ignorant, at the very least, and more like outright deceptive.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hey, come on, that’s overly harsh and not the kind of reception I want letter-writers to get here.

                  If she’s always worked in offices where this is allowed, it’s not outrageous that she wouldn’t realize there’s variation.

          2. Happy Cynic*

            You’re absolutely right – I was overgeneralizing.

            On a brief note, AAM, I *really* appreciate how you monitor comments and chime in, asking us to all be helpful toward the letter-writer. This comment section has the ring of a well-run meeting.

    2. Momonga*

      Agreed. Almost no one ever thinks their kid is noisy/disruptive. Sort of like how 90% of drivers think they’re above-average.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Most parents and primary caregivers are so used to the noise their child makes, that they just don’t hear it.

  56. Lyssa*

    How on earth does one get a 14 month old to just sit quietly and play on a blanket for more than 45 seconds at a time?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I know that we’re supposed to take everything the OP’s say at face value, but I really am skeptical that this happened exactly as she described.

      I have a lot of childcare experience, and certainly some 14 months old are capable of a lot of independent play. But it would be a very unusual child who would be in a new place, and not want to explore, and who would just sit there playing without making any noise. It’s not impossible, but I have my doubts.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But that’s really not useful to the letter-writer, and being subject to suspicion like that makes writing in a pretty unpleasant experience for people, so I want to stick to the commenting rules that ask people not to do that.

        (It’s fine to say something like “Hey, have you considered that while it seemed totally unnoticeable to you, it wasn’t to others, since parents can get used to the noises kids make?” It’s the direct “I really doubt this happened the way you say” that I ask people to avoid.)

        1. TootsNYC*

          And I think there’s a lot of “you were sneaky” accusations at the OP that really work against your point.

  57. Mena*

    Odd that you were taken aback by the response you received when bringing your child into the office. I’m guessing you haven’t seen this done (since it isn’t the norm in your office) but you thought it would be ok. But now, you’ve been told by colleagues and management that this isn’t part of your office culture, and you’re asking how you can convince your manager that it isn’t a big deal? I think you’ve missed the message that this isn’t a practice that is welcomed in your office. (the first part of this message was that no one else is doing it – the second part of the message was very direct)
    And being in a cube environment makes the baby’s presence all the more noticeable and distracting (yes, people knew he was there and were politely ignoring the situation, leaving it to your boss to deal with). It is unfortunate that your childcare plans fell through but that doesn’t justify bringing him to the office, especially when you don’t see this as a practice in the office culture. Adding in that the child was possibly exposed to a very communicable virus makes the idea of bringing him to the office all the more disappointing.
    It sounds like your employer is very generous is its thinking about family-work-life balance. The culture is to not bring babies to the office and they’ve clearly communicated this view – it isn’t up for negotiation.

  58. Mom Said No*

    Honestly, if I told an employee not to bring their children into work again, then found out that they crowdsourced opinions from 10 coworkers, and when that didn’t work, wrote to an advice columnist (ostensibly to ask if this was normal but also asking how to change my mind)…I’d have serious concerns about managing that employee. I’m all for being given new information if I’m missing something. This isn’t one of those situations. The LW was told “no” at every turn for good reasons, but kept pushing to find that one person or nugget of info she could bring back to the manager and say “See! I’m not the only one!” I’ve dealt with employees like this, and they’re exhausting. It could seriously affect your relationship with your manager if you don’t let this one go.

    1. Happy Cynic*

      Thank you — yes, even after asking all her coworkers, OP is writing an advice column hoping for a ‘yes’ answer.

    2. MsCHX*

      I went back and read again because of something I saw and this stood out to me on the second go ’round

      “Is there anything I can do to convince my manager that this should not be a problem?”

      So yes OP, you are out of touch and a bit tone deaf. The answer is “no” and it IS a problem.

    3. Emma*

      This. Thank you. OP is trying to do an end run around her boss, and is refusing to hear the answers she doesn’t like.

  59. Vic*

    Just looking around my office floor, I can see a paper clip, a pushpin, and a couple of staples. We have a cleaning crew in nightly and they do a good job. But, it’s an office and it’s not child proof. Young children will put anything in their mouths. Of course they don’t want to be responsible for any harm coming to your child. And, I haven’t even mentioned the electrical outlets without childproof covers.

  60. Alienor*

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing kids into the office per se. I wouldn’t have done it when my daughter was a toddler (she would have stayed in my cube for about .087373 seconds before toddling off to explore, for one thing), but I did do it occasionally when she was school-aged and could sit quietly with a book and a snack for an hour. That said, if your boss and coworkers are that firm about not bringing kids into the office ever, then I would just accept it and make use of whatever other options are available. It sounds like they’re OK with taking time off, which is a very valuable resource – some companies won’t even let you use your own PTO for a child care emergency.

  61. Erm*

    Personally I have found this to be extremely annoying at work. One woman regularly brought in her 10 year old daughter who was not well behaved, and let her run around and scream at our office. The Vice President told her this was not a day care, but she kept bringing her in. It put any nearby co-workers in an awkward situation as no one wanted to be the bad guy and complain. It’s also rude to bring a sick child to an office and expose them to your co-workers.

  62. Jenny*

    The child wasn’t sick – the mom was trying to keep the child from becoming sick by avoiding her day care center.

    In my last job, my boss regularly brought her 4-year-old to the office, and she most definitely was distracting. But on the one occasion that I had to bring my quiet, self-entertaining 7-year-old for a couple of hours due to early release from school, I was sharply reprimanded. So whatever the policy on children in the workplace, I hope said policy is enforced across the board.

  63. Caledonia*

    I haven’t read every single comment but the part about asking other employee’s opinions struck me as being similar to the intern who got others to sign a petition about the dress code. And we ALL remember how that turned out. So don’t go about it like that. Approach it like how others have suggested above.

  64. Manager in CA*

    I manage two supervisors and 19 employees, and the main reason why we limit kids in the office is because of the one bad apple employee who abuses it. One of my employees may have an emergency 2 or 3 times a year. She always calls in advance or finds me in my office, and tells me what’s going on, how long it will last, etc., all before her child comes into the office. And we all have private offices. For me, this isn’t a problem and we really try to be flexible with our employees. Another one of my employee’s was bringing in her child 3 to 4 times per week. She would take a “late lunch” around 2 pm, and have her child in her office until the end of her shift. There was never advance notice, and you would find out by going to talk to her about a business issue and see her child sitting there. We told her to stop and immediately you get the “well, everyone else is doing it.” But she was the only one abusing it.

    I can see a lot of employers just giving up on it altogether and saying “no kids.”

    When my son is sick, my wife and I usually split days or alternate days. I would love it if my employer allowed me to stay home and say “no worries, that deadline can be moved.” Maybe I should work for the OP’s employer. It sounds awesome!!

  65. MsCHX*

    I will admit to reading on in horror at the thought. And I am a mom. I would never, ever, sanction infants/toddlers in the work place while you’re working. To pick something up, drop something off, say Hi? Sure.

    As kids get older it then depends on the kids’ personality for me. My kids were really laid back and didn’t cause much of a stir at all, anywhere. Not true of my son alone…but if I had both of them it was okay.

  66. Ted Mosby*

    I get frustrated with letters ending with “I asked everyone else an they all agreed!!” Right, because a lot of your coworkers aren’t going to be comfortable telling you to your face to keep your kid at home, especially when management already did the dirty work. Personally I think this is pretty out of line, but why would I ruin a good relationship by telling you something that 1) management has already had their say in and 2) you’re just going to stand by your opinion and be annoyed at me.

    I think you’re taking a really strong stance on a weak foundation. There is no possible way you can guarantee a 14 month old will stay quiet and not distract anyone at a near by cube. It’s far from unreasonable to ask you not to bring him in.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      But her coworkers all DID tell her that they thought it was out of line. She has heard from management and all ten of her coworkers that she asked that it was inappropriate for that office.

      I don’t think her original idea that this would be okay in some offices was totally out of line, but continuing to push back when literally everyone she has talked to there has affirmed that it is not done in that office will look really tone deaf.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        Wait are they horrified at the thought of her bringing her child or getting in trouble? Maybe I misread.

  67. Princess Carolyn*

    Yeah, OP, your particular office’s culture is kind of weird about this. But if they’re OK with you just going home and they’re not holding this first “offense” against you, I think you ought to let it go.

  68. AmberRachel*

    OP, Yes, you are out of touch. Your company offers PAID maternity leave and you state that you returned to work when your baby was four months old, so I’m assuming you got around four months of maternity leave – most companies allow you 12 weeks and it’s unpaid as well.
    AND your company gives parents a stipend for daycare costs.
    You have really good benefits at this job – don’t try to push your luck.

  69. Former Retail Manager*

    I am generally not a fan of children under the age of 6 or 7 in the office and I am genuinely shocked that OP thought it would be okay without ever having had a prior discussion and there being no precedent.

    However, on the flip side, as I age (I’m only 35), I notice that despite our becoming more and more politically correct as a culture overall, we seem to be becoming less child tolerant. (Restaurants that prefer you don’t bring children, child-free times at the movie theater, glares from people when you show up with children to certain events that are not age restricted or inappropriate to bring children to, etc.) Like so many other commenters above, I have fond memories of going to work with my dad, who was a machinist, and having the opportunity to learn what he did all day and for him to help me run the machines that he ran all day. It was a dangerous environment now that I look back, but his boss’ directive, was “watch your kid…don’t let them fall into the coolant pit.” And nothing ever happened to me or any of the other kids that spent the day in the factory. I think that having the opportunity to either see your parents work or do a little light work yourself (filing, sweeping up, answering phones, etc.) was a nice introduction to the work world and helped you observe at least a little bit about how things operated in the workplace. The good ol’ days appear to be gone.

    1. Permanent project manager?*

      I agree with you in one sense, but I think there’s a difference between seeing the physical work you describe and bringing kids into an office environment. One is dirty and noisy and hands-on … kids almost fit in better there, compared to an office where there is an expectation of quiet and focus. I’m not saying focus isn’t required in physical labor, because it absolutely is, but the environment as a whole isn’t as easily disrupted by kid weirdness. I hope that makes sense. I’m a farmer’s daughter who absolutely saw things up close in my parents’ work and loved it, so I really am not trying to fan the blue vs. white collar flames that we saw this morning!

    2. MsCHX*

      I *DO* have kids and am highly annoyed at the current culture of ‘take your kid everywhere’. In an upscale restaurant on a Sunday night where the restaurant itself advertises a “date night” special…there were kids about 3-5 running around, crawling around for the crayons, etc. It is not okay. Same with movies above a G-rating.

      Find a sitter, do child-centered activities and restaurants or stay home.

    3. EmmaLou*

      I don’t think that we’re becoming less child tolerant but that we’ve not got the same sense of “grown-up” vs. “full family” appropriateness that we may have had. As a kid, we never went to the movies as toddlers. Not even G. My mother was not interested in keeping toddlers in their seats, not standing on the chairs or crawling under them. When we could sit in the chairs and watch, we would only go to “kid” movies. When we would go out to eat as a family, we’d be in our best clothes on our best behavior and knew that bad behavior would not go well for us. It was how we learned how to behave in nicer restaurants. (And that that little turning thing on the table did NOT have ice cream for my mother’s baked potato like it looked like it did. Sour cream, butter and chives.) None of my friends were going to R rated movies or running about restaurants either so it didn’t seem weird or like we were not doing the fun stuff.

      1. Emma*

        This. Places are having to put explicit boundaries in place where once they were implicit. There were family-friendly places and events where you could take your kids; other places, you left the kids at home, no matter how sweet you thought they were.

        If anything, I’m hearing more and more people whining about not being able to cart their kids everywhere, or how unfair it is that some places/activities ban kids, all predicated on this assumption that you should never have to get a babysitter or skip a favorite activity as a parent. Am I saying parents shouldn’t have a social life? Nope. But assuming your kids are welcome absolutely everywhere you want to go is rather entitled.

        FWIW, I’m also seeing this more and more with some pet owners as well.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, this. People didn’t use to take their children to R-rated movies in the evening, or nice restaurants. You didn’t used to get ” glares from people when you show up with children to certain events that are not age restricted or inappropriate to bring children to” because you didn’t take your kids to those events.

        1. Camille Chaustre McNally*

          I don’t know, and then you go to Spain and see whole families going bar to bar for tapas and beer. It was pretty lovely to see all the age groups mix.

  70. Permanent project manager?*

    No, don’t do this. I have two young kids, one still in daycare, and I know how annoying these random illnesses can be, but this is way beyond the boundaries of what’s appropriate. It sounds like your company is good to working parents as a whole. I would not push back on this.

    I really cannot imagine supervising a 14-month-old in the office. Both of mine were into anything and everything at that stage and the idea of answering a single email, let alone getting substantive work done, would’ve been laughable.

  71. NotaFan*

    Obviously this is something that varies wildly between workplaces, but put me firmly in the camp that says it’s highly inappropriate to bring your child with you to work WHILE you are working.

    I am fine with baby visits – for coworkers I am closer to and friendly with, I enjoy seeing the babies for a little bit. I don’t have any particular interest in babies in general. Bringing your new baby in for 20 minutes is a fairly normal thing, at least at my work place. (Though some people do tend to abuse this, I think one of the more recent visits was about 2 hours long.)

    Actually having a child hang out at work – no, especially a small child who is not going to be able to follow directions on being quiet, and not disrupting your co-workers. It may not be distracting to the parent – I guarantee it’s going to be distracting to someone and at a workplace – they deserve not to be inconvenienced or disturbed by your kid.

    Even the idea of this just irritates me. I know some people, and it seems increasingly more, have much more blurry definitions on where kids should be allowed – but as someone who reserves fondness for children almost exclusively to my niece I really want to be able to go to an R rated movie, or bar without having to deal with children. I especially want to be able to work in peace without them.

  72. Rosa*

    My mom brought me to work with her when I was 17. It was day 2 of not having any power and all I really wanted was air conditioning and wifi.

  73. Stephanie (HR)*

    I’m not very educated on this, but I do believe there are insurance issues; even in a setting that looks appropriate for children, they may not be insured because children are not part of the normal population. Allowing employees to bring their children could put them at a liability risk.

  74. MWKate*

    To specifically address the OP’s question – no. There is nothing you can do to convince your boss that this is ok. They clearly stated they do not want you to bring your child in, and your co-workers backed up that belief.

    Pushing back on this is going to be damaging to your reputation there, and considering the benefits you listed – it seems like they offer some nice perks a lot of other places do not. If you want to continue to be an employee in good standing you need to drop this immediately. I might even considering apologizing for doing it in the first place, not necessarily in a ‘I did something wrong’ manner, but to say you should have checked with her first and now understand that this is not something allowed by the company and it won’t happen again.

    If I were your manager and received any push back – or, actually found out about the informal poll, I would be concerned about your willingness to follow direction especially considering the strong reaction you received.

    Drop it – right away.

    1. Meg*

      Totally agree with this! From the way she worded her letter, sounds like she was still projecting a “But, I don’t understand what’s wrong? The baby was quiet!” vibe to her bosses when she should have done what you have said: apologize for not running it by her boss first and then vow to comply with the company policy in the future.

  75. Stacey*

    If I could add my two cents.
    The first mistake was not alerting your manager to the situation. I think the boss might have been more accommodating if you’d explained the situation and/or may have let you work from home. Showing up with a baby without letting the manager know is rather rude and unexpected. IMO.

  76. Justanotherthought*

    Sorry if someone else brought this up already, but I think this actually relates to the post the other day about the writer who asked if her employer could dictate whether or not she could carpool with a coworker. The answer was yes, and there were many comments that supported the fact that employers can put in place all kinds of (non-discriminatory) regulations. “You are not allowed to bring children to the office” is one such non-discriminatory regulation this office has put in place. It does not matter if no one knew your kid was there or not; bottom line is that kids aren’t allowed in this office and the OP should not try to push back on this.

  77. Whats In A Name*

    So something just happened this afternoon that kind of changed my opinion on the topic of bringing your kids to work.

    I have previously been of the “sure, why not allow kids at work in an emergency?” camp. I also went to work with my mom at times when I was between the ages of 8-11 and they are some of my fondest memories.

    Then just today someone brought their 2 year old in for a couple hours. They just ran down my hallway. I don’t know what was worse the kid yelling or the mom trying to keep up and constantly hissing “shh shh shh shhh”.

  78. Jules*

    When I had issues with childcare, like something emergency came up, I’d tell my boss and take off. Either use PTO, work from home or make up the time. I cannot work with my kids around. Maybe my kids are extra needy or something, but even at 6 years old, she’d still come over and start talking like nothing is going on while I already told her 5 seconds ago I am getting on a conference call.

    While your child might be quiet OP, if others see you do it, they might want to do the same and their kids might not be quiet. You are lucky that your employer is so flexible, so take advantage of it.

  79. Jaybeetee*

    I remember being a kid and hanging out at my dad’s job pretty regularly – sick, snow days, no babysitter, even portions of summer vacation. He ran his own small law firm (at that time him, his secretary, some other part-time support staff), so he didn’t have to ask anyone. At one point he had a spare empty office in his suite, and he literally would bring in a small TV from home and a bunch of toys and books for us to hang out in there. That said, he does “paper law,” mostly family stuff, and even though my brother and I invariably misbehaved at times, I think he liked projecting such a family-friendly image to his clients.

    Years later, he had lawyers working under him, including a woman who I assume didn’t want to take a full year of mat leave (we’re Canadian). I don’t remember the details on who brought up cutting mat leave short, but the end result was a deal where she would come into work everyday, baby in tow. She had a baby swing and a playpen set up in her office. Apparently she was actually able to be productive with this, though she eventually put the kid in daycare!

    My mother, on the other hand, has spent her career in a series of cube farms where Kids Weren’t a Thing. I remember seeing her workplace once as a kid, and I think it was a real “she ran in to pick something up with me in tow” type situation.

    Really, I think this is an office culture thing, and it also depends on your job. Most of the jobs I’ve worked would have been pretty incompatible with small children- either I’m all over the building all the time, on the phone all day, in a teeny little cube with nowhere for a kid to be, or in a privacy environment where no one who doesn’t work there can enter. That said, I imagine if asked, most of my bosses would have tried to accommodate someone who was in a bind and needed to bring in a kid.

    Finally, while I get that bringing kids to work isn’t a norm in OP’s job, I’m surprised they’d come down so hard on baby visits. I figured most people liked those?

  80. Narise*

    The main problem is that you decided to bring your baby without discussing it with your boss. She discovered your baby on the floor in your cubicle. It made it look like you were trying to get away with something or at least showed poor judgement. What if your bosses boss had discovered your baby? She would have asked your boss what was going on and her response is either she didn’t know or hadn’t addressed it. Either way not a good thing.

  81. cv*

    I believe we are expected to prove we have daycare if we routinely WFH at my office. (Not a parent). Certainly no one would be allowed to bring a child in to work.

  82. BenAdminGeek*

    One of my favorite memories from childhood was the time that we didn’t have school, so I ended up going with my dad to his work, the state psychiatric hospital. In retrospect, probably not the greatest parenting move ever, but I had a delightful time. He had a private office at the time, so when he had to go check in on patients he locked the door and I just hung out, read, built things out of paper, and had a grand day.

  83. Spiny*

    You’ve essentially decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, so it may be worth considering whether your response to your employer’s reaction may be a bit defensive. Reframing the argument may help you better present your case to change the policy.

  84. ilikeaskamanager*

    I love kids, but I really cannot work with them in the office. Work and play do not mix. Kid sounds and behaviors that might not even register in a parent’s brain might cause another person to completely lose their train of thought. I don’t have practice at tuning out normal kid behavior and noises in the workplace, and I cannot turn out quality work when that is going on. The LW needs to understand that. She may not think her kid was disruptive, but it isn’t just about what she thinks.

  85. Meg*

    I am 100% against coworkers bringing their children to the office, no matter what age. My office is very flexible about this and it can be a major distraction! People will bring their newborns around so everyone can see the cute little baby. People will bring their toddlers and let them run around being loud and obnoxious. One woman even let her daughter come to the office to sell girl scout cookies. Another woman brought her young son in the office, who started making a ruckus in the men’s bathroom and wouldn’t come out. The mother had to send a male coworker into the bathroom to get him (because she obviously couldn’t go in there herself). These are the kinds of inappropriate and unprofessional things that can happen when you allow children in the office. It’s ridiculous to expect those of us who are trying to work to put up with that nonsense and it’s unfair that the parent who brought the child is getting paid to work with their child around. In my opinion, kids do not belong in offices where adults work and I wish my office would take a hard “no” stance on this. How come you can bring your loud, obnoxious toddler to the office, but I’m not allowed to bring my dog? He’s super friendly and never barks!

    And one last note to the OP: Realize that your kid may have been very quiet, but if they let one person do it, then they have to let everybody. And the next kid someone brings around may not be quiet at all.

  86. krysb*

    My office used to allow people to bring there kids in during emergency situations – but there’s a reason why that policy was ended. We’ve also always had a lackadaisical attendance policy, and, in most positions, you can work from home in such emergencies.

    That being said, now that kids are not allowed in the office anymore, if you bring your kid in, keep it away from me. I will hop him/her up on sugar and soda and return him/her to you for the fallout. Or, I’ll make the kid cry. If I wanted to work with kids, I’d get a job that would allow me to do so.

  87. Seriously?*

    I only just found this blog so I am catching up ergo the waaayyy late to the party reply…

    I am astounded thar the OP is shocked that a *workplace* wouldn’t just embrace children being there! Work is not a place for kids, ever, period.

  88. PDP*

    Regardless of your work’s policies, hand foot mouth is EXTREMELY contagious. Thus the reason your child couldn’t go to the usual childcare. Even if your company allowed it, bringing a super contagious kid with something as awful as HFM is a really terrible thing to do to coworkers. Unless you want them to get it, not be able to eat or drink anything from the vesicles and have their fingernails and toenails fall off (for real, HFM as an adult sucks rocks). Also they’ll probably end up giving it to their families and friends.

  89. Camille Chaustre McNally*

    Oh man, this is very different from most workplaces that I’ve been in.
    My first job was at a lab where there WERE chemicals and sensitive equipment. Bringing in your kid in a pinch was considered just fine. As one of the technicians (lowest rung), I got to choose the disney movies and help make sure that the kiddo wasn’t wandering off. It was a great day!

    At my current job, my coworker brought in her 8-10 year old a few days back. No big deal, she just hung out in her mom’s cubicle for the day.

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