my office won’t buy tissues, avoiding new projects when you’re preparing to quit, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My office refuses to buy tissues

This may sound like a trivial question compared to others, but it’s one of those little things that adds up with others. For context, my company is in the U.S., a little less than 50 people, and my office has about 20 people.

I asked if we could order tissues for the office. (Flu and allergy seasons are rough! I ran quickly through boxes of Puffs for needy coworkers and myself.) The manager who performs HR and accounting duties told me that the company doesn’t order tissues since those are “personal items” that employees need to provide for themselves. This is BS, right? The company pays for and keeps a stock of paper towels, pens and highlighters, coffee and coffee creamer … is there a rationale for drawing the line at tissues, or was this manager just feeding me a line for her justification in refusing to order communal tissue boxes? I understand if they’re not going to buy special aloe lotion brand name, but even scratchy generic sandpaper tissues are better than nothing.

This actually isn’t terribly unusual. Some offices will buy tissues and some won’t. (And interestingly, many government agencies are prohibited from providing them, so that taxpayers don’t rebel at such a shocking luxury for employees.)

I don’t quite understand what the reasoning is for seeing tissues as significantly different from toilet paper, other than that it’s convention to expect toilet paper in any bathroom you enter but tissues provided by someone else aren’t quite as ubiquitous. It does seem somewhat arbitrary, though, so I think this is one of those things that’s about convention more than sound logic.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Is it too soon to ask about working remotely or part-time in a couple of years?

When should you ask your employer if they’d be able to accommodate future needs?

Background: Around the time I was hired at my current job last fall, I began a relationship with THE ONE. Marriage is probably less than a year away, and we want to start trying for kids immediately. We know we could not afford to live on his income alone, so I will need to continue working. I like my current job and was thinking I’d be here a while anyway, but realistically I could not (a) work full-time with young children, and (b) deal with a 60-90-minute commute plus daycare regulations.

He suggested finding something where I could work at home, which got me thinking… My employer could potentially accommodate me working remotely and/or part-time. But how soon is too soon to ask about whether these type of accommodations would be feasible, especially since I wouldn’t need them for another one to two years?

I’d wait until you’re much closer to the time where you’d want to do it (like less than a year away). Things change and it can be tough for an employer to give you an answer now that will still be accurate in a couple of years. There’s also a risk that they’ll mentally start counting on you less, which can impact the types of projects and other opportunities you’re given (or even things like raises), especially since you’ve been there less than a year.

Meanwhile, though, you can pay attention to how your company handles it when other people want to work remotely or part-time, which will help give you a sense of how receptive they might be at whatever point you ask.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

3. Avoiding a new responsibility when I’m getting ready to quit my job

I’m going to quit my job in four weeks. I haven’t resigned yet, and I was planning to give two weeks notice. However, today my boss told me there’s a new responsibility he’d like me to take on and asked if I was open to shuffling around my workload to make time for the new thing. Caught unawares and uncertain what to say, I told him “sure!” and we’ll be talking through the details soon.

Awkward timing! I don’t want to inconvenience my boss by taking on a new responsibility just before leaving. I also worry it might reflect badly on my references. But I’m not 100% sure that I’ll get to work the remaining four weeks if I give my notice now. My boss is generally reasonable and hasn’t pushed anyone out early before, but I have never seen any of my coworkers give more than two weeks notice.

What to do? Is there a graceful way to refuse taking on the new responsibility, even though it’s completely up my alley and I would be excited to take it if I wasn’t leaving?

Is there a way for you to stall for a couple of weeks? For example, could you plausibly say that you want to get through a particularly large project or busy time before you turn your attention to the new thing? Or that you have a bunch of stuff going on outside of work in the next two weeks and it would be easier to take it on after that? Or even, “I’m excited about this, but there’s some stuff going on in my personal life that might complicate the next few months. Can I wait to give you a definite answer until I’m sure, which shouldn’t be more than one or two weeks?”

4. My employer wants me to give out my personal cell number in my email signature

My employer has recently asked that our whole team put our personal cell phone numbers in our work email signatures.

I am uncomfortable doing this, as I don’t give my number out often and I do not want every person I email for business to have access to my personal cell phone number. Am I being out of line in not wanting to publicize this information?

This is increasingly becoming a thing, but your stance is reasonable. Be aware, though, that your boss may end up asking you to carry a second second cell just for work, which can be its own sort of pain.

One middle-ground option is to set up a Google Voice number that goes to your phone so that you don’t have to give out your personal number (and can also restrict the hours that number rings on your phone, if that’s not at odds with what your employer is asking for). And if your employer wants you to use your personal cell for business, they should be reimbursing part of your cell costs.

5. How could I put this accomplishment on my resume?

Thank you for the recent post on fixing your resume. I’ve been revamping mine (it’s 6+ years out of date) as I will soon be job searching.

In an attempt to focus more on accomplishments than listing out duties, I wondered if I should list an accomplishment that I’m proud of but was due to an emergency. I believe it falls under the problem-solving category, but I’m not exactly sure how to word it. The situation: I worked for a small state-of-the-art school that flooded one winter and was destroyed. Within two days of this emergency, I had found a new place to host 30 kids temporarily, kept in touch with all parents/staff to keep them updated, recovered whatever curriculum and materials possible, and managed communicating between the temporary location, parents, staff, and our owner. (She was busy dealing with insurance/clean-up issues.) Unfortunately the school ended up closing for good, but I worked really hard to make sure that there wasn’t a huge interruption for the kids. We were only off school for one day. I’m not sure how to briefly state this on a resume or if I should? Or is this more of an answer to an interview question like “How did you manage a difficult situation?”

It’s definitely a great answer to that question, but put it on your resume too! It shows resourcefulness and a drive to get things done in a situation where others might have panicked and fallen apart. You could word it this way:

After school flooded, brought order to potential chaos: found temporary space for all students within two days, managed curriculum and materials recovery, and personally handled all communications with parents and staff.

{ 394 comments… read them below }

    1. Wakeen's Duck Club*

      Yeah, if you can have them reimburse, that seems like a good thing to negotiate. But I don’t know the company or the culture, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Although remember that taking money for use of your personal cell phone can allow the company to inspect your (personal) phone and its activity. (You may have been talking about a second phone, in which case I apologize if I misread!)

      1. Coco*

        How would being reimbursed for phone costs allow the company to inspect the phone? Getting reimbursed for mileage doesn’t entitle the company to put a GPS tracker on my car or look inside my trunk.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s a really common practice (covering your phone bill costs and then having the power to inspect your phone). Once you start using your personal device for business communication in this manner, it’s not treated as exclusively your personal device, and you no longer have the same level of privacy protection (or expectations). Here are two articles that help explain some of the privacy problems at issue when you use your own device but your company fully or partially reimburses the bill for service on your personal cell phone:

          * Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). . . At Your Own Risk
          * Fast Company, The Privacy Issues You Should (and Shouldn’t) Worry About with BYOD

          1. E.H.L.*

            Wow thank you for this info. I wrote in the letter about personal cell phone and it has been bugging me for a while.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It’s my pleasure! I think this is one of those issues that most people don’t hear about until it happens to them. And once it happens to them, it’s often too late to extricate your phone.

              If there’s any way that they’d cover the cost of a phone + service for business purposes, only, then I think that’s the most protective and safest option. If they’re not likely to inspect your personal phone number, then Alison’s advice about Google Voice makes a lot of sense. And if you’re in California, they have to (1) contribute to the cost of your phone service, and (2) prove that you consented, in writing, to inspection of your device (but they can be a little sneaky about how they get that agreement—oftentimes companies will include it in the agreement re: paying for your cell service).

              Generally, employers don’t care as much about your personal privacy, but when you explain that the other side of the coin on that issue is that they have very little data security/control, sometimes they’ll back off. Regardless, good luck!

        2. BananaPants*

          Legally, they can, which is one of the issues with BYOD policies. A lot of us decided that if/when BYOD happens in our workplace, we would end up buying an iPad or whatever solely for workplace/business use. Being engineers, we generally have the means to do so – although I don’t like the idea of having to spend my own money on it.

        3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          This reminds me…isn’t there a letter where this exact thing happened? They wanted to put GPS trackers in employees’ cars? I know the plan went through and it was some weirdly complex and invasive procedure to the car?

        4. ThursdaysGeek*

          In addition, our company reserves the right to completely blitz your phone when you leave. I got a second phone.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            First they wanted us to use software that would wipe our data – all of it, theirs and our personal data – if the passcode was entered incorrectly 3 times.

            Then they wanted us to install software that essentially rootkitted our phones. Which also invalidates the warranty.

            Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of buy-in to this on the engineering side.

      2. Middle Name Jane*

        When I accepted my current position, I was given the choice of a company-provided iPhone or using my personal phone for business purposes and being reimbursed the cost. I took the iPhone. I don’t want my company being able to keep tabs on my personal phone. Also, I didn’t want to make or receive work calls on my personal phone. I think it’s far better to keep everything separate.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same. Everybody at Exjob who had a work phone had a company-issued device. I would not do this either. Since I’m job hunting, I don’t have this luxury, but I got a Google Voice number so I could obscure my real number online if necessary. I can switch devices easily, if I decide to have a different phone. I still have an old feature phone from Net10 I could re-activate if I had to BYOD–they would have to be satisfied with that.

        2. blackcat*

          As Hillary learned the hard way, life is so much easier if you keep everything separate, even if it means two devices.

      3. Green*

        If you conduct any business communications (texts, emails, calls) from a personal device or e-mail address, it becomes subject to litigation discovery (or public records requests for government). It doesn’t matter who pays for it.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Don’t give out your personal number. Trust me that people will call you at the most inconvenient times. I made this mistake only once. The person shared my number with her coworkers. I had to change phone numbers to get some peace and quiet on the weekends.

      1. Samata (Formerly Whats In A Name)*

        2nding this. I did the same thinking it would be helpful; all it took was one person rapid-firing text messages at me when I was trying to go to bed to make me stop that practice. She seemingly wasn’t grasping the “It’s 10:30 and I have to get up in 6 hours, I’ll deal with this first thing in the morning.”

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This is why I don’t give out my personal cell phone, either.

        I’ve had two problems with people having access to my personal cell, in the past. The first was colleagues calling/texting at inappropriate times or expecting me to be available 24/7. I wasn’t working in a field where you get middle-of-the-night emergencies, and I was not ok with getting calls at 11 p.m. or 5 a.m. The second was when an IT contractor where I was interning hit on me, found my phone number in the organization’s personnel files, and then started calling/harassing me and calling me a b**** for turning him down. I’ve also had the latter happen with a client’s board member.

        So I am all about having a second, work-issued cell phone that is routinely turned off during certain hours of the day.

      3. Justme*

        I did that and then I was fired from my job. People called me months later asking me questions. And wouldn’t take “I’m sorry, I don’t work there any more” as an answer.

    4. Undine*

      This policy assumes that you have a cell phone (I do), that you carry it (I usually don’t) and that you answer phone numbers you don’t recognize (many people don’t). In addition, there are a number of security concerns with using cell phones for business email and internet and some of them might roll over to phone conversations and text messages. At the very least, when you leave, you will have all the phone numbers for your business contacts, those contacts will continue to phone on your home number (and you will not necessarily create a forwarding message), and you will take all texts with you (which could include the record of agreements or conversations that the company would be interested in). In addition, if you keep a business contact list on your phone, and the phone is lost, stolen, or breached, that information is at risk. (I do not have a password on my phone & I’m not even sure I can set one.) Depending on the kind of contacts you have, this may or may not be a concern for your employer.

      1. aebhel*

        This. I often don’t carry my cell phone with me, and I never answer unfamiliar numbers unless I’m actually expecting a call.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t know about Tizen, but if you have a smart phone with any other OS, you most definitely can set a password or PIN. And if you have either iOS (Apple) or Android, you can wipe your phone remotely.

        There are definitely issues, but they can be worked around, from the business point of view. Whether the individual benefits from that is a different – and serious question.

      3. medium of ballpoint*

        Oof, unfamiliar numbers. I have to use my personal phone when I’m on call and my office number comes up as a blocked number. I can never tell if those calls are the office or a cleverly disguised spam call. It adds a bit of extra frustration to an already inconvenient task.

    5. Tuesday*

      Even then, I wouldn’t want people to be calling me with work related stuff on my personal phone, regardless of who pays for it.

      I think Alison’s suggestion to set up a Google Voice number is spot on. I have one that I use when I have to give a phone number in an online form or anything like that. Right now I have it set to just ring through to my phone, but I could turn that off or even get rid of the number altogether if I had to and I wouldn’t have to change the actual phone number that my friends and family have.

      1. sara*

        I have a Google Voice number for this reason and I love it. I can also set it to ring my office phone when I’m actually at my desk so clients only have to try one number.

      2. Competent Commenter*

        I find Google voice to be unreliable on my iPhone 6. I was given a work mobile and found that carrying two phones was too stressful–I was always forgetting to check one of them. So I rolled my personal mobile number of many years to Google Voice. I’m glad to be able to keep that number but I never know how long a text will take to come through. I don’t use it for calls as it’s just more convenient to use the phone service, so maybe that part would work better if I tried it.

      3. Not Allison*

        Right? The cost is the least of the issue. This implies that you’re expected to be reachable at all times, including off hours. I would simply not oblige.

    6. CityMouse*

      I don’t care who paid for it, I wouldn’t be okay with it. I don’t want random people to have my personal cell. But I am big kn drawing boundaries and work for an organization who is okay with that.

      1. mugsy523*

        Agreed, CityMouse! My phone and data plan are for my use. I’m not subsidizing my phone for my company’s convenience. There are occasionally situations where WiFi is not available and we have to use the hot spots on our company phones to access our networks – I have a relatively low GB monthly allowance for my personal phone, and I’m not willing to use it for the company’s behalf.

        I will also add that my husband’s company does this BYOD thing and reimburses us a monthly rate. It’s terrible – we get calls at all times/days of the week and he feels compelled to answer all calls. When he changed positions, vendors and other employees that were no longer his responsibility were still contacting him. The worst is now they’ve decided to reduce the monthly reimbursement from $50/mo. to $30/mo. There’s no recourse, we’re just out $140 less a year and he still has to use the phone as much as before.

        As inconvenient as it is to have two phones, I much prefer this over my husband’s situation. When I go on vacation, the phone stays at home. When I’m out and about on the weekends, that thing is at home. I’m not a slave to my job, just about everything can wait until tomorrow.

    7. BananaPants*

      If my employer wants me to be available to answer calls and emails outside of typical work hours, then they can do what they do for our managers and a handful of individual contributors; pay for an iPhone and service for it.

      Our manager makes us write our cell phone numbers on our cubicle whiteboards so that he can contact us if we’re away from our desks and it’s an emergency. Our previous managers had the same policy but never did so. The current manager does call and it’s incredibly annoying – but at least it’s limited to general working hours.

      1. Still haven't created I name I like myself here yet*

        Also something to be mindful of is that when putting company email on your device and you leave the org they may remote wipe your phone and inadvertently cause damage to the device to which they may tell you they are not liable for.

        This has happened to a few of our iPhone using folks and it was so messy when it didn’t have to be. That’s why I pushed for a second phone under the guise of saying my device was too old to support too much email storage on it.

    8. Jen*

      That’s what my office does. I get $50 a paycheck (around $100 a month) for my cell bill. My cell phone bill is normally around $120 but I don’t mind covering the $20.

    9. Bunny*

      Although the company gives me a work phone, I typically prefer people call me on my personal cell (so I can keep contacts, tips, and stories utterly confidential). I second Google Voice. That’s precisely what I do. I set it up so it forwards directly to my personal number. The caller does not know second number. I also have it set up so I can chose to accept the caller send it to my voice mail.

      You can also have Google Voice dump transcribed voice mails into your email. I love that.

      For callbacks, I block my number on a call by call basis. It’s a pain in the ass, but works.

      Now, since your boss requires you use your cell for work, I expect you could write it off on your personal taxes. (note: reporter, not tax attorney). This is what I do.

    10. Yomi*

      I wouldn’t do it in that case either. I’ve had the same cell phone number for a very long time, but unfortunately it’s gotten attached to my professional life accidentally because I didn’t think things through and I get an incredible number of spam calls. I have a Google voice number now, but the Internet never forgets so my personal cell number is uncontrolled and in the wild and there’s nothing I can do about it. If you haven’t given your personal cell out as a professional number, just don’t. Don’t start and you’ll never have to wonder if it could become a problem.

  1. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 I’ve had 15-20 jobs in my life, and I don’t think any of them have paid for tissues – it’s just not really a thing. Why? Couldn’t say. But for that reason I think it’s a little strong to call this BS. I do think you’re right that it’s arbitrary, though!

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      If the sand pap-I mean toilet paper at my work is any indicator of the quality of paper products they are willing to buy, I’d rather buy my own tissues.

      1. babblemouth*

        Yep, my office does provide tissues, but I end up buying my own anyway, the quality is appalling!

      2. Sharon*

        It would never occur to me that the company should provide tissue boxes, except maybe in communal areas. Just because someone might use tissues a lot doesn’t obligate the company to provide it. After all, we don’t expect our company to provide hand moisturizers or lip balms, even if we use them a lot during the day at our desks. (Or maybe, better said, the only time when one might expect a company to provide hand moisturizers might be if very frequent hand washing was a requirement of the job.)

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          I work in health care and my employer does provide hand moisturizer (and tissues) for exactly that reason. Some people bring their own stock of both lotion and tissues but they are always available.

        2. LabTech*

          I’d argue lip balm and moisturizer aren’t in the same class because tissues are needed for hygienically disposing of nasal discharge. Whereas the items you mention aren’t a part of bodily functions like sneezing or nose runniness. Toilet paper is the better analogy.

        3. Grapey*

          Our lab provides hand moisturizer because wearing gloves all day dries out your hands. They also provide tissues.

          Lip balm would be single-use only whereas tissues and lotion are able to be used by groups of people, so that makes more sense.

      3. Rebecca in Dallas*

        This. I’ve worked a few places that provided tissues but they were always awful quality. Fine for the occasional nose-blowing, but if I was fighting a cold or allergies, I’d always bring in a box or two of “good” tissues to use.

        1. Becky*

          My company actually buys half decent tissues. They’re not the really awful quality ones nor are they the super soft with lotion kind–more middle of the road. I think they buy them in bulk from Costco.

        2. Hedgehog*

          Yeah, the sandpaper toilet paper that is so often provided by businesses is why I have never understood the desire some people are now expressing to have company/university-provided menstrual products. I have no interest in using tampons of a similar quality to that toilet paper.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            I feel like supplying things like feminine hygiene products isn’t meant for regular use, just for those emergencies when you need it but don’t happen to have it. It’s probably cheaper for them to provide a little emergency supply than people having to go home during the day if they forgot something and have an issue.

          2. BananaPants*

            My office supplies free tampons and pads in the ladies’ rooms. It’s convenient in an emergency, and we have so few women in the building that it’s not a huge expense for the company. The brands are Kotex and Stayfree, just in “institutional” packaging. I know this because the facilities dude who cleans the bathrooms and empties trash every day has gigantic boxes of both sitting on his supply cart.

      4. bookish*

        Yup. I can use the toilet paper at work for this purpose. If I have allergies/a cold and really need the gentle caress of a soft tissue, I bring my own. I’d recommend OP brings in their own box for their desk – or, if they’re concerned with coworkers taking them, bringing travel packs for their pocket/bag. I don’t see it as outrageous that the office doesn’t supply them. Mine doesn’t.

      5. plain_jane*

        I am reminded of the memo from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (near future SF) about the policy that might come into play if toilet paper was no longer provided to gov’t employees.

        Rereading it now, I am reminded of how funny it is. Also, the section right at the end is something I think about when doing work training – right down to occasionally scrolling back.

    2. JamieS*

      I’m not sure it’s arbitrary to not buy tissues. No sense buying both when toilet paper is just as good as cheap sandpaper tissues and is already provided. To me that’s like providing two different brands of plastic silverware in the break room. Mostly pointless. Now if the company would buy the good stuff that’s a different ball game.

      As a side note I think companies provide toilet paper over tissues simply because obviously at least one needs to be provided (God help anyone working for a company that doesn’t) and toilet paper is cheaper.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        This, I definitely had jobs where it was common for people to take a roll of toilet paper and keep it in a common area or shared office for use as tissues.

        1. Lefty*

          Please consider your janitorial/maintenance situation before doing this. We were advised to “just grab a roll” by a supervisor. The janitorial contract in charge of providing toilet tissue only did so in a certain quantity on an annual basis. We were nearly toilet tissue-less for a 3 month stint when this started happening; management had to use our discretionary funds to make an emergency order.

          1. BananaPants*

            That was a subplot in an old Cary Grant movie about a submarine in WWII. They had kept requisitioning toilet paper for months, only to have the supply depot respond, “Cannot identify material” or something like that.


    3. Zombeyonce*

      Just anecdotal, but all office jobs I worked provided tissues and no retail places did.

      I tend to be slightly passive aggressive about trivial things like this when they annoy me and I would definitely take a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and keep it on my desk to use as tissues.

      1. miki*

        HAHA, Love your answer.
        I work at public state university, it doesn’t provide tissues and toilet paper is locked down (with a physical Master lock) in every stall in every bathroom on campus. Gotta love state government!

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I’d say all our toilet paper is locked down, too, but that would be insisting that half the locks aren’t broken and that would be a lie. Also that the janitors don’t just leave toilet paper sitting on top of the dispenser half the time because the mechanism is so broken that you can’t even open it anymore.

      2. Not a Morning Person*

        I’ve worked at many office jobs and the only one that provided tissues was the health system. (The quality was not great, but I have allergies so I was please to be able to grab the occasional box when I ran out of my better quality version.) No other organization where I’ve worked has ever provided tissues.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          There’s something to be said about a box of tissues in every conference room, even if they’re terrible tissues. No one wants to sniffle through an entire meeting because they didn’t carry around in their self-supplied tissues during the cold season.

      3. Zombii*

        More anecdata: Most jobs I’ve worked have provided tissues (not per-employee but at least in meeting rooms, or on supervisors’ desks, or under the register). I’ve worked call centers, retail, and food service—food service being the one that didn’t provide tissues, but that was probably because we had paper towels by the sinks.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think it depends so much on the workplace. When I worked retail/food service, no one is paying for tissues. When I worked for the feds, they had contracted with organizations that employ the blind, but the product was really inferior (think less than single-ply sandpaper TP, Kleenex edition) so everyone bought their own tissues, anyway. Conversely, every nonprofit I’ve worked at has some tissue on hand—they wouldn’t cover kleenex at your desk, but they’d cover some at reception/entry and in bathrooms if they didn’t share them with other organizations/offices.

      I do think it’s a bit arbitrary to cover TP but not tissues. They both involve sanitation and bodily fluids, and while neither is enough to overcome contamination concerns, they’re both infinitely better than having nothing at all. I suspect that state and local laws may require TP but not tissues.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You know what I find funny? My recent retail job provided tissues AND hand sanitizer and encouraged us to use them frequently. My office job doesn’t, but we all have relatively private spaces. Anyway, that strikes me as sensible for retail; you want your customers to know you’re being proactive about the dreaded “germs”.

        1. Zombii*

          Seriously. It was weird when I worked seasonal retail and the command came down from on high to put the massive industrial pump-bottles of hand sanitizer under the registers “out of sight” to make the store “appear less cluttered” (maybe get rid of the wrapped empty boxes on every surface?). I had thought the whole idea with the sanitizer on display was to pacify the customers, employees rarely used it.

    5. Extreme anon time*

      My office, until recently, was very much laissez-faire about providing boxes of tissues. A couple of weeks ago, we got an edict very similar to OP#1’s, to the effect that company-provided tissues were intended for occasional use, and people who had serious ongoing need should plan on bringing their own. I reached two possible conclusions and am waiting to see which one is true (possibly both):

      1) Someone was using our tissue supply as their personal Costco and the boxes were wandering off at an unacceptably high rate.

      2) We’re doing even worse than I had thought and they’re reduced to cracking down on facial tissues because they’re too scared to start cutting the staff they need to cut.

      And when I look at it that way, I think I’m just as happy to bring my tissues from home – because if it IS the second one, I definitely want to be a team player right now.

      1. Bea*

        Paper products love to walk away from my years of experience keeping supplies stocked. I’ve absolutely locked things away at one of my former jobs to avoid the uncomfortable time when we ran out so quickly my boss would not purchase more for weeks because that’s how long the supplies should have lasted.

        1. the gold digger*

          When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, women in our co-op would steal the toilet paper from the office bathroom. I started bringing my own and locking it in my desk.

        2. Brandy*

          So true. Everyone here seems to think the paper towels bought for the kitchen are their own. I have my own paper towels with a print just to distinguish from the office ones, though I do bring in bar towels to use daily at my desk as much as possible over the paper towels. And I buy my own tissue, to keep a set at home and bring to work. Ive always just got my own stuff for what I keep at my desk. My tissues stay in my drawer though to make sure im the only one using them.

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh. It never occurred to me to bring a towel to work instead of paper towels. I mean, duh! That’s a great idea!

            1. Brandy*

              I like a nice towel (bar towels not regular) to clean up with and keep on my lap when I eat to wipe my hands on, better then napkins or paper towels. I really don’t need my paper towels anymore really. I use the bar towels at home too as napkins. You get a better clean and its thicker, doesn’t tear and can be tossed in the wash. We bought some bar towels for the house we didn’t care for and found what we wanted later, so I use the non preferred ones here at work. great for spills too.

        3. Susie Cruisie*

          I have been responsible for the purchase of office paper products and I can say from experience when I purchased better quality bathroom tissue, rolls disappeared at an alarming rate. When I went to a low quality tissue the problem disappeared. The same is true of facial tissues. I bought a quantity of crappy tissues and they would still disappear but not as fast. And I frequently had people complain about them. I pointed to the personally purchased box of quality tissues on my own desk. This carries to all office supplies including pens, pads of paper, staplers… someone responsible for that purchasing would go crazy if they tried to fulfill the requests of everyone because everyone has an opinion!

      2. A Person*

        Walking off/misuse is a big problem where I work. I had to lock up my personal box of tissues because people would grab it when someone didn’t replace the office box fast enough/couldn’t be bothered to put thirty seconds into grabbing a box from the store room despite me being very explicit about the fact that my box was, well mine. We have to watch the office box very carefully too because kids will grab handfuls and throw them away after using one corner

        1. Callie*

          When I taught elementary school, I had to explicitly teach students how to use a tissue and HOW MANY to use. They’d grab five tissues at a time, swipe their nose once, toss all of them, then grab five more. and *I* had to buy the tissue! Parents complain about teachers asking to supply things like tissue, but the school won’t buy it and their kids use handfuls at a time. Why should I have to pay for it? But I did because the alternative was kids with runny noses. If only two kids per class use five – ten tissues at a time, and I see six classes a day, that’s 30-60 tissues PER DAY and 150-300 PER WEEK!! Insanity.

          1. calonkat*

            As a parent, I never complained :) Most of my kid’s teachers would offer some small amount of extra credit for boxes of tissue. I’d find out what the maximum was (3 boxes? 6 boxes?) and basically just send/bring tissues up to that limit. (I’d send more if the teacher was in need, oddly we weren’t the poorest family at school).

            My kid had issues with turning in homework and usually needed all the extra credit available.

            1. Green*

              Yikes. Better grade buffets for kids whose parents go shopping for the class? That sucks.

              1. Zombii*

                Yeah, that’s bullshit. Back when I was in school, 2-3 boxes of tissues was on the required materials list for every student until we got separated out to different class periods (so K-6). They kept track of who had contributed and there was no extra credit for bringing in required materials.

                (If the family had financial issues, they were exempt from paying for things like this, but it never seemed fair that the teachers had to close the gap for insufficient funding to public schools.)

              2. BadPlanning*

                I had a friend who did this — points for tissues (with a max, of course). I asked her about the grade thing and she said the points were really not enough to make a material difference. It was motivation, but you weren’t going to bring your grade up by bringing in boxes of tissues.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          Coworker used to walk behind my desk, take a tissue, clean their glasses and then complain that my tissues had aloe in them! Um, yeah they do; because they are for my painfully red nose not your dirty glasses.

      3. paul*

        I get godawful seasonal allergies, and it took me several years of trial and error to find a combination of meds that worked and didn’t have horrible side effects. during that time I’d go through 3-4 boxes in 5 days; I wasn’t abusing them (not taking them home, etc) but I can’t blame a company for not keeping up with that.

    6. Becky*

      My current job provides tissues–only one other job I had previously provided them.
      I’ve worked at this job for four years and my first six months I worked in a overflow office–we’d outgrown our headquarters and so my department was a couple of miles away in some rented office space. In general the company is pretty good about supplying stuff for the office, but often forgot to restock the overflow locations. If I ever had to go to a meeting at the main building I’d go raid the supplies! But most of the time I would just bring in my own tissues.
      Then we moved to our larger shinier new building where the entire company fits and I had on site access to the supply room and no longer had to bring in my own tissues. Though a few months ago when allergy season really got going they ran out of tissues and didn’t get a new supply shipment in for like a week…

    7. Anne (with an "e")*

      I’ve worked in schools my entire career, both private and public. Tissues are not provided. The students are encouraged to bring them in. Usually a few very conscientious students bring in a few boxes. Otherwise, the teachers are buying the tissues. (I often don’t think the general public realizes how much many teachers spend out of their own pockets for their students. It really does add up.)

      1. A. Schuyler*

        When I was in primary school, our supplies list every year would include boxes of tissues and rolls of paper towel as well as the usual notebooks and pencils. In hindsight, that’s absurd and should definitely be covered by school fees, but that might be a few years of office life talking.

        1. phyllisb*

          When my children were in school, supply lists asked for three boxes of tissues, three rolls of paper towels, 2 containers of Clorox wipes, and and a large bottle of hand sanitizer (as well as normal school supplies). It’s the same now with my grand-children. I don’t mind providing these things, but then the kids would tell me the teachers would not allow them to have tissues when they need them (??) Of course, I know sometimes kids don’t always tell the truth, but I heard this all through their school years.

            1. Amadeo*

              Yes, this is the scenario I’d believe most. I mean, sure there are some rotten teachers out there, but kids like to leave out the whole story more often than their teacher was a contrary authoritarian.

          1. BananaPants*

            It’s because a lot of students will say they need tissues just to get out of their seat, and are disruptive on the way back. If a student has a cold, our kid’s teacher would often move the box to be near their seat so as to prevent that from happening.

            Our school-aged kid has a bleeding disorder and has severe nosebleeds. She’s allowed to keep a pack of tissues at her desk, because if she doesn’t have something at hand within seconds of feeling a nosebleed starting, the resulting scene is worthy of a horror movie set. (At home we use a roll of paper towels, which is what the school nurse switches to once she gets to the health room.)

      2. Julianne*

        My last school did provide tissues, and not forcing her teachers or families to buy them was a major point of pride for the principal. But…each classroom of 30+ students only got a half-size box of the cheap, single-ply tissues per year. When I asked for more my first winter there, the secretary and I had a perplexed face-off, because I was so confused about this policy and she was so confused that I was confused…

        Now I just buy my own. I keep them on a shelf in my workspace where they are visible and accessible to students, but not too accessible – kids can’t just grab handfuls as they walk by, but they can easily reach them if they need them. I actually only went through 4 boxes this whole school year, although it was kind of a banner year for good health in my classroom.

        1. Zombii*

          Your principal is taking pride in providing classrooms with insufficient amounts of sub-par supplies to the point that teachers have to pay for the supplies anyway like at every other school? Your principal is either stupid, willfully oblivious or an asshole. :(

      3. BananaPants*

        We send in a Costco case of good quality tissues at the start of the school year and ask the teacher to let us know if/when they run out because we’re happy to replenish. It’s been appreciated by the teachers, as the quality and volume of what the district provides is IMO sub-par. Teachers can’t require students to buy paper goods by putting them on the school supply lists, but are allowed to ask for voluntary donations.

      4. Amy Cakes*

        Every year my husband would lament the lousy tax deduction he was allowed for buying school supplies–I think it was only a couple hundred dollars. One projector bulb and one printer cartridge later, you’ve blown through that before September is half over. He was regularly providing tissues, paper, pencils, and even giving a lot of the kids bus fare or lunch money (really impoverished area). He now makes barely more money, but brings home a ton more because he’s at a functional business and isn’t forking out for operational costs.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I bought the ink for a teacher one year (off the wish tree). I am pretty sure I was the only parent to ever do that based on the reaction I received.

      5. Specialk9*

        I hate that teachers have to cover so much out of too- small salaries. We don’t pay this job enough already, and then just heap expectations on top.

        1. BananaPants*

          In our state, teachers are paid quite well, but they still shouldn’t have to pay for this stuff out of their own pockets.

          We see more of a difference in how the classrooms are outfitted between experienced teachers and newer ones – books, supplies for science and math centers, decor, etc. Our kid’s teacher this past year was pretty new (only 2-3 years) and her classroom library was SO sparse that at both PTO book sales we bought like half of her wish list.

      6. Aurion*

        …I seriously didn’t know American teachers supplied all this stuff to their classrooms until I started reading this blog.

        I’m now wondering if this is a thing in other countries as well. Canada? UK? Australia? O_o

    8. Jen RO*

      I work in a large software company and tissues are provided in the common areas. However, the main “stash” is not locked and we can take boxes from there for personal use. I think most people are reasonable and don’t steal tissues to take home, and a box usually lasts a month or more on my desk.

    9. Bagpuss*

      I’m not sure it’s completely arbitrary.
      Toilet paper is a necessity for everyone, tissues can be seen as a medical supply, which not everyone needs, and which those that do need, don’t (normally) need all the time.

      I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere they were provided.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think that’s the reasoning. I can understand why people would put them in the same category and I think it’s neat if they are provided but I’m not 100% on board with it being called “arbitrary”.

      2. JaneB*

        I work in a university and have a lot of students visiting my office. Between seasonal colds, allergies and tears, I really need tissues for their use and my hygiene,as well as for my own use! I supply my own – I stock up in the “sales” the supermarket has at the start of cold season and allergy season with own brand balm tissues and hide my stash from colleagues. It would be great if they did provide them, but… I wonder if the counselling team get them provided??

        1. Pearl*

          I work in a university role where students cry on me most days, and yes, we get tissues!

          1. blackcat*

            I greatly appreciate that faculty in my department (who purchase tissues) happily lend boxes to grad students who are teaching at mid-term and finals time. They are aware that grad students are not paid enough to bring in supplies for crying students, but still get the cryers.

      3. Ramona Flowers*

        I meant it’s arbitrary compared to other non-essentials like creamer, rather than as opposed to TP!

      4. Marillenbaum*

        When I worked in college admissions, the only reason we managed to have tissues was for the interview rooms, because after the third time I had to leave to hunt down tissues for a crying student, I had to put my foot down.

    10. Sydney*

      I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life and all of them but one provided tissues. The one that didn’t I was the receptionist and I was CONSTANTLY being asked by visitors if they could have a tissue. But nope the company wouldn’t provide them. So I told the visitors when they asked that there were no tissues available to give to them; they weren’t provided. It felt so stupid to say that to people. This wasn’t a small company either – they provided free pop and coffee to all staff. And fresh flowers for reception every week.

      If I get a cold I simply bring in nicer tissues to use. But for day to day the regular tissues are fine.

    11. Say what, now?*

      I feel the same. It’s not worth getting up in arms about with your boss. Just buy a box for yourself, no one should expect you to provide tissues for them which is what I kinda got the impression was happening with your statement: “I ran quickly through boxes of Puffs for needy coworkers and myself.”

      Your coworkers can provide their own. If people start coming to your desk for a tissue I would say something along the lines of “I’m happy to help you out today, but the cost of supporting everyone’s needs in the office wouldn’t be something I could take on.” But definitely don’t bring in boxes for everyone.

      1. Samata (Formerly Whats In A Name)*

        This is a really good point; I have always provided my own tissues, even when company I worked for did. However, I kept them in my top desk drawer at times of the year when they would disappear quickly. I mean, if you don’t want to use company-provided single ply that’s fine, but I’m also not in the business of supplying the quality tissues to everyone.

    12. Hannah*

      I have to provide my own tissues and it never occurred to me this was weird. It is just among the items I bring in to keep at my desk for my own comfort and wellbeing. I also bring in hand lotion, throat lozenges, advil, tea, a Tide stain stick, snacks, etc.

      I don’t think it is necessarily arbitrary–tissues are an item individuals can keep at their desks, like pens, staples, post-its, etc., but it doesn’t directly have to do with work, in the way that those items do.

    13. hermit crab*

      My office provides terrible coffee but really high-quality tissues. I don’t know about the budget calculations for this, but I have allergies and all coffee tastes the same to me so I am not going to ask too many questions!

    14. Kapow*

      My current office provides us with tampons, pads, hand lotion (in the bathrooms), Tums, advil, aspirin, Band-Aids and cough drops (in the kitchen), and tissues (the good kind), which we can keep at our desks.

      1. Kira*

        My last office was at a nonprofit that provided a lot of basic needs items and therefore had a culture of providing basic comforts and amenities. So we were always well stocked on personal care items like pads, lotion, and tissues. But definitely not medicine – we were very big on not providing any medication to our clients.

    15. Ann O. Nymous*

      My current job pays for tissues, but the only job I’ve had that explicitly refused to pay for them was at a very wealthy and well-to-d0 law firm and it really rubbed people the wrong way. It was a drop in the bucket expense for this firm that did tens of millions in business every year, so I don’t know why they just didn’t buy their employees some g-d tissues.

    16. LazyHolidayMondays*

      Very arbitrary. Large companies sometimes do…and sometimes don’t.

      I was at a place that would pay for the tissues but budget was an issue so it was the cheapest tissue the supplier provided. They did the job, but nobody loved them. When we were purchased by another even larger firm, they told us we could buy anything the supplier sold…within reason. Immediately, I upgraded our tissues to the nicer ones and the office rejoiced!

      (Also bought candy, like for a candy dish, I suppose, as why else would an office supply retailer sell bags of candy? The candy lasted one lunch hour, due to the novelty of it, and I never bought it again!)

      Generally, it’s my experience that most companies don’t; current job does not so I bring one myself.

    17. beanie beans*

      My office doesn’t pay for much, most of which I’m fine with, but we have a kitchen and it’s always made me crazy that employees are expected to bring in communal dish soap.

    18. Beezus*

      Both my (higher end) retail job bought tissues as does my current 9-5, so I find it so bizarre that so many ppl have had employers that do not.

    19. Jesmlet*

      I work for a small company that highly values health (both for clients and for employees). As de facto office manager, I have all control over what gets ordered and keep the Kleenex stocked at all times. No one wants to work next to someone with a drippy nose and big boss doesn’t seem to bat an eye at the name brand tissues.

      With that said, I get why they don’t order it, it’s kind of in line with hand sanitizer. If keeping everyone happy and healthy is in the budget, they’ll buy it. But it’s not a necessity or something everyone uses and it’s not something you use for work/work productivity (like coffee). Most offices probably don’t supply them.

    20. Artemesia*

      It would never occur to me that the job would subsidize my tissue needs. Heck classrooms where the need for tissues is enormous don’t provide them in public schools and teachers have to beg families to provide a box at the start of the year for use during the year or else pay for it themselves. (along with pencils, paper, art supplies etc that public schools no longer provide)

      Donating to public school funds for this sort of thing is something we add to our donation list every year as well as funding teacher projects through

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Funny enough, OldExjob (tiny company) paid for tissues. But Exjob (huge company) did not, though they paid for coffee, tea, cocoa, and all the break room supplies. I had to bring my own.

    22. Chomps*

      Companies I’ve worked for always have tissues in the bathroom. I think that’s reasonable. I bring my own if I need it for my desk though.

  2. Wakeen's Duck Club*

    1: “(And interestingly, many government agencies are prohibited from providing them, so that taxpayers don’t rebel at such a shocking luxury for employees.)” Well since government employees do important work, I kind of want them to be healthy. Just saying.

    2: And in the meantime, prove that you’re an awesome worker so that they will be willing to let you work remotely or part-time.

    5: Maybe you should add that you held the title of “Chief Superhero” during that time. Just kidding… don’t do that! :-)

    1. TeacherNerd*

      +1 re the answer for the second writer. Lots of things can change between now and when you actually have kids – if you have them at all, when you have them, if the work circumstances change, etc. – so go forth and be amazing and if things work out as easily as we all hope they do, you’ll have a track record of being effervescent, brilliant, and smelling like unicorns. (I don’t know what unicorns smell like, but I bet they smell good.) And at the very least, if you need to find another position, you’ve established yourself as being fantastic.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes; OP #2, don’t bring up these questions at this stage. First, the possibility of marriage/kids is far enough out there that it’s speculative (i.e., things could change). Second, the fact that your request is based on a really uncertain set of assumptions, it’s going to look like you’re not serious about your job with that employer.

      I don’t mean to be a downer, but who’s to say you’d get pregnant as soon as you begin trying? What if things change in your relationship in the upcoming year? I think this is a moment where it makes sense to bring up your questions when there’s a concrete reason to do so—i.e., you’re pregnant.

      It’s also important to note that the way you’ve framed your concerns in your letter plays heavily into the already pervasive bias (both implicit and explicit) that women are not interested in their careers once they have children. Of course, that argument is gross and wrong, but asking about part-time work or flex-time for hypothetical offspring of a hypothetical marriage 1.75 years before either may happen is likely going to sound a bit odd to your employer.

      tl;dr: Cross bridges when you come to them, not before you begin your journey.

      1. MK*

        I agree. It sounds to me that the OP is getting carried away in her enthusiasm for her future. These are issues they should be thinking about after they are actually pregnant.

      2. Julia*

        True. Then again, some people cannot start a family unless they know they will have a job to pay for said family.

        1. BPT*

          But I think the problem isn’t at this point having a job – it’s having the flexibility to stay home sometimes. She already has a job and there’s nothing in this letter to say she wouldn’t still be able to have it if she had kids. If she wants a more flexible job that’s fine, but she already has the job to pay for the kids. It’s about wanting a more ideal setup for her preferred situation. It might or might not happen (not everyone who wants a flexible job gets one), but if she could survive off part-time pay, then money in her current job isn’t really the issue.

          1. Esme Squalor*

            I do wonder if OP is hoping to juggle childcare and working from home simultaneously? Because I have a few friends who have tried that, and it didn’t really work out the way they’d hoped. They were unable to focus on their work with kids running around, and they weren’t able to keep an eye on their kids because they were working. It put an immense amount of pressure on them from all directions, and ended up making both sets of obligations impossible to fulfill successfully. As Ron Swanson once said, “Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

            1. Esme Squalor*

              Also wanted to add: for the reasons stated above, most companies will frown on employees providing their own childcare while working from home (except, of course, for the occasional emergency, like sick kid, unexpected school closure, etc.).

            2. Genny*

              This was my sister’s experience too. Fortunately, she worked for my mom’s small business, so her employer was very understanding of the situation, but shortly before the third child came, she had to give up even the part-time work-from-home situation.

            3. Artemesia*

              Most companies require a plan to provide paid childcare if the employee is planning to work from home. It is not possible to provide childcare while also working. Of course the occasional kid home sick from school can be accommodated with an Ipad and TV while Mom works but routine childcare needs to be engaged if Mom plans to work from home.

            4. Hedgehog*

              It might be that, but my impression was more that it was about being able to get kids from day care in a reasonable amount of time. I.e., if she works 9-5 with a 60-90 minute commute each way, that might mean daycare from 7:30-6:30 if it’s near her home, or kids in the car for 2-3 hours a day if it’s near work, and maybe those do not look like good options to her.

              But I agree with those who are saying that the cart is going before the horse here and it is not worth worrying about yet, beyond maybe establishing a good record that will make the company want to be flexible when the time comes.

              1. Saucy Minx*

                If her job is 60 – 90 minutes from their home, then the DH is the logical person to be doing the daycare runs.

            5. myswtghst*

              Whether or not this is OP’s actual plan, it is definitely something which could set off alarm bells with an employer if asked for as an accommodation this far in advance, when the finer details of childcare (and even where the OP will be living) are still a pretty big unknown.

            6. Optimistic Prime*

              Yeah, something about the way it was worded made me think that the OP wanted to work from home so she could do childcare while she’s working, and that’s generally not a great idea.

      3. CityMouse*

        Yeah, I understand the enthusiasm somewhat but if someone came to me on this, I would be thinking “cart before horse”. Both this job and this relationship are pretty new. At places I have worked that have full time teleworking, it usually kicks in after a year or two. It could also depend on the projects LW has at the time. But everything in this letter seems like rushing around in potentials. You’re not even engaged and you want your boss to figure out how you can care for hypothetical kids? Slow down.

        1. Specialk9*

          So, you have a boyfriend (“THE ONE”!!!!!!) and you have lots of plans, but you’re not even engaged, much less married or pregnant. So this is probably not the time to make this detailed of plans. Let it ride, get situated at work, build a reputation as a crazy-hard worker who is super dependable and trystworthy… and then float the remote work idea, first as 1 day per week.

          Just do not think you can work from home and watch a child at the same time, unless you have in-home help. It’s neither feasible nor ethical, and people will figure it out quickly. Babies are hard, and exhausting, and loud!

      4. BananaPants*

        It’s going to sound weird to an employer. And talk about putting the cart before the horse! OP2 should also note that despite what mommy bloggers may say, caring for small children and working from home in a legitimate job are usually incompatible. Many employers that allow full time teleworking require those employees to sign a childcare agreement stating that they will not be engaging in caregiving responsibilities during the workday.

        1. PatPat*

          Yeah, there’s really no way a parent could care for an infant or toddler while working at home and still perform well. The parent would need a nanny in the home or plan on taking the child to daycare.

          1. Jesmlet*

            I don’t think this is always true. There are plenty of jobs where the amount of work you put in in a given day varies wildly based on external factors (e.g how many calls come in, how many clients/customers are asking questions, etc). We have a client/sales manager that works from home 3 days a week with a 2 year old and another due any day and there have never been issues with the amount or quality of work that gets done.

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              I think the point is full-time work that requires focused hours. If you’re working part-time and can kind of squeeze it in around when the child naps, then maybe.

        2. Toph*

          And one thing I’d add, when the time does come to have the conversation is not to equate telecommute with flex schedule. My company has many remote workers and some of them when new inappropriately assumed work from home meant work whenever you want. That is not the case for us. We have set hours we’re supposed to be working\available to clients and colleagues, unless something is specifically scheduled otherwise. Some made the unfortunate assumption that they could just work around their kids instead of securing childcare, which got the kibosh really quickly. So if/when you’re negotiating, keep it clear what you are negotiating for. I get the sense from the LW the telecommute was mainly to remove physical commute time, not avoid childcare entirely, but mention it just in case, since from my experience it is sometimes an unfortunate misconception. (I realize some companies do often offer both flex and remote together but my main point is don’t assume that’s the case.)

          1. Kira*

            +1 to this. My new job was my first full-time telecommuting and I tried to be very conscientious about having my butt in my remote seat fro 9 to 5. Only when I grew to see how much my team was okay with flex scheduling did I start to build that in.

            One thing I think OP could consider – could she get approval for telecommuting in the near future, not tied to her parental responsibilities? If her office will allow her to telecommute, she could start working that in sooner rather than later so it’s not part of an accommodation for her child care once she has children.

        3. Xarcady*

          The childcare issue was the main reason a past employer held off on approving working from home for 5 years. It wasn’t until the owner saw a sample work-from-home contract that had a statement the employee had to sign, stating that childcare that was not the work from home parent would be provided that she allowed it.

          An occasional sick day, that was fine. But working from home to reduce day care costs was not on the table. (Of course, as the owner, when her kids were sick, she’d bring them to the office with her. Not an option for the rest of us, though.)

        4. Steph B*

          Yeah – my OldJob had a policy we had to sign.

          The only time I worked at home with my first daughter home with me is when she was sick. I could only work while she slept, and even then it was mostly to complete a few reports and respond to emails. It was exhausting for everyone involved, and I would never recommend doing that fulltime.

      5. SometimesALurker*

        You may already have thought about this and decided against it, OP 2, but since you didn’t mention it — is it possible for your future husband/co-parent to be the one to work part-time, at least after you return from the amount of parental leave you are willing and able to take? It sounds from your letter like he has had his job longer than you have had yours, which may mean more flexibility, or less, depending on the field.

        1. OP#2*

          Unfortunately his line of work would not accommodate that type of situation. Plus, he makes more than I do and would be the primary source of income.

          1. Kira*

            That’s fair. In case no one else mentioned it below (I haven’t read everything yet) – you still might be able to explore how much he could participate in taking the kid(s) from daycare. When you reach that point! No point planning things too precisely now, when so much can change.

      6. Steph B*

        Yeah, we are taught constantly growing up about how easy it is to have children without trying, but it isn’t always easy. Also, even if you get pregnant right away, 8 months is lots of time to figure out everything else.

        I will say that I currently have 2, both in daycare, work full time, and have a 60-90 min commute. It isn’t always fun, but it is doable. It was a condition of us getting married that my husband would be taking a full 50% of the child-rearing responsibilities, and now that both are over a year he totally does (he couldn’t help with the pumping/feeding situation).

        1. Artemesia*

          My daughter’s husband did one of the night feedings because my daughter was able to pump and provide the bottle.

        2. Specialk9*

          That’s great. A hard agreement in advance, like yours, is a good idea. Even feminist guys can get easily sucked into prior role models of how parenting works (in hetero relationships). There is a lot of sexist messaging we all absorb!

      7. myswtghst*

        Completely agreed, and love your tl;dr. For me, this sounds like a case of counting chickens before the eggs have hatched, and while it’s good to be proactive, it’s hard to do so realistically or helpfully this far in advance.

        As Wakeen’s Duck Club mentioned – OP #2, now is the time to show your value at work, so you have the standing and the capital to ask for things like a modified schedule or work from home when (and if) the time comes that those things would be helpful/necessary. Now is also a good time to keep an eye on how your employer treats similar requests and situations, so you know how to approach and what your options might be.

        1. Specialk9*

          It’s counting the chickens before acquiring the hen that lays the eggs that turn into chickens!

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      My state government agency won’t buy tissues or paper towels, and doesn’t provide coffee or any other beverage. Each individual department has to pay for a water cooler, and it was pulling teeth to get them to approve replacing our ice machine when it broke (took 6 months). We also can’t pay for food at conferences and meetings with federal money, and my department is fully federally funded, so no snacks for us. I wouldn’t want any tissues they’d buy anyway, as they’re bound to be those single-ply sandpaper ones like they put in hotel rooms. Yuck.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’ve seen variations of this in four different countries. Currently, we get paper towels (but not tissues), and they provide instant coffee and tea bags, but we have to pay for brewed coffee. They can only provided food and drink for events involving external people.

        1. Justme*

          We get paper towels in the bathrooms but not the kitchenettes. Dish soap is also not provided (but someone buys it). And we have to buy our own tissues.

      2. acmx*

        Do you have an air dryer in the bathrooms or do you have to provide your own paper towels? I hope it’s the former!

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          We do have the usual paper towels in the bathrooms– it’s paper towels for, say, wiping down your desk that are not provided. Apparently they used to be before I started 6 years ago, but not any more.

      3. Jenn Barber*

        My company doesn’t stock office supplies. If you want to use pen and paper, you have to buy it yourself. Luckily they still stock the restroom with toilet paper – at least for now.

        1. Beancounter Eric*

          WOW—-I heard of a company which did not buy pens – they used the ones sales reps would drop off, but no paper??? Are making a serious effort for a paper-free workplace, or are they just cheap?

        2. Judy (since 2010)*

          I worked at a place where you had to take the empty pen or pencil stub to the admin to get a new one.

          I’ve also worked at a place where the manufacturing process required scissors, so they were stocked in the plant’s tool cribs. The August scissors requisitions were nearly as high as the entire rest of the year combined.

          1. acmx*

            I’ve worked at places where they made you return dead batteries in order to get new ones. Consumption was high in December.

        3. Jenn Barber*

          A little of both. There’s a huge focus on reducing expenses because we are a shared services organization but there’s also a huge push to become paper-free.

      4. KTZee*

        I work at an organization that primarily gets its revenue from the feds, and we are also subject to the no food or drinks on federal money restrictions. Try to throw a national conference without providing coffee and let me tell you, you will hear about it. Our organization funds the coffee costs out of our pocket these days. It’s worth it not to have to compile 150 feedback forms complaining about the lack of coffee.

    4. YRH*

      True story: when I started a job as a contractor with a federal agency, there was a box of tissues on my desk. When I ran out, I asked my boss where I could get more. She looked horrified and gave me a big lecture about how that was a waste of taxpayer dollars and how I had to provide my own. One of my many not fun experiences at that job.

  3. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, it’s a little unclear from your letter, but are you thinking that you will work from home with small children? Even if you are a unicorn fabulous employee, that may be a bit unrealistic. Definitely wait until you are closer to these plans being solid to raise them with your employer.

    1. Tuesday*

      She did mention a 60-90 minute commute, so I assumed she just meant working from home would eliminate that, making the logistics of kids/daycare easier. But yeah, I don’t think too many employers are going to go along with the idea of someone with a baby or pre-preschool kiddo at home actually getting work done, unless you also have a nanny.

      Of course, if the daycare options are better near your workplace, like if you’re commuting from somewhere remote, it might make more sense NOT to work from home, since it’s usually in everyone’s best interest to minimize the time between dropping off and picking up your kid. OTOH, a 60-90 minute commute is my personal hell, with or without kids in the picture, so if working remotely were at all a possibility, I’d be looking into it too.

      1. Steph B*

        It’s funny, because my current job has me at a 60-90 minute commute each way now. Everybody is always saying how much I must hate it, but honestly it is my one time of the day to just unplug from work / home and listen to a good audio-book or just the relative quiet of the car.

        If you put my daughters in the car with me though? That would be hell. I love them with all my heart, but my eldest is in the fullblown question-everything phase (why is that bird flying that direction? why is there traffic? why is looking at me?) that I would probably go crazy the first day.

        1. myswtghst*

          Same! My hour or so in the car is my me-time, when I can listen to podcasts/audio books, or sing along loudly to Hamilton, and not talk to people so I can recharge a bit before I get home / get charged up before I have to deal with people in the office.

        2. Artemesia*

          I can see that for 90 minutes but I had a shorter commute to drop the kids at day care and I actually enjoyed having that time with kids. We were stuck in traffic and so we had a chance to chat every day. We had a no headphones in the car rule and this was before the days of a device in every hand though.

          Felt the same way about vacations. The 8 hour drive was a time the family was together and could read to each other, sing, tell stories, talk.

    2. JamieS*

      What I got from the letter is the kids would be in daycare when OP works but she wants to work from home to be able to pick them up on time. Additionally, shd would also like to only work a couple days so she can predominantly focus on raising the kids.

      1. neverjaunty*

        What I got is that the OP is very excited about The One and is kind of planning her whole life out in her head now – which is sweet and completely understandable, but not something to be shared with her boss until things are more imminent and concrete.

        1. CityMouse*

          This was my exact reaction. The letter snacks of “everything is changing because I found The One and I have to work out everything right now”. Step back, breathe relax. It is cute you want to shout your love from the rooftops, but not at work, okay?

          1. Jenny*

            I think that’s pretty condescending to the OP. Maybe she is jumping the gun, but asking an employer about part-time/work from home options is hardly “shouting her love from the rooftops.”

            1. CityMouse*

              She’s just so way ahead.of herself. She said she is not going to try to have kids for 1-2 years meaning assumming everything goes to plan any baby is not going to exist for 2-3 years. Her employer may have some general maternity guidelines in place but.asking them to work out a special plan for we now is incredibly premature and pushing it now will make her look silly.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Yes, she’s absolutely getting way ahead of herself. However, telling an OP “it’s cute that you want to [do the thing], but no, okay?” is absolutely a condescending way of conveying that fact. You’re talking to the OP like you’d talk to a child, which I think is what Jenny objects to.

                1. CityMouse*

                  It wasn’t intended that way. I am happy that she is happy but her tone is a bit teenagery.

            2. neverjaunty*

              The OP’s question was when to ask, not whether. And it’s not condescending to note that her letter comes across as getting a bit ahead of herself; it’s quite natural to be excited and hopeful about a wonderful relationship! But hoping to ‘probably’ be married and then trying to have children in a year is a timeframe less about planning than daydreaming.

    3. cncx*

      not to mention most work from home contracts/understandings expect that childcare will be taken care of by someone other than the remote employee.

    4. CityMouse*

      Quite a few people in my office work from home full time. For context you are required to have childcare for your kid, but my coworkers who are parents do say it makes daycare/ switching activities easier.

    5. BananaPants*

      That was my thought as well. Working from home in a legitimate job and caring for small children simultaneously is a non-starter for most employers.

      The people we know IRL who telework full time either have a nanny in the home or send their kids to daycare. Several work for companies where telework privileges can be revoked if it’s discovered that they’re caring for small children while on the clock – and in many cases that would mean loss of the job.

    6. Lia*

      I worked from home when my kids were small, and yes, I was required to have care available for them during working hours. The few times they were sick and I tried to get things done with them around (and bear in mind, *I* was taking time off to care for them, so this was during naps and the like) were really difficult.

      I think often people think work from home = easier to have a family, but not always the case. I had major bleedover into non-work time when I worked from home.

  4. meagain*

    #1. Our lab was funded on NIH grants. Tissues were a no-no, but kimwipes, which we literally use for nothing but draining liquid off a tube, were allowed. Triple up those puppies and you made a decent tissue for blowing your nose. Then again, so did stealing a role of toilet paper from the bathroom.

    1. JaneB*

      And for that reason, we can only buy blue generic brand Kim wipes – usable in an emergency but cause smurf nose if used regularly. And only industrial sized loo paper rolls…

    2. CityMouse*

      My experience is that too many kimwipes takes the skin off your nose. But I am allergy prone enough that I carry around my own tissues anyway. Kimwipes are the best for cleaning eyeglasses, though.

    3. Dr. Doll*

      Good lord, I’d rather use *actual* sandpaper than kimwipes. Ow.

      I did discover a way to use paper towels without scraping the skin off my face: “condition” them. Massage ’em in your hands for a minute, possibly slightly dampened. Worked like a charm.

    4. Jubilance*

      Kimwipes are the worst for actually blowing your nose – I’d do it if I sneezed in the lab and had snot everywhere, but otherwise, I’d rather a real box of tissues.

    5. LazyHolidayMondays*

      Instead, become friends with the cleaning crew for toilet paper. One workplace, the toilet paper was this jumbo roll that had no tube the middle. When the rolls got to a certain size, they would fall out of the dispenser. The cleaner would collect these and either put them on top of the dispenser, or if the small roll was still a good size when replaced, he would stock them in his stock room.

      If nicely asked, he would give me the stocked small rolls. I used them for camping.

  5. Lou*

    Re: tissues. If your company is holding firm on not buying them, wait about 3-4 weeks and they’ll be on sale for back-to-school.
    Signed- a teacher

    1. Julianne*

      I think they’re already on BTS special here!

      Which is upsetting, since Friday was the last day of school.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Wow. When I was a kid in PA school ended in mid June, but the end of the month seems cruel. I guess I’ve gotten used to the Midwest where school ends in May or very early June and starts in August.

        1. Julianne*

          Boston metro area. I love, love, love not going back until after Labor Day, but a full month of school in June is brutal.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 It’s understandable that, having met someone you love and want to plan a future with, you’re excited and wanting to start getting your ducks in a row. But it’s going to seem a bit premature to an employer to ask now, especially when it’s something you want to accommodate having kids – because people’s minds may go to the fact that kids don’t necessarily show up on the timeline you want them to.

    They might also ask why you’re set on having a 60 to 90 minute commute – is there a particular reason why you definitely couldn’t live closer to your work? Is this because you’d be living closer to his work, in which case he should arguably be the one doing the daycare pick-ups – and in any case is there any reason why he wouldn’t pitch in with that? I ask simply because, if I was your employer, I might wonder why you were asking to adapt your job and not adapting your relationship, so it’s worth thinking about that.

    Do be aware, also, that asking to work remotely around having kids may also ring alarm bells because your employer may think you want to work with them there.

    1. EleonoraUK*

      This was my thinking as well – I’d wait until a wedding and pregnancy were actually at play before bringing this up at work. I admire the forward planning, but the OP’s employer may view it as a little premature.

    2. Arjay*

      I assumed she’s making the the 60-90 minute commute now, but feels that would untenable with the kiddos in the picture.

    3. Jenny*

      Agreed that it’s premature to ask now, but I think this is making a lot of assumptions about OP’s relationship, all based on the length of her commute (!). We don’t know anything about the area she lives or works in, there could be plenty of reasons for not moving closer to the office.

      1. Cercis*

        I live 20 miles from where I used to work and my commute was anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It was shorter when I could go in to work at 7am, but when I was supposed to be there at 8, it was more than an hour (in fact, I only gained about 15 minutes at home in the morning when my hours switched).

    4. OP#2*

      I’m not set on a 60-90 minute commute. Since both the SO and I own houses right now, one of us will need to live with the other for a while before we can purchase something at the mid-point. We’re not sure how long “a while” will be, hence the issue. But even when we’re able to purchase something together, it will be ~45 minutes to work. I’m really glad the childcare issue is at least a year out! I doubt he would be able to do daycare pickups due to his work schedule; he works 12-hour night shifts :/

      1. Steph B*

        I would encourage you, as someone who is just coming out of the fog of raising two infants + working full time, to really consider that childcare should be more than a one person concern. At our daycare I’d say 90% of the parents split drop off / pick ups now. Because it is tough (near impossible, IMO!) for any one parent to do both and still get a full day of work in + any other things like doctor appointments, lunch, sleep.

        Growing up, my mom was the one who worked night shift for a time. My dad would drop us off, and she’d pick us up. Because as a parent to young kids you do what you have to do.

        1. OP#2*

          I understand and agree it would be very tough to only have one parent to reply on for this. We’re in a good situation where both of our parents are close enough (and retired!) that they could help out with pickup,
          not to mention childcare in and of itself. So I think that will help alleviate much of the pressure.

  7. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 Might it help if you think of this being a new responsibility covered within your position – whether you do it or your replacement – rather than just something you are doing personally? Would it inconvenience your boss if you made a start on it and had some initial info or documentation to pass on to your predecessor?

    1. KR*

      This is what I was thinking, OP. Whoever your replacement will be can pick up where you left off. Just get as much done as you can while you’re there and leave good documentation for your replacement.

  8. Gumby June*

    Sideline is another great app that can give you another phone number on your personal cell phone.

    1. Drew*

      I have a Skype number that I frequently give out when I don’t want my actual cell number in a database. I pay a little bit for it every few months but it has definitely been worth it.

  9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I’m a bit confused about the response to #3. If I had a report try to put off a project/responsibility because of their complicated personal life, then ask to respond in 1-2 weeks, then gave me notice, I’d be perplexed. Because then I’m going to wonder if their personal life is why they quit, or if they were just jerking me around by pretending to even consider the request. And if, down the line, someone requests a reference for my report, those are the two frameworks/narratives that would be in my head about why they left.

    It just seems like more work to come up with explanations unrelated to work. Mentioning balancing deadlines, or sequencing, or total workload, etc., all sound like more neutral explanations that don’t open OP up to the same risk as blaming one’s personal life.

    Alternately, I wondered if OP#3 has anything to lose by giving notice sooner. Assuming their employer is not weird, wouldn’t it just be easier to give 3 weeks’ notice?

    1. OhBehave*

      I agree.
      I think OP should start the project now. She has 4 weeks to work on it! Good progress should be made in that time. If this will be her sole focus; then it will be easier to wrap up the details in the end when she does give notice.

      1. BananaPants*

        Depends on the nature of the project; not all are relatively short term. Our absolute shortest project timelines run around 6 months, with the typical project running 18-24 months or longer. A couple of weeks is literally a drop in the bucket. Around my office, stalling for a week or two before giving one’s notice would be better than some sketchy excuse about a complicated personal life (to which most managers would say, “Suck it up, buttercup” for anything short of a genuine family crisis).

        This makes it tough to find projects for our summer interns. They usually end up doing a chunk of a larger project, but unfortunately usually don’t see the end of the work. We’ve had interns work on different phases of the same project over successive summers!

        1. Kira*

          I was thinking that either very short (that can be completely finished) or very long projects (where you can complete specific preliminary steps) would be fine. I wouldn’t feel good about accepting a 5 week project if I was going to hand it off after 4 weeks.

      2. Kitten*

        On the other hand, OP could wind up inadvertently committing her team to something they’re no longer going to have the capacity for. I was in the final stages of an offer and about to give four-weeks notice when I was issued a four-month project that only my role can do – it would have been irresponsible to commit to the scope and the timescales knowing I was about to give notice.

        I managed to fend it off by wanting a clear business case and my last project properly closer before starting, which just let me squeal through into my notice period – probably the best route for OP too if she can manage it.

      3. Toph*

        It didn’t sound to me like it was necessarily a project with a finite start and end, but potentially a new responsibility in the sense of shifting a particular responsibility from Boss to LW. If that’s the case, then there is no point in LW taking it on because they’d barely complete the handoff before it’d then need to be handed off to someone else (or handed back to Boss). That was my reading of the situation. So if OP really wants to play it like she didn’t know now she was out the door, sure start on it and act surprised later. Otherwise, she might as well come clean and try not to take it on yet because it’s probably extra work for the people she’s leaving behind to initiate the transition and then bail two weeks later.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Agreed — I would not feel good about someone who gave me a weird reason not to take on a new project and then gave notice. Just give the notice! Since you haven’t seen people walked out after giving notice, etc.

      1. AMPG*

        I agree – OP #3, a reasonable boss will be really appreciative of your desire not to leave her team in the lurch by accepting work you knew you would have to hand off immediately. If it makes sense to have you do this new work anyway on a limited basis, let her be the one to decide that.

  10. mn*

    1. I work for my state’s public health department. It’s definitely true there are no extra “luxuries”. We don’t get tissues, most office supplies, or even drinking water! I have to bring my own water every day. When I first started I was shocked that the only office supplies available was a used pad of paper and one pen.

    1. the gold digger*

      I have to bring my own water every day.

      You mean you can’t even refill a water bottle from tap? I am not being snarky – I am genuinely confused. I use the same water bottle over and over. (I had to leave a note for the cleaning people to quit throwing my empty water bottle away!)

      I don’t even know if my (private sector) employer supplies tissues. I have never looked – I use cloth handkerchiefs. I hate paper tissues.

      1. Temperance*

        When I interned at a city government agency, we didn’t have a water tap to drink from. We had access to the public bathroom, which was notoriously disgusting, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable drinking water from that faucet.

      2. Observer*

        Depending on where you work, the tap water may not be drinkable even if the people in charge say it is. While what happened in Flint is extreme, there are plenty of places with officially potable water that people legitimately won’t drink.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Where I live, the city water is potable, and we’ve not (yet) had Flint-type issues with our water, but it tastes gross. I’d rather let myself get mildly dehydrated than put that crap in my body, it’s nasty. Thankfully my employer keeps a filtered water dispenser in the break room, and I’ve got a Brita pitcher at home, but yeah, if my company didn’t have the water cooler in the break room I would NEVER just get water from the tap to drink.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ugh, I’ve (unfortunately) worked so many places, now, where either the water is undrinkable because it’s polluted, tastes awful, or because there’s no tap access. I’ve seen tap water come out with curd in it; tap water that violated arsenic, lead or chromium-6 max. contaminant levels (or all of the above); and water that was yellow or yellow-brown (!?). As a result, everyone I knew had bottled water service at the workplace and in their homes… which is frustrating because first, you’re paying for dirty tap water, and second, bottled water doesn’t have the same health/safety requirements as tap water.

          Sorry, this gives me the rage.

        3. Renee*

          I live in a major city and while I was in law school a bunch of us contracted giardia. We only figured out that city water was the source because a friend’s dogs were diagnosed with it. We confirmed the contamination with the city but it was never announced publicly that I saw. I no longer drink water from the tap unless I have to.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            OMG that is a nightmare! It’s somewhat worse than the people who were using tap water in their Neti pots, and the water had amoeba in it, which subsequently took up lodging in their brain tissue (I wish I were joking).

            I am super pro tap water. But sometimes really crazy things go down.

      3. NASA*

        Not to be a water snob, but my local tap water does not taste good. Bay Area water or NYC water, I’m down! Our local stuff isn’t great. My current and previous office have a Water Club. Worth it to pay $1 a month for Sparkletts.

        @mn, me too! I got a used pad and pen as my welcome supplies at my first office. My supervisor did not even tell me for 3 years that I was allowed to order supplies. Now I’m at my second office and at least get pens!

      4. mn*

        The only tap is in the bathroom and I am fairly certain tap water isn’t drinkable in my area. Everyone just goes to the store and buys gallons of water to keep at their desks

    2. Ann O. Nymous*

      There’s something very absurdist to me about a public health department not being able to provide tissues or drinking water in their offices.

  11. nnn*

    #2: While it’s too early to ask to work from home in a couple of years, there’s no harm in mentioning in passing (if it should ever come up in conversation) that that’s something you’d be interested in doing in the future, once you’ve gained the appropriate experience.

    Also, if a chance to work from home on an exceptional basis ever comes up (if there’s a snowstorm or power outage and the office is closed, etc.) take the opportunity to work as hard as you possibly can and have your Most Productive Day Ever. Then mention when you get back to the office that it was so much easier at home with no distractions!

    1. myswtghst*

      This is a great suggestion! Given the OP’s current commute, it would be totally reasonable to express a general interest in WFH without the context of children and childcare. And it couldn’t hurt to demonstrate that the OP can be productive working remotely on an exception basis before the day comes when the request would be to WFH full-time.

  12. Ann Furthermore*

    #4: My (very small) company doesn’t have office phones, so we all use our cell phones. I wasn’t crazy at first about giving out my number, but it’s what everyone else does so I didn’t think I could really put up too much of a fuss about it. It does make sense; we all work from home at least 2 or 3 days a week, so spending money on an office phone system doesn’t make much sense.

    As soon as I start working with a new client, I program the numbers of the contacts there I work closely with, so if they call me, I’ll recognize the number.

    There’s also no reimbursement for the monthly bill, but since I have unlimited voice minutes, it’s not costing me anything extra.

    My husband and I ditched our land line about a year ago, so our cells are the only numbers we have. It’s nice not spending money on the land line, which only ever got solicitation or political calls, but I live in fear of losing my phone.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      You can back up your phone! Newer ones have cloud back-up. In old cell phones, you can buy a removable SIM card that lets you back up all your contacts.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I know. It’s just the hassle of replacing it that I dread. A couple years ago I left my phone on a plane when I went to the UK. OMG, what a pain. I now have device-related PTSD when I travel, and constantly check to make sure I have my phone.

    2. Megan Johnson*

      “There’s also no reimbursement for the monthly bill, but since I have unlimited voice minutes, it’s not costing me anything extra.” – it’s not about costing you extra, though. It’s a product they require you to have and they should be providing it or paying for it.

      1. skunklet*

        +10000 exactly… the company is being cheap. phones are a cost of doing business, period.

  13. Matt*

    #4: If this was me, I wouldn’t worry too much about putting the number in the signature, but about expectations about being available and answering calls.

    I wouldn’t mind putting the number in because I’m not much of a phone person, my cell is on mute / vibration only all day and I almost never answer a call immediately – it’s more like now and then I take a look at my phone, and if there are any calls I look at the numbers and decide who will get a callback. So it would give me a hard time if my employer would suddenly expect me to be available 24/7, be glued to my phone and answer all those work-related calls immediately.

    1. Willis*

      This. If staff are frequently out of the office or traveling, I could see the rationale behind having people reachable by cell phone during business hours (and the company providing a phone or payment toward one). But if everyone’s in the office for the most part, then there’s no need for cell phone numbers unless people are now expected to be responsive evenings, weekends, lunches, days off, etc. which would be the bigger issue to me. I would definitely push back on this if I worked with the general public…less so otherwise.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      If you’re nonexempt, receiving those calls when you’re not at work would be a legal problem. But even if you’re exempt, that is a lot to ask and I sure hope they give you something in return (like more money).

  14. MommyMD*

    I’d just start the new project and get as much done as you can. In two weeks, give your leave. I don’t think telling your boss you have a lot going on in your personal life that is going to interfere with your workload is the right thing to do. That may leave a very negative view of you. Good luck.

    1. Jen RO*

      I agree with this. If you stall, your boss is going to realize why and may hold it against you when it comes to references.

    2. Jesmlet*

      Agree, I think it depends on the type of responsibility, but if you can work on it and set up the next person to succeed, this may mitigate the sting of you giving notice. Once you give notice, the boss will probably put things together and realize to put it off because you were planning on leaving.

  15. MommyMD*

    “I’m not giving out my personal phone number but if you reimburse me for a second phone, I’d be happy to carry that during business hours. ”

    Heck no I’m not giving out my cell number.

  16. Bea*

    I have to wonder what kind of person ran my office before I got there because when I bought tissues everyone was super excited to have them.

    Previously I bought my own because it was always just me in the office, with others around I figured it’s worth the splurge. But I also buy the better quality office supplies as well because cheap supplies are uncomfortable to me and don’t last as long.

    However we do not have a water cooler nor do we supply coffee. All of that varies place to place. Budgets are a beast and some chooses are rough like that.

  17. JamieS*

    The answer to #3 seems off to me. Maybe I’m just interpreting it differently than intended but the answer reads to me as basically advising the OP to avoid and lie. Wouldn’t it be better for OP to be direct with their boss and tell him the truth that they don’t feel they can take on the additional responsibility?

    1. Colette*

      She’s said she may not be able to stay as long as she wants if she does, so it depends on whether she can live without several weeks of pay.

      1. JamieS*

        I understand why Alison didn’t say “tell your boss you’re quitting first thing when you next come into work”. I don’t understand why the advice was to avoid the issue and possibly lie instead of directly telling the boss they can’t take on the new responsiblility.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I agree, I don’t think lying is the way to go. If you really don’t want Boss to know you’re on the way out, OP3, just start the project and what little you get done on it will make your boss and your successor happy. Or maybe your boss is one of those bosses like Allison who doesn’t mind getting more notice because he’ll appreciate having more time to prepare for a new employee. Just because others at your company have only given two weeks’ notice doesn’t mean that four weeks never happens. And four weeks’ notice is not unheard of in the business world anyway, it’s just not usually possible when there’s a new job on the horizon.

          So my vote would be to give notice now. And definitely don’t lie.

        2. Colette*

          Well, prsumably the boss knows what else she’s working on and how much time she has available.

          If the question was about interest, she could say she’s not interested, but if it’s about time, that’s less easy to say no to.

      2. AMPG*

        Based on the OP’s description of her boss, though, I think that’s probably not true. I feel like AAM submitters sometimes get stuck in their own heads about the horrible things their supervisors could do, when if they just looked at past actions as a guide, they’d have the answer. It seems like the boss in this case would probably really appreciate having the extra time to wind down the OP’s work and find someone else to take on this responsibility.

        Personal story time – I gave over two months notice to my boss when I left a job I had held for over a decade. This was NOT required in any way, and was not often done – most people on our team gave 2-3 weeks notice (I gave 3 weeks notice to HR). But I knew my boss would have to do a fair amount of rearranging on the team because I held two different roles and she had to decide how to replace those roles, so I wanted to give her enough time to think about it. She was very appreciative and I suffered absolutely no blowback as a result.

        1. Colette*

          It may not be true – but how cautious the OP should be correlates to how big a deal it is if they walk her out the door. If she has a 5% chance of being walked out and that means she won’t be able to eat/ she will get evicted, then that’s a different situation from a 5% chance she’ll get walked out and have to pull money from her emergency fund.

  18. Misclassified*

    I recall when my Old Job tried to get me to text witnesses about upcoming depositions. I refused to use my cell phone and called instead. I did not, and still do not, see texting as a professional means of communication between an attorney and non-clients (and barely see it as professional with clients).

    Later, when the firm moved to a new phone system, they tried requiring all of us to download an app so that phone calls to the office for each person could then be forwarded to our cell phones if we were out of the office (whether it be court, lunch, sick, vacation, outside normal office hours, etc). It would also use up data. As I had a small data plan to keep expenses down and desired to keep a big barrier between personal and work life, I didn’t download that either. I was also personally opposed to using any of my personal devices for their benefit, in part due to a very acrimonious relationship (and honestly downright theft by them of my salary).

  19. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

    For #2, the drawback of waiting is FMLA, if it applies to your country/state/company size. It won’t be guaranteed if you switch companies while pregnant- you have to work at least a year at the company.
    Agree that this is premature, but if it’s something that would cause you to leave, why not ask to work from home now, at least for some of the week? Work out the kinks so it’s not reversed when you have a six month old and a daycare pickup you can’t make with your commute.
    Also, since you’re planning a bit ahead, check out daycares to see how they charge for part-time. The per day cost in my area is much higher if you want less than full time (and most don’t offer it at all) so working part-time may more of a struggle financially than you think.

  20. Mookie*

    LW5, on behalf of your students, their families, and your colleagues, thank you for your service. Scream it from the rooftops: you did good (and I hope that owner still serves as a reference for you). Best of luck to you on your future job search.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      OP here, thank you very much! I loved that place and those kids, they were amazing.

  21. Boo*

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never worked anywhere that supplied tissues, and I’ve worked in private, public and third sector offices so it seems pretty normal to me although I appreciate it’s annoying. That being said, I can only imagine that office supplied tissues would chafe my nose raw anyway.

    Private covered things like tea/coffee supplies, current place (third sector) even covers proper brewed coffee, public wouldn’t cover anything – the bosses bought tea/coffee supplies out of their own pockets and the last year I was there they were so desperate to make savings (fourth or fifth round of annual redundancies, I forget which) they stopped putting paper towels in the kitchen areas. That really irritated me, as all of the kitchens had very heavy doors which we were expected to open with wet hands carrying trays of drinks, accident waiting to happen. Slightly OT rant there sorry, I’m obviously still a tad bitter ;)

    1. Alter_ego*

      To your first paragraph, you’re correct in my experience. I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t supply tissues, but I always buy my own anyway, because the office supplied ones are essentially sand paper. If it’s a one off sneeze, it’s no big deal, but I normally need them at my desk during allergy season, and in that case, the ones with lotion built in are key.

  22. Czhorat*

    One odd side-effect of the “use your own cell phone” is that your number follows you from job to job. I’ve called old contacts only to find out that they’re working someplace completely different, yet have the same number.

    My last three jobs all assumed I’d use my personal cell, and add it to my email signature or even business cards. The joke has become that “BYOD” has gone from “Bring your own device” to “buy your own device”. The positive is that it saves you needing to carry a second phone and lets you choose a device with which you’re comfortable. The negative is that it further blurs the line between work and not-work.

    1. BlueWolf*

      My boyfriend’s old job expected him to give out his cell phone number to clients and therefore be available for calls outside of work. Ended up being very interesting when he no longer worked there and a client called him on his cell and had no idea he was no longer an employee there.

      1. AMPG*

        I also had the random call from a contact over a year after I left a job. I was secretly delighted by it, since I had been fired from that job partly due to not doing enough to establish a relationship with that particular contact…yet that contact called me because he couldn’t get a response from my former co-workers.

  23. Lady Jay*

    That . . . seems like a really long bullet point on a resume. I’ve usually kept mine punchier, one or two lines, and now I’m wondering if I’m wrong, and not giving nearly enough detail.

  24. Somebody that I used to know*

    #2 I plan on talking to my employer as soon as I know for sure that I’m pregnant and not a minute sooner.

    My reasons for not telling them sooner:
    1) I don’t want to be held back from big projects because I might become pregnant.
    2) I think 6 month is plenty of time to transition my projects to my coworkers for covering my maternity leave (and I also don’t mind answering questions via phone or email during that time).
    3) Since my employer prides themselves on being family friendly, and some coworkers have already done it, I have good reason to expect that we’ll come up with a plan within 6 month.

    Reasons for telling them as soon as I know:
    1) Professional courtesy.
    2) The sooner I tell them the more options will be open for making arrangements for the time during and after maternity leave.
    3) Here, once you’ve announced your pregnancy your job is somewhat protected until you return from maternity leave – you can’t be fired without good cause during that time. I don’t think this would be an issue with my employer but better safe than sorry.

    So my advice to you would be to keep an ear out for your coworker’s experiences with being a new mom at this company, but to hold your horses until you’re actually pregnant.

    Also, if you are going to be doing most of the child care, and you don’t have your retired parents nearby, think about moving closer to your job and/or check out daycares close to your job so you can drop off your kids right before work and be there quickly in an emergency.

    1. Antilles*

      Here, once you’ve announced your pregnancy your job is somewhat protected until you return from maternity leave – you can’t be fired without good cause during that time.
      This might be company specific, because as far as I can tell, this isn’t the case in (most) of the US. Companies might do a little more detailed paperwork backup so they can prove it wasn’t related to the pregnancy, but it won’t really protect your job if you’re underperforming or the company needs to do layoffs or etc.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        and as I discovered, it can be REALLY hard to fire on all cylinders when you’re pregnant – especially first trimester. I’m glad I have an understanding employer because I was a hot mess.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          My boss was amazing when I was pregnant.
          My company much less so…they wanted a coverage plan 5 months in advance…I was an admin with slight technical skills. The company wanted me to interview and hire a temp in June for leave in October. Needless to say it did not work in their favor. The position remained empty until October and the temp left for another job in December.

        2. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

          OMG THIS.

          My boss knew when I was at 5 weeks, because I was obviously feeling like shit and he asked me what was up out of concerned. Given the not firing on all cylinders problem, I could not come up with a white lie.

          Thus my boss became the first person to know other than my husband and medical professionals–before my bff, my mom, etc.

          He has been great about it, encouraging me to work from home and web-conference into meetings whenever possible. His wife’s pregnancies were truly terribly, so he is very sympathetic. I don’t know how I’d function if he wasn’t–I’m teetering close to the criteria of HG and I am SO SICK. It’s sort of like that time I had norovirus, except it just keeps going without end.

          1. Specialk9*

            I’m so sorry!!! I had a really rough pregnancy too, with not – fun complications. Mine was made worse by the fact that vitamins triggered my vomiting, and the baby was clearly siphoning some important vitamin(s). Liquid vitamins made a big difference in being too run-down to walk 2 blocks. I have so much sympathy!!!

    2. Kira*

      Side argument for waiting a little even once you know: I’ve had coworkers who had multiple miscarriages and stopped announcing pregnancies right away because it was easier than telling people about the miscarriage each time.

  25. Antilles*

    #4: “I am uncomfortable doing this, as I don’t give my number out often and I do not want every person I email for business to have access to my personal cell phone number. ”
    In most industries, I wouldn’t worry too much about the last part. If people need to get a hold of you in a hurry, they’ll look at your signature and call the cell, but nobody’s going to really pay attention until then.
    Also, just for a reality check, I’d estimate at least 80-90% of the business emails I get contain a mobile number in the signature. While I obviously can’t say for certain how many of these are personal cells versus work-bought secondary phones, based on the (non-local) area codes, it certainly seems to skew much more towards personal cells. So don’t be surprised when your boss’ immediate reaction is a confused “I don’t get why this is an issue, everybody does it”.

    1. Kira*

      Everytime I see someone giving a cell number in their signature I assume it’s a work-provided cell. I only think it’s personal when the contact tells me that they’re answering it during their free time, ala “I’m going to be on vacation in Florida, but if you have a question you can still reach me! My cell is XXX.”

    2. Specialk9*

      I assume that the company is paying for the cell phone. What kind of cheap a$$ company expects you to use your own phone for work, without paying?

    1. CityMouse*

      Yeah I mean this nicely, but, do not tell your boss you have met “the one”. I say this as happily married lady but: it just sounds teenagery. Don’t do it.

    2. EmilyG*

      This is what I reacted to most in letter #2. If one of my direct reports told me this, I would be thinking, “Okay, cute, but… why are you telling me this?” In terms of work planning, aspirations this distant aren’t really relevant, so it would just feel like naive oversharing to me. OP2 can probably get the information she needs by keeping her ear (privately) to the ground.

    3. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I wouldn’t use that language to the boss, but reading it did give me a smile. All the best to you, OP.

    4. Yorick*

      It’s a teenagery phrase, but it sounds like they’re actually making life plans. It’s not nice to be condescending to someone when we don’t know much about the situation.

      I’m sure she wasn’t planning to say “he’s the one” in the conversation with her boss.

      1. Artemesia*

        Never tell anyone you are planning to get pregnant. This leads to really annoying questioning that goes on forever if you have fertility issues. Share when you are and you must. I think it is best if you wait till 12 weeks but it isn’t always possible. I know someone who landed a big contract with a client in Florida and was absolutely forbidden by her doctor to travel there as a zika zone. It isn’t that the odds are great of getting it, but the results can be catastrophic if you do. She had to tell her boss she would have to skype with that client and someone else would have to make the trip. worked out okay.

  26. Curiosity Killed The Cat*

    OP3 – This happened at my last job that I left a few months ago. My boss started talking to me a few weeks before I was planning to give notice about taking on a new responsibility. I pushed back, saying I already had a full workload (really, the workload of three people, one reason why I left when oh look my boss was trying to give me a fourth person’s work). My boss basically said take the new responsibility, try it for a few months, and revaluate after a ‘trial run’.

    I agreed because I was worried about raising suspicion but also knew my office was usually slow to get training going. However, the week before I planned to give notice, they started setting me up with training. I bit the bullet and gave notice a week early, giving them technically three weeks notice rather than two. My boss was okay with it and even seemed grateful that I didn’t waste their time with the training.

    So I’d just mention it early and frame it as you’re trying to be helpful by not letting them transfer new work that you know you won’t be doing. Good luck!

  27. RVA Cat*

    #5 – Wouldn’t this fall under “Business Continuity”? I know that’s what we call it at my Fortune 500 employer.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      OP#5 here, can you expand on that more? I’ve not heard that phrase and when I search for it, it seems that it’s geared more towards preparing beforehand for a disaster whereas I definitely was not thinking we would flood beforehand lol.

        1. Chinook*

          I would combine it as implementing business continuity after a disaster which included…

          As someone who had the school she taught at a school that burned down during school hours, that is how I describe it, only I use education instead of business. It sums up experience at being able to work in adverse and unpredictable conditions while still focused on the original end goal.

        2. Specialk9*

          Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity (the recovery of IT systems after an incident). Responding at one location to a facility specific incident would be called emergency response, emergency operations, or incident management.

          Business continuity is a field with very specific knowledge, training, certification, and adherence to international standards. Describing this (admittedly excellent) transition of location as business continuity would be, at a stretch a technical truth, but very misleading.

      1. KTZee*

        It’s similar to the idea of Continuity of Operations (CONOPs) as it would be called in the disaster response/emergency preparedness universe. Whether preplanned for or not (though ideally, it’s better to have preplanned), you definitely executed CONOPs when you kept everything running. That said, if you work in education and not in emergency mgmt or a related field, using that phrase would likely seem jargony. However, if you were ever looking to pivot into emergency and disaster planning, you have clearly demonstrated an aptitude for it. :)

        1. Specialk9*

          I think CONOPS is a military term for concept of operations. Continuity of operations is COOP. But COOP planning only refers to US government; business continuity is the global term, and for US private sector.

  28. RE: Tissues*

    As someone with pretty annoying allergies, I bring my own tissues. I usually go through a box a week, and I’m very particular about the brand/type I get. Also if I had to get up and go to some common area in my office every time I needed to blow my nose, I would literally never get anything done.

  29. Amy Cakes*

    Regarding the “having to carry two phones” debate, most people I know who are issued a work cell just forward their personal number to the work number, and often use a separate ring tone as well. It seems like a good way to preserve that separation but minimize inconvenience.

    1. JMegan*

      And further anecdata: Everyone I know who is in this situation just carries two phones. NBD for us, so I think it’s really about what you’re used to.

      1. AliceBD*

        At my work you get to choose — my boss only wanted to have one cell phone, so she ported her number over to a phone our employer bought and pays the plan on. I didn’t want my personal stuff on a phone my employer owns and runs, so I carry two phones, which is more standard at my company.

        Note that I don’t get phone calls outside of business hours. I do social media which includes monitoring and posting outside of business hours, so while people at my level don’t usually get a work phone I had a strong business case because I was using up my data to post for work.

      2. BananaPants*

        All of our managers carry two phones: their company iPhone, and their personal cell phone. They feel, with good reason, that it’s not wise to “cross the streams” as it were.

    2. Construction Safety*

      I had a buddy who worked for a national grocery chain. He had a company issued phone and under no circumstances was he to use it for personal use.

      They also issued him a “tip card” to tell him how much to tip on business expenses. Any amounts over the amount on the card were deducted from his paycheck.

      He also had to share a hotel room when he went to corporate for group meetings.

      He didn’t last long.

  30. Hannah*

    RE: working from home/going part time. I think it is way too early to say to your employer, “in the event I get married and then have a baby right away, can I go part time if that is the case?” I mean, having a baby is probably at least a year away.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t start feeling out the procedure for setting up a WFH situation. Are there others who work from home? Can you ask them how they got to that point? Is there a formal request procedure to doing so, is there seniority involved, etc.? Having a baby isn’t the only reason people decide to either work from home or go part time, so it’s not unreasonable to just start feeling out the culture around those things so you know what to expect when the time comes.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, with a commute that long, if there’s any culture of working from home, you could start doing one day a week now! And if it’s not a thing people do, you could start feeling out why not.

      1. Hannah*

        I would even add that in some cases it might be better to make some WFH arrangements before you have a baby, just so this isn’t a situation where they think you’re just going to sit at home with a baby instead of doing work. If you already work from home sometimes when the baby comes, you’ll have already shown that working from home works for you (or doesn’t!) so it won’t be a mommy accommodation, which can be taken poorly in some instances either by bosses or coworkers.

      2. CityMouse*

        I also want to add that WFH can be a tough adjustment for someone who didn’t just have a baby and it doesn’t work for everyone. Testing it out before relying on it is a good idea. A long commute is a good enough reason to bring up part time telrwork, may be after a good first annual review?

  31. Temperance*

    LW2: You never know what’s going to happen. Maybe your partner will be the better at-home parent than you. Maybe when the time comes, you’ll want to work a full schedule. I wouldn’t bring this up now, because all you’re doing is signaling to your bosses that the job isn’t a priority for you. Don’t “mommy track” yourself before you even have a child.

  32. Karyn*

    Heck, OP1, I wouldn’t WANT the tissues most offices buy. I’ll give up my Puffs Plus Lotion when you can pry them from my cold dead hands!

    I did, however, think it was weird when one of my bosses insist we provide our own hand soap for the bathrooms…

  33. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I don’t think there’s really a right or wrong answer in regards to tissues. It’s all up to the company.

    When I started working at my current company, I asked about tissues when I placed my very first supply order, as it wasn’t clear in general what we were allowed to order, whether it was pens, paper, etc. The answer was that it could be considered a personal item and that some employees bring their own, but some people order them because they feel the company should provide them to help lessen the spread of germs. So, it was left up to me to decide. I decided to order them. We don’t have the option of taking a roll of toilet paper to our desks and the bathroom isn’t really close by. Plus, it’s not like we order 10 cases a year or order the expensive ones. It’s usually three boxes every three months or so. I usually bring my own, mainly because now that I’ve lost weight, my nose runs all the time and I can’t see ordering that many tissues.

    What’s weird is that the very small startup I worked for for many years always ordered tissues. It was just part of doing business. Again, they weren’t great quality, but it was better than nothing.

    1. Kira*

      I think you’re right that small places might be more likely to cover it. My “homier” offices where the boss treated the business as an extension of her life had tissues, but my more corporate, work-and-personal separated offices didn’t.

  34. MegaMoose, Esq.*

    I work in what’s basically a computer lab with a lot of rotating contract employees – you better believe the company provides tissues and hand sanitizer! It’s cheaper than paid sick-leave, after all …

  35. Allergist*

    #2 It may take a long time to get pregnant. We are taught in the US that even looking can get you pregnant…. But it is not that easy or set in stone. You are only fertile in certain parts of your cycle etc.

    I look back and laugh at how my husband and I religiously kept our towels separate just in case … Transfer!

    1.5 years of trying later and no kids. You never really know!

    1. Artemesia*

      This and you don’t want people constantly prying about ‘how its going.’ We had fertility issues with the first and it took a couple of years to get pregnant and it was embarrassing to have this constant query. With the second it took about half an hour. Hope it will be the same for you.

  36. The Strand*

    #2, I strongly suggest – don’t make any major changes with your career (e.g. go “Mommy Track”) based on your desire to have children, until you are actually married, and then actually pregnant. Unfortunately, I did switch gears knowing we wanted a family right away, and after years of trying, I was told I had “unexplained infertility”. It took me several years and a hell of a lot of work to get back to the earning power I had. As it happened, I needed a good job that paid well that gave me enough of a shot of saving funds for injectables, IVF, gamete freezing, and now adoption.

    You really don’t know what could happen. Your prospective husband could lose his job or become permanently disabled with his retirement cut (the latter a reality for one of my best friends). This is waaaay too early.

    I also have two good friends who were amazed to discover that of the two of them, after their two kids were born, the woman couldn’t stand to stay home, while the man, a homebody, didn’t mind so much. She is now the breadwinner and he is the homemaker.

    1. Jubilance*

      +1 on all of this. It can be hard to not try to line everything up and plan every detail, especially if you’re naturally a planner. But please don’t make any big changes until it’s time. I met a guy that I thought was The One and was ready to completely change my life…and then he did me the favor of showing me that he was just a jerk before I completely upended my life. A friend of mine moved from the Northeast to the South for a guy…who promptly ghosted her as soon as she and her moving truck made it to town. Wait until things are a bit more settled, then start to make plans together.

    2. OP#2*

      Thanks for the input, Strand. I know the SO’s not going to stay at home – he made it infinitely clear he doesn’t think much of people who choose to stay at home with kiddos (good for him, but I vehemently disagree).
      I’m not planning on making any huge changes in my work situation just yet, I’d just like to know whether I could make changes if I need to. The biggest impending change right now is my living situation. Because we both own houses, either I’m going to have to move in with him (and have a 60-90 minute commute) or he’ll move in with me (and he’d have a 50-60 minute commute). To me it seems like an easy decision who should move, but I guess we’ll see!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I know this isn’t what you’re asking about, but I need to say it: Think long and hard about what would happen if you decided you needed to stay home with your kids for a while and your husband “doesn’t think much of people” who do that.

        1. OP#2*

          I know. We had this conversation and I was not happy when he said that, but he at least agreed that “maybe a year or two at home could be doable.” He really has no clue what goes into raising a child. Both of his parents worked full-time and he always had ‘babysitters’ while I had a stay-at-home mom until elementary school. I think once we’re in the situation he’ll come to realize there’s a lot more that goes into baby-raising than he realizes. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when we get there… but he certainly can be a stubborn stupid-head at times :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I really, really urge you to figure that out before you do things like get married or have kids together. Figuring that you can work it out later and that it’ll all be okay then is how a lot of people end up in really untenable situations.

            1. neverjaunty*

              OP #2, career advice rather than relationship advice here:

              You have all the information you need to know exactly what your work-life situation will be once you’re “in the situation”. Putting off real world concerns with ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ or ‘I’m sure I can bring him around’ is not a plan; it’s turning your back on a plan because plans are harshing on your feeling of being over the moon about this guy and daydreaming about the names of your future children.

              Two dating people having separate careers is not the same as two married people trying to make their careers mesh – and that gets multiplied by a thousand when there are young children. Based on everything you’ve said about The One (macho career, rigid hours, attitude about at-home moms, cluelessness about childcare, expecting you to be the one to suck up the longer commute, his making more money), what you can expect is 1) your career will be secondary to his and 2) your career will take all the wear and tear of trying to juggle work and parenthood.

              And that’s fine, if you’re fine with it and know that going in. It’s not fine if you persuade yourself that you can be the one special unicorn who manages to Have It All.

          2. Jean (just Jean)*

            I think once we’re in the situation he’ll come to realize there’s a lot more that goes into baby-raising than he realizes. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when we get there… but he certainly can be a stubborn stupid-head at times :)

            OP, I don’t want to completely discourage your happiness but I’m also having the red flag reaction. I think you should both enjoy your current glow and continue to rock your current job. You never know when your right-now skills will be super helpful in the future. Your spouse may not always be working…or even always your spouse (thanks to death, divorce, disease and other happy possibilities). Keeping your skills current is one of the ways you can prepare for whatever life throws at you.

            Or–from the other side of this equation–what happens if you need to stay home because your child is born with, or develops special needs? Or you are slammed with unexpected elder care responsibilities? Either situation can require one adult to manage the medical and logicstial complications. It’s tough even when both spouses agree it’s necessary to expend one person’s energy on these challenges … while there’s less income than before.

            So enjoy being in love with this person, but also keep your eyes open. Life doesn’t always have pleasant surprises. Think carefully about starting a marriage with someone who seems so unwilling to be flexible. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

          3. Super Anon for This*

            Woah! Waiting until you have a baby to find out if he will change his mind is a really bad idea OP. If he doesn’t change his mind what are you going to do? Stay home anyway and deal with his displeasure? How will you handle spending money? Who gets the final say if you two disagree on something one of you feels is important to spend money on?

            I strongly recommend finding a kid and/or baby you can borrow for a weekend or week. Do you have any family or friends who would let you take their kids for that long? Or could you stay at their house and take care of the kids for with them watching but not helping?

            Agree on some standards, like “no putting the kids in front of the TV for more than 1 hour per day, you have to actually play with them” and “no fast food, you actually have to prepare meals while taking care of the kids” and really important, “the house still has to be up to a certain level of cleanliness we agree upon”. I would even suggest doing one weekend together and then one weekend each alone, him and the kids and you and the kids.

            There is a huge difference between people’s ideas of what it is like to have kids, babysitting kids for a few hours, and actually living with kids. Best to find out now how well you two can handle the latter, and if he really will change his mind. You don’t want an innocent child or your own relationship to suffer if he doesn’t.

          4. I'm Calling It*

            Stubborn stupid-heads can be more difficult to deal with than you may imagine. You think he’ll realize when you have the kid how much work it is, but in my experience that isn’t usually the case. I’ve had friends in similar situations, and typically the result was that she ended up doing more of the child rearing anyway, so he didn’t think it was that hard. Also, he got upset at her “not contributing” by having an income, made spending $ a constant fight, and he would melt down over the stress of being breadwinner. As you can imagine, she was under a ton of stress because of all the child care, active fighting, and a partner that clearly didn’t value her role. Not to mention, many that stay home don’t stop after a year or two, and think about how that convo will go with him.

            Main point being… I see some red flags here. You sound a little young & naive. He sounds like he has already made it clear he is making no concessions. I bet I can tell you which house you’ll be living in… how do you think I know? Why would you need to “wait & see” or cross that bridge when you come to it? You seem like a planner and that goes against all planning instincts – it is because you know you will not like the answer.

            1. Steph B*

              Yeah. Even my husband, who really does try to do things 50-50, is still a product of our culture where it is parenting when a mom is going grocery shopping with both the kids and praiseworthy when dad is doing the same (‘grocery shopping and babysitting the kids, ooh boy!’ <- literally what someone said to him a few months ago). Women are just naturally caregivers, right? We should be able to do it all, no problem, right?

              My husband actually scheduled a wrist surgery during his paternity leave for our second, because he figured he'd still be around to do stuff afterwards, and it'd be better to do it when he was off work anyways, right? He was in a cast for a month, and it took much longer than that to make up to me.

              1. the gold digger*

                He was in a cast for a month, and it took much longer than that to make up to me.

                Yeah. I can totally see that. I, too, would not be happy with, “Hey! As long as you are home with a toddler and an infant, how about I throw in a husband with only one working hand!”

            2. OP#2*

              I’m in my 30’s and so is he, so not quite so young, however this is the first time both of us have been in a relationship where marriage is in the cards. 95% percent of the time he sees reason in things, and the other 5% I just have to work on him a bit. His stubbornness is definitely something that’s been a point of contention in the past, but we’re working through it. I do think he’ll eventually be more open to me staying at home for a while. I think the main reason he doesn’t like the idea is because we’ll need two incomes. Ultimately I couldn’t see staying home for more than a few years anyway until the kiddos are all in school. I wish his profession was paid better, but it’s unfortunately one of those largely thankless government roles. He’s worked hard to be where he’s at and is convinced he’ll work there forever :) And since I’m flexible with what I do and where I go, we’ve been working well. I’d just like to at least have a plan in place!

              1. CityMouse*

                I mean this nicely but don’t see your boyfriend as someone you “just have to work on a bit”. Do people change? Sure but not the way you expect or want. It isn’t fair to either of you to have that expectation of him.

                1. Steph B*

                  “Do people change? Sure but not the way you expect or want.”

                  Amen! My husband and I have been married 7.5 years now, have two kids (aged 4 and 1) and this, all this! I adore him, and we certainly don’t agree on some weird things (he dislikes Stephen King, for example), but we agree on all the important-to-us stuff. Or at least agreed that if it was important enough that one of us has a firm opinion on it that we needed to agree before any actions that couldn’t be reversed were made.

              2. Temperance*

                This is what I presumed when I read your letter, OP. Not that you were young, but that you and your dude were in a position to want children and were maybe on a deadline. It kind of reminds me of my BIL’s situation. He ended up marrying someone truly dreadful (NOT saying you are dreadful of course) who never had a real relationship at age 30 … and now they’re working on kid #2 and are miserable together, because they’re an awful couple.

                It’s honestly okay if he doesn’t want to support a wife at home, but it’s not okay to have negative attitudes about people who don’t work. I’m in a position where we have 2 incomes, and either of us could pay the bills if need be.

                It sounds like he’s issuing a decree about what he wants, will not give an inch or compromise, and that is a recipe for trouble.

                1. OP#2*

                  Ha, when he said The Thing he was in one of his “I make no compromises!” moods, but I’ve broached it with him since then and he’s been significantly more reasonable and understands why I mentioned staying at home. I should know better by now to ask him important questions or make polarizing comments when he’s being stupid and stubborn. And I don’t mean it in a “he’s disrespectful to women” way, more of a “he’s got IMS (Irritable Male Syndrome) and can’t be bothered to think straight right now” way, LOL. He’s usually very respectful of me and he’s been nothing but great with his family, even waiters, etc., but as someone who’s in a very traditionally “macho” profession, it sometimes spills over into personal life and he doesn’t realize it right away.

                2. Us, Too*

                  OP #2. I get that there is a time and a place for every marital discussion, but honestly…. If you can’t have this talk EASILY now without waiting for the right timing that’s a very bad predictor of the future’s success as it relates to tough conversations. Here’s why: when you have kids, especially young ones, you are ALWAYS tired, almost never alone, and frantically busy when the previous two don’t collide. Odds are really good that you will literally have a 30 minute window (or less!) each day to talk about all the stuff you need to talk about without toddlers clinging on your legs. If you’re going to need to give more than a moment’s thought to the “right” time to talk, you’re never going to be able to have that talk. Because if you think it’s hard to find a good time now, wait until the kids arrive. Seriously. Not trying to be a buzzkill, just in the throws of two toddlers myself right now. Here’s what our conversations look like: they all happen after 8 pm because that’s when both kids are asleep. We’ve both been up since 5:30 am by then. Both put in a full day, both dealt with multiple toddler meltdowns already. Both are exhausted, both are hungry, both are grumpy, both are ready to cry if someone says even one more time “mooooom” or “daaaaaaad”. And that’s when you need to somehow figure out whether you’re going to adopt a spanking strategy. And who’s going to not go to work tomorrow because Billy had a slight fever for 15 minutes today and daycare policy won’t let him come back – and you both have “critical” meetings. Etc. It’s way harder with that stuff in the mix to be rational, kind, etc.

              3. Lindsay J*

                Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because 95% of the time things are good that it’s necessarily reasonable to tolerate the 5% of the time that is bad.

                It really depends on how bad the bad 5% is, (and I will admit that disparaging stay-at-home parents gives me some pause because it tends to go along with other sets of attitudes that I find harmful.)

                When I was with my ex, that’s one of the things I said a lot of the time – that really it was only 5% or 10% of the time that was bad and the rest of the time was great. But the 10% that was bad was in my case abusive level bad, and the other 90% of it didn’t make up for that. (Also, once I got out of the relationship I also realized that the 90-95% of the time wasn’t great. Tolerable, but not great.)

                I mean only you know how your relationship actually is, and I might be totally overreacting because your 5% might be more in the range of “throws his dirty laundry on the floor next to the hamper rather than inside the hamper” rather than “throws a fit at you for spending a $20 birthday giftcard to a sporting goods store on something he didn’t like”. I mean nobody is perfect – my current boyfriend is stubborn about dirty dishes (they must be washed immediately, and then put into the dishwasher with no visible food debris on them) to a point I find really aggravating and honestly a bit bizarre, but is otherwise really great and supportive so I can deal with it.

                But your wording there just was so similar to mine at the time that I had to mention it.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Yeah, I have almost exactly the same story, and everything OP2 says is ringing my alarm bells. They’re exactly the kind of ‘It’s all fine!’ justifications I made all the time. Though in my case, 95%/5% good/bad changed over time after marriage: 90%/10%, then 85%/15%, then 80%/20%, until I was miserable far more than I even admitted to myself then. Thank all that is holy that I didn’t have kids with them.

                  OP2, you’re likely going to listen as much as I did in your shoes – not at all – but I hope you do. Several people are telling you that you are setting yourself up for an unsupportive spouse who leaves you to carry most of the parenting load solo and then also tiptoe around him. A few of us hear things that sound like our own abusive relationships.

          5. Temperance*

            LW, I think it might make sense to take a peek at his overall attitudes about women. “Not thinking much” of parents who stay at home shows a particular attitude about women, because, honestly, the vast majority of parents at home are women.

            I don’t think it’s really wise to plan to “cross that bridge” when you’re pregnant and maybe don’t want to work.

          6. casinoLF*

            Uh, my mom worked full time and was the breadwinner my whole childhood. My dad worked full time as well. I am still 100% aware of exactly how much work goes into raising a child.

              1. neverjaunty*

                OP said that her boyfriend has zero clue about what goes into a raising a child, so I’m assuming casinoLF is simply an aware person.

        2. Steph B*

          Also, what does that attitude say about the people who will be help with the care-giving? I absolutely adore and respect our caregivers at our daycare, our parents when they watch the girls, our occasional babysitter. They are absolutely considered vital to the raising of our kids right now and worthy of that respect. My husband agrees with me, but if I ever got a sense he didn’t we would have words.

          Also, on the living situation — you might also want to consider if one of your places will be better/worse as a rental property. I got the impression that you both own your homes, and it might not make sense to sell right away. We had to rent our my husband’s condo for a number of years, and we were lucky that it was in a pretty in-demand area.

          1. OP#2*

            I hadn’t thought of doing a rental property! We both live in or near college towns so it’d definitely be possible!

            1. Lindsay J*

              There are even companies that will handle a large portion of the day-to-day hassle of being a landlord. We considered renting our house out rather than selling it when we moved, but ultimately decided against it. We were lucky to be living in an area with a relatively hot real-estate market though. If we weren’t able to sell we would definitely have rented it out and used a management company.

      2. CityMouse*

        Yeah, don’t get married until you have had a serious conversation on attitudes towards gender roles in relationships and roles in child rearing. Your move will be a good test of your relationship. If you feel like you’re the one making all the sacrifices in the move, for instance, it may signal how your later dynamic goes. You’re pretty early on in your relationship and I say this as someone who has been married happily for a while but seen close friends and a sibling divorce: being able to constructively discuss and approach this stuff and come to compromises matters.

    3. Steph B*

      I would go one step farther and change your first point to: on’t make any major changes with your career (e.g. go “Mommy Track”) based on your desire to have children, until you are actually married, and then *actually raising baby*.

      You might discover, like me, that you really aren’t your best self if you aren’t working outside the home. I had some (OK – a ton of) tears the first time I dropped off baby #1 to daycare and went to work, but then I found I was happier to be able to use my knowledge/skills to help others and I was a better parent as a result. I know it isn’t that way for everybody, but it would have been tough to find a new job with a new baby because I left my old job pre-baby.

  37. KR*

    1) I’m a fan of keeping tissues in the bathroom or out for occasional use but my attitude is that if you know you’re sick or suffering from allergies and will require a lot of tissues, you should bring in your own box of tissues to keep with you. That way you don’t have to keep getting up, your germs are confined to one tissue box, and you don’t have to depend on your company to have them in stock or feel bad when you use up all the tissues. This is what I did when I was made to go to high school with an awful dripping cold. I couldn’t count on teachers to have tissues or the school nurse to give me a box, so I would bring a big box of the kind with lotion and I just had to move the trash can near me in each class so I wasn’t distracting everyone. Also I find people tend to be more conscious of their tissue use when they’re providing them.

    2) Congrats OP! I agree with AAM that you should wait. A lot can happen and if you work hard and kick butt now, when the time comes they might be willing to arrange something for you. Focus on making it so they will not want to lose you as an employee now!

  38. Anon Anon*

    #2 — I would encourage you to pay close attention to your organization and how they deal with other people who do get pregnant, want to move to part-time, and those who telecommute, especially for employee’s who are your peers. For example, where I work, telecommuting isn’t permitted for most staff, unless it’s negotiated during the hiring process, but it is pretty easy to move to part-time.

    However, I also wonder why you and your boyfriend aren’t considering moving to midpoint location between your two jobs? I would be very hesitant to take a step back in your career at this point. You have no idea how long it will take to get pregnant, and/or even if you want to reduce your working hours.

    1. OP#2*

      We are definitely planning to move somewhere more central to our jobs, but since we both own houses right now (and I literally just bought mine… put in the offer the day before our first date…) it’s probably going to be a while before we buy something together.

  39. Lucille B.*

    I’m on the opposite end of LW #1 right now – our staff keeps requesting things that *really* seem like they should be provided personally. My favorite recent request was for “allergy medicine, but not Benadryl – it makes me sleepy”.

    1. KR*

      Definitely agree the company should not be providing medicine. Maybe an emergency bottle of Advil or something but not something the employee can go pick up at a Walgreens before work.

      1. Allypopx*

        I don’t know if it’s a common thing or just something we do but our org doesn’t want us provided medication to staff, even if it’s a benadryl out of our purse or something. We have big things of asprin everywhere that people can take from as they wish but that’s it.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          I guess because I’ve generally worked at places with manufacturing co-located, there have always been either on site nurses or first aid boxes available. My current job has those wall mounted first aid boxes stocked by our safety vendor. It has the dose packs of tylenol, ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, bandaids, etc.

          1. Lindsay J*

            I love our huge first aid kits. They have everything. Antacids, alcohol wipes, migraine medicine, tons of different bandaids, burn cream, itch cream, tweezers. I can’t think of a medical related thing that it doesn’t have.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          You don’t have to be in manufacturing or food service to get the occasional (admittedly, usually minor in an office) workplace injury. One of my genius coworkers keeps a small first aid kit* in her workspace because, as she said, “Things can happen in offices.” I learned about her stash when I was punctured by a staple sticking out of a file folder. I usually carry adhesive bandages in my purse, but that day I had only tiny ones.

          *Bandages, anti-biotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, and tissues.

      2. KTZee*

        Huh, my company provides a medical kit on every floor with a variety of medication and basic supplies – I’ve never thought a thing of it. It includes OTC painkillers, allergy stuff, cold meds; antibiotic, antihistamine, and burn ointment; one-use cold packs, band-aids, tape, gauze, etc. It’s provided and serviced by a company that does exactly that for businesses. I would guess from my employer’s perspective that they’d rather we have easy access to some basic supplies than have to go find a drug store just because we need a band-aid.

        1. Lucille B.*

          We definitely have a first aid kit and keep a big bottle of ibuprofen handy. The problem with the allergy medicine is that the city we are in has non-stop seasonal allergies. We go from mold to cedar to ragweed and back again. If we were responsible for providing daily allergy medication for everyone on staff, we’d go through a bottle a week easily. Accidents happen, but when it’s a daily occurrence, I think it’s time to put on your adult pants and take care of your medical needs.

    2. Bea*

      We have a “medicine cabinet” at work that includes generic OTC daytime cold meds and pain meds for headaches that pop up or if you have a minor injury kind of thing. So it’s not that weird to me.

  40. designbot*

    #4, I’d say know your office culture before you go asking for reimbursement. At my office that’d not only get you laughed at, but whoever you asked would probably carry an impression of you as being whiny and entitled going forward. Nobody gets their cell phone paid for in my office, and we’re not unusual for the industry. If you’re in an office culture where this is Not A Thing, you’re better off just saying that you don’t feel comfortable with using it for work than putting out some strawman of asking them to pay your cell phone bill.

  41. Nonprofitplainjane*

    I worked for a nonprofit providing direct services. My co-workers and I would see 3 to 5 people per day some who brought their kids with them. Constant coughing and sneezing especially during flu and allgery season. Given our salaries and I refused to purchase tissues. We complained and escalated it to the head boss. We got our orders of tissues and hand sanitizer but had to store them in our desks locked because the rest of the office wasn’t allowed to have them.

  42. Observer*

    #4 If you are in California, your employer may need to reimburse you if they require that you use your cell phone – even if you have unlimited minutes.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, and they cannot wipe or inspect your phone without prior, signed authorization (i.e., a contract).

  43. Managed Chaos*

    The most dysfunctional office I ever worked at had the great Kleenex war of 2008.

    The company had always provided Kleenex. We got a new receptionist. She messaged the wife of the owner (who bought the office supplies) that she didn’t see why the office should pay for our Kleenexes. The owner’s wife (a notorious cheapo) e-mailed her back that she was so thrilled to hear that, and effective immediately, no Kleenexes would be bought. However, neither of them felt the need to enlighten anyone else about the change in policy. Kleenexes were added to the office shopping list multiple times, and each time, they just wouldn’t appear. Finally the office manager asked the receptionist if she knew why there were no Kleenexes being replenished. The receptionist informed her that they were no longer being supplied. E-mails were circulated. Sides were taken.

    Fast forward to a client needing a a Kleenex in a meeting. Who would be willing to supply one? Would anyone? Yes, someone finally did offer the client a tissue. They then sent a request for reimbursement to the owner.

    This was a sign of so much that was wrong with the office.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      What is the reimbursement rate for a single Kleenex?? Would it be the cost of the single tissue ( > $.009), or the whole box?

    2. Specialk9*

      That’s hysterical, in a black way. The idea of a reimbursement request for one tissue… awesome.

  44. km85*

    On tissues – an office I used to work as an executive assistant for said the same thing, but when I pointed out that we hosted 20 meetings a week and guests needed to be offered tissues, they relented, just for the executive suites though.

  45. CatCat*

    My government agency won’t pay for tissues. Employees also had to buy a refrigerator for the break room (you have to join the “refrigerator club” and pay a fee to use it so there are funds to replace it someday, I just bring a cooler). I’m not sure who is paying for soap in the kitchen, but I suspect it is an employee. At our HQ, the managers apparently started stocking soap in the break room there themselves when employees complained about the org’s email reminders during flu season to wash your hands frequently while the org was also not providing soap at the break room sink.

  46. Kayleigh*

    #4 – Argh, yes, I wouldn’t be happy with that at all! We were encouraged to put our Twitter handles in our email signatures (it’s definitely optional though – a lot of people just use the company handle). I’ve put mine in because even though I never tweet about work, I equally never tweet anything actively unprofessional, and every now and then someone will follow me on Twitter from my work email signature. That’s totally fine – it’s an open profile and I do freelance work on the side of my day job, so I have no problem with professional contacts following me. I wouldn’t be at all happy giving out my personal phone number though, and would probably do as Alison suggests with the Google Voice number.

  47. You want me to have business email on a phone, buy me a phone*

    Here’s another good reason to not use your personal cell for work – a couple of months ago, I was at a meetup and a woman was telling the story of how her company wanted employees to install some management software on their phones if they wanted to have business email on it and get reimbursed, “so if your phone gets lost, we can wipe it to make sure the business email doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. And this way we can enforce our security policies, it’s a win-win”. Except they didn’t want to provide work phones. “Use your cell, we’ll pay the bill, everyone does it, don’t be difficult.”

    I’m sure no one here thinks that’s where the story ended.

    A couple of months later, a user whose username was for the sake of this story, Tsmith loses their phone, except that the IT department fumble-fingers and wipes the phone for user Rsmith instead.

    The person telling the story sits next to the IT department. 15 minutes later, Rsmith (who she described as normally the nicest VP she can think of in the company) shows up in what she described as “an incandescent fury” because her phone got wiped, including pictures and video from an event with her kids that she hadn’t downloaded to her computer at home yet.

    Apparently she worked her way through English profanities and started on Russian and Arabic. Now that company buys people work smart phones, no questions asked.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      A rant with expletives in three languages? I’m impressed. I also can’t stop laughing.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is so poetic. Between the “incandescent fury” and the multilingual swearing, I’m impressed! :)

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oh, wow, yes. This is memorable. I’m also impressed. :-D
      I’m also stockpiling this for my “Horse Laugh of the Day” exchange with a good friend. (Life is hard. We need more laughter.)

  48. boop the first*

    2. Child poverty really isn’t that fun. Children do more than just exist… the smallest details affect their lives forever. If you’re just scraping by now, working part time isn’t going to be worth the $800+/month of sudden childcare costs. Or maybe your career is going really great right now?

    Alternatively, your plan is 2+ years into the future, so maybe you won’t even be scraping by at that point and your worries will be a thing of the past. Maybe you’ll move. Maybe either of you will have better pay. How does one plan around such big variables?

    1. Yorick*

      She didn’t say they barely scrape by, just that his income alone wouldn’t be enough.

  49. Miss Ann Thrope*

    The story about the tissue reminds me of when I was in elementary school and we each had to bring in a box of tissue at the beginning of the year, so we had enough supplies.

  50. I guess I don't really use tissues that much*

    #1 – I just looked up the cost of tissues as my office doesn’t provide them either/I don’t know the average cost of a box. They are currently on sale at Costco and the one’s I’d buy for myself (ultra soft, fyi :]) are $2 a box. Which, of course, they are selling in a 12 pack (probably a 5-6 year supply for me alone). I agree that not providing tissues is BS, but it looks like you’ll just have to bring in your own or ask everyone to contribute a dollar or two and buy in bulk (this may cause it’s own set of problems unfortunately).

    #2 – Definitely wait until the time comes. I’ve been with my company for 5 years and a manager from another department told me that if/when the day comes that I have children, to “cash in my chips” then. I’ve been a stellar employee and as I think about TTC at the end of the year, I’ve thought the same questions. Would they let me telecommute? Would I want to go part-time? Can I go part-time?! Definitely pay attention to how your company accommodates employees needs. In my case, we recently had an employee who recently had baby #2 move from the west coast to the south east and they are letting her work remotely. We also had an employee move to NY when she had cancer and they let her work remotely as well. I’m paying extra attention to how new parents in the company are treated and what their schedules are so that if/when my day comes my requests won’t be far from the norm.
    Finding The One is exciting; best of luck to you!

    1. Wheezy Weasel*

      +1 on the ‘cash in your chips’ phrasing. You’re never going to be as valuable to the company as when you make the ask. If you make the ask before you start or in the early part of your tenure with the company, you haven’t accumulated enough chips to ask them to bend on a policy that might not be visibly flexible, or ask them to reconsider a hard policy because the cost of replacing *you* will be too high.

      My example doesn’t include kids, but I took my current position at an under-market salary rate because the included tuition waiver for a graduate degree was very generous. If I was to ask my boss before I took the job or a few weeks in ‘once I get this master’s degree, where else can I work in our University at a higher salary?’ that would have communicated my intent too early.

  51. Hard Boiled*

    I never noticed the tissue thing, but my office is the same way. They provide us with TONS of stuff offices traditionally don’t: a whole range of food in the kitchen (from sandwich fixings, to organic fruit, to expensive coffee), catered lunch, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen and tylenol (makes sense–people with headaches aren’t productive). But we all bring our own tissues. Which actually is kind of in keeping with our generous approach to sick days–people who need tissues should stay home!

  52. Ruthie*

    My aunt used to work for a company that required employees to stock toilet paper in the office bathroom out of their own pockets. She has so many horror stories from working there. My favorite is when a federal agent came to the office because her boss was buying and reselling counterfeit cell phones as a side gig, but through the company. When that failed, he tried his hand at being an amateur arms dealer.

    1. Specialk9*

      ” a federal agent came to the office because her boss was buying and reselling counterfeit cell phones as a side gig, but through the company. When that failed, he tried his hand at being an amateur arms dealer.”


  53. Preggo lady*

    #2 – Late to the the thread but it’s too soon on so many levels, I’m afraid!

    The moment people know you’re pregnant or have solid plans to be pregnant people will treat you differently. It’s 2017, so there’s not that many people left who will blatantly admit to believing all new mums just want to stay at home and have lost all interest in their career – to be honest, they’re also the same people who will write women off as workers the moment they hit 24 so there’s no helping you if you’re unlikely enough to bump into one of them – but most people do hold some sort of bias about how women should ‘be’ once they become a mother, even if they’re not aware they hold it. So, the moment you give yourself a baby timeline, you need to be prepared to find yourself fighting to be considered for projects, business trips and promotions, and I don’t think it’s worth putting yourself in that situation before you have to.

    I also hate to be a downer but children tend to happen to their own timeline. Of the expecting couples/couples who recently had kids that I know, I would say it’s a relatively even split between ‘accident’ and ‘trying for at least half a year’. I also have more than one good friend who is now going down the path of IVF, despite being relatively healthy otherwise. I don’t mean to be cruel or burst your bubble but making plans based on when you’ll be pregnant is just setting yourself up for disappointment. It took us 6 months to get pregnant and, looking back, I realise I passed up several good opportunities in the early days of trying because, at the back of my mind, I was thinking ‘Yeah, but I’ll be X months pregnant then’.

    Finally, not only might your timeline not go to plan, things might change at your employer’s end. They might have a flexible working policy now but who can say three years down the line? Your line manager now might be ok with you telecommuting 2 or 3 days a week, but what if they get replaced or if your team takes on a project which requires you to be in the office all the time?

    As other people have said above, your best bet is to keep an eye on how your employer treats other new parents as a company which treats new parents well is likely to always treat them well, regardless of what ‘deal’ they are able to offer them at any one time. And go by what they do rather than what they say – I know of companies which throw a song and dance about how family-friendly they are, only to treat new mothers like dirt, and other companies which can’t even be bothered to pay lip service to family-friendly policies in their HR manuals, but treat their new mothers very well.

  54. Pathfinder Ryder*

    With Google Voice being restricted to US numbers, does anyone have any international middle-ground solutions for 4? (I’m not LW, just in a similar situation.)

    1. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Ah, whoops, I missed the Sideline and Skype recs above! I’ll have to keep looking for a freebie alternative, though.

  55. Red 5*

    Years ago I was in the same situation where I knew I was quitting a job but hasn’t given my notice yet. They decided it was time to assign responsibilities for an upcoming project and I tried to beg off and put it aside until I could give my notice. I spent 20 minutes saying we shouldn’t do this now and gave all the reasons Allison suggests and nobody cared. So I say in the meeting and shrugged and told them to do whatever they wanted, I told them this was a bad time, they could put me wherever. When I handed in my notice my coworkers said both that they suspected I was leaving and “now we will have to redo all of that work, why didn’t you say anything?” Sometimes there is no winning, you can only do what you can do. Good luck.

  56. I'm anon for this one*

    I was in this situation when the business here and didn’t have enough landlines to accommodate. So they asked me to start using my personal cell phone to make calls to customers. I (in my best John Pinette [R.I.P.] voice) said “I say nay nay!” My underlying fear was, as I have seen with the voice mails that came in after office hours, would mean I would not only answer these calls at all hours of the day/night, but also figure out how to fill that order and have it delivered to the customer when there was no one there.

    So I stood firm and told them if you want me to have a work phone, it’s on my terms. A separate phone that you pay for. Which never leaves the office. Which I also turn on at the start of the day and turn off at the end of it. A locking drawer to keep that phone in when I’m not there.

    They agreed. Fortunately for me, I have some clout there. YMMV. Best of luck keeping your personal phone away from work. You’ll really appreciate not having to being literally on call to unreasonable customers.

    1. I'm anon for this one*

      My love for an edit button. Missed the word “grew” in the first sentence.

  57. Optimistic Prime*

    [quote]One middle-ground option is to set up a Google Voice number that goes to your phone so that you don’t have to give out your personal number (and can also restrict the hours that number rings on your phone, if that’s not at odds with what your employer is asking for).[/quote]

    I wish I had thought of this before I put my cell number on my business cards. Not that anyone ever calls me, but still.

  58. Jenn*

    Late I know but OP #2, please read Lean In — don’t give up on your career until you’re actually making decisions for right then. Building your professional credibility now is a huge help later!

  59. Editor*

    Tissues at offices may not be provided because for much of the 20th century men working in offices carried cloth handkerchiefs. They would never have expected the office to provide something so personal. In fact, I still know men and one woman who carry them. Now that tissues have become ubiquitous and people think shoving a gross piece of cloth into a pocket is, well, gross, accounting hasn’t caught up with changing mores.

    It is kind of like air conditioning levels being set for men in suits. Times have changed, but artifacts remain.

  60. Pam*

    #3 My employer left me to do my boss’ job for years, and when when he retired they promoted someone else, not me, into his position. Poor kid, we had intern candidates applying within weeks of her starting, and she reached out to me about mentoring them. I had already decided I was leaving, so I begged off with something of a white lie, saying I had mentored every intern for the past four years (which was true) and that I’d appreciate a break for this round. She went along with the request. However, the real reasons I didn’t want to do interns was a combination of not wanting to leave the interns themselves in the lurch halfway through their time with the organization if I had to leave, and a determination of mine that the head of the department was going to lead the effing department, which included doing their share as supervisors with the interns. Anyway, Allison is right. Stall as gracefully as you are able to until you’re ready to give notice.

  61. Bibliovore*

    If you all hadn’t figured this out, I have been been a teacher and a librarian for the past 20 years. It is typical for those in this profession to buy their own supplies. That does mean the back to school Target and COSTCO run is on me. My shopping list for my classroom includes composition notebooks, markers, sharpies, tissues, clorox wipes, pens , folders, glue stick, and pencils. As well as high protein bars and snacks for the “food insecure”

  62. Christine*

    4. My employer wants me to give out my personal cell number in my email signature

    Coming to this late, not sure if it’s been answered. A couple of our faculty give out a phone number through Google versus their direct cell phone. They get the call since it’s forwarded, but they can choose to let it go to voice mail.

    I wouldn’t want a client to know my own cell number. If the LW / OP has a job that has a lot of contact outside normal hours, or is exempt from OT, I can see where the employer wants to ask them to give it out. But I also feel that as long as the employer is not paying the bill, it shouldn’t be mandatory.

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