my coworker’s kid disrupts our office every day

A reader writes:

I started a new job a few months ago. Everything is great and I like my coworkers, except for one thing: one of my coworkers brings her daughter to work every day and it’s driving me crazy.

Shortly after I started, we moved to a new office, going from individual office spaces to an open plan with cubicles. One coworker had been in the habit for several years of having her daughter come and hang out in her office for the hour between when school let out and we were done for the day. With the move, she now has to leave to go pick her daughter up, and instead of said child being quietly contained in a closed-door office, she’s now either in her mom’s cubicle or parked in the entryway sitting area right next to our cubes.

Which wouldn’t be an issue, except now, every day for at least an hour, often longer, the office fills up with giggles and child-conversation, while she tells her mom all about her day. Some days the kid is cranky and so I get to listen to an hour of the mom shushing the child or otherwise trying to appease her. There are almost daily debates regarding snacks: the mom brought a healthy snack for the kid, but the child is more interested in scamming our office snacks than eating those carrot sticks. We have communal snacks usually floating around, but pretty regularly they get decimated by this pint-sized locust. And the mom, who doesn’t usually partake in our snacks herself, never offers to replace them– in fact she tends to either laugh it off, or make comments about how we shouldn’t have junk food in the office anyway. I’ve noticed more and more people tucking their treats away out of sight, which has led to an uptake in frustrated child whining about how she’s hungry.

Our entryway becomes like a romper room, which has been an issue when I’ve had clients coming through in the late afternoon with nowhere to sit because the kid has spread out her homework/ activities. It also effectively puts the mom out of commission for that period, at least for our working relationship — she can work in her cube, but it’s weird stopping by to talk about projects or have a meeting with her with the kid parked in a beanbag squeezed in the tiny cubicle.

This happens every day, regardless of what else is going on. I’ve been on calls before where I have difficulty hearing the person on the other end because right across the cubicle wall there’s a conversation about fractions going on.

Our office isn’t a great environment for a kid. Just today, in fact, after hearing some lighthearted jokes that were a little past PG-13, the mom sent a group email asking everyone to remember there were “little ears” listening.

What’s more, another employee, also new, has now started having her daughter come by after school as well. She’s of a similar age to child number one, and now the two of them giggle/sing/chit chat together, increasing the noise.

Can I say anything? I feel like this was never a declared choice in this workplace, rather just something that started and never caused a problem when we had actual walls. I’m also still relatively new, and while other people have remarked on it, no one’s said anything to her directly. Our boss still has walls and a door and so I don’t think realizes how loud this child can be.

My coworker has worked here for many years and is a single parent. I feel for her, and I can see my boss not wanting to rock this boat in case it changed her productivity. Can I say anything or should I just get some noise cancelling headphones and reconcile myself to the fact that the last hour of every day will involve children?

Whoa. I’m annoyed and on edge just reading this.

It’s great when an office offers occasional flexibility for parents to bring in a kid when there’s an emergency. That’s a kindness to working parents. It keeps people productive when they otherwise might need to stay home and lose a day of work, and it recognizes that employees are humans with outside lives that sometimes need accommodation.

But letting people do it occasionally is different from having it happen every day, particularly when it’s as disruptive to co-workers as it is in this case. And it sounds like it hasn’t even occurred to your co-worker that she needs to set this up in a way that will minimize the impact on other people.

That’s bizarre, in part because of how inconsiderate it is, and in part because of how easy it would be to do this differently. Normally parents who need to bring a kid into work will set the kid up in a private area, impress on them the need to stay quiet, and have them read a book or play on a tablet or color or so forth. (You don’t say how old your co-worker’s kid is, but if she’s discussing fractions, I’m assuming she’s old enough to understand, “You need to entertain yourself quietly for an hour.”) It’s true that there are some kids who would defy even the best attempts at this — but in those cases, the solution is generally “Don’t bring your kid in every day,” rather than “Oh well, we’ll just have the whole office disrupted from 4 to 5 p.m. every day.”

However. You are relatively new, and that makes a big difference in how you should proceed. If you weren’t new, this would be easier; you could speak up pretty freely, both to her and to whoever has some authority to intervene in what’s going on. But as a new person, if most other people are okay with this, you risk seeming out of touch with your company culture and even looking uptight or chilly if you speak up — which you might not mind, but that kind of thing can affect your relationships in ways that matter. And ultimately, if this is how this office runs, as a new person you don’t quite have the standing to say it’s not okay. (There are some exceptions to this, like if you’re in a very senior role, which would give you more standing than the average new hire, or if you have really strong rapport with your boss.)

Given that, you have two options. The first is to just talk to your co-worker about the pieces of the problem that very directly affect you, like your inability to hear callers when you’re on the phone. Even as a new person, it would be quite reasonable to say, “Jane, I’m having trouble hearing my callers when your daughter Lucinda is talking loudly. Any chance you could either have her sit in a different spot, or just make sure she keeps it down while she’s here?” You could also say, “I’ve got clients coming in, so can we move Lucinda into a cubicle so she’s not blocking the entryway?” (Do be aware, though, that no matter how reasonable these requests are, if no one else is making similar ones, it’s still possible that Jane will bristle, especially if you ask for both of these things rather than just one of them. She shouldn’t, but there are plenty of unreasonable people out there — so proceed with that risk in mind.)

The other option is to discreetly take the pulse of your other co-workers about the situation. When you’re one-on-one, you can casually ask, “Have people always brought their kids in here?” or “Do you think it would be okay for me to ask Jane to keep Lucinda a little quieter?” That might give you a better sense of whether everyone is fully onboard or if other people are annoyed by it as well. If you find other people are frustrated too, there might be room to suggest that someone — not you, the new person — raise the issue more broadly.

And soon there will be a third option too. Once some more time goes by, you won’t be the new person anymore, and you’ll have more standing to just take this directly to someone with some authority over the situation. At that point, you’ll be on more solid ground in saying, “Can we figure out a way to minimize the disruption caused by people bringing their kids in every day? It can make it pretty tough to concentrate or hear callers.” And who knows — maybe there’s a more isolated room where they could hang out, or someone with authority can simply talk to your co-workers about noise expectations when their kids are around. There are plenty of ways to continue accommodating parents that will minimize the impact on other people — which is the missing piece in your current setup.

I originally published this at New York Magazine.

{ 713 comments… read them below }

  1. Elmyra Duff*

    Nope. I don’t want kids in my house. I definitely don’t want kids in my office.

      1. Granny K*

        Me too! Lost productivity of not one but (sounds like) ALL of their employees for at least 1 hour a day…How’s does management justify this?

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          I’m guessing that Boss either has an office with a door or doesn’t come in to cubicle-land very often and isn’t aware of this disruptive activity.

          1. Dove*

            Plus, it sounds like this level of disruptiveness is recent and only started after they moved to a building where this coworker doesn’t have an office with a door any more. So Boss (who does have an office with a door) hasn’t realized how disruptive it is for the whole office to have the mom bringing in her kid *every day*.

            It also sounds like the mom hasn’t really considered that she needs to change her routine to accommodate the new office setup.

  2. Faith*

    I would hate this so much! OP, I don’t have suggestions beyond Alison’s, but I have sympathy.

  3. Morwen the Grad Student*

    Goodness, I want to scream just reading this! I’m very curious what perspective your supervisors take on this scenario.

    At least “decimated by this pint-sized locust” is a beautiful, beautiful phrase.

    1. Katniss*

      I laughed out loud at that part. I’m putting that phrase into my regular rotation.

    2. Emi.*

      I think it’s a gross way to talk about a person–and so I’m not just nitpicking wording, OP, if you talk to anyone about this you should be very, very careful that you come across as “your kid is a brat and I hate her,” the way you do here.

      1. DMK*

        I agree with this. It’s enough that the child is disruptive to the workplace, but the OP’s letter comes across as equally annoyed about that and a dislike of children or of this particular child.

        1. Data Analyst*

          Agreed. I understand that some people are generally annoyed about all children, but if that sentiment creeps into the discussion it won’t go very far.

          1. Specialk9*

            Why? Why is not liking kids bad, in the context of an office? Why does OP have to like kids?

            I love my kiddo, and most kids, like crazy, but I know that some people don’t love kids. I might be shocked by that attitude at a playground or daycare, but this is work. It’s perfectly reasonable not to like kids, and also be in an office! It’s perfectly reasonable to expect the office not to be dripping with progeny.

            The mom is behaving badly. It’s not up to OP to have to gush about how great kids are, just to point out that this situation is way uncool.

            1. LeRainDrop*

              OP doesn’t have to like kids. I think the point above is just that OP has a very reasonable goal, and she’s here for advice on how to accomplish that. If you strategize on it, most likely you’d advise the OP to use language that doesn’t immediately set the co-worker or manager on the defensive when she raises this issue at work. OP doesn’t want the focus to be on her feelings about kids (which it would certainly turn into if she talked to the manager about the girl as a locust) but instead on the very real impact the kid’s presence is having on her ability to do her job, have professional client meetings, etc.

            2. msmorlowe*

              If the OP comes across as strongly disliking children in general, the mother is more likely to dismiss all of her complaints as down to that reason, rather than seeing her very valid points that the noise is distracting, and that it’s unfair for one child to be eating the majority of the snacks provided for everyone without her parent replacing them.

              The OP shouldn’t have to gush about kids, but it would do more harm than good to seem like they dislike all children.

        2. Frankie*

          Mmm, I don’t know about that. I like kids but this (especially every day) would drive me nuts, and I’d write a letter as annoyed as this. I wouldn’t assume there’s a distaste for children behind it.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            I think it takes away from the issue and makes it sounds like OP is just disturbed because she doesn’t like kids (not necessarily the case to begin with) versus truly being in a distruptive environment due to the presence of children.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              No, that isn’t what that phrase means. LW was writing a letter about a disruptive child to someone who’s not connected to that child in any way. I don’t think she’s obligated to be delicate about the situation when talking about it to a bunch of strangers on the internet and there’s no reason for anyone to assume that’s how she’d talk about it to the child’s mother/her boss/anyone else.

              Personally, I dislike children a lot and I generally want nothing to do with them. But I’m not cruel and I’m not an idiot. Most people in the same place on this Venn diagram know how to read a room.

        3. justcourt*

          OP isn’t obligated to like this child, and it sounds like this kid is an annoyance in the office.

          I can’t say that I would go out of my way to broadcast my dislike of the kid, but I’m also not going to go out of my way to cater to the feelings of a coworker who disregards the feelings of her coworkers everyday by unleashing a pest on the office everyday.

          1. justcourt*

            I also want to clarify that I think OP and her fellow coworkers need to be clear with the mom about their feelings on having the daughter present. If they aren’t clear that her daughter is creating an annoyance, the mom is just going to brush off/downplay their complaint like she did with office snacks.

            1. Lara*

              Which says something immediately about Mom’s attitude.

              “Please stop your child stealing my / the office’s snacks,” should be responded to with “I’m so sorry, I’ll replace them.”

              Not “Haha, well that’s what you get for eating junk food.”

              1. Phoenix Programmer*

                It sounds more like there is a communal bowl and coworkers have passively hinted that Mom should buy some snacks and she has responded with “I really don’t like having junk food around, so no.” It’s possible she doesn’t even know how many snacks little one is taking especially since she has healthy snacks for her.

        4. Notchildfriendly*

          So? Maybe she dislikes children, and maybe this child is next level. Does that matter? It’s an office, not a school. She shouldn’t be required to tolerate children

          1. ThatAspie*

            It’s one thing in this letter. But if the “pint-sized locust” comment were said in the office, with the kid there, to the Mom, to the boss, or to the kid, it could be bad. That’s all they’re saying, is that certain things should not seep into the convo about the kid.

            It’s a bit like how, on Friday, one of the customers was a naughty kid. (It is a bit different in that I work at a restaurant that is very kid-friendly and family-friendly, and the naughty girl’s parents were customers and not workers, but there are similarities.) One of the things the brat did directly impacted me (among other things, she was shrieking at me rudely and making fun of my glasses…plus climbing me like a tree…again, among other bad behaviors occurring simultaneously.) Another thing she did was trying to steal from one of my coworkers. Now, outside the restaurant, I am free to refer to this one particular child as a brat, a twit, a jerk, a bully, a little monster, and all the other things she was. But if I had said, “Hey, bratface, that’s not a rock wall!”, or I’d told her mom, “don’t ever bring that twit around here again!”, I’d be in big trouble and it would not have gone smoothly at all. In fact, things would have gotten worse.

      2. Peaches*

        Agree, especially because none of the examples of the kid being disruptive seem bad (asking questions about homework, talking about her day, bargaining for snacks) – these seem like very regular childlike behavior (as opposed to, say, throwing around office supplies, barging into other people’s cubicles, etc). I’m not saying it’s right that the lady is bringing her kid to work – I think it’s really unprofessional and frustrating – but there does have to be some tact when addressing this problem.

        1. SoCalHR*

          What about the regularly eating communal (for the employees) food and sprawling her stuff out over the reception area, or being asked to mind what they are saying because a kid is present? I think those things tip the scale a bit to the overly disruptive side (when having a kid present at all in an office is likely to be inherently disruptive).

            1. SoCalHR*

              It really is ALL on the mom, not the child. The child is just being a child. But it is disruptive because she is being a child in a non-child zone.

              1. Murphy*

                Oh I definitely agree that it’s disruptive. But I read Peaches’s comment as talking about the child’s behavior not being that bad (It’s not like she’s running down the hall screaming, or tearing up people’s stuff.) so OP should watch their language when talking about the child herself.

              2. aebhel*

                Right, but it’s not fair to let that resentment leak over onto the kid–and more to the point, it’s unlikely to help the OP’s cause if her coworker picks up on it, which she probably will.

                1. Specialk9*

                  You’re giving an inconsiderate person too much power. It’s not a daycare. People can loathe children if they want. They didn’t sign up to have crotchfruit in their office space.

                  /Yes, I do call my kid a crotchfruit – quietly, just to my spouse, and then we giggle.

          1. Yorick*

            When I was old enough for fractions, I was old enough to be told that these snacks don’t belong to us and I can’t have them.

            1. I See Real People*

              Thank you! I was taught this way as well. What’s the matter with telling your kids “No” these days??

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                It is not “these days”, it is the parent — for whatever reason.

                When I was small, I knew kids who weren’t told “no”.

            2. Krisanthemum*

              0/10 of these snacks are yours, Clarice!

              Honestly, this is a child that is not being told no, and that is the parent’s fault, but it is what makes kids “annoying.”

              I like kids. I like dogs. I like kids and dogs that have been trained not to behave in a way that disrupts an environment where they’re not generally able to “be themselves.” This is part of raising little beings.

          2. Scotty_Smalls*

            I think Peaches is saying that co-workers kid is not being “bad” to warrant the tone of the letter. She’s just being a kid in an environment that isn’t for kids.

            This office setup isn’t kid-friendly. If management wants to make it so, then they got to set up a daycare area. Not just continue with the policy of turning a blind eye. Heck maybe co-worker wants this and is hoping the kids will annoy everyone into pushing for something like this. Co-worker is clearly not interested in paying someone to pick up her kid and watch her for an hour, hour and a half until she gets home. I wonder what she did for summer previously?

          3. Rachel01*

            A agree with you. Hate to see this, but if I was a recipient of the email about “little ears” I would have responded to “this is work place not child care ” as a reply all.

            I do not have children, do not want them and sure do not want to see one daily at work. I’ll be the grump here, but once in a blue moon, yes. Every day, and taking over the reception area is so wrong.

            1. zapateria la bailarina*

              glad i’m not the only one – i absolutely would’ve replied all to that text with something mildly snarky about not working at a daycare

              1. Specialk9*

                (reads admonishing email)

                (In a carrying voice) “Well (bleep), I can’t believe that (bleeping) problem with the (bleepety-bleeping) database is flaring up again. It’s almost like the (bleep)er-(bleep) is mocking us.”

                Not that I’d actually do this, I’m a wuss.

            2. Jadelyn*

              I’m with you – I am absolutely not going to start watching my language in my workplace, which is for adults, just because you brought your kid into that space. The mere presence of your child does not suddenly make this a child-centered space.

              If you don’t like what little ears are hearing, take those little ears somewhere else.

              1. Courageous cat*

                Yep, I would continue to not think twice about my language. So frustrating.

            3. MissingArizona*

              Kids should not be in a workspace. Doesn’t matter how cute little Brattylynn is, they do not belong there.

              1. Krisanthemum*

                My mom used to bring me to her office (VERY rarely) but I was expected to sit quietly and read or draw on the back of some used printer paper or unfutz her paper clips or something, not make a racket and whine.

                And YES, I looked forward to that because I could get a snack from the vending machine. So I know carrot mom in this letter is capable of making some kinds of rules, just not the right rules.

                1. ThatAspie*

                  Yeah. When I was small, my mom worked in a call center. Sometimes, when they wanted Mom to go to work early, I’d go to the call center with her. Keep in mind, I was about 9, daycares are not open at 5:00 in the morning, and my parents are divorced. Also, I did have some trouble with being quiet and entertaining myself (see username), but I was able to sit and watch TV in the break room or go watch out the window, like a good little girl. Yes, the stupid company did eventually say that I couldn’t come in, but that was more because of it being run by a jerk – aside from a few isolated incidents, I was content to go watch Spongebob or Teletubbies or the news or whatever else was on, or to bring in a small quiet toy to play with, or a book, or go watch the window to see when the other Mom was coming to take me to Kindercare. I was very restrained and patient. It was hard. Sometimes I struggled. Sometimes I messed up. But I was on my best behavior.

          4. INTP*

            All of that is problems with the mom, though, not the child. Most children aren’t inherently aware enough to understand that spreading out homework in an area would be disruptive to business or that people might not be happy for them to partake in communal snacks because they aren’t an employee. They see empty chairs no one is sitting in and snacks that seem to be free for the taking. The child doesn’t seem like a particularly disruptive or unruly child, her parent just isn’t setting boundaries to keep her from being annoying to people.

        2. Raina*

          Yes, Peaches, regular childlike behavior that belongs at home and not in the office. The OP has displayed great tact in tolerating a co-worker that is over-stepping – venting to this community is A-OK. And sadly, like a lot of children that are unpleasant to be around, the parent isn’t attempting to temper the situation.
          Alison’s suggestions are great.
          OP – an update would be awesome. Good Luck.

        3. LBK*

          There are letters here complaining about adults doing the same kind of thing (obsessiveness over food, constant chatter, etc). It’s doubly annoying in a situation like this where the OP doesn’t have as much standing to tell the offender to keep it down. The kid doesn’t get a pass on it just because it’s a kid – the same as if you brought them to a movie theater or a library or somewhere else that quiet is expected.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            I think it’s not fair to direct annoyance at the kid, though. She isn’t in control of the fact that she’s at the office every day, and she’s clearly not getting the kind of instruction she should be getting about what behavior is appropriate. I don’t think anyone’s saying the kid should get a pass on it – just that the cause of the annoyance is the parent.

            Like, if I brought a raccoon into your office and it started eating your snacks and overturning all your garbage bins, you would be justified in being annoyed *by* the raccoon, but you should be annoyed *at* me, because what was I thinking?

            1. LBK*

              I think that’s splitting hairs in a way that doesn’t really make a difference beyond how the commenters here judge the OP. Obviously the OP is not actually going to take it out on the kid either way.

            2. Specialk9*

              But why wouldn’t it be ok to think you’re a raging d#$@ for letting a raccoon loose in my office, and ALSO to hate raccoons, or be worried about rabies, or be super creeped out by their little hands?

              Ok actually, raccoons are ADORABLE, especially when they carry their kits from chimneys and down walls like in that show on Netflix, and if they didn’t have so much rabies I’d totally want one as a pet, with their little bandit faces and little fingers and fuzzy tails.

              Wait, what were we talking about?

              Oh yeah. I like kids that much too, but don’t insist on others people loving either one, in an office that has no child or raccoon mission.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                “Wait, what were we talking about?”

                You were suggesting LW let a bunch of trash pandas loose in the office so the parents would have to find alternate child care arrangements due to risk of rabies, right? ;D

        4. smoke tree*

          This is true, but I feel like the kid should be held to a higher standard if this arrangement is going to be workable. When I was old enough to know about fractions, I was also old enough to be able to be quiet and entertain myself for an hour when I had to. I’ve also had coworkers with a similar arrangement whose elementary school-aged kids were fine reading or colouring for an hour or so. Obviously this isn’t possible for all kids, but that’s why most kids don’t hang out in offices regularly.

          1. Kat M2*

            Same. I love kids, work with kids, and I empathize with the fact that lack of quality, affordable childcare puts so many working parents in a bind. That said, when I was that age, I would have been expected to read a book, do my homework, or quietly occupy myself. I also would have received at least a “Mom look” if I was whining about snacks like that.

            Yes, it’s a good thing that people are understanding more about child development, as well as developmental disabilities. It’s also good that people care about flexibility for parents (particularly moms). That doesn’t mean that most kids can’t learn how to behave in various social situations or be held to high expectations. It also doesn’t mean that others are obliged to indulge or put up with it.

        5. zapateria la bailarina*

          “regular childlike behavior” does not belong in the office day-to-day. the OP didn’t sign up to work at a day care. can you really not understand the disruptiveness of a child completely taking over the sitting area, talking so loudly that you cannot hear your clients on the phone, giggling, singing, stealing food, etc?

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            It would be bad if the person behaving like that were the OP’s coworker (and I have had coworkers like that). It’s obnoxious, distracting behavior and the child shouldn’t be there. It is on the mother, of course.

        6. AcademiaNut*

          They’re regular childlike behaviour, definitely. And this is exactly why young children don’t belong in an office setting, and why it’s so frustrating to the OP, because she’s trying to work, and she can’t leave to get away from the annoying-but-normal child behaviour.

          We’re talking an hour of loud, high pitched giggling and non-work conversation every day, regularly descending in whining, grouchiness and arguments, eating office snacks without replenishing them, taking up space that’s needed to meet with clients for non-work activities. The OP has trouble hearing phone conversations, meeting with clients, and interacting with the kid’s mother, and the office is being chastised for not keeping their conversation child friendly. That’s a pretty major disruption to her work.

        7. School Psych*

          I don’t know, I’ve worked in schools for years and a lot of regular kid noise is disruptive, if you’re trying to do paperwork or have meetings around it. I shared an office last year with 2 other clinicians that was separated by a false wall from the small group intervention room. The sounds of kids quietly working on the otherside drove everyone in my office completely bonkers. We all love kids and have dedicated our careers to them, but the background noise was super distracting and definitely irritating at times when trying to focus.

      3. SoCalHR*

        I think the comment was all in good fun for the post (I love kids, in general not at the workplace, but I still call them adorable germ-filled anklebiters sometimes :-).

        But I agree with you Emi that when discussing it at the workplace OP needs to over-correct to ensure she’s not coming across as unsympathetic to children or childcare issues. Even tho OP’s complaints are 100% legitimate, if they are presented with this air at all, it will weaken the argument.

        1. Morwen the Grad Student*

          This is how I took it as well–I didn’t get anything from the letter to think the OP was disrespecting the child or speaking meanly about her to anyone connected to her workplace, just venting about the disturbance. I also agree that OP certainly shouldn’t bring the “pint-size locust” phrase into this workplace!

          1. Kathleen_A*

            She shouldn’t bring “pint-size locust” to the workplace, but I’m extremely glad she brought it to us because it’s hilarious.

            Listen, there are a number of children that I love to pieces, but that doesn’t mean they sometimes didn’t act like pint-size locusts. I have a very vivid recollection of serving one particular group of small relatives dinner at 6 p.m., planning to save some for my husband who wouldn’t be home until 8 or so, and having to snatch the last ear of sweet corn from my nephew, who had eaten *three* ears. He had eaten it with such relish that his little brown shoulders and chest were covered with sweet corn debris. It was hilarious…but come on, he totally acted like a pint-size locust.

      4. Thursday Next*

        As appalling as this situation is, I also found the language used to describe the child to be problematic. LW, I’m with Emi in encouraging you to think through the language you’ll use to broach this with coworkers and stick to the disruption-to-work issues.

        1. Constable Tone can stand down*

          Not loving the tone policing of the OP that’s going on in this thread. What’s ‘problematic’ in this scenario is not the OP’s expression of her (?) exasperation.

          1. Brittasaurus Rex*

            It was a funny turn of phrase that I highly, highly doubt LW would use in the office. There’s nothing problematic about it.

            1. Brittasaurus Rex*

              And I was agreeing with the constable. Sorry, Constable, for threading incorrectly.

      5. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Let’s give OP the benefit of the doubt that she’s using AAM as a safe space to vent about a child who does not belong in a work place and that she wouldn’t refer to said child as a locust in normal every day conversation.

          1. LCL*

            I can’t believe I am the only one who has ever made the analogy of their relatives descending on a holiday dinner like a plague of locusts.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                And journalists and free food. As we used to say, if you feed them, they will come.

                1. Stephanie*

                  See at my work, we say the vultures descending on free food (though it’s possible I introduced that term and consequently have a fondness for it.)

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  As a former journalist, so can I! Although to be fair, I usually required at least a reasonable possibility of a story, too.

                3. Kathleen_A*

                  LOL, oh yeah, me too. And actually for a couple of years after, too. I only developed true discretion after I got less broke.

              2. Wendy Darling*

                I used to talk about my brother and his two friends that way when he was a teenager. I did all the grocery shopping for my family at that point and I’d load up the fridge with what was supposed to be food for the entire week only for it to be gone within 2 hours. I wasn’t sure how they fit it all in their bodies!

            1. Kelly*

              Don’t worry, you aren’t. My sister still refers to one particular Christmas when multiple of my dad’s siblings and their kids plus my family (parents, myself, and sister) ate most of two whole turkeys, multiple side dishes, and multiple pies as when the Wisconsin locusts migrated south to Illinois and left nothing behind. If you bring it up, she’ll go on a rant about how it was the one Christmas where she didn’t get any leftover turkey, which she thinks is better anyways. To this day, she refers to his some of his family as either locusts or leeches for their ability to take advantage of food others make.

            2. Lontra Canadensis*

              I referrred to my son and his friends as a plague of locusts descending on the kitchen regularly in their teen years!

        1. Lilo*

          This is unfair to LW. I love my nephew, but I have on the past described him as a pint sized hurricane. There is nothing particularly egregious about the characterization.

          1. Blackeagle*

            Some friends of mine often referred to their toddler as “the little diapered despot”.

            1. Ophelia*

              I mean, I was so exhausted during pregnancy that I referred to one of my kids as The Dementor while she was still in the womb! All that to say, as a parent, I definitely took the language as light-hearted, not an actual comparison of a child to a locust (and frankly, after looking at my grocery bill, I suspect I’ll be integrating the phrase into my own lexicon shortly).

              1. Plague of frogs*

                My cousin referred to her much-beloved in utero child as “the tapeworm.”

                1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

                  LOL, I called my in-utero child “the passenger” or “the parasite.”

          2. Bea*

            I call my nephew a little dragon because he may as well breath tiny flames at times.

        2. Muriel Heslop*

          I’m an English teacher and I actually wrote this phrase down to share with others.

        3. BadWolf*

          And it seems like an apt description of eating enough of the snack food that people are hiding it before she comes. I think most people wouldn’t mind sharing a mint or snack with a kid so I have to guess it’s a consistent sizable amount non-replaced food.

          1. BadWolf*

            ETA — although they might also be hiding it because they get flack from Mom for the child eating it.

        4. Environmental Compliance*


          While it’s fair to point out that the LW probably shouldn’t actually use “pint sized locust” in bringing it up to her boss, I don’t think it’s fair to pile on the LW that it’s an awful phrase. The child IS being a child, but in an office environment, where people are now hiding their own snacks because Mom isn’t 1) disallowing Child to eat everyone else’s food and/or 2) replacing or otherwise reimbursing the snacks Child is eating. Plus, some kids do eat everything in sight, which makes the locust description pretty apt.

          The situation isn’t fair to the coworkers OR the child, and I think everyone has that understanding. No one is blaming the child, but the child IS the source of the noise/loss of food/distractions. The cause & need for a change is directly upon the Mom. LW was asking how to handle asking the Mom to change, and clearly isn’t expecting a child to not be a child, but is expecting a non-child based office to be sufficiently quiet & distraction free……like other non-child based offices. I personally would be incredibly irritated with the parent in this, just like I’d be irritated by the person who now plays opera at loud volumes in an open office, because before the person could just shut their door and no one was bothered.

          1. SmallCog*

            I’ve raised four children and they do eat a LOT especially during those blink-and-you-miss-it growth years. I can imagine mine clearing out a bunch of office food, especially if they are less “healthy” than what I had.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              I used to regularly babysit 8 children that were all born within at max 5 years of each other. The amount of food they’d go through in an afternoon was ridiculous. Lunches & dinners were ridiculous. And of course those that didn’t live at that house ate even more food than usual, because it was “different than what Mom always gets”! So cool! So new! So different! Until Mom buys it and then it’s gross again! And then you put all of them together, when separately they’re very sweet, well behaved kiddos…and then turn into little wackos who want to have a competition of who can shove the most beads up their nose. Or can spit the farthest. Or tasted the dog food.

              (all children were my parent’s friends kids plus my two very much younger siblings, and all were relatively well behaved for their ages, but man was I tired by the end of the night)

            2. Specialk9*

              I remember when I was a kid, we didn’t have candy in the house except special occasions. The next door neighbors, a sweet elderly couple, made the mistake of telling two literal-minded children to take all the candies we wanted. They watched, bemused, as we thanked them enthusiastically and then took all the candies in the dish.

              Our parents had to have a conversation with us (“but they SAID…!) about how sometimes people say something but they’re just being polite, and they really don’t mean it.

              I can totally imagine myself being this kid. (Who is actually being fairly well behaved. She didn’t ask to hang out after school in a weird room full of adults, while tired and hungry and just wanting to go home.)

              I can also feel for the mom, to a point. Being a single parent is flipping hard! But she’s not being considerate, and she’s taking advantage of work.

          2. Strawmeatloaf*

            I think some people just get a little annoyed when we others call children anything “bad”. I’m not sure why, I’m sure everyone calls someone a not-nice name every once in a while when venting a bit. But somehow some people just take it as “this person called a CHILD something BAD! They must HATE children!” When it’s not like that at all.

            1. Scarlet*

              Exactly. This level of tone-policing over an innocuous comment is just ridiculous.

        5. Matilda Jefferies*

          As the parent of a couple of pint sized locusts, I intend to start using this phrase immediately! *grumbles about food bill and the amount of milk we go through*

          I also agree with Not a Real Giraffe and others, that it’s reasonable to assume that OP would not use this phrase with either the child or her mother. Was there ever an update to this one?

          1. A Non E. Mouse*

            As the parent of a couple of pint sized locusts, I intend to start using this phrase immediately! *grumbles about food bill and the amount of milk we go through*

            It’s remarkable, really, their calorie requirements. The sheer volume! Our includes a teenage boy, and “Locust” is really the best way to describe it when they are in a frenzy.

            POUNDS of food. Pounds. Gone.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              In high school, a couple of my friends were in the debate club, which met at the same time I was in gymnastics. They had ordered too many pizzas (how? with a group of teenagers??), and texted me to offer it up to the gymnasts. The speed at which those pizzas were consumed…

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Same. As a teenager, my brother went through a ton of milk. He also had the very annoying habit of nearly draining a gallon container but then putting it back into the fridge with a quarter inch of milk left inside, not even enough for a bowl of cereal for anyone else. I once actually left a note on it that said “[Bro] is a milk pig.” He was not pleased, LOL.

              Locust would have been an apt comparison!

            3. Church Lady*

              THIS x A BILLION

              Teenagers will literally eat you out of house and home!
              Gallons of milk, pounds of food. It. Was. Amazing.

            4. PhyllisB*

              Amen to that!! My son wasn’t a huge eater, but his two best friends were football players, and I knew when they came over I was gonna be in the kitchen for quite a while. They always wanted me to make them waffles, bacon, and home-made sugar syrup, and I kid you not; I would be in the kitchen until 1 o’clock cooking.

        6. sap*

          +1. Also, I know a lot of moms and dads who would happily describe their children’s effect on a food table as “pint sized locust.” They do not dislike their children, or children generally. Children are messy and eat a lot and it’s funny!

        7. Anon Accountant*

          Yes and I think OP is at the end of her rope and is extremely frustrated with this ongoing situation.

      6. Kate*

        That phrase me cringe too. I understand at this point the kid is a nuisance to the OP, but I agree that when raising complaints about her, you don’t want to come across as hating children or just this child in particular because then people will think YOU are the problem. Try to focus on how the noise (or other behavior) is impacting your work. Honestly, I feel bad for the kid because how incredibly boring to have to come work with your mom and sit in still silence for an hour after sitting in school all day. Ideally the mom should find childcare, or at the very least maybe set up a work from home situation for that last hour so the kid can be home doing her own thing.

        1. Rainy*

          Except she’s not sitting in silence–she’s talking, singing, and eating everyone’s food.

          I used to walk to my dad’s work sometimes when I was in jr high to catch a ride home with him (my schools in those two years were a few blocks from his lab), but I’d also buy my own snacks from the vending machines with my pocket money and sit in any of the several break rooms reading my book. Visitors weren’t allowed into the labs, obviously–and he would never have allowed it if I were young enough to A) need constant monitoring and B) be disruptive.

          1. Amber T*

            Occasionally, my coworker will bring her kids in (when a storm came out of no where and knocked power out of their home and schools, when all emergency baby sitting falls through), and I’m always shocked at how well behaved they are. We have a tv in our lunch room, and she plops them down with coloring books, their Switch/DS/iPad/whatever, she brings in snacks and lunch. Whether it’s one, two, or all three of them, they’ve never caused a problem. Once, the littlest one asked me to get her mommy for her, and her mom apologized profusely (which, really, no need). If nothing else, coworker has to have a serious conversation with her kid. This isn’t parent-kid bonding time. But I agree with Alison, kids should only be in the work place if it’s an emergency, no other options available situation.

            1. Seal*

              One of my employees has been bringing her now-teenaged kid in for years. That kid is truly the quietest, best behaved kid I’ve ever seen; in fact, if I didn’t see her in person I’d never know she was there. My employee told me that her daughter learned early on that if she was going to come to work with mom she had to be quiet and entertain herself. If all kids were this well-behaved, they’d be welcome in our office.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                When I was a kid, my parents owned a retail business that sold gifts, cards, etc. Starting around age eleven or so, we could sometimes walk downtown from school and hang out there until they closed up and drove us home rather than taking the bus. I often did this so I could visit the town library after school.

                It was understood that we were NOT to disrupt business. We were allowed to help in the store if we wanted to–straighten cards, dust, etc.–but we were expected to behave and not to bother either customers or their employees. There was a hand-cranked bow-making machine in the back, on the gift-wrapping counter, and we could make bows. We could type on the typewriter in the office. We could do homework at the desk, and also get a snack in the variety store next door (this was a long time ago, LOL) and eat it in the break area in the stockroom. If we misbehaved, we had to ride the bus home until they decided we could come back (we had a sitter as younger kids but when we got older, we stayed home alone).

                It worked because my parents enforced the rules. It’s up to the parents to make sure the kids know how to behave and to enact consequences when they don’t.

      7. Muriel Heslop*

        I LOVE kids (I’m a teacher and I have my own) and I don’t think this letter seems mean at all. OP sounds really, really frustrated and I don’t blame her. I got a annoyed just reading the letter – it’s so inconsiderate of her coworker. And it doesn’t sound like the kid is well-managed, which falls sqauarely on the shoulders of her mother.

        Good luck with this, OP!

      8. Myrin*

        I actually didn’t get that tone from the letter at all! The OP sounds understandably frustrated but actually very matter-of-fact to me. (And the “locust” phrase just seemed like humourous exaggeration to me, not like OP wanted to meanly express “that horrible gluttonous little insect!”.)

        1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

          This was how I read it too. My daughter once had “friends” who descended on my home for afterschool snacks once they realized I bought “the good stuff”. I referred to their visits as a plague. I wasn’t intentionally being mean, but it was an easy and humorous way to describe to friends how it felt at the time.

      9. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Let’s leave this here as it’s derailing us. (I disagree that it’s a sign that the OP needs to be careful about how she talks about the child, but people are welcome to feel it is — but it’s been called out now and continuing to debate it is going to derail from the letter.)

        1. OP*

          Hi! OP here: just to be clear no I do not loathe children or this child. And no I’m not calling her a locust/ venting that frustration to coworkers or boss. As some have commented, I am very frustrated with the situation— especially as Child has taken her mom’s permissiveness to mean certain behaviours are ok ( for instance, she now will come into others cubes and straight up ask for snacks if she doesn’t see any. She will go from cubicle to cubicle like everyday is Halloween. And left feeling mean or gluttonous if I don’t hand over my dark chocolate covered almonds or whatever, but honestly, I don’t have the time or money to constantly fuel her after school snack attacks, plus it’s really annoying to hear her do this cube after cube). That said, I don’t blame the kid- she’s learning back behaviours from the Mom.

              1. aebhel*

                Same, tbh. My oldest is 4 and still knows better than to behave like that–and if she didn’t, I’d put a stop to it immediately! I can’t understand how the mom isn’t mortified by this behavior.

          1. Rachel01*

            The coming to my cubicle asking for my snacks would piss me off for sure. I have a professor that comes into my office wanting chocolate. Than one day he say that I had a brownie from Starbucks and played with. I guess he thought I would go, gross, and give it to him.

            OP, can you state to the child that Mom doesn’t want her to have sweets, etc.? I’m being sarcastic here, but as the admin in the office of highly paid professors, the number of moochers over the years is ridiculous. It’s a sore spot that I’m expected to supply them with items from my desk that I purchase with my own money.

            NO you are not supposed to supply the kids with after school snacks, and the mothers is thinking it’s so cute, everyone loves my child, or should love my child. They do not realize that “not” everyone will enjoy the child. In reality they are setting the little girl up to having behaviors that she thinks are cute, that others aren’t. I was taught it’s rude to ask for food, candy, etc., from others.

          2. ket*

            That is really hard! In much of life, I believe in just talking honestly and politely with kids, and could imagine saying, “Kid, I’m here to work, and I’d like you to respect that by not interrupting my work. Thank you.” and then turning away.

            With this mom, I could imagine that being an issue. If you tried it, you’d have to be very careful of your tone and delivery and make sure that none of your frustration with her mom is coming through. As you’ve said, the kid is learning behaviors from her mom. Maybe you can set different expectations for her conduct with you. She might be old enough to “get it”. Not sure.

            1. sap*

              Depending on how old the kid is (fractions, so unless the kid is in super accelerated math….) This sounds like a good approach.

              “Jessica, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re hungry, but when I’m at work it’s very distracting when you interrupt me. My desk is like a library–it’s best not to have conversations here. I don’t keep extra snacks, so please try not to ask me, since I need my quiet, time-out time!”

            2. Rana*

              Or my go-to when random children try to cadge snacks from us at the park: “I’m sorry. This is our/my snack. Unless your mother tells me herself that it’s okay for you to have one, this is for us/me.”

              (Because even if I’m in a sharing mood, I’m not going to feed a random child a food without knowing if they have dietary limits or allergy issues.)

              1. Rainy*

                My read on the situation is that this coworker will 100% okay OP giving the child snacks, so I wouldn’t take that approach, in this situation.

              2. not really a lurker anymore*

                Yeah, I hang out on the playground with a couple of other moms, after school. Our go to is “go ask your adult if it’s ok to have X snack” or “sorry, we’re not sharing today” It’s the last week of school, the weather is good so a LOT of kids we’ve never seen/don’t know are popping up. The ones that were out here with us in March get a bit more leeway because we’re bringing similar snacks and aren’t as worried about food allergies.

                And even with that, I still check in with the other 2 moms when my kids want to eat their snacks. Because things change and what’s fine last month isn’t necessarily fine this month.

          3. Candy*

            Is there any sort of boardroom for meetings in your new space? It seems like time to speak to your manager and request that all employees’ children are confined to that room while they’re visiting if they’re moved on to visiting everyone’s cubes.

            And if that doesn’t work, maybe just get some noise-cancelling headphones? If you can’t do anything about the children, at least that will help you tune them out.

          4. Parenthetically*

            “she now will come into others cubes and straight up ask for snacks if she doesn’t see any. She will go from cubicle to cubicle like everyday is Halloween”


          5. Not the Dark Chocolate!*

            No, just no. I live in the South, where feeding people in part of the culture, but begging at my cube for snacks would get a hard no. Especially dark chocolate!

            Perhaps if you refuse consistently, the child would consider your cube a snack wasteland and skip begging, at least at your place? If you feel like you can’t totally refuse, maybe stock up on the type of healthy snacks that the child does not want?

            1. WonderCootie*

              You could go the other direction and have everyone load the kid up on sugar and caffeine. It would kick in right about the time they’re leaving everyday. But hey, I’m vindictive that way.

              In all seriousness, this is interfering with CLIENTS! From that perspective, I’d take it to management even as the newest employee.

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                Haha. “Yeah, all I have is chocolate covered espresso beans. Enjoy!”

              2. PhyllisB*

                Ha Ha Wonder Cootie. We used to keep our two oldest grand-children M-F and take them to my daughter on the week-ends. My husband used to threaten to get them a Hershey Bar and a Red Bull before taking them back.

                1. Rainy*

                  I have an aunt who runs a daycare, and over the years she’s had a number of kids whose parents would send candy and caffeinated drinks with them to daycare, because they wouldn’t say no to the child, but didn’t want to deal with the natural consequences of hopping a child up on sugar and caffeine. She started saving all the parent-provided “treats” for the end of the week and then giving them all to the kids on Friday afternoon in the hour before pick-up.

                  Amazing how suddenly the parents develop the ability to say no.

              3. foolofgrace*

                That is my thought also — why is it not an option to bring it up with management? If I were in this situation I would try just freezing the kid out — don’t sugarcoat my “No, I don’t have any snacks for you” said with a stern demeanor. I’m not a big fan of kids to begin with (except my own kid, of course, and I raised him to have decent manners and would be horrified if I heard he was doing this) and this would push me over the edge into New Job territory. Seriously.

          6. AFH*

            WOW, that is so much worse and more disruptive than just helping herself to communal food (which is already bad). If it was your first week, it might be too early to raise that concern, but going cube to cube begging for food is so out of line and so outside of office norms that I don’t think you have to wait to address it.

            It sounds like you’ve tried to talk to your coworker before and she’s laughed it off. If a serious-toned, “this is not funny and must stop” conversation doesn’t stop the daily door-to-doors, I think it’s wholly appropriate to go to your boss and say that the kid is doing daily halloween-runs, you’ve asked your coworker to stop it and she hasn’t, and how would your boss like you to handle the daily disruption to your work? It’d also be appropriate to express dismay that you feel like you can’t have food in your cube because your coworker’s kid will come and beg for it.

          7. LCL*

            Now that you have described it further, I am starting to get angry, but not at you. Frankly, when kids are always scrounging for food like that, they are hungry. I was always ravenous after school. My mom never offered me any crappy carrots or apple slices or whatever we are telling the kids they should like! it’s healthy! and filling! after school. If I started rummaging through the kitchen, she would order me to make myself a sandwich or get out of the kitchen. I would actually consider keeping a box of granola bars or single serving cheese and crackers and offer it to her, every day.

            1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

              Same here. I mean, I’d judge it on how the kid is asking, like if it’s just a “I want candy” ask then nope, leave Child, but if they are like “I am hungry do you have anything I can eat” I’d keep a stash of cheese and crackers etc.

              And then bill the mother every month.

              1. Kate 2*

                The kid IS demanding junk food and refusing to eat the healthy snacks mom brings for her.

                1. savant*

                  Some parents feed their kids “healthy” diets that don’t have enough fats/carbs/things kids need to be healthy. I’m not saying that’s what this person is doing, but if a kid is begging for ‘unhealthy’ food, that could be a reason.

            2. AKchic*

              Kids scrounging for food can be for a variety of reasons. We know she has carrots in mom’s cubicle and is ignoring them in favor of the sweets at everyone else’s desk. This is simply opportunistic greed. It’s a common tactic. Many kids will take the path of least resistance (i.e., grab the handy-dandy pre-made, sugary snack sitting on the counter in favor of making a healthier sandwich or pulling an apple from the fridge) or pestering people for sweets that they are reasonably sure is still available rather than the “blah, yet again” carrots that Mom packed.
              For a while, I had to stop stocking pre-packaged junk food completely because my 3 teens would eat $200 worth of snacks in 3 days (and it was meant to last 2 weeks for 6 people) and then whine that we had “nothing to eat” and they were “starving”. Completely ignoring the 10lbs of fruit and veggies in the fridge, the 5lbs of cheese to cut up, the cheese slices, the lunch meat, the bread, the pasta, the soups, the dinner options, the breakfast options that weren’t the cereal they would then eat the 4th day…
              Trying to teach the teens how to ration food during the summer boredom munchies is an ongoing battle. We’re dealing with it yet again. I literally have to remind them that they aren’t nearly as hungry as they think they are. They are only allowed to eat/snack at certain times of the day, and if they feel hungry in between those hours, they have to drink a glass of water (not a bottle, the bottles are for emergencies, lazy butts), do X chores from the list, and then call me to check in.

            3. GlitsyGus*

              From the OP’s original letter the mom does have snacks- carrots, etc. the kid just wants the sweets the employees have. She has tried asking and it works, so she keeps doing it. Seriously, just say no. “Jessica, you need to go ask your mom for snacks. I don’t have extra food.” don’t placate or cajole.

              Send her back to her mom. Tell her no. You don’t need to be mean, but you don’t need to waste a lot of time here. I say thins from experience working with little kids, often they need hard lines so they don’t go all, “so you’re saying there’s a chance??” on you and continuing to wear you down.

              If you really think the mom isn’t feeding the kid that’s another thing, but it really doesn’t sound like it from everything else the OP has said.

          8. whingedrinking*

            Yikes! Assuming Mom is not accompanying her on these scavenging missions, that means she’s old enough to know (or be taught) that she should be sitting quietly and amusing herself for an hour, *not* harassing other people. I get that as a child (I’m going to guess roughly age 8-10?) she’d rather be singing and talking, especially after being at boring ol’ school all day, but that doesn’t make it okay for her to disrupt a workspace.

          9. Safetykats*

            While it’s completely unreasonable that mom isn’t parenting her offspring (and is expecting coworkers to parent/feed/entertain), you should not feel bad about refusing snacks to the child. For heaven’s sake, most daycares now require parents to pack snacks for the kids. When she walks into your cube and asks for chocolate, politely tell her NO, and tell her not to ask again – and to leave you alone, as you’re busy working. There is no reason for you to feel bad about this, any more than you would feel bad about asking an uninvited visitor to leave your house. My guess is that it won’t take many repetitions of this before she gives up on you as a source of snacks or conversation. (If everyone in the office could agree to do this, it would be brilliant – and even more effective.)

            Also, please talk to management. In a group, if you can. It may be okay for some kids to spend a quiet hour after school reading in the break room, but this kid has already shown she’s not capable of not being disruptive. The logical solution is for management to tell mom that she needs to make other arrangements. There are all kinds of after school programs and summer programs; I work with plenty of single parents who manage just fine without bringing their kids to the office.

          10. Geillis D*

            OP, I truly feel for you and also feel for the child. If she’s anything like my kids she would have a very light lunch at school and when starve o’clock rolls by she’s ready to eat the paint off the walls.

            My solution was to feed them an actual dinner when they came home, or have something ready for them to nuke when they came home and I was working full-time. All your co-worker has to do is be prepared with a container of spaghetti and meatballs or soup and a good-sized sandwich. For many people, myself included, this would register as “real” food and she will be knock off begging for treats off her mom’s co-workers.

            As so many posters have said, it’s all on the mother to ensure her child is fed and behaving herself. Plus, a hungry kid is never fun (nor is a hungry adult).

          11. Moonbeam Malone*

            If you’re not already, I would definitely redirect those requests to mom. “Sorry sweetie, if you want a snack you’ll have to ask your mother.”

          12. Turner*

            I think it would be perfectly all right to say “no, it’s not halloween” when she comes begging.

      10. I will kill people with this cricket bat*

        I agree. I don’t want kids in my office everyday either (and I have and like kids), but I got a really off-putting vibe from this letter and this sentence really angered me.

        1. Bette*

          Oh please. Children are not all precious innocent angels all the time, and we don’t have to talk about them as such.

          1. xms967*

            +1000, from another parent. (I sometimes say my toddler is perfect, and sometimes say my toddler is a perfect toddler. >.> )

          1. Specialk9*

            My toddler is occasionally referred to (out of his hearing, to his dad) as a d#*k, little s$%#, crotchfruit, and spawn.

            I love that little guy like crazy, but man sometimes he can be a little pissant. Usually when hungry or tired, but sometimes he’s *really* hungry or tired.

        2. Jadelyn*

          And that, quite frankly, sounds like a you problem if you’re actually made *angry* by a joking turn of phrase.

        3. Susie Q*

          Don’t bring your ill behaving children to an office then. Just because you think your kids are great doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.

      11. Mamaganoush*

        I don’t think that’s what the OP is saying or even suggesting. She’s giving a fair picture of how an elementary school child will act at the end of the day (after a full day at school and being stuck at a workplace for an hour with her mom’s attention only half on her). It’s a poor situation for the office workers, the mom, and the child. And yes, I’ve brought my child to work occasionally and so have my coworkers. Either the child needs to be moved to an area at the workplace where she won’t be disruptive (not blaming here, it’s jyst disruptive) or the mom needs to figure out some care away from the office for that last hour. After care at the school, relative or babysitter picks up child after school etc. Many many parents have to figure this out.

        1. LBK*

          Ugh, this is so gross and annoying. Hopefully you can find a way to raise it following Alison’s advice, because this would drive me crazy.

          1. LBK*

            Whoops, this got detached from where I meant it somehow – meant to reply to the OP’s comment above saying that the kid is cubehopping asking people for snacks.

      12. Bea*

        I have extreme hatred for child-free crude phrasing so I would lean your way, except this wasn’t written in a nasty way. It’s a cute reasonable description of the kid’s actions. It’s really not worth getting upset over or chastising.

      13. AKchic*

        I’m A-Okay with the phrasing. The OP isn’t obligated to the child, and the parent seems to have no regard to the people whose snacks are being eaten in favor of the offspring’s actual snack, and Mommy Dearest certainly isn’t replacing the snack items that her loin-locust is pilfering. Instead, she gives a half-hearted “well, you shouldn’t have brought that anyway.” Mommy Dearest victim-blames the very people who have had their snacks taken from them as a way to avoid taking responsibility for kid.

        I have kids. I’ve been a single parent. Yes, I’ve had to bring my kids to the office once in a while. I *know* what my kids are going to eat and what they will balk at eating for a snack. I am going to pick my battles. Will I give them chocolate because I know they will eat it and not whine? No. I will, however, not bring them carrots if I know that all they will do is whine about them, because I want to minimize the noise and disruption to my already extremely kind and patient coworkers. I am also going to enforce boundaries and *not* let my tiny dictator(s) attempt to manipulate treats out of other people and I will make them leave other people alone so they can do their jobs.

        I don’t blame the OP for being BEC at this child and parent. This parent isn’t really doing much to keep this child from disrupting the office and the workflow. Its unprofessional. I sympathize with the single mother aspect, but I don’t sympathize with allowing a child to disrupt an office like this.

      14. Lilly*

        I disagree. I love children so much that I teach 6th grade and have two little boys under the age of 3 at home. This kid could be behaving terribly bc she is a brat or bc she is in an environment that is inappropriate for her needs. Regardless, her behavior is rude, especially the snack thing, and being annoyed by rude behavior doesn’t make you inherently child-hating.

      15. Optimistic Prime*

        I don’t read it that way at all. I think the locust joke was a funny reference to how the kid eats everything, like locusts do, but otherwise the letter seems rather neutral towards children in general and more upset about the disruption.

      16. Pomona Sprout*

        Does anyone here REALLY think that o.p. describing the child as a “pint-sized locust” automatically means that she 1) hates kids and/or 2) is going to use disparaging language when/if she speaks to the kid’s mother? Seriously? If so, I am quite frankly mind boggled. Why anyone would think either of those things is beyond me.

        When people write in to Alison, they are not only looking for advice but (often) venting their frustration with a problematic situation, which is certainly the case here. Rants frequently contain hyperbolic language, and most people know, I think, not to take that sort of thing literally. Surely we can all agree that most adults know enough not to use the same language in a f2f conversation that they might employ in an anonymous Internet rant!

        A similar thing happened here with the lady who recently wrote in about her daughter being fired for excessive tardiness. She humorously (imo) described her daughter’s letting that happen as being due to a combination of inexperience and stupidity. Most of the responses were reasonable and helpful, but at least one person here proceeded to lecture her about not telling her daughter she was stupid. There was no indication in that letter that she had done or was ever going to do anything of the sort, just as there is no indication that this o.p. is going to say anything disparaging about this child to her co-worker.

        Hyperbole is the spice of life, imo, where the written word is considered. True, it’s not appropriate in every situation, but it is completely appropriate in the letters Alison posts here about idiot bosses, annoying coworkers, employers with awful policies and/or ridiculous expectations, etc. I think it would be great if we could all learn to enjoy appropriately used hyperbole and exaggeration, stop being so danged literal about every single word in a letter, and let people rant without making undue assumptions about their intent.

      17. Belle8bete*

        I love kids and I work with them on a daily basis. I felt no offense at the OP’s word choice and sympathize completely.

        When bosses bring their kids in and have them run amok it’s a huge problem and makes it hard for me to do my job. It’s unprofessional and I resent it. It has nothing to do with my love of kids.

        If you act appropriately and don’t bring your kid into environments where they can’t act properly (not the kid’s fault, btw, because this isn’t a setting suited to kids) then only a rare few folks will think your kid is a brat.

        The idea of saying “watch your language because my kid may be around in a non-kid related workplace” is absurd and entitled. Actually the behavior of this parent comes off altogether entitled, even though the mom is likely out of other options

        I’m so sorry for the OP! That sucks.

    3. Thursday Next*

      I’m not so sure that it’s beautiful; i find it troubling. LW, your issue is really with your coworker’s behavior, not the child’s, and I think any discussion needs to focus on that (because that’s what needs to be changed, bringing the child into the office at all).

      1. Data Analyst*

        Exactly. It’s the same deal as that question about someone who was bringing in a traumatized rescue dog that was barking and snapping at people. The issue is 100% with the bringer-inner. The non-adult/non-human is just behaving in the way they would be expected to in this situation (and yes I have children and am not trying to be a jerk by drawing a parallel between kids and animals).

      2. Raina*

        Why this tangent?? OP clearly understands the issue is with her coworker and not the child. Getting hung up on the OP’s humorous description of how this child is allowed to act is WAY off topic.

      3. Johan*

        Yep. A strange focus on the child. And OP is new, as in only a few months there, and school has just let out. The whole thing is weird.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I received the letter on May 2, so school had not just let out at that time (plus, different parts of the world are on different school schedules!).

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            It does make me wonder what happens when school is out. Is kid there all day or does Mom have some other childcare arrangement?

            1. Luna*

              Oh yikes, for the sake of LW and her coworkers I really hope this Mom isn’t planning to use the office as her own personal free daycare all summer!!

          2. Cristina in England*

            Different states / regions too! Late May to August in some places and mid-June to Labor Day in others. If there are a lot of snow days, then school can run into the first week of July.

        2. Susie Q*

          Yes because the child is the problem. The problem might be caused by the parent but it doesn’t change the fact that the child is the problem. OP wouldn’t have this problem without the child.

          People are not obligated to like your child just because they exist.

      4. smoke tree*

        I really didn’t get any anti-child vibes from the LW at all. I took it as a funny way of describing a really frustrating situation. This would really bother me as well, and it’s not because I hate children, it’s because it’s inconsiderate for someone to burden coworkers with their childcare. Obviously it’s not really the kid’s fault, she’s just bored and taking advantage of her mother’s distraction.

    4. AFH*

      I wish Alison’s advice had addressed the food-stealing piece of the problem. If an adult coworker taking so much of the communal food that people were hiding it, a functional office would put a stop to it. That is essentially what OP’s coworker is doing by allowing her child to roam the office taking food. The derailing into what you should or shouldn’t be eating (which appears to actually mean “what you should or shouldn’t be eating around my child whom I don’t want to say no to”) is obnoxious. Her daughter is stealing your food to such a degree that it’s impacting your ability to share it with each other.

      Coworkers stealing communal food is so widely regarded as unacceptable office behavior that it might make a good test-balloon for how functional the office will be in responding to the other concerns about the day care in the reception area. If it were me, I’d try to address it right when it happens, with a straight-faced conversation like:

      “Hey, as you’re aware, we buy/make those snacks for ourselves. Your daughter is eating our snacks every day. Could you please tell her to leave them alone?” If her mom laughs and says you “shouldn’t have junk food in the office,” then that calls for a straight-faced, non-laughing response, like “With respect, the food that other adults choose to eat is not your business, and your child is impacting our ability to share snacks with each other because she keeps stealing them. Will you tell your child to stop taking food that does not belong to her?”

      After that, if it keeps happening, I think even a new person can take it to the entire group, so long as you frame it as a problem for the team and not a personal preference. Your team values its culture of being able to share snacks, and one person taking a lot of snacks every day without contributing is endangering that culture, and asking them to stop hasn’t worked, so how is the entire team (including the coworker’s boss) going to address the problem so that the office gets to keep its valued snack culture? That’s not saying “I hate coworker’s kid.” It’s saying “this behavior has this specific negative impact on our workplace, how are we going to mitigate it?”

      1. Tardigrade*

        This is a very good point, especially because it highlights how the situation is atypical for this workplace and not some out-of-touch newbie complaint.

      2. ket*

        I like a lot of this comment, and I think it’s even ok to say directly to the kid. Kids are also thinking people, even if pint-sized, and replying to the kid directly (not disciplining the kid, or telling the kid she’s bad, just informing her of office norms, the way you would inform a new intern!) may be more effective than routing through mom.

      3. AKchic*

        This is a great way to frame it that particular aspect, and it allows them, as a group, to open it up to discuss the other issues, such as the child being out in the open area when clients come in, who cannot sit because the child and belongings are spread out all over, which then carries over to if the child is not there, then the child is in the cubicle area and is too loud and phone conversations cannot be held reliably, and now we have an issue where another parent is under the impression that *this* is the office culture and is bringing their child in and now the noise is doubling some days, which makes it even more difficult.

    5. Johan*

      Huh. I thought that phrase, and the word “scamming,” pretty much exposed hostility and worse on the part of the OP (which may or may not be appropriate, but I was surprised Alison just took OP’s side, frankly. OP is new, there’s obviously more of a history here for the mother).

      1. bolistoli*

        This is way off base. I don’t know why you wouldn’t side with OP. Her statements were clearly tongue-in-cheek. This child, as allowed by her mother, is a daily disruption in the office. Her behaviours are poor, also allowed by her mother, and having her in the office, impeding clients’ access is wholly unprofessional. This should not be allowed in any office. Not every day. The OP is not railing against kids, she’s upset and frustrated with a disruptive child in an open office daily. And she clearly has expressed empathy for her coworker as a single mother. Funny how so many people are getting in a tizzy about her, let’s face it, humourous description, yet none of them acknowledge her greater view and empathy for the coworker.

        PLUS, another coworker has started doing too. So now it’s doubly disruptive and it seems you think she and all the other coworkers should just suck it up? Because she’s new? Again, as OP said, they used to have individual offices, where this was not disruptive. But now that the office has changed, the previous arrangement (if it was even explicitly allowed) is no longer feasible.

      2. AKchic*

        A child doing fractions is at least 8. 8 year olds are manipulative. I don’t know why people don’t want to believe that.
        It’s not that hard to manipulate from an 8-10 year old perspective:
        Walk up to adult and say “oh, you have X. I really wish I had X. My mom never gives me X. She says we don’t have the money for it.” Use forlorn voice, gives sad puppy dog eyes, heave big sigh. Maybe a little sniff to fake an oncoming tear (depending on how good the kid is). Guilt trips are fun trips!
        If it doesn’t work, then the kid just waits until the adult leaves their desk and if it’s in plain sight, it’s gone when the adult comes back and gee, there’s the kid munching on it. Kid tells mom someone said they could have it. Mom defends sweet liddle ickums.
        This happens a lot. My kids have tried to play this game before. A lot of kids try to play this game (man do I bust a lot of kids trying this). Adults don’t really know how to call out the behavior because a lot of parents don’t want to believe their Little Junior would ever do such a thing.
        They do. Kids are kids. It’s a part of growing up and learning. We all were manipulative little turds too.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Hell, 3 year olds are manipulative. Knowing and acknowledging that isn’t a bad thing.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        I mean, even if it did, why wouldn’t this OP feel some hostility? The kid is in her office eating all the snacks and being disruptive EVERY DAY. I’d feel a little hostile, myself.

      4. Susie Q*

        I wouldn’t take parenting lessons from the mother described in this scenario. She’s a pretty terrible mother who indulges her child’s whim and enables her bad behavior.

    6. Life is Good*

      I can tell you how I felt about this very thing when I was a manager. I had a very good employee who asked if her daughter could be at the office after school until quitting time. She assured me that it wouldn’t affect her work and that she would stop if I felt it did. I agreed and it worked out well for about 2 months. Then my boss, without asking for my input, started to give the little girl “errands” to do around the office. She would make deliveries and spend time farting around in my other employees’ offices during those errands. I approached my boss several times to ask him to stop and explained why and he would say “I’m sorry, I won’t do it anymore”. But, he just wouldn’t stop interfering. It really affected workflow and I had to put the brakes on the after-school arrangement. My employee explained that she didn’t feel she could stand up to him so lost out on that opportunity. Sometimes it’s upper management that screws stuff up.

  4. MariaTeapot*

    I will never understand this. I mean, logically I understand childcare, but *pulls out hair*

  5. Mr. Rogers*

    An hour every day after school???? This is mystifying to me, especially since most offices I’ve worked in had flex time for mothers to leave early to pick up their children from day care and head home. The coworker already has to exit the building now to pick her daughter up because of the new office location, why is she coming back at all? An hour of “work” where she’s mostly appeasing her daughter while sometimes doing a quick task doesn’t seem worth it, even before considering the impact on the rest of the office’s productivity. If the office is this chill with her bringing in her child, they should be just as fine with flex time… and asking about flex time might be something the OP could do without specifically mentioning the coworker.

    1. The Original K.*

      I agree. She’s almost certainly not getting anything done during that time. She should try to shift her hours so her day ends at 4 if paying for child care isn’t an option for her.

      1. teclatrans*

        As reasonable as this suggestion sounds, flexing for early arrival would require her to come in before school opens in the morning.

        1. Yorick*

          True. Though it’s possible the kid could be less disruptive in the morning, since the mom could have her eat breakfast and then quietly read or watch a show on a laptop or tablet.

          1. Yorick*

            And I think that because kids tend to be pretty restless at the end of the school day

        2. raktajino*

          As a former teacher and after/before school care provider, it’s likely that morning would be less disruptive to others. Sure, it’d be difficult to get the kid up an hour early but once she was dressed and standing, she’d probably be content to just sit with a quiet activity or take a nap. (She could even bring her breakfast!) I realize this schedule change might be hard on the family, but it sounds like the current strategy is hard on everyone.

          1. OhNo*

            That was my thought. Especially if this coworker was the only one flexing her hours in this specific way, she might even be completely alone for that first hour, which would definitely mitigate the effect on everyone else in the office.

      2. Steve*

        The mother is surely not getting work done. She is just punching the clock. Worse, with how disruptive the kids sounds, she (and her daughter) are probably a “net negative producer” for that hour. It would be better for the company if she was honest and just didn’t come in and pretend to work for that hour; or at least do her pretending to work, from home.

        I like kids as much as anyone, perhaps more, but this situation doesn’t sound reasonable or tenable.

      1. OP*

        This would be great! Maybe I’ll suggest that—- the only flaw is a lot of our work is cooperative. This has become an issue because there are things we need Mom available for at certain times, and she’s distracted with the kid. Coming in early might help tho, even if it means we still can’t always access her when we need to.

    2. ErinW*

      OK, but flex time means, if she’s leaving early she needs to come in early, right? So who is watching the child in the morning/making sure she gets fed/putting her on the bus or driving her to school? If coworker can’t manage childcare in the afternoon I don’t know why it would be easier to do so in the morning.

      1. Mr. Rogers*

        I guess it depends on the school, because every one I’ve known of opens its doors pretty dang early! So she’d still do all that herself, and the daughter would just have to entertain herself there at school for an hour, which is probably somewhat more fun than being in the office, honestly.

        1. ScienceTeacherHS*

          I teach high school, and AFAIK students can show up pretty much as early as they want (I’m sure the door does have to be unlocked at some point for them). But we have zero hour in the mornings, and sports practices, and high school kids don’t have to be supervised as closely as elementary. None of the elementary schools in my district will allow parents to drop their kids off more than 30 minutes early because teachers have to be on duty to supervise.

          1. pleaset*

            When I was in high school in New York City I wanted to come in earlier than the school would allow, to do my homework near my locker. I think I wanted to arrive around 7am, and wasn’t allowed in till about 7:30am. The earliest classes were at 8:10am. This was a few decades ago in a public school.

            I have a child in a public elementary school in New York City and no student is allowed in until 8am. Breakfast is served then. Students go to their classrooms and teaching starts at 8:20am.

          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            Our jr/sr high opens the doors at 7am, but elementary doesn’t allow drop off until 730am. All of the schools start at 8am. Our elementary does have free(!!) after school care until 6pm though.

        2. aebhel*

          That was my thought. I know my local school lets kids in at 6:30 AM and has breakfast available, probably for exactly these reasons.

        3. Steve*

          Our elementary school only lets kids in 10 minutes before school starts. You can squeeze an extra 15 minutes by buying them breakfast in the cafeteria, but that’s it. That said, there seem to be a small number of kids that just loiter around the entrance for for 30 minutes or so; but not a whole extra hour.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            Yeah, my best friend’s kid’s elementary school only allows drop-off about 15 minutes before the first bell.

      2. Rachel01*

        When I was in FL, they had an after school program that kept the kids until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. My friend had to pay for it, but it was so much easier. They played sports, did art, etc. I went with her to pick him up one day and he had been playing basketball. Depending on the Mother’s finances, she may get it free or at a discount.

        Sometimes there is a local YMCA that is on the school’s bus route that has an after school program. Same thing, you pay for it, or the cost is reduced or waived depending on your finances.

        There might be options, she may not have considered them after being allowed to bring her daughter in. As a supervisor, her leaving, and picking her up, than the daughter being in the office would mean the lack of productivity for 5 – 8 hours per week? Am I reading this right. They are not getting 40 hours our of this employee.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          This was my thought. Has this mother never heard of after-school programs? Every school I’ve ever attended or been involved with has had one in some way. They are known by varied names — after school, after care, extended day — but the concept is the same.

          1. AKchic*

            If it’s anything like my city, most have budget cuts and the wait lists are really long.

          2. long time lurker*

            We have been on the wait list for aftercare at our elementary school for two years. We still probably won’t get in this fall.

            It’s absolutely brutal out there for a two-working-parent family. It’s even worse for single parent families.

        2. CoveredInBees*

          In my district, I’ve been hearing stories about parents lining up at the crack of dawn to try to get their kids into aftercare because space is so limited. It is a total nightmare. Some of the kids get bussed somewhere else for aftercare and the rest are outta luck. A lot of young families moved to the area in the past few years and I don’t think the school district was prepared. I hope they get it together in a few years when my kid starts K.

          Anything other than on-site aftercare requires having someone drive the kid (and her booster seat, in most states) to those activities.

      3. nonymous*

        Or she could trade with coworker who has kids the same age? Parent A leaves work early to pick up kids and entertain them at a park or library for a couple hours while Parent B works late. Assuming a biweekly pay period if Parent A takes MW and first Friday and Parent B takes TTh and second Friday it will come out even.

    3. Clorinda*

      Also, many if not most schools have an after-school program for parents whose workday extends past pick-up time. Otherwise, one adult member of every family would have to leave work sometime between 2 and 3 pm. It’s not free, but it’s available.

      1. Queen of Alpha*

        Not all schools. I was shocked to find out the large public school my child was enrolled in when I moved to NYC did not offer ONE single after school program. They did offer various art classes that lasted 45min and cost several hundred for six weeks, and yeah, that was once a week.

        1. strawberries and raspberries*

          Yeah, unfortunately, in NYC the childcare is super expensive, and if you do qualify for an income-based program that’s no cost, the waiting list is probably a million miles long.

      2. Merci Dee*

        My daughter has been in the after-school programs at her various schools since she was in kindergarten, and she’s heading into 8th grade next year. These particular programs were sponsored and staffed by the YMCA. It’s been a great program for her — help with homework, healthy snacks, some time to spend outside, and hanging out with friends for a couple of hours. And the cost wasn’t especially insane — worked out to about $11 a day, for three hours of after-school care. You can’t even find a babysitter for 3 hours for $11.

      1. Mr. Rogers*

        My industry is almost entirely women, and I’ve never worked in the same physical office as a dude with kids :) so I assume it wasn’t limited to mothers but wouldn’t know either way

    4. Triple Anon*

      Aren’t there a lot of after school programs for just this reason? I know a lot of schools have them, and there must be ones you can join if the school doesn’t offer it. If that’s not an option, it seems like a flexible schedule could work. The mom could just go home early and make it up by putting in some work-from-home hours. Or the two moms could hire a babysitter! Have someone hang out with the two kids near the office until the end of the day.

      I’m guessing there’s a reason no one’s bringing this up. She’s getting special treatment for some reason or the supervisor is really out of touch, or idealistic about the situation.

  6. Emi.*

    I can’t wait for the “but doggie day care is so expensive, and how dare a new person take away other people’s established perks” commenters to point out that this is an established perk for the mom, and nannies are so expensive. ::upside-down smile emoji::

    1. MF*

      I think there’s a difference if the workplace has an established dog-friendly (or kid-friendly) policy and then it is revoked, resulting in big daycare expenses for employees who lose the benefit. In this case, this workplace doesn’t seem to have an established kid-friendly policy and said policy (if it even exists) wasn’t advertised to the OP before he/she accepted the job.

      1. OP*

        It’s not actually a benefit… it’s more a Thing that Just Happened and wasn’t a problem until our space changed. Mom isn’t even in my department, so I wouldn’t have been told necessarily this was a Thing before taking the job.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Pretty weird that her supervisor didn’t have a conversation with her about it before the move.

          Fwiw, I was a child who hung out at my father’s office after school. Mostly, I stayed in his office reading. Sometimes I napped. When I got older, I was given simple, not-do-or-die tasks by his secretary, like alphabetizing things, or when she taught me how to insert the legal updates to the Code binders. I certainly wasn’t allowed to wander sponging off of people.

          1. ket*

            I hung out in the back of my dad’s store and climbed the warehouse shelves to the top of the warehouse (two story building!). I made a little nest up there and read books. Partially non-disruptive, I guess?

            With my mom, I read David Copperfield and Little Dorrit one summer, and then later she farmed me out to the medical records department to alphabetize and file incoming paperwork. Oh, those colonoscopy photos! How things have changed.

          2. AKchic*

            Yep. If I was dragged to the warehouse, I was shrink-wrapping movies and putting postage on boxes in the warehouse, or sweeping, or upstairs filing and generally not making a nuisance of myself. I was “working”.
            My kids when they come to my office aren’t allowed to touch anything (all client/confidential files – it’s a *no*, or union work, another *no*), so I have to find things for them to do.
            I have made them wash dishes, empty binders, dust, scrub walls, vacuum, sweep, water plants, hang photos for people (my teens are all 6′ or taller), wipe windows – generally keep busy.

      2. Goya de la Mancha*

        I read the letter more as, Co-worker was given an inch in an “emergency” situation and then proceeded to take a mile since then. And at this point, boss has let it go on for so long they would have a hard time speaking up to say anything at this point.

        1. Steve*

          Better late than never, though! It’s not clear how long it has been since the move, but that does provide an opportunity to revisit the situation, especially since it seems to have exacerbated the problems (instead of just the mom losing the last hour of her day, everyone within earshot is).

    2. Piddle*

      “There won’t be enough drama in this comment section, so I’ll drag an old fight out to make it more interesting!”

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Perhaps they were trying to suggest that the OP lobby to start bringing dogs in to the office so the dogs and kids could keep each other busy?

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          “All unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy!”

        2. Rachel01*

          They could load the kid up on so much sugar, that when she gets home she’s bouncing off the walls.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This. This is even better than hiding the danishes in the desk drawer and glowering over the cubicle wall at tiny roaming bands of gatherers. Make the afternoon a smorgasborg of junk food.

            1. Femme D'Afrique*

              “Tiny roaming bands of gatherers” is a delightful image. Thank you! :)

          2. AKchic*

            Pixy Stix. Cups of them on the corner of every desk.

            If that’s going to be too messy, because let’s face it – kids are messy: caramel, chocolate, skittles, Mike n’ Ikes, M&M’s, Reece’s Pieces, Milk Duds… each desk corner has a different candy.
            Make her a dentist’s brand new sport’s car.

    3. Lunchy*

      But it’s not an established perk. It’s 1-2 people being wildly inconsiderate of their coworkers. Plus, we’re talking about an hour here, not an entire day.
      Holy false equivalences, Batman!

    4. The dang dog thing again? Really?*

      Dogs and people really aren’t the same thing… I wish we would stop trying to draw this conclusion. If someone said their child-phobia should take precedent over a child-friendly office policy I really doubt they would be well received, but that was obviously fine in the dog discussion. (But sure, prove me wrong and argue that the ADA would force the workplace to ban children!)

      1. Yorick*

        I don’t think people are allergic to children, but if they were the ADA would surely have implications.

      2. Lilo*

        I mean, I can also generally leave a dog in a kennel or unsupervised for a couple hours and not be a bad person. You can’t kennel a toddler.

        1. curly sue*

          Though I have been tempted, many times.

          (Please note that this is delivered tongue-in-cheek as I love my own pint-sized-locusts very, very much, and only occasionally yell at them to stick a sock in it.)

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Dogs are probably even worse than kids for the survival of the low-lying office pastry selection.

          1. AKchic*

            I dunno – I think it would be an epic race to see who gets those pastries if it were between my 16 year old and my 19 month old dog.
            I’d almost pay to see it the fight, and I’ve seen them squabble over rotisserie chicken before.

      3. Dragonlady*

        correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the thought of a “child-phobia” is ridicolous for you as: there is no such a thing, you can’t be afraid of children. If my impression is correct let me say: you can. or I should better say: I can. ok, not so much of children, but I have a severe, disabling phobia of people. the bigger the worse but children can trigger me too, sadly. I work in an enviroment not in the USA so no ADA (our laws considering disabilities are different).

      4. LCL*

        Mm, I bet with some creative thinking and theory building and a receptive doctor you could come up with some paper requiring you to be in a child free space that would pass ADA muster.

      5. Vicky Austin*

        An employee with ADHD could make the valid argument that noisy children in the office interfere with her concentration and her ability to do her job. A reasonable accomodation would be to make the children stay in a training room or corner office with the door close, or tell the employee with the kid, “Please tell your child to keep her voice down in the office, otherwise, you forfeit the right to bring her to work.”

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I feel like the commentariat here is more likely to go nuts about their dogs than their kids.

            1. Rat in the Sugar*

              But it’s not helpful to the OP or others with similar problems so it’s off-topic. Why bring it up now instead of waiting til the open threads?

            2. Lissa*

              Sure, but there are just as many people who have the opposite prejudice – reacting really strongly to a tongue-in-cheek phrase that is used really commonly to talk about people (“Descended like locusts”) because it’s applied to a child, but likely wouldn’t to a dog. We all have our blind spots and places where we’re upset to hear anything bad said, be it dog or child.

            3. Marcela*

              Do you also think your blind spot/prejudice toward the phrase OP used about the child is as interesting and should be discussed? Because you pretty much left the commentariat hanging up there when they pointed out how tongue-in-cheek the comment was, and the OP herself clarified she would never say it in person.

              Or did you really just want to create a false equivalency and stir up drama in the comments for fun?

      1. Only here for the teapots*

        I feel like the commentariat has undergone a major cultural change recently and is no longer the upbeat, pleasantly snarky place it has been over the few years I’ve been following.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          As evidenced by the many “stop being cranky in the comment section” posts I used to make roughly annually (but have since given up on), it’s been a thing for a long time. I think it’s just part of the deal when you have a group of strangers that’s this large and from many different walks of life; it’s going to sometimes be messy, unless you turn it into a closed group or do really heavy moderation. Some people will like it, some people won’t, and I’ve made my peace with that, as long as the group as a whole most often comes down on the side of kindness, which I think it usually does (not always, but usually).

          1. Only here for the teapots*

            I appreciate the moderation you do. I used to run a forum and wow was it tough. I’m sure with so many more people getting hipped to your work the flavor of commentors will inevitably change.

          2. Courageous cat*

            I also think it’s about being an outlet. People have a lot of frustrations throughout their workday, and here’s the one safe place they can actually let it out and say what they think about [insert bad work practice here], as opposed to bottling it up and smiling through it like they have to day in and day out. I think the crankiness is probably mildly therapeutic in that way.

        2. CynicallySweet7*

          I sometimes check to see who’s commenting a lot to see if I want to venture into the comments. Not saying it always works, but I’ve found it to be helpful

        3. Jersey's mom*

          Yup. We hire a lot of consulting firms, and generally have one meeting at their location to meet staff and discuss what their firm can offer. I doubt we’d say anything about a rambunctious / potentially attention distracting kid to the consulting firm, but for sure it would be part of our overall (internal) discussion about how well we thought a firm could handle our work.

          1. Jersey's mom*

            Dang it, nested in the wrong spot! Should have been under Amber T at 1:51pm.

        4. Jersey's mom*

          @Only Here for teapots. A few weeks ago Allison clarified that she allowed commentors to use different names in the comment section (but does moderate that priviledge) While that particular clarification did not engender a lot of discussion, I’m willing to bet that many folks found it, hmm, liberating?, interesting? to speak or comment in different voices. I too have found the past few weeks frustrating, although I am guilty of usimg another name a couple times. I also think that when there’s a high traffic Q\A that goes out to other websites, there’s often a couple weeks before the commentary settles down.

          So yeah, I scan to see who’s commenting, and may or may not hang around.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hmmm, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that’s what’s going on, or at least it would surprise me if it was.

            To clarify the exchange you’re talking about: I don’t allow “sock puppetry,” or people using different names in the same discussion to make it appear that their viewpoint has more support than it really does. When this came up a couple of weeks ago, someone was complaining about a commenter using a different name because she wanted to post something more anonymously than her usual handle would allow (because it contained specifics about her job). There’s no issue with someone doing that, and I don’t moderate that any more or less than I moderate anything else.

            But I do think it would be commenting in bad faith to do it just to make comments someone didn’t want associated with their normal user name because they want to rude or snarky, and I wouldn’t be okay with that if I noticed it.

            1. Jersey's mom*

              Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it, as I can only imagine the amount of reading and cross checking it takes to moderate a room.

              And I don’t think there’s much (if any) of the sock puppetry going on. It’s very difficult to change your voice when posting insightful dialog.

              Certainly, posters may want to change their names if it makes them identifiable, that’s absolutely reasonable.

              But I wouldn’t be surprised if, oh, “librarian q”, who was clearly on the blog as a librarian and wanted to comment on a more personal topic and changed her name, rather than just posting as “anon”. As her usual poster name could out her to friends or coworkers. Or state worker z who could get into trouble if her boss found out she was posting positive items for (currently topical thing that fed/state workers are not allowed to discuss). I think that may be the liberation that a few folks have seen and enjoyed using as a bit of freedom to express themselves more fully. Every one uses “anon”, so the “alter ego name” may allow these “potentially outted” folks a chance to comment in a new way while keeping a long term identity.

              And yes, I know that my name has been outed to a few people who read, so very occasionally I will comment in another name. I do want to keep my job :)

              Allison, you’ve done a great job of moderating. The tide has come in, bringing huge waves of new commentors (both long time and new), and these waves can be unsettling to the commentariat on the beach, who thought they understood the tides.

              Thanks for keeping on top of this and riding the fine line of moderation. Hah. It’s not “riding” it’s more like a tightrope walk.

              Apologies for the delay of time in responding. I wish I had the time to be here in real time, all the time (don’t we all).

    6. Jady*

      The thing is… a proper comparison would be “this coworker has a dog who whines/barks for an hour every day and steals food”. My response would not be any different.

      If you can’t keep your kids or your pets from disturbing others in an office environment, then they should not be in that environment.

      If the kid were quietly sitting in a corner every day not bothering anyone, OP would just have forgotten the kid was there and be fine with it.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Right. The very existence of a child is not a problem (as it could be with dogs, for folks with allergies or fears).

        But the presence of a dog who, like this child, makes a lot of noise and mess, depletes office supplies (or snacks), uses office space that coworkers need, and prevents her mother from working for an hour every day? I’m pretty sure everyone would agree that it’s a problem that needs resolving.

      2. KC without the sunshine band*

        Yep, this right here. Keep the kid quiet and contained and I don’t care if he/she is there. Same with the dog.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Or the inverse: I’ve identified a great company that I’d like to work at. The only hitch is their child-friendly office policy, which they promote as a perk of working there. There’s even on-site daycare. I am allergic to children, so if I got the job the daycare would need to move to some other site and people couldn’t bring their kids in on teacher inservice days any more. When in the offer process should I bring this accommodation up?

      4. Lissa*

        Yes, and sending emails telling coworkers not to bring certain decorations to work because it looked like a ball and the dog got excited, or something.

    7. Betty*

      Eh, I’m a mom who has to bring her kids in occasionally. I make sure they’re quiet and stay put. I would never let them spread out in a common area or eat food that doesn’t belong to them. It’s a nice perk but it shouldn’t be abused.

    8. CynicallySweet7*

      Really dude? 1. This doesn’t seem to be an established perk. 2. Only one or two people will be affected by this, not the whole office. 3. Even in situations where it is an established perk, the company would be well within their rights to make dog/child parents arrange for care if the parent is unwilling to control the child/dog. 3. This came off an unnecessarily harsh towards people who hold a legitimate view about office perks that apparently bother you. If you have something to say on that topic there are plenty of relevant threads where you can do just that. Bringing it up here is just obnoxious

    9. myswtghst*

      I mean, I was one of those people you’re talking about, and I definitely think it’s worthwhile for the OP to approach this carefully, suggesting options that minimize the impact – like setting ground rules for having kids on site (quiet, in a conference room, no food begging, etc…) or seeing if flex time would be an option (whether it means mom comes in early or just works from home for the last hour of the day). It’s not out of the realm of possibility that there’s a compromise where the mom can meet her childcare needs without negatively impacting the rest of the office or spending an arm and a leg on childcare.

      But I also think you’re deliberately setting up a false equivalency, as this is a very different scenario for several reasons. First of all, this isn’t a common perk that the majority of the office is taking advantage of and may leave if they lose; it is apparently just one person taking advantage of it. Second, the one person taking advantage of the perk is doing so irresponsibly, and in a way that negatively impacts the office. This would be more like an office that allows dogs, but only one person brings in their dog, and they don’t supervise the dog at all so it’s running around barking and stealing food.

    10. Lara*


      Huge difference. This isn’t a perk for all the employees that OP is disrupting. This is a liberty mom is taking, and she is allowing the child to be disruptive. I very much doubt that the office allows parents to bring in their children.

      But you know, thanks for trying to stir.

  7. Katniss*

    This is why in my ideal world, employers would have on-site daycare or subsidized daycare offsite.

    Vote Katniss 2020. There will also be free ice cream and universal health care.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      But not everybody can eat ice cream!

      (Although, I can, so… I guess the lactose-intolerant will have to vote for someone else!)

      1. Katniss*

        I will provide lactose-free options or an alternative for those who can’t eat ice cream!

            1. Jersey's mom*

              My DH is lactose intolerant. You just made his week! We live out in the boonies, so he is now on a serious hunt to find a pint….

          1. Katniss*

            Of course! Hopefully you’ll see this is I’m replying late. If you google the ginger molasses recipe from Gimme Some Oven, you’ll find the base I use. Then I double the cinnamon and add a teaspoon of cloves. And definitely follow the suggestion of putting the dough in the fridge for at least half an hour first! Finally, I roll them in cinnamon sugar instead of just sugar.

            1. Freddled Gruntbuggly*

              These sound delicious, and I look forward to enjoying them; however, I just want to check amounts. The Gimme Some Oven recipe calls for 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger and 1 tsp cloves, with a note that the recipe was updated in Dec 2016 to include another tsp of ginger because the original asked for only one. Does your recipe therefore call for 4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger and 2 tsp cloves, or is it based on an earlier one? I’m not an instinctive baker but am kinda wondering if the cinnamon particularly the clove would overwhelm the ginger. Thanks!

    2. GY*

      Yea, since there seem to be multiple employees who enjoy/need that perk, it would be nice if they could organize a space. Even just putting all the kids together in a closed conference room (assuming they’re old enough to behave out of sight for a little while, which they should by grade school). Have them do homework or something like coloring books.

    3. Drew*

      I didn’t connect the username to the post at first, and I was very confused about what part of the Hunger Games involved either ice cream or health care. I need more sleep.

    4. Bea*

      Must have doggy daycare. And kitty daycare. And what about my gerbils?! They have separation anxiety!!

      I’m all for all the perks tho.

      1. My Pets Poop Breakfast!*

        Chicken Day Care? They will provide eggs throughout the day…but that does lead to cackling…

    5. Thursday Next*

      But will there be compulsory participation in any games?

      Otherwise, sign me up!

    6. Susie Q*

      Why should a company have to pay for your decision to have children? That makes no sense to me.

      1. Katniss*

        People (not all people, but many) having children is a fact of life, as is people getting ill, needing to take care of family members, or any other number of basic life facts that companies who want to behave ethically should account for.

      2. Observer*

        As a society, helping people who have kids is only sensible. Who do you think is going to be dealing with you when you get old? Even if you manage to save up enough money to pay for all of the help you might need, you should hope that you find people who have some sense of empathy and shared responsibility, because otherwise life will be pretty miserable.

        Unless you believe that people should commit suicide as soon as they need some help with life, and that it’s a good thing for human society to come to a long slow end, having children is something that benefits humanity.

      3. Ego Chamber*

        If the company can afford to pay for childcare in the name of increased productivity, I don’t see why they can’t also afford to pay out an equivalent cash bonus to the child-free employees to spend as we see fit (talk about productivity!).

        1. Vicky Austin*

          I’m childfree, and I disagree. My expenses are much lower than that of parents.

  8. Observer*

    I’ve got kids – and even brought them into the office. But this is utterly absurd!

    OP, whatever you do, please realize that you ARE dealing with someone who is NOT going to be reasonable about this. I mean, she actually “reminded” people about the presence of her child. She clearly thinks that the rest of the office is obligated to work around her kid.

    I’d be willing to bet that if you ask her to rein in the kid or move her, she’ll suggest that you not make appointments for that time of day because “You know Lucinda comes in at that time of day.”

    Alison, do you think the OP has standing to ask their manager how to handle appointments / hard to hear conversations?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeaaaah, I definitely do not get a reasonable person vibe from this and I fear that no matter how the OP pushes back, it’s going to cause friction.

      I think that Alison’s suggestion of having some quiet one on one conversations with other coworkers to get a sense of how the rest of the office feels about this is the best course of action. OP may find that people have attempted to push back and, for whatever reason, Mom is protected.

      1. Amber T*

        As an aside I’ve just started watching Brooklyn 99 and finally understand your username :)

      2. Seriously?*

        I would think that at least bringing the effect of having the kid in the waiting room has on client meetings would be a good thing to do. Then the OP doesn’t come across as a jerk who hates kids, just one that needs seats available for their intended purpose.

      3. myswtghst*

        Agreed. I think OP can try speaking up in the moment the way they would about any office conversation that was disrupting a call, but otherwise, I think this coworker has shown that she has pretty unreasonable expectations about how the workplace should accommodate her child.

        OP – From your letter and comments, it does sound like you’re likely not the only one who’s frustrated by this. It makes sense to try to quietly get a feel from coworkers you trust about the situation, if only to find out what they’ve already tried. Based on that, you can decide if and how to approach your boss, and see if anyone else is willing to go with you (or speak up on their own).

        I do think it’s smart to pick the 1-2 most impactful things (which, to me, would be the noise level interrupting calls, and the kid hanging out in the lobby when clients visit) and start there. As Alison mentioned in the comments, you can frame it by acknowledging there may be an arrangement you’re not aware of and don’t want to disrupt it, then focusing on how the move to the new office has created these new issues you’d like to try to resolve. Good luck!

    2. Antilles*

      Alison, do you think the OP has standing to ask their manager how to handle appointments / hard to hear conversations?
      I was pretty surprised that AAM didn’t hit on that part at all. OP might be new and lack standing to address it as a general thing, but the fact that it’s interfering with *clients* and *conference calls* makes it a lot more important than if it was just “well, her kid is being noisy”.
      To me, that’s an item worth bringing up to their manager on its’ own. Not focused on the kid, but on the clients – “So when Lucinda was in yesterday, her toys made it difficult for our clients to get through the hallway and she had taken all the chairs in the lobby so they didn’t have anywhere to sit. Also, when I was on the call with [major important client] last week, I struggled to hear him because of the background noise through the cube wall. In the future, how should we handle this to make sure our clients get the level of service they expect?”. This clues your boss in to the issue, but frames it on the business impact.

      1. Mimmy*

        I wonder if clients have made complaints to OP’s employer about the lack of space in the lobby and hallway as well as excessive background noise during calls. Maybe not since it seems that this only occurs for an hour or so each day, so it wouldn’t impact very many clients.

        I too like the idea of discreetly talking with other coworkers, though that can be challenging, particularly in an open-plan office. If that isn’t possible, I see no reason why OP can’t at least try to talk with their supervisor since this absolutely interferes with work, even if it is only for a hour each day.

        1. Amber T*

          I don’t know if I would make a complaint to a place I was visiting about a child running around. Don’t get me wrong, it would factor into whether or not we would return there to meet (and if that would prohibit us from doing business with them… then it would factor into that to). Maybe I just work with passive people, but I don’t know if any of my bosses would tell someone “we’re not doing work with you because you had a kid running up and down the hall,” but we would be hesitant about going back.

          1. CynicallySweet7*

            +1 I forget what the actual percentage was, but this reminds me of something Jon Taffer would say, something like 70% of people won’t complain, they just won’t come back. And to be fair if I was a reoccurring client who saw this all the time, I probably wouldn’t want to do business here b/c I would be questioning what else they’re letting run rampant

            1. Windchime*

              That’s exactly how my coworkers and I handled it when one of the staff at our favorite lunch spot started bringing in her 3 year old child to run wild amongst the tables of diners. Once in awhile, the mother would come out and yank the child away(who would fall down screaming and have to practically be drug out). But most of the time, he would be running around, would stop and stare as we were trying to eat, lay on the floor and play noisily with his toys, etc. A couple of rounds of this and we found a new lunch place. Your kid might be cute–and I like kids–but I voted with my feet on this one. I don’t want to deal with a wild toddler while I’m trying to eat.

      2. Mrs Pitts*

        I wonder if there is a conference room or quiet place for OP to go during that time. Then say to manager, “I get distracted when kid is in the office and I’m not as productive. May I work from this place?” It may give OP a better situation and bring this problem to the attention of manager.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          The conference room or other quiet place is where the kid should go, not the employee. It’s the employee’s workplace, not the kid’s.

    3. Peaches*

      That’s what got me. Her current childcare situation may have been much less disruptive in their previous office set-up, where it wouldn’t have been a problem. So I am trying to give the mom the benefit of the doubt that maybe she’s still trying to figure out how to work around the new office layout…. but once I read this I grew less sympathetic. Bringing your child to work, if allowed at all, is a MAJOR privilege and should be recognized as such.

      1. tangerineRose*

        The e-mail plus the way she doesn’t care if her kid is eating other people’s snacks. She should care about that just because that’s part of socializing a kid – you know, don’t take other people’s food without permission.

        1. Lara*

          Absolutely. Kids aren’t born knowing that stuff – and it’s not malice either. A toddler will see food and not necessarily know the context that “No, honey, that’s in a marketplace and belongs to that person.” They have to be taught.

    4. MF*

      ” I mean, she actually “reminded” people about the presence of her child. She clearly thinks that the rest of the office is obligated to work around her kid.”

      This, I think, is the crux of the issue. I’m fine with people bringing their kids into the office, but they need to understand that they and their children need to adjust/work around the office environment, not the other way around.

      1. teclatrans*

        Yeah. My mom brought me into the office, and I had a job while I was there: stay quiet and out of the way. (And eventually, I got an actual job/summer internship there as an older teen because they knew.)

        1. teclatrans*

          Although, it probably helped that I was a voracious reader and happy to sit on my own for hours on end. My own child? I have been able to bring her to some short events where she was able to switch between tablet and cartwheels without being disruptive (thanks to the building layout). Being her into an office, where I was *right there* but wouldn’t be able to talk to her? No way, no how. Maybe when she’s a teenager.

      2. Cringing 24/7*

        As if anyone could have forgotten about the child’s presence. *huge eye roll*

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, she can definitely ask the manager. Because she’s new, I’d frame it as “I want to be sensitive to any pre-existing arrangements here, but it’s causing problems X and Y — what do you recommend?”

    6. Church Lady*

      I agree 100%. Twenty years ago, as a desperate 25 y.o. step-mom to a 4 year old and 9 year old, the office manager where I temped said I could have the kids with me after school for an hour or so, bc their dad worked the 3-11pm shift. The boss put that to an end in short order.

      Looking back, it was completely disruptive, even though they were in a walled office with me. They hated it, I didn’t like it much. It was a mess. (Don’t even get me started on why their dad didn’t step up to find after-school care . . .)

      Now, I would have an extremely difficult time with kids roaming my office. Once in a while, yes. Understandable. *Every day*? No way. And don’t even get me started on Mom chastising people to reign in their behavior for little Lucinda.

      OP – I would *love* an update, if you can!

    7. Anne (with an “e”)*

      What I’ve noticed is that people who are otherwise perfectly responsible can sometimes have blinders on when it comes to *their own* children. I don’t really have any advice for the LW, except to say that I have dealt with a very similar situation in the past. In my situation I was sorely tempted to say something to the parent. However, I ended up biting my tongue. I got earbuds and did my level best to ignore/tune out the annoying children.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, just recently in a comment section (was it here or on another site?), a commenter mentioned that she didn’t try to control her kids on airplane and she had grown deaf to the sounds of their bickering. This was said in kind of a , “Whaddya gonna do?” attitude. People learn to tune out their kids’ bratty behaviors.

    8. UtOh!*

      I for one, would not change anything I do or say in the office where I am working! Not only is coworker bringing kid to office, she now wants to make it a kid-friendly zone? If enough coworkers make the environment less comfortable for children, perhaps she will get the hint?

    9. BeautifulVoid*

      Yeah, this whole thing is annoying (and I say that as a parent of two), but the email is what really pushed me over the edge. Not only is the entire situation inappropriate, but the cutesy tone was especially grating. It would have taken a lot of willpower not to respond to “little ears are listening” with “WELL, THERE SHOULDN’T BE.”

      1. MF*

        I would totally respond by using light swear words and PG-13 jokes around the kid. And when the mother complained, I’d say, “If you’re not comfortable having your kid around workplace conversation, then you should not have your kid in the office.”

        1. aebhel*

          I would be extremely tempted as well.

          …of course, I’m an inveterate potty-mouth even at home, so my kids have already heard it all.

          1. AKchic*

            Same. I’m not the “typical” parent. My kids have grown up hearing quite colorful language. They are *words*. People freaked when I let my kids start saying a few low-rung four-letter words at 12 (once they hit middle school, and let them kick it up for high school.
            I want them to be able to use their words in context, and know *when* it’s appropriate to say them. Kids learn quickly. Great-grandma? Don’t cuss in front of her, she doesn’t like it. Job interviews and little kids? Don’t cuss. School? Watch your mouth.
            I know my kids were going to cuss regardless of if I gave them permission, so might as well let ’em and teach ’em how to do it right.

          2. not really a lurker anymore*

            Mine have heard a lot too. I tell them they are adult words and since they are kids, they cannot use them yet. I’m probably screwed when they turn into teenagers but since they are rule followers (at least for now), this works.

        2. NW Mossy*

          Many years ago, I overhead a colleague hang up after a particularly frustrating call, sigh heavily, and say of the person on the other end “If she had kids, I’d swear in front of them.” Still makes me laugh a bit!

      2. Millie*

        “Oh wow! Maybe you’re right, and this isn’t an appropriate environment for a child.”

        I have a low tolerance for parents who bring their kids into non kid friendly spaces and then try to turn everything into Nickelodeon afternoon TV, though

        1. Amber T*

          So funny story about my coworker’s (very well behaved) children she occasionally brings into the office…

          Her son was in the lunch room watching tv, and I was in the kitchen part making coffee. I had spent the morning cleaning out my old boss’s office to make way for our new boss with our temp (purging old files, figuring out what needed to be scanned in, throwing crap in the shredder). Well meaning temp comes in behind me exclaiming, “Look what I caught!” holding the gnarliest, hairiest spider in a cup I had seen in these parts. You may recall, if you’re a regular commentor, that I am arachnophobic. Now I had joked with our temp about the various critters we occasionally find in our office, like snakes and mice and other bugs, so temp had no reason to assume that my reaction wouldn’t be “whoa, cool!” Except, it wasn’t.

          So, panic consumes me. My immediate reaction is to turn around and start climbing the counter (because sure?) and to yell (not that quietly) “HOLY SH*T GET THAT THE F’ AWAY FROM ME!” (full curse words.) Temp, in a manner that I can only describe as a labrador puppy running away with his tail between his legs, sprints out of the room yelling “sorry!!!” Adrenaline starts to leave my body as I calm down, I’m leaning on the counter catching my breath because I feel like I’ve just run a mile. I grab my coffee and turn around… and there’s my coworker’s child, standing right there staring at me.

          I like to think I taught him some new words that day. His mother has never spoken to me about it, and I sure has hell haven’t brought it up.

    10. Blackeagle*

      No matter how new the LW is to this job, I think this is the kind of thing they can go to their manager about. Frame it around the disruption to the LW’s work and the impression this makes on clients who come in, etc.

      It’s possible that management may say that being a family-friendly workplace outweighs these disruptions, but I absolutely think this is a legitimate thing to raise with your manager.

  9. Oh Heck No*

    The parent needs to do what we all do–pony up for aftercare and/or hire a babysitter to get her kid from school and keep her until she gets home.
    This is not acceptable. Tell your boss as much.

    1. Observer*

      That’s easier said than done. The OP is the new person. Laying down the law to the boss is generally not a good way to build a good working relationship.

      1. Yorick*

        Yes, daycare is expensive and that’s not fair, but an office isn’t a place for a child. Securing childcare while you’re at work is part of being a working parent.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, but the issue is that it’s hard to be all “this is unacceptable” when you’re the new person in an office that may find it acceptable.

        2. Summer Nights, Race Track Lights*

          Unless it’s a prior agreement with the workplace. I think the problem here is the kid’s behavior (which is being allowed by mom). If the kid were sitting quietly for an hour watching an iPad with earphones on….would there be this much outcry? Likely not.

          So the problem isn’t necessarily the kid in the office, it’s the behavior of the kid in the office and the failure by mom to correct that behavior.

          1. myswtghst*

            Agreed. While I think it would be better for everyone in this situation if there were affordable childcare available and being used appropriately, I also think there are some options in between “let the children run wild” and “no children in the office”. Especially if there are other people who could use this perk (or are already using it), it might be more helpful if someone can set guidelines around where and how children can be in the office (quietly, with supervision, in a conference room) and ensure they’re followed.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      What worries me is that the other new worker is bringing her kid in too, thinking that it’s an established perk.

  10. avuncularcarbuncle*

    Huge reach/assumption here but it seems like any office environment that has let this level of disruption fester (particularly since it would have been an easy opening after moving to cubicles to make the case for a new system) might have other toxic environmental stuff going on as well. If I were new and experiencing this I would be sending out resumes like they were going out of style, but I am also someone who doesn’t love being around kids and would have no problem escalating the issue to a party with the ability to act.

    1. KAB*

      Yeah, I came here to flag that as a possibility. I was on my way out anyway, but at my last job, my boss started bringing her daughter in after school like OP’s situation. EVERY DAY, too. She was 9 or so and you would NOT know it based on how she behaved. She was a very sweet girl but had some serious behavioral issues so it was impossible to keep her quiet or still. I slowly and quietly inquired about it with my coworkers since I was the most junior person on staff (like Alison suggests) and everyone seemed to take a “well it bothers me but nothing can be done” stance because of her seniority so I decided to just live with it best I could.

      When I was in my notice period a new person was starting in another role– she had like five kids IIRC. Understandably her schedule was nuts, even with the support of her husband. She brought a couple of her kids in twice because of scheduling issues, it didn’t appear to be something she planned on doing regularly– and it IMMEDIATELY got shot down by the CEO out of nowhere. I don’t plan on having kids but I “noped” out of that office because it was clear that work/life balance was only for people who had put in 5+ years.

      (I’ve been out of that job for 5 years now and every single young woman I worked with left around the time they got married over the years– they’ve lost a TON of talent. The CEO is a woman, too!)

      1. OP*

        Actually, I came to this job out of an incredibly toxic one, And this office is pretty reasonable overall. It’s very small and pretty chill overall… which might be biting me in the butt on this one.

        1. KAB*

          Perhaps too chill? Ha. If it helps I made okay inroads with my boss when, like others have mentioned, I called out behavior that was directly affecting my work. She did bristle quite a bit and was generally unreasonable about it, so I picked my battles, but at the very least she stopped letting her daughter wander into my office which helped (she’d open my door and walk right in!). The only reason I survived that period of time productively was having walls, a ceiling, and a door though! So I feel for you.

      2. MF*

        “it was clear that work/life balance was only for people who had put in 5+ years.”

        Yeah, it would bother me both in your case and the OP’s case that a work/life balance perk is only offered to some people. If you’re gonna let some people do this, you need to have a written policy so that everyone knows they have this opportunity.

        1. KAB*

          My current office is like that, we have our issues but at least we have that taken care of. The written rules make it so that people can bring their kids and dogs in, but only briefly to show off and then they have to go right back home. I don’t really like it when people bring newborns in (personal preference) but it’s a relief to know that it’ll only be a brief interruption at most!

      3. Georgy*

        Wait, if the kid is 9, why is daycare needed at all? 9-year-olds are old enough to take care of themselves for a few hours. I was always home alone after (or before, depending on whether I had classes in the morning or in the afternoon) school since I was 7 and I was perfectly fine, as were all my classmates.

  11. The Original K.*

    That “little ears can hear” email would have infuriated me. I like kids but the office is for adults. If you bring your kid to an adult space, you don’t get to be surprised when s/he hears adult things and you don’t get to chastise them.

    And the kid absolutely shouldn’t be there every day. I can understand bringing your kid in if you get in a jam (I used to work somewhere that was pretty good about this so you’d see kids around in the summer sometimes – we had offices, which made it easier for kids to be there and not be as disruptive), but every day as a matter of course is inappropriate.

    1. Observer*

      Yes. That email is just over the line. You simply can’t expect people to work around your kid that way.

      1. MY Food!*

        The email was lame, but I could brush it off. What I found to be far beyond the pale was, rather than correcting her child, co-worker mom qualified her child’s office constant trick- or- treating, and “decimation” of office snacks (that people paid for with their own money, no less) with “there shouldn’t be junk food in the office anyway!”

        Worse OP said open office! I read that to mean no privacy cubicle, and everything kid and mom do I am going to hear it! Bad enough when I cannot tune out others conducting business in the work place, but hearing whining and complaining and begging and having to censor myself speaking and my facial expressions, because next Mom will write an email about a “face” you made that she didn’t like?

        Kid has got to go (somewhere else)!

        1. Observer*

          I see it in the reverse. Not that I’m excusing this other stuff, but that’s more typical “Mom can’t keep kid in check so is deflecting in the moment.” That’s bad. But proactively asking people to actually change their behavior to accommodate their child just takes it to a new level.

    2. DoctorateStrange*

      That email just screams of so much entitlement, my hackles were raising reading that.

      1. Tardigrade*

        Yeah, my nope thoughts about the letter turned into “aw hell no!” after reading that.

      2. DArcy*

        I would mentally round file that e-mail as, “Grossly unreasonable and not worthy of consideration” and go right on having adult conversations at will, to the limit of the normal office environment. Not to the point of being not kid safe *just to spite her*, but I will not self-censor for the sake of someone that entitled.

    3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I use R rated language all day, every day. If I got that email it would send my bad language into overdrive.

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes. I’d had to wait for ages to be allowed to swear and no uninvited kid it’s going to get my right away.

    5. Kittymommy*

      I think I would have been likely to respond back “you know where little ears won’t hear me? At daycare. Or with a babysitter. Or at your house.”

      1. strawberries and raspberries*


    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right??? I was somewhat sympathetic with the mom’s plight until I read about the email. I spit out my lunch… I have no words… I do not know what to say about this. Utterly mind-blowing.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, being a working parent is hard and most American (I assume the LW is American) workplaces don’t make it easier. I sympathize. But if you have to bring in your child, for one, it shouldn’t be daily – the office isn’t a good replacement for child care. And second, your child must adjust to workplace norms; the workplace should not adjust to your child. I actually DON’T curse that much at work – it’s very rare. It’s part of my code-switching. And I don’t curse around kids either. But the way my petty is set up, I might start cursing MORE after I got that email.

        Both my parents worked full-time and while we were lucky in that we had a big “village” (we lived near extended family; there was also an after-school program), there were occasionally days where we’d have to go to my mother’s office after school. (My father’s job wasn’t conducive to kids being around at all.) And I can remember her telling us “Okay, now remember, this is an office. When you go in, people are going to be working. You have to be quiet and let them get their work done,” etc. The expectation wasn’t that we would just do whatever we want and the office would just have to suck it up.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I had a co-worker who brought her kid in sometimes, but is wasn’t a big deal because the kid was quiet and well-behaved.

    7. lallyb*

      In a perfect world where I was allowed to be as petty as I wanted, I would wait a week and then send a “Hey Jane – Lucinda was being pretty disruptive while I was trying to take a call today. Just a reminder, there are client ears listening!”

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I would be very, very tempted to IM over during a client call when Child was being loud and say “client ears are listening” after getting an email of “little ears are listening”. One of these things belongs in the workplace….one does not!

      2. AKchic*

        And make sure to send it out as a group email so everyone is aware of it. A little tit for tat, as it were.

  12. AdeTree*

    “…going from individual office spaces to an open plan with cubicles…” The open plan office strikes again! It’s the worst.

    1. Imaginary Number*

      Apparently I’m the only person in the world who likes completely open office plans with no cubicles …

      1. Imaginary Number*

        Then again, I work in a place where kids are 100% never allowed. Even “take your kid to work day” is usually a group activity set up in a separate building.

        1. Antilles*

          Even without the kids in office, I’m surprised you don’t have the normal office dwellers that make open office plans miserable. The guy who hits his keyboard very hard, the nail clipper, talks-to-himself, bodily noise guy, the loud phone talker, compulsive foot tapper, and so on.
          If you don’t have any of these people in your office, I can understand why you wouldn’t have the normal level of hatred for open office plans…but understand that your office is the exception that proves the rule.

          1. Imaginary Number*

            I think that’s impacted by layout as well. Our open plan was very large and in a room with a high ceiling and a constant (but non-obnoxious) whirr from the air ducts and the nearby machines in the other part of the building. So I just never noticed those things.

            I recently transferred to a new job in cubicle-hell, in a much quieter room. There’s a guy who sits on the opposite side of my cubicle wall and he’s a slurpy eater … it’s the worst thing ever.

          2. Autumnheart*

            My office miraculously has few of those people (we do have a chronic sinusitis sufferer and an asthmatic, so coughing and sniffing loudly many times a day) but to me, the worst thing about an open floor plan is the visual distraction. When I sat in a cube on an aisle, I felt compelled to look up EVERY time someone walked by. The distraction was maddening. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done if not for cube walls. Never mind that the people in my company who do work in open floor plans have to sit two to a desk. What’s more obnoxious is that we have a perfectly functional and useful VPN and can work from home or anywhere on campus. If you don’t want employees to have a whole desk, much less a cube, then don’t make them come to the office to do their desk work.

      2. The Original K.*

        I have a former colleague (from the aforementioned work environment where we all had offices) who would talk about how he got lonely sometimes in his office and would love an open office plan. He’d never worked in one (he’d only ever worked where we worked so he’d always had an office – he went from sharing one to not as he got promoted) so he’d issue that caveat, but he would often talk about how “It seems like it would be so much fun!”

        1. Imaginary Number*

          I will say that it definitely foster a collaborative environment, if that’s the goal. Which can be both good and bad. The good is that it’s impossible to go sit in a corner and do your work without communicating with your coworkers. The bad is that it’s impossible to go sit in a corner and do your work without having your coworkers poking around in what you’re doing (well, I wouldn’t say impossible, because most open plans often have “huddle room” where you can disappear as long as its free.)

          1. The Original K.*

            Yeah … I am staunchly Team Walls, both at home and at work. I don’t like open house/condo/apartment floor plans either.

            1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

              Another for team walls here!!! I watched an episode of “Keeping Up Appearances” with my husband the other night and kept marveling at all of the doors to every room in the house. I think Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!) might live in my dream home.

            2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

              I realize the at-home is off topic, but I’m just so happy to see someone else say this. Why on earth do I want someone at my front door to be able to see if I have dishes in the sink??

      3. Jady*

        I don’t mean to be offensive, but my gut feeling is that someone who likes the open offices is either A) the type of person who socializes a lot at work, disturbing everyone around them or B) a person who has their own office or spends most of their time traveling/meetings and doesn’t have to deal with the infinite number of negatives, and C) A person who doesn’t have a job that requires serious concentration for long periods of time.

        Open office plans have been studied over and over again. They’ve been shown to actually decrease *productive* collaboration, decrease productivity, and cause more stress. Among a lot of other things.

        Offices need to stop it with the open setup.

        1. Imaginary Number*

          A) I’m an introvert.
          B) I don’t have my own office and won’t anytime soon.
          C) I’m a mechanical design engineer. So …

          1. Jady*

            Well then, either you have Olympic level ability to tune things out and I’m extremely envious, or you hit the unicorn of office environments and should never, ever quit that job.

            1. Imaginary Number*

              There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to do open office plans. You still need to have the ability to sit down in a quiet room and have a private conversation without booking it days in advance. That means having huddle rooms and ensuring that people aren’t just camping out in them. One thing we had that really helped is bluetooth headsets with a decent range. So if you were on a conference call and your neighbors were getting a little too loud, you could get up and walk away to an emptier area.

              I think there’s also good and bad combinations of organizational structure and office structure. That particular office was a very flat structure and project-oriented. I was working next to people who I was tied into a daily basis with my job. I wasn’t sitting next to Jane from marketing or Bob from HR (which would be a terrible person to put in an open plan.)

              1. Antilles*

                Unfortunately, most places with Open Office Plans don’t have any of that – the entire thought process is usually no more than a straightforward “hey, we’re short on space, so let’s go open office to fix a few more people in here” or “this will make people communicate more” or something of the sort…without truly thinking through how to really make it work effectively and minimize the downsides.

          2. Mechanical Engineer*

            I’m with you – I’m a mechanical engineer who prefers the open-office layout. I’ve worked in both layout situations, and there’s definitely more sharing/collaboration when you can see your coworkers, rather than holing up in a corner and not talking to anybody.

            1. Ellie*

              I like an open plan office too, and I’m a software engineer. I feel it encourages a group of natural introverts like us to collaborate more and share design ideas. Maybe engineers have a superhuman ability to tune out distractions? Or maybe we’re just a quieter group overall? Either way, it works well for us.

              1. Roxie Richter*

                I work in software (I’m the admin but sit in the same bay as all the software engineers) and it being open plan has never been a problem here! Everyone stays pretty quiet except for when they need to ask a question or two, and then they just have a short conversation to solve their problem. I’ve never had an office though, so maybe I’m more used to it? Or like you said, maybe engineers are just quieter!

        2. Justin*

          I like them and mostly keep to myself at work. Those studies exist, but those are averages. But yes, we go into headphones mode when we need not to be bothered, and we have small walls. I would agree about the zero-wall-fully-open style.

          1. Imaginary Number*

            Our office had a commonly-understood code. No headphones: free to approach whether for work or just saying hello. Headphones but mic swung up: okay to interrupt if it’s important for work. Headphones with mic down: don’t interrupt unless it’s super important.

        3. Tau*

          Another person who likes open plans; I’m definitely not B) or C) (software developer here) and would like to hope I’m not A) – I am one of the chattier people in the office, but I keep all in-office talk strictly work-related (and often to Slack in order not to disturb people) and go to the kitchen or some other space where people aren’t working if I want to socialize. I don’t tend to work well alone or in complete quiet; I don’t WFH well either, for instance, and when I was a student I couldn’t study in the library at all and would work in coffee shops instead.

          Re: the studies about open plans, this being true on average =/= this being true for every person, ever.

          1. Justin*

            Very much the same for me and others. We have plenty of spaces we can work together out of the way, too.

            I agree that just a random table is nonsense, though, sure.

          2. pleaset*

            All this., especially “the studies about open plans, this being true on average =/= this being true for every person, ever.”

        4. bookartist*

          How about D) started working back in the early 90’s in publishing where what we now call open offices were called bullpens, and did a darn fine job with her co-workers every day in them?

          I get it that not everyone can be productive in an open plan environment, but can we please put away the broad brush?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I started working in 89 in an open office. It was disruptive as all get out. On top of all other things that typically happen when you have 15 people working together in the same room, we had the one unbearably chatty coworker. Every office has one. She’d come to your desk while you were working, sit on your spare chair, and talk at you for hours. We hid the chairs, but she always found them.

            Worked in an open office again briefly in the late 90s/2000 and it wasn’t a whole lot better. I sat next to our boss (no pressure). He’d either chat with people, or he’d put in a CD of his favorite band and go off to a meeting, leaving us all to listen. On my other side was a mom of three, who wanted to hang up her kids’ art in her work area (and rightfully so, her kids were really talented and I believe at least one went on to study art), but there were no walls, so she taped the drawings to the sides of her desk. I once made her really mad when I needed to roll my chair out of our shared space and accidentally brushed one of her kids’ drawings with the chair and a piece of the tape came off. I admit it was better than being out of work, but I’d rather not work in an open office again. I’m not happy that they are making a comeback.

        5. Optimistic Prime*

          Nope. I enjoy open offices and I’m pretty introverted and prefer to be left alone most of the day; I only travel a few times a year; and I’m a researcher, so my job requires lots of serious concentration, thinking, and writing. The low buzz of my coworker actually helps me concentrate and write; I get more distracted when it’s too quiet. And I work on a collaborative team so it’s often easier to connect with others when I need to.

          As a social science researcher…studies of organizational behavior study *averages*. So yes, on average, open offices may decrease productivity, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for individual workers to feel more productive in open offices. People are different.

        6. Mochicheese*

          I’m finding this whole conversation fascinating! I work abroad in Japan at the moment after spending a few years in a typical cube world, and both of the offices I’m at are open plan and quick busy – people coming, going, chatting at the coffee station, typing etc. It was a little overwhelming at first but I adapted after a month or so. Though I can totally see how it’d be a bad environment for people with mental/sensory disabilities. Personally, I’m for the plan cuz this way everyone gets to have windows. Nothing worse than the soul-less glow of florescent lights…

        1. Imaginary Number*

          Yes … *picturing myself sitting in a lone desk in a workspace of several thousand square feet.*

          A team of about thirty. Plus a lab area.

      4. teclatrans*

        My husband does too! It shocked the heck out of me because he is so sensitive to noise and very ADHD and I thought it would be a disaster, but he thrives in an open office plan.

        1. Breda*

          You know, there IS a certain thing where a consistent level of background noise means that no individual noise is distracting. Like how working in a coffee shop is way less distracting than sharing an office with just one other person. It all kind of becomes white noise!

          1. pleaset*

            We use a white noise machine in my open plan office, plus small private spaces, plus headphones, to make open plan work.

            No way would we ever go back to private offices for most people. Possibly cubicles, but probably not that either.

      5. Bea*

        I would have preferred open to the garbage cubical I dealt with for a year. I am lonely in my office now but I loved the setup with my boss, other boss and myself in an office. They were gone 50% of the time, so it worked.

        Hell in the cubes, I didn’t make any collection calls without going to the back anyways.

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          I dream about having my own office and am pretty anti-open-offices plans generally, however… I strongly preferred open spaces and cubicles farms to the hot, stinky 2-person office that one company decided to cram three of us into.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I’ve been in two two-person offices over the course of my career, and I’ve got to say that, while I have enjoyed mine, it depends a lot on who your “roommate” ends up being. I’ve been very lucky.

      6. Tau*

        Not the only one, but judging by the commentariat we are the definite minority. (I’ve never actually worked in cubicles or an individual office, but I work better around people and with a nice buzz of background noise.)

        Kids in the office would definitely change this equation for me, mind you.

        1. Windchime*

          A nice buzz of background noise sounds great. Sadly, this isn’t really the reality in any open office plan I’ve been in. There’s Stan and Bob, who are retirement age and spend most of the day reclining back in their chairs, loudly discussing bitcoin for 3-4 hours a day. There’s Sophie, who screams everything she says in a high, nasal voice. And there’s Joe, who is quiet as a mouse until he gets on the phone and then he yells for some inexplicable reason. And there are the countless people who just want to say a quick hello, but what they’ve really done is knock you out of your concentration zone and now it’s gonna take 20 minutes to get your thoughts back in order.

      7. Look Back In Ingres*

        I feel quite lucky to be a millenial at times – I’ve only ever known open-plan (offices are very unusual in my area and industry – even our Big Deal Chief Executive doesn’t have one) and so I’ve never had to deal with the stress with adjusting to them!

        That said, I know hot-desking is marching towards my collection of knick-knacks and I dread it. Oh well!

      8. Optimistic Prime*

        Not just you. My team had open space and I liked it too. We’re in individual offices now, and there are pros to that too, but I preferred the open space.

      9. Mad Baggins*

        I like it too! But I think it depends a lot on company culture. My office has no barriers of any kind between desks, but lots of conference rooms/meeting spaces, and the nature of our work is such that most of us are just typing quietly. I visited a sister office and the cubicle walls offered only the barest illusion of privacy, as you could hear everything, see people walk by, and the culture was such that people felt comfortable yelling across the room about happy hour.

        That said, downstairs in the same open office setup, Mr. Sales Guy using his outdoor voice for a phone call would drive me nuts, so I guess it’s more whatever you’re used to and who you work with!

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      This isn’t really open plan — just cubes instead of offices. But the sound still carries, I suppose.

    3. Nita*

      Good point. This problem would be only 50% as much problem if it wasn’t for the open office.

      1. Imaginary Number*

        Or the alternative is OP sharing a cubicle with said coworker which would be 50% worse.

    4. LBK*

      Do cubicles really count as an “open” plan? I always thought of an open plan as not having any walls, modular or otherwise, where people more or less just sit at long tables. Are there really office buildings that are designed with solely offices and no large floor spaces?

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        No walls OR very low walls.

        Our “open-plan” setup has glass-fronted offices for the lucky few who even get offices, and shoulder-height walls topped by 6-inch glass panels. Which–WHY??? Why put anything there if it’s see-through??? Also we are a large company where basically every team is scattered all over the country, so every meeting is a conference call and there are always at least 2 people near you on calls. It’s dreadful. Fortunately for me, I only have a couple of calls most days and can wear headphones the rest of the time, otherwise I would have started flinging coffee mugs a year ago.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, I’ve sat in one department that had “cubicles” where the walls were only shoulder-height when sitting so you could see everyone while you were at your desk, and I’d pretty much consider that an open office plan even though everyone technically had their own delimited/assigned space. But where I sit now, all of the cubes are at least head-height when you’re sitting so you can’t see your coworkers unless you stand up, and some of them are big cubes with 6 foot-ish walls. I don’t consider my current setup an open office since there’s enough separation that you can be relatively solitary if you’re sitting at your desk and can only really converse with your neighbors if you stand up.

  13. Jaybeetee*

    I was that kid whose parents sometimes came up with “inventive” childcare options for my siblings and I until we were old enough to stay alone after school (both my parents also worked long-ish hours at times, so when we were home alone, it could be for several hours until they got home), including being dragged along to work (especially fun when I was sick and just wanted to lie in bed) and getting dropped off at school the minute the doors opened, an hour or more before classes started. Work is a poor substitute for daycare, and that kid is probably bored out of her skull for that period of time – thus the disruptive behaviour.

    Options include:
    1) Talking to the boss about it – if the kid’s presence is disrupting work in the form of meetings or clients, you have something to bring up (as opposed to being merely annoyed by the kid’s presence).

    2) Suggesting to Mom some different quiet activities for kid while she’s at work – maybe that’s not a great time for homework, but parking the kid with a book/tablet(earphones)/whatever might be quieter and easier on everyone?

    3) Is there any room the kid can hang out in that isn’t the main work area, but where mom can still check in and have a reasonable idea what’s going on? A conference room or something? One thing that did work with my dad’s “bring the kids to work days” was that he had a whole suite of offices, including a spare one that he’d basically set up for us. It didn’t make things much better for us kids (we’d spend the day mostly reading, playing computer games, and generally holed up in that office), but if probably kept us more out of the way in terms of disrupting work.

    I can understand Mom wanting to just keep her kid at work for an hour, since it’s probably cheaper and easier than an after-school program or a babysitter. But if the kid is disrupting colleagues, someone has to speak up and tell Mom that either she finds a way to keep the kid quieter at the office, or she finds other arrangements.

    1. sigh*

      I draw the line at dragging in sick kids. Migraine, asthma issues, stuff like that is one thing… but if your kid got sent home because they were throwing up/running a fever please, please, please keep them at home! Our office no longer allows kids because one parent was always bringing in his sick kids. Sick kid +cubicle farm+ suppressed or compromised immune systems =not okay!
      As for the OP situation I think it’s a matter of the Parent not enforcing/teaching her kid workplace norms. Unfortunately one bad example will ruin it for well behaved children (or dogs. Hubs is no longer able to occasionally bring our (calm sleep under the desk) dog to work because coworker brought her aggressive purse pet every day. Kids were fine here as long as they were quiet and well mannered. I honestly miss the occasional kids in our workplace because they were pleasant to be around and a nice change of pace from adult conversations.

  14. AliceW*

    I don’t see why you can’t raise your concerns with your boss. Since this arrangement is so out of the norm for most offices, I’d have no problem, even if I were new, raising this issue. It is a daily distraction that is impacting your work and your boss should know about it. Maybe she’s received other complaints about this. As long as you don’t simply complain, are polite and understanding of the existing arrangement, and offer up some potential solutions, such as as setting up a separate area for kids away from other employees and clients or maybe limiting the days kids are in the office, I don’t see how this would impact your job or your boss’s opinion of you, even if the company decides to do nothing.

    1. BRR*

      I was wondering why that wasn’t an option. Do the this is impacting my work in X and Y way, how would you suggest I handle this?

      1. MF*

        Yes, exactly. You could even express support for your coworker: “I’m glad I get to work in an office that is supportive of working parents, but I’m wondering if there’s arrangements we can make so that Joan’s kid won’t be as disruptive as she is right now.”

  15. High Score*

    Yeah, usually when I’ve seen this is been the result of nepotism. I bet as get to know the group you’ll find lots of unprofessional toxic behavior. The best way to get some peace in this situation is to start job hunting.

    “Decimated by pint sized locusts” !!! Lol lol lol

    Fwiw, I was a struggling single parent for years and almost never brought my kids to the office. Children do not belong in the office.

  16. Bea*


    I’m from the school of kids in the office is a thing and doesn’t bother me in the slightest. However every parent I’ve seen do it has control over the situation. My boss’ kids would come in and try to hangout but were quickly assigned tasks.

    She’s worthless the last hour it sounds like and should just go home, sigh.

  17. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    OP; I would split this list of issues down into two categories; things that affect my work and things that don’t.

    For the things that affect your work I would be direct with Mommy Dearest.
    >Before you have clients come in, “Say Joan, I have clients coming in this afternoon. The last time they were here, they didn’t have a place to sit because Christina was spread out in the waiting room”
    >On a call… place them on hold for a moment. “Joan, I’m on a call and it’s very loud here, can you take care of that please so I can finish this up”
    Follow up with your boss as needed.

    For the things that don’t affect your work grit your teeth. Keep the issues about work and how it is affecting your productivity.

      1. BRR*

        The names also make me so happy (as does Amy Santiago, although shouldn’t it be sergeant ;) ). I think these are great lines to have. I use similar phrasing when I have to have an uncomfortable conversation. “Hey I have business need, can you do X with your non-business need so I can accomplish my business need.”

    1. MF*

      Yes, this is a good approach–address each situation in the moment. Then, if Joan isn’t responsive, then you can go to your boss to say, “I’ve asked Joan multiple times to move her daughter out of the lobby to make room for clients but she seems to be ignoring my requests.”

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      Trick or treating* cubicle to cubicle doesn’t rise to the same level of impact on work/productivity as your examples, but it is at the top of my list of things that are not okay and need to be addressed.

      *Would being dressed as Princess Tiana make this better or worse? Discuss.

  18. MuseumChick*

    OP, I felt so annoyed on your behalf as I read this. I’m sorry you have to deal with it. I would follow Alison’s advice of first, trying to talk to your co-worker directly about this. Such as when you have trouble hearing phone calls. If that doesn’t change anything, the next step would be to speak with your supervisor something to the effect of: “I’m having an issue I’m not sure how to handle. As you know, Jane’s daughter comes in everyday from 4pm – 5pm, lately, I have had trouble hearing phone calls because of the noise she makes and just the other day a client made a comment about how there was no where to sit when he arrived because Lucinda’s stuff was everywhere. I’m spoken with Jane about this a couple of time but the issues with noise and clutter continue. Can you help me think of solution? I’m out of ideas.”

    You are laying out how this effects your ability to work, not making it personal, and showing that you have tried to solve the problem yourself before coming to your boss.

    It might help to keep a log of the disruptions.

  19. Bend & Snap*

    I’m a single parent and have brought my kid to the office twice: once for company-wide trick or treat, and once when she was invited to be in a video shoot.

    She’s also home with me sometimes out of necessity (illness or whatever) and it’s nearly impossible to get work done. I can’t believe this mom hasn’t snapped yet.

    Get a nanny. Arrange a carpool. Something. Kids don’t belong in the office on a regular basis.

    1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

      For me it would be the stress of it …. I have brought my kids into the office twice. Once my daughter was dropped off an hour before my shift ended due to a scheduling conflict with afterschool care and the other was two weeks ago when my son was suspended and had to spend 90 minutes in my office before I could bring him home. Both times I was hyper aware of every noise they made (they were both 11 at the time if that matters), how people perceived me in the moment, how my work load was impacted, and how it made my supervisor look at me. The stress of trying to remain a top performer while being “mom” at work wasn’t worth any benefit the arrangement could have given me.

  20. Construction Safety*

    A child old enough to learn fractions is old enough to be quiet for an hour.

      1. Just Me*

        And if the kid isn’t neurotypical, presumably the parent knows that and, ya know, doesn’t put their kid in a situation they’re not able to appropriately handle? (There is a reason I don’t let my kiddo stay home alone when everyone else his age stays home for short times… and it’s not because I’m “overprotective”.)

    1. CDM*

      My kids started learning fractions as five year old kindergarteners. The days of introducing fractions to 8 or 9 year olds in third or fourth grade are long gone.

      1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        Yes. My kids started learning algebra in 2nd grade. Blew my mind when I saw 2x-4=8 on the homework packet…and that my kids knew how to figure for it. And they go to regular public school in regular classes.

      2. smoke tree*

        Wow. When I was in kindergarten, I think “don’t eat the paste” was about highest intellectual demand they made of us.

      3. Vicky Austin*

        Even kindergarterners are old enough to understand, “Honey, you need to use your inside voice at Mommy’s workplace.”

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Eh, I don’t know that the two even correlate at all. Social skills, being aware of one’s surroundings, being able to entertain oneself quietly – these are all completely unrelated to math. Maybe the kid is advanced at math but not neurotypical, or maybe they’re just stressed after being at school all day and are dealing with it by being talkative. OP doesn’t say how old the kid is, so speculating on this sort of thing seems futile.

      I was generally a pretty quiet kid when not around my little brother. If I had to sit in my dad’s office, I would have happily read some books and not been disruptive, starting at a relatively early age. It would have been several more years before I could really do fractions, though.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I still can’t do fractions but I know how to be respectful when people are working.

  21. Muriel Heslop*

    I have kids and I work in a school but this would make me crazy! It’s so unprofessional for it to occur every day.
    And to be advising coworkers about office chat while the child is there? Over the line.

    Could you have this conversation with your boss? It sounds like your colleague is the kind of person who won’t take your feedback under advisement.

    Good luck, OP!

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    I wonder what problem management thought they were solving by getting rid of the doors? Especially if they have clients coming to the office–wouldn’t some of them want to discuss X without including everyone in the office?

    An attempt at a practical solution: Is there an empty cubicle? If so, could it be set up as the child containment zone, with tablets with headphones, drawing/writing stuff, and other quiet occupations (parent provided)? You still need noise-cancelling headphones for the giggling, but it frees up the other space. Like building shelves for the junk in the garage.

    1. KC without the sunshine band*

      I would certainly wear the noise cancelling headphones. Then if your boss asks about them, or worse, fusses at you for wearing them, you could politely say you were trying to be accommodating to the loud children. Perhaps that would help your boss see where the true issue lies.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Going back to the letter, I found this: “Our boss still has walls and a door and so I don’t think realizes how loud this child can be.”

        Boss may be utterly unaware that anything is an issue. Since OP is new, how to bring to boss’s attention that it is an issue is more delicate.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      Management didn’t get rid of the doors, they got rid of the building. “Shortly after I started, we moved to a new office, going from individual office spaces to an open plan with cubicles.”

      As to what problem they were trying to solve, it’s all about budget. Cubes let you put more people into the same square footage. Moving from cubes to open office lets you put even more people in that same space. Marketing folks for the companies selling cube furniture convince corporate that they’ll not only save money BUT ALSO get all these collaberation benefits, which we all know that part is BS. But since mgmt tends to get to keep their offices, they don’t experience what the rest of us do.

  23. Lilo*

    I know my telewrk agreement specifically says I cannot be providing childcare while working at home. This is not okay, not only is this disruptive, but the parents are not really working for an hour a day. After school is a thing, parents need to use this. This is so clearly not okay.

  24. BadWolf*

    The boss with walls and doors.

    When we got an open workspace, the managers had to sit with the rest of us in the trenches. It was one of the basics we agreed on (and assigned desks).

    Anyway, does the boss ever observe clients coming in and negotiating the homework spread? Would asking, “Hey Boss, when I have clients come in and Child is using the entry way — what should I do to make sure the clients are comfortable? Seat them in the conference room?” I suppose it might sound obtuse (um, tell the child to take their things and go back to their mom), but…that would also be pretty awkward to do to clients (unless it’s a job where kids hanging around is normal).

    Do you have instant message at work? If Child is loud while you’re on a call, how would she respond if you sent her a quick message, “Hey, on important call with Client, could you have Child do a quiet activity for a bit?” It feels like bending backwards, but if Child is going to stay, maybe you can train Mom and Child indirectly. I mean, my coworkers will sometimes notice, “Oh, OP is on a call, let’s go for a walk and chat instead of chatting right here.” Even if I’m just listening on a educational call.

  25. KR*

    I wonder if there’s some sort of after school program or homework club the employee can have her child attend. I did that every day and then took the late bus home when my mom had work. It was basically a room with a para or a tutor who helped with homework and then there was coloring/activity sheets/books for kids that didn’t have homework. The YMCA/local parks and rec Dept. may have an after school program or something with financial aid available for those who can’t afford it. Or some sort of babysitting sharing group where coworker pays a small fee or babysits a certain day of the month in exchange for after school care. Or a kind mother or neighbor who doesn’t care about watching over another little one for an hour after school.

    This of course is none of OPs concern. But I wanted to share to let OP know that I completely agree that this is not acceptable and there are most likely options for this coworker that aren’t taking their kid to school everyday.

  26. Kittymommy*

    I’ve been that kid and if I acted any thing like that…well it would not have been good for me. The mom needs to shut that down, but it doesn’t sound like she is, so I’d go to the boss.

    1. SpaceNovice*

      I was that kid, too. A couple of weeks during the summer, my brother and I had to stay with my mom for the day before summer camp started. We stayed in the break room and quietly worked on summer work or read Goosebump books. We were definitely around this kid’s age, and I’m not neurotypical (I have ADHD). We understood that people were working and needed to be left alone. One of my coworkers has childcare fall through occasionally, and his kid is pretty good at being quiet and polite for being five or six.

      Kittymommy is right; the mother hasn’t set up expectations of behavior and isn’t enforcing good etiquette.

  27. Hey-eh*

    One of the AVPs at my office brings in her kids every once in a while when they are out of school for a PD day or whatever, and they are great until about 3:30/4pm. They come with their backpacks filled with stuff to do and they sit quietly and colour or do homework or watch shows on a tablet. Then, inevitably at 3:30/4pm one or both of them gets bored and starts to wander and annoy people. It’s super frustrating. Once I had a super important task and I was the “chosen one” who had to entertain for an hour while the mom was in a meeting. I couldn’t even imagine an hour of EVERY DAY.

  28. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP – bring in some age appropriate activities/toys and start joining the kid when she shows up. Play Barbies or color or whatever. When people ask WTF you’re doing, say that you thought that’s how things worked here.

    (don’t really do this)

    1. SoCalHR*

      “oh I thought we all could rotate on who entertains the child so that the mom doesn’t lose an hour’s worth of work every day” hah

    2. smoke tree*

      I worked in an office that actually did kind of operate like this. It was highly annoying to be voluntold that you were now the daycare coordinator for a group of badly behaved kids, regardless of what else you had to do. And guess what demographic was always chosen for this task??

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oh, there would be SO MUCH glitter and play-doh and other messy/obnoxious things if I was voluntold to do something like that in the workplace.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Isn’t the door opening mechanism on the boss’s office way too plain? Let’s see how we can pretty it up!

        1. smoke tree*

          Yeah, sadly they were just parked in my area so I would have only been sabotaging myself. Of course it was the men who brought their kids in for the young women of the office to look after while they went to lunch.

      2. Kelly*

        Don’t forget the other bane of irritated parents – any toy that is loud and vaguely musical. I’m sure that someone would end that daycare if the voluntold daycare coordinator decided to bring in toy musical instruments and have the kids give a performance for their parents.

        Also, decorate mom or dad’s office with glitter and stickers.

  29. Passerbye*

    Besides the more specific issues involved in this situation, generally this speaks (to me) of how terrible the move to open office layouts has been for office culture in general. It only creates new problems like this one, and generally does none of the supposed “teamwork” improvements that are generally touted when the move is made. Making offices noisier and more disruptive is bad!

    This lady having her kid in the office was not a problem before they switched to an open layout, and I feel bad for her. It must be a little mortifying to have to shush your kid all the time in the same room as all of your coworkers.

    1. GuitarLady*

      Though I wonder how much work the mom was doing in the last hour in her office. Presumably she was still quite unproductive but in a private office that was easier to hide. But at least that would fall under bosses-problem-not-OPs.

      1. iglwif*

        And at least the total lack of productivity was more likely limited to the parent, whereas now it’s spreading to the entire office.

    2. Anyone up for tennis?*

      It exposed the problem but the problem still existed. Blaming open office for the problem is not right; the child should not be in the office, he or she was most likely just as disruptive when in the individual office.

  30. Falling Diphthong*

    My experience as a parent is that adding a playmate can be a great way to occupy your kid. But their collective common sense shrinks, so if you need them to do something other than run around shrieking, it gets X times harder for X children. Similarly when I ran the elementary science fair, I told parents that their child could have as many kids in their group as they wanted… but in practice beyond 2, most of the larger groups had a really hard time getting anything done because one kid always wanted to be silly, so everyone got silly, so then nothing that could be described in an interesting way on a poster happened. (“Matt got his third highest score ever on Count Chocula, and Evan put cereal in his nose.”)

    I still remember… *calculates* 14 years ago, trying to walk from school to home with 5 7-year-old girls, each individually an intelligent, responsible, cooperative child. “Jane, no! We are halfway across the street; do not wander off to look for interesting rocks!”

    1. Emi.*

      Now I want to see a science fair poster about which shapes of Lucky Charms marshmallow are most likely to get stuck in your nose, though.

    2. Alton*

      This is very true! I was a pretty quiet and mature kid, considering (at least, I felt that way compared to my peers at the time), but I was susceptible to this, myself. And I still remember how the Girl Scout troop I was in when I was nine got increasingly out of control the more of us there were. One-on-one, most of them were perfectly nice to hang out with. But when we were all in a van together, everyone would end up doing stuff like screaming along off-key to Celine Dion on the radio.

  31. LawBee*

    I disagree with the “you’re new so you don’t have standing” in this case. Sometimes it takes someone who is new to point out bizarre behavior that everyone else has gotten used to. A little “why are people bringing children into the office and disrupting the day” can go a long way.

    It’s tough for the single parents in this letter, but if there is no other option for them (change work hours?) then their kids need to be quiet.

    1. Yorick*

      Right, and as the new person you can say “We didn’t have this at my last job, what do you do to hear calls/host clients/whatever?”

  32. IHaveANiceCat*

    As a kid who did fairly regularly hang out at my dad’s work, I am so frustrated at the piss-poor parenting here! I had a stack of books, and I had to sit in the corner and read them, or do homework. If I had homework that I didn’t understand, I had to save those questions for later. I got in SO much trouble if I spoke to anyone without being spoken to first. A bunch of office workers did make me fancy grilled cheeses in their sandwich press though, which was awesome. I’m totally sympathetic to single parents, I grew up in a split household, but you have to keep your kid in line. I was always told being in Daddy’s office was a privilege (although now I’m like…no it wasn’t, lol).

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Same! My mom occasionally brought me or my sister to her office (albeit usually on weekends), but even when the office was in full swing, it was very clear: you sit behind Mom’s desk and read your Nancy Drew. If the office manager offers, you can use the breakroom table to do your spelling homework. The sodas are Not For Kids (mom just didn’t believe in sugar), and don’t bother the other adults. If I was lucky, the office manager would occasionally have me do something engaging but not fun for the other adults (think counting reams of paper in the copy room) in exchange for one of the good snacks on a high shelf.

      1. SpaceNovice*

        It was Goosebumps and breakroom table (in sight range of Mom) for us! All the same rules. We were taught not bother the other adults. It worked out pretty well. :)

      2. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Yup. Been there. A few years ago, when I was already in middle age, I visited my father’s old office that had been reconfigured and didn’t even really look like it had before, but it was the same in a way (even smelled the same, a certain smell to that building), same view from the windows, and I got a bit nostalgic about it.

    2. strawberries and raspberries*

      Hell, my mom says that once when I was two and a half years old she brought me to grad school with her because my babysitter was sick, and I sat quietly and looked at books for the entire two hour class. I was obviously too little to remember how she got me to do that, but like, if you’re consistent, it can be done, regardless of the child’s age.

      1. aebhel*

        That’s very dependent on the child, but yeah… if the kid can’t sit quietly, for whatever reason, then they shouldn’t be there.

        1. IHaveANiceCat*

          It is dependent on the kid for sure, but I can’t help but think, there has to be some kind of extended care at school. I know not everyone can afford day care but most schools have a homework club or something. And honestly, the taking people’s food and spreading out thing is unacceptable. Even if the kid is naturally chatty.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            We haven’t been able to get into the after school care program. We did manage to get into the before school care program. So my husband drops the kids off on his way to work and I pick them up at 330ish. But my bosses have been great about letting us shift our hours. But we also run 24/7/365 so spreading out the tech staff hours is a good thing.

        2. Mark132*

          It is very dependent on the child. No amount of parenting would have kept my kids quiet day after day. If wasn’t in their nature.

          1. aebhel*

            Yeah, this. My oldest is 4, and she could probably–on a good day–sit still with her tablet for an hour. But not at 2, no how no way. And even now, it’s not something I would count on. She’s just an incredibly high-strung little person.

    3. rosiebyanyothername*

      I went to my dad’s office fairly often as a kid, but I always had books to read, things to color, etc. When I got a little older he’d drop me off at the Student Services office downstairs from him and they’d usually give me some things to “help” with. I loved putting stuff in the shredder! But it mostly kept me out of his office when he had important meetings, etc. The mom in this case is not doing enough to keep this kid from being disruptive.

    4. Rachel 2 - Electric Boogaloo*

      My dad was a high school teacher, and when my sister and I were young, we’d occasionally go to school with him. (He taught in a different district, so this was generally when we had a day off but he didn’t.) He’d have us come into his classroom at the beginning of each class so he could introduce us to his students, but then we were to go sit at his desk in the department office and read, color, do homework, or do some other quiet activity while he was in class. (We got to eat lunch with him in the teachers’ lounge and thought we were SO COOL because of that.)

  33. Leela*

    I would be incredibly surprised if your coworker is effective at her job while having to entertain her child, shush her child, provide snacks, COAX her child into eating the snacks brought for her, monitor her coworkers’ conversations to make sure they’re child-approved, and so on. Even people who work from home must generally agree that any small children are going to be cared for by someone else during those hours for this exact reason.

    I am extremely pro undoing this thing we’ve done where children don’t exist in your world unless you have them because they’re all squirreled away out of sight and children are automatically seen as a day-ruining nuisance, and I am extremely pro making things easier on working parents and lessening their insane childcare costs, but the way to accomplish this can’t be that parents don’t work but are physically at work with their children, disrupting the office. And the e-mail she sent out was way over the line of acceptable behavior.

    I’d give your boss a chance to make this right by outlining how this is affecting your work but agree with commenters above; don’t be surprised if this isn’t a symptom of toxic behaviors because I wouldn’t be (but you never know, the boss could be totally unaware of anything other than the child is there). No matter what happens this is a frustrating situation and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it, especially being newer which can make people feel uncertain in what they’re allowed to bring up. Good luck and please let us know how it goes!

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Not only that, but the mom is leaving and coming back to pick up her kid. I would guess the mom is losing at least an extra half hour, if not more, of work everyday because of this. Why is she even bothering coming back?

  34. nnn*

    Asking the kid to be quiet directly on an ad hoc basis is also an option.

    It might be a bit much to go directly to the kid with “You need to be quiet all the time” (especially since the kid doesn’t yet seem to have the capacity to be quiet all the time), gut a kid old enough to have homework can understand “Lucinda, I need you to be very quiet for 15 minutes – until the clock says 4:30 – because I need to make a very important phone call and the people on the other end of the phone can hear when people are talking in the office.”

    And some kids might find a request from a non-parental adult, with a specific good reason and a specific endpoint, more compelling than the usual Charlie Brown’s teacher drone of their parent telling them to be good. Also, some kids might respond well to an after-the-fact “Thank you for being so quiet when I was on the phone, Lucinda. It was extremely helpful!”

    1. Yorick*

      That’s true, and some kids would respond well to “Lucinda, could you help me get ready for the client that’s about to be here? We need to clear a place for him to sit and do X and Y.”

      1. Blue*

        My six year old niece and four year old nephew would both be super into this. It runs the risk of encouraging the kid to interact with OP and the other workers even more, but it might be a productive way to use her energy while getting things back in order.

    2. KellyK*

      This can work, but I’d talk to the mom first. People can get really touchy about other people correcting their kids.

      1. Grapey*

        I don’t particularly care about accommodating a parent’s touchiness if they don’t care that their kids are setting off my/the businesses customers’ touchiness. Plus “please watch your child” isn’t all that better for those types.

        Kids are little people that need to learn how to function in society. I always ask kids things directly instead of using an adult as an intermediate whenever possible. “Please move your things off of the third chair so the person standing can sit.” is a completely reasonable thing to ask someone that’s being a nuisance, adult or child.

    3. Tardigrade*

      Or bribe her with those contraband treats. But in seriousness, while potentially effective and useful in the short-term, I think this shifts the responsibility of parenting away from the mother and onto her coworkers.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        I am ALL ABOUT bribing kids as a non-parent adult. My coworker had to bring her kiddo to her cubicle last summer for the last hour of the workday for a brief period between summer camps (there was a “family visiting room” that could be used, but sometimes it was full). Admittedly, as the intern, I had less/less important work to do, but I also kept a sleeve of cookies in my desk and Fronathan would happily spend 20 minutes working on a picture for me in exchange for a cookie or two.

    4. General Ginger*

      I would be very careful with that, given that the mom sounds kind of unreasonable as is (the little ears e-mail blast, not caring that the child eats other people’s food). It’s possible she’d be combative about OP trying to police her child’s behavior.

    5. bolistoli*

      I know this is coming from a good place, but my concern is that the Mom might take this as tacit approval of the kid being there, and everyone being in it together. At most, just directly tell the kid to be quiet. Don’t ask for her help, she’s not a coworker and you’re not her babysitter, nor should you have to teach her proper behaviour or social skills.

      1. OP*

        THIS. I’m new and have been less-than-engaged with the child, but I have seen coworkers who have said hi one day become go-to folks (after all, you chatted last week so you must ALWAYS be down for kid time

    6. Observer*

      Only do this if you have the political capital to deal with the ensuing drama.

      Mom is not reasonable and is unlikely to respond well to anyone telling her child what to do. I don’t really care about her feelings, but you need to care about what she will do – and I suspect that a scene will ensue. Given the set up here, the OP can’t be sure that the boss will react appropriately to the situation.

  35. What's with today, today?*

    We are kid friendly. Family owned radio station. Most of the kids are older now, but we used to have 2-3 kids per day during summer (two were the boss’ kids, he’d bring them daily). One summer there was a second-grade romance in the office. We’ve had baseball games in the hallways, and lots of hide and go seek. From my perspective, it’s great, because I now have a 3-year-old, and while the situation hasn’t come up yet, I know if needed I can bring him in with me.

  36. Justin*

    Oh man, this sucks. And it sucks for the child too! This is good for no one!

    And it’s not really the open office itself – the employee could easily be at a level where she wouldn’t have a private office even if they existed. The problem is a lack of upper level management and decision making. Bad management!

  37. annakarina1*

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. The kid doesn’t belong in the office, and it is asinine that the employee expects everyone to adjust their behavior to center around the child. I do hope that she can find better childcare options, and that the workplace can be free of these disruptions.

  38. London Calling*

    *Just today, in fact, after hearing some lighthearted jokes that were a little past PG-13, the mom sent a group email asking everyone to remember there were “little ears” listening.*

    To which the only response can be ‘Well don’t bring her in then. This is an office for grown-ups, not a buggering creche.”

    1. MuseumChick*

      The evil side of me would start making PG-13 rated jokes several times a week.

    2. BRR*

      This is loosely similar to my response to a current situation at work where one team apparently is sensitive to being emailed corrections to their work. Don’t make so many mistakes and you’ll get less emails (they’re making more than an acceptable amount of errors).

    3. motherofdragons*

      I let out an audible gasp at this part of the letter. What the flying F?!?

    4. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      The best one is to make jokes which by all technicalities are PG13 but sound like they aren’t – they are HILARIOUS to children and they repeat them forever and ever after that.

  39. Jenny*

    1. Chat with your boss. Be curious about it… use being new to your advantage, and ask about the origins of the bring-your-kid-to-work practice and if it is something open to all employees or handled on a case-by-case basis, and if there are any particular expectations around it. That information may be helpful to have as context, even if nothing changes.

    2. Accept that noise and space may be issues in an open office, whether or not there are kids in the mix, and figure out what YOU need to do to be able to work. Noise-cancelling headphones or whatever. In your next job, it might be that you are in the cube next to the highest-earning salesperson, who is super-loud on the phone all day, or that someone you work with closely is gone for the last hour of your workday. How will you get your work done?

    3. Now that you are more empowered, look around and see if you can identify some realistic solutions/improvements that don’t involve the kids not coming to the office. (You’re looking for win/win situations here.) If so, now you’re in a place to say to someone (maybe boss, maybe coworker), “hey, I think most of us have noticed that the new office setup has brought some challenges, here’s a couple of ideas I had about how to mitigate one of them…”

    Hope this helps.

    1. CM*

      I was also wondering why talking to the boss was not presented as an option. As you note, this would be more productive if framed as curiosity rather than mainly as a complaint, but I would leave out the “is it open to all employees” question because it sounds like the OP is going to start bringing in a child too. Just asking how this situation came to be is pretty indirect, so I also might say something like, “I’m finding it difficult to concentrate when the kids are in the office, and I’m wondering how other people handle this. Would it be acceptable to use a conference room for client calls during after-school hours?” But I would definitely check in with other coworkers first to see how they feel about the situation, and probably would only approach the boss if it seems like other people feel this way too.

  40. iglwif*

    I confess I’m kind of confused about certain aspects of this situation. How old is this child? If she’s old enough for fractions (Grade 4? Grade 5?), then — unless there are developmental/behavioral/etc issues that aren’t mentioned — I would expect her to be old enough to accept “Those snacks aren’t for you.” I would also expect her to be old enough to go home from school and stay there, unless for some reason the school is so far from home that she can’t walk or take a bus.

    There was one winter where we had mice in our flat and my kiddo (who was about that age) was creeped out by being at home alone with them, so instead of coming home after school she would go to someone’s office for a bit (either mine or my partner’s). I felt bad about how disruptive it must be … but looking back, I feel like I made a LOT more effort than this parent to minimize the disruption. (To be fair, though, I also had an office. With a door.)

    This sounds incredibly disruptive and inconsiderate … but it’s mostly on the mom, because the kid doesn’t automatically know what behavior is appropriate if nobody tells her, and that’s a lot more her mom’s job than anyone else’s!

    1. AnonGD*

      I work in an office that’s not particularly kid-friendly but occasionally people will briefly bring their kids in. I have a decorative glass bowl filled with candy for anyone to take, which is great, even with kids who usually shyly ask before gently reaching in, except for when one particular child. Apparently, he’s been told that visiting the office is a fun thing and there’s free candy for him to take, so he takes it as a personal challenge to run around and scoop up candy at high speeds. He almost took down my entire bowl once and I got scolded by his father. Dude. That’s when I found out that he actually tells his kid to go LITERALLY run and get the free candy!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There were a couple of parents on my floor at Exjob who brought their kids/grandkids in but they were so well-behaved I didn’t even know they were there until I got up to visit the loo and walked by and saw them.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I think a lot of adults just aren’t comfortable correcting other people’s kids. I’ve been a teacher at a K-12 school for a decade, so I wouldn’t hesitate to say, “Janie, kiddo, if you need a snack, you need to go ask your mom if she has one for you, because these are mine,” but in my observation plenty of folks will stand around with mild panic on their faces watching some kid wreak havoc, thinking, Someone has to put a stop to this, but not knowing what to do in the moment.

      1. iglwif*

        I am definitely not comfortable correcting other people’s kids … but I will do it if it really, really needs doing. Like, if I’m at an AHL game and a big group of parents have parked their many elementary-aged children in an unsupervised row right in front of my family and the kids are throwing popcorn? I will 100% pull out my Stern Mom Voice and go, “When you throw popcorn, IT LANDS ON OTHER PEOPLE. Please stop.” (To pick an example 100% not at random lol)

    3. Observer*

      Fractions could 8 years old, In some states sending a kid that age home alone could get you arrested.

      1. iglwif*

        We did have a … disagreement with kiddo’s school principal regarding whether she was old enough to take herself home at age 8.75 (end of grade 3). It’s not, in fact, illegal where we live, or against any school board rules–I called and asked–but it’s definitely true that some people will judge you.

        If the LW lives in one of those places where everyone is over-the-top terrified of almost nonexistent risks, then I can understand why the parent in this story doesn’t just let her daughter go home after school, because what if a neighbor called Children’s Aid or something? But it’s also hard to imagine that there isn’t SOME better solution than the entire office losing an entire hour’s worth of productive work every single day, yk? Like, can mom leave early, pick up kiddo, and finish her workday at home while kiddo does homework? Or after kiddo is in bed? Can she hire a teenager to pick up kiddo at school, walk home with her, and hang out until she gets home? (That’s what my mom did, when she was suddenly a single parent and we were still too young to be trusted at home unsupervised for more than an hour.) Or the teenager could come over and help with homework while mom finishes her workday unmolested. Or maybe there’s a carpooling solution, like she drops off kiddo with a friend and comes to work early, then leaves work early and picks up both kids.

        1. Observer*

          I agree that there has to be a better way. I’m just pointing out that sending a kid home alone, even one that age, is just not always a viable option.

        2. Mad Baggins*

          That baffles me. Where I live (not US) elementary-school-age children routinely walk/take public transportation home by themselves.

          1. iglwif*

            It baffled me, too. (I’m in Canada, which is less over-the-top about this stuff than the US … but not by much.)

            Among the things I found myself explaining to the principal were
            – that random stranger kidnappings of children are extremely rare
            – that kiddo had been getting to and from school by the same route (walking plus a few blocks on a city bus) since Senior Kindergarten, so the route was already familiar even if she had never done it alone
            – that it is not in fact illegal for kids to go places on their own
            – that our school board’s policy (I called to check) is that kids can get themselves to and from school when their parents consider them ready to do so
            – that there are many neighbourhoods in this city where a majority of kids walk to and from school without an adult
            – that kiddo’s classroom teacher, who knew her very well, also thought she would be fine
            – that statistically speaking, riding in a car is more dangerous for a kid than walking home from school

            But what was really hilarious was that as soon as kiddo was in Grade 4 — literally 5 months after this series of arguments took place — it was suddenly completely fine with the school for her to not be dropped off or picked up by a parent. I would love to know what magically happened over that summer when she turned 9 …

    4. Elle Kay*

      FYI- my school district will not let a child in Elementary school (thru 5th grade) off the bus if there is not visibly an older sibling/adult *visibly* present at the home.

      (I found this out in High School when I happened to be in the bathroom when the bus went by, didn’t let my lil bro off, and I had to chase the bus down the street before they let him off a few stops later)

      1. Inquiring minds want to know!*

        What do they do if the kid has no siblings and the parents work?

    5. Girl friday*

      I like to use the rule of not home alone before 13 and not cared for by strangers until they can talk- but a lot of people find those to be unreasonable expectations. If you get another email about the child, I would just respond, “Oh, is so and so here? I hadn’t noticed. Huh.” This will produce more results than addressing the problem any other way. People tend to find their children way more remarkable than others do. It also works well for adults.

  41. Bookworm*

    Lordy. I also don’t have any ideas, either. Just offering my sympathy. I really like kids and have been in a couple of situations where a parent had to bring a kid with mixed results (some were just great and others not so much) and am sympathetic that you don’t. Unless it’s a school, pediatric ward of a hospital, daycare, etc. that doesn’t sound very appropriate at all.

    Good luck. Hope it gets resolved soon, for your sake.

  42. Nita*

    That sounds awful for everyone involved, including the coworkers and the child. Sure, OP is new and may not have a lot of “capital” to burn on butting heads with the mom, but I’m sure she’s not the only one whose work is being disrupted. I wonder, is this mom the only one who brings in her child? Is it OK with company policy?

    FWIW, several people in my office bring in young kids a few times a year. It’s not awful, but if they were in the office every single day, I don’t think their parents or anyone around them would get much work done, and everyone would be a nervous wreck. Kids have a way of grabbing attention, whether you’re actually intending to pay attention to them or trying to focus on your work.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      I think the OP mentioned that a second, newer coworker is starting to bring their kid to work now too and the two children are now being distracting together. It sounds like this office is on a slippery slope to becoming a free daycare.

      1. Nita*

        Oh, I missed that part! Definitely a slippery slope. I’ve done enough working from home with kids that I know it’s incredibly stressful, and can’t imagine subjecting an entire office to that. Certainly not more than a couple of times a year (and I make sure to keep the office door closed and bring my own snacks and Lego).

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I missed that too. My brain shorted out after the “little ears” email reminder.

  43. Goya de la Mancha*

    “It keeps people productive when they otherwise might need to stay home and lose a day of work” – But it sounds like Mom is losing work anyway because she’s constantly attending to darling child’s needs.

    And this has been going on for several years?! I wonder what the turn-over rate is at that place?

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      And not only is Mom losing work productivity, so is everyone else around her with Child running around begging for attention/treats.

    2. McWhadden*

      Previously they had walls so that the kid wasn’t so distracting. Mom could just shut the door.

      1. SoCalHR*

        wasn’t as distracting…to others. There’s nothing to say that the mom still wasn’t distracted by homework or snack questions under the old office plan. Just that it wasn’t as noticeable.

        1. Lara*

          Exactly. People are routinely told that work-from-home means having childcare. This is no different.

  44. iwouldlikeacookie*

    I’m confused (or maybe missed something here…) – Why would this not be something brought up with a manager/supervisor/higher-up person? Is it unreasonable to say to a boss “It’s difficult for me to work and be productive when Jane’s daughter is here. Could a) I move my desk to a different area?, b) Jane’s daughter go to a different room?, c) we have a separate area for parents and kids at the end the day?, d) I move my shift to start an hour early/leave an hour early before Jane’s daughter comes in?” I’m just not understanding why this is something that OP has to deal with directly with Jane rather than talking to a supervisor

    1. Steve*

      I agree! OP doesn’t even necessarily have to provide a list of suggested fixes, she(?) can start with just bringing it up to her supervisor and see what she says.

    2. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      I think it is because the OP is quite new to the organisation and it can come across as a bit iffy if the new person starts asking for changes.

      That being said, OP totally has the right to bring it up with a boss/manager!

  45. kb*

    I think when discussing this with anyone it would be smart to emphasize that the office change is what triggered the issue. That removes the potential for anyone to think “OP hates kids!/ OP hates Lucinda!” The focus would be on finding a suitable environment for Lucinda and other kids rather than on whether or not Lucinda is a menace.

    1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      The OP could also potentially frame it this way and talk to the mother – “I feel so bad for you and Lucinda since the move to this new office plan! Your cube is far too small for you and Lucinda to both be in there and get what you need to done – we should talk to the boss about organising something else so it works better for you both” – bonus being none of this (bar possibly the first statement) is a lie. The new plan isn’t working, the cube is too small, and the mother and Lucinda can’t both do their work well.

      It makes the OP look like she’s on the mother’s side as it were, but also will bring the problem to light with the boss so they are aware of it. And then, if the boss does say “okay, kid can’t come to the office regularly” then it doesn’t fall as being OPs fault, cause they tried to help make it better

  46. Kristine*

    One time I told a kid in a gentle but firm voice, “Hey, you listen to your mom. She loves you.”
    Worked like a charm, plus the mother thanked me.

    1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

      Kudos to you for supporting the parent’s authority! In this case, “listen to your mom” doesn’t seem to be the most applicable response, though. Mom doesn’t seem to be telling her child to stay quiet or out of the clients’ way.

      I had a span of a few months in which my 2nd grader and my 5th grader got dropped off at my office for 30-60 minutes, one day a week. They sat in the empty cubicle or conference table near my cube, and were required to do quiet activities until we left (spelling homework, electronics with earbuds, read a book). I escorted them if they needed to use the restroom. They had more leeway on those days than others to sing loudly or talk my ear off in the car on the way home in exchange for being unobtrusive at the office.

  47. DaffyDuck*

    Not having to pay for childcare is a very big, very nice perk. Single mom co-worker is taking it for granted and even expecting coworkers to chip in on the care (what snacks they have out, etc) which makes me suspect this has been going on a very long time. I can see her going on the warpath against the new hire if she suspects LW is why she lost the privilege (people who let their kids disrupt others rarely take responsibility for the problem). I would ask long-term employees about how the boss is likely to respond and if they would also bring it up. As AAM said, frame this as a work issue and not about coworkers childcare.

  48. Girl Alex PR*

    I work a large government agency and I have two kids. One of them comes to work with every “Bring Your Kid to Work Day” and this year she even wrote a blog about her experience that went out to our millions of followers on social media. She loved it and so did I! Kids are great and I think it’s fun to have them around on occasion in the office. But I would never be comfortable with a co-worker doing this! EVERY DAY?! No. Just no. My kids are in before and after care. Is it fun paying for it? Of course not. But it’s a necessary expense as an employed person. You figure it out.

  49. zapateria la bailarina*

    holy crap. this stressed me out and made me SO MAD just reading it. kids don’t belong in the office unless it’s an emergency.

  50. BlueWolf*

    My parents would occasionally bring my sister and I to work when we were kids, but usually if they had to work late or something (meaning the office was usually emptier) and we would usually do homework, play on the computer, or read. Sometimes we would wander the office, but usually that was after most people were gone.

  51. tink*

    Holy heck, that sounds really obnoxious. My last position had the occasional child come in (“severe weather” days where the school closed too late for arranging alternate care, medical checkup that went past school getting out but not past 5, etc) but those kids were always really well-behaved and generally either sat near their parent at an empty desk or if they’re old enough to self-entertain, sit in the break room with a snack and homework/books/ipod and headphones. (I was that kid a few times, and mom always planted me in the break room to do homework or read quietly.)

  52. OP*

    Op here: thsnks everyone for all the comments! Woah!

    Some questions came up, so I’ll do my best to add more detail:

    It’s not just an open plan change, it’s a much smaller space in general. We don’t have a spare cubicle; we have a board room but it’s often in use. When we were moving, I was just starting, but Mom made a fuss about making sure there was a corner in her cube for Child (she brought in a beanbag chair, made space for school supplies etc). But in the old office, child had a small Desk in her moms office and much more space in general; now, she’s practically in moms lap. She quickly gets bored or cramped and struggles to do her homework on her lap, hence the move to the front entry couch.
    I don’t hate kids; in fact I WAS this kid, as both my parents at various points took my siblings and I to the offices. But I don’t remember being this disruptive. I think part of the issue is everyone was trying to be friendly, and it’s a very family- style small business anyway. So at first, the child would be taken around to say hi to everyone, or on days where we are all a bit less productive and twitchy by 430, it wasn’t as awkward for her to want to tell someone all about her science project. Or practice her French with a bilingual coworker. But Mom didn’t seem to establish clearly that everyday is not like that. Most day, it’s 20-30 minutes of after-school catchup and then… who knows what magical mystery tour we shall embark on! Sometimes it’s YouTube videos of farting. Sometimes it’s tickle fights. Sometimes it’s just 45 minutes of fidgeting tongue clicking. One day last week it was a two child duet of Frozen. We are all still feeling out this very tight new office anyway, but at least I feel comfortable saying “hey sorry I need to focus” when others are chit chatting. With kids… well, you saw in this comment section how quick people jump to it’s just child-hate.
    I’m not sure how much my boss can do tho; but I will take the advice to heart!

    1. BRR*

      Thanks for answering those questions. Do you two share a manager or how is the reporting structure? Is she senior?

    2. MF*

      “I WAS this kid, as both my parents at various points took my siblings and I to the offices.”

      If you talk to your coworker or to your boss about this, you should totally mention this. “I’m supportive of parents bringing their kids to the office, but I’d really prefer it to be done in a way that isn’t disruptive to my work or our clients.”

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is super frustrating for you. I hope you’re able to find a workable resolution soon.

    4. Rose*

      1. The people who thought you were “problematic” in the comment section were weird. Your letter was funny and normal.
      2. Noise canceling headphones with a little microphone for phone calls or alternatively, stop answering calls/doing meetings from 4-5pm (if your boss asks why say, “there are fart sounds, kids screaming Frozen songs, interruptions that were really embarrassing with clients/vendors.) There are less expensive options out there so I think they’re worth the personal expense.
      3. Try putting a string across your cubicle with a sign that says busy and then keep your back turned. If mom seems annoyed, say something like “oh, I was on a call the other day and littleone interrupted me to ask for candy, so I thought this would be easier for both of us but I’m open to suggestions!”
      4. Most places take client/customer complaints VERY seriously. You could email your boss and be like, “just wanted to let you know that BIGCLIENT was kindof grumbly that there was nowhere to sit when they came for our meeting.” Don’t even bring the kid up!

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t understand why it is so difficult to say to the coworker mom, “Hey, Client will be here at 4 pm for a meeting and we will need that space.”

      2. Observer*

        stop answering calls/doing meetings from 4-5pm

        That’s not reasonable for many positions. If the OP needs to answer calls, she needs to answer calls. She can’t just stop doing her work for that hour because someone is bringing their kid. As for meetings – again, it’s not reasonable in many cases to block out an hour a day that you can’t have meetings.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Well, FWIW, I feel like I’m super sensitive to r/childfree kid-hater type language — it’s a pet peeve of mine and I see it as really gross and bigoted… and I didn’t read any of that in your letter at all.

      Best of luck with everything! This sounds frustrating as heck!

    6. Manders*

      Just chiming in to say I was also a kid who was at my parents’ work regularly, and I thought your letter was totally fine. My parents made it work because they had large private offices with doors and decent soundproofing, plus they were college professors, so they weren’t calling important clients or vendors during the day. Some offices work for kiddos and some just don’t, and while that’s not the child’s fault, it’s not unreasonable for you to want to do your work with no screaming or snack begging interruptions.

    7. LCL*

      The you tube videos you described? I would walk over and shut off whatever device was used to show these.

    8. Epic Flavia Haplessness*

      Keep in mind that the school year is ending soon, so any schedule she currently has might go totally out the window. It might be worth it to wait out the next two or three weeks of June and see what happens once summer camps begin.

      (That being said, a lot of summer camps in my area are 9-3pm, so she may have this problem over the summer too.)

      1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

        As someone who is not from the US, I’d just like to let you know you’ve taught me something! I always thought summer camps were like, stay somewhere else for a length of time things, rather than just day time things! We call them ‘school holiday programs’ here when they’re just daytime :)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          In the US, we typically call them day camps (which are like school days) or sleep away camps (where you live there for a certain period of time).

    9. Lara*

      Did you sing popular tunes at Mom’s coworkers when you were a child? Because I doubt it. Honestly, it really is fine to push back on the stuff you’ve described. Especially singing, farting videos, and tongue clicking. It’s really ok to not be ok with that.

    10. Vicky Austin*

      Please tell me the tickle fights were between the two children, and not between a child and an adult!

  53. Melissa*

    American culture, especially middle class office culture, is incredibly unfriendly to children and by extension, to mothers. This is definitely a feminist issue.

    Our built environment and professional mores are engineered to be unaccommodating to anyone who isn’t 5’10” straight white dude. If you don’t fit that mold and still manage to accomplish anything, you’re awesome because the tide is not in your favor.

    Yes, small people who have not finished their process of socialization and education can be annoying because they don’t conform to office norms. Your feelings are real.

    Maybe there’s a way to look at the problems differently, because children (and other people whose bodies and minds don’t fit the mold) belong in society and don’t deserve to be warehoused and marginalized. Our culture is poorer for it.

    1. bolistoli*

      This is not the point. It’s not up to all the other coworkers to solve this mother’s problem. I get what you’re saying, I really do. And it does suck – especially for single mothers, who are likely to be under greater financial pressure. But the answer here is not – everyone else suck it up for the sake of the child. For the “it takes a village” premise to work, the mother has to be involved. And she clearly is not. I have no doubt that if the child was well-behaved and quiet most of the time, this would not be an issue. And yes, I understand she is a child behaving like a child. BUT this is not a corporate-sponsored daycare. Family friendly should not come at the expense of anyone who does not have kids. The answer here, which is unlikely to happen, is for the company to pay for, or subsidize after school care.

    2. GuitarLady*

      I’m curious, how could we possibly restructure work so that children could be in the area and still have productivity? There are very few jobs that can be done while actively also doing child care, especially of young children.

      1. London Calling*

        *how could we possibly restructure work so that children could be in the area and still have productivity?*

        And why should we?

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Children do not belong in offices on the regular.

      Yes, there needs to be affordable access to daycare, flexible scheduling for parents, and all sorts of other things that make life a little easier for working parents, but accommodating children in the office is NOT one of them.

      1. Temperance*

        I’m going to jump in here and say flexible scheduling should be available to everyone, not just parents!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Agreed :) I was speaking in the context of this particular letter.

    4. MuseumChick*

      This is not a feminist issue. This is an inconsiderate parent issue. The this was a father bringing his kid in everyday, and the rest of the letter was the same, it would still be an issue.

      Don’t force your personal life on your co-workers.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Boy if this comment were under any number of other letters I would be ALL for it, because I couldn’t agree more that our society often sees kids either as lifestyle accessories/extensions of self, or the disgusting offspring of those smug “breeders.” But you have really, really missed the point of this letter. The issue is not “my coworker has a child and I am aware of its existence, kids are the worst.” The fact that the child is a human and thus intrinsically valuable does not mean OP needs to shut up while her coworker lets the kid get away with murder.

      1. Girl friday*

        I think the point is that the parent has many options but for some reason has chosen the workplace. The workplace has no options to offer. If the parents are not continually evaluating their child care situation, then I suspect people aren’t being open with their objections. In other words, it’s still a viable solution for the parent- so workplace communication is off somewhere. That’s why the parents are making small suggestions to bring the environment to equilibrium, because objections are starting to throw it off. Do with that what you will, I guess!

    6. J.B.*

      My office is pretty casual and there are people who bring kids with nearby schools in for a little while each day. But it needs to be reasonable and when it’s not the parent has to make other arrangements. There are afterschool programs, etc, or maybe an alternate work schedule would be possible. That’s not the OPs problem though. The OP has a legitimate concern.

    7. Seriously?*

      No one is trying to warehouse or marginalize the child. But an active child does not belong in a crowded office. It isn’t fair to the kid or the coworkers.

    8. Nita*

      I agree that it’s a feminist issue that child care is not recognized as valued and necessary work. Only, bringing a child to an office that is 100% not set up to accommodate both regular work and the child is just not the answer.

    9. Temperance*

      Um, no. A woman bringing her child to work every day and the child disrupting work is not a feminist issue. The kid isn’t “warehoused” or “marginalized” just because she doesn’t belong in an office, FFS.

    10. Aisling*

      Wow. This question has nothing to do with feminism- the question would still be a question if it was a single father- and most office environments would be much less productive with kids. I love kids, but they often require or demand full attention, and when you’re at work, work requires your full attention. It sounds like you’re projecting your own feelings about society in this response.

    11. Notchildfriendly*

      Uh… i agree that more workplaces should offer day-care but this not a feminist issue and kind of irrelevant? This is not an issue about not providing for flexibility, it’s that bringing a loud child into a workplace not set up for it is unproductive and obnoxious

    12. Lara*

      Having child free environments is not ‘warehousing’ or ‘marginalisation’. It’s about appropriate environments and behaviour. We don’t allow children in bars, as a rule, because they will be disruptive and be exposed to inappropriate situations. This is no different.

      I agree workplaces could and should do more to accommodate parents but having children in the office is not the solution.

  54. Elizabeth West*

    Just today, in fact, after hearing some lighthearted jokes that were a little past PG-13, the mom sent a group email asking everyone to remember there were “little ears” listening.

    This part really pissed me off. Jane wants everyone else to adjust to HER disruptive child? Dear Jane, your office is not a daycare and even if your boss gave you leave to bring Lucinda in now and then, you are taking advantage.

    As a coworker, I’d be tempted to push this to the limit and tell the most PG-13 jokes and discuss the most PG-13 topics I could possibly think of, but then I’m evil. Mwaha.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      The comment from the mom about how everyone in the office shouldn’t be eating the office snacks (I assume they’re not the healthiest option) also made me cringe. Not only is she being permissive of her child’s misbehavior, but she’s also shaming the dietary choices of her coworkers (which has been a hot topic on the threads in the past).

  55. Noah*

    It seems like there’s a lot to break down here. As to talking, is the issue that it’s much louder in the office when the child is there, or is the issue that OP doesn’t like listening to child things. Because here’s the thing: I don’t think having a kid in an office like this is particularly appropriate, but I also don’t think you get to complain when the problem is WHAT you are hearing, not THAT you are hearing it (unless what you’re complaining about is something like illegal harassment). Just like you don’t get to complain that your coworkers are talking about, say, vacation while you’re at work, but you do get to complain that they’re doing it too loudly. I mean, I’m sorry kid things drive you nuts, but if you’re complaint is about content, this seems like a terrible slippery slope. So, it’s not clear to me that OP has a legit sound complaint.

    However, Mom’s cavalier attitude about the snacks and Kid’s filling the room with toys both seem like things that should be addressed.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      The OP has been commenting throughout this thread, and they clarified earlier that they don’t dislike kids. Their letter came across to me as emphasizing that this was interfering with their work (i.e. clients don’t have a place to sit in the waiting area, meetings/phone calls were being disrupted, etc).

    2. Alton*

      I think that even if you like kids in general (which the OP seems to) child behavior and conversation can be more distracting in the workplace because you aren’t used to it and the setting is less likely to be accommodating of it (see: how the child is playing in the client waiting area). It’s entirely possible to not have a problem with “normal” kid behavior in some settings but find it distracting during work. Even parents who work from home and have their kids home with them sometimes can feel that way.

      And it can be distracting when adults have excessively long personal conversations in open work areas. A lot of people get annoyed by that and prefer that people limit that when others are trying to work.

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        I actually got no work done this afternoon because my coworkers were standing near my desk for at least an hour yelling and squawking like high schoolers in a cafeteria- I’m talking raucously loud laughing, sniping back and forth (“Shut up, I hate you,” “No, you shut up,” “No, take your face and shut up BYEEEEE”), making fun of each other’s bodies. And God forbid I got up and told them to stop, because the key instigator of all this is another manager, who hates me and regularly brags about how he can make fun of me to my face without my realizing it. I wish it were just one kid.

    3. OP*

      Hi, OP here! Open plans can be louder environments anyway, for me the difference is that hypothetically my grown up coworkers are at least aware of this, and will do things like shush themselves if they notice you’re on the phone. Kids… don’t. Also, kids are much higher pitched, and those high pitches can pierce through anything. This kid is also well into babble age: I don’t care that she’s relating a fasincsting saga of playground drama, I care that kids often do it at that age without pausing for breath. It’s a solid wall of sound, by a kid who is still learning about indoor voices. Put that together, and it sounds distinctly unoffice like to whoever is on the other end of my call.

      1. Rainy*

        I am legitimately surprised you can keep it together at all. I would lose my mind.

    4. Scarlet*

      Except it doesn’t matter whether OP has a problem with children or not. They’re not working at a day care, they’re working in an office that is obviously not set up to have children babbling for a whole hour, including while the coworkers are on the phone or in meetings with clients. It is objectively disruptive and it would be exactly the same if it were Jacinda from Accounting talking about her holidays at the top of her voice for an hour.
      And claiming they’re “driven nuts by kid things” or that they’re complaining about “listening to kid stuff” per se is totally unwarranted. (BTW, “kid stuff” don’t belong in a regular office anyway).

    5. Lara*

      I think it’s okay to object to other people singing. And as the child is singing Frozen songs, I can guarantee that every parent in the office will be backing OP up if she objects.

  56. AnitaJ*

    Ah, kids at work! One day I was doing a play (I’m an actress) and our lead had brought her 1-year-old to a dress rehearsal. The little girl stayed downstairs in the dressing room watching TV on a phone and whoever was in the dressing room would keep an eye on her until it was time for us to go onstage. (She was always supervised.)

    All of a sudden I look over and she’s pulled down her diaper and there is…stuff…all over her. I had to run her into the bathroom, wash her THOROUGHLY, find a new diaper, and–I didn’t know where her clean clothes were–dress her in the prop baby clothes that were lying around.

    I hope you do not have to go through that, OP. That was a workplace first for me.

    1. GuitarLady*

      That is so inappropriate. I am an actress as well, and I would never agree to that. I am being paid to act, not watch someone else’s baby. Even if it were community theatre I would find that completely out of bounds. And if I were the director, I would have noped that situation hard – most theatres have plenty of volunteers or interns to call on to see if they could watch the kid (and the actress should offer to pay them). I would not want a small kid backstage distracting actors or anywhere near costume or props or equipment that could harm them. Anytime I have been in shows with children, they have designated child minders who are NOT in the cast.

      1. AnitaJ*

        I 100% agree, and I would have been annoyed in a lot of scenarios–I’m SERIOUS when it comes to upholding equity rules, or as close to possible when it’s a non-AEA show. For this show, however, we were all very close and it felt like family and for some reason it didn’t bother me. But that’s me, personally. I would never suggest that this is acceptable in any form. …It makes for a pretty hilarious story now, though!

  57. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    Maybe all the employees should start bringing their children in every day-infants, toddlers, teens, all of them. If the workplace is child-friendly for one employee, why not for all?

  58. CustServGirl*

    I sympathize big time and think Allison’s advice is great, but…please maybe watch your tone? Calling the child a locust isn’t very charitable. Even if you are a person who likes kids, I still find it off-putting to be so dehumanizing towards them.

    1. Observer*

      She wasn’t being dehumanizing at all. This is quite similar to the language I hear a lot of very loving parents use about their kids. (Bottomless pit and vacuum cleaner are other terms I’ve heard.)

      I would NOT use the term when talking to Mom or manager, of course. But let’s get real. The OP is dealing with a significant issue and the term she used helps to illustrate both one aspect of the problem and how it feels to some of the other staff.

      1. CustServGirl*

        Observer- the funny thing is after I commented I re-read the post (and perhaps my sense of humor kicked in?)
        I stand by my comment about watching tone, but I realize OP was venting her frustration with the situation and isn’t actually being unkind.
        OP- my apologies for misreading you! I hope this gets resolved as smoothly as possible for all involved!

        PS- the asking for snacks? Oh heck to the no! My mother would have been mortified if I asked one of her colleagues for their food!

    2. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      I agree, very unkind – locusts are a very important part of the ecosystem and shouldn’t be dumped on by being compared to children!
      (I love kids, but seriously, commenters need to stop tone-policing the OP)

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Golly, I’ll say. It’s like some people (and I don’t mean to put CustServGirl on the spot, because she wasn’t the only one who’s said this kind of thing) have never ever vented and never ever had an unkind thought about another person; and who equate referring to someone as a “pint-size locust” in a moment of irritation to intending to obliterate that child with an economy-sized can of Raid or something.

        Look, the OP was irritated, and decided to vent some of that irritation to us – instead of to that little girl or her mother. That’s a *good* thing.

        And besides, “pint-size locust” is *hilarious*. I have definitely known children – children I am just crazy about – who would qualify.

        1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

          I don’t think I’ve met many children who AREN’T pint sized locusts!

    3. Courageous cat*

      What’s up with the weird tone policing? Children can be, and frequently are, annoying. OP has a right to be annoyed, making this a pretty juvenile expectation.

      1. Scarlet*

        Yeah, apparently some commenters are perfect angels who never rant about anyone or are never annoyed by anyone. /s

      2. CustServGirl*

        Okay, this isn’t about me, but I realize I was a little intense in my comment (see my response to Observer!).

        I guess my sense of humor was kicking in, and While I advised that I would be careful of tone, I wasn’t attempting to police OP’s tone or dissuade her from speaking up.

  59. Sue Ellen Mischky*

    The “don’t call the child….” comments are over the top in my opinion. I think the letter writer was simply using this as a platform to vent/convey the aura of the kid whilst the kid is being disruptive. She has stated she doesn’t dislike kids and has clarified several times. I doubt she will use the same wording when discussing the issue at work.

    Overall the parent isn’t being considerate. Not everyone enjoys kids, most people don’t enjoy kids at work. People are allowed to be annoyed when an unconventional unnecessary thing is happening at work.

    1. AnonyMouse*


      I was really starting to get annoyed by the multiple comments on here implying that the OP needs to like this child. This child is not an employee or client of this organization, therefore there is no obligation for the employees/employer to be accommodating of the child’s presence in the workplace.

      1. Colorado*

        agree completely! I have kids and many dogs and I like them all but I certainly don’t want to work with them all day. I’d feel out your other co-workers. I imagine there are a few of them as equally annoyed.

    2. Mad Baggins*

      +1 How many times have we used similar descriptors about an adult on this site? You wouldn’t say it to their face but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Why are people so focused on offending a bad parent and her annoying child?

  60. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

    As someone with no kids, but plenty of experience being one, I have a suggestion that worked on me when I was smol.

    My Mum was a high-school teacher, and Dad a software engineer. Going to work with Dad on a teacher-only day was great, as he had a spare computer, and put Microsoft Paint on it, and I would mess about all day. With Mum, not so much fun, as I just had to sit in the corner of a classroom. So she (or teachers in neighbouring rooms) would give me ‘jobs’. One teacher had a test going one day, and so I sat at a desk next to hers, with a big date stamp, and when the students brought me their completed test sections I would stamp them received, and give them the next one. I was about 7 or 8. One teacher had me hand out equipment for them during class so instead of having 20-30 teenagers rush the front bench for a piece of equipment, she just had a 7-8 year old wander around handing them out.

    So maybe find some non-important jobs, and see if Child will do them? Make it that she is clearly very grown up because she is at work, and could she help you with a Very Important Job – it might be pre-stamping envelopes, or folding leaflets etc.
    It doesn’t work with all kids, some just NOPE out when you ask things like this, but some kids, especially if they are bored, will feel really special and important (this is double if it seems like the mother is ignoring them)

    1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      The bonus being you get out of doing the stupid annoying take up time jobs, and Child might like you and behave for you!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This would be a fantastic thing for the mother to do. But it’s not the OP’s responsibility.
        Plus, I doubt that Lucinda will be overjoyed to be given tasks since she has been allowed to spread toys out and play and now has a little friend with which to do those things.

    2. Elle Kay*

      OMG the memories! I also spent snow days, etc at work with Dad playing with MS Paint on an unused computer!
      It was the best!

  61. LuJessMin*

    At my old job, one of the schedulers would bring in his kids on snow days or what have you. He’d put them in a conference room with books and tablets and food, but every 15 minutes they were at his desk, whining about something. I unfortunately missed the day when the kids had to leave the conference room for the monthly scheduling meeting, but apparently they started howling and didn’t stop until the boss told the scheduler to deal with them. He never brought them to work again.

  62. Wendy Darling*

    I actually think the OP might have standing to get something done with their boss on the basis of this:

    “Our entryway becomes like a romper room, which has been an issue when I’ve had clients coming through in the late afternoon with nowhere to sit because the kid has spread out her homework/ activities.”

    At my workplace a lot of shenanigans are allowed to occur but as soon as it impacts something client-facing they SHUT. IT. DOWN. All I’d have to say is “I’m concerned how it looks bringing clients through the lobby when little Lucinda has her homework spread all over the floor” or “I asked a client to wait in the lobby but they had nowhere to sit because Lucinda’s belongings were on all the chairs” and this would be over. (At my last workplace they were like this about security, which is how we stopped a coworker bringing her toddler in when his daycare wasn’t in session.)

    I’m honestly surprised this is being allowed to go on at all, but the fact that it’s happening at an office clients come through blows my whooooooole mind.

  63. Ibringmykidtoworksometimes*

    This letter and the comments have brought up a lot of emotions in me. Full disclosure – I’m a parent who occasionally brings young child to work with me when childcare falls through/school closes. My office is a much more appropriate environment (and I have office with door). I definitely wouldn’t make it a daily habit but I wonder WHY this woman has? That’s what I guess is really bothering me. School hours are not set up to work with households where all parents work a job outside the home. And a lot of places do not have affordable after-school care programs. This means parents have to scramble to find babysitters who are miraculously free daily at weird hours like 2:25-5 to pick up children and watch them. This can be pretty costly. Right now I am looking at a three-babysitter rotation for fall because college students are literally my only option, and even then I might have to plan to leave work for a half hour twice a week to bridge the gap between when school is out and one of the sitters can show up. I grew up in a metropolitan area with numerous child care options and continue to be shocked at the lack of options in the smaller city where I currently live.

    The situation with this mother and child does sound obnoxious. As several other posters have commented, there seem to be some behavioral issues. But I do also wonder if there are real reasons the mother has never found an alternative solution. I know it’s not the OP’s issue, but maybe just something to be aware of and sensitive to. I realize now that I have a child that if you expect to work full time and live away from extended family, you’re pretty much on your own and it’s not so easy to find affordable, trustworthy child care. If you have a work environment that shows flexibility in that area, you are more likely to stay – it’s a work benefit. In my own situation, I have purposely stayed where I am because I know it’s the type of place that doesn’t mind accommodating me on occasion.

    My only other comment is this – even when my child is being a complete angel at work, it’s slightly distracting. I wouldn’t WANT it to be a regular situation. Maybe this mother is different. But I feel like there might be a pretty major reason she herself is doing it. To pick your kid up and bring them to work every day sounds exhausting. It makes me wonder if it’s simply a cost saving measure or some much larger issue.

    1. Observer*

      I would most definitely agree with you if the mother behaved differently.

      The whole issue with the snacks and telling people that they need to consider the “little ears” when they have perfectly normal conversations says that she’s not recognizing the reality of the situation, nor accepting her responsibility in dealing with it.

    2. Lara*

      I actually have tremendous sympathy when it comes to the costs and hassle of childcare. But the child is stealing snacks, singing during work calls, making loud noises etc. The mother is not parenting her child – I am sure you wouldn’t allow your kids to go round begging snacks from people.

    3. Elle Kay*

      Sidebar: have you checked out I used that to get babysitting/nanny jobs for a couple years between my bachelors and masters and it was very successful. And I live in a super rural cows-and-apple-orchards area where finding reliable sitters can be hard.

  64. Kate*

    Op I agree you really don’t have the standing to say anything. My first thought was for you to set out a Mountain Dew and sugar candy in the communal food area just as she comes in and let her go until she annoys others to the point of saying something. However I really think your best bet is to play on your newness and exude sympathy and ask your manager if their is something the company or a collection you all as a company could take up since coworker cannot afford to feed the child after school snacks and begs for food daily and is clearly unable afford childcare. This lets management know there is an issue and may shame the mother into getting her child under control.

    1. RJTinRVA*

      OP has *every* standing to say something – the kid-in-office situation is AFFECTING THEIR WORK.

  65. Notchildfriendly*

    This sounds like an awful workplace. I am not a kid person, and would not want my workplace disrupted like this, even by an angelic kid let alone someone who loudly complains about the lack of snacks. And I especially do not think I should have to adapt my behaviour and work-style to suit a child, considering I do not work as a teacher or should reasonably be expected to be around children.

  66. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

    Okay, I see two issues here. First, there’s the practical office issues that need to be addressed in a slower, much more tactful way (for the love of all things sane, talk to your coworkers before moving this up the food chain). Second, there’s the kids themselves. Let’s start with the office. You’ve got clients trying to navigate through a maze of kid items and kids running through the halls. Depending on how narrow of a space and how much those kids are bringing, this can actually be a trip hazard. At the very least, it looks unprofessional. There’s also the fact that people on the other end of your conversations can probably hear a child who drowns out your conversations. I’d strongly suggest having someone call you and see if this is the case because that’s something you need to be aware of. Now, on to the spawns.

    As a mom who loves her son with all the devotion and pride that would make her go Mama Bear if someone dared to even look at my child the wrong way… I’m on your side. Your coworker is out of line expecting all of you help do her parenting for her. That is what she is doing by sending out a “little ears” email. Fortunately, that email does give you an opening to suggest a temporary fix while you work on a permanent solution. Enter the savior of many a parent’s sanity: technology. What this office could benefit from is the application of one pair of noise canceling headphones. No, not on you… on the little ears of her darling angel. Kids have a funny reaction to technology; they zone out. So, you pop those cans on the kid’s head and hit play on her favorite music? No more excited chatter, no more running around, and she’ll probably confine all of that homework and other clutter to a much smaller area. This also helps solve the issue of kid #2. How? Well, when you have one zen kid and one kid doing laps around the ceiling… guess which parent suddenly realizes how visible their kid is? In all likelihood, delicate angel B will either go back to her own childcare or will acquire her own set of Beats by Dre. Heck, if I thought you could get away with it, I’d suggest a laptop or iPad with some age appropriate media and those headphones but the mention of homework means you’re not going to get that past the mothers.

  67. Jemima Bond*

    Aside from odd emergencies, it’s not acceptable to have kids in the office. The conversation with the boss should go like this:
    You: Boss, I understand if it’s an occasional emergency, but Jane brings her daughter into the office for an hour or so every day.
    Boss: oh dear I didn’t realise, I’ll soeak to her
    To me it’s so obviously Just Not On you shouldn’t have to justify yourself with details of the disruption. You can’t bring kids into the office every day, end of.
    It’s like if someone was, I don’t know, sleeping in the office stationery cupboard every night. You shouldn’t have to talk about the mess he makes and the insurance issues and that he uses up all the post-it notes as bedding.

  68. BananaRama*

    Oh, the flashbacks. I’m decidedly not kid friendly and I’m even less friendly when I find kids in obviously adult environments. Once, I was at a home poker game. Lot of people bring their kids and usually the kids self-regulate in another room, it’s a common practice. A parent, who hadn’t been in a while, brought their kid who was a “clinger” and kept hanging around all the adults – not ideal but fine. There was an instance where an adult swore or normal raunchy adult conversation comes up and the parent pipes up about the kid being present and to add to that, maybe we could change the TV channel to something more age-appropriate. Do not follow my example on this, but I pretty much said every swear word I could think of in one sentence and told that parent the adults, not the kids, are playing poker – she wants a kid friendly environment host it at her house. I’m not sympathetic about anyone walking into a known established environment and asking for special accommodations based on their inability to plan right.

    As for workplace advice, I would probably ignore the kid entirely and act how I would normally at work. If it’s in the way, ask it to move. This is obviously impacting the workplace and the productivity of literally everyone. It’s definitely time to talk to management and have the issue address. Plus, a policy about kids in the office wouldn’t go amiss here either.

  69. Chalupa Batman*

    Sorry, weird nesting error. This was a response on an earlier thread to a comment that seems to be gone now, so feel free to delete this one as well if you’d like, Alison.

  70. SoOverJobs*

    Am I the only one that thinks this isn’t a big deal? Everyone is treating “the workplace” like it’s some sacred place that shouldn’t be defiled. Why? Why do we all worship “the workplace” (“kids don’t belong in The Workplace), and being “professional” (it’s not Professional to have kids around) and doing our jobs so much? If we’re being completely honest here, MOST people’s jobs are really not that important in the scheme of things. I’ve been working professionally for 5 years or so, post-grad-school and it feels like for the most part everyone is walking around playing at being important and trying to convince everyone else how Very Important their work and jobs are and how much they Matter. Are they? DO they really matter? We all work so we can pay bills and eat and survive and maybe have some money and time left over for other things. Some people probably have very meaningful jobs where they are truly helping people or saving lives or something and the rest of us just sit at desks all day or push papers around and work with “clients” and somehow we’ve all become convinced that our jobs are just such a high priority and such a valuable use of our time that we have all these special rules about being Professional and how to act and how to dress and how to talk. If you take a step back and look at it, it’s all kind of ridiculous.

    I frankly think this needs to be broken down a bit, and I’d love more people to acknowledge that there is more to life than jobs and performance reviews and managers and cubicles and clients, and to integrate real life into the workplace more, even if this means a drop in productivity. What even IS productivity? For most of us, it basically boils down to making some CEO even richer. I’m all for people bringing their kids in to most workplaces (maybe not a hospital or manufacturing plant or something) more often!

    1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

      I think it’s a deal because it’s an infringement of other areas of life into the work piece, not because the workplace is somehow sacrosanct. If someone from work was showing up while I was attending church on the weekend or watching a hockey game at the local arena and expecting me and those around me (who are trying to worship or to cheer during the Cup Finals) to attend to work matters, it would be inappropriate. There is a place and time for singing Frozen songs or discussing fractions, and doing so in an office takes away from the purpose of the office. Work-life balance includes being respectful of the other people participating in whatever activity is going on- bring kids to the office is work can still be done; get work done while you are enjoying life if you can still enjoy life while you are working.

    2. Kat M2*

      But that’s not really the point of the post. The point is, that kids are being disruptive in an adult only space and adults don’t have to love all children’s behaviors in an area where there’s a reasonable expectation that, at best, kids should be rarely.

      Also, even if some of your points are valid, not all of us are crazy about mixing our personal lives with work. I work with kids in a very social justice-y setting with a mission driven (rather than a profit driven) attitude……….and I still would not bring my own kids to work if I had them, nor would I think it’s necessarily a good place for them. I don’t think my students deserve less than my full attention when I’m teaching them and if I brought a small child with me, I’d feel guilty about not being able to give my full attention to both.

      I think it’s also worth noting that AAM comes at management from an NGO perspective and that many of the readers/commenters are coming from a similar place. For a lot of us, we’re not in it “just to make some CEO richer”……….and even if we work for for-profit companies, there’s still a need for products and services in the world and people will need to focus on making/providing them. Most of us would probably agree that it’s better to give paid family leave, flexible work schedules, and accessible, affordable, high quality childcare, than to let kids run roughshod over everything.

      And even with all of that, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the workplace, drinks and poker with your grown up friends, a wedding, a fancy restaurant. There will always be places that aren’t suitable for children, regardless of one’s feelings re: capitalism, productivity, etc. A parent should know when this applies and do whatever they need to make arrangements.

    3. Elle Kay*

      Because I have a job to do. I have to get X,Y, and Z done on any given day and if the presence of this kid in my office means I can’t get that done -b/c I can’t hear to take calls, b/c meetings are disrupted by a kid running around or chatting, b/c I have to spend 10 minutes explaining to incoming meeting-members why there is a small child and their stuff everywhere, etc etc then I may end up having to stay an extra hour late after the mom and child head home to get my own work down before I can leave.

    4. Mad Baggins*

      I’m confused why you’re getting meta/nihilistic about this. If a family were sitting at a restaurant, with the kids running all around, coloring on the floor, and generally being disruptive, would you say to complaining patrons, “Does eating your meal in peace and quiet really MATTER?”

      My job is sitting at a desk pushing papers around. If I push X papers, I get money. If I push X+50 papers, I get even more money. If Lazy Mother and her child are singing Frozen songs next door and I only push X-50 papers, I get less money. Now I can’t do all those great life things. That’s why it matters.

      If you want to integrate children in your life more, why not run a farm? You can have a kid on your hip while you sew, till the field, milk the cows. Older kids can help you farm or watch younger ones. But if you want to join post-industrial-revolutionary society, you’re going to need to abide by agreed-upon social norms.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            I was inspired by two people earlier in the thread who took their screen names from Madeleine L’Engle books.

    5. Observer*

      To add to what others have pointed out – there are social norms around shared spaces, which most workplaces are, and basic of reasonable behavior that people need to adhere to. That is not happening here.

      The kid is being noisy, disruptive and rude. That’s not cool in a shared space where people need to get their thing done, regardless of what that thing is. There are certain things that are kept out of public / shared spaces unless everyone is in agreement, regardless of the nature of the space, unless that space is home turf for that kind of thing. So fart videos don’t belong in most shared spaces, except perhaps for frat houses and child care facilities where everyone is allowed to run loose (unless they are hurting someone.)

      The kid is taking up space that is designated for other uses. Those uses are legitimate -and paid for by the owner of the business who has a right to get that benefit from the space.

      As for taking people’s food – how is there any way to justify that?! Expecting to be able to keep your food is hardly some made up rule to let people make themselves feel important.

      The bottom line is that people have a right to be able to come to work and get their jobs done so that they can go home and do the things they want to do, that they consider important. Don’t keep people from that because you (apparently) don;t have what to do outside of work and want to make your work more interesting.

      And if you really hate your work that much figure out how to move to something else. It might not be something you can do overnight, but if you’re in a professional job, you’re probably not being held at gunpoint.

    6. RJTinRVA*

      I can’t even with this. Work is a place where work is done. OP’s work is affected by co-worker’s kid. Why do the mom’s rights trump OP’s rights? No. Just no.

  71. Chatterby*

    My initial reaction would be to tell the child “H*** no, you can’t have one, and you can’t be out here, you need to go back to your mom’s cube” while eating a chocolate bar in front of her face. But I’m salty and care little.

    New things are a good excuse to revisit old policies.
    The LW being new, or the change with another coworker starting to do this as well, or even the new office set up could all be good catalysts to ask “Is there an official policy on bringing children to the office? Do we have any rules written down anywhere?” Which would prompt the boss to think that might be a good idea to come up with something before things get out of hand.

    If asked what sort of rules, say it’d be nice to have some clarification on:
    Can sick kids come to work?
    Are there areas they aren’t allowed in, or places they need to stay while clients are in the building?
    Can the kids have the communal snacks?
    Are there upper and lower age limits?
    What if the kid behaves poorly, is there a complaint or review process to have a child banned?
    If a person has to leave to get their child and then come back, how is that time made up?
    Is there a limit on frequency, or the total number of children allowed at one time? Who tracks that and how?
    Are certain types of toys or activities banned, such as playing phone games with the noise on, or tag?

  72. Elle Kay*

    Beyond Alison’s suggestions my most likely action would be to either email or meet in person with my boss; lay out the complications and then ask “so, to avoid these issues and lost productivity can I come in an hour early and leave when the kids arrive?” This way it doesn’t seem like you’re asking for your co-worker to be penalized, you’re proposing a solution to the issue, and the ball is in your boss’ court. Boss now either OKs your new schedule or has to do something about the child-based disruption.
    (I mean, yes, they answer could be a flat “No.” but you’ll have flagged it for them as a real, substantial issue, and they’re likely to start paying attention)

    1. Elle Kay*

      Also: both my boss and my head of facilities’ kids make regular appearances in my office. HOF’s kids are home-schooled so sometimes one will come work in his dad’s office to take the pressure off mom at home. They are quiet and stay in his office: totally OK. Boss’ wife drops kids off (literally in the parking lot) so he can take them to sports/clubs/whatever after school and they may quietly hang out, again, *in his office* for 30-45 minutes: totally ok
      1 hour of unsupervised, free-range child, *daily*: not OK

  73. Frances*

    I think most of the replies I see here have seriously missed the boat. The child is disrupting productivity by talking, singing, going from cubicle to cubicle, etc. The mother herself is distracted by the child’s nattering about her day. Work that is expected to be done is not getting done. I disagree with the “ask a manager’s” reply found on a separate website. It is time for the OP to go to the boss and say that she is unable to work well in this environment because the child is visiting from cubicle to cubicle and causes noise which disrupts phone conversations etc. Then she can ask the boss for suggestions as to what can be done so that she can do a good job doing whatever it is she is supposed to be doing. You don’t see teachers, doctors, airline workers, nurses, garbage collectors, firefighters, policemen, custodians, etc. bringing their children to work on a daily basis. Except for special days, or in event of an emergency other arrangements must be made.

  74. Vicky Austin*

    But children are beautiful and such a gift! Their presence should be tolerated everywhere: at work, at the library, at weddings, at funerals, etc. They are precious little angels and everything they do is adorable! Anyone who disagrees is a meany old fuddy duddy with no heart. OP, instead of complaining about how your co-worker’s little blessing is interfering with your ability to get work done, why not take some time to get to know the kid better and maybe be a mentor to her? I know it’s not part of your job description, but just think of how good you’ll feel inside knowing that you brightened up her day!

    JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!! I am firmly in the OP’s camp here. The co-worker is out of line for bringing her child to work every day and not disciplining her appropriately. I think the OP should talk to HR about the situation.

  75. Laura*

    When I was a child I had two dolls from a set that came with a dollhouse their names were Lucinda and Jane.

Comments are closed.