can you work from home while caring for small kids, presenting with a coworker who swears, and more

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

1. Can you work from home while caring for small children?

I have a friend who is currently working from home full-time with her toddler around. She’s been managing so far, planning her work day around his naps and the feast/famine workload. She would like to have more children. Her husband, for reasons I won’t go into, has steadfastly refused that they put their toddler and any future children in childcare until they start school (at age 4). She has told me he has told her he thinks she should be able to continue to work from home managing a toddler and a preschooler (after maternity leave).

She’s not so sure.

She has essentially a desk job with no travel or customer facing tasks and I suspect the bulk of her work needs to be done during regular working hours. But I don’t feel it’s a reasonable assumption that two small children at home plus working full-time is an very easy doable thing.

But what do I know – my own kids are in their teens now but when I had the two of them under five, it was a busy time. I wasn’t even working and it felt busy.

Are there any working at home parents out there among your fans who are making it work with two small children at home? Or is this one of those situations where it sounds and looks good on paper but in the end, someone loses and something’s gotta give?

Hahaha! No, it’s not realistic to work full-time while also being the sole caretaker for two small children.

In fact, it’s really common for companies with remote employees with small kids to require those employee to sign a document attesting that they have child care during work hours, because it’s widely recognized that taking care of small kids requires way more attention than a full-time job allows.

If your friend works for herself with no employer to answer to, and doesn’t mind having zero leisure time and near-zero sleep time, maybe she could try to make it work.

Otherwise, it sounds like her husband is going to need to take over the child care if he finds paid help a no-go.

2. Giving a presentation with a coworker who swears a lot

I occasionally work with a junior colleague who curses quite a lot. Part of her job is hosting events with people who are coming to our organization for the first time from around the country and she regularly drops the F-bomb within the first hour of the event. Sometimes when she’s in my office talking to me, I feel like I should close the door to my office so the other people in my senior-level suite don’t wonder what’s going on with the profanity. When I first met her, I thought she was terribly unprofessional, but as I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve found that she’s very good at what she does, incredibly intelligent, and actually someone I really enjoy working with — just young and maybe a bit inexperienced in professional settings (I think this is her first job outside of a research setting after her PhD).

I’ve thought in the past maybe I should say something to her about the profanity. To be clear, I’m not offended in the least — I curse all the time myself, just not at work! I thought as someone with a little more experience, and as a fellow woman in a male dominated field, I could maybe give her some polite advice. I eventually decided it’s not my place — I’m not her supervisor, she doesn’t even work in the same division of our institution, and I didn’t want to offend her.

But now, we’ve been asked to give a presentation together in a couple weeks to a very high-level group within our organization. They are NOT the kind of people you curse in front of. I’m not sure if my colleague really understands the status of this group because she didn’t even know what it was until I explained it to her (this is a very large organization and they’re in a totally different part of it from us, but a super important one). I would be mortified if we were co-presenting and she cursed even once, so I’m wondering if I should say something. On the one hand, I don’t want to offend her by assuming she doesn’t know not to curse in front of an important group. But on the other hand, it’s not like I haven’t heard her curse before in front of people at events (granted, much more casual events with less high-level people, but still). Any advice on how I could politely bring this up without offending her?

Just be matter-of-fact about it; if you try to approach it delicately, it’s more likely to come across weirdly.

So: “Hey, I know you’re sometimes a fan of salty language — and so am I, outside of work — so just a heads-up that that would not go over well with this group. We need to keep it super G-rated.”

Say it in the same tone you’d use to say, “This group hates any Powerpoint longer than three slides” or “they will always want to break for lunch promptly at noon.” You’re not judging anything; you’re just letting her know useful context.

3. A new hire who ghosted us a few years ago just applied for another job here

I work in a very small company (7-8 people) that belongs in a niche industry. That means that among all, we do not have a dedicated HR department. We do not hire people often since we have almost zero turn over, but when we do, it is up to me to post job listings and perform the interviews.

Few years back I was pregnant so we started searching for someone to fill in some of my duties while I would be on maternity leave, but to have him/her stay after my return as well. Interviews were scheduled until we finally selected the person who would fit very well in the role. Her first day would be on Monday. She never showed up. She didn’t even have the decency to talk to me, she just left a message at the reception that she would not be working with us, no other explanation. Understandably that put me in a lot of stress, but we started the process again and came up with a great colleague who stills works with us.

Now another member of the team is pregnant and we started looking for someone to expand our team. The person who stood us up few years back just send her CV. I am furious. Should I respond or just let it go ?

The mature answer is to either ignore her or send her a frosty rejection, but there’s also nothing wrong with responding back with, “We actually hired you for an X role three years ago but you didn’t show up on your scheduled first day. We’d of course want to understand what happened there before we could consider another application from you.” (You will not consider her application regardless, but it would be Very Interesting if you get a response.)

4. Should I advocate for just one penny?

I work as a project assistant at a non-profit. It’s a really great job with really great people, and I’m super happy! However, I recently discovered that the hourly rate on my offer letter and the rate displayed on our company’s payments portal are different – by one cent (for context, I’m hourly and non-exempt). I calculated the difference that would make me over all, and though it’s definitely not much, it’s still more. Should I dispute this, and how? I feel kind of silly advocating for that single cent, but all money helps, and I also don’t want to just let it go on principle.

Sure. It’s money, and it’s owed to you, and a decent company will want to have their systems correct. You don’t want to approach it guns blazing, of course — just like, “I noticed a small discrepancy between the pay rate in my offer letter and the one in the payments portal. It’s a minor one, but I wanted to make sure the correct figure is in there.”

5. I was turned down for a promotion based just on my interview

Yesterday I received news that I did not receive a promotion to a supervisory position. The reason they did not promote me I feel is not valid. I wanted your second opinion on it, and advice.

The reason why management turned me down was only because of my performance on the interview. They said that I seemed unsure of myself. My argument is that the work environment itself and the interview are two totally different atmospheres and thus people can behave in a different fashion. Management is very well aware of my contributions and work for the operation, and I have been working there for over four years. I believe that my performance on the job is a better reflection on how I would fit into a supervisory role. This is also not the first time I tried for this promotion, and each time I do get rejected I get a different reason. This is the first one that had nothing to do with how I perform my duties.

In general, working with someone for four years is going to tell you way more about them than an interview ever could. That said, it’s still possible that your interview could be a legitimate reason for rejecting you, depending on the context. In this case, you were applying for a management position, and seeming unsure or hesitant about how you’d handle various management challenges would absolutely give a good interviewer pause. (To be clear, if you’ve never managed before, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t be 100% confident — and in fact, if you were, I’d take that as a danger sign too — but there’s a certain level of uncertainty that would be worrisome.)

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t really matter if you think their reason for rejecting you was valid or not; they get to decide, and it’s not like you can overturn their decision if you disagree with it. But what you can do is to ask about what you need to work on in order to be promoted in the future. If they can’t lay out a pretty clear path to that, that’s a signal to you that you probably need to look outside the company in order to move up. (Frankly, it’s worth trying that regardless, so that you know what your options are.)

{ 631 comments… read them below }

  1. Someone Else*

    OP1 this is the answer your friend’s husband needs to hear:
    Hahahahahahahahahaha No.

    One cannot be the primary caretaker of children under 5 (and frankly, my company puts it at 12) while simultaneously working. Work from home doesn’t necessarily mean “work whenever you want” so working around naps and whatnot, without explicit permission, is a no go. Unless she already has a flexible schedule (and no “core hours” coverage requirement), his idea for this is completely absurd. Even if she does have a true flex-schedule and is allowed to work whatever hours she wants, and those hours can vary on a daily basis, it only moves from “completely absurd” to “bad idea most employers would frown on as an everyday thing”.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      You know what’s something I’ve never, ever heard someone say? “Looking after small children is so easy! I have so much free time at home during the day I think I’ll pick up full time work to keep from being bored.”

      I can maybe see managing this with one kid, if the hours are flexible, the parent insanely efficient and the kid a biddable, even tempered frequent napper. But two kids (or one more challenging kid, or core working hours) will make this impossible.

      What I’d like to see in a situation like this is for the father to try what his wife’s already doing. Full time job, small child, his wife out of phone contact so he has to figure stuff out on his own. I’m betting he’d give up by noon on the first day.

      1. Not A Manager*

        You know what’s something I’m not hearing that father say? “Working full time while staying home with two kids is so easy, I’ll do it myself!”

        1. PB*

          Yeah, funny how he thinks this is a great thing for his wife to do, but he isn’t entering into the equation at all.

          1. anonymous 5*

            ding ding ding! If it’s so important to him that his children be looked after only by their own parents throughout their pre-schooling years, then he is welcome to address how he plans to adjust his own workload in order to do some of that!

            1. EPLawyer*

              Why Alison made the suggestion. if the friend looks her husband straight in the eye and tells him to stay home with the kids then, he will be flabbergasted. I can bet his opinion is not that at least one PARENT should care for the kids until school age, it’s that the Mother should care for the kids while also working.

              I’m betting the employer doesn’t know she doesn’t have childcare. She is managing for now, but all it will take is for the kid to be sick just one day and the whole house of cards falls down.

              1. valentine*

                I’m betting the employer doesn’t know she doesn’t have childcare.
                I am wondering how mandates are worded because the answer to “Do you have childcare?” may be “Yes. (Me.)”

                1. PhillyRedhead*

                  Mine specifies that children must be cared for by something other than the employee.

                2. Tammy*

                  My company’s employee handbook says this:

                  “Working remotely is not intended as a substitute for child care or care for another adult. If a child or adult needs care during work time, another responsible individual is expected to be present.”

            2. Academic Addie*

              This. It was important to my husband that the kids have a parent with them the first 6 months, after my leave ran out. So he stayed home. It can be done, LW’s friend.

            3. TootsNYC*

              “looked after only by their own parents”

              The OP said “refused that they put their toddler and any future children in childcare”–the preposition “in” makes me wonder if it has never occurred to these people to hire help in their own home.
              That way Mom’s still in charge–she just has a second set of hands to occupy the children.

              1. Evan Þ.*

                When I was growing up, my mom did just this – she went over to a friend’s house to care for their kids (for pay) while Friend worked from home. I loved it, because I got to come along and play with Friend’s kids. As far as I know, it worked really well for my mom and Friend too.

        2. selenejmr*

          My ex-husband told me a few times that he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad…..after the kids were both in school.

          1. Perpal*

            Ha! (still potentially busy if they’re actually doing all the breakfast/lunch packing, housekeeping, and after school activities though; I salute full time homemakers/parents and agree it’s a full time job)

        3. Perpal*

          And if someone did say that, well… I’d be slightly terrified to find an infant who had been just left in a crib with a closed door for hours on end

        4. Nita*

          Ha! After my husband tried that (minus the working part, even) he very quickly went from “you’re home, WHY do you don’t need child care?” to “please don’t work from home again, just take a longer leave, and let’s have the older kid in day care so it’s easier on you!”

          1. TootsNYC*

            so it’s easier on you

            This is what marriage is supposed to be–each of you looking out for the other person 9and of course for the kids)

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Been looking for a good place on this thread to say it. As a straight woman who started to date in her 40s following an ending of a long marriage… gentlemen, we most certainly look at that stuff when trying to determine if you will be a good partner. The guy I date does not *have* to have kids, but if he does, then I’m going to pay attention to his level of involvement. The man I had the best relationship with so far, had been a single parent of three for several years, a few years before we met. (By the time we met, all three were grown and out of the house.) And if he dumped all of the childcare on your wife when he was married? we will pay attention to that too.

        5. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          A friend of mine is getting married in a few months, and her fiance has the exact same belief about childcare (that it’s so easy, my friend can be a full-time writer while also caring for his planned six – SIX – children). His basis for this ridiculous assertion is that he babysat his younger siblings in high school, so her experience will be equivalent, nevermind that she is an only child, and babysitting as a sibling is not the same thing as being a parent anyway.

          Things he has never said: “I’m so experienced with taking care of kids that I will be the primary caregiver.”

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Suggest to your friend that they have some serious conversations about family size and how children are to be raised. Because that guy is completely clueless – either purposefully or not.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Most people I know who have thought they wanted a big family felt VERY differently after the first one or two.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Hear, hear. We wanted three. We have two. In addition to both of us realizing we were already in over our heads, *one of the kids* asked us to stop.

          2. Fiberpunk*

            I hope for her sake that she wakes up before she marries him, because it gets so much more difficult if you don’t realize your partner is an asshole until after you have kids.

      2. Asenath*

        I’ve heard people say “Looking after small children is so easy, and leaves lots of free time”. They’re never anyone who’s actually cared for small children, though. I’d say the husband’s proposed plan is totally impossible. They’d have to hire some in-home day care or give up on the idea of the wife working full time.

          1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

            I think Asenath meant ‘if they’re not going to consider daycare.’ Which is the realistic other option, unless they happen to have a bunch of family members in the nearby area that can commit to babysitting every freaking day (or unless Dad is willing to take his kid to work, which I’m quite sure is a No).
            Realistically it is impossible for the kids to stay home and be cared for by someone who’s working full-time. Caring for children IS a full-time job. You can’t do two full-time jobs simultaneously.

            1. TootsNYC*

              You can hire in-home babysitters and still have the mom work from home.

              I don’t know how expensive that is; it’s probably more than daycare, but you don’t have to pay enough to cover the overhead of a daycare place.
              And MAYBE you could get by with a part-time solution, or offer hours and flexibility that make up for a lower wage.

              1. JR*

                A babysitter in your own home is a lot more than daycare when you have one kid, but the math gets better when you have two kids (since that’s twice the cost for daycare for two kids but only a couple dollars more per hour when you add a second). But still, for a 20 hour per week babysitter for two kids, I think we pay more than having them in daycare full-time. Maybe a little less because infant and toddler care is a lot more expensive and one of mine is still in that age range. There are some ways to reduce the cost, though – do a nanny share (though that might be hard when they have two of their own), find a nanny who wants to bring her own kid, etc.

                1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

                  There are a lot of options. I have worked since my older daughter was six months old. First I worked part-time and used an in-home babysitter. Then I switched to full-time and found a nearby family daycare situation. When I had my second one I hired a full-time nanny. Then we moved to a larger apartment so I could hire a live-in nanny. When the husband says, “in daycare,” to what exactly is he referring? Maybe he doesn’t understand what the options are. And, by the way, it was my husband who found the ad in the Pennysavers for the family daycare situation and suggested we check it out. But working from home with a preschooler and a toddler??? No way. Not possible. not even close. Wonder Woman couldn’t do it.

              2. Crisy*

                For one kid, in-home care can definitely be cost-prohibitive for full-time. I have twins, so a nanny works out a lot better for us for a number of reasons. It costs the same as full-time daycare, and finding daycare spots for two infants is damn near impossible in my area right now (we’ve been on the waitlist at the center affiliated with my employer for the past 13 months – my twins aren’t quite 10 months old)….

              3. Perpal*

                Nannies/babysitters only really become less expensive than daycare if you have multiple children; then it starts becoming more cost effective.
                Basically you’re hiring a full time employee; in the USA currently that would be at least $290/week for 40 hrs, just min wage, not even factoring in all the taxes (state unemployment insurance, worker’s comp, FUTA, medicare and state and fed taxes; why yes I did hire a nanny and do all the taxes myself; and I pay them a living wage $17.50/hr (plus taxes) not 7.25/hr because eff that. Also, she is part time, so I consider that a bit of a premium too; if I had three small children full time might be more cost effective than daycare though. )

                1. Perpal*

                  But I admit I do prefer a very trusted nanny/in-law/spouse/solo main caregiver for babies / under 1 year old.

            2. Pescadero*

              “You can’t do two full-time jobs simultaneously.”

              True – but I do know people who have managed to do two full time jobs serially during the same working period.

              I used to have a friend that worked in two different assembly plants about a block apart from each other – he worked 1st shift in one and 2nd shift in the other.

        1. Emi.*

          Or the father can stop working full-time. To, you know, care for his children, since professional childcare is so unacceptable.

        2. anonarama*

          Or the kid can go to a daycare center or a home day care OR THE HUSBAND CAN QUIT HIS JOB

        3. Clisby*

          Or the husband can switch to part time. Or he can get a night-shift job and wrangle the kids while his wife works (assuming she works during the day.) I’ve known several couples who avoided child care by working different shifts.

          1. TootsNYC*

            This is what my in-laws did. MIL worked nights for a cleaning company, and FIL worked days in construction. It was hard, but it worked for them–and for many others.

          2. DataGirl*

            Yep. When I was little my mom worked nights as a nurse and dad worked days as a mechanic. When my kids were little, I worked nights at a grocery store after husband got home – it didn’t pay much but let me be home with the kids during the day and not pay a fortune for childcare.

          3. Parenthetically*

            Yep, I’ve known lots of people who’ve done this in a pinch. It’s rough on your marriage, but if you know it’s just a particular season and you have a plan, I’ve seen it work.

            This husband, though. Few things infuriate me more than someone who wants SOMEONE ELSE to sacrifice — especially a partner, ESPECIALLY a husband of a wife in a society where working mothers are SO disadvantaged anyway! — so they can “have it all.”

        4. Formerly religious*

          If the husband in question is anything like the men I grew up with in a super conservative religion, his wife giving up her full time job might actually be the outcome he hopes for.

              1. Else*

                Yeah, he might be the sort to pressure her into staying home and then whine about the lost income. Bet he’d hold it over her that it was all “his” money and peck at her if she ever spent anything. I think some of those types do not think kids actually need regular care that involves ongoing work – they think someone just needs to be there in case of emergency and to work the microwave and diapers.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        No one looking to hire a nanny thinks “Greta already has a full-time office job, and says that the baby, toddler, and/or preschooler can entertain themselves while she gets her regular work done but keeps one eye on them–this is great!”

      4. Liz*

        This SOOOO reminds me of my friend when she had her first child. Her husband is cheap. Irrationally and obsessively so. I can’t 100% fault him as he learned from his parents but even so there are times I just want to shake him he’s so ridiculous. I can’t even go into it as it would be a book! Anyway, before kids (BK) they both worked full time, making about the same, which was decent enough they could live on ONE salary and bank the other. So they were able to save a good 3500-4K per month. Which is great.

        After she had their first, he decreed (I’m sure it was due to cost as he never really explored any options or crunched any numbers) that he did not want his child in daycare. I get that. My friend wasn’t too keen on it either but was at least willing to consider ALL options. So one of them would stay home. He thought well, since MY job is something that can be done from home, and he also could freelance doing what he does, that he would do that, AND simultaneously watch their INFANT. Mind you she was nursing, so not really sure how he thought a. that would work well and b. or how he could manage an infant, fussy one at that, AND work FT.

        She ended up not going back to work, while he continued as the sole breadwinner. But he never really got that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses doing what he initially proposed. We all laughed at him behind his back. I know not nice, but he just had no clue at all.

        1. Annon for this*

          Speaking of no clue..
          My spouse worked out of the second bedroom while I was pregnant with our first child. MIL asked him where he would move his office once the baby was born. Spouse declared “this baby won’t change our life!” He was so serious. MIL and I laughed and laughed. Twenty years later it is still a good laugh, but even he laughs at it now.
          BTW – He moved into the cellar with a rug and a space heater.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            ROTFLMAO When my daughter was about 2 months old, my husband came to me with a panicked expression and said he was going to SLEEP in the basement. The unheated basement with a concrete floor. In winter in New England. He broke out our sleeping bags and had a glorious 8 hours straight. And he took our daughter out on Saturday morning for hours so I could also catch up. AAAAH.
            Yep. I can’t imagine trying to work with a newborn in the same building.

    2. My Dear Wormwood*

      I remember fondly the time I said I’d watch my toddler niece for a few hours while I was also interviewing scientists for some articles I was writing. I had to break off a discussion about gravitational lensing to yell, “Stop licking the bin!”

      When I got off the phone with a paleontologist, I realized she was stomping around going, ” ‘Taceous. Disaur. r

      1. My Dear Wormwood*

        ” ‘taceous. Di-saur. RAWR.” should have been the end of that comment!

      2. Forrest*

        Just before I started a job a few years ago, my manager-to-be called me on her day off when she was looking after her three-year-old because we hadn’t been able to schedule the call at another time. It was bizarre and lovely: she was a very energetic, very fast-talking Scot and I just remember the conversation going, “OK, so you’re very familiar with ABC, but I think we’ll need to do some training around XYZ to get you up to speed. Lovely! Smashing! No! NO! NO no no no no, we don’t eat that!”

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, there’s a rhythm to adult conversations when there are little kids around. Many parents adapt and able to carry on some degree of conversation when there are little kids present, but people who don’t spend much time around young kids often can’t handle it.

          My supervisor once brought his preschooler to the office for an hour or two. He was well-behaved and sat and colored, but still needed some moment-to-moment attention in the way that little kids do. I have two kids about the same age and was totally able to have a meeting with my boss during that hour and barely even noticed the occasional “oh, here’s the blue marker” or other comment to the kid. Our colleague who doesn’t have kids clearly found these asides super-distracting and we had to postpone part of the meeting to the next morning (which was fine in this context).

        2. CommanderBanana*

          I have dogs, not kids, and they’re even tough on a conference call. The bigger one has learned that if Mom’s on the computer talking but not to her, she can start whining very loudly and will immediately get a toy to shut her up, and the other one has to be in your lap if you are sitting down.

          And they both whine if I’m downstairs because they want me to be upstairs so they can nap in the Big Bed while I’m working.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            To everyone whose dogs are around during conference calls, please know that most of the rest of us LIVE for the moments when your pooches speak up. It is so refreshing to have a stream of corporate lingo interrupted by an occasional “woof”.

            1. Else*

              I LOVE seeing my colleague’s four dogs prancing and wrestling around in the background of our zoom meetings – they are pretty quiet but she silences her mike anyway, so they’re basically just pleasant background.

            2. CommanderBanana*

              Haha the bigger one rarely barks but will emit a sustained high-pitched whine until the squeaky balls have been delivered (then squeaks and howls until they’re shredded). The other one just HAS to be on your lap at ALL TIMES. As soon as you sit down she makes a beeline for you, and will even try to jump in your lap while you are trying to pee.

            3. Oaktree*

              Please know that this in not universally true. An occasional muffled is cute, but having the conversation interrupted by repeated barking is unprofessional and distracting, and will affect my opinion of the dog owner.

              1. Oaktree*

                That was supposed to say “an occasional muffled ‘woof'”. Not sure why using angle brackets disappears a word, but whatever. Point stands.

                1. Oranges*

                  Because HTML haaaaaates comment sections with a passion. Added to that each comment engine has different rules about what characters it encodes in the Rich Text Field. Just give up and never use angle brackets is my advice.

                  -Front End Coder of Web Things

          2. Hello Sweetie*

            One of my co-workers was working from home one day and joined our group meeting via Skype. halfway through the meeting, one of his cats slowly walked past the camera, stopping in a perfectly strategic way so that our view was entirely of it’s backside, tail lifted…you can see where that’s going.

            The best part was as the rest of us were struggling to keep from laughing, my co-worker had the most stoic face, he never cracked.

        1. Jaydee*

          But dinosaurs from the Cretaceous don’t have any immunity to modern garbage germs. A ‘taceous di-saur needs to be very careful not to lick the bin so it can stay healthy and keep rawring.

      3. Sharrbe*

        It’s like that BBC video that went viral a couple of years ago. Man is doing a news interview at home and the preschooler saunters in, then the baby in the walker behind her, and then mom running in in a panic trying to get them out. That shows how difficult it it is to work from home with TWO parents there. The poor mom probably went to pee and the kids went right to the room they weren’t supposed to.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I think she’d only turned to get a camera or something to take a photo of the TV showing the live interview, meanwhile the preschooler sees daddy on TV, knows that daddy is in the next room and goes to see him – and this time he hadn’t locked the door. Meanwhile mom suddenly sees no kids and realizes too late what’s happened.

            1. JKP*

              Maybe that’s the official story, but in the video you can clearly see that she hasn’t managed to fully pull her pants back up. She was totally in the bathroom when the kids escaped.

    3. Willis*

      And even if the company didn’t care what hours she worked, it sounds like an untenable plan for her as well. How can she take care of two kids all day and then work 8-hours at night/once her husband gets home?? Especially with a baby and a young kid, their napping and other schedules are unlikely to align enough that she could really get much done during the day.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “… and that’s why we tag team our naps, mommy. So one of us can always keep an eye on you.”

      1. Blue*

        My sister more or less makes this work with three kids (one of whom is in school), but Alison’s exactly right: it only kind of possible because she works for herself with no employer to answer to, and she doesn’t mind having zero leisure time and near-zero sleep time. Her husband takes over almost all childcare duties when he gets home from work to free her up (which I sincerely doubt OP’s friend’s husband does or is willing to do). And she has the four year old in preschool a couple of days a week and on those days, our mom watches the toddler so she can get a solid amount of work done, uninterrupted.

        My sister likes her work and she likes the amount of time she gets with the kids. She doesn’t want to give either up, but really, that’s only realistic because she has a support network that allows her the necessary flexibility. It doesn’t sound like OP’s friend has that. And, if I’m honest, I don’t see how you do this unless you need the money and have no choice or you’re really passionate about the work, because working two full-time jobs (and barely sleeping) is no joke.

        1. Rana*

          This what we do when I have a project. My low-attention tasks get done when she’s playing; the others have to be done when she’s asleep or when we’re in different buildings (eg school, or I leave for Starbucks). Time for me shrinks considerably and household stuff gets the bare minimum. It’s exhausting for everyone. And that’s with pat-time hours and spaces between projects. Full time, full-schedule work won’t be possible for years.

      2. boop the first*

        Especially considering that after husband gets home, in SOME cases, it’s just another grown child arriving to be fed and napped.

      3. TootsNYC*

        How can she take care of two kids all day and then work 8-hours at night/once her husband gets home??

        Parents do that all the time!

        They just don’t usually do it in the same house–that would probably be the downfall. I know my husband wouldn’t be good at pretending I wasn’t there, and neither would the kids.
        I’d have to set up an office in the garage or something. (if I had a garage)

        1. Arya Snark*

          A former co-worker went on to have a fully remote job. She hired a nanny to watch their two kids (both <3 YO) and worked from the MIL apartment attached to their house. She had to pretend to leave every morning and the kids had no clue she was still in the house.

        2. Willis*

          Sure, if one’s husband is going to take on the childcare tasks when he gets home. I, uh, don’t get that vibe from this letter.

        3. myswtghst*

          This has been my challenge on my occasional WFH day (my husband is the SAHP for our 8.5 month old). It’s hard for me to concentrate with the temptation of baby snuggles just a flight of stairs away, and it’s hard for my husband to pretend I’m not there when my son wants to stick his hands and feet in his poopy diaper.

    4. Nursey Nurse*

      I am extremely curious to hear why the husband of LW1’s friend thinks it is feasible for his wife to work a full-time job while acting as the sole caregiver for two young children. I have one young child, and I can’t even take 60 seconds to pee without chaos descending. “Mommy, I need a snack! Mommy, the dog’s head is stuck in the dishwasher! Mommy, there’s a pit viper in the living room and he looks bitey!”

      I think LW1’s friend should tell her husband that they can have either a second income or a stay-at-home parent, but not both.

      1. Nursey Nurse*

        Exactly. And one can hardly say “don’t worry, sweetie, I’m sure that was only a dry bite. Mommy will take care of it when she’s done with these TPS reports.”

      2. PurpleMonster*

        That’s exactly why my first reaction was to guffaw.

        I’m the primary parent to a 21-month-old. I work from home, for myself, so it’s completely flexible. My husband also works from home, for himself. I know, we’re in a dream position. We still have her in childcare two days a week.

        It’s not possible to work with her around – someone has to take her away so the other can work. It’s barely possible to do housework and difficult to cook dinner. She’ll present you with books and demand ‘read’, she’ll steal your computer mouse, she’ll spread toys everywhere, she’ll disappear and go quiet and the next thing you hear is a crash and scream. Working during nap times stopped being feasible after about 5 months because they’re so variable and not always guaranteed, and I’d always get started on something only to have her wake up soon after (I think my record was 8 seconds on my time tracker).

        I suppose you might have a better chance if you parked them in front of the TV all day – but my daughter wouldn’t stand for that, and anyway that isn’t fair on her and it’s not the kind of childhood I’d want her to have.

        With two kids? Pffft. I’m asking myself a lot of questions about the husband, and what world he lives in.

        1. Lucy*

          Who honestly believes that “at home with mom (but in front of Nick Jr ten hours a day)” is better than non-family, paid childcare?! It’s cognitive dissonance, surely.

          1. valentine*

            This is what I don’t get. Where is the engagement and enrichment? Teaching them to read and count and everything else? You can’t shove that into evenings and weekends. And, just as you don’t expect a nanny to “watch” a kid while working phone customer service, a caregiver shouldn’t have their attention so divided.

            OP1: Is this childcare decree (which isn’t an ultimatum because, if they divorce, is he going to try this double dereliction of duty?) or the desire for more children new? Because his plan is wildly unsustainable. It’s just not possible for only two adults to care fully and properly for even a single child alone, especially not for the first three to four years. Can friend never travel alone, take a daytime class, or volunteer? What happens if she gets the flu or is hospitalized? What if the children’s needs differ widely and they regularly need to be in different places outside the home during the day? I hope your friend isn’t siloing on prioritizing her husband’s job. In fact, she should start with the idea of working or doing something else outside the home herself. Is husband dedicated enough to be the primary, housebound, caregiver?

            1. 8DaysAWeek*

              This! As a mom of a child with special needs, you are always “on”. My son is school age, but at any moment I can get a call that I need to pick him up from school, go to the hospital, etc. Ironically as I typed this, I got a phone call about my son. You always need plan B even if you have child care in place.

              And it is not fair to the child if the parent is working full time out of the home. They are not getting the attention that is needed at this age. The best case scenario would be to find an in-home caregiver that would allow you to work while still being able to interact with the child as time permits.

            2. JJ Bittenbinder*

              And, just as you don’t expect a nanny to “watch” a kid while working phone customer service, a caregiver shouldn’t have their attention so divided.

              Yes! I’m sure most reasonable parents would agree that their paid caregiver has ONE job, and that’s looking after children. I’d be concerned to the point of removing my kids from a provider if they were working another job at the same time as watching my kids. Why should this be any different?

              Anyhow, I think we’re all in agreement that the husband is a knob and that this isn’t feasible. It’s just on LW’s friend to get him to that point, or make an alternate life plan.

            3. TootsNYC*

              yeah, even w/ one parent as the full-time at-home parent–you need backup childcare!

              Your family requires it of you. You need options, your children need for you to have potential backup care available.
              It’s sort of like being a manager. You should always be ready for one of your employees to leave; you need to always be aware of how you would replace them.

              In any given town, a significant percentage of the population can care for your child adequately–and some of them can actually do it BETTER THAN YOU.

              Now, they’re not all available–lots of them have jobs too. But some of them are available.
              Find some of them.

              (As for “cared for by strangers”–what is a stranger except “someone you haven’t met yet”? So meet some people, evaluate them, and decide whether they’d be acceptable to you. Some of them will not be–but the fact that you don’t know them isn’t the reason they’re not acceptable.)

            4. Parenthetically*

              I nannied VERY part time for a school year for a family that tried to do exactly that — raise three kids essentially on the weekends, and let the TV/Nintendo/AO3 handle the rest. Dad was gone from 7am-7pm, mom was a mostly-full-time psychologist managing a busy practice, kids were 11, 7, 3 and THE OLDEST WAS HOMESCHOOLED and spent most of her down time in the waiting room of her mom’s office between being shuttled to tutors.

          2. OtterB*

            That’s what I was thinking too. Parent in the house but mostly-unavailable to the child is not, not, not an improvement over paid child care.

          3. Academic Addie*

            100% this. I love my kids. My husband and I are both professionally accomplished. But we’re not teachers. We’re not little kids. Our daughter (4) gets something out of going somewhere else with other kids and stimulating activities. I’d want that even if we didn’t both work.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Ha yes – after 3 months of maternity leave I was sad to go back to work, but I was also struggling to figure out anything interesting/developmental to do with him at that point. What do I know about early childhood development?

        2. Save your forks*

          This is exactly what I came on here to say! Here is how setting down to work goes:

          Me: [type for two seconds]
          21-month old: Up! Up! (proceeds to walk off with computer mouse or keyboard in mouth)

          If we only worked during naptime that would be max one hour of work per day. Full-time work at home absolutely requires two adults present.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Hahahahaha same

            Me: *gets out computer*
            20-month-old: Mamma! Pootoo! Up! *attempts to destroy computer*

        1. I Took A Mint*

          Exactly. How would hubs feel if the kids’ nanny or grandparent was also working a full time job? Feels dangerous doesn’t it?

          Anytime someone says that it’s possible to work from home and care for small child(ren) without outside help has such unrealistic expectations that I would question their ideas of “work” and “parenting” (ie are they doing any?)

          1. 'Tis me*

            Our girls are both a lot clingier with me than they are with their father… He has looked after the 15 month old while she’s been playing and I’ve been working in the summer house then seen me come in and spend 45 minutes cuddling her because she cried every time I put her down (and only manage it after 45 mins because he has made us lunch)… He has successfully wallpapered while looking after her; I can’t sort out laundry at the same time!

            There are some ages that are easier than others (when the big one was about 20 months, there were a couple of times when she had barely slept and just wanted to cuddle on my lap. So the babysitter read a book and I worked with her on my knee. I was still decently productive.) But with two..? The toddler spends an unreal amount of time pulling her sister’s pigtails, hitting her with toys (usually her own toys, which the little one has snatched from her, to add insult to injury), or trying to climb the stairs or other not-entirely-safe activity. The big one wants to play games, read stories, go on walks, etc… I occasionally manage to get to the loo alone or shower while the big one watches the little? My 4 year old is a lovely, naturally empathetic sweetheart who looks after her sister and wails to be rescued when she’s attacked, and understands that the baby loves her and thinks she’s amazing but is not yet able to play sensibly. My brother and his partner have two similar-aged kids and she can’t leave them alone together because she doesn’t trust the big one not to smack her baby brother.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            That was my first job offer after my family arrived in the US! Literally the morning after we arrived at our apartment – we hadn’t even unpacked yet. Our new landlord (who’d moved here ten-ish years ago from the same country) stopped by to tell me that she had a great job for me – my next-door neighbor needed a full-time babysitter for her 13-month-old twins. I asked who’d watch my own 15-month-old and four-year-old and this mother of one teenage kid said “oh you can just watch all four of them together”, clearly speaking from experience /s. I somehow had the common sense to say no and she looked hurt and said “this is a really good offer, I wouldn’t be turning it down if I were you” oh, my pay was supposed to be $3/hour in cash. I was a software developer with a degree and several years of work experience. (shakes head)

            But the thing is… This was a woman who’d never seen me before in my life, from an immigrant community that is (or, at least, was at the time) pretty famous for tearing each other down and backstabbing each other. She had no reason to care about my well-being, so she didn’t. Here we have a man making a similar offer to a woman he supposedly loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with, and a child he also supposedly loves and wants the best for. Not acceptable.

      3. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        I work from home most days now & my husband is retired. My senior dog fell ill recently (he’s getting better :) ) and I’ve had to add two hours onto my normal day to account for the lost work time due to: a dog. Who is senior. Who sleeps most of the time. Whom my husband co-cares for.

        The time difference between say a boisterous young dog and a senior dog in a health crisis is the necessary life/death vigilance. Young children require vigilance pretty much 24/7! I don’t think you can work and care for one at the same time but two? At what point if ever does work get 100% focus? It can’t.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Right? I don’t have kids but I have two cats and there is no way in heck I’d get any work done at home with the them pestering me for attention.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Toddlers also have a death wish, I’m convinced. Given the choice to play on our awesome playground, or run into traffic, mine will choose traffic every single time.

          1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

            Right? And how about just counting the pees & poos? And the quality of same? This was a consuming thing with ill senior dog and it transfers right straight to young child care – certainly when potty training but even before that as it is a top sign of something amiss.

            Pee poo vigilance! All day long!

      4. Mookie*

        I am extremely curious to hear why the husband of LW1’s friend thinks it is feasible for his wife to work a full-time job while acting as the sole caregiver for two young children.

        Perhaps a lifetime of living in a culture that devalues and underestimates parenting* and child-rearing and in a country that hardly subsidizes either? Supplemented with healthy lashings of This Is a Job for a Woman (and I’ll Unilaterally Decide Who That Woman Is) entitlement along with a dash of expectation bred in him that he’ll never have to do it so why bother learning what it entails.

        Just a guess.

        *more than happy to impose parenthood, though, on the unwilling and underprivileged

        1. NerdyKris*

          Maybe we shouldn’t be building up the friend’s husband as some sort of sexist monster when he might just be very unaware of how much work it is. We literally know nothing about him aside from this one thing.

          1. Ariaflame*

            I saw that as a comment on society, not a particular man, I wonder why you read it that way.

          2. The Free Huey*

            Wife who is doing the childcare says she’s not sure she can do it.
            Husband who isn’t doing it insists it’s doable.
            Monster? Maybe not. But not listening to her and devaluing what she does for the family is enough for me to call that sexism. Even if it’s not intended (like you said, we don’t know him), it’s the result that matters. Sexism can be (often is) the result of ignorance.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This goes for all household tasks. I’m all for the efficiency of specialization (I pay the bills; my husband pays the taxes) but you don’t get to wax on about how all the work to maintain the garden should be doable in one hour per week when you are assigning the actual doing of all the work to your spouse, who says it takes longer.

              1. Tisiphone*

                That, and the logistics behind making sure what needs to be done gets done at the proper time takes up a lot of time and energy. Even if you delegate, the responsibility for making sure it gets done doesn’t go with the delegation. Often the jobs get split, but one person gets stuck with all of the logistics and the responsibility for making sure it gets done.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Except that if she’s done it so far, he doesn’t really have any reason to think it’s not feasible. If you’re doing a job under x conditions, it shouldn’t surprise you when people think that x conditions are fine, because it’s been working. If they’re not sustainable, that needs to be explained.

              Yes, the bigger picture is sexist but sometimes people are just clueless. Like when kids ask for a pony for Christmas–it doesn’t automatically mean they’re entitled little twerps; it usually just means they don’t understand how much space, money, and work go into keeping a pony.

              So, I’m not saying he’s not sexist, but let’s not blow this out of proportion without more evidence.

              1. TootsNYC*

                except that it won’t be X conditions. It will be Y conditions, and the Z conditions and L conditions, as that first child gets older and becomes a different kind of creature.

                Only an idiot doesn’t recognize that.

              2. biobotb*

                He does have a good reason to think it’s not feasible–the person who’s been doing it so far is saying it’s not feasible. Why isn’t he listening? The fact that he’s not willing to add in her perspective (as the one shouldering this work!) can’t be shrugged off as just cluelessness. Being clueless is one thing; refusing to fix your cluelessness, when presented with information that would make you NOT clueless, is another. I think that we actually need more evidence to suggest that he’s NOT sexist. Right now all signs point to sexism and willful obtuseness.

              3. Nicole P*

                He does have a reason to think it’s not feasible because the person who actually does the job is telling him it’s not.

                And honestly he shouldn’t need to her to tell him that. Any parent (even one doing the minority of the childcare) should know how much time and energy goes into childcare. If his excuse is that he’s “clueless” about that, well it doesn’t exactly make his sound less sexist than people are assuming

          3. anonymous 5*

            Thing is: if he already has a kid, he actually has no excuse for being this unaware. The societal commentary that Mookie has provided is a succinct explanation of why a man might be able to make it pretty far without having to think about how much work parenthood actually is. But once you’re not only old enough to have a child but also *actually have one*, this level of lack of awareness is inexcusable.

          4. Temperance*

            Okay setting aside literally everything else about your comment, he’s this child’s father. He presumably should know how much work it is to care for a toddler, because he’s the child’s father and should been parenting her.

            My sister is an SAHM, and my BIL has absolutely spent days with the kids to give her a break or when she’s sick or whatever. He knows how much work parenting is, and my sister doesn’t have a job.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Some people do manage to limit their childcare responsibility to very short times. There’s a big difference between 2 hours on the kid once every few weeks and then you’re free to accomplish everything else, and 10 hours a day and then you are free to do your paid work plus household chores plus half the childcare.

              1. boop the first*

                Then mom must also be childrearing alone on the weekends while husband does ______?

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  Either 1) they are both home or 2) he goes out to play golf or whatnot and relax after his stressful week at work.

            2. Observer*

              He should be parenting her, but we really have no idea of what’s going on there. To be clear his making s about this is totally NOT ok. But we don’t know enough of the context to know entitled monster, a clueless idiot enabled by his wife or something in between. Given how many women, even women one would think should know better! – treat any childcare by men as “helping” while the “real” childcare is THEIR domain, it really is possible that the guy is not at the monster end of the spectrum.

              We also don’t know what is actually going on with this couple. I’ve seen lots of “my husband doesn’t let” in situation where I know for a fact that that’s not a really accurate depiction of the entire situation. Which is not to say that the husband is being realistic here, but to say that we don’t know enough to judge him as a person.

          5. Mari*

            We know he is the father of a toddler (meaning a child roughly 1-3 years old). In that year+ he has not spent enough time alone with his own child to understand how much work parenting is and what level of attention it requires?

            1. Observer*

              I’m not sure why this is so surprising. It’s actually quite common, especially when there is one at home parent.

              1. Frankie*

                Only if the other parent isn’t participating in the child care even once they come home.

                1. Observer*

                  Totally not the case. As others have noted, that setup is very different that child care all day with all of the bits and pieces and all of the planning and oversight.

                  It’s very easy to spend a couple of hours around the kid in the evening without understanding the full scope of what childcare means.

              2. Mari*

                I was a stay-at-home mom to two kids for 5 years. My husband took over a lot of the child care once he got home from work. There were also days when I was gone for 2-8 hours at a time for one reason or another and he was caring for both kids. Just a few occasions like that ought to be enough to have some idea of how much work you might get done with a toddler running around.

          6. Helena*

            I have one child and I know this isn’t do-able. My husband also knows this, from the times when he has had our son on his own while I have been out, and he has got nothing done besides playing with trains and looking at octopus videos.

            This husband has either never looked after his own child, or he’s on glue.

          7. Frankie*

            Yeah…if you’re a father and you think caring for your own child is not a lot of work, then you’re not really fathering, you’re just offloading that work to mom.

        2. Yorick*

          Plus a lot of times men don’t do the more “work” parts of parenting, so when they take the lead watching the kids it’s a lot of playing and fun and they don’t really get that it’s actual work when you do it all the time.

        3. Genny*

          Or friend and husband live in a high cost of living area and have massive student loans. Husband is concerned about how they’ll afford to pay down their debt while also maintaining some semblance of a life if a sizable chunk of their income is going to daycare. Or husband has heard horror stories about abuse in daycares (or was abused himself) and is now terrified of sending his children to one. Or husband is a sexist jerk. I don’t think it’s particularly worth derailing on that point. The advice to LW doesn’t change: 1) full-time childcare and full-time work don’t mix, 2) most companies won’t support remote work and full-time childcare, and 3) this situation isn’t a good long-term plan, especially if more children are added to the mix.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        My cat routinely catches grass snakes. Inside our house. We don’t know if they are a recent infestation that started a year ago and that she is cleverly ousting, or if we always had some grass snakes quietly hibernating in a corner of the garage until she showed up and woke them.

        This week she was fighting my husband’s boot lace, which made me nervous that the snakes had emerged from hibernation again.

        First time: “Wow, Puff just caught a snake! Indoors!”
        Eight time: “What is it with these m****ing snakes?”

      6. CDM*

        Actual conversation with my four year old: (we have a small artificial pond in the side yard, about 2 ft by 3ft)
        “Mommy, there’s a pond snake!”
        “Heh, sweetie, we don’t have the kind of snakes that live in ponds around here”

        Yes, there was a very large garter snake hanging out in the pond. But, at least it wasn’t a cottonmouth (venomous aquatic pit viper).

        1. OhBehave*

          Snakes in the Sink!
          Several years ago, as I was emptying the sink, a baby snake stuck his little head and part of his body out of the drain! I now keep the drain strainer in all the time.
          Our pup would play with them outside. UGH

          1. Dragoning*

            I love snakes, but even i would be like “AND NOPE PLEASE GET BACK IN THE DRAIN AND GO AWAY.”

            Because snakes are great but THEY DO NOT BELONG THERE THANKS

      7. paxfelis*

        One of my favorite childhood memories is the time my brothers and I briefly got out of cleaning our room because there was a snake looking in our second-story window.

      8. wittyrepartee*

        I wonder if he’s trying to get her to quit a beloved job, because “our kids shouldn’t be raised by someone else”. :-(

      9. Dust Bunny*

        My friend’s cat brought a baby copperhead into the house one time. Not quite a pit viper, but still.

        1. JSPA*

          Didn’t see the thread, but there are plenty of english-speaking, internet-using regions of the world where venomous or otherwise dangerous animals inside the house or in the yard are very possible. So if you were presuming it was a “way out there” derail, it’s actually a regionally reasonable, very graspable example of “what can go wrong in just a few minutes when kids are unattended.”

          Getting on the roof or up a tree takes time and effort; getting bitten or drowning or pulling unsecured furniture down on oneself or choking is frighteningly easy and quick. And that’s why child minding is not something that lends itself well to multi-tasking with any other tasks that require concentration.

      10. ella*

        “Mommy, there’s a pit viper in the living room and he looks bitey!”

        I see you hail from Australia.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I am trying very hard not to be snarky, but I’m having a hard time understanding why the friend’s husband thinks that caretaking for young kids is less than a full-time job. Or why the friend should have two full-time jobs while he fields one. I get that there’s a lot we don’t know and that every couple works out their division of labor, but I am really side-eyeing the hubs.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Probably because he’s never done it and he thinks it’s easy. And if he has tried and failed, he assumes that it’s because he’s a man and doesn’t have Mommy powers, not because it’s impossible.

        Read the link at the end of the article for “my coworker brings her five kids to our work meetings” for another example of this sort of situation in practice.

        1. Boo*

          This reminds me of Russell Brand, who did a thing about how he loves being a dad but his partner is “naturally better” at doing stuff like nappies.

          1. Mookie*

            “I like the fun stuff and hero-worship and also that I can leave whenever I want with a clear conscience since parenting just isn’t my bag”

          2. Kettles*

            Oh, I HATE this. No, Brand, your partner is not ‘naturally better’ at this often messy, unpleasant and uncompensated task. She just puts the damn effort in.

            1. TootsNYC*

              because she knows she’s going to be judged on it.

              And she may have been “training” and “practicing” since her youth, knowing this will be something she’s required to do.

              My big brother did some babysitting when we were kids, and he was the only boy in the business in our small town. So if he’d had kids, he had early practice in diapers and picking up children and babies.
              A lot of other boys didn’t get that practice, since their only opportunities were their own siblings or cousins (of which my brother had few).

              1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                I’m a woman, and not only did I never babysit, I never even so much as picked up or held a baby until I was 29 and my niece was born.
                I learned how to help care for her out of necessity, but NONE of that stuff comes naturally for me.
                Women aren’t actually *required* to do this stuff. I don’t have kids of my own (zero interest) but if I’d had, I wouldn’t have reproduced with anyone who wasn’t willing to be a SAH dad while I worked.

          3. Thursday Next*

            The parents who practices childcare tasks more often is going to be better at them. So if one parent is the one handling 95% of diaper changes, that parent will be more skilled. It has nothing to do with what’s “natural”!

            1. valentine*

              If you’re sufficiently neglectful, someone else will naturally take over. It’s like letting the laundry pile up, only it’s the screams and/or diaper rash of your child.

            2. 'Tis me*

              I currently get my husband to do the nappy changes whenever possible. The toddler is going through a phase where she hates lying down during them. We use terry cloth squares and wraps, and pinning a folded cloth nappy on a baby who’s standing up and trying to run away at the time is hard. His hands are bigger so it’s easier for him to hold her still on the mat AND get the thing on her. But we both work full time so some days the joy is all mine. He’s naturally better at it because his hands are nearly twice the size of mine, but we are both in general perfectly capable, and we both do it because it needs to be done.

              1. Rana*

                I remember that phase! We had to do standing changes and give her a special toy. It was really aggravating while it lasted!

            3. LawLady*

              Well and it’s not just that, it’s also that women are socialized into it from a young age. We’re more likely to babysit. And we’re more likely to be told to help out with family members.

              My husband and I don’t have kids yet, and the other night while talking I realized he has NEVER changed a diaper in his life. Meanwhile I’ve changed hundreds because I babysat and helped out relatives, etc. So by the time we have kids, yeah, I’ll have a lot more practice at child-caring than he does. I’ve made clear to him, though, that he better learn.

              1. iglwif*

                Yeah, my spouse (cis guy, youngest of 4 kids, never babysat a kid in diapers) had never changed a diaper before we had our child, where as I (cis woman, middle kid, younger cousins, TONs of babysitting) had done a lot of them. He got real good at it real fast ;)

      2. TechWorker*

        I’m side-eyeing him too but my read would be that he wants her to quit working and be a full time stay at home mum, and she doesn’t want to? (So ‘I want to keep my job’ plus ‘I refuse to consider anyone other than you looking after them’ = ridiculous situation?)

        1. Kettles*

          This is the sort of logic that prevailed in my *grandmother’s* era. “You can have your fun job if you like, but the housework better not slip.”

          1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

            Sadly, I still hear it all the time when women I know who are stay at home parents want to do something for themselves. “Sure, you can have your career (or business, or GNO, or hobby…) as long as it doesn’t cost me anything or impact me in any way.”
            I do some mentoring for women starting their own businesses and I hear this all the time. Sometimes they’ll even say “My husband is totally supporting. He says I can do whatever as long as….”
            Sorry, that’s NOT supportive. Supportive would be “That sounds great! Let’s talk about how to adjust things so you have time and energy for it. How can I help?”
            It’s so, so problematic. The giving permission as if he’s a parent of a child instead of a spouse to an adult, the “cost ME anything” as if the family budget is his, the “it better not have any effect on me and I sure as hell am not lifting a finger to support you”
            And it sadly didn’t die in that era. It’s alive and kicking today.

            1. Kettles*

              I’m sadly not surprised. A baffling attitude still persists about children – they still seem to be seen as the exclusive preserve of the mother. There have been panicky articles about millennial women choosing not to have kids. I think part of it is financial and the other part is this.

        2. valentine*

          This is my read, too, especially since she’s doing both and they want more children. (I wonder if that’s so and how much childcare and cleaning he does.) Seems he wants her largely housebound.

        3. MatKnifeNinja*

          My friend just went through this.

          “You can work, but we are never doing child care.”

          She lasted 6 months before quitting. He had no intentions of helping more since he has a “career.” So did she, but that didn’t matter.

          The no child care ultimatum usually reads (were I live), I want you to quit your full time job.

            1. Jen*

              It’s not as simple as just dumping someone when you’re married and have kids together.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        It’s not that difficult to miss how much effort childcare takes when (a) you’re not there when much of it happens, and (b) when you are there, you’re not doing it, so it’s all happening in the background. This is not a good thing, but it’s common.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          It’s also true of every job. Everyone who doesn’t know how much work goes into something assumes it’s easier than it is. (Designing clothes seems to me like it would be fun–playing with colors and decorations all day! But logically I know it has to be a lot harder than that and I just have no idea what goes into it.)

          1. Helena*

            The difference is, there’s no reason for you to involve yourself in the design of your clothes. Parents really ought to involve themselves in parenting, yes for the good of their marriage but mostly for the good of their children – it is damaging to know that your father finds you and your siblings a chore and finds your lives and achievements far less interesting than the Sunday paper, ask me how I know.

        2. Antilles*

          Frankly, even if you want to be charitable and say he *is* doing his share of childcare, his experience isn’t nearly the same – a couple hours at night between getting home from work and kid going to bed, while doing simple chores that can be stopped at any time (or just relaxing), with another adult in the house to take over if needed. It might not be ‘easy’ per se, but it’s not even remotely similar to the Very Hard Difficulty version that where his wife takes care of the kid for 10 straight hours with no backup, while simultaneously trying to perform mentally taxing work at a desk job.

    6. Not Australian*

      The husband only seems to have ruled out ‘putting the kid[s] in childcare’. I wonder how he’d react to the idea of someone coming to the house to look after them while his wife worked at her job? To be clear, I’m sure this would be expensive – but it might be a question worth asking to identify the precise nature of the objection, i.e. is it the kid[s] being looked after *outside the home* that he has a problem with, or them being looked after by anyone other than his wife? At any rate, until this is settled to everybody’s satisfaction it might be sensible for them not to have another baby!

        1. Temperance*

          My hunch is that she (notice I said “she” and not “they”) doesn’t make enough money to cover the cost of a nanny.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Instead of labeling it a “nanny,” label it a “mother’s helper” or “part-time babysitter.”

      1. Kiki*

        A sometimes cheaper option is a mother’s helper. I was one in college— I watched two siblings while their mother worked (or took a nap). I babysat growing up and had done a babysitting certificate program at the local hospital (it covered a wide range of topics like baby cpr and spotting signs of malnutrition).

    7. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Yep, this is ridiculous. My mom worked from home when I was a child, so I was in daycare practically from birth. That’s how that works when parents need to actually work.

      My partner’s coworker does this thing where he works from home every time his toddler is sick or otherwise home when he’s working. I’m absolutely baffled by how he’s been able to do that for so long considering the job is very customer facing.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yeah, our WFH policy specifically prohibits being the primary caregiver for kids under 12 while on the clock, up to and including potential immediate termination. Because it’s not feasible to do both at the same time.

      1. The Original K.*

        My best friend works 100% remotely (halfway across the country from her employer) and it’s the same thing. She has to prove she has childcare every year; if she can’t, it’s grounds for termination. Her husband works too. Her kids are in elementary and preschool and they have a part-time babysitter for afternoons.

      2. Lepidoptera*

        How does that work if you have a nanny or babysitter, rather than an “official” daycare that has EIN status? Do you just send scans of the checks you write to them?

        1. nonymous*

          Fed rules are that nannies and other in-home help are subject to tax withholding (for SS and Medicare). It’s not like Venmo-ing the babysitter. The rationale is that b/c the nanny is expected to be at a specific place at very specific hours routinely to do their work, they are by definition “employees”. You’ll also hear it referred to as the “nanny tax”.

          Although I’ve never heard of anyone in my workplace being asked for proof. I imagine that an employment contract with an individual would be just as valid proof as the contract one signs with the daycare.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          A signed statement of “Mary Poppins agrees to undertake the care of all minor children while Mrs. Banks fulfills her professional obligations” would probably do it.

      3. JM60*

        I’m surprised to hear the number 12 thrown out a lot here. I would think that plenty of 10 or 11 year olds would be fine by themselves with little or no supervision for 8-9 hours at home during the workday. When I was a child of that age, I could entertain and take care of myself at home during the middle of the day.

    9. Harper the Other One*

      I started working from home when my daughter was under a year and my son was almost 3. I could JUST squeeze in 10 hours a week. Now that they’re older (8 and 10) I do 30 hours a week, mostly while they’re in school – but while my employer is fine with me working while they’re home, I find it’s basically one hour of actual time equals 45 minutes of work time, even now.

      Having someone care for the kiddos at home would be a good possibility. So would him taking on a different schedule so that he can watch the kid(s) while she works. Maybe one or the other of them is willing to leave work for a few years until the kids are in school (in which case they need to have a realistic discussion about what that means for their budget.) No child care and a full-time WFH job is just plain not a realistic possibility.

    10. Brandy*

      Agree. I do work sometimes with my kids at home, but (a) I don’t work full time and (b) I work for myself. The big important C is they also go to preschool/daycare.

      No toddler or preschool age kid wants to sit at home and watch tv all day while mom works 40 hrs.

      But! There are compromises. Mom can WFH and get a sitter. If mom’s schedule is flexible, she can be around, do preschool dropoff/pickup, etc but sitter can do mornings and feed lunch etc.

      I wrote this for others considering various arrangements and not for OP, whose husband isn bananacrackers

    11. Charlotte*

      With two kids under three, if it snows (so daycare is closed) or someone is sick, it’s usually a game of both my husband and I working from home so that we can each do about half a day’s work. It’s also a game of who has the more important conference call and at what time, so we can make sure someone is free all the time. Having a solid nap time period does help, but there is no way to work 8 hours with even one young child at home.

      1. CaptainLaura*

        Yes. This is my life too and our daughter recently decided that napping at home is for punks.

      2. CL*

        Yep, with sick kids, my husband and I start the day with the “who has more critical meetings they can’t miss” dance to figure out who will stay home. My work tends to win out because the nature of it but we really do try to balance who ends up home.

    12. Talley*

      When I had my first child, I had a very supportive boss who ran a photography business out of his house. When I was ready to come back to managing his office, he set up a special office for me so I could work & bring my baby. It worked great! That being said, I kept very detailed track of my time and out of an 8 hour day, generally got about 6.5 hours of actual work done. She was a very easy baby & mostly entertained herself, so it was just feeding, changing & getting her down for a nap that took me away from working. I could NEVER have done it with baby #2! She needed more time & attention from day one. Trying to work while watching two?! Hahahahahahaha! This husband needs his head checked! And they definitely need to hold off on baby #2 until they’ve got it sorted (or she leaves his trifling a$$).

    13. WorkFromHome*

      I lucked into a work from home situation in a not typical work from home career. I have full time care for both of my kids. Granted the care is in home, so I am afforded the luxury of breastfeeding my child at every feeding & getting a goodbye kiss when they go off to the park. There is no way I could preform my job and be on calls with clients while tending to 2 small children.

    14. RoadsLady*

      I’m in online “mom groups”. A constant source of discussion is looking for real work-from-home jobs to avoid childcare, to get the best of both worlds, so to speak.

      I calmly explain that I know very few work-from-home moms without at least part-time childcare.

      It’s rather sad to me, the pressure put on some mothers to be the full-time domestic goddess stay-at-home wonder-money who’s also bringing in oodles of money.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Yeah, I mean- it’s probably still helpful to have a parent work from home… you can do dishes at lunch or pop some laundry in at your coffee break. But watching kids? HAHAHA. I don’t even have kids, but I’ve helped take care of a lot of them. Hi-larious.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        It is similar to the people who “take over” a role when someone leaves and think since I’m doing two jobs I should get double the pay. Unless you go from working 40 hrs a week to 80hrs a week, no you are not doing two jobs, if you still are only working 40 hrs a week you are doing each job at half capacity or some other mix of hours.

    15. Samwise*

      Here’s the other thing: Her husband is essentially saying, you get to have two-and-a-half full time jobs (because taking care of small children is at least one and a half jobs AND unless hubby is picking up the childcare when he gets home from work, she’s going to be doing that job in the evening too).

      I had ONE child and there is no way I could have been effective working at home with him (even though he was an exceptionally easy baby and child and even though I’m very focused and hardworking). I could see if the children were in school and mom worked during school hours, but otherwise No Freakin Way.

      A compromise would be to hire childcare to be in the home while she is working, and she will need an office that is away from where the children are and away from where she can hear them, AND she will need to be clear with the nanny or sitter that she is not to be disturbed. That might work. Maybe.

    16. BTDT*

      I freelanced from home when my kids were little so I could make my own schedule. My kids napped very well but this set up resulted in me mostly working after they went to bed at night. AND I could only manage part-time hours. No way I ever could’ve worked FT during the day with no childcare help. That’s not realistic at all.

    17. Fla-Mingo*

      I think every Mom reading this question responded with a resounding “Haha! Not a chance”.

      I’ve tried working from home when my 2.5 y.o. daughter is sick, but it takes me the whole day to get 2-3 hours of work completed. Not worth it.

    18. Lily Muenster*

      In terms of solutions, your friend might be able to pull it off if she had in house nanny help. Then she could work and the kid wouldn’t have to go to daycare.

      Because this is a “my friend” situation, it’s best not to assume motivation or feelings of either spouse.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Nannies often cost WAY more than either parent is making. But if she’s a high earner, would absolutely make sense.

    19. Broomhilde*

      Like everybody else, I have been rolling my eyes so hard at the husband’s behaviour that I now need to pick them up from the floor. It would make a decent scene in a silly horror movie.

      Even reading this problem in the most generous terms possible, in which the husband comes home from work and then proceeds to do ALL THE CHILDCARE, CLEANING AND COOKING, he still isn’t listening to his partner, who can assess her ability to shoulder an unreasonable workload just fine without him, thank you very much. While OP1 refused to reveal his reasoning, insisting that the wife cares for little children (plural) while working full-time from home is an excellent way to get his partner fired. Don’t get me wrong, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for not putting children in daycare, and there are parents uncomfortable not playing primary caregiver. That’s not the problem. Putting the onus on the mother and disregarding her opinion/work/efforts is.

      This sucks. The very thought would make my conservative housewive-for-life octogenarian grandmother balk. I’m not kidding, I just asked her. She’s outraged at the wife’s behalf.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        I got the same response from my 90 year old mother when I read her the letter. She snorted. Then said the equivalent of “no way is that possible….”

    20. sheepla*

      Working at home without separate child care is an immediate grounds for firing at my company.

      1. Midlife Tattoos*

        Mine too. Our policy is very explicit.

        However, there is one woman on another team who has her screaming preschooler in the background when she’s on calls, and her manager seems to do nothing about it. It pisses me off to no end.

    21. Kimmybear*

      I laughed when I read this first letter. I worked from home yesterday and had my three year old at home for part of the day. Now he is awesome at entertaining himself most of the time (for a 3 year old) but I would say that I was 50% less productive. That’s why this was an emergency situation rather than the norm. (Stay-at-home dad was dealing with eldercare issues.)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        “Now he is awesome at entertaining himself most of the time (for a 3 year old)”

        Thank you – I needed to know there’s hope.

    22. Shay*

      So, let’s think about this … wife has two full-time jobs (the one that pays her plus caring for a toddler) and husband has one full-time job. Hmmm – this doesn’t make much sense to me.
      She isn’t working full-time if she is also caring for a toddler.

    23. just a random teacher*

      Yeah, the only person I know who has managed to pull off working from home while simultaneously watching two kids under the age of 5 runs an in-home daycare as that work from home job, and even she is pretty exhausted and planning to do something else once the youngest is in kindergarten. A job that doesn’t involve the kids directly would be even worse. (My fellow teacher with small children is always trying to get her at-home grading/emailing/etc. done at odd hours since it’s hard to even get that much of your job done at home while the kids are awake. When the kids were younger it would be pretty common to see emails from her come in late at night after they were asleep.)

    24. MaryHS*

      I know *one* person who managed telecommuting with two children at home for three days a week. Her husband is a hands-on parent who took over every day when he got home. They were at childcare the other 2 days. They are incredibly self-contained well-behaved children. And she STILL started referring to them as her little life-ruiners.
      Mine? I tried TCing without taking my daughter to daycare once when she was little — she was a barnacle stuck to my side refusing to leave me alone. To drive the point home, it was easier to do paperwork when I was sharing a house with someone with three cats. Three cats were MUCH easier than one barnacle baby.

      1. iglwif*

        I took on one (1) freelance project during my parental leave (that’s the portion of leave where you can do a certain amount of paid work, whereas during mat leave you can’t), when my kiddo was like … maybe 7 months old? Thanks to a) Spouse assisting with baby-wrangling during evenings and weekends, b) the fact that it was work that didn’t require specific hours, only meeting specific deadlines, c) my trusty baby sling, and d) the “nursing at keyboard” skills I’d developed by hanging out on message boards earlier in kiddo’s life, I managed to get that project done on schedule, but WOW could I ever not have pulled off full-time office-hours work!

    25. littleandsmall*

      I work outside the home but I have 19-month-old twins and my husband and I both had sticker shock at the costs of full-time daycare but it’s 100% necessary. Knowing my children, I would probably only get 1-2 hours of actual work done in a work day, if that. I’ve had several people ask why I don’t just get a work from home job to save on daycare costs and just LOLOLOL.

      Not to mention, the fact that the kids are in daycare full-time means I can actually get a some time to myself here and there to run errands, tend to personal care for myself, appointments, etc.

    26. JSPA*

      I’m thinking an appeal to authority may work on him.

      Specifically (and trigger warning that this is about terrible outcomes), there’s a standard warning to parents of children and toddlers that small children can drown (i.e. be not resuscitatable) in under a minute, in under two inches of water. This includes not only a mop bucket (*if he’s also assuming that housework will be done by his wife as well, or will be done by someone else while she’s both working and minding the kids) but every toilet or other water-collecting feature on the property. A three year old can lift the lid and boost the one year old up to look in (flushing is fascinating) and…well.

      Kids are remarkably resilient, but they’re also twice as remarkably able to get themselves into really, really dangerous situations.

      At minimum, if he prices out what it would cost to hire a nanny (someone qualified to do care for infants and toddlers SOLO, not a teen “mother’s helper”) for (minimum) 4 hours a day, every weekday, he may come to appreciate the minimum, cash-on-barrelhead value of childcare work.

      But, honestly, my first and last reaction is It’s unfortunate that it’s too late to warn her not to procreate with someone who devalues traditional women’s work. But maybe it’s not too late to subtly hint that doing it a second time is a deeper trap.

    27. BethDH*

      I managed to work from home with one child for a short period of time under very particular circumstances and it was still exhausting and unsustainable. My child was under 6 months (not crawling yet) and I had a mostly-independent large writing project that just needed to meet a certain, very reasonable deadline. I still ended up working after my partner was home every single night to get it done, and once my child started crawling the work output went WAY down.
      If OP’s friend does end up doing this, or for others in this situation, some things helped me out. I set up work hours somewhere not in my house in the evening (while partner watched child) so that I could make sure to get at least 90 minutes of focused work done every day. I also divided my tasks by whether I could do them while being interrupted constantly. I could format footnotes in between kid-prompted interruptions, but I couldn’t write that way!
      Even when you can do it, you don’t feel accomplished. Both the pleasure I get from time with my kid and the pleasure I get from doing high-quality work took a significant hit, and I was really lucky that I knew I only had to do it for a little while. Don’t discount the mental health part of this!

    28. iglwif*


      Sooooo much nope.

      I’m extremely curious as to OP1’s friend’s husband’s reasons for refusing to put the kid/s in daycare (or hire childcare, or whatever). But whatever the reason is, OP1, you’re 100% right that this is not a sustainable or practicable arrangement, and even if your friend’s employer is OK with it right now, I’m betting they wouldn’t be thrilled about adding another, younger kiddo to the situation. For one thing, two kids can be significantly more than twice as much work as one kid; for another thing, neither the kids nor the work are getting enough attention and focus in that scenario; and for a third thing, holy burnout, Batman!

    29. Quinalla*

      I actually had a male coworker who tried to “work from home” with his kids at home (3 kids, 2 under 5, one schoolager at the time). They had a nanny and then when she left, he negotiated with my boss to have a flexible work-from-home arrangement where he’d get his work done, but not always 8-5. He was almost NEVER available 8-5, he did nearly all of his work at night or early in the morning.

      I know in my experience of trying to work from home to get what I can done when I have one sick kid, I will average about a 50% day, worse if the child needs a lot of care, better if they are mostly napping. For a non-sick kid (when they are recovered but still not 24 hours past fever), I am lucky to get a 25% day. With all three of my kids home, I would be lucky to get a 25% day in, only if they were playing really, really nice together for long stretches or if I let them watch TV for hours which is not an option. Especially if your work requires any focus/concentration, forget it! You can do tasks requiring little thought and that are easily dropped and picked back up without too much trouble while watching kids (dishes, laundry, filing emails, etc.), but anything requiring more focus for long stretches (this means 15-30 minutes for my kids anyway) forget it!

  2. Penelope Garcia’s glasses*

    #3 “nor did we hear from you”

    But they did hear from the person – they left a message at reception. They didn’t give a reason and it would have been better to have more notice, but that’s not the same as just completely ghosting.

    All that said… I think it’s a bit tone-deaf of them to apply without explaining. Are you absolutely sure it’s the same person? Are you also sure reception passed on the complete message?

    I would be wildly curious and would want to ask them why they didn’t show before and why they’ve applied without mentioning it just because I would want to know!

    1. Dan*

      In relation to the tone deaf part… the applicant may have figured enough time has passed that they had completely forgotten about her, or that perhaps there was enough turnover such that the people there now wouldn’t have known about that ahem “oversight”.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        The applicant may very well have forgotten themselves that they ever applied for and got a job at the company. Not a great thing, but possible.

        1. Observer*

          If that’s the case, then I would never hire them – that indicates that pulling that was no big deal to them. Not something you want in any sort of responsible position.

      2. Allison*

        Or she might’ve completely forgotten that this is the company she bailed on years ago, especially if she’s aggressively job seeking and applying to a lot of jobs at once.

        1. OhBehave*

          It’s hard to imagine forgetting I accepted a job offer and agreed on the start date.

        2. Saint Dorothy Mantooth*

          While it may be easy to lose track of all the places you’ve applied, I feel like it would be hard to lose track of the places you’ve accepted an offer and then declined on your starting day.

        3. Drax*

          This is what I was thinking. If she’s shot gunning resumes or the company name wasn’t prominent on the job ad it could have been missed.

          I’m seeing an increase in “Private Company” or “Manufacturing in City” as the companies in my job hunt instead of “Llama’s R Us”

    2. Boobookitty*

      I once advertised a writing job that resulted in a man emailing to say “You’re paying X. F___ you!” About a year later, when we advertised a position, he submitted his resume and cover letter saying he wanted to work with us. Apparently, he must have discovered that we actually pay about 10 times higher for freelance work than many employers in our industry.

      1. Mookie*

        I answered an ad (a terrible and offensive one and with an insulting pay rate) one time with a snarky rhetorical question and got a Gee You’re Salty, Wanna Apply? sort of response, like I was negging him, and I’m fairly certain he wanted revenge but needed to get me to show up or spend time on a more professional pitch so he could reject me back. Even his reverse psychology smacked of amateur hour.

    3. sacados*

      I dunno, I think it’s close enough to the same as completely ghosting.
      She left a message at reception, but presumably not the day before — and therefore at the time of the message she would have already been supposed to be at the office and getting started.
      Given that, and the zero explanation — just “not coming” — then I’m not feeling the urge to extend the employee any credit/goodwill for leaving a message.

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah, the difference between not showing up and leaving a message at the last minute that you won’t be showing up at all is negligible.

      2. Yorick*

        Yeah, and a message with the reception desk isn’t the same as a personal conversation with the person hiring her, thanking them for the opportunity and giving some explanation about not being able to take the job after all

        1. Katherine*

          In fact, in some ways it’s a little worse because if the employee had completely ghosted, the possibility stands that she had been lying in a ditch, etc. Calling to say “I’m not dead, I don’t have amnesia but I’m not coming and I’m not sorry and I’m not giving you an explanation” is likely to leave an even worse taste in the employer’s mouth.

    4. T3k*

      Not job related, but I read about a student who a world class musician thought had rejected them without a word (it was for one of two spots available each year). Long story short, it was a good thing the teacher asked the student several years later why he was bothering to apply for a different program under him: the student’s (now ex) girlfriend deleted the real acceptance email and had sent her boyfriend a pretend rejection email from a similar sounding email name.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          It may have been, but it did happen in real life a little while ago. If you Google “Eric Abramovitz” it should pop right up.

          It does seem like something that would be more likely to happen on screen though!

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Reading that made me so awfully sad for him. I hope she gets all the consequences; can’t stand how people can be so manipulative and abusive.

            1. Phrunicus*

              And not just once, but it sounds like she did it to him twice, with a shot at Juilliard, too!

        2. boo bot*

          No, it was real it was real it was real… I’m cringing now, that poor kid.

          In the movie version (that I’m making up now – I don’t know if there is one) he and the girlfriend get married and have kids, and THEN he finds out.

        3. EvilQueenRegina*

          Do you watch How To Get Away With Murder? Connor applied to another university at one point and Oliver intercepted his acceptance and declined it.

    5. Auntie*

      Letter writter here!!
      Yep absolutely sure she is the same person (compared her older cv) and the reception passed the right any case she should have contacted the person who took her through the interview process,not a random person at the reception

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Absolutely agreed! But slight tweak to script means you might get an answer not “but I did contact you!!!”.

        And tbh, if it were me, morbid curiosity wants an answer!

        1. sacados*

          LW > YES I totally want to know if this person actually will have the gall to come up with some kind of excuse or what.

            1. Lance*

              Given that they didn’t leave any remote sort of context with their message to reception — just ‘nope, not coming in after all’ — my answer would be a very definite ‘no’. They could’ve at least said something — literally anything, and been apologetic about it to boot — but they didn’t have the good grace to do that much, so there’s no reason to trust them now.

            2. Knork*

              You could be the most forgiving person in the world and it would still be a bad idea to hire this woman. Somebody who ghosts a new job with no notice and no explanation has really poor professionalism and judgment. Somebody who applies to the same company with no acknowledgment of that has, again, really poor judgment.

              It’s not about holding grudges. You’re hiring with the goal of finding a good employee. This woman is not going to be a good employee.

            3. Observer*

              Why? This person showed some REALLY bad behavior here. Why would any reasonable employer ignore what they know abut this person and hire them or even seriously consider them for a job?

            4. Akcipitrokulo*

              Actually yes – which is the other reason for asking. I wouldn’t be 100% no, never; if there is a good reason, and we chat about it, it’s not out of question for me to consider them again.

      2. Not Sayin' This Time*

        As one who has volunteered with domestic violence victims and women who are trying to get out of controlling relationships, her actions sound very familiar.

        She may have wanted and intended to take the job but been in a situation where she had to suddenly leave or was pressured to decline.

        Sabotaging another’s opportunities happens a lot, more often than any of you may realize.

        1. Drax*

          Not this bad but I was thinking maybe there were external circumstances that changed.

          I doubt if an emergency came up I’d want to tell a new employer about it, but I protect my privacy fiercely and do realize that may reflect poorly on me. I’m also really bad for ‘if I know this obviously so should you’ and sometimes don’t realize that a death in my family/social circles how would someone I work with know (which has happened twice last month, and I just never said anything at work). Sometimes people just don’t think it through until a few weeks later that maybe they should have mentioned the circumstances.

          I guess the real question for the LW is – if she came back with a real solid excuse (there was a sudden direct-family death and she ended up with kids, or someone got sick and she needed to leave the city immediately for an indefinite time, left her abusive ex in the middle of the night etc etc) would that make you consider her again? If not, there’s no point in doing anything but sending a rejection and if you really need to say something, that the rejection is directly related to the ghosting. But if you would consider her again, it’s worth asking.

          1. Dragoning*

            I feel like this sort of should’ve been addressed ad explained in a cover letter, though. Are my instincts totally off? Not saying “I was in an abusive relationship at the time, sorry,” but some acknowledgment of “I received an offer from you years ago, but do you difficult family circumstances, I was unable to commit to the job and under the stress, I handled things poorly. Now–“

            1. Drax*

              Eh, the ideal world yes but people do wild things when Sh*t Happens. A lot of the time you just hope to breeze on by. Also if she’s young, it may not have occurred to her that she should address it. As I get further into my office career, that makes sense to say something but when I was 21 and new to the non-retail world I doubt it would have crossed my mind to do so. In retail it was normal to just not show up for a shift and show up the next one like nothing happened no excuses necessary.

              The reality is this is just worst case scenario and realistically there’s a much higher chance she just didn’t realize it was the same company or that they wouldn’t hold it against her.

              1. Anon Today*

                Following up on this seems like a lot of extra work on the employer’s part, though. There will be other applicants who haven’t already shown a lack of professionalism, if the former employee isn’t able to at least own her mistakes and handle this up front I wouldn’t want to waste my time.

                1. Drax*

                  Oh totally. Which is why I did say LW should consider if there’s something that could be said that would make her reconsider. No point asking if there isn’t.

                  If this person was particularly strong the first time, I would probably ask. But if they were just the best of what there was I wouldn’t bother.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I think it’s always very problematic when you felt no need to apologize or explain at the time, but now that you want something from the other person you suddenly toss out an “Oh…. I want something from you, so I’m sorry about that very thoughtless thing I did the last time you saw me five years ago.”

            Thinking of the person who discovered that the person she made miserable in high school now had the power to blacklist her at the great local business she wanted to work at.

        2. Observer*

          I think you are stretching here. Also, if something like that DID happen, it’s something that the applicant should have addressed in their application. Not necessarily in detail, but enough to indicate that they really were in point where they could not do better and that they get what a problem that was.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        There are many explanations for this on SyFy:
        • She’s a clone who took over her predecessor’s life.
        • A timetraveler downloaded into her body and is trying to piece together how to go about early 21st century life as a *checks note scribbled on hand* llama groomer.
        • Lizard people. Or mole people.

      4. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

        I hope this current search turns out better than your last. If you do get an explanation, please update us.

      1. KP*

        I wonder why people are intensely curious. Is it the one-that-got-away syndrome? The romanticizing of someone who you don’t know or has audacity or no fear of being rude and thus seems interesting? To me it’s like the jerk who stiffs a waiter. I’ve been around too much manufactured drama and messed — I have zero curiousity about why this former hire showed her rear end.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s the same draw as storytelling–you want to know the backstory to why they pulled the ridiculous stunt.

          It doesn’t work if the ludicrous behavior lands as everyday rudeness, but when people go the extra mile to exceed that, then wander back in surprised that you remember them.

        2. hbc*

          Hmm, I’m not really curious why a jerk stiffs a waiter (there’s an easy explanation,) but I’m definitely curious if someone I talked to and was interested enough in the job to go through the whole hiring process backs out suddenly, and it’s even more enticing if they apply again without explanation or apology. It’s pretty bizarre behavior, no? Are they just hoping they were forgotten, did they have a massive personal issue that makes the bail understandable but they didn’t keep track of who knew what, were they really immature and also didn’t keep track of the 18 companies they bailed on? The world is more nuanced than Jerks Do Jerky Things. Heck, even the guy stiffing the waiter might not know local tipping customs or something.

          I once had someone withdraw at the last minute, and I’m so glad I called to talk to him. He hadn’t realized there would be a drug test and assumed we’d not want him since he used medical marijuana. He ended up being a great hire.

        3. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

          The curiosity comes because this is one of the rare chances when someone can possibly get an answer. If I guy ghosts me, it sucks. I may wonder about it, but I move on. If the guy tries talking to me again, I want an explanation for what happened before.

    6. Not Today Satan*

      I guess I’m at odds with the rest of the commenters, but I’m not super scandalized about what she did. People don’t no-show to a new job without a good reason. She either got a better offer, or she had some sort of emergency. If she was new to the workforce, she might have truly not known that she should have called the hiring manager. Would LW have been in any less stress if she had spoken to her? I doubt it.

      It’s definitely reasonable for LW to not want to hire her again because I do think it’s an issue of professionalism, but any sort of “oh let me find out why you didn’t come” with no intention of considering her candidacy, just seems mean.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I agree with you. No need to be furious.. Let it go–yes of course it was inconsiderate of her to do that, but things happen. Who knows what she may have been dealing with at the time? And as you said, it made things more inconvenient but you recovered. People make mistakes–it can sometimes make you feel better to assume the best in others though.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        If not outright mean, at the very least it’s a waste of time. Reaching out to the candidate without any intention of hiring them invites time- and resource-wasting drama.

      3. Tathren*

        I don’t know, if I was hiring for the position I’d want to know why she no-showed just because her response might change my opinion on whether I’d consider for the new position or not.

        But if the LW is committed to not hiring her no matter what then yeah, I think letting this go is for the best. Or at least point-blank telling the candidate, “We’re not able to consider your application because you didn’t show up on your scheduled start date for X role three years ago.” That way you aren’t leading the candidate on, but it gives them an opening to explain what happened if they want to share that.

        1. Washi*

          I agree with this, and I think it’s equally likely to elicit an explanation, if the applicant is inclined to give one.

      4. Observer*

        Some of your reasons are still not *good* reasons. It’s one thing to have to not take a job last minute – life happens and sometimes it really is that bizarre. But their lack of any sort of apology or acknowledgement of the issue is NOT explained by any of your choices. And it can’t be that the applicant found out last minute that that the employer is monstrous, or they would not be applying again now.

      5. CatCat*


        Also, imagine the applicant responding with something like, “Gosh, now that you describe it, that does sounds different than I intended it at the time. I was suffering from [INSERTS DISABILITY/HEALTH PROBLEM/VICTIM SITUATION OF SOME KIND]. I have fully recovered. I’m mortified in retrospect and apologize.”

        But if you’re rejecting her now matter what… now what. You send a rejection. To someone who was otherwise strong enough to have been offered this job. With an extremely compelling explanation for what happened. Imagine a situation if an outsider is looking at the situation and those outsiders matter (current employees, future applicants, press, lawyer). What looks like went down here?

      6. smoke tree*

        I don’t think it’s that outrageous that she initially ghosted the job–I mean, she obviously handled the situation really unprofessionally, but I assume she most likely just got another offer she liked better. It’s bad, but I’m sure it’s something that happens to hiring managers every so often. But I am pretty curious about why she thought she could just apply for another job on the same team without even acknowledging what happened the first time.

    7. Fergus*

      I had one recruiter/hr rep send me an email, the day before I was going to start, that reprimanded for something he thought I did, but I did not. I thought if he thought so little of me and already saw me in a bad light before my first day it as best not to go, so I didn’t.

    8. Observer*

      They didn’t give a reason and it would have been better to have more notice, but that’s not the same as just completely ghosting.

      Close enough to not matter much.

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #5 – It’s quite possible that the new role requires you to be active and engaged in new and stressful situations. In that case your unease in the interview would be a good indicator of your (lack of) performance in the new role.
    The higher you go in the hierarchy the more you need this skill. I’d suggest working on this skill set through Toastmasters or some other organization.
    I would also sit down with your manager and get a list of skills you need to be promoted as
    well as an assessment of each. That would tell you where you need to grow. It sounds like they have had legitimate concerns each time? That would indicate that you may not understand the skills needed for the job.
    You’ll get there!

    1. snowglobe*

      This is a good point – the reason that current job performance alone isn’t sufficient to get a promotion is that this would be a new job with different responsibilities and expectations. There are plenty of people who are good at one job, but not so good at managing. Showing uncertainty and hesitation in an interview could very well be a reason not to promote someone to a supervisory position, even if they do well as an individual contributor.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think you ned to ask your manager to sit down with you and talk about how you can progress, and what things you need towork on in order to be promotion-ready.

      It is possible that they value you in your current role and don’t want you to move, in which case you may need to switch your focus to job seraching outside the company in order to progress, but if not, then your manager may be able to help you to strengthen your skills so you are in a better position next time a new role comes up.

      1. Sparky McDragon*

        If you’ve been rejected for a promotion 4x by this company you may need to move out to move up.

        1. MissGirl*

          That stood out to me as well. I’m wondering if there’s an another issue, and the company is either making up excuses to avoid a difficult conversation or their reason is a bad one. I would sit down with your boss and ask about a path forward and see if you get some kind of straight answer.

          While rejecting someone from an interview is totally valid. It’s possible this interview was with people not familiar with the OP or they came off poorly. Also other more qualified people may be coming forward. But four times of rejections makes me curious something else is going on.

          1. BTDT*

            Yah after 4X I would be suspicious that the reasons you’re getting aren’t the real reason. I once got rejected for a promotion that I thought was a given, bc I bombed the interview. In my case I was unprepared for the interview because I knew I was by far the most qualified candidate and I thought the interview was a formality. Hard lesson learned there. But after 4x? With multiple reasons? I’m guessing it’s just not going to happen at this company.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I could very much see immediate supervisor wants to promote you, one person higher up whose approval is needed loathes LW. Have seen that play out.

            2. Psyche*

              Yeah. It really depends on the other reasons and if the OP agreed with those evaluations. She said that the other times were linked to her job performance, so if she actually agrees that she needed improvement, then I wouldn’t be too concerned about being rejected multiple times. She was just applying too early. If the performance reasons seem like nitpicky BS reasons, then it is probably time to look elsewhere.

            3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

              This was my first thought. After four times, with a different reason given each time, I think OP may need to accept that s/he is just not going to be promoted at this company.

        2. BRR*

          I keep coming back to this. This sounds like bad management to me. Either the LW should be told directly that they won’t be seriously considered for this role or their manager should work with them to build the skills they’re looking for to get this LW into this role. I think the LW could try once to establish very clear milestones but I don’t have a good feeling about this.

          It’s possible that the LW was a serious contender four times and every time there has been a stronger candidate, but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case. And if this is the case their manager needs to be more direct about it.

      2. Blue*

        Yeah, I was recently part of a process like this, with two strong internal candidates, and it all came down to the interview. Based on what we knew of working with them, one would be excellent at one aspect of the job, the other excellent at the other aspect. But one of them faltered in the interview, and that (and truly just that) sunk them.

        I think OP needs to keep in mind that she can be good and still be out-performed by other candidates. I also agree with the other commenters – if she’s tried for this multiple times, unsuccessfully, I suspect a promotion isn’t in the cards and they’ll always find a reason not to pick her. She should start looking elsewhere.

    3. TootsNYC*

      also, I get that it’s an interview, and interviews are different, but it’s also an interview with people you already know. Sure, it’s a situation in which they are judging you, but they’re not strangers, and it’s not a slightly unknown job.

      And as a manager, you will have to have meetings with people inside your company, sometimes ones in which you are being judged.

    1. HannahS*

      Aaand sorry, whatever I was replying to seems to have disappeared? Sorry! Alison, if you wouldn’t mind just deleting this.

    2. HQB*

      I don’t see any mention of risk to the children at all in that comment; can you explain what you are responding to, specifically?

    3. Someone Else*

      I never said anything about harming the children. I just said she can’t be the primary caretaker and working at the same time.

  4. Lady Phoenix*

    The husband from Letter 1 makes me boil with rage. Oh sure, raise 2 kids too young for school AND work a possible 9-5 job? What are you gonna do?

    Paperwork should have been made prior to this arrangement, but that ship has sailed. So now the Manager has to donthe paperwork now and discuss with her that she can’t be a full time mom AND a full time employee, because it will affect her work and her health. She needs to figure a reasonable solution.

    Manager obviously can’t talk to hisband, but mother coworker should.

    1. London Calling*

      If you’re not familiar with a process, you’re likely underestimating how simple it is.

      You can see this in offices all the time. People have a keen awareness of their own department and all the complexities therein, but usually only a simple overview of other departments. So it can look like legal is taking *forever* with a simple request….but it’s likely those requests are more complex than you can realize without more expertise.

      Similar with childcare if you’ve never done it. Toddler wrangling, how difficult can it be, huh? of course, OP’s colleague could always ask her husband to demonstrate how easy it would be by making him 100% responsible for childcare, say at the weekend.

      1. London Calling*

        My point was to illustrate that the husband has probably never thought about what’s involved in what looks to him like a simple process of childcare plus WFH.

    2. sunny-dee*

      Also, there are totally options other than “12 hours of daycare” and “mom does it all.”

      I work from home. I have an 8-month-old. I also have a nanny come in to the house, so I’m not on call, but I’m here. (My husband was in daycare as a child and had to get tubes in his ears from the constant strep / ear infections, so both of us were hesitant to do day care.) You can do a nanny or you can do a nanny share, where you split cost or time with another family. You can do in-home day cares, which are much smaller than typical day care centers. If it’s a toddler, they can do a church preschool for part of the day, which is substantially cheaper than other options (though it’s not full time).

      1. Janie*

        FYI he probably would have needed tubes even if he hadn’t gone to daycare. Kids don’t not get sick, and if you need tubes, it’s usually because you don’t fight off ear infections/they don’t clear up well enough on their own, and that’s more a function of being a kid than anything. And strep has nothing to do with it.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Uh, yes, strep absolutely has something to do with it. I’ve known two people this year who had severe strep infections that spread, first into bronchitis (both) and for one of them, it went into her ears incredibly severely and required hospitalization and multi-week bedrest. FWIW, both were adults.

          Limiting exposures in mass settings makes a difference, as well, for young babies. Once they’re about a year and their full immunities kick in, it’s fine, but young babies are a lot more vulnerable to infections, especially respiratory infections.

  5. Penelope Garcia’s glasses*

    #5 If you’ve been repeatedly been turned down for this promotion then it’s unlikely that it was just based on the interview this time. It seems like someone doesn’t want to promote you, presuming it’s been the same decision-maker(s) each time (which it sounds like it is). So debating the validity of the reason given isn’t really going to help.

    I think it would be helpful to know if multiple people went for the promotion, in which case they might need to hire the person who performed best at interview, how you get on with your manager otherwise, and how you’ve performed in your role.

    Without knowing that, it’s difficult to know if it’s really unfair. It might be! Perhaps your manager has it in for you. Or it’s really bad luck and other people keep beating you to promotions. But it’s also worth considering whether you’re applying for the right promotion, and if you’ve demonstrated the skills they need and worked on the things they refused you for in the past. If they keep refusing you promotions, then I think blindly continuing to apply probably isn’t going to help.

    1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

      I agree.
      I think if they wanted you to be promoted by now, they would’ve done just that.

      What does your manager say?

      1. Auntie Social*

        Maybe he has abilities and qualities the boss likes and wants to keep him and not promote him. Not the first time that’s happened.

        1. TootsNYC*

          A person can have a very strong ability to do the work IN the department and not have the ability to do the work of OVERSEEING the department.

          Management is a completely different set of skills.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah—this sounds like there may be completely unrelated internal politics or factors affecting OP’s ability to be promoted into this role. After several rejections with oblique reasons (I can’t tell if this is the second time or if OP#5 has applied more times than that), I would reassess if advancement is possible under this leadership team or in OP’s current role.

      1. TootsNYC*

        or based on OP’s skills–that may be the problem, that the OP is good at her current job but that people who see her regularly don’t believe she’d be the best candidate for the management part.

        A promotion not just “more of the same”; it should be a different set of tasks and skills.

    3. Saint Dorothy Mantooth*

      I got this impression too. And I think Allison’s advice to ask “What can I improve for next time?” could possible get some valuable insight from your manager. Best of luck, OP.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yeah, if OP asks what to do differently to have a better chance of being promoted in the future, that could be really telling as to whether there is a chance for career development at this employer. If it’s moving goalposts (once you are able to achieve what they ask for, you get a different reason) or some vague/not well thought out response, then things aren’t looking good.

    4. TootsNYC*

      actually, debating the validity of the reason isn’t EVER going to help, no matter what that reason is.

      that’s the fastest way to convince me that you don’t understand how this works.

  6. mark132*

    @lw1, I say go for it. There isn’t anything more precious than hearing two years olds asking their parent for help or even better crying during a business conference call. (Note: this is sarcasm, and for the record I love children and I’m a devoted parent.)

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Knowing full well that I couldn’t work full-time while taking care of my 2-year-old, I would still boil with rage if I knew that a co-worker was getting away with avoiding paying the $350/week in daycare fees that I’m paying by “working” and “watching” their child at the same time.

      1. sunny-dee*

        WTF? That’s insane. There are a lot of things that would cause concern here, but would you “boil with rage” if your coworker had retired parents who lived nearby and took care of the kids for free? Just because you have an expense they don’t?

        1. Elizabeth Proctor*

          No, because those people are not “working” and “watching” their child at the same time.

          1. Elizabeth Proctor*

            Coming back to add that I am somewhat jealous of those people, sure. But I also don’t think it’s a really great arrangement most of the time, having older retired grandparents providing full time childcare.

            1. Kj*

              This would really depend. My mom would love to be close enough to do that for me. She’s in her 60s and hikes 10 miles on the regular, so she would have no problem physically.

            2. just my opinion*

              Curious to hear why it’s not a really great arrangement. As a parent whose 2 y/o is watched by a retired grandparent.

              1. Elizabeth Proctor*

                I’ll be on a flight on Friday but it’s a long one so perhaps I’ll time an internet access purchase with the opening of the open thread…

        2. Regina Phalange*

          I don’t think that is what she is saying at all — she would be furious if a co-worker was ‘working from home’ and watching the kids herself (vs. paying for daycare like everyone else).

        3. Perse's Mom*

          Where on earth are you pulling retired parents who provide free childcare from in response to Elizabeth? It’s clear she’s not talking about your hypothetical.

          1. sunny-dee*

            It’s clear she’s talking about being upset that the coworker isn’t paying an expense that she is paying.

            She’s not upset about the coworker missing deadlines, being distracted, being unavailable, being noisy on conference calls, or having poor quality work. She only and explicitly mentioned the expense. That’s messed up.

            1. Salyan*

              I think it’s more that the coworker would be avoiding the expense *while simultaneously getting paid for work she isn’t doing* while the comment writer is responsibly doing all her work as well as paying for the needed daycare.

            2. Coyote Tango*

              Because the unwritten subtext of this is that she’s paying for it with the irritation of her coworkers by doing all of those things.

            3. Parenthetically*

              No, she’s saying she’d be furious that the coworker was gaming the system. Come on. No charitable, kind reading of Elizabeth’s comment could lead you to believe that she’d be furious at someone who had free childcare.

            4. biobotb*

              It’s rare that someone doesn’t read *enough* into a comment on the internet, but I think this is one of those times.

  7. Zona the Great*

    #2- yup, I curse like a muh-fuh and I would have no problem hearing, “hey this group would fall over if they heard you on a good day. We have to keep it G rated.” And I’d button it. I can turn it off just like if there were kids around.

    1. sacados*

      Same. F-bombs all day with my friends but I turn it completely off at work and with the parents.

    2. boo bot*

      Same. I think if you’re uncomfortable bringing it up, OP, you can include it in an overall briefing about the group – you said she didn’t even know who they were, and that they’re pretty important, so I think it’s totally reasonable to say something like, “Hey, I wanted to give you some more background on who we’re presenting to: they’re ultimately the ones who decide on funding, and whether to refill the oxygen in our undersea branch. They tend to prefer slides with pictures, no llamas, and no cursing – I know you tend to curse like a muh-fuh and I love it, but in this setting it’s really important to the mission and the submarine operators that we keep the language clean.”

      1. valentine*

        Given this person has yet to filter, I don’t think she’ll be able to coach herself to stop in time for the presentation. And telling her the office is (mostly?) swear-free and she stands out negatively would be a kindness.

    3. sunny-dee*

      True story. My VP was giving a presentation at a major internal event, and for that one session there were about 350 people in the room. She dropped an F-bomb in her first sentence, and two of the sales guys had had a $20 bet on when she’d curse first. The winner started cheering in the meeting.

      1. TootsNYC*

        at one job’s company wide meeting, the CFO dropped an F bomb or two, and ever after people referred to her as the Swearing Lady.

  8. Celeste*

    OP#1 can for sure work full time and take care of one or even two small children—if her family isn’t counting on her income! This is a perfect setup for her to be told to get childcare or else. Unfortunately I’ve heard this scenario before. What is it with husbands who want a second income but either no daycare expenses or no one else caring for their kids?

    1. Lilith*

      Husband probably wants dinner ready, too when he gets home. Grrr, I’m probably being unkind but I just have my hackles up about this guy.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      One assumes that the husband does so little of the childcare that he just doesn’t even notice that it’s work.

      1. LKW*

        This. I expect if he’s had to take care of the child for the day, he’s not been working. If he’s working he’s not taking care of the child.

        OP #1 – take a trip for three days. Tuesday – Thursday. When you come back, ask if he still has issues with child care or thinks that it’s feasible to work from home and take care of a child.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But it’s entirely possible that he’d be able to do it, because (a) mom would have already done all the laundry, (b) the fridge would be stocked with meals that just need to be reheated, (c) there obviously wouldn’t be any doctor appointments, etc. scheduled for his three days, and (d) he would have told all his coworkers that he’d be unavailable for meetings those three days. And she’d come home to “this was a piece of cake, what’s your problem?”

        2. boop the first*

          Yes! Mama should take a weekend off here and there at the very least. I was “daycare” for my parents during the summer after high school, and I had such a strict schedule (and actually became really agoraphobic). Meanwhile, when I was still doing school, my stepdad would be unemployed, and unload his toddler to my aunt’s house even when he was planning to just stay at home. Until she started asking for money! One day he was “stuck” with the toddler, fell asleep on the couch, and woke up to find permanent marker doodled all over the walls, and a massive bump on her forehead from trying to climb a bookshelf!

          My friend sometimes takes a weekend off, and it seems that every time her husband is on caretaking duty, he takes the kid over to grandma’s house. What’s the deal with dads? At least mine had the honesty to disown us and leave after he lost interest.

    3. Tim Tam Girl*

      What is is? Why, it’s a culture that utterly devalues or just completely ignores the ‘work’ part of the phrase ‘domestic work’! It’s a sexist, misogynist culture that trapped women in the house for centuries and expected them to handle every issue there without support, and more recently has ‘allowed’ them to work while also expecting them to continue to do the vast majority of in-home work without complaint! And it’s a culture that continues to enforce men’s prioritisation of work outside the home (even if they want to be the primary caregivers), and certainly does nothing to discourage them from believing with all their hearts that being a stay-at-home parent is champagne and bon-bons from dawn ‘til dusk!

      Tl;dr: I also have some feelings about this husband and his perspective on the issue.

      1. Maya Elena*

        Maybe she’s the one who wants to keep working? I mean, there are legitimate reasons to not want to do daycare, and he might be a controllinf jerk or he might be letting her have her way rather than work part-time or do SAHM full time?

        1. Elsajeni*

          But this is still treating the situation like the only options are “daycare” or “mom takes full-time responsibility for childcare.” I’m sure she does want to keep working! The issue is that we talk about her wanting to keep working as a wish that may or may not be achievable, and her husband wanting to keep working as a given, something that is obviously true and will obviously happen. If he’s the one who feels strongly about not putting the kids in daycare or preschool, why isn’t he stepping in to fill the resulting need for daytime childcare?

          1. sunny-dee*

            Well, it may not be achievable. Let’s say that child care costs $1400 a month per kid. With travel and ancillaries, call it $1600. If her take home is, say, $3000, she’s keeping ahead at one kid, but if she wants another (and they apparently do), they’re barely breaking even. And that’s without factoring in the all-to-common day care-related sicknesses.

            I have a friend with 5 kids and another with 4, and it simply did not make sense to try to do day care at that point, until the kids were in middle school. It was way too expensive, compared to any possible monetary benefit.

            1. TootsNYC*

              then again, hiring someone part-time to come occupy the kids in the house might be a lot more feasible.

            2. Elsajeni*

              I understand the financials, but I feel you’ve missed my point, which is exactly that we tend to treat this calculation as “daycare vs. mom’s job” when there is also a dad in the picture. The math you did pits the cost of daycare against only the mom’s take-home pay — why? Dad’s salary isn’t a consideration?

              1. sunny-dee*

                Usually — not always, but usually — the dad makes more and isn’t required to take time off for pregnancies and maternity leave (which affect earnings).

                I had a friend in the exact opposite situation — she made double what her husband did and daycare was expensive enough that they were discussing having him quit for their second child (something neither of them were wild about, but which made financial sense). She ended up getting their children into her work’s onsite day care which was cheaper, so they didn’t need to do it, but it was a serious plan. I have an online friend who did that; his wife is a lawyer and travels a lot, so he decided to stay home with their kids and quit teaching at a university.

      2. Kettles*

        Yes. This was my Grandfather’s attitude. In mitigating circumstances he was born in the 1930s.

        1. valentine*

          A 1930s birth isn’t mitigating.

          Suffice it to say this is not the narrative for African American women and we will never have a time in the US when African American women can, in large numbers, choose not to work outside the home.

    4. Hesitatinf*

      It baffles me that people don’t work these things out before having the kids. I don’t have kids but I’m at the age where all my friends have them so I have a very good idea how demanding they are. Most of my friends who now don’t have kids are hesitating because we’ve seen how our friends’ husbands behaved and are now having some serious talks with ours before taking the plunge.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        “It baffles me that people don’t work these things out before having the kids.”

        It’s amazing to me how many of my seemingly smart/well educated friends are not having these (and other) conversations before marriage/pregnancy.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        My neighbors in my last apartment had a colicky baby, and our apartment had really thin walls. After a year of listening to the baby constantly screaming, my husband said, “Isn’t she too old to be crying like that? She’s a year old!”

        HAHAHAHA no. He had no idea that babies cried until they were 3-ish.

  9. Auntie Social*

    #2–I would explain the no-swearing circumstances to her, but I would also make her do a practice run of her presentation to make sure there were no slips ups. When you’re used to swearing it’s difficult to break the “f’ing” habit.

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      I would do a run through regardless.
      It actually took me an entire season to completely expunge swearing from my amateur baseball broadcadts.
      Interedtingly it was catcher Gary Carter who coined the term “F-bomb.”

  10. JR*

    I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old and I work from home, part-time, in an extremely flexible job. I do independent consulting, and I have, let’s say, 3-5 hours of calls in an average week – the rest of my work can be down when and where I want. My kids are still in preschool or with our nanny when I’m working (or asleep or with my husband when I’m working nights and weekends). I can reply to a quick email while I’m with my kids, and if something time-sensitive comes up, I can turn on the tv and do maybe an hour of work. But little kids need very frequent supervision! The two times I’ve tried to be on a client call when I was alone with my kids did not end well…

    1. LKW*

      Key words here “preschool” “nanny” “husband”

      You are not alone in managing work and kids (which is awesome).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also the quick email. When my kids were small I could reply to a quick question here or there, but anything that required sustained focus, they were being tended by someone else.

      2. JR*

        Exactly!! And I don’t think anything else could work for OP’s friend, except for the occasional email here or sick day there.

      3. JR*

        I just think that my work situation – because I have clients but not bosses and a lot of flexibility – is about as close as it gets to a situation where someone could conceivably think this scenario could work. And in my experience, it still absolutely wouldn’t.

  11. Kiki*

    LW #1; It is not pragmatic from a business standpoint for your friend to work full time and simultaneously provide full-time childcare for two young children.

    From a more general standpoint, I think it’s absurd that your friend’s husband thinks this would be doable and seems to be pushing it on his wife. If he thinks it could work, he should try it first.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Honestly she should count herself lucky that her company allows her to WFH with 1 child that young. Unless you work part time, or your job is self-paced, you can not WFH while also caring for a child who can’t take care of themselves.

  12. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    LW5: have you had a frank conversation with your manager about this? As in, have you asked for actions or steps you can take to get the promotion? And pointed out the pattern (you apply and don’t get it)? Could you focus on your long term goals instead?

    1. LKW*

      Agreed. If the OP came across so poorly in the interview, it must have been super bad to outweigh actual performance experience.

      Some things that would make me question whether someone was ready for a promotion:
      – Did they indicate they would “change things up” as if to say all prior managers didn’t know what they were doing and the department needed to be reorged? Is this a valid observation and if so, why didn’t they work with their manager previously? Is it just a power play?
      – Did they speak poorly of anyone else in the meeting. “I deserve this because I’m better than other people because they suck” or “Former person in this position is awful and I can do better.” ?
      – Not knowing how to get to an answer. I’m ok if you don’t know the answer, but I’m not ok if you can’t think of a path to get to answer. “That’s an interesting question and I don’t know. But I suppose if I were to look up XYZ and ask Fergus and Wakeen they could point me in the direction to get an answer”

      1. TootsNYC*

        well, this is not a binary decision, yes/no on the OP only.

        There were other candidates. They may have done significantly better in a way that meant the OP’s interview was enough to be the deciding factor, even if it wasn’t horrible.

  13. Clay on my apron*

    OP2, this is one occasion where I don’t agree with Alison. I’m not judgey about strong language but lots of people find it unprofessional – including OP (“When I first met her, I thought she was terribly unprofessional”).

    This is probably affecting the way she is viewed by other colleagues who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know her well. She could be missing out on opportunities to engage with senior people or seen as not getting the company culture.

    This is especially true if she doesn’t tone it down for specific situations or audiences which suggests that she’s not reading the room/crowd as well she needs to be. From what OP says it sounds as though this might be the case.

    It’s not just a guideline for this specific audience in the way that “no more than 3 slides” is.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Ok, but since OP isn’t the supervisor, I’m not sure what else she can do in this situation aside from guide her coworker on the correct behavior in such a presentation.

      1. TootsNYC*

        she’s a friend. She can say, “You know, since we’re on this topic–your swearing habit is so strong that it took me a long time to actually realize how competent you are. I sometimes wonder if it affects other people’s perceptions of you as well.”

        1. Kiki*

          I wouldn’t phrase it like that. I would say, “Sometimes your swearing can detract from the message instead of emphasize your point.”

          When people say, “It took me a long time to realize so-and-so is competent/smart because of ____,” it tends to make me think they’re superficial, not that the subject actually should change. I’ve heard that quite a bit about me because I like pop culture stuff even though I’m an accomplished engineer. Also, I hear it about people for whom English is not their first language, which is just bigoted.

    2. Junior Dev*

      If OP were the boss I might agree but I think being asked not to curse for the presentation may serve as a wake up call for the coworker—“do I really swear that much?” As it is, it’s not really the OP’s job to worry about the coworker’s professional development and it could come off as concern trolling to be overly concerned about it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP is a coworker, not her boss. She doesn’t have any standing to tell her to stop swearing the rest of the time, nor is she asking about how to do that.

      1. Clay on my apron*

        I didn’t say that OP should *tell* her colleague to stop swearing, not did I suggest she has standing to do so.

        I think that phrasing it as “for this audience” implies that it’s fine the rest of the time, whereas OP says that she often wonders whether she should close her office door to prevent senior staff from hearing the profanity. That’s why I disagreed with your answer to OP’s *specific question* about what to do about this presentation.

        I don’t see how my response is off topic or warrants this virtual slap on the wrist, and I’m uncomfortable with you referencing things I didn’t actually say in my comment.

  14. Jimming*

    Re: #1 – I remember how annoying it was when I was told to train another employee ASAP and she turned down my suggested times because she needed to wait until her kid was napping…so no, don’t do this. Not unless she truely has a flexible role that doesn’t involve coordinating with other full time employees.

  15. WS*

    My parents both worked full-time while raising three children. The difference here is that my dad’s work (programming) was very flexible on timing, so he worked 5am-3pm and could stay home if we were sick, and my mother (a nurse) worked 4pm-midnight. If they’ve got that kind of set-up, sure! But I’m deeply suspicious.

    1. Tathren*

      My parents did something similar. My mom worked full-time M-F and my dad worked overnight weekend shifts (the equivalent of FT hours, just crammed into 3 days) so one of them was always around to take care of us, and since my dad didn’t work during the week if one of us was home sick there wasn’t a scramble to work from home or get last-minute childcare.

      The trade-off was that my parents’ schedules had little overlap so they rarely saw each other and had even less time to themselves. But technically this is also an option if LW #1’s husband doesn’t want outside childcare.

    2. DaffyDuck*

      I did something similar. I worked 5 am to noon. My husband left the house at 12:45 for a swing shift. We traded off working weekends. When my husband was offered a job at what both of us made we jumped at it and I was a SAHM. I really wish I picked up a full-time job and had the kids in after-school care once they were all in; the hit to my career, retirement and savings was huge.

  16. Junior Dev*

    Honestly #1 is reminding me of the letter from the woman whose husband told her boss she was quitting. Maybe not as extreme but in both cases it appears to outside observers that husband is making a choice unilaterally that seriously impedes his wife’s career. If the case had been that they couldn’t afford childcare or it didn’t work for some logistical reason I feel like LW would have said so. I really think this guy’s idealized notion of how a family should work is more important to him than experiences of the living, breathing humans that live with him.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Interestingly, I have been asked, in interviews, if my husband supports me working. Once in 2016 and once in 2018.


  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    Here’s something from the late, great Victoria Wood.

    “And she got more and more depressed. So I said, “Look Sheila, if you’re that desperate, go back to work and I’ll stay home and look after the baby.” So off she went. And I changed nappies, made the breakfast, did the hoovering, cleaned the cooker, made the beds, went shopping, fed the baby – and by lunchtime I’d had enough. I phoned Sheila at work – I said “You’ll have to pack your job in, I can’t stand it.” It’s true.”

  18. B.O.A.B*

    Lw1- if your friend’s spouse is able to work evenings then its absolutely possible for her to continue on in the same way she is now. Or if her husband agrees to take over children at 5pm so she can go straight to bed and be up at 4am to work before the kids get up, its also possible. It would take a heck of a strong partnership and a ton of give on both parents part to make that arrangement work though, and unless you are very very intimately involved in all that, I would recommend just stepping back from a very odd dynamic in someone else’s relationship (barring clear abuse, in which you would have standing to speak up on, but I feel you would have made that distinction in your letter if it were the case)

  19. His Grace*

    OP 3, you are well within your right to send this applicant a cold rejection letter; in fact, I recommend calling this ghost and let him explain himself. Let him scramble for once.

    1. Not Sayin' For This*

      They called and left word with reception. That’s not ghosting. But I suppose Your Grace doesn’t have much compassion for others.

      You don’t know the situation that person was in, and you really cannot know how you’d handle it unless you were in it yourself.

        1. Super Dee Duper Anon*

          Wow. That’s really uncalled for.

          Just because you disagree with Not Sayin’ For This, you don’t need to imply that they’ve behaved unprofessionally in the past.

      1. LawBee*

        We don’t quibble about word choice here – the point is that the candidate was hired and didn’t show up to work on her first day with no advance notice, no follow up afterwards (because yes, emergencies happen), and the barest message left with the random person at reception and not the person who hired her or the person she would be working for.

        Yes, we don’t know what happened, but also – this was terribly unprofessional and left the office in a bind. It would have gone better for the candidate had she called later that day, that week, that month, that year, EVER to apologize for bailing. That would at least indicate that she was aware that she’d made an error. Blacklisting her is completely reasonable, and in this particular instance, I’d probably let her know why.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If I hadn’t shown up for an emergency, I would have let the employer know. Either up front, or in a follow-up: “Sorry about a month ago; my sister’s family was in a horrific car wreck and I had to rush to Omaha to take custody of my nephew before daycare closed.”

          1. TootsNYC*

            Hell, I’d have said it in that very phone call: “I won’t be able to be there–I’ve had a family emergency, I’m so sorry.”

      2. Myrin*

        I mean, it might not technically be ghosting but it’s very near the same thing.
        OP says “She never showed up”, meaning people were actually waiting for her on that first Monday, meaning she only called in on that very Monday, so the effect is the same (maybe with the exception of at least not having to wonder for several days or trying to get into contact with her first but, well, that really doesn’t make it much better).

      3. Kettles*

        Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve been covering multiple jobs, you finally get the funding for staff, you hire the right person, then they just call in on the day saying they’re not going to turn up? And you’re just like, welp, guess I’ll carry on working 12 hour days? I have. It was devastating.

        Hiring is expensive and compassion goes both ways.

        1. Mike C.*

          It’s not an applicant’s fault your management doesn’t understand how to properly staff their own workplace.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep, that’s (often, not always) a management problem. It’s ALSO a candidate/new hire problem. The person doesn’t get off the hook for doing something rude and unprofessional just because the employer isn’t staffed better.

            1. Mike C.*

              I’m not saying that the applicant isn’t being unprofessional. That’s just a completely separate issue from workload management.

              1. Kettles*

                It was very much a former job, 5-6 years ago and I’m happy to say both behaved badly.

                However this letter is about an applicant. The applicant behaved unprofessionally, let me down and to this day I would recommend against hiring them.

          2. Observer*

            Sometimes. In this particular case, it was NOT a management problem. The management was doing the right thing(s) to avoid a problem like this. And then the applicant just chose to not show up.

            I get it – life happens. But then you do your best to mitigate the problem or at least explain and apologize.

        1. PB*

          Exactly. Bailing on a job warrants more than a call that morning saying “I changed my mind; I won’t take the job.”

      4. Oxford Comma*

        It may not technically be ghosting, but it isn’t adequate. There should have been some kind of followup on the part of the applicant/hire along the lines of an explanation and an apology for inconveniencing them. It also probably should have been mentioned in the cover letter.

      5. Anonable*

        I’ve been in the position where I was unemployed and crippled with depression. I managed to paste a mask on and somehow got offered a job in publishing. Publishing! One of the most sought-after careers, filled with people with Oxbridge degrees! And I’d failed my A-levels but still got the job!

        I couldn’t get out of bed on my first day. I emailed with a bullshit explanation, shoved my laptop under my bed, and stayed in bed for a week because it was the only way I could avoid killing myself. I haven’t checked that email address since, and it was a good few years ago.

        I would never, EVER apply for another job with that company. I’ve never even applied for another job in publishing.

        1. CM*

          I’m so sorry this happened to you! This and a lot of the other comments on this letter are reminding me that my initial reaction was way too judgmental — there are lots of reasons somebody would ghost on a job. I still don’t think the company should hire them this time, but I agree with those who say there is no call to ask for an explanation unless the company is genuinely going to consider the candidate again.

        2. starsaphire*

          *offering hugs*

          I am so sorry that happened to you. Depression is one hell of an albatross.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      And answer unprofessional behavior with more unprofessional behavior? Better to send the office’s usual “thanks but we found a better-suited candidate” and get along with their work day.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think you could say, “We actually hired you to work here, and you didn’t show up on the first day and called to cancel. So we cannot consider you now or in the future.”

        That’s not unprofessional–but it’s also not the same thing as saying, “Why?”

    3. Mike C.*

      Revenge fantasies like these are really in poor taste. I know it makes people feel like they’re clever but they’re usually poorly planned and no one here would ever actually go through with them so what’s the point?

      Not to mention the fact that you’re punching down.

      1. Wake up!*

        If this is a “revenge fantasy” it seems like a suuuuuuuper mild one. They’re not inviting her in to interview and dumping pig’s blood on her new suit. (Would it be okay to think of a revenge fantasy if it were better planned ie meaner and people here were also meaner and would go through with it? Hard to understand what you’re getting at here)

        That said, I don’t see why calling to find out why she ghosted is worth the effort. You know you’re not going to hire her, so just don’t hire her.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        Sending a rejection letter isn’t a revenge fantasy. Using Alison’s script isn’t a revenge fantasy either.

    4. Alfonzo Mango*

      It would be really unprofessional to pick a fight. This is a situation where OP should be the bigger person.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW1 – no, you can’t. Most jobs (mine included) don’t allow it. Older kids where taking care of them is “stick in front of playstation and get them out if there’s a fire”? Sure. Younger kids need attention, and it isn’t feasible to do both.

  21. CatCat*

    #3. Let. It. Go.

    Send a standard rejection (no need to be “frosty”) and move on.

    Don’t inquire further if you’re rejecting no matter what. That would be ridiculous.

    How about instead of imagining the worst about someone, we imagine them in a terrible situation that prevented them from following through? And maybe they could have handled the communication better, but they’re human, aren’t perfect, and it was rough.

    So with compassion rather than fury in your heart, send a standard rejection if they’re already blacklisted and MOVE ON.

    I’m really surprised following up when you’re not hiring no matter what is the advice here. Sounds petty and pointless.

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      I’d only follow up of there were responses that would make me consider her candidacy.

      1. valentine*

        I’m really surprised following up when you’re not hiring no matter what is the advice here. Sounds petty and pointless.
        It allows the candidate not to bother again and the employer not to have the wound reopened.

        1. CatCat*

          But you can do that without prying needlessly into the applicant’s life.

          We’d of course want to understand what happened there before we could consider another application from you.” (You will not consider her application regardless, but it would be Very Interesting if you get a response.)

          That’s ridiculous.

          What is the point of saying something like that if the employer “will not consider her application regardless”?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You’re telling this person who has asked to be reconsidered for a job with you without addressing the previous incident that they need to close the loop on the first time.

            1. CatCat*

              Why does the applicant need to “close the loop” if they’re not going to be considered? Why would OP dangle the imaginary carrot that the application will be considered when it won’t be?

              Why not just say, “We actually hired you for an X role three years ago but, with no explanation, you didn’t show up on your scheduled first day. For that reason, we will not be considering your application.”

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              I think the wording of “regardless” implies that there is nothing they could do to be considered again, instead of there being a possibility.

          2. Not Today Satan*

            Totally agree. Imagine if years ago, I interviewed with a company and they never informed me that they hired someone else (nor did they respond to my follow up). Today, they recruit me for a job– and I make them tell me why they never got back to me years ago rather than just saying no thanks.

            I’m 100% ok with blacklisting the candidate, but get over it. No need to make anyone squirm.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      100% agree.

      Look, you can explain the no-show hire’s behavior as being grounded in some kind of sad personal problem, or as a personality issue that would not have worked in your workplace anyway. If the former, then you’re approaching being a jerk by answering with a “frosty” reply. If the latter, then you’re possibly starting drama and opening the door to engaging with them.

      Send the office’s standard rejection letter and don’t look back.

      1. Observer*

        Why would you be approaching “jerk” behavior here?

        The last minute no show? Maybe. Totally failure to follow up – unlikely but possible. But re-applying with absolutely no acknowledgement of the past? No, that’s someone who has some really messed up attitudes.

          1. Observer*

            So? None of that explains or excuses not only not apologizing at the time, but totally ignoring it this time around.

    3. Tau*

      I guess it depends on what you mean by “frosty”, but I don’t actually think a rejection referencing what happened would be unkind, in the circumstances – quite the opposite! Whatever her reason for not following through and the way she handled that, the candidate apparently doesn’t realise that she burnt her bridges at this company. Telling her “we will not be considering any applications from you due to your no-show when you were hired in 20XX” (in a professional manner, obviously) lets her know
      – there is no need to spend time or energy applying to this company in the future
      – handling a new job in this particular way will result in her being blacklisted. This might be new information that changes the way she operates in the future.

      The main reason I could see for sending a standard rejection would be if the OP doesn’t care to get into it at all and just wants to be done with her – which would be fair enough.

      1. CatCat*

        Your advice is better than Alison’s here.

        I see what you are saying and that would have been good advice. But I think you’re reading something into the advice that isn’t there (and I think yours a good approach because your take is much more reasonable). I’m not reading that into the advice given because Alison usually expressly says when it would be kind to do something, what that would look like, and why that would be kind. No hiding the ball and not something as vague and negative sounding as “frosty” (as opposed to, say, “straightforward” or “matter-of-fact.”)

        The AAM advice distills down to this:

        – ignore the applicant
        – frosty rejection (whatever that is, but doesn’t sound based in doing a kindness)
        – follow up for kicks

        These just aren’t great. It’s not like the applicant left in a rude blaze of glory. I’m not saying what the applicant did was okay. I understand being frustrated and passing over the applicant because of it. But OP literally knows nothing about what happened. No call to be frosty or petty here.

        1. Psyche*

          I’m pretty sure “frosty” just means that she doesn’t have to pretend that there are no hard feelings. It is ok to skip the softening language like thanking them for applying and wishing them well in their search. They burnt this bridge. You don’t need to smile and wave from the other side.

          1. Lana Kane*

            “They burnt this bridge. You don’t need to smile and wave from the other side.”

            Oooh, I like that wording. It’s so easy for me to do this in certain circumstances although I know I shouldn’t. This image helps me put it in context.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Yes, the time to get answers was when they got the message from the receptionist. Why didn’t the OP follow up then?

          Also is OP certain that they had a digital and physical reference to her direct line? Leaving a message at reception might have been the most viable option. I’ve been to more than a few interviews where the only number I have is the office or the recruiter. Communicating who is the hiring manager and how to contact them hasn’t always been done well in my experience.

          1. ooo*

            It’s totally possible the OP gave them a call and never heard back. But I think it’s also fair to say that if someone ghosts on their first day, you don’t bother to follow up, because they’ve just demonstrated they’re not the right person for the job. As a manager, I would not waste much time hunting that person down, and if I rejected a job that way, I would not want the employer making a lot of attempts to contact me. When you quit with no explanation on your first day, you’re sending a pretty clear message.

            Regarding the communication: Even if leaving a message with the receptionist was the only option, the message could have been “Please call me back, so I can talk to you.” The contrarian impulse to assume that the applicant who ghosted on her first day had no recourse and that the OP should be second-guessing herself is pretty wild. If I get a job and then don’t show up and I want the bridge to remain unburned, I have to actively address that.

        3. Katherine*

          The OP doesn’t know *nothing* about what happened. It is very, very hard to come up with a justifiable explanation for this *string of mistakes* (not single mistake) from the applicant. The applicant 1: bailed on a job with no warning, 2: gave no explanation, 3: didn’t bother to talk directly to the hiring manager, 4: applied again with no acknowledgement of the extreme inconvenience he caused the first time around. The OP knows that those things happened. He’s not required to bend over backward to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt. And honestly, a frosty rejection sounds very appropriate and is in some ways the kind thing to do. Sending this applicant a “you were one of many qualified candidates blah blah” email does him no favors- it fails to impress upon him that his choices harmed his chances of employment.

      2. Someone Else*

        Yeah I think, in terms of everyone debating whether this person truly “ghosted” or not…in the moment I could see the applicant thinking “I didn’t show up. I barely left a message that I was not going to show up. No point in following up later with an explanation. I’ve clearly already lost this job and burned this bridge.” So in that sense, the person never contacting them ever again later to explain the no-show makes sense.
        But by applying again now, she’s showing she does not already have that understanding that this was a bridge burned, that the way she handled the first hiring was Not OK. By applying as though that’s totally normal and ignoring that history it suddenly begs the question “why did you not tell the hiring manager, or hr, or someone you interacted with during the hiring process? why did you wait until you were already meant to be in the office to cancel? if there were extenuating circumstances or an emergency, why didn’t you try to explain later?”
        Because the two things don’t jive.
        Either she knows what she did before was totally wrong and the bridge was burned…and it’s explains some of what happened, but not why she’d think it’s a good idea to try again now.
        Or she doesn’t realize what she did was bad at all, in which case, it could help her now to let her know that, or at worst, it will make her go away.
        The third option is the applicant both knows it was bad the first time but for some reason thinks it’s worth a shot again now anyway (maybe there’s been enough turnover no one knows, maybe she just DGAF, maybe gumption?) If the applicant does fall into this third category, it makes a lot of sense to both want nothing to do with her AND to not feel the need to help educate her at all.

    4. Lepidoptera*

      Even if LW isn’t going to consider the candidate, I’d seek out an answer for the semi-ghosting just to make sure it wasn’t a company-caused reason. Did the applicant stumble across a horrifying review on Glassdoor that made her second guess her decision in a panic? Did HR reach out with onboarding requests that were strange or unprofessional?

      I’m not saying any of those possibilities would make the applicant’s handling of the situation acceptable, but I’d still want to know.

      1. Fergus*

        I had a request, just recently, before even an interview by a company’s so called security department send me a questionnaire for personal info. When I told them I thought it was premature and I felt uncomfortable giving that info until after the interview they ghosted me. You don’t know what other nonsense other departments are doing.

      2. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        This occurred to me too, but it seems unlikely. Still, I think I’d want to know if it was anything like that. But if it was, would the candidate be applying again?

    5. Batgirl*

      The candidate either has a lack of awareness about the way her application would be received or had a brain fart and forgot.
      I actually think it’s pretty kind to give her a ‘you do realise…right?’ in case she doesn’t realise.

    6. ooo*

      I can imagine reasons that would justify the ghosting, like if the applicant had been in an abusive relationship at the time and their partner flipped out upon learning about the job. There’d be no great way to explain that.

      But Tau is right that it would be a kindness to let the applicant know that the ghosting was a big deal, and to give her a chance to explain in the unlikely case there were mitigating circumstances. It seems like you’re hung up on the word frosty, which I get, but Alison’s actual phrasing — “We actually hired you for an X role three years ago but you didn’t show up on your scheduled first day. We’d of course want to understand what happened there before we could consider another application from you” — is straightforward and not judgmental or rude.

  22. Batgirl*

    LW1, This kind of thing is why I know so many divorced women who swear to me that life is actually easier now with half the income, and half the adult pairs of hands.
    Because now they get to make reasonable decisions which work for them instead of constantly hearing that mothering/female coded jobs are easy and rely on innate instincts, so they should level up and do two things at once!
    Ah to be an armchair coach! But seriously she might apply the Sheelzebub principle and ask how long she is willing to play superwoman. I would personally rip the band off now, disappear for the weekend leaving hubs with the kids and a to do list ‘since it is so easy’.
    If he asks where she’s been she’s been catching up on work/much needed rest and occasionally shopping on eHarmony.

    1. Shad*

      I can’t support shopping on eharmony until he’s gone, but the rest? Excellent advice.

  23. Maria Lopez*

    OP5- Your management team is never going to see you as someone who is promotable, so look for another company while you are still reasonably happy in your job. It could be all the things the other posters and Allison have said, or it could be, and most likely is, that they just don’t care for you or feel that if you didn’t get the promotion the first time you shouldn’t try again.
    I have seen this scenario, where there is a definite clique hierarchy, and if you are not part of the clique you will go nowhere. Get out now while your ego and confidence are still intact.

  24. London Engineer*

    OP3: I’m curious if this person’s application/CV gives any indication of what they’ve been doing for the last few years – but mostly just to satisfy my own curiosity

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Me too. I’m having a hard time coming up with an acceptable storyline… if I stretch into TV script territory I’m sure I’d forgive someone who was in an abusive relationship three years ago and is now living on hisorher own. But I’m no better at stretching that far than I am at yoga in the real world.

  25. Paperdill*

    As a mother of 3 who struggles to even fit my two days of work in my life WITH childcare, I am shaking my head at this, OP 1.
    Going from one to two children is crazy enough (two to three is another level of insane altogether), adding full time work and no child care to it? I need to have a sit down just thinking about it.
    I have several friends who work from home doing part time hours or, for example, do work for their husband’s/father’s business around the children (so, a casual arrangment without contracts specifying their need for childcare) – they do not enjoy the situation at all. They never feel like they are giving either role their full attention – constantly having to put kids in front of an iPad so they can call clients, write emails and publications after midnight once their baby has settled etc.
    Which brings me to another thought: this dopey husband. How on earth does he think their children are going to benefit at all being out of childcare, at home with their mother, if she is working full time hours? I don’t know this fellow but I am not impressed with his attitude at all.

    1. valentine*

      they do not enjoy the situation at all.
      Did they not have discussions and negotiations prior to partnering or parenting? Even if your partner reels you in, then chooses neglect, would you not dump him after one child?

      1. Nita*

        Maybe they don’t enjoy it but the partner isn’t making them do it. They have to do it anyway for financial reasons, or for insurance, or because it’s a small family business that needs their skills.

        Or maybe it is a problem with their partner, but if they walk away, life only gets more complicated. One, they probably need more income to run a separate household (and thus, need to work even more). Two, they get to have shared custody. As in, half the time their child would be with someone whose judgment they don’t trust – and they would not be around.

      2. Wake up!*

        Yes, dumping a less-than-supportive partner and single parenting is so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?

      3. Batgirl*

        Somebody willing to work this hard at an unwinnable work situation…will also work hard at an unwinnable relationship set up. Alas.

  26. MayLou*

    We don’t have a child but we have a dog, and as a result my wife (a graduate student with clinical placements) leaves the house if she needs to get work done and I’m not home. Small creatures who love you and cannot feed or toilet themselves or understand “I have to concentrate now, please leave me alone for an hour” are not conducive to work, full stop, whether they are human, animal, or some weird emotionally needy robot.

    1. Mrs_helm*

      I wfh with 3 dogs, and I feel this comment. While I don’t generally need to leave the house, 100% concentration for long stretches is not a guarantee, and a closed door is your friend. Plus, hubby also works from home and shares the load a little.
      But ignoring dogs and ignoring kids are VASTLY different things. (The stuffs will not be complaining to a therapist in 20 years, for example.)

  27. Lucy*

    #1 – I have WFH since I was pregnant with my youngest. Thoughts in no particular order:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA it’s all very well for the husband to say the children must be at home with a parent when he isn’t proposing he be that parent HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Tiny babies are easy to work around because they don’t need entertainment, just presence. If you can type one handed then you can wfh with an infant. If the baby settles into a predictable pattern you can even schedule conference calls. This is a great solution for when you have infants who do not benefit from the socialising (etc) features of paid childcare.

    Once children are about 7 years old you can wfh with them there during school vacations, sick days, etc. They might get bored but they don’t need constant in-the-room supervision. It’s not much of a life for them but for the occasional day it’s absolutely fine.

    Between the ages of around six months and six years you simply can’t provide quality work and childcare at the same time. That means squeezing a workday into the child’s sleep (typically 12h in 24 but that includes when you need to sleep yourself so is unlikely to add up to full time), outsourcing the childcare, or compromising the work.

    There are lots of clever ways of minimising childcare hours by organising your work week – e.g. one parent works 6-3 and one works 12-9, or both parents work four ten-hour days and only one day each week is childcare – but those solutions are very industry dependent and can severely compromise family life.

    It is very hard to wfh all the time even if you are an introvert. Unless you have space to define a dedicated work area, you’re always and yet never quite at work and at home at the same time, with the edges blurring. The four walls can close in and it can be very lonely. The partner who goes out to work can come to take your presence at home for granted which disrupts your work if they arrange deliveries or repairs around your assumed availability.

    I’m a firm believer that good childcare is good for children and their parents. That means a safe and stimulating environment, good ratio of qualified/experienced/caring adults to children, well devised curriculum or activities, etc, and that’s expensive.

    Working isn’t just about money, particularly for women. It can be about maintaining your identity and your sanity. It can be about maintaining a consistent employment history so you don’t fall off the ladder altogether. It can be about modelling a healthy work ethic to your children.

    And finally … two children is not double one child. It doesn’t add, but compounds, and you can’t predict a child’s character or needs.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Not being able to predict a child’s personality or needs is an important point. I mentioned above that I have WFH part time since my kids were little. I contemplated going to a standard full time office job this year but my son now needs two 1 1/2 hour medical appointments a week – something I would not have predicted six years ago when I started WFH, or even a year ago. Fortunately, my current employer is extremely flexible. But if that were not the case, and I had to be available at specific times, even my 30 hour WFH role wouldn’t be possible for me.

    2. Blondie*

      Finally! Something mentioned the stimulation of the kids! Even if you are allowed to do it and can manage, how are you educating and playing with your children when you work 40 hours… it’s not fair on them at all

      1. Batgirl*

        He must think the local daycare centre is a literal pit you throw kids into while the staff get their nails done.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, it basically comes down to: it’s really really complicated and there are a lot of variables, but no way in hell can you decently perform as a good near-full-time worker and full-time caretaker simultaneously. I’ve got a kid who slept through the night at 5 days old, entertains himself easily, and is basically the perfect candidate for getting work done–and I still would have been neglecting both him and my job if I tried to do both for 6-10 hours a day 4-5 days a week.

    4. nonymous*

      > I’m a firm believer that good childcare is good for children and their parents

      It would say that modeling a sane and sustainable approach to work is just as important for kiddos as the parents. Kids from families that do the trade off thing (where one parent works graveyard or a compressed weekend shift) only see the “divide-and-conquer” problem solving strategy, but are not benefiting from observing compromise and communication that happens in a healthy relationship. My friends who split in this way also report that their kids miss out on the parenting skills of the other one (e.g. one parent might be better at academic enrichment), so there is some loss of consistency through the week.

  28. ZucchiniBikini*

    LW1, I worked at home with a toddler and an infant, which then became a toddler and a preschooler, and then for bonus points, I did one year with an infant, a preschooler and a school-aged child before I eventually took a year off before starting my freelance life. It was quite a decade all told!


    – I was only working between 15 and 20 hours a week.
    – My employer did not care when the hours got done and I had no phone meetings at all.
    – My husband took charge of the children for the full day on Saturdays, often taking them out of the house for most of the day and only returning for naps, so I was able to do about half my hours most weeks that day.
    – I hired a local college student to come for 2 sessions a week (3 hours each time), to enable me to either knock over some blocks of work or, if I was really under the pump, just nap / rest / focus on one child only. It wasn’t fully childcare, as I was still there, but it was like a kind of mother’s help situation.

    I cannot even begin to imagine making it work fulltime, or without the support of my husband and the mother’s help. Even WITH those supports, I spent most of that decade so fatigued I could hardly see by the end of every day.

    I will say this – the plausibility of achieving any work from home (even very part-time, like I was) depends to a huge extent on the personalities of the kids in question. My eldest was a placid baby and very quiet toddler who would happily amuse herself for an hour on the floor next to my desk with blocks or toys. My secondborn was the easiest baby ever and a champion napper as both a baby and a toddler, but was a full-on toddler with only one volume (L O U D) – working with no other adult present and her awake was basically impossible from when she was aged 1.5-3. My youngest was very clingy and unsettled as a baby, and didn’t like napping unless attached to me, but then became quite an easygoing toddler and an absolutely charming preschooler.

    At various times, I was able to comfortably do 4 hours a day; I was only logging an hour a day; or I was only able to work when my husband or the mother’s help was there. I was lucky in that I wasn’t required to log more than 15 hours a week and could only do a maximum of 20, so that was less pressure than 40!

    1. Lucy*

      Yes – you’ve no idea if you’ll get a sleeper or not, a builder or a screamer, or as Harper the other one mentions above a totally healthy child or one with multiple medical appointments.

    2. SamIAm*

      My first WAHM gig was like yours. Part-time with tons of flexibility. My current job, which includes a lot of work from home would not be conducive to having kids around. I can barely get enough time in for AAM as it is!!!

  29. Amy*

    I never understand that question about working from home without childcare.

    I’m frankly not even sure what the word “work” means if it’s something that can done while watching little kids. There are lots of things I can do in the presence of my young children – light house keeping, easy cooking, leafing through People magazine, but I doubt anyone wants to pay me for it.

    I frequently work from home. We have a full-time nanny. Sometimes I still can’t completely concentrate with the sound of crying and must leave for long stretches for the library or coffee shop.

    “Working” (not really working) from home on the 4-5 snow days a year where we lose childcare is all I can handle.

  30. Ivylaughed*

    OP4: One of my granddad’s stories about being a negotiator with the union for his company wac the time where everything nearly broke down because there was a typo and the company offered one penny less than the union had asked for. He offered to give them the penny himself. (It was not accepted, but they worked it out.)

    You are totally within your rights. You are due every penny promised.

    1. Katie's Cryin'*

      They might be within their rights, but they’ll also be known as the person who fought for a penny if/when word gets out. It comes out to about $20 a year before taxes.

      If it were me, I’d take the (minor) hit to avoid being known as the penny pincher.

      1. Working with professionals*

        This year it is $20 but next year’s raise percentage is based on this year’s salary so every year that one cent is actually adding up to much more over the life of the job.

        1. MoopySwarpet*

          Even with a 5% raise every year for the next 50 years, the lifetime difference on a penny per hour is $4354.44 . . . or an average of $85.38 per year. Realistically, the if the lifetime of a job is 3-10 years, you’re looking at a $22.93 – $32.27 disparity per year or a total “loss” of $65.57 – $261.62.

          I would probably point it out because I am number oriented and it would bug me, but the real dollar impact is pretty low. I suppose it might also depend on if I want to be known as the person who will haggle over a penny.

      2. epi*

        I really don’t think so. If there is a mistake in this part of the OP’s records, there could be others. If there is a small mistake in their pay, there could be other, bigger errors affecting other people. I would also add that people paid hourly, or who know their hourly rate, fully realize that was sounds like a small rate difference adds up over the course of the year. You will never hear of someone not sure they should speak up over “just” 25 cents or “just” $5.

        Plus, their future raises will be based on this pay. The longer they stay, the more influential the lower– even very slightly lower– starting pay will be.

    2. SimplyHired*

      The auditor in me wonders if this is some kind of fraud, like the penny is going to someone’s else’s pay. If the payroll person has the capability to do this for every hire that 20.00 can add up pretty quickly.

      1. Rebecca*

        That made me think of Office Space – their scheme involved rounding and parts of pennies, IIRC. I’d just point it out in a “oh hey, looks like a typo, can we fix this” manner. After all, if the company was paying more, the OP would be expected to point it out.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          I immediately wondered if it could be a rounding issue, one place rounded up the other truncates or rounds down. Definitely ask, that’s how I discovered that my company tracks PTO to the 0.001 of and hour but our pay stubs only show to the 0.01 and they round down.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I hope your company rounds down both in calculating your earned PTO and your spent PTO, if they only round down on your earned PTO that’s shady.

            1. Cercis*

              The municipality I worked for rounded down on earned and up on used. It was beyond annoying and was one of the several reasons I was unhappy with them (I believe in gov’t work and would love to be a gov’t employee, but stuff like that was just obnoxious).

        2. Ginger*

          I think it’s just a rounding error. I just sent an offer letter this morning. Let’s say the annual salary was $45,000. When I calculated the hourly rate, it came to $21.635 an hour. Suppose the hiring manager rounded up and said it would pay $21.64 an hour and I wrote the offer letter and rounded down and said it would be $21.63 an hour. The difference would be $20.80 per year. I decided to be on the safe side and went with how payroll will calculate it, using 3 decimal points. I’m glad I did this, and it was even before I read this letter.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Would you advocate for yourself for $2000 a year?
      Here’s the math: You’re hourly. There’s 3600 seconds in a 40-hour work week. There’s 52 weeks in a year.
      That’s $1,872 in a year before overtime.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OOPS- I just looked again and I got my units oh so wrong. Hours.Seconds.
        There’s 2,080 hours in a year. So it’s $20 a year before OT.
        I’d better not release product today… last night’s migraine still has me thinking slowly. Now if I could just remember to type more slowly when I’m thinking that slowly.
        My kingdom for a delete button.

  31. Lucy*

    “But give it to me every hour
    “Forty hours every week
    “That’s enough for me to be
    “Living like a king (I figured it out)”

    I like Alison’s suggestion of pointing it out as an anomaly/typo rather than an egregious error. No conflict, no fight, no damage to reputation on either side.

  32. LawBee*

    LW5 – Not to be mean, but I think they just don’t want you to work in that particular position. You’ve applied multiple times, and been rejected each time for a different reason? That reads to me like they don’t intend to ever promote you to that role, but aren’t great at explaining to you why. Sit down with your manager and ask for a candid meeting about why you can’t seem to land this job – and then take what they say to heart, and either figure out how to become what they’re looking for, or start to look elsewhere on the side.

    1. Middle Manager*

      I would agree. I think it’s possible that it could have just been really competitive and some different factors stood out each time (i.e. this time two equally good candidates with similar performance records applied and the other one edged you out because they did better in the interview and last time someone with more experience in X applied, and so on). But I think it’s more likely that they don’t really see you as a good fit for this role and aren’t doing a good job of just saying that.

      If you really love the company and really want this promotion, it might be worth having as candid a conversation with your manager as possible. Something along the lines of, is there any real possibility I will get promoted into this role eventually and if so, what are the things I need to focus on to make that happen? If I was in this position I’d be also be actively looking for promotions outside the company though regardless of the answer because it seems you may have an uphill battle here.

      1. Shark Whisperer*

        I commented below, but I was part of the decision making process for a very similar situation (i.e. there was a junior staff member who applied for a promotion and was rejected 4 times and I got to weigh in on the decision, although I didn’t have final say). Each promotion was super competitive, so different factors stood out each time. The first time, someone with previous supervisory experience (who was able to clearly articulate what she learned from that experience) got the role, the second time we went with someone who had a graduate degree in an area the org was looking to get more involved in, etc.

        But the truth was, that the person who was rejected 4 times was probably never going to get the position, no matter who she was up against. She tended to be clique-y with other staff. She had her core friend group and they could be exclusionary towards new people. She would have had to really blow us out of the water in the interview with the behavioral questions to make us think that she could manage her team fairly and not show favoritism. I don’t think that truth was ever articulated to her (again, I was not her manager), but I did let her know that her best option was to leave if she really wanted to advance. And after the 4th rejection, she did leave. She got a higher role at another organization.

        So, OP, I agree with the above. It is possible that there genuinely were different factors that stood out each time, but overall, there’s something bigger that’s holding you back.

  33. Lynca*

    OP #1- I’m the mother of a 9 month old. I work full time. My husband is the stay at home dad. Yeah this idea of her working full time from home while providing childcare is just nonsensical. I would never (ever) ask this of my husband and it’s pretty appalling that it’s being asked of her.

    You won’t go into the reasons why he won’t consider childcare but that’s the thing they absolutely must discuss if they want more children AND have her work full time. There has to be some sort of compromise if they’re going to move forward.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Am I the only one who wishes OP had gone into those reasons? Because I’m dying of curiosity here!

      1. Nita*

        Day care illnesses, maybe? They’re sort of a necessary evil, but still, it’s harder on young kids than on kids who are almost school age.

    2. Hesitating*

      Can some explain to me why people don’t have this discussion before the kids come? Like, I don’t have kids I already know this would be insane.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Why are you assuming they didn’t have this discussion before kids? Lots of people think they’ve hammered out an agreement, only to realize later that it’s completely untenable, or that they or their partner aren’t willing to go along with it after all.

      2. Batgirl*

        They are talking about it before the next baby. There’s no knowing if the first one was planned.

        1. Janie*

          Planned or not you generally have several months before a baby show up. It’s not pee on a stick one day, pop out a fully formed newborn the next most of the time. That’s probably a thing you should talk about…

          1. Batgirl*

            I don’t know that time and talk alone would give this guy the road to Damascus moment for removal of the veto. I think he’d need a fire at his feet, like seeing his wife pack her bags. While I would do that pregnant not everyone has the support.

  34. SamIAm*

    Allison thanks for saying this, “…and in fact, if you were, I’d take that as a danger sign too…”

    I thought I was the only one that alarmed by those who come into an interview or new role so extremely confident and cocky, when they have no experience. I’ve worked with those people before. It’s always been a disaster.

  35. MicroManagered*

    LW2, I work in an office culture where some swearing is perfectly fine. When someone I work with and know drops an F-bomb in one-on-one conversation, I don’t assume that means they would also do it during an important presentation.

    Unless you have other reasons to think this person doesn’t read situations well, I would not say anything at all. I would find it super-condescending if someone told me not to swear during a presentation. (Like, duh, I know!)

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like she’s doing it with clients, so I wouldn’t assume she’d stop on her own.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I must’ve missed the part where she does it with clients too, but I re-read and I see it now! In that case, a casual “oh and we have to make sure to keep it extremely G-rated with this crowd” makes more sense!

    2. anonymous llama*

      This is LW2, yes, that’s exactly what I DON’T want to do and why I want to be careful with how/if I bring this up. If it were just during one-on-one conversation, I’d make nothing of it. In fact, I have another coworker I’m really close with and she and I will occasionally swear in private, one-on-one conversation no one else can hear. I present with her as well and it would never occur to me to say anything to her. The difference in this case is that this person is someone I HAVE seen curse in front of groups of people, many of whom are outside groups coming to our organization for the first time.

  36. Kitty*

    ” it sounds like her husband is going to need to take over the child care if he finds paid help a no-go.” Hehehehehehe GREAT response.

  37. Kat*

    #1 Its a hard realization when you are realize that the idea that as a woman you can have it all was a farce like all girls are princesses or that you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. When we had our first I took the work from home job and until my baby was about 6 months old it was fabulous, I was doing it all. I was making good money, and my sweet perfect baby was being cared for by her mother. When my baby got to be about 9 months old and was screaming babble at me and running through the basement on their walker, and would not nap or be quiet for my weekly team meeting my boss had a come to Jesus moment. Where he explained that from their point of view that I was my own daycare and on top of that my work has not been what it was pre baby. They were giving me time to adjust they had evaluated it when I hit my 6 months back after maternity leave and had decided to discuss it with me at my 9 month mark. But with the constant noise level that I wasn’t aware of (since it was quieter than the normal level I am used to) when anyone called me they decided to move it up. We went with a nanny so my baby could be home just in another part of the house and I could still interact with her on lunch. Our 18 month old now shares a nanny with 2 other kids her age.

  38. Cordoba*

    #4: Any company I’ve ever worked for was pretty particular about accounting for every penny they were owed. For example, if an expense report balance was off by even 1 cent it would be rejected and the employee would have to correct and re-submit.

    I see no reason for employees to not be equally particular about getting everything they have coming.

    Once cent x 40 hours x 52 weeks is just over 20 dollars a year. I fully expect that if LW owed their employer 20 dollars due to a mix-up the organization would collect on it.

    If I accidentally bought a 20 dollar personal item with my company card the company definitely wouldn’t just eat that cost, even though it’s a small sum of money and an honest error.

    It’s entirely reasonable to advocate to have their hourly rate corrected in the payment computer. I’d definitely recommend the approach of “I noticed this discrepancy, which is clearly an honest mistake that we should work together to correct” rather than “I caught you trying to cheat me out of a penny”.

  39. Sara without an H*

    1. Wrangling small children looks easy if you’ve never done it.
    2. It’s just background information that you’re sharing because you happen to know members of her audience. No need to make a production of it. (Note: Given that she curses habitually, I wouldn’t be surprised if she slipped up during the presentation.)
    3. I love the smell of bridges burning in the morning!
    4. The one-penny error may be a sign of other errors in the system. Check your PTO accruals carefully — this is another place where small errors sometimes crop up and accumulate.
    5. They don’t want to promote you to this position. Period. Arguing about whether their reasons were “valid” will not help and will make you look like a sore loser. Instead, have a conversation with your manager: “Well, of course I was disappointed, but I’d like to talk with you about a path to promotion in the future, and what I would have to do to get there.” Check the AAM archives for information on cover letters and interview strategies.

  40. Lepidoptera*

    It would be fun to reply to #3 with “You already work here, did you forget?”

  41. Perpal*

    As a working mom – no, not possible to work full time and also provide full time childcare to young children. It may seem… almost possible when they are still in the luggage/potato stage of newbornness, but I guarantee by 6 months they will require a great deal of attention.
    I did personally want to avoid group childcare /before a year/ and had a mom-in-law who was able to help with that. But after a year they are much more social and independent, i really think they actually benefit from a high quality group childcare, and/or if you are a full time parent and can arrange lots of regular playdates that works too. Basically, socialization is great.

  42. Pinky Pie*

    I work from home. I have two kids, 7 and 5. 5 year old goes to vpk daily. 7 year old comes home one day a week, goes straight to her room and reads/cleans/etc.

    My husband tried to leave me the sick 5 year old once. He ended up working from home to help watch her.

  43. CrazyMom*

    Going from 1-2 kids is a totally different. If your first is easy going, can entertain themselves great. Don’t expect #2 to be the same. Sometimes they are, but often times not. My 2nd had to be held all the time, hated sleeping and nursed constantly til she was 6 months old. No way I could have worked and cared for both of them. After having kids my advice is to never plan for anything “once the baby is here”. All kids are different and you can plan on sh*t.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Also, my two didn’t really get along until they were something like 8 and 5. Until then, it was not as much “having them play together” as it was “keep an eye on them to make sure nobody tries to reenact the Cain and Abel story”. Throwing this out there because I think there exists an expectation of “oh, two are easier than one, they’ll just entertain each other” (I heard that a lot when I was pg with the second). Uh, now they do. They are also in their 20s now. There was a time when they most definitely did not.

  44. Jessica*

    For the record, I know of two cases where parents worked from home with little to no outside childcare. In one case, my friend transition to working 30 hours/week, mostly from home, after her first child was born. Her MIL watched her son for one day a week, where she went into the office and got about 10 hours of work done. The other 20 hours she did at home without any childcare. However, her job was extremely flexible — she’s the HR rep/office manager for a small, family-owned company, so she mainly had to keep on top of her e-mails. Also, she kept track of her time in 15-minute increments, so if she opened her e-mail four times a day and sent a quick response to whatever was in her inbox, that counted as an hour of work. As far as I know, everyone was pretty happy with this arrangement for the first 1.5 years of her son’s life. I haven’t talked to her lately, but I’ve seen her post about leaving the house for work stuff more often, so I’m pretty sure she must have more childcare by this point.
    The other case is two parents who both have full-time jobs splitting childcare. One is a social worker and works from home two days a week. She usually has 10-hour days on the other three days, and often has evening or weekend hours as well, so she’s usually doing 5-ish hours of filing reports and such on the days she works from home. Her partner is a graduate student who does most of his writing on those two days that his wife is home, as well as evenings/weekends/naptime. I don’t think their set-up is sustainable for much longer (their daughter is 15 months old) but they probably saved themselves 10K in childcare costs for a year and if everyone is pretty happy with the situation I guess it worked.
    I know someone else who WFH and relies on grandparents for childcare, and had to cover about a month without childcare when grandma had surgery. But her son was already in preschool half the day, and I think she did lots of afternoons at the McDonald’s playplace, where her kiddo could run around but be pretty contained and she had access to wifi.
    In general I agree with the commentators that are saying it’s impossible to work full-time while caring for children, but there are certainly ways to work a much higher number of hours than your official childcare hours. But even in the cases I’ve described, which I’d describe at being extraordinarily successful at combining work and childcare, nobody was doing 40 hours/week with no childcare, much less for two children.

  45. WorkFromHomeCompany*

    Op1 may not be accurate when she says that the bulk of the work needs to be done during “business hours”, esp if her friend isn’t doing any customer-based work. I work from home so I can assist in caring for a sick relative (not the same as toddlers, but the needs are kinda high). I work when I work. Some day’s that’s during Eastern Standard Time Business hours (which aren’t business hours to the rest of the world, btw) other days I’m working in the evenings or I’m putting in 4 blocks of 2 hours through out the day. Yeah the husband’s a jerk but if the OP is so worried maybe she could volunteer to babysit? Or her kids could, she’s got teenagers.

    1. IEL*

      Lots of jobs even if not customer facing need to be done during work hours. Like if you need to talk to the rest of your team. Good for you for having a flexible schedule, it’s not that way for everyone, and if OP wrote that in her letter she’ll have her reasons. It’s wildly unrealistic to expect OP (who presumably has a day job herself) or her teenage children (who presumably have school!!) to take care of her friend’s children during the day. You know who could care for a toddler during the day? A paid professional babysitter.

    2. valentine*

      Or the husband can care for his own kids and not outsource to other women or children?

      Even if the work can physically be done anytime and only the manager is preventing that, that’s not only not necessarily a problem, but not worthy of addressing yet. It’s unlikely she has, say, four two-hour blocks when she can focus on work while hubs cares for the child, that also allow her to sleep properly, spend time with hubs, and have a social life, and a second child could obliterate any of those pieces.

    3. Observer*

      Yeah, we really don’t know if the friend’s work needs to be done during business hours or not. But, it really doesn’t change the core problem, which is that it’s totally not realistic to be the full time child care provider AND hold down a job with 35-40 hours a week expected.

  46. Marcy Marketer*

    This is the second time I’ve heard of a husband who “refused” to put kids in day care and “made” the mom watch the kids while working.

    Girl, no one can MAKE you do anything. You have money and a phone… pick it up and schedule child care. If husband doesn’t want you to pay for child care he can find a way to make that work on his own. Not your problem.

    I realize I’m talking into the void because it’s only the friend of the woman writing into Ask a Manager but, grrr. The idea that anyone can “refuse” to let a woman spend her own money!! Like all he has to do is say “no” and it won’t happen…

    1. Czhorat*

      To be fair, I’d expect childcare decisions to be made as a couple; I’d look askance at my wife unilaterally deciding to arrange daycare without a discussion and mostly see money as communal.

      That said, it goes both ways; the father can’t unilaterally decide that day-care is a no-go, especially if he isn’t the one who’d take on the burden of caring for the children during the day.

      1. valentine*

        I am thinking they don’t have the money, especially if, due to his rule, they’ve not bothered budgeting for childcare. If they could afford or even just pay for a mother’s helper or nanny, I expect they’d be doing that.

        1. Marcy Marketer*

          UGH. The other situation I’m thinking of, mom and dad kept earned money separate and dad was refusing to shoulder half of the child care costs because mom worked from home and should be able to do it. Dad worked from home sometimes and was able to do it by placing the child in the bouncer and leaving her there in front of the TV all day with mom stepping in when baby needed food or changing. Mom couldn’t afford care without dad paying half. This kind of thing just makes me so sad/mad.

          I work from home, my baby goes to daycare, and my husband is such an engaged caregiver. Makes me feel very lucky.

          1. Batgirl*

            These stories make me feel like handing out lawyers cards. “Go see what the lawyers think about it being ‘his’ money because your work is in the home. Just go for a free consult!”

        2. IEL*

          Would they? Or is it just a case of the husband thinking that they shouldn’t have to pay for childcare since his wife can do it for free? OP says she wants more children so I would hope they have budgeted for child #2…

          Either way it’s wildly unrealistic to think the mother can handle childcare and a full time job, money problems or not.

      2. Marcy Marketer*

        Right now, the dad is refusing to be involved in coming up with a workable solution and is making this 100% the mom’s problem. That’s not fair or equitable. A lot of people will then feel like they have no choice but to shoulder the burden until they “convince” the other partner, but that’s not their only choice.

        The dad doesn’t want daycare? That doesn’t mean he can just conscript mom into handling 100% of the childcare on her own without her consent.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I mean, the father is allowed to have a say in whether his kids go to daycare. He gets a vote. The problem is that this one has given himself veto power.

      1. Czhorat*

        He gets a vote. “No kid of mine is going to daycare” is as much a unilateral decision as “I sent them to daycare”.

        If there’s an impasse, tie should go to the one who’d be forced to do the actual work of care-giving.

        1. valentine*

          The problem is that this one has given himself veto power.
          And the friend is not exercising her veto power.

          1. NotThatCompany*

            Her veto power is “no more making any kids” with all the lack of activities that implies.

            I’m sorry for the friend. It sounds like a marriage where she is boxed in, wanting more kids but also wanting to work and dealing with a husband who simply does not accept the realities of that situation.

        2. Blue*

          Agreed on the tie-breaker. He is free to say “no kid of mine is going to daycare,” as long as he’s willing to be the one staying home and taking care of them.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          Exactly. This needs to be a consensus, or a tiebreaker decided by the parent whose life is impacted the most.

      2. Janie*

        And if she says, “No, I’m not taking care of them while I work,” and he goes, “No childcare”, then he can figure it out. You can’t as a partnership decide your partner is going to do something without asking if they actually WANT to do that thing.

    3. WorkFromHomeCompany*

      That’s kind of my same idea. Like, the OP isn’t even involved so why is she writing on her friend’s behalf? It’s not her problem?

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, OP presumably cares about her friend and wants to help her make her life less stressful. If she’s a regular reader or even just someone who looked for ways to help friend online and found AAM, I don’t see why she shouldn’t reach out to Alison – there’s nothing to lose for her, after all. We pretty regularly get people writing in on behalf of a friend or family member, after all.

        1. Observer*

          But, the OP apparently doesn’t have the whole story nor enough standing to actually DO anything. There is just no actionable advice for her.

          Now, if it were the friend writing in, that would be different. And I suspect that Alison would be pointing out that the theoretical LW needs to deal with her relationship as much as she needs to deal with her work.

        2. Batgirl*

          It’s a stroke of genius. “This is some advice from some internet people with experience or who’ve BTDT. I hope it helps. Oh me? Oh no I like husband! I have no idea what the solution is!”

    4. Marion Cotesworth-Haye*

      I don’t want to minimize the importance of your point re: the wife’s agency here, but the reality of child care costs means that making a unilateral decision like putting a child in day care, or even hiring a standing babysitter/part-time nanny doesn’t always make this feasible. For many, many roles, the cost of child care outpaces the lower-income spouse’s pay, and even if (as I fully endorse) the couple doesn’t differentiate “her” vs. “his” money or the cost doesn’t swamp one spouse’s pay, it still may be such a high amount that just doing it is almost as unreasonable as the husband’s refusal to consider other options.

      1. NotThatCompany*

        That assumes that the only value to a career is money. That women don’t want to do anything other than stay home and be a mom. That her wanting a job and a career is all about money and not about wanting to do something for herself.

        I know you mentioned “lower paid spouse” but the reality is you’re talking about women in 80% of the cases, so lets call it what it is. The underlying “her money won’t pay for childcare” means that the family budget shouldn’t support something she wants to do.

        The budget supports things he wants to do that don’t bring in money. Why can’t the budget support things she wants to do, even if they don’t bring in money?

      2. WorkFromHomeCompany*

        But writing in is just confirmation bias – AAM is just rightly confirming to her that the situation is messed up or a little off or unfair. She’s not really helping her friend, she’s just getting people to agree with her.

        1. Someone Else*

          Not necessarily. A lot of times someone will hear what a friend is saying but waffle, but when they read An Article from An Authority On the Subject, suddenly reason sinks in. If OP knows friend reads this site or even knows of this site, then the answer “Alison says…” may be enough to make it actually considered.

      3. Arctic*

        That is short-sighted. There are future costs. Like the fact that when the stay at-home parent reenters the workforce their earning and promotion opportunities are going to be limited. Which means earning much less over time and being behind your peers.
        And, for this OP’s friend, it involves damaging her reputation at work by trying to juggle being a full time employee with being a stay at home mom.
        Being a SAHP is wonderful and works well for some people. But it isn’t for everyone and there are draw backs (just like there is to everything.) Trying to rationalize it by just looking at present costs doesn’t make sense.

      4. Batgirl*

        Then what you have is a SAHP situation because that’s what you have to do when there’s no childcare available. So then they have to decide; you, me or shared responsibility for childcare.

        What you can’t do is give someone two jobs at once.

  47. IEL*

    #1: If husband doesn’t want the children in daycare until they’re 4, then husband should take care of the children until they’re 4. Absolutely ridiculous request. OP, your friend needs to talk with her husband about their childcare arrangements, because it’s insane to think she can work full time while also caring for two young children, because that’s a full time job by itself. Would husband suggest she work two full time jobs at the same time??

  48. Czhorat*

    For OP #5 – the interview isn’t always one hundred percent a formality; there’s quite likely something for which they’re looking but didn’t see.

    The bigger picture is that if you tried multiple times (I’m assuming at least three now) and keep getting rejected it could be that they don’t see you as a strong fit for the higher position. There are times when there is room to grow within a firm, and other times when the only path upward is out the door.

    If you fix one shortcoming that kept you from the promotion only to be told of another, then this might be the latter.

  49. Nita*

    #1 – I’ve worked from home with small kids. Full-time with one baby, and up to a few days at a time with two kids. Very fast-paced, client-facing job. Billing by the hour, so if I work two hours in the entire day, I bill two hours and then it’s my call if I make up the other hours later, or take PTO. So, here are my thoughts:
    – It’s doable but very very stressful. Probably less stressful if there’s no client-facing component, though. In any case, when you do it long-term, undone work tends to build up. When I worked from home long-term, I arranged to have one or two days a week when I was in the office.
    – It sounds like it’s the husband, not OP’s friend, who’s pushing this idea. He should not get to decide how tired and stressed the friend “really” is. The decision about what’s acceptable should be between her and her boss. Also, the husband needs to be ready to provide lots of support (taking the kids out of the house, taking on the house cleaning, etc.) because sorry, but the wife can’t magically make the day have 26 hours or give up sleep and eating.
    – As others have said, many workplaces require child care for anyone working from home with kids. The friend can use this to her advantage – have a conversation with her boss, and then come back and tell her husband that the boss says she either gets child care, or gets fired. If he has a problem with day care, a nanny coming to the house for a few hours might work instead.

  50. Marty*

    #1 – So, I have actually done this.

    I would work from 4AM-6AM, then during naps (2-3 hours), then after bedtime (7PM-ungodly hours). IT SUCKED. It was horrible and fortunately, my job hours were very flexible.

    Childcare for 0-6 is a full-time job. You cannot meet the developmental needs of a child by parking them at the TV while you work all day. They need an adult (or at least teenager) to be there and guide them. They also need interaction with peers. There’s a reason childcare workers take courses in child development or at least are experienced parents. In the olden days of farming, when women worked full-time, there were older women, grandmothers, aunties, or teenagers helping out with the childcare. Nobody parked their kid in a field while they worked – we’ve *always* recognized the need for childcare.

    It takes a village and that’s okay. I think OP knows this. How frustrating.

    1. Ruthie*

      This is really important. I work in early childhood development. Caretakers should be focused solely on the needs of the child/children in their care. Desk work and childcare cannot be done at the same time, but can be alternated with each other. My field is dedicated to the well-being of young children, and the policy AAM mentioned where remote workers are required to have childcare is very much enforced where I work – that should tell you something. That said, many of our remote workers have nannies, so their children are still in the home with them, which can be invaluable for things like breastfeeding. So there’s very much a (more expensive) option for keeping littles at home.

    2. Lana Kane*

      This is what I was going to come in and say as well. Even if you could do your job perfectly, it absolutely means sacrificing the attention the kids need. They are being done a disservice by not going to a good daycare pr preschool, where they can be mentally stimulated and get playtime with other kids. OP’s husband is either using her WFH as an excuse to not spend on childcare, or is one of those people who think that daycare is “other people raising your children”.

      I worked from home for the first 5 years of my son’s life in a job where I had to keep standard office hours, and he was in daycare for most of that. Aside from the fact that my employer forbade my being the primary caretaker of a child during work hours, I could not have been good at both my job and parenting if I’d had him at home.

  51. Observer*

    #1 – this is not a work problem, this is a marriage problem. No matter what the specifics of the situation are – and it’s not clear from what you say what exactly is happening, it’s clear that this is a couple where decisions that affect the family are being made unilaterally – certainly bu the husband and possibly by the wife too. That’s just not sane or REASONABLY sustainable. They may also discover that their fiats may blow up in their faces – which might ultimately be the best thing in the best case scenario.

    The reason I am saying this is that I think you need to reframe your question and your role. What you are doing is acting as an information provider for a reasonable pair of people who are making decisions in a somewhat reasonable manner. But that’s not what’s going on here, and I would be extremely surprised if anything you said to your friend would make the least bit of a difference.

    1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

      Your first sentence- YES. I agree. The overarching issue is the view on childcare, not just working from home. The work debate is a consequence of the childcare debate. Solve one, solve the other. This is a problem that must be worked from the inside out, and that begins inside their marriage rather than inside their offices.

  52. Hiring Mgr*

    On #3, not to sidetrack, but out of curiosity, is there any explanation that the candidate could give that would make someone reconsider? (asking this of anybody..)

    1. Tathren*

      I would reconsider if something had come up outside the candidate’s control, like a sudden family emergency, and if the candidate seemed sincerely apologetic about how they handled the situation before and understands that backing out of the position like they did was unprofessional. Sometimes things do come up, and while the candidate should have handled things more professionally before they did call to say they weren’t coming in which is marginally better than truly ghosting with no contact.

      On the other hand, if the candidate had just accepted a better offer, or doesn’t seem to understand why the company has reservations or why their actions were unprofessional, then I wouldn’t reconsider them because it would be a red flag that they’d do something similar down the road.

      And even if I did reconsider them, they’d still have a strike against them. If they were a stand-out candidate and far better than anyone else who applied, it might make sense to offer them the new job. If they were equal with one or two others, I’d probably move the others forward over them.

    2. SamIAm*

      For my part, I would accept even a vague “difficult family matter I had to deal with” or something along those lines. We don’t know people’s lives and it really might be something too painful to discuss.

      I mean, nobody wants to deal with this short notice, not much of a reason stuff, but I can see how it could happen. (Once.)

      1. a1*

        But couldn’t they have given that reason when they called to say they wouldn’t be coming? “An emergency has come up and I can’t start a new job at this time after all. Apologies for the inconvenience.” It’s no more effort than calling and saying “I won’t be coming”.

    3. Psyche*

      At this point, probably not. The problem is that there has been plenty of time to apologize and give an explanation of what happened. The fact that they didn’t AND reapplied without addressing it makes it pretty clear that they don’t think they did anything wrong. I wouldn’t trust them.

    4. KayEss*

      Abusive partner prevented them from taking the job. But I’d also want to know that said partner was completely and reasonably permanently out of the picture (moved to another state, in prison, dead in a conveniently plausible accident, etc.) before I’d consider a re-hire.

    5. Southern Yankee*

      I actually hired a previous new-hire that pulled out at the last minute (I think Fri before Mon start). She actually did call and politely give a somewhat professional and apologetic “I won’t be able to take the job after all”, although not much of a reason. At the time I was pretty hacked off. Forward a few years, and she applies again. She was still a strong candidate on paper, and her father had worked for the company for many years, so I felt ok giving her a chance to explain. I called and asked what had really happened in the previous case. Turns out she had a lot of very stressful life/spouse/kid things going on at the time and essentially couldn’t convince herself to leave a toxic workplace without husband’s support. She was clearly in a much better mental place at this point, and had pretty much solved the spouse/kids issues. She was also very aware of how unprofessional her previous behavior was, owned it, apologized, and give me reasons nothing similar would happen again. She turned out to be a great employee. However, at many points along this path, I would have written her off if I thought the story I was hearing was bull rather than sincere. It’s usually fairly easy to tell the difference, at least in my experience.

    6. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      There are two. The first is that the candidate did say that s/he had a family emergency and was so very sorry was really looking forward to working there and reception did not pass the message on properly. The second is that creepy HR guy called candidate the night before and said, glad you’re starting work here, when we go out to dinner tomorrow night after your first day I’ll share with you everything you need to do to succeed here.

  53. OrangeSage*

    Re Letter 3. I was hiring for a very niche position and having a hard time finding a good candidate. We finally extended an offer and the candidate didn’t show up to orientation. Not even a call. When we finally heard from her, she gave a very vague excuse about a family situation. Because I was so desperate (and because it seemed polite) I told her to contact us if things changed, thinking we’d never hear again. A few months later she called. We still had no other candidates. I wasn’t keen on hiring her, but my boss pulled rank. We never got a good explanation for what happened but she’s been with us over two years now and has actually been great. Obviously not all stories would end like this, but it may be worth considering the candidate again…

  54. TootsNYC*


    She could hire an in-home babysitter for work hours–would that get past her husband’s objections?

    But no, and in fact, even with one kid, she may have a problem.
    And her employer might have a BIG problem with it; many of them have a very specific policy that you must have provable child care if you are working at home and are the parent of a small child.
    This husband would probably find himself with an unemployed wife.
    At least, unemployed in that field; I suppose she could start caring for other people’s kids or find a job that lets her work at night, while he is home.
    (that would probably be a good idea–for him to try what it’s like)

  55. LaDeeDa*

    That is ridiculous to think she could work at home full time with a toddler. That is coming from a husband who has no idea what it is like to care for a baby/toddler and who doesn’t respect her work. I am mad on her behalf. I think others have suggested she get an in-home nanny to watch the baby during business hours.
    The only time I have seen this work was a friend who was self-employed, she could do her work whenever as long as she delivered on time, so she worked when the baby was asleep, and in the evenings when her husband got home, but by the time the baby was crawling she had hired a nanny.

  56. Greyhound*

    I wonder how LW1’s friend and her husband would feel about hiring a babysitter/nanny in the home while she works at home. If the issue is that he doesn’t want the kids to be in a daycare centre that could work. If she had a home office or space she could work in (with a closed door to prevent distractions when needed), the kids and babysitter could be in the rest of the house/babysitter could take kids to the park when mom needs an hour or two of quiet. It could give them the peace of mind of her being able to check in on breaks or being close by during an emergency. They’d just have to have clear boundaries about what constitutes an emergency and make it clear that mom is not routinely available while she’s working. Might not work for everyone and obviously if the issue is he doesn’t want any outside childcare help at all, it’d be a no go, but it’s an option they could consider.

  57. Just my 2 cents*

    OP#1 – I am not taking the time to read through all the comments, so far in skimming I’ve seen a lot of “no, you cannot work from home full-time with a toddler in the house”…. HOWEVER:

    It depends.

    It depends on the job, her employer, her schedule. It depends on a lot. And I say this because I work from home with my 9-month old here and it is not an issue. My work can be done in spurts, my boss is well aware I have the baby here and he is fine with it. Every day I work at my desk with him playing on the floor beside me. I try to time phone calls for during his naps, but if necessary I can pop him into his playpen and walk into the next room for a call.

    I will admit it is harder during the summer when my now 6-year old and 12-year old will be home. But I will still manage.

    So, my opinion is that without knowing what her arrangement is with her employer, it *could* be possible for her.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      ehhh – you know this since you have older kids, but once they can walk it’s a total game changer. I got pregnant with my second when my first was 9 months because it seemed so very manageable. Now that the first is walking (and running!) I’m wondering what on god’s green earth I was thinking.

  58. Jenn G*

    LW #1 – How’s this for an analogy. Would someone hire a nanny or pay an in-home daycare person to watch their kids while THAT person works a full-time job? No? Well then why does he expect his wife to be able to juggle it.

  59. Ms. Mad Scientist*

    Otherwise, it sounds like her husband is going to need to take over the child care if he finds paid help a no-go.

    This is my favorite AAM answer ever.

    1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

      Truth. I find this a “don’t ask for what you aren’t willing to give” situation. The husband either needs to ask for something different or volunteer his own efforts more.

  60. LaDeeDa*

    LW#5 — As Alison said if your current manager or HRBP isn’t helping you create a development plan to gain the skills necessary to move into leadership, then there is a problem. Take a look at the job description/requirements and do an honest self-assessment, rank your ability/skills for each requirement/responsibility from 1-5, rank your experience with each 1-5. That is going to help you identify where you need to grow. Show your manager and tell them you would like guidance over the next 6-12 months developing in those areas. If you have a Learning Management System with free available classes search the LMS for classes around those topics, if you have a training department- reach out to them for help.
    Part of being a good leader is giving feedback, coaching, and opportunities for development. If your manager isn’t willing to help you and if there are no resources internally for you to access it may be time to move on.

    1. Czhorat*

      LW 5 said this was not the first time, and they got a different reason for the rejection each time. That implies that they have some overarching reason to not want the LW in that higher role.

      Opportunities for advancement only come but so often; if they’re rejected enough times for disparate reasons they are probably best off looking elsewhere if they want to move up

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Another reason for the rejection would be that the OP doesn’t understand the skill set needed for the job and has several deficiencies. I’ve seed this most with junior people. They want a promotion but don’t understand their own shortcomings. It’s a form of Dunning-Kruger. A real mismatch of the job and their understanding of it.
        If that is the case then management could question their judgement. Or it could be an “ism”. I which case they get mealy mouth answers on why they didn’t get the job. The real indicator is the amount of hand waving one receives when asking why they didn’t get the promotion. Specifics? They weren’t ready. Bizarre reasons? Time to leave.

  61. Mike*

    For #4 I’d look at your pay stubs first and see what the hourly rate you are being paid actually is. It could be a simple rounding issue on the portal vs the accounting system. I run into these a ton as a programmer. If it is just an error on the portal then it is a minor bug report rather than a payroll issue (both should be reported, it is just better context on where the error is).

  62. Old Lady Manager*

    There is a solution for working full time with small children in the house.
    If the home is big enough and the reason for not using day care while working is not financial, hire a nanny or baby sitter. The kids wouldn’t go to day care, care would come to them. This can work if you have a designated work space or office with a door that you can close to the kids and family noise.
    The parents feed them breakfast, get the little buggers dressed and hand them over to the baby sitter who watches them in another part of the house and plays with them outside.
    Lunch time comes and for breaks, you give the baby sitter a break and take your lunch hour with your kids.
    At the end of the day instead of driving to daycare to pick up the kids, you close the door to your home office ( a credenza desk that had folding doors or a roll top desk would work if you don’t have a dedicated room) and walk over to where they are playing.
    Depending on where you live, you might be able to get away with college students. One to cover the AM shift and another to cover after lunch.
    If the problem is that dad doesn’t want anyone else helping mom, then this is a whole other kettle of fish. If he is not required to work full-time while watching his children, not sure how he can require you.
    After all, if it’s that important to him, he could:
    A. Make enough money so that you can stay home and not bring in outside income.
    B. Get a job the allows him to work from home so that you could tag team the kids.
    C. One of the parents get a job working opposite hours so that the kids are always with a parent.

    1. Batgirl*

      I’m curious: is this not expensive? We’re talking about a 1-1 kid adult ratio, even without paying for the training and rent etc of a day care.

      1. old lady manager*

        Day care for newborns at daycare centers is very expensive. We are talking hundreds of dollars a week if you are not on assistance. Most day care centers have adult to child ratios based on age set by the local licensing authorities. The smaller the kid, the fewer an adult can legally watch by themselves. So day care at home or at a center is expensive. For some people with multiple children under 4, it is actually cheaper to stay home and do the full-time parent thing instead of handing their paycheck over to daycare if their job requires them to be onsite and if there is another income large enough to pay the bills (especially after taxes).
        An option that people use to do in the 90s was to share a nanny. So two friends would have kids about the same age. They would hire a nanny to watch the 2 or 3 children at one of the families homes. Since dad wants the kid to stay at home, it would be his home the children would come to. Since this is not a “day care”, laws and regulations are usually less stringent. So one care giver can watch the children from 2 families.

        It sounds like what the couple is thinking is that since mom doesn’t have to go into an office to work, that at the same time she is doing paid work, she can also to free work by watching little kids.
        In places that have WFH as a perk what usually happens is that after a while it gets taken away if productivity drops or work installs some type of click count software to make sure you are working when you say you are. Two separate places I have worked at have removed it for anyone lower than managerial level because “someone” was abusing it and not being available or getting their work done during required hours or in a timely fashion, so after that we ALL had to come in to the office.
        Taking a job because you can work remotely only to have some co-worker abuse it is the pits.
        Would her work consider this abuse if she is expected to be available and participating remotely during set hours but can’t because those are the hours her children are active?
        Does she even want to do it?

  63. LadyofLasers*

    OP2, Are you guys in a STEM field at all? Because I know in grad school I started swearing like a sailor to fit in with the guys more, and I could see her having a similar background. She may not realize she needs to code switch for the ‘real world’.

    1. anonymous llama*

      LW2 here, and yup, you’re exactly right. I have a feeling that’s very likely part of what’s going on here.

  64. Shark Whisperer*

    OP 5 – At old job, I sat in on some of the interviews of a junior staff person that was rejected for promotion four times. With her, there wasn’t necessarily that she was doing wrong, she was just never the best fit for a supervisor position. We genuinely looked at her performance and interview thoughtfully each time. There was just always someone who brought a little something more to the table. I am confident that she would have been adequate as a supervisor, but she was always competing against someone great. When you get rejected from these positions, does it just mean that you don’t get promoted, or does it mean someone else gets the supervisor position? If it’s the later, maybe take a look at who they are promoting. Do those people have any skills that you don’t?

  65. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #3 as someone who’s seen this happen in small business before, just toss the resume and don’t engage. It’s not worth it, you will possibly open a box of headaches that you just don’t want. She’s shown you who she is, just laugh at the audacity of her actions and find someone who is suited.

    Funny that 3 years later she’s looking again, I assume she probably got another gig and took that instead, perhaps had another offer come in after she accepted. Clearly that didn’t pan out well for her or she’s still passively looking for work, whichever, this isn’t a person you want to hire nor deal with on a curiosity level either!

    1. Czhorat*

      I don’t disagree, but I’ll note a double-standard:

      I’ve often applied for a job and even had an interview and been ghosted by the company. Employers act as if that’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

      1. Colette*

        After you’d accepted an offer? If so, would you take the next offer from that company?

        It would be different if she was offered an interview and just didn’t reply – accepting a job and then not showing up is a different level of bridge burning.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m very much anti-ghosting candidates as well. I promise you I don’t do it in my hiring practices.

        Also the sins of others shouldn’t taint how we approach the next company we interview with in my opinion. Every company is different just like every person is. To start lumping bad practices on top of each new lead, you do a disservice to yourself.

        But we’re all human and I see how it’s easy to draw conclusions about All Business when you’ve gotten bitten by a few. But then you get people who use that to excuse other bias and bigotry they fall into and it’s an ugly slide to be on!

        I just had a woman no-show to our interview. No big deal,self select out, that’s cool. Only she sent her resume yet again a couple months later to another opening we posted. I just rolled my eyes and hit reject without another word. I also had a person quit in a tantrum a few years ago and applied to each opening recently as well. It’s a crazy world out there and that’s why I preach to let it go, let it roll.

      3. Perpal*

        But have you had a signed OFFER and had a company ghost the first day you came in to work? That would be… impressive on the part of the company; but anyway, it’d be a different story if the person ghosted at the interview stage. Not showing up to the first day of work is totally different.

  66. Malarky*

    LW1 I work from home full time and have small children. No way would this work. As a favor to my boss, and in exchange for negotiating a ridiculously long maternity leave, I did work part time when my daughter was a newborn to finish up a few large projects. Which worked only because I could read documents for the 45 minutes she nursed every 3 hours and between the nursing she slept. Once she got out of the constant eat and sleep mode there’s no way I could continue, AND this was something my boss and company were very aware I was doing as a favor to them so they were extremely flexible if I had to delay a call because a baby was crying. I can’t imagine the stress of trying to keep it on the downlow.

    For a one off random snow day I could see trying to work with a young child at home, but the only way that would work for me is if I said today is unlimited screen time day, binge away on Sophia and sure pull every toy you own out into the middle of the room but leave mom alone.

  67. BananaPants*

    A relative who works 100% remotely has a husband who works very unpredictable hours with frequently-rotating shifts. They had 3 kids in 3 years and found it most cost-effective and convenient to hire an in-home babysitter/nanny to take care of the kids until the oldest two were in school. They had lunch together (which gave the sitter a midday break) but the general rule was that between 8 and 5, the door to mom’s home office was only opened if someone was sick or hurt. It worked out very well for them.

  68. 1 legged stray cat*

    Other people already commented on how ridiculous it is on being expected to work full time and do childcare full time, so I won’t go into that. It is possible sometimes, but very, very, very difficult. Between one kid and two, though… Once the younger one was able to crawl, I found having two kids was actually easier for getting things done than having one kid (inside the confines of the house. Outside is a whole different story). Not only are you better at handling the younger age because you are more experienced, but if there is not too much age gap, they will play and entertain each other and not be begging for your attention all the time. Be aware that usually means a lot of things are going to be flushed down your toilet or written on your wall, but at least you can take a phone call without arm tugging.

  69. Bears Beets Battlestar*

    LW1, When I was nearing the end of my maternity leave, someone asked me if I was going to take my son to work with me. I teach high school. I laughed and laughed, then I realized they were serious so I said, No. That would be impossible.” That is also what you should tell your husband.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I think all HS teachers with kids should do this. They can have their students take care of the child while in class, on a rotating basis so each student only does it about once a month. I think that would work really well at lowering the teen pregnancy rates for students.

      1. Batgirl*

        Not to mention lowering their grades!

        Work doesn’t get done with young children around.

      2. Grapey*

        Not every student is going to be a parent. I’m glad my school ditched that terrible “take care of a doll for health class” schtick. It would be more useful for teachers to bring in their tax prep since more people will statistically be taxpayers than parents. If you want to trust students with your child, why not your financials, too?

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          All true comments I would not trust HS kids with my house plant that was meant to be a joke. But I completely agree about the tax prep issue. My HS had an intro to business class part of it was consumer business/economics we were shown how to file a 1040ez, and shown how to budget to live as a single person. Unfortunately it was not a required class but I always felt it should be. I filed my own taxes for years on a 1040ez. I still do now kind but use online software now.

      3. The Talking Stick*

        “I think that would work really well at lowering the teen pregnancy rates for students.”

        That’s pretty sexist.

  70. Bob Bob Bobbin*

    LW#2 – I would be very careful with your interactions with the swearing coworker. While she may be a hard worker and exemplary employee, you do not want to be lumped into her bad habits. DEFINATELY close your office door when she is visiting. You don’t want her bad habits to be ascribed to you. I have been on the blue side of that conversation -at Oldjob I was at a coworkers desk, speaking emotionally about a frustrating work issue, said a (slightly) blue word. Two months later my coworker had yearly review and was coworker was cited as having used ‘unprofessional language’ as the conversation had been overheard. Just like you wouldn’t stand in a crowd of coworkers who were gossiping loudly (even though you remained silent and would never gossip), don’t allow bad language to be used in your professional conversations — because anyone overhearing will assume you are part of the conversation, are the speaker, or condone the type of language.

    1. anonymous llama*

      LW2 here – thank you for that advice. That hadn’t really occurred to me, but it’s a very good point.

  71. YetEvenAnotherAlison*

    OP#5 – The reason that you were turned down does make a lot of sense if you look at it from the employer’s perspective. Even though your individual job performance is very good – if people that you supervise don’t view you as confident and sure of yourself – it is hard for your word with the folks you supervise to have meaning and authority. You can change this! First, figure out if it is nerves in an interview or if you are in some ways unsure of your self. (To the point that it would show in an interview – everyone has insecurities) Before an interview next time, study a list of your accomplishments – have you received an award for your performance? Have you innovated a process that received upper management recognition? Have you had something in your life that you have worked very hard to over come – against all odds? Place that in your mind. Have someone videotape you in a mock interview and see how you come across. It may surprise you.

  72. Free Meerkats*

    Here’s some advice for LW #1. Since her husband seems to think it’s so easy, for the last week of her maternity leave she needs to tell hubby, “I’m going to visit my sister. You’ve got the kids, see you next Friday!” and head to the airport. Kids that age are so easy he should be able to do it with no problem (sarcasm off).

  73. Moose*

    LW #5: You mention you’ve applied for this same position multiple times, but have always been rejected and they give you a different reason every time…That points to a larger reason that they don’t think you would fit in the role. Maybe they’re beating around the bush and giving you random reasons each time to avoid an awkward conversation, or maybe something different really did come up each time. Either way, sitting down and asking “I’ve tried out for this promotion multiple times; what would you need to see from me to make me eligible for this role?” and having an honest conversation, like Alison says, might give you a clearer idea of what the issues are.

    Either way, it seems like they don’t think you are a fit for this promotion. Looking around outside the company for a place you can move up the ladder might be your best bet.

  74. Noah*

    I have a friend who cares for ONE child under five while she works at home. She does have a boss and coworkers and stuff like that. But it’s all via computer and she rarely has to be available or working at any particular time. It’s doable, but it’s really hard for her. And that’s with only one kid and a really flexible work situation.

  75. Lyn by the River*

    OP #1 – As a work-from-home mother of two toddlers I can tell you that I absolutely would not be able to do my job without paid help. I cannot imagine the load that’s on your friend — to try to be a good employee and a good mother all at the same time. It’s a recipe for post-partum depression and feeling like a failure at both (at least, it would be for me).
    That said, I didn’t want to send my kids away to child care either, and we are lucky enough that we’ve been able to find in-home child care that is affordable for us (via care[dot]com). We have a good routine that allows me to breastfeed during lunch and pop in at other times if needed. If at all possible, I hope your friend can find a way to employ someone that can take care of their children during her work hours in their home as a way to compromise with her husband. It is outrageous that he is expecting so much from her and not willing to support any childcare.

    (And can I just say, side note, that as I learn more and more about how so many men treat their wives when it comes to childcare, the “second shift,” and the mental load, etc. I am absolutely furious. Men, please, do better. Educate yourselves about the disparity in “women’s work” (that should be “parents work”). And talk to your friends: help them do better, too.)

  76. Independent George*

    #1 – I work from home full time and have two small children not yet in school. The answer is no, it can’t be done. My spouse stays home full time to take care of the kids and it’s still a challenge. Your coworker’s husband is clueless about the amount of work it takes to be a full time caregiver of small children. Your coworker will constantly feel distracted and unable to give undivided attention to either children or work. And work will be the thing that doesn’t get the attention it needs.

  77. Katherine*

    Last summer, I got stood up- legit stood up- for a date. Showed up to a bar, waited, texted “are you coming,” heard nothing ever again. UNTIL a month or two ago, when the same guy contacted me on a different app, did not acknowledge what happened, and asked me to meet again. Note: he DID NOT pretend that he didn’t remember me, he said something like “i think we talked over the summer but didn’t meet.” And i must tell you- calling him out for what he did was super satisfying even though the mature thing may have been to just ignore him.

  78. Carol Danvers*

    LW1 – I will go against the grain here and say it CAN be done, but it depends on what she’s willing to sacrifice and what her job is, whom she works for, etc. I ran my own successful freelance graphic design business for 6 years with my young kids at home. We had to have VERY structured days. I would work 2 hours during nap/quiet time and, as they got older, during art time and outside time. My husband worked Saturdays so had one day off during the week which helped, and that’s when I would schedule client meetings. Most of my work, however, was done in the evenings until about midnight and on weekends. Basically, whenever I had a kid-free hour, I was working. I wouldn’t change it but it was exhausting and took a whole lot of discipline.

    1. Perpal*

      I think the reason for such a negative knee jerk response is it sounds like this is coming more from the husband than the wife; sure if someone wrote in and said “it’s my mission in life to have a work from home career, multiple children, and be the main childcare provider” then the comments would be more in line with how to make that possible… and almost anything is possible with enough tenacity, dedication, sacrifice, and some luck too… but when it sounds like someone else is suggesting they do a task that is very difficult, draining, and usually requires extra support to do it well; very alarming. Hate to set someone up with a expectations that are very difficult to succeed at and then have them feel like a failure when it goes poorly, or totally exhausts them, etc.

  79. Gilmore67*

    OP #5
    I agree with a lot of the other posters. Since you have been rejected others times that is telling you something.

    Without sounding condescending the point of the interview is to assess if an applicant IS a good fit for the job. That is why you interview.

    Some people are not supervisor material. Just because one knows the job itself, does good work doesn’t mean that person can supervise the work and its employees.

    Supervisor skills is a completely different skill set then entering in an order for chocolate truffles, making the truffles or selling the truffles.

    You have to tell people what to do. You have to tell people to stop talking and get back to work. You have to tell people that they are making too many mistakes and maybe fire them.

    I mean no ill-regard to you as I am sure you are an ace at your job. But can you do that? Are you going to be able to tell a difficult employee that if their work/being late all the time doesn’t improve that will lead to termination ? Many of these things are difficult things to do even for a seasoned manager/supervisor.

    If the hiring people are not confident you can do all that or learn all that than no, this might not be the job for you.

    I can’t tell you how many people I have known that want to be a supervisor based on “they know the job”. They sucked as a supervisor. And I mean sucked. I am not saying you would suck. But you have no background for anyone to base whether you can or can’t do this job effectively.

    And one more thing… the fact that you are kind of arguing about this instead of asking what you can to improve your chances of getting it, isn’t boding well for you.

    A part of the supervisor skill is to in fact problem solve. Fix problems. Instead of being just mad about the decision, solve it. What do you need to do to make yourself more appealing as a supervisor? Do you need to take classes? Get a mentor? Then at least if another position comes, you can say… ” I did this…..” to learn more about….” to improve my skill set, to learn more.

    Good luck.

  80. Anon Accountant*

    Late to commenting but OP1- has her husband considered not meeting goals or productivity is a good way to cost her the work from home arrangement or even lose her job?

  81. OP#5*

    I was the one who wrote the topic in question in post number five. I want to thank Alison and everyone else for their feedback and advice. To give everyone some more detail on this, I was told on my first try that it simply “wasn’t my time.” I asked what can I do to improve my chances, and they said “keep doing what you’re doing.” Second time was that I was not “assertive enough”. The time afterwards, it was “I am too aggressive over the radio.” (This is a customer service environment in a tourist attraction).

    I worked for a while to improve myself based on the previous feedback I received, and being told that I did not get the job because of my performance on the interview is quite frustrating. From the perspective of a manager, I can now see why that can be a concern. But I also must ask if there is more to it than that. I suspect that there is a lot of favoritism and politics involved, because it was quite clear during the previous times.

    You may ask why I have not left the job. It is foolish, I know, but I have a sense of loyalty to the place. But I know for my own good, I need to move on and find more responsibility else where.

    Once again, thank you all for your tremendous feedback and advice.

    1. Gilmore67*

      So it looks like you can’t get anywhere given what you just said. Move on. Loyalty is all fine and dandy but you must look out for yourself.
      Their job is to pick what they believe are the best people for positions, your job is do what is best for you, for your future.

      Best of luck !!

  82. supernan*

    OP#1 – I work as a full time nanny to young children of a work-from-home mom. The children are old enough to attend school part time, (and they all do) and I am still employed full-time (close to 50 hours a week) because of her workload. This mother sleeps maybe 4 hours a night because she is awake all-hours attempting to meet the demands of her job as well as run a household full of children. Her husband is very much of the ideology that paying for childcare is lazy and because if the mother works from home she should also be able to take care of her children. This mother pays me completely out of her own pocket. I would urge your friend to explain how Not Possible her husband’s ideas are and definitely look into some time of childcare help NOW.

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