can I wear a baby during a video interview?

A reader writes:

I was just asked to do a two-hour video interview this week. I am excited for the opportunity, but I am at home with a newborn and my partner is likely unable to commit to watching the baby for that long. My partner also works from home but takes frequent customer calls and can’t have a baby screaming in the background. We may get the baby to nap during the interview, but we can’t rely on that.

I don’t know what to do. Would it be okay to baby-wear during the video? This keeps them quiet for long periods. Should I just try to have the baby nap and warn the interviewer that they could wake up at any time? I know times are difficult for everyone, but I still don’t imagine many companies having sympathy for parents without childcare.

Reasonable employers do understand that tons of people are home without child care right now. It’s much, much better to do the interview without the baby if you can — because you’ll make a better impression without interruptions or distractions, and because you don’t want the employer speculating about how this will affect your focus if they hire you before daycares reopen — but lots of people are in this situation and it’s not the end of the world if the baby has to be there.

And after all, if you were a single parent, this is what you’d have to do.

But you’re not a single parent, and I’m wondering why your partner gets to say they “can’t have a baby screaming in the background” and that’s the final word on that … but you can’t say that yourself for something as important as a job interview.

Obviously it’s not ideal for your partner to (a) not be able to take customer calls during that time or (b) have to deal with the baby interrupting a customer call — but it’s not ideal for you to be caring for a baby during a job interview either. It’s not going to be ideal for either of you but someone has to do it — and I’d argue it’s less ideal for you, and I’m wondering why your partner’s needs totally trump yours here.

If it’s at all possible to keep the baby in the care of your partner during the interview, do. But if they won’t do it, then all you can really do is explain the situation to the interviewer up-front. I still might not wear the baby unless you can set up your camera so she’s not visible — but that’s probably a decision you should make based on the likelihood of interruptions if you do vs. if you don’t.

(And also I’d look seriously at whether there’s a partner problem here. If their job is utterly inflexible and they have no PTO they could take, etc., then maybe I’m off-base. But please look at it, because right now it sounds like your needs don’t get equal weight, and that’s not how this is supposed to work.)

{ 360 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon Anon*

    I think this is the one instance where you really need to have the baby out of the room, especially because you do have a partner who could take care of the baby. I’m a single parent with a high needs baby, and honestly, even I’d try and get a trusted family member or friend who has been practicing social distancing to come and watch my kid if I were in the same situation.

    I think employers understand and are a lot more flexible about these things, but an interview is still an interview. And if you wouldn’t bring your baby with you to an in person interview, then I don’t think you should with a virtual interview.

    Can your partner take PTO to watch the baby while you do the interview, if he can’t have the baby while working?

    1. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      And it’s not just the impression of having a baby there. In an interview you need to have full focus, to be able to nimbly address questions. That is more difficult to do with a child there. You want your interviewer to feel that they have asked all the appropriate questions and have them answered to their satisfaction; you don’t want the interviewer to feel that they can’t ask certain questions because you appear occupied..

      What would your partner do if they had an important health issue that needed a telemedicine video call, or some other emergency that needed their full attention? They would find a way to be away from the clients for the necessary time.

      1. Anon Anon*

        I also think that if were the interviewer I’d probably wrap up the interview early because I’d be uncomfortable and I wouldn’t think it would be a good use of either of our time. And honestly, even when my kid isn’t being high needs, I often miss out on bits of conversations with family and friends because he’s dropped his dummy, or he’s getting restless and needs attention. I couldn’t imagine trying to go into an interview with him. I don’t even go to a lot of work meeting if he’s not in his crib asleep, because I get too distracted and miss out on important information.

        1. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          I completely agree. I have three kids myself, but calls with my coworker who has a (crying) newborn always make me concerned I’m taking her away from her baby and I will follow up via chat…it would be hard for some interviewers to concentrate for 2 hours with possible crying in the background.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Can you schedule your interview for a time when your partner is not on the clock?
      Any reasonable employer would understand a request for scheduling “for a time when child care is available”.

    3. Spero*

      Agree strongly. I’m not interested in debating if the partner can take customer calls while wearing the baby because that’s not really up to us to say and so dependent on the specific baby. I do recommend that the partner take PTO for a half day to give the OP time to prep and do the interview. As Allison said unless there is a zero PTO policy ever at the partner’s employer, this a perfect example of the time where it is needed.

      If your partner’s response is that they don’t want to use ‘their time’ for something that benefits you rather than them, that’s another issue.

    4. Artemesia*

      This. Wearing the baby is likely to be disastrous for an interview. Would you hire someone who will not be able to do the job because of the child care issue; this shouts that.

      No reason Dad can’t wear the baby and run those risks of interruption for something as high stakes as a job interview — and if he cannot take a couple hour break or else cope with baby wearing, I’d be reflecting long and hard on the relationship. My daughter and son in law are coping at WFH right now with a toddler. Both of them have had to make some work compromises to make it possible. His kid too. A job interview is such a big thing that his unwillingness to figure out how to relieve you during this short but important event is worrisome.

      1. Silvermoonlight*

        No need to assume heteronormative roles here. We don’t know if the OP is female or if their partner is male, as they specifically refer to them as their “partner”.

        1. PhysicsTeacher*

          The update farther down the page has the LW using “he” for their partner. We don’t know how the LW identifies, but it seems clear the partner uses male pronouns.

        2. Yorick*

          Let’s be honest – given the content of the letter, we pretty much know the genders of OP and her partner. And then that the partner is male is confirmed in the update.

    5. Hills to Die on*

      That’s what I’m wondering. Get a teenager or college student to care for the baby for a couple of hours. Pump in advance (wear nursing pads!) and don’t stress this.

      1. NerdyKris*

        There’s still a pandemic going on. It’s not a great idea to have strangers in your house.

      2. Chanandler Bong*

        I don’t know that finding a teenager or college student to care for your infant is super feasible at this particular moment in time?

      3. AnotherAlison*

        I wrote a whole paragraph about my area being open and my RN/newborn mom sister being comfortable with visitors, etc., so it may not as be that big of a deal to find someone as others are saying. Then I realized I personally would not have a strange teenager or college student watch a newborn as a one-off 2-hr gig anyway. I’ve seen my sister’s baby a couple times, and the first time the baby was pretty relaxed. The second time the baby cried and fussed for two hours, and only mom (not even mom, actually) could make her happy. Bringing in a stranger probably wouldn’t work, unless you just said take the baby outside and let them scream if they get upset.

      4. Hills to Die on*

        Ok, then find someone who has been quarantined sufficiently and trained in childcare. The point is, get child care. I did this for neighbors when I was younger and both parents had to work.
        Or, as above, find a family member you can trust. It is not complicated.

        1. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

          It may not be complicated, but it’s likely prohibitatively difficult. Otherwise, why write in?

          1. A*

            … be fair OP wrote in before actually asking their partner if they could take time off (in OP’s update). They admittedly assumed based on partner’s employers actions early on in the pandemic that they would not accommodate or partner would be unable to ask without risk. So, I wouldn’t assume levels of difficulty on this letter….

            1. Hills to Die on*

              My point is that OP may be making things more complicated than they are. I am certainly capable of this, no more so than each time I had a newborn. It is a simple solution that was not brought up in the original letter, so it merits mentioning, IMO.

              1. Miss Libby*

                No way am I bringing in childcare for a newborn during a pandemic! I have seen this come up in discussions on social media – just hire a teenager or college student, that’s what I did when my kids were little. Trust me these kids are not social distancing and I would not want them in my home much less caring for a newborn!

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  I would assume that teens who would agree to babysit are not assiduously socially distancing or sheltering in place (as appropriate for location) and vice versa.

              2. Dahlia*

                It wasn’t brought up because there’s a pandemic and that goes entirely against everything experts recommend. You can’t physically distance yourself from a newborn.

          2. MayLou*

            Sometimes people write in and the solution is not only fairly obvious but also easy to implement, but for whatever reason hasn’t occurred to the letter writer. Sometimes people worry so much about something they lose perspective on it, and need an objective outside to give them a gut check. Sometimes they’re trapped in a paradigm that seems to remove options that might be simple for others (for instance if in this case the LW’s partner holds the view that childcare is always the primary and sole responsibility of one parent, usually the mother, although happily that doesn’t seem to be the case here) and they need to face a much bigger decision than “how do I solve this one specific question?”. Prohibitively difficult is a subjective assessment.

            1. blackcat*

              “Sometimes people worry so much about something they lose perspective on it, and need an objective outside to give them a gut check.”

              I will also say this happened to me approximately one million times more often when I had a newborn than normally. I think it passed when my kid was ~6 months and was consistently sleeping more than 60-90 minutes at a time at night. But damn, sleep deprivation did a number on my executive function and problem solving abilities.

              1. Alice's Rabbit*

                So very true! Even when my first was letting me have a reasonable amount of sleep overall, it was broken into smaller increments, which had similar effects on my ability to function.
                My second… let’s just say he cried so often, I had gotten precisely 3 REM cycles between his birth and his 2 week check up.

          3. Hills to Die on*

            Because it was not mentioned in the letter, so is it something she can’t do, doesn’t want to do, and/or would her answer have changed based on Alison’s feedback. When you are looking for a solution, I am not sure it makes sense to say, ‘she didn’t mention it, so it must not be an option.’ Otherwise, I doubt advice blogs would be anything like they are now.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Who better to trust than the other parent? He needs to take responsibility for the child he has brought into the world.
          I spent several years at home with the kids, but once I went back to work, I told my partner he had to either pay for childcare or the cleaner, no way was I assuming all the costs of my working, after providing childcare and cleaning services to the family for free for all those years.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            I agree, and I did something similar. If Ex-husband wanted the house kept to a certain standard while I was at home with the kids all day (um, parenting and nurturing our children, thank you) then he could pay to get the house cleaned.

            1. Mx*

              Not only we know the partner is a “he”, but in this sexist society, when someone has all the childcare falling on them, it’s generally a female.

        3. Bridget the Elephant*

          That really isn’t simple at all. Where I’m located, no-one is meant to go into someone else’s home at all unless for medical care reasons. Even then, how do you know for certain someone has actually quarantined properly? And especially with a newborn, they need their parents for comfort and security.

          For what it’s worth, I taught online while babywearing my then 4 month old when childcare wasn’t available. I was able to angle the camera so she wasn’t visible and she mostly slept through those lessons. Being able to breastfeed her without it being obvious took some practice, but my clients didn’t notice and I was able to get through it. Not ideal, but it is possible.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah, I’ve done plenty of work while babywearing, my daughter would breastfeed herself to sleep and it was just easier to leave her in the sling than to put her down, she would often sleep longer like that too.
            A friend of mine was still a student when she had her first, and she took her baby to lectures. She sat right next to the exit just in case but mostly managed to take her notes just like anyone else. But an interview is much harder. You can prepare for your lesson and in case of tough questions you can say “yes we’ll be exploring that next week”, but you have to be on the ball for an interview.

        4. is*

          depends where you are.
          Where I live its still illegal to have a memeber of another household in your home

  2. MusicWithRocksIn*

    My first thought after reading this was “But why can’t the partner wear the baby?” I mean if the baby is calm and quiet in the baby sling, and your partner is just taking calls and doing work, he could wear the baby and then the baby would stay quite?

      1. valentine*

        But why can’t the partner wear the baby?
        Partner wears baby, baby cries, partner puts customer on hold while they speak to their neighbor because thin walls. Even a life-or-death hotline has to have an out in case of emergency.

        I’m assuming partner’s job has fixed hours they can’t flex, and it would make sense if, as a couple, they are holding on to the PTO for dear life because newborn and pandemic.

    1. Bostonian*

      Yeah, I think there might be some context missing from the letter, like if the partner works for an unreasonable company that demands no background noise, even now. (We’ve seen those letters!) If the partner’s job is at risk if there’s background noise from the baby, I could see how that would change the calculus of the situation.

      Even if that is the case, the employer would also have to be really inflexible with PTO, as well, because the partner could also take some time off to care for the baby during the interview. (Although, now that I think about it, that’s a lot of PTO if OP is doing half a dozen or more interviews.)

      All of that is to say, I think we have some missing information, but I agree with the general concept that the conversation should start with “how can Partner cover for OP during the interview?” and not “how can OP care for the baby during the interview?”

      1. Annony*

        They definitely may be worried about the partner’s job right now. Keeping current employment probably is more important than an interview for potential employment.

        1. QuickPopIn*

          That is exactly what I was thinking. I could see a scenario where a spouse is the current sole source of income, and if they are working for an unreasonable employer, taking time off could be “rocking the boat” at this time. The couple would be worse off if the spouse loses their job. With this scenario in mind, the comments seemed harsh.

          1. Daniel*

            Correct. I was really taken aback by Alison’s desire to start relationship trouble where there seemingly isn’t any.

            Currently, due to my education and industry, I am the household breadwinner. My wife works so we can have some extra money, but we could get by without her working, we could absolutely NOT get by if I lost my job. So if someone needs to take a day off for some reason – its the wife. Her jobs pays less. We lose a lot more money if I am not at work.

            If we need to inconvenience someones employer due to a family emergency , it is my Wife’s.

            Not that my employer is unreasonable, it is simply that if she loses her job, no big deal. If I lose mine: foreclosure.

            It very well could be that this “maybe” interview is not as important as the husbands “definitely” job is.

            The letter does not indicate a relationship issue, and it is very strange to me that one was implied .

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              “desire to start relationship trouble where there seemingly isn’t any”? … perhaps if there were no wider cultural context on gendered division of labor re: child care … but that would be a different question and a different world.

              1. PCBH2*

                Removed. I’m not entertaining fantasies that sexism isn’t a huge and constant backdrop to questions like this one. – Alison

              1. Lucy P*

                Regardless of what this implies, OP’s partner can’t or won’t do it. I think we’re stressing out OP even more by focusing on the partner’s issues and not offering solutions. Obviously the partner isn’t the solution, but we should stop harping on that and start presenting other ideas.
                This site always stresses workplace/home separation–No spouse should complain to their spouse’s boss about whatever. But here we are pointing out what is perceived as relationship issues. It’s a bit of a double standard.

                1. Tay Tay*

                  “Obviously the partner isn’t the solution, but we should stop harping on that and start presenting other ideas.”

                  Um… except… the partner WAS the solution. OP already updated that they had written in prior to even asking partner if they could accommodate because they assumed based on partner’s employer’s previous actions early on in the pandemic that they would be unwilling/unable.

                  The advise of ‘maybe you should speak with partner because they are indeed your partner and also a parent’ was spot on… and worked.

                  So please stop ‘harping’ on the commenters who were rightfully concerned based on how it was initially portrayed, and ultimately were spot on in regards to how to address it / the desirable outcome.

              2. Pennalynn Lott*

                I’m just perplexed about how partner’s job handles it when they have a doctor’s appointment or something else that can only be taken care of during business hours? There’s literally no way for the partner to carve two hours out of their work day, EVER???

            2. A*

              Whoa there.

              The biggest take away I had from the letter WAS that there is definitely a potential relationship problem, and I am incredibly glad Alison didn’t just gloss over it. That’s wonderful that you and your wife have an arrangement that works for you, but it sounds very different than what OP describes.

              Turns out that the missing context (provided in OP’s update) was that they never actually asked their partner to accommodate. They assumed their partner would be unable to due to restrictions from their employer – turns out it was a non-issue. So this isn’t some super-secret-arrangement that OP conveniently didn’t mention.

              One hint that you might want to re-evaluate your stance, or at least spend some time on self reflection, is the volume of comments here indicating extreme concern for OP and noting concerning red flags in the relationship dynamic (as it was described). We don’t all need to agree, but it does seem a bit arrogant to 1) call out Alison as if she’s looking to cause relationship issues for OP (???!!!), and 2) think that the vast majority of commenters must be off their rocker, but you – you are the chosen one who is wiser than all and ‘gets it’.

            3. HoundMom*

              Just a word of caution — I was the part-timer, primary caretaker to the kids and my husband’s job definitely was the one with more potential. Until the bottom fell out of his (high paying) industry. Then we were grateful that my husband and I had partnered over the years not to neglect my career because his industry never recovered and my industry continued to thrive. A lot can change with jobs and industries, but respect for your partner and working together as a team never changes.

            4. Lavender Menace*

              Everyone’s relationship is different, of course, and everyone has to make decisions based on their own family’s needs. But a disparity in income is not the only reason to prioritize someone’s job over another’s.

              I make nearly twice what my husband does. However, my husband’s job is also more structured than mine and he’s newer to the role. I don’t view his salary as “extra money”. It’s part of our household income.

              If we need to handle a family emergency…we talk about it together and decide who has the circumstances at the time to handle it. Often, that’s actually me, because even though I make more money I also have more flexibility and power in my workplace than he has in his (which often comes along with making more money). If someone needs to take a day off, it’s probably me, because I have more paid time off than he does.

              If my husband loses his job, I don’t see it as “no big deal”. We could easily live on my salary alone. But my husband’s job is important for more than just the money he brings in – for him, as for many people, it’s part of his personal identity. He really loves his work and he loves the autonomy that bringing income into the household brings. Not working can leave a big gap on his resume and make it harder for him to get jobs in the future. And I’m not bulletproof – god forbid something happens to me or my job.

              I grew up in a household where my dad made more money than my mother – quite a lot more. He was the “breadwinner” and she usually made minimum wage – and never let her forget it. He constantly made her feel as if her jobs were lesser than his, or not important at all, because she made less money. He consistently termed her money as just “extra money” and irrelevant to the household income (despite the fact that her judicious use of her small salary allowed him to redirect money from his income into other places – and the fact that her part-time, flexible work meant that my father could work the overtime he wanted and our whole family saved a boatload of money on childcare because my mother was always there to take care of us). He often would say it would no big deal or unimportant whether she worked and had access to her own money and autonomy, and valued his own work engagements above hers no matter how mundane his were and how important hers were, simply because he made more money.

              I watched my mother’s self-esteem get eaten away from from this destructive narrative almost my entire childhood – and it impacted the way I, as a young girl, thought about work and money for a long, long time.

              1. Armchair Expert*

                Every word of this post is spot on. I had such a visceral reaction to the idea that a lower earner’s job doesn’t matter, and should always be the one to be inconvenienced. Just…gross.

                (Also, I was the lower earner for years. Now I’m the higher earner. I was able to build up a career precisely because I wasn’t expected to constantly put family before work and both my partner and I worked together as a team)

              2. BonzaSonza*

                Thank you for all of this, I wholeheartedly agree.

                My situation is a lot like yours – I earn more than double my husband’s salary, but he is very much an equal contributor to our household with work, childcare and housework.

                His work doesn’t take a back seat because mine pays more – he holds a higher title, has a challenging and varied workplace and really enjoys his job. I just happened to fall into a very niche career path with a rare skillset that pays well. His job pays less at the moment but I would never want him to feel that his worth is directly related to his paycheck. He is so much more than that (and I am much, much more than my earning potential)

              3. Yorick*

                Another thing to consider is the importance of the work/industry to society. I make quite a bit less than my partner, but if I had an important meeting, it’s more likely to be actually important than any of my partner’s meetings. Like “possibly even life and death” versus “a corporation’s bottom line.”

            5. Yorick*

              You think this there’s no relationship trouble here because you’re a man. Also, your relationship has the same gendered issue that Alison was talking about, and you should think about how you could support your wife’s career more.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Love this suggestion – if LW is breastfeeding and partner is not then baby is less likely to fuss for a feed.

      That said, two hours is a long proportion of a very young baby’s sleep/feed/wake cycle, and the chances of hitting the sweet spot at exactly the right time are very low. I would put cash money on the baby’s needing feeding during the interview!

      1. Kate*

        That’s what I was thinking as well – two hours without feeding a newborn would mean feeding right before and right after.

    3. Amanda*

      Seriously, this is the best option by far. And if he’s on video and a baby is an absolutely no at his job (already a bad situation), can’t he get PTO for the couple hours you’ll be occupied?

      It very much sounds like either OP has a serious partner issue, or the partner has a serious job issue of his own.

      1. Alex*

        I’m not a parent, but the sling might be less effective with one parent than the other.

        1. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

          I am a parent and I have a neck/shoulder injury that makes baby wearing painful. I was going to say “good thing none of my kids were into it” but actually the really fussy one might have wanted it…

        2. Anonymom*

          There’s nearly a foot of height difference between myself and my husband. I used a sling with my second (had a toddler too), but my husband couldn’t even attempt it because it just didn’t fit him at all and she squalled because she felt unsafe.

          That said, there were indeed days where my husband took over all child-related stuff and things due to late deadlines ans such for me at work. And vice versa. I hope its more a case that “his employer is actually this inflexible” because they do exist. Its better than the alternate.

          1. MayLou*

            It doesn’t sound like this is relevant to you any more but for others with a similar issue, you could get a second sling/alternative baby-wearing device for the taller partner.

        3. Bridget the Elephant*

          That was definitely the case for me and my hubby – our daughter would easily settle for me but not for him when she was a newborn.

    4. Mama Bear*

      Agreed. Or the partner could take a 2 hr block of PTO or something. People are still doing appointments via telemedicine so the partner shouldn’t have to excuse themselves much. I think this is one where the partner needs to take one for the team. What would happen if there was no daycare option and OP needed to leave the house for this interview? Partner would have to handle it.

      This link may also be helpful:

    5. a heather*

      That’s what I came here to say. Your partner should wear the baby and take the consequences of potential wakings during the course of your interview. If the baby doesn’t stay quiet, he should have much more leeway/capital in an existing job to take a 15 minute break or whatever until you’re done. (I mean, what would he do if you had to go to the doctor, or he had another sort of limited-time emergency?)

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      exactly! and he could just pick up the phone and explain to his customers that right now he can’t talk, and he’ll be getting back to them within a couple of hours, and that’d probably be fine. I mean, it’s entirely possible for him to have a 2-hour meeting too surely!

  3. ThatGirl*

    Obvious solution: Partner wears the baby — they’re only taking phone calls, not video, right? If that keeps the baby quiet and off-screen… I see no problem.

  4. Not everyone has a good job*

    Sounds like the partner does at home customer service for a company like Apple (well, actually a staffing company hired by Apple, which covers most of their customer service workers), in which case, from my own partner’s experience, no, they cannot take 2 hours off the phone or hold a screaming baby during calls.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean, the vast majority of CS jobs are being done from home right now, there’s no information to indicate that it’s a company like Apple. We have no idea how able the partner is to take time off, and honestly, if the baby is quiet while being worn, the partner who is NOT on a video interview should be able to do that.

      1. Not everyone has a good job*

        My husband worked for a series of these companies and trust me, whether it’s Apple or one of the many other large companies that staffs customer service this way, they are all awful to their CSRs. Often they use the camera on the computer they provide you to make sure nobody else is in the room while you work. You can’t take 2 hours off, you have to take an entire day, and you might get one sick day in 6 months. From what I’ve heard from his former coworkers, they haven’t gotten any kinder since the unemployment rate skyrocketed.

        People on ask a manager tend to skew to people who work in jobs where flexibility is a given, and judge from there. For millions of Americans, flexibility isn’t a thing. It’s unfair to assume the partner is the problem, when the partner may well be at one of the many, many jobs where your employment is a moment to moment thing.

            1. MayLou*

              “Takes frequent customer calls” describes my current role but I am able to take time off and when we shifted to WFH we were sent guidance on how to pre-warn clients about background noise and told that it’s fine if our work productivity drops due to childcare needs etc. Not all customer service jobs are terrible.

          1. Vimes*

            One of my friends works in a call center type position and it’s very much as described. She also says that many people’s positions are being cut. So it could be partner needs to suck it up and wear the baby, but it also really could be that that would risk losing the family’s sole income.

        1. ThatGirl*

          And I have worked in a CS-related position for a company that did not monitor us that closely, that would have happily given me an hour or two of flexibility or a morning off as needed. (I still work for the same company, just in a different role now.) I understand there are some really crappy companies out there, but as SunnySideUp notes, you’re making a lot of assumptions.

        2. Important Moi*

          I think you are correct. Pointing out that there may be a lack of diversity of perspectives is a valid point to make.

          1. Tay Tay*

            OP already updated that partner was able to take the time as PTO. The ‘problem’ was OP had written in prior to speaking with partner and assumed it would be an issue. It wasn’t.

            So no, this isn’t about partner working for some terrible employer with zero flexibility, that OP just conveniently forgot to mention.

            1. Important Moi*

              It is not about partner working for some terrible employer with zero flexibility. Some people have opinions about that and chose to mention it. Per the commenting rules, those people are allowed to comment too. People did not scroll down to see if OP sent an update before posting? OK? OP just conveniently forgot to mention partner does not work for some terrible employer with zero flexibility? OK?

              You win.

              OK. You win.

        3. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

          Not every CS job is this strict, but many are and this is a good reminder.

        4. Daniel*

          Yes, this is a very privileged audience. AAM skews very white collar and professional it seems. (I guess that is why most of us can be commenting on a blog in the middle of a weekday.) And unfortunately, most people think everyone has it exactly like they do.

          A lot of commentators seem to not understand their level of privilege.

          1. Tay Tay*

            How can you judge that someone/anyone/commenters etc. don’t understand their privilege, at the same time as you are assuming that privilege? I don’t think it’s fair, or beneficial, to assume that you understand the backgrounds and larger contexts of commenters lives.

            And yes, of course AAM skews white collar/business professional – when I first started reading that was very much the intended and target audience. It is important to keep the skewed perspective in mind, but it certainly isn’t new/shocking/unusual.

          2. Avasarala*

            I think most people who can’t work from home, can’t take their babies to work etc. don’t need advice from a stranger on this.
            If the partner is a firefighter, and OP has no other childcare options, well then OP has to watch the baby and do the interview. Cut and dried, no reason to even write in because that’s the only solution.

            But because there are other solutions in many situations, people write in and get various advice.
            I don’t think people who are stuck in the hardest places need advice–they know what they need (help, not advice).

        5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes, that may be the case. But it may also be that the partner is simply not willing to budge. I’ve often noticed that men always consider what they are doing to be more important than what their partner is doing (even when it’s the father dealing with the kids!) and Alison is quite right to at least ask whether it isn’t possible for the partner to assume responsibility for the child he brought into the world.

        6. A*

          …OP updated that their partner was able to take PTO. OP wrote in before speaking with their partner.

          Nice piece of fictional fantasy you got going there though!

    2. ElizabethJane*

      But it doesn’t sound like the baby would be screaming if worn or otherwise held. My own daughter when she was an infant would scream if you set her down but be totally chill (maybe make a few baby noises) if held/worn.

      If this is the case then the OP, who will be on video, should be baby-free and the partner, who is presumably not on video, can hold the baby and deal with a few baby noises in the background.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Holding only reduces the chance of screaming, it doesn’t eliminate it.

        If the partner’s working phone support / virtual call center, they really may not be able to manage the baby while on duty. I think Alison’s a little off here.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s where my caveats in the last paragraph come in — can he really not take 2 hours of PTO? If not, then okay, but that should at least be on the table.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          But wouldn’t that also detract significantly from OP’s interview?

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Right? It doesn’t eliminate the chances of it screaming and derailing the interview, either.

          2. WMM*

            If they have to choose to protect the existing job/income over a potential job/income (ie, if the partner’s company really won’t tolerate any baby care at all), I can understand why the potential job/interview interruptions comes as a lower risk. It sucks to be in a position like that, but many, many people are making these kinds of trade offs.

        3. EPLawyer*

          But the LW has a job interview in which she is also not able to manage a baby while on duty. WHY does his not being able to manage trump her not being able to manage? Other than you know, women still are in charge of childcare even when both parents work.

          We don’t KNOW that he is not able to. Only that he can’t have a screaming baby in the background. Which no one can regardless of job. So again, his not having a screaming baby in the background — absent more information — does not trump her need to not have a screaming baby in the background.

          This is a partner conversation rather than a work problem. There needs to be a serious discussion of childcare allegation if both are work from home. Both are parents, they are both equally responsible for the care of the child. He is not babysitting for the mother when he cares for the child. He is taking his turn at parental responsibilities. If he is not willing to do so, then that is something OP needs to find out now.

        4. Colette*

          We have no indication what the partner does, though, and lots of jobs can involve customer calls but are more flexible than call centres.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      . . . if the baby is screaming, neither of them can do what they need to do, though. LW can’t have a screaming baby at an interview, either. So either the baby is quiet, in which case partner can keep working with it in a sling, or it’s screaming, in which case the interview is off, anyway.

    4. Anon234*

      I don’t really agree with this. These are strange days and people are aware that set ups are not ideal. This morning I was on the phone to my bank and the customer service rep at the end of the Phone had to go take her toddler a drink half way through the call. It was kind of charming! I’ve also noticed that when there are two parents Working at home my friends who are mothers are finding the bulk of the burden falls on them.
      I’m glad Alison is questioning this dynamic.
      I’d say that for 2 hours an interview needs a clear head and minimal distraction so it has priority.

    5. Anon Anon*

      So they take PTO or unpaid leave if PTO isn’t available.

      I understand that some employers are not offering much in the way of flexibility. But, childcare arrangements are not and should be the exclusive responsibility of one partner or the other. They are both parents, and so they need together to come up with a childcare solution that they can both live with. In mind the options are as follows:

      LW goes to interview and his/her partner has the baby (either because they’ve taken PTO or they have the baby while working, whatever option is available)
      LW cancels the interview and keeps the baby
      LW goes to the interview, the partner works, and together they find someone else to watch the baby.

      To me LW wearing her baby during the interview while her partner works is not a realistic or viable option.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      The partner’s job doesn’t automatically get top priority here. Why is their customer service position more important than a job interview? A partnership is about working together to find the best solution. We don’t know what type of conversation they’ve had with each other, but based on the letter, it sounds like OP is the only one willing to make an accommodation for this situation, and if that’s true, this issue is bigger than figuring out how to take care of a newborn for a few hours.

      1. ...*

        You realize that tens of millions of Americans have no pto right……Also if the partner is the only one employed its pretty crucial that their job isn’t compromised since they have the only source of income

        1. Jessen*

          More common issue from my own experience is that even if you have PTO, the scheduling rules make it essentially impossible to use for interviews. I hit that with interviewing out of my last call center job. We had PTO, but it had to be scheduled 2 weeks in advance of the start of the week you wanted to take time off in, and you had to find your own coverage. So it was practically impossible to use PTO for an interview because you’d just get denied for not giving enough notice.

          1. A*

            It is definitely unfortunate – but we all have to play the game. When I found myself in this situation I faked a family medical emergency – dramatic and loud fake phone call included – to get out ~3 hours early to make it to an interview (after my request for PTO was rejected because I only made it one week in advance, not two). I spent a week exploring all options, including requesting unpaid time off, but ultimately did what I had to do.

            I would feel bad, but I don’t – I did what I needed to do. I wish it hadn’t come to it, but it did.

        2. Tay Tay*

          OP updated before you posted this that it’s already been resolved – partner used PTO. So yes, this was an absolutely valid suggestion – and a suggestion does not automatically insinuate ignorance of the larger macro issues that exist surrounding PTO etc.

          No reason to take it to extremes. If you are, at least read the most recent update first.

          On a side note, I think the point you raise is important – but phrasing it like “you realize” distracts from it. It comes across as rash, juvenile, and projecting. You get more bees with honey.

      2. Vimes*

        Do you live in a country where everyone has paid time off? If so, you may not be aware that millions of Americans have no paid time off.

    7. Koala dreams*

      All the more reason for the partner to take the baby during the interview, especially if the interview is for a non call center work. A job where you have no PTO, can’t take FMLA and can’t take two hours off to care for your baby will be impossible in the long run for a parent, so it makes it more important to do interviews and more important to find a new job, not less. Sometimes there are no good choices, only worse and even worse.

  5. Lady Heather*

    You have a newborn – I know very little about FMLA, but I seem to recall that either spouse can take up to three months of leave in the first year after birth. Can your partner take a half day off under that provision?

    This seems like a really strange situation.

    1. Another worker bee*

      There’s no guarantee for paid leave, though. OP is not working so they already have only one income and a newborn, might not be plausible to take unpaid leave.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Hmmm . . . I didn’t see anything in the letter that indicates that OP isn’t working. Actually, from the wording in the second sentence, “My partner also works from home . . .”, it sounds like both of them are working from home right now.

        1. Another worker bee*

          I read that as “my partner is also home with us” but you’re right, it doesn’t really say OP isn’t working.

      2. Double A*

        This at least would protect the partner’s job, even if they had to take a few hours unpaid (though they might not be able to get approved in time, and the partner’s company might not qualify).

    2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*

      FMLA is unpaid, and you typically have to submit the paperwork (which has to be signed by the birthing parent’s medical provider) to your employer in advance of taking it. It’s not a spur of the moment request.

    3. Marie D*

      FMLA doesn’t apply to every work place – small businesses are exempt unless your state has its own FMLA law. Also you must be working for the employer for one year before FMLA eligible.

      FMLA is not a guarantee in every job. And like others said, it’s only job protected leave. No guarantee of pay. And being out on FMLA disqualifies you for unemployment benefits in most states.

    4. ...*

      If the partner has worked at their job for a year and the business size qualifies for FMLA and if they can afford unpaid time off….lot of if’s

  6. Arielle*

    I think Alison’s advice is spot on. If I were the employer I wouldn’t be concerned about the lack of childcare, but I would be concerned about the apparent unequal distribution of childcare within the home if the partner can’t watch the baby for something as important as a job interview. He can’t take a long lunch or an hour of PTO? I had a final interview yesterday and my husband took the whole afternoon off to watch our eight month old.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      This is a great point – having to have the baby at an *interview* lets the potential employer infer that LW will always be considered default/primary parent regardless of the stakes.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, some employers may be punitive about their PTO / time clock. I think we really don’t know enough to be judging the partner here.

    3. StarkeyMalarkey*

      Devil’s Advocate response: If OP is looking for work, but her husband is employed, it may be that they are really dependent on his income right now. Depending on the type of employment he has, he may not get PTO (think low-level customer service jobs with no vacation or sick time.) The risk of having negative customer interactions and receiving write ups or possibly risking a termination from the sole earner may not be an option right now.

      I don’t know anything about OP’s situation right now (and I am against of the inequalities in childcare that this pandemic exposed) but I can see the calculus of not wanting to risk your family’s only current income stream for the chance of a job.

      1. Arielle*

        I feel like if things were that dire, that would have been important information to include in the letter, though. Just like the advice would have been different if the letter had said “My partner absolutely cannot watch the baby because he is a trauma surgeon and will be at the hospital.”

        1. buffty*

          Well, the letter *did* say the partner is “likely unable”. While it’s possible that “unable” actually means “unwilling”, that’s not what the LW said. It’s absolutely possible that someone in a customer service job can’t “just [xyz]” without a negative impact. CS jobs often have point systems for attendance, very specifically scheduled breaks, and other factors that would mean punitive action for taking PTO or a break outside of established policies. I’m not defending it, but it’s real.

      2. BeautifulVoid*

        I’m usually first in line to point out things like “he wouldn’t be ‘watching the baby’ but PARENTING HIS OWN CHILD”, but unfortunately, I can see some situations in where it really would be a struggle for him to take over for two hours in the middle of a work day, especially if they’re relying on his income right now. PTO may not be an easily accessible thing at his job, and if he’s paid hourly, even missing two hours of pay could mean a financial struggle.

    4. Older Than Dirt*

      I am an employer and wearing a baby would be totally cool with me, but I realize not all employers are as open-minded.

  7. not all karens*

    I think if the baby is very, very young (OP said “newborn”), then you can get away with putting the baby in an Ergo or some other type of baby-wearing device and it’s possible the interviewers won’t even notice if you angle your camera the right way? I’d just make sure the baby is well-fed and clean-diapered prior to the interview and maybe to a practice run with a friend to see how visible/distracting the baby would be.

    Newborns really typically do love to be worn like that, and they sleep so much anyway that one could get away with it. If the baby does wake up/fuss during the interview then of course it would need to be addressed, but if it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth to get the partner to take care of the baby then I say go for it.

    1. not all karens*

      I overlooked that it was a 2-hour interview, but I still think it’s maybe possible to do. I think it would be stressful and distracting to hear your baby screaming from the other room if the partner doesn’t do a good job of soothing. It’s tough, but again, if baby is sleeping for decent stretches, it might be less stressful to wear during the interview.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I wore my last baby, then aged perhaps five weeks, to a screening of one of the Hobbit movies (~3h). He woke briefly once to nurse and otherwise slept through. Two hours can work. I just think getting the stars to align so that baby would sleep the right two hours without waking for a feed, when mom’s heart rate would likely be increased with the excitement etc … seems so much harder than passing off to partner, even a relatively unsupportive partner.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh how I wish my collicky baby had been so easily quieted. For OP’s sake I hope that’s not what she’s interviewing through.

      1. not all karens*

        Yes, it would have to be a baby who actually likes to be worn and isn’t colicky or doesn’t have GERD and the like. One of my daughters loved to be worn, the other couldn’t stand it, so it’s definitely baby-dependent! Happily there’s an update, though, so she won’t have to test this theory out.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My youngest was super colicky, and yeah, I don’t think he ever stayed quiet for a whole two hours at a time during the 2-3 months when he had the worst of his colics. He didn’t start having them until 3-4 weeks though, so maybe OP’s baby is younger than that and does not have them (yet, or maybe never will)?

        And to Not All Karens’ point, my oldest (who’s on the spectrum, and did not people very well as a child) did not like being held or worn.

    3. Mephyle*

      In agreement with not-all-karens, OP seems to imply that chances are the baby will be quieter worn in the sling. It also sounds like the baby is more used to being soothed by OP than by Partner, which is another reason why letting Partner wear them is not an optimum solution.

      1. not all karens*

        Which, since the baby is a newborn, makes sense, especially if the OP is nursing.

    4. mom of two*

      I’ve actually done a video call this way (not an interview though) with my baby with the camera angled up. At the first sign of stirring, I just nursed him and he fell back asleep. No one knew any different (I think). At that age they are generally quiet eaters. Also, mute when you aren’t speaking (you should do this anyway) to minimize “risk.”

      Initially my husband tried to take the baby but he was fussing which is way more distracting IMO.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      “they sleep so much anyway”??? what??? not in my house!!! My son never slept for more than 20 minutes in the day except if I took him out in a sling. Sitting at a desk with him in a sling would not warrant anything more than a miraculous five extra minutes.

  8. Jennifer*

    He needs to wear the baby and take calls. This is more important. I’m so tired of reading stories like this. One woman had to close her entire business because her husband had a meltdown after watching their toddler for three days. Do better, people. Do better. Ask for more.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      OMG that article made me see red. That guy wasn’t even working from home while trying to watch kids, either–he was already a stay-at-home parent!

      1. Jennifer*

        Exactly. And I get being home with a kid all day is difficult and that he needed support. But it was three days!

      2. Mama Bear*

        WHAT? So was he basically doing nothing? The “parent” part of stay at home parent means that’s your role/job while you are home. Otherwise it’s just freeloading.

        Anyway, about this OP, I think this should be a larger discussion about parental roles, childcare, and work/life balance. There will (I guarantee it) be times when OP is running a meeting, on a deadline, on travel, etc. and the child will get a stomach bug or schools will be closed. Will Partner pick up the slack or will OP be sacrificing their career/job because OP isn’t seen as equally important? Children necessitate sacrifice. It shouldn’t be all on one parent all the time.

        1. Amanda*

          Ah, but see? He wasn’t a stay at home parent. He was a person”between jobs” and “thinking through his options” while his child was in day care. It sounded like he was barely a parent at all, honestly.

          I get it’s tough to care for a toddler for long hours, and one person working 70 hours week for a long time would take a toll on a SAHP. But come on, *three days*! Can’t this guy even be alone with his kid for a long weekend?

      1. Jennifer*

        The Lily. The article title is: ‘I had to choose being a mother’: With no child care or summer camps, women are being edged out of the workforce

        1. virago*

          Thanks for the heads up. That article made smoke come out of my ears.

          This parenthetical sentence said it all: “(Her husband declined to comment for this story.)”

          Wise move, buddy. “I couldn’t take care of my child while my wife, the breadwinner, worked 70 hours a week, so I manipulated her into thinking that the family would fall apart unless she left the business that she co-founded” is pretty hard to defend.

          1. Important Moi*

            The wife has agency.

            This is a smart woman. She had to know how her husband would be perceived (especially given the Lily’s target audience).

            She may just be making a choice other women don’t like.

              1. Jay*

                and choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Her “choice” was made in a cultural context in which women are still held responsible for child care and are judged harshly no matter what choice they make. Educated, wealthy woman who works full-time? Neglecting her child and leaving the child to be raised by “strangers.” Educated, wealthy woman who leaves the workforce to care for her children? Wasting her education and proving that business are right to marginalize women, because they’re just going to get pregnant and quit. Educated, wealthy woman who works part-time? Trying to have it both ways, not giving her employer full value for the money, dumping work on her colleagues, disappointing her children, and leaving them to be raised by strangers. I’ve been the woman in each of those scenarios over the past 20 years and heard every one of those comments.

                Less educated, working-class woman who works full-time? Neglecting her children, who she shouldn’t have had in the first place because she couldn’t afford them. Less educated, working class woman who is home with her children? Should have gotten a better education before she had children, since she can’t afford them. Less educated working-class woman who wants to work part-time? Hah. Can’t pay the rent. Quite possibly can’t pay the rent working full-time, either, but that doesn’t matter because she shouldn’t have had children she can’t afford to raise. And that’s all assuming she’s healthy and the kids are healthy – if anyone has a chronic illness, she’s likely to become a poor woman with children who is a drain on society and REALLY shouldn’t have had children. Of course, she should have avoided having children without the benefit of contraception provided by insurance, because that’s just her employer/the government/patriotic taxpayers subsidizing her slutty ways.

                Woman can’t win. Women with children REALLY can’t win.

                1. Important Moi*

                  I am aware of and agree with all that. Everyone commenting is aware that the choice is not made in a vacuum.

                2. Jay*

                  So the whole thing about not making choices in a vacuum is that we have to push back against the idea that women’s choices are to blame for systemic inequity, which is what your statement sounded like to me.

        2. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

          Just read that. I can’t believe how horrible that man was. He not only cost his wife her own job, he cost the livelihoods of others too. I hope he’s pleased with himself.

    2. EBStarr*

      Yes, thank you to Alison for pointing this out even though this is a work site and not a relationship site, because the whole letter made my chest hurt with anger on OP’s behalf. I cannot imagine telling my partner to, effectively, go screw themselves when they had something as important as an interview. But then again, I’m a straight woman, so.

    3. Reality Check*

      Agreed. This is a big part of why childcare is so typically considered a “woman’s problem,” and she suffers professionally as a result. Do the partners in question not realize that what harms her, also harms the partner in the long run?

      1. AKchic*

        Many *do* realize, and that’s actually their end goal. Financial abuse is a part of systemic, long-term abuse. Keeping a partner from advancing in their career and financially stagnant keeps them “trapped” and proves they “can’t do any better”, thus keeping them with said abusive partner.

        One of these days, I should really write out all of the ways my first ex-husband attempted to sabotage me professionally.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      There are no genders specified in the OP for either the LW or the partner.

      1. Jennifer*

        It’s common sense. But it’s confirmed in the OP’s update below. The partner is a man.

        1. ...*

          soo its common sense that the partner is a male when they do something we don’t like and its heteronormative assumptions that harm society when they’re doing something neutral….got it.

          1. Jennifer*

            We have been swarmed by stories of men not pulling their weight at home and women suffering as a result since this pandemic started. And before that women still did the majority of the work at home. Ignoring that in the name of performative wokeness helps no one. But go off…

          2. Avasarala*

            I have yet to see a story of a man struggling to get his wife to watch their kid for 2 hours so he can interview. I’m sure it has happened somewhere, but I have never seen it.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        The part where the dad told the kid to call her by her first name instead of Mom made me really angry, too! How incredibly selfish!!!

        1. Molly Coddler*

          Women who choose to stay married to losers over personal fulfillment and possible success. That’s teaching your kids something. I hope she got smart and kicked him out.

      2. MsSolo*

        I’d be fuming if I were an employee who found themself out of work because husband straight up wasn’t willing to be primary caregiver.

    5. Generic Name*

      I know. Hearing stories like this makes me really sad. I was in a less-than-ideal marriage and “asking for more” was something I simply felt I couldn’t do. It’s a crap way to live.

    6. sarah thee epidemiologist*

      I’m reluctant to judge other people’s relationships but….agreed. So tired of these stories where a (frequently male) partner is unable to find any flexibility to support their (often female) partner’s needs. Partner in this situation already has a job and unless their boss is a total jerk, it makes far more sense to ask for flexibility from a job you already have than from a job you’re trying to get.

    7. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

      That’s not what happened. The woman in the article expanded on the situation on Twitter; basically, she’d been traveling for a week and a half while her husband was on solo kid duty, then returned and was working 12 hour days with zero breaks to hang with him and their kid/help him/give him a break, and with no end in sight. After three days of that, he said “this isn’t sustainable.” And you know what? I’m a SAHP whose CEO spouse is currently running a company from home and I agree. That’s not sustainable. I wouldn’t want to do it either.

      1. MsSolo*

        It’s not sustainable, but frankly, it’s something single parents cope with, and you know if the genders had been reversed people would have been a lot less understanding. Making 12 people redundant seems like an excessive solution to something that could have been solved by breaking up the day differently or prioritising and delegating aspects of the business.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          Agreed. Nothing in this whole entire country at this point in time is sustainable.

        2. Rebecca*

          It isn’t sustainable, but why is the only, or first, option shutting down the company?

          1. CJM*

            Yeah, why not daycare? or a nanny? or, depending on what type of business she owned and what her role in it was, hire somebody to replace her at her business?

            1. TiffIf*

              I mean I get why daycare or a Nanny may not be feasible right now, but really, you couldn’t figure out ANYTHING short of shutting down?

            2. doreen*

              I think the article did say that this happened because daycare closed, but I still don’t understand why the only alternative was to close down the business – she couldn’t cut back her hours , delegate more, hire an additional person, travel less, something? Because it’s one thing to expect a stay-at-home parent to expect to be responsible for child care for a normal workweek or for a few consecutive 12 days – it’s quite another for the breadwinner to apparently take on more work because the cofounder is able to help “less and less” and expect the apparently not really SAHP* to handle 12 hour shifts of child care with no end in sight.

              * It all happened because daycare shut down – which would mean her husband probably wasn’t logging 12-24 hour ( when she traveled) days before the pandemic.

              1. virago*

                I don’t think she felt that she could cut back her hours — it was a very small company: 13 employees plus her and her co-founder, who also had a full plate. Here are the relevant passages:

                “Her co-founder, busy with her own kids and aging parents, was able to help out less and less. Even outside work hours, (Aimee) Hannaford would field emails and take calls as her son, Ryan, climbed into her lap and tried to grab her phone. Her husband would plead with her to ‘get off the computer,’ she said, teaching Ryan a trick to get her attention: When she wasn’t responding, her son would call her ‘Aimee’ instead of ‘Mom.’ (Hannaford’s husband declined to comment for this story.)

                “When the company lost a client because of the coronavirus, Hannaford realized she’d have to devote even more time to work. If she really pushed herself, she knew she could probably keep the company going even if day care closed. But could she ask her husband to handle 12-hour shifts of child care, with no help, no breaks and no clear end point? She wasn’t sure her family could survive that. She wasn’t sure he’d do it, even if she asked.

                ” ‘I thought to myself, “I can carry this company forward, but I’m going to be so broken. My son will be so broken. My husband will be so broken.” ‘ “

                1. doreen*

                  I get that she felt that she had to devote more time to work – but I don’t understand why. And TBH I also don’t understand the people who say they’d be pissed off if they were the employees who were out of work because the husband couldn’t sustain the 12 hour shifts of child care , while giving a pass to the coworker who was able to help out less and less. After all, if the cofounder hadn’t helped “less and less” , maybe Hannaford wouldn’t have had to work more hours.

                2. MsSolo*

                  That the husband taught the kid ‘a trick’ to get mum’s attention and interrupt her workflow is what really flags this as a dad problem rather than co-parenting-in-a-pandemic problem. Not only does he not want to parent for 12 straight hours, he also wants to make it impossible for her to work during that time. It becomes a lose-lose situation: she isn’t getting work done and she isn’t spending time with her family. When you can add “but you can’t even stay on top of it now” as an argument (because you are sabotaging her ability to do so) giving up the job entirely starts looking like a more reasonable option than shutting down some non-essential functions or hiring someone to pick up the overflow.

        3. Avasarala*

          Agreed. Women have done solo parenting duty 24-7 since men started working out of the house.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Literally no one would *want* to do it. But sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

        So I take it that now they have no income outside of their rental properties, while living in one of the top 2 most expensive cities in the country? How’s that more sustainable than watching a toddler while male?

      3. TiffIf*

        Friend of mine has a 5 year old and an almost two year old-her husband works 12 hour shifts as a nurse so there is no end in sight. He is rarely able to do much with the kids so she has been on solo kid duty for 3 MONTHS.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I follow a former military mom on IG and she had some great stuff to say about this at the beginning of the pandemic. If you want to learn coping mechanisms for dealing with ambiguity, fear, and isolation, all while managing kids (and their fear), talk to a military spouse.

            1. A*

              Ugh, I wish this rang true amongst my social groups. The only military spouses I know have been posting condescending messages about how they’ve been dealing with this forever… everyone else needs to pull up their boot straps… so much attention on people feeling isolated, but they never get recognized…

              I’ve had to do a fair amount of unfollowing.

        1. The Starsong Princess*

          My mother did it for years with 3 kids under 4 in a town where she didn’t know a soul. My dad travelled 3 weeks a month and worked a lot of hours. He looked after us three hours every Sunday- that was my mother’s free time. It was just what things were like then.

          In the same article, there was a woman who quit her part time job too look after a toddler because her husband worked crazy hours. She found the arrangement perfectly sustainable and looked on the bright side, saying she was glad to have the time with her child.

      4. Amanda*

        It’s not sustainable, but world crisis make for the not-sustainable.

        Honestly, this is just the reality in the last couple months for most single parents across the world. And for a lot of people whose partners work directly with COVID and so are staying at motels/hotels to protect their families. Even in the regular world, two weeks of solo child care isn’t really unreasonable.

        It’s one thing to try to work out a better schedule or ask for breaks during the day, or discuss the situation and try to find a better solution. But to just say “I can’t do it” after a few days, and teach the child to call his mother by name when he wanted attention faster? That’s just a really jerk move.

        1. Anonymouse*

          Even in the regular world, two weeks of solo child care isn’t really unreasonable.
          Yes– I mean when I was 5 years old I spent 6 weeks in the hospital after surgery on my legs–the hospital was 3 hours from home and so my mother stayed with me either in the hospital or at a Ronald McDonald House type place for the vast majority of while I was in the hospital, leaving my father who worked full time to take care of my three siblings ranging in age from 3 to 10. While my grandmother could sometimes help, there was no nanny or daycare. It was during the school year so the older two were sometimes in school but not the 3 year old. (And because the older ones were in school the ten year old couldn’t watch/entertain the 3 year old for short amounts of time, which might otherwise be reasonable.)

          It’s one thing to try to work out a better schedule or ask for breaks during the day, or discuss the situation and try to find a better solution. But to just say “I can’t do it” after a few days, and teach the child to call his mother by name when he wanted attention faster? That’s just a really jerk move.
          I agree here–yes there is probably some context we are missing/whatever-but the basics of it is really coming across as a gendered expectation that women have to do more of the child-rearing/sacrificing for the good of the family when difficult times come up. And reinforces a culture that goes bananas in celebration of a male parent doing the bare minimum while completely ignoring the unpaid work of stay at home mothers, and the imbalance of distribution of home/child care tasks that still fall to women, even working ones, to carry the brunt of it most of the time.

          *sigh* this is a sore point for me if you can’t tell.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I made it halfway through the article before it made me too angry to read. I left off where she and her business partner had to close their business and lay off all their employees. Can you imagine being one of the employees and losing your job in the middle of a pandemic/recession for no reason other than that one of the owners’ stay-at-home husband could not handle being the very thing he’d signed up for. (Granted, the article said he was not a SAHP, but that he was taking a year off work while managing their rental property and considering other options.)

      Like, I never forgave my kids’ dad for throwing a fit when I checked into a hospital with mastitis and a 103 (IIRC) degree fever. (He stormed into the hospital holding the 8-month-old while I was in bed with an IV in my arm, yelled at me, the doctor heard the commotion and came in and he yelled at her too for having talked me into checking in.) By “never forgave” I mean, not “I stayed mad at him for the rest of my life”, but more of “I never trusted him not to pull something like it again if I were to fall on hard times”. (Eventually I left, one of the reasons being that having no husband is safer than having a husband whose support you cannot count on.) But honestly, my then-husband had it tougher than the guy in the article. I left him home alone with two kids, one of them nursing, both under 3. And he was not “considering his other options whilst between jobs”. He worked two jobs and I was the SAHP. Which begs the question. What will this guy do if “Aimee” is ever in the hospital? She won’t be able to “dissolve” a medical condition, you know?

    9. AKchic*

      I was furious with that story. Dude “managed” their rental property. One rental property. I’m sorry, but renting out your bachelor pad (or wife’s single-life condo) isn’t a full-time job and doesn’t mean you can use it as an excuse not to parent your child!
      Dude totally wanted a Trophy Kid. A “look at me! I made this! Proof I have “it all”! A wife, a kid, a house, the *whole* Adult Package!” without putting in any of the work. My first ex-husband was very much like this. Wanted all of the trophies of being a grown up, but very much wanted to stay in stalled adolescence to the point of refusing to work, faking injuries and illnesses to avoid work, and killed my credit in the process (among other things). I have no patience for that kind of individual.

    10. ...*

      This is not the same situation though. If he is the only income earner, they may really need this job! He should look for all possible solutions, but there are some jobs with no PTO no flexibility and shitty bosses.

      1. Able Mable May*

        Again, OP’s partner WAS able to take PTO, and did. We should at least leave the speculation to prior to the update….

    11. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      She might as well leave him too while she’s doing big life changes, after all he sounds more like a burden to her than anything

  9. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Is this ‘watch the baby’ phrase an Americanism equivalent to ‘parent’ or equivalent to ‘babysit’? Because if it’s the latter, I think we’ve identified the problem.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It’s interchangeable/multipurpose. If you’re parents, one of you has to watch the baby because you can’t leave babies unattended. But you can also ask somebody else to watch your kids. My brother watches their kid in the morning and my SIL watches him in the afternoon; they are very definitely both parenting. I’d watch him but I’d be babysitting.

    2. Arielle*

      In my house we use it equally to mean the person who is currently in charge of the baby, but YMMV.

    3. EBStarr*

      IME it’s an Americanism equivalent to “babysit,” and “babysit” is itself an Americanism for “parenting while male.”

      1. anon today*

        I can only speak to my personal experience, but this is definitely not the case with my husband.

        1. EBStarr*

          I mean, obviously it’s not universal. I’m having a baby soon and it certainly won’t be true in our household. But if you’re American you must have noticed that it’s common for people to refer to men “babysitting” their own children. If not, then kudos, your liberal media bubble is even stronger than mine!

          1. Bluesboy*

            As a father, I just find it the easiest word to use and be quickly understood. I made a point of avoiding saying ‘babysitting’ for my son for a long time, but “can you do xx?” “No, sorry, I have to parent”…people just respond blankly. “I have to watch my son”, “I have to take care of the sprog”…none of them seem to convey to other people that in that moment, I am the only caregiver available and so am unavailable as quickly and easily as “I have to babysit”.

            I still try not to use it – I really think it’s an ugly word when you are a parent – but I can understand why people do.

            1. EBStarr*

              I think “on baby duty” is a common alternative that doesn’t have the same connotations of you not being a “real” parent. Although if “I have to babysit” gets you a better response, you might just be seeing other people’s sexism at work!

    4. anon today*

      My husband and I use it all the time, except our baby is 5, so now we say “watch the kid”.
      As an example:

      “Where’s Kyle?”
      “He’s at home watching the kid.”

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        This is such a weird expression. Parenting is not watching, even if watching is a large part of parenting. For me, “watching the baby” sounds like just being there and making sure they don’t put their fingers in the socket or fall out of the window. Whereas parenting will require you doing that while dealing with interruptable household chores, and keeping the child busy, and maybe playing with them for a bit, and reading them a story and making sure they’ve brushed their teeth before going to bed and explaining what’s going on and all the other million things you have to do as a parent.

        1. A*

          …or sometimes it literally is just watching the baby, being their while they nap etc.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            more like “listening out for when baby wakes up” while they sleep. Sleeping babies are adorable, but you always have tons of things that you can only get done while they sleep so you just don’t watch them.

    5. sal*

      I don’t think it’s problematic in the way that parents “babysitting” their own children is. I understand it more as just a description of the task, “I’ll watch the baby while you make dinner and you watch her while I do the dishes.”

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I find it problematic, mostly because I’ve always heard it from my male bosses who grumble they have to leave the office early to go “babysit” their kids. I never heard it as, “Oh, I get to go spend one-on-one time with my kids while my partner gets to go do something important to her.” They always made it seem like a chore, which is really unfair to their partners and their kids. I’ve never once heard a woman say she’s babysitting her own children, I’ve only ever heard it from men. That’s just my perception and experience, though.

        1. TiffIf*

          I’ve never once heard a woman say she’s babysitting her own children, I’ve only ever heard it from men.

        2. Colette*

          I agree that babysitting is problematic (I used to ask my coworkers if they got to eat anything in the fridge while they were babysitting, or if they had to bring their own snacks); I just disagree that “watch the baby/children” is in the same category.

    6. Spero*

      I see it more as equivalent to who is eyes on/hands on. Ex if both husband and I are in the same area with kid, but I’m actively cooking and he’s not then he is watching the baby while I cook. Or we might both be eyes on equally for a time, but he takes a phone call so I know I’m more eyes on for that time.

    7. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

      In my family we call it “wrangling.” It just means the person who’s in charge if the kid needs something.

    8. Amy*

      This is the exact expression we use in our house as we equitably trade off childcare duties throughout the day.

      Our day is broken out by
      – naps (no one is actively watching the baby)
      – I’m watching the baby and he’s working
      – He’s watching the baby and I’m working

      Yes, I will do emails and things when I’m on baby-duty but we’re both operating at about 50% capacity in that context. Babies aren’t good at watching themselves.

    9. blackcat*

      Huh. We use “watch the baby” (now “watch the toddler”) interchangeably with “on baby duty” and “keeping the tiny human alive” and it gets applied interchangeably between both myself (cis female) and my partner (cis male).

  10. Leah*

    2 hour interview? Wow.

    Your partner needs to at least try to babywear. You don’t have any friends or family that might be able to lend a hand?

    1. Jennifer*

      I would be exhausted. I hate long interviews.

      I imagine they may not want another person in their home right now if they live in a place that is still under shelter in place orders, especially when there is another reasonable solution.

    2. irritable vowel*

      I agree w everything Alison said, and also think it would be acceptable to say to the company, I have a newborn, so a two-hour interview is going to be difficult. Could we do an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon (or on two different days, whatever)?

  11. Generic Name*

    I’m with Alison on the issue with your partner. I understand they take customer calls, but are they VIDEO calls? If not, why can’t your partner wear the baby? Baby is quiet when worn, right? It might be time for a discussion with your partner in terms of how balancing parenthood and work outside the home will be navigated between the two of you. The answer absolutely cannot be you make all of the sacrifices while they make none. If that’s the case, you might as well be a single parent. That is not a partnership. When I was looking to go back to work while being a stay at home mom, my (then) husband ended up taking a few hours off here and there to care for our son while I went to interviews or networking events. He was willing to do that for the sake of our family.

    And regarding keeping the baby out of the line of sight of the video camera, from personal experience, it is possible to do. I was a stay at home mom when my son was young, and I wore him to the DMV to get my license renewed. They took my photo while I was wearing him, and he was completely out of view of the camera.

  12. Lynn*

    Also — if the partner really can’t flex here, could you find a family member or friend to do some emergency short-term babysitting? Or ask if the interview could be rescheduled to a time when the partner can hold the baby or the baby is more likely to be asleep?

    If the baby HAS to be in the interview, I would suggest at the very least, let the employer know that you are experiencing unusual circumstances and address it in advance, so no one is surprised during the interview

    p.s. My boss’s baby comes to our team meetings on Fridays and we all LOVE it. Especially depending on the company they may be really cool and acommodating

  13. anon today*

    “Customer calls” could mean a lot of things if you are trying to stay vague on an advice column. I might use that term for my husband, an attorney, but the customer calls would involve talking to clients, judges and other attorneys. I’m not sure we should make an assumption about the partner from one paragraph.

  14. Fabulous*

    It wasn’t the obvious solution to me, but based on the other commentators ideas, I do agree though that having your partner babywear makes the most sense and is the best solution.

  15. Lynn*

    If there is any way to avoid having the baby in the interview, I would look for that. But it may not be possible.

    I can definitely see where the OP and her partner would decide that a current job with a current paycheck trumps an interview with some possibility of a future paycheck. I don’t think that is anywhere near an unreasonable decision to make, so long as it was a decision and not just an assumption that of course any difficulties from the infant belong to one person automatically.

    1. animaniactoo*

      This is where I was, but am happy to see that it turned out not to be necessary.

      1. Lynn*

        I was happy to see that too. Not having to combine child-care with an interview is definitely the best outcomes.

    2. KT*

      To be fair, many families make assumptions that a baby is automatically the mother’s responsibility more so than the father’s. It tends to be older fashioned families and maybe more common in certain countries and cultures than others (I don’t live in the US). Not ideal in any way but simply is the default arrangement in some households.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I am happy to say that I have an update from the OP:

    “My partner asked me about the interview earlier this morning, and said he would tell his team he needs to take a few hours off for family matters. Earlier in the pandemic, his employer seemed less understanding, so my assumptions were based on that, but either the company has become more compassionate since or my partner is more comfortable asking for what he needs. Either way, I shouldn’t have assumed I was on my own. I hope this helps others.”

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That is a wonderful update. You should sticky this comment to the top of the comment section.

      But thank you for sensitively pointing out the potential partner problem in your response.

      1. NicoleT*

        Agreed on the sensitive approach to questioning the partner problem.

        I know I am the default parent. I ask for my partner to step up, and am shot down – after a few times of that, you get tired of asking and do make assumptions about what/how the partner will respond.

          1. Important Moi*

            Yikes! Please respect other people’s choices. People get to make choices that you do not get an explanation for, to have to agree with or understand.

            1. Ash*

              AAM herself was questioning the “choice” of the OP to do childcare during her interview. Good thing she did, because the solution laid therein.

              1. AnonyLawyer*

                There’s a difference between (1) flagging the issue and recommending that the person reflect on it and (2) demanding the answer to that personal question be publicly provided.

            2. Mx*

              Because this kind of behaviour has often its root in sexism.
              And sexism is not acceptable.

            3. Able Mable May*

              Sure, they also have the option to not answer the anonymous internet question posed by a stranger. They aren’t being forced.

              We all have the right to make our comments/points so long as it’s in line with the commenting rules.

            4. I can only speak Japanese*

              Nicole’s wording makes me think that being the default parent isn’t her choice at all.

            5. Avasarala*

              Nicole seems to be questioning it herself. Don’t bring up your problems on an advice blog if you don’t want advice…

          2. Ellie*

            Being a single parent is no picnic either. Sometimes there are no perfect choices.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yay! I’m so glad this was an issue with your partner’s employer and not your partner. :) It’s so funny how easy it is to make assumptions or jump to conclusions. I know I’m guilty of that.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I had a boss who always said, “If you ASSUME, you make an ass out of U and Me.” Never assume!

        1. designbot*

          I’ve always found this a bit rigid… I’d say rather, openly state your assumptions and give people a chance to contradict them.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m so glad it’s worked it this way.

      I hope LW remembers this in future and doesn’t take on parenting burdens/dilemmas unfairly.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I think we women do sometimes just take things on without asking or based on past experience. My husband has always helped with the kid juggling, but I’ve also always been the primary earner and I do my share, too. We had standard schedules (you do morning drop off, I do pick up type of arrangements), but when an anomaly would come up, I would assume *I* needed to figure it out, which was not the case.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          My spouse used to travel a lot for work (worst was 18 hours’ notice to go 5000 miles away for a month) so I got firmly into the habit of needing to be default parent and never ever relying on his being there to help.

          It took a while to unlearn those habits – for both of us.

    4. Double A*


      I was thinking that initial response from both of them sounded a bit like the panicky, irrational thinking that can crop up during those early sleep-deprived months. When you’re overworked, stressed, and exhausted, your first response to a request for flexibility can be, “No! Impossible!” because you’re in survival mode and barely keeping it together. I’m glad with a little time to think about it the partner realized he can step in.

      1. JSPA*

        If you’re currently single income with a new baby and in a significant economic downturn, it’s easy to default to, “do anything and everything to keep that one job.”

        However, if you intentionally make the gender switch / role switch in your head, though (imagine him jobless with an interview, and you as the sole earner), the flexibility becomes clearer.

        Likely he’d find it normal to ask you, and you’d find it normal to push hard to be able to say, “yes.”

        But it’s game theory / risk assessment stuff; the likelihood of gaining a second income based on the one interview, vs the likelihood of losing the existing job, based on 2 hours of unavailability. At which point, best to game it through as, if he had food poisoning, he’d also be unavailable for at least that long.

        If you’re interviewing several times a week for weeks on end, the calculus could be different (especially if you’re holding on for that one, elusive, ideal offer while other offers roll in then roll out again, as you hold out and they go with their second choice). But accommodating rare, special, high-stakes circumstances? Normal and OK!

      2. pope suburban*

        I just wanted to say that this is a very kind, compassionate assessment. I hope our letter writer sees it and can use it as a touchstone when things start to feel overwhelming again. There often is a way around things like this, it just takes time and a few deep breaths.

    5. Amanda*

      That’s wonderful, OP.

      Alison, if you could pin this on top, I think it would prevent a lot of people commenting from starting out already mad at OP’s partner.

    6. EPLawyer*

      Oh how wonderful. Problem solved. By the partner after all. Nice to know he stepped up.

      Also LW good reminder to talk to partner about problems, rather than guessing what he can and can’t do.

    7. Anon Anon*

      That’s a great update. I think the line about assuming that she was on her own is a good one for all parents to remember. Assuming that your partner can’t take their turn parenting be just as bad as they actually not stepping into parent when needed. Good luck on the interview.

    8. NerdyKris*

      I’m glad. I think people were a little too quick to start heaping insults on the partner while assuming the worst. Lots of people in terrible jobs have had to face that choice between family or keeping their job. It’s what I thought of immediately when I heard call center. I couldn’t stay on the phone with a girlfriend who was in a car accident once because I was the only one to handle customers. My last long term girlfriend and I would go two weeks without seeing eachother awake because of our schedules. Not everyone has an employer that’s reasonable.

    9. Actual Vampire*

      OP, not to make assumptions about you, but if you recognize in yourself the habit of making assumptions of what your partner will/won’t or can/can’t do without actually discussing it, I would highly recommend the book “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg.

      1. amianai*

        That book has some good stuff, but it also has the major flaw of not recognizing existing power imbalances. In my experience, the techniques only really work if (1) everyone involved is committed to the method or (2) you are in a position to handle things even if your partner doesn’t respond well. It’s so focused on meeting the other person’s needs that the person initiating the nonviolent communication can end up shunted to the sidelines.

        1. Actual Vampire*

          Weird, I do not interpret it as being focused on the other person’s needs – it helped me learn how to advocate for my own needs and not take unnecessary responsibility for other people’s needs. But I agree it works best when there’s no existing imbalance, which is why it’s good to read it when you and your partner first start parenting and not 20 years later.

        2. Actual Vampire*

          I actually want to come back to this because I was thinking about it while taking a walk – the real problem in this situation was that LW didn’t spend enough time talking to her husband about his needs! She assumed he needed total silence and therefore couldn’t help, but she never actually talked to him about it. To me that’s the point of NVC – it isn’t necessarily about meeting one person’s needs vs. the other’s, it’s about disassembling the black boxes so you know what the needs actually are and can therefore potentially (key word: potentially) find a solution that addresses them in a favorable manner for both parties.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      That’s good news in what is never an ideal or perfect situation. Good luck with your interview.

    11. some dude*

      One thing in defense of the partner: some businesses are not as flexible with parents, particularly male parents. I know from my colleagues that some of their husbands’ work is much less flexible with regards to childcare. I’m a dad, and I chose a company that career-wise wasn’t as amazing as another opportunity precisely because it was more flexible. The more prestigious job wasn’t as understanding about making time for me to pick up my kid from preschool. Obviously as men we perpetuate this and don’t demand more time with our families etc, but there are also cultural pressures and expectations on us that sometimes make it harder for us to tell our boss, “I’m taking the afternoon off to be a parent.”

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I think you’ll find that that kind of company is not flexible for the mothers either. Only the mothers will simply leave if they don’t get what they need. And end up taking a job with less responsibility because it’s only lower-tier workers that get to take time off to parent.

        1. amianai*

          Yes, this. Or the mothers will take whatever the consequences (implicit or explicit) are for prioritizing their families while the fathers and childless employees are promoted.

    12. Melon Field*

      What a lovely update! I definitely have a tendency to do the same “well I’ve thought of the problem so it’s on me to solve it” sort of thinking, and it’s always good to have a reminder that if I approach my partner in a spirit of flexibility and combining forces we can probably solve most things that make my brain immediately go “NOPE, THERE IS NO GOOD SOLUTION BUT SUFFERING”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. We have had the “ask for help when you need it” conversation a number of times over the decades. I carried a lot of the, “well, I can’t depend on anyone else to do it, so I’m going to take care of things myself” from my childhood, and it was (and occasionally still is) an adjustment living with a functional adult who doesn’t expect me to do it all myself.

        OP, I hope your interview goes well!!

    13. Memily*

      I love this!

      I have to admit, I had Feelings about this letter based on recent experience. My DH and I were working at home with our 3 yo. I was flexing my schedule a lot in the beginning—he was doing plenty of parenting, but if a last minute team call popped up or he got immersed in a project, all the care was falling on me. Later on my office opened and I started having to go back for short periods—not whole days, but some hours a couple of days a week.

      He pushed back, stating he was getting last-minute meeting requests and he couldn’t care for DD for the time I needed to pop into the office. I was very frustrated—his manager was extremely understanding and flexible and plenty of his teammates would push back on meeting times and were accommodated. He was just afraid to ask for fear of not looking “dedicated” or something (bad habits his dad taught him, I think). I told him I needed the same flexibility I showed him in the beginning. It took a bit (and some practice pushing back at work), but he had figured it out by the time she started back at school this Monday. Sometimes they just need it spelled out for them.

    14. Frank Doyle*

      Aaand this just goes to show you. Communication, people!! Just TALK to people jeez. Life would be so much easier for everyone if we just TALKED to each other.

    15. Gaia*

      I’m glad to hear both that your partner asked for support from their company AND that their company understands that we all need to be flexible right now.

    16. Anonymous Poster*

      This is great! Fortunately many companies are becoming more and more understanding of this situation, and are giving flexibility where needed. Glad this worked out so well.

    17. Jaybeetee*

      For some reason I had that vibe from the LW’s wording, perhaps because I have a similar bias myself. She hadn’t said that her husband was refusing to watch the baby, or, in fact, that he’d said anything at all, or that she’d even spoken to him about it. I’m glad he’s willing to do what needs doing.

      I’m single and kidless, which leads to a different subset of situations I’m convinced I Must Handle All Alone. Then later, some family member or friend will be nonplussed and say, “Why didn’t you call?? If course I would have helped you??”

      While staying far away from any suggestion of diagnosing, I just want to also point out that many new moms are entirely convinced they must do All The Baby Stuff or they are terrible mothers, and that this can be a symptom of PPA or PPD. LW doesn’t at all come across that way to me, but it seems worth pointing out, just in case.

    18. Jessilein*

      I don’t see a reference to the partner’s gender in the OP’s letter unless I missed it, but lots of assumptions that it’s a man from commenters…

      1. A*

        What?? You are literally responding to the update… where OP uses male pronouns to refer to partner….

        Stop trying to fault commenters for not being woke enough, it’s distracting from the actual issue on hand and also minimizes actual and significant examples of subconscious bias.

    19. chickaletta*

      This is great news! I was about to comment that I was 99% sure the LW was the woman and her partner was the man (looks like I was correct), and how this is a typical example of how women are disadvantaged in the workforce. So glad to hear that this won’t be the case in this particular situation.

    20. allathian*

      Wonderful, good luck with the interview!
      This is also a great lesson for you in future, talk to your partner about your needs and compromises before making any assumptions. That said, with a newborn my executive functions were so shot that I would put my purse in the fridge and my cellphone in the microwave (luckily I didn’t turn it on!) because I was so confused. I have no coherent memories from my son’s first year, and he was a pretty good sleeper and also partly bottle fed, so my husband took about half the night feeds. He falls asleep as soon as he puts his head on the pillow, I lie awake for at least half an hour no matter how exhausted I am, so it was only reasonable. I would not have been able to do my job, much less interview well, during that first year (I took 11 months maternity leave and 15 months parental leave at 60% pay, my employer paid for the first 3 months, after that social services paid, as is standard here, my husband took 2 weeks paternity leave at full pay). It’s tough to see beyond what seems obvious when you’re exhausted.

  17. ElizabethJane*

    If your partner absolutely can’t watch the baby I’d hope for a nap, and put your partner on baby duty if they are between calls when the baby wakes up. If none of that is an option I’d then say “We’re home without child care and I need to pause for a moment to help my newborn” (or something like that) but I don’t think I’d start by preemptively wearing the baby.

  18. AA*

    It really feels like this is an issue with the partner. This post might be more at home in a reddit thread on one of the popular places.

    But as usual, Alison’s advice is great.

  19. Anon234*

    I think the reason this question feels uncomfortable is that it feels very gendered.

    I can’t imagine many men posing the same question if this situation arose. I’m glad the OP resolved the problem, but I think this is not just a personal issue but a business/societal issue.

    I (she/her) work on client calls, to high level companies and hospitals. I can’t imagine not stepping in for my partner if he had an interview, especially with the virus going on and folk knowing that situations aren’t ideal.

    Good luck with the interview OP.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I agree with you. I don’t know the genders in this specific case, but generally this is a problem that mostly affects women. Many fathers simply schedule interviews and take it for granted that a woman in their life (wife, sister, mother) will step up and take care of their child. And usually they are right. It’s hard to criticize because many parents take it personally, instead of seeing the society level problems that arise from this.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Fortunately, it turns out OP is going to have full support from her partner.

      But there’s something that feels a little off to me about chalking the whole situation up to gender disparities, because the third person in the equation is a newborn baby.

      We can have all the ideals of equality, but sometimes newborns just prefer mom for a little while. It’s not forever, and it’s not a reason to exclude dads from full involvement in parenting. But the reality on the ground is that from time to time, a baby may just want mom and nobody else will do. And if mom holding the baby means the baby stops screaming, that’s in everyone’s best interest.

      It’s not a baby ‘s responsibility to pursue gender equality. And parents aren’t “doing it wrong” if meeting baby’s needs means a *temporarily* unequal situation. The six to eight weeks of the newborn phase are hard enough just to get through the days, without adding extra expectations on top of it.

      1. TheProblemWithEyes*

        thank you! My husband was 100% happy to do more than his fair share when our daughter was tiny, but for the first four months of her life she ABSOLUTELY HATED being held by anyone but me. She also hated being put down. If i wasn’t there she would scream at the top of her lungs. This meant that i did pretty much 98% of the baby-wrangling. Not because i married a useless man, but because my baby didn’t have the sense to see that Daddy is awesome.

  20. MA marketing assistant*

    The “partner is unlikely to commit to watching the baby” phrasing really makes it sounds like the partner doesn’t want to. Which I get during normal circumstances – it’s much easier to Not watch a baby while trying to work – but how long is this interview going to be, an hour? Call it two with prep time? Even in a job with frequent customer calls, that’s not that much, and most people will understand short-term unavailability like that.

    But then again, the partner’s employer might have a very strict “no voicemail at all during WFH” policy, which some (including mine) do…. so who knows.

    (as a side note, it hasn’t come up for me because I don’t have a company phone / I basically always available via our office Slack, but I do wonder if the people who said “no voicemail if you’re working from home” thought about bathroom breaks? Or any of the other reasons a call might go to voicemail even if you’re on the office? It definitely seems like more of a visibility thing than a practical or reasonable policy.)

    1. Bethany*

      What is ‘no voicemail if you’re working from home’?

      What if you’re on another call? What happens then?

  21. Cringing 24/7*

    Also, I’m just a bit confused as to this – if wearing the baby is the best way to keep them quiet, then why can’t your partner (who takes calls that I’m assuming aren’t video) just wear the quiet baby while you’re on video. I feel like, in a partnership, your attempts to earn more money for the family should trump two hours of holding a potentially crying baby while attempting to make phone calls for work. But, I don’t have all the information, so… grain of salt, I suppose.

    1. blackcat*

      So I had a pretty colic-y newborn, and until he was ~2 months, really nothing my partner did calmed the baby as easily as I could. Some of that is a breastfed just as a stronger biological bond to the boob-having parent.

      That said, when I had Very Important Professional Function when my kid was 5 weeks, my husband took a full day PTO, despite his PTO being in very short supply.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        Thank you so much for responding! I hadn’t considered the biological factor!

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        And I had the opposite issue, where Mr. S. was able to hold the baby in a position that kept her more comfortable during her “mildly colicky” moments, but I was unable to hold her exactly that way.

        1. Quill*

          My dad is apparently a baby whisperer. My mom speculates that it’s because he runs warmer than average, but it has apparently worked on every infant relative we’ve ever had.

          1. A*

            Ooooh interesting!!! One of my close friends ‘runs warmer than average’ and it’s been a running joke in our social group that despite being the least maternal of the crowd and thoroughly disinterested in babies – they always settle down and sleep in her arms. It’s impressive. I never thought about the connection though!

          2. I can only speak Japanese*

            I’m a baby whisperer (seriously, friends’ newborns who screamed when their father held them were super happy with me), and I run cold, so I suspect it’s my, erm, ample bosom they like.

  22. Laura H.*

    For future things like this (and for as the wee one grows- I’m not a parent but understand the reluctance to this under normal newborn circumstances multiplied by the pandemic) could you maybe set up a plan with another trusted adult for them to step in and help?

    It helps to have a contingency plan even if one never has to use it.

    Good luck on the interview and yay for a happy outcome.

  23. Casey*

    I don’t mean to derail, but Alison, I noticed you used the pronoun “she” when referring to the baby, while the OP used “they”. I know that your default is to use she/her pronouns when none are specified, but this seems different to me. Some parents use they/them pronouns because they have chosen not to assign a gender to their baby, and using she/her isn’t respectful of that possibility.

  24. Buttons*

    Why can’t the baby’s other parent take a 1/2 day off or an extended lunch or something?

  25. Mary*

    IME, parents are not interchangeable for babies. For us, “X works for Mummy” did not mean “X worked for Mama!”

  26. Anon Anon*

    I think what often gets lost in these types of letters and the reactions to them, is that babies and kids are so different. For one baby being put in a sling will mean that he/she will fall fast asleep and the parent wearing the baby can get a ton of wonderful things done. For another baby putting worn might calm the baby down and mean that the screaming stops. And for still others it just means that the baby screams slightly less. Kid and babies are so unique in their needs and how they react. I think it’s one of the many reasons that employers, before this current unique situation, have correctly insisted that parents have childcare while working from home.

  27. Jostling*

    I’m surprised by this response – usually, we take the letter-writer at their word about the circumstances surrounding their question, which in this case is whether or not baby-wearing is appropriate or possible for this interview.

    FWIW, I agree with the suggestion to try to schedule the interview at another time when your partner is available or when you have a better chance of getting the baby to sleep for longer. You might also contact the interviewers in advance and give them a heads up – “Unfortunately, I don’t currently have access to child care due to COVID. I will need to “wear”/hold my baby during our interview, but I don’t anticipate this to be a distraction. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make the interviewer(s) more comfortable, and thank you for your understanding.” I think saying it in a neutral, matter-of-fact way would signal to any reasonable company that the times are wild, and you’re nonetheless invested in finding ways to Make It Work.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If someone writes in to ask where to do a phone interview at work and says they can’t do it in their car because their car is parked two garages down, I’m going to say “walk two garages down and do it in your car.” Believing LWs isn’t the same as never questioning their decisions or pointing out when they could be looking at something differently. (And in fact, in the OP’s update, it turned out the husband was an option after all.)

    2. AnotherSarah*

      Honestly, I think hearing that a parent (or anyone–but especially someone who spends any time around babies) doesn’t anticipate a baby being a distraction for two hours would be a red flag for me. I would absolutely do the interview and try to deal as best as possible, but hearing “oh this shouldn’t be a problem” would make me question someone’s judgement. (Same as, “I’m flying back from vacation and arriving an hour before the big presentation, no worries!” It’s not about the parenting, it’s about the blase attitude.)

    3. JQWADDLE*

      I thought the same thing as Jostling. I though the post was perfect until, “But you aren’t a single parent…”. Everything said about the partner is true – parenting should be 50/50, the other parent’s wants/needs shouldn’t be weighted with more importance and everything was said kindly. I think the parenting situation needed to be addressed in the original response because it was sure to be addressed in the comments.

      What gave me pause is that it is well documented that parenting responsibilities are often not equally shared. The gap is closing, but parenting often falls disproportionately on one parent – usually the mom. When we ask a parent why their partner isn’t helping enough, we aren’t being supportive or even helpful. They would love to know why too. OP’s situation was solved with good old fashioned communication, but in a lot of cases getting over the bias that keeps the parenting discrepancy in place is like walking through a brick wall. Unfortunately, there are enough people effectively single parenting while living with a co-parent.

  28. The Rafters*

    Not a parent and don’t want to judge, but why would it be okay for the baby to scream during a job interview, but partner can’t take an hour off from a job he/she already has to care for his/her own child.

  29. Amy*

    I have 3 children under 4 and I’m a decent multi-tasker. I would do everything possible to not baby-wear in an interview. Frankly I’d rather conduct an interview at the beach in a bikini than with my baby. It’s just too private and I would not be able to be my fully present and professional self.

    My kids do occasionally pop into Zoom meetings and my toddler sat on my lap through a training recently but I’m a known quantity at this point. It’s an unfortunate situation right now and I was glad to hear of the update where the baby-wearing won’t be required.

  30. Stephivist*

    So, there are some less-than-kind assumptions being made about your husband and the balance of childcare in your home, but I know where you are coming from. My husband absolutely cannot have children in the background when taking calls from customers – it would be 100% unacceptable to his employers even during the time of COVID. He also wouldn’t be able to just not take calls for anything longer than a bathroom break. The phone might not ring, but if it does, he has to be there. It isn’t ideal, but we make it work. Our kids are older, but we couldn’t risk him baby-wearing if faced with your dilemma.

    If you are in a similar situation, the best option is for your husband to take leave either during your interview or for the afternoon or even the entire day. Hopefully this is a possibility for you.

    As an employer, if you had to baby-wear during an interview, I’d expect you to address it upfront and be explicit about it being a very unusual situation that you exhausted every option trying to correct. I’m reasonable, so we’d work with it – my initial response would be to reschedule you though.

    1. Gaia*

      Agreed. It may have nothing to do with the partners desire to parent equally, either. It may be their employer. We shouldn’t make assumptions based on what we don’t know.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        but there’s no harm in asking whether the partner might not have some leeway either! Assuming they really can’t is also assuming.

        1. A*

          Yup. This point cannot be argued with given that OP already updated that it’s been resolved – partner is taking PTO. Turns out OP wrote in prior to speaking with partner to see if it would be an issue.

          Completely valid question to raise, and in this case – it hit the nail on the head.

    2. Actual Vampire*

      Out of curiosity, and to educate myself – what would happen if your husband was a single parent during COVID-times? He’d be fired?

      1. Mx*

        I can’t help wonder if they would find it less unacceptable if the worker was female.

      2. Stephivist*

        My guess – a few days to “fix it” and then likely moved into a less-than-desirable position under the guise of “making things easier” for him, possibly with a pay cut. The union would get involved, so there is some protection there, but only to a point.

        The pay is outstanding and the benefits are great, but the rigidness was . . . alarming. . . for my husband, especially coming from a set-your-own schedule salary position.

  31. PLM*

    Interviews are scheduled in advance and not normally hours long. I find it disturbing that the LW’s partner can’t schedule that period when they can hold off on calls and watch the baby. Major red flags here. I don’t know that having a baby attached during an interview is prudent.

  32. Quill*

    LW, there’s been a theme of other families on advice columns discovering that they are still subconsciously harboring some sexist ideas about who takes on the majority of the work in childcare.

    It’s worth revisiting what an actually equal division of labor looks like with your husband, and whether or not the two of you are following it.

  33. CurrentlyBill*

    He can’t have the baby on a sales call?

    That applies to you, too, then. Your interview IS a sales call. You are talking to a potential customer about the services you can sell them, and you customer is trying to decide if you are the right vendor for those services.

    If you put it in those terms, will that help your partner do their parenting job?

  34. Gaia*

    I’m currently (as of today!) hiring. In the before days, I absolutely would have looked askance at someone wearing a baby during an interview (because I expect parents will have childcare during work and this doesn’t help that impression) but I also am flexible with interview timing and give plenty of notice so that parents (and non parents) can organize their lives as needed to accommodate.

    But these days? I wouldn’t even blink at it. Sometimes you just can’t have childcare right now and that is reality.

  35. WellRed*

    “I’m wondering why your partner gets to say they “can’t have a baby screaming in the background” and that’s the final word on that … but you can’t say that yourself for something as important as a job interview.”

    I’m wondering this, too. Could be a loooong 18 years if this is the parenting split.

  36. Employment Lawyer*

    You really shouldn’t.

    First, an interview (especially a long one, which means a higher level slot) does really require you to be at your mental best. Babies are very cute and fun and distracting, so you’re unlikely to be on your toes if you are snuggling with one. I find it very difficult to hold a baby without unconsciously starting to sway and jiggle, for example, which is probably not ideal interview behavior–there are lots of things like that.

    Second, an interview is usually a “best case” scenario for the employer: Interviewees are at their most polite; most accommodating; best-dressed; most attentive; etc. If you can’t find childcare for an interview then they will probably assume things will be worse if you’re hired. They will quite probably discriminate as a result–illegal in most cases, but usually very hard to prove.

    1. White Peonies*

      Babies and dogs are very distracting not only for the person with them but for the people on the other end. We had a video conference with a new companies to use for events last week and one had their adorable Golden Doodle sitting with them being cute, and nodding when we talked. The next day we were going over who had the best options and the dog call no one could remember much of what was said about their company because we had paid too much attention to the dog. So now we are not going to use their services because we don’t remember her pitch only her dog. Don’t take that chance in an interview.

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      “If you can’t find childcare for an interview then they will probably assume things will be worse if you’re hired.”

      It sounds like the LW has already worked out a good solution, but I wanted to push back on this — in the current situation, childcare is often literally nonexistent due to isolation rules.

  37. Former Retail Lifer*

    I work for a company who has been certified a “Best Place to Work” and I only get 11 days of PTO (total; no additional sick days) until I’m there for five years. I’m not a customer service rep or lower level employee; I’m a site manager. I have no direct staff so any time off I take must be approved in advance so I can find someone to cover me from another site, or I have to work from home. Assuming everyone has PTO and they can take it whenever they want is really naive, especially now. It’s an employer’s market and people are getting laid off left and right so it may be a risk to ask for time off.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      “best place to work”? that’s like calling the Ministry of War the Ministry of Peace!
      Every time I read this site the horror stories serve as a chilling reminder that we really are much better off in Europe. Five weeks paid leave is the bare minimum, along with a good dozen bank holidays, and we only work a 35-hr week max in France.

    2. Quickbeam*

      Just want to support you on this….I cannot take PTO unless I arrange for someone else to cover my desk. Ever. It’s one if the reasons I’m retiring next year. It’s very stressful to have to beg favors to attend a medical appointment or take a damn day off.

      1. Lancelottie*

        Last year, my husband worked for a company where he got 10 days of PTO, no sick time, no holidays, no flexibility. I was hospitalized and he burned through most of those days taking care of our baby until I was discharged. After that, I did the parenting even if I was sick, on a video interview, doing my freelance work, etc. because there’s no affordable childcare in the area and his paycheck was *vital to keeping us afloat* with all of the hospital bills.

        I’m aware of the update and I realize that the OP’s situation turned out to be different, but I do wish everyone hadn’t been quite so eager to jump to vilifying OP’s partner in the first place. You can’t always afford to risk losing the paycheck you’ve got on the chance of possibly bringing in another.

    3. A*

      …… it wasn’t naive. It was right. OP updated before you even wrote this and said it’s been resolved. Partner took PTO. OP had written in prior to speaking to partner about it, and had mistakenly assumed it would be an issue.

  38. Schnoodle HR*

    I know there was a good udpate but say for some reason you did still have to baby wear…as a mom and HR myself, in these weird times (and even if you’re interviewing during maternity “leave”), it wouldn’t bother ME. But I could see it bothering a lot of people

    But if you were interviewing with me it’d be A-okay. I wouldn’t even care if you had to nurse him/her! As long as you’re able to make it to work and get the child care you need when you start, I don’t care. Life is life, and kids are part of it. Caring for a newborn is hard enough, much less when you’re trying to interview as well.

    Wishing you all the best!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes. I think it’s time we started cutting young parents some slack! I was on the jury to mark a student’s thesis, the others were hesitating between 16 or 17 out of 20. I said, look this young student has completed her thesis for the earliest possible handing-in time, done a jolly good job of it on top of her other studies and she has even been attachment parenting during that time (the theme of her thesis was attachment parenting in fact!). I said she deserves the best possible mark. So we upped it.

      1. Coffee Cake*

        You raised someones grade for having children, wow. There are no words for how wrong and sad this is. Cutting parents (at any age) slack is letting them turn things in a little late not changing the grade for having kids.

        1. BRR*

          Yeah what? Unless I’m missing something This is a terrible example. If there was room for improvement and it was handed in at the earliest possible time, wouldn’t it be better for them to use the additional time to improve it?

  39. a non-binary transfemme commenter!*

    LW, you are fantastic for using they/them pronouns for your newborn. I wish more parents respected their child’s right to define their gender as they grow up. Thank you for raising your child in a manner that acts in solidarity with our community.

  40. GreenDoor*

    Glad for the update. Generally, I think this situation would be similar to breastfeeding in front of others or being married to a co-worker in that, if you don’t go out of your way to advertise it or call attention to it, people probably wouldn’t even realize it was happening. So no playing with the baby, constantly looking down, cooing to it, making a big show of putting a bottle together or dangling toys at it. Assuming baby stays quiet, most people probably wouldn’t even realize you have a baby on you. And, before the interview starts, make sure baby is fed and has a diaper change – that would eliminate the two biggest reasons for crying before you even start the interview. Good luck!

  41. lbf*

    i had an interview three years ago at a very small biz (got hired and still work there! we have grown 3x!) and my boss had her newborn strapped to her. he slept the whole time. it didn’t reflect badly on her or the company at all. it was just something she had to do as a working mom running her own small biz.

  42. lilsheba*

    It’s possible that the partner works for a company like mine, where you have a strict schedule adherence to maintain or they punish you. And you can’t just take PTO whenever you want, it has to be approved by an automated system that’s guaranteed to NOT approve it. And you can’t call in sick or they’ll punish you with “occurences”. Get a certain amount and you’re fired. There is NO room for error here. I don’t believe in these kinds of policies myself, I think it’s ridiculous to punish anyone for needing some time off.

  43. Justhadababy*

    This highlights the absolute travesty of maternity leave in the US. As a new mom to an 11 week old, I am very privileged to have been able to take unpaid leave to care for my baby. Before having this baby I had no frame of reference to understand just how little they are at 6 weeks.

  44. Jeffrey Deutsch*

    I’m glad the partner was able to take the time off to care for the baby.

    If he wasn’t…the best response would depend on the situation. Especially their housing situation.

    If they can put the baby in the crib in a separate room — one they can close the door on — that’s one thing.

    If they’re in a studio apartment or similar cramped housing, the baby screaming “in the background” can make calls impossible. In that case, I would consider the interviewee wearing the baby (to keep the baby quiet) to be the lesser evil.

    1. Lancelottie*

      I’d be pretty uncomfortable leaving a crying newborn alone in a crib for hours, even if the sound weren’t disruptive.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        In which case you’re left with a choice between the baby screaming where it could make one partner literally unable to work and the other partner wearing the baby.

  45. Adelaide*

    Just had a meeting recently where the chair of the meeting had their toddler talking and repeating what they were saying in a very annoying high pitch baby voice and encouraging the talk. Then they sent us a message later saying how their kid was helping them. I was so irritated with it all I felt it was completely unprofessional. While OP is talking about a baby sleeping through the interview, the baby can wake up anytime and cry or squeal. I don’t think everyone is baby-friendly so OP you may have to think about if having the baby right there it will improve your chances to have a baby with the potential they can scream and cry anytime. Will the interviewer will be fine with that maybe to your face but afterwards be secretly annoyed and not consider you.
    (And I love kids by the way but there’s a time and place – not squealing throughout an interview or meeting).

  46. Bookworm*

    If it’s possible, I’d ask if the org can make accommodations or how they feel about it. I’m a little surprised at some of the responses–maybe because I’m in an org that is being completely accommodating about this and while it is certainly *preferable* not to have the baby with you, sometimes it just can’t be done.

    This could be a useful way to ascertain what kind of culture this organization has, but this is really up to you and your comfort level with asking.

    Am glad your partner will be taking time off to handle the baby. Good luck to you!!

  47. Scarlet*

    I’m glad everything worked out for OP, but wow. This is the most judgmental I’ve ever seen Alison. Bit shocked tbh

  48. TheProblemWithEyes*

    Alison, I find it kinda weird that you jumped straight down the barrel of the “you’ve got a partner problem” without considering that this OP has a *newborn baby*, one of those tiny demons famous for their inability to cope without their mums. I have the best partner a woman can wish for, and he still wouldn’t have been able to keep our daughter happy for two hours without me when she was that small. She just hated being any more than 6in away from me at any time. It’s called the 4th Trimester – the baby isn’t yet aware that they’re a separate being to their mother, and tends to freak out if they’re separated for any length of time. 2 hours is a LONG time for a newborn, it could well be that she needs to wear the baby because the baby can’t be away from her for that long. That would be the case for the majority of newborns.

    1. Richard*

      I have a 9-month-old, so the 4th trimester is pretty fresh in my memory. He wanted to be in close contact with his mother a lot, but if she needed two hours for something of major importance, we timed out his naps and feeding as best we could so I could take him for a walk with a bottle or four and she could have her two hours. It’s hard, and you can’t do it every day, but it’s possible to do once if the willpower is there. It seems that her partner isn’t showing that willpower.

    2. Avasarala*

      If that is the case then how is OP going to be able to do work? When she will presumably be away from her baby?

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