working from home with a 4-year-old, my husband was bullied by the office jerk, and more

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

1. Working from home with a four-year-old

My partner and his four-year-old daughter just moved into my place and, while I already struggled with working from home, it has become increasingly difficult almost on the brink of impossibility. She’s a high-energy kid, and I’m a low-energy adult. She isn’t in any kind of preschool or daycare since my boyfriend and I both work part-time and we can easily set our hours to work around each other’s. So she’s home all the time, and in typical four-year-old fashion, insists on having everyone possible play with her. I can’t go five minutes without an interruption or three so I don’t even try and I’ve fallen really far behind on my paperwork.

To top it off, I have diagnosed ADHD and my partner and I are also absolutely positive that he and his daughter are undiagnosed ADHD. This makes it really hard for us to get anything done, especially something as soul-sucking as paperwork (ew). I’ve had a very minimal amount of success doing this admin work in coffeeshops, but that environment isn’t really much better as far as distractions go and I don’t want to pay $6 for a drink I won’t really enjoy at a place I don’t really like. So, any advice?

Your only real options are that (a) you and your partner find a way to keep his daughter out of your work space or (b) you can’t be in the same house while you’re working. It sounds like the only way to pull off (a) is if you’re able to use a physical barrier, such as a locking door (and I imagine if you could do that, you already would have) or if your partner can commit to keeping her away from you during your work hours, even if that means taking her out of the house for a large part of the day.

Where is your partner while his daughter is interrupting you? Is he not taking your need for quiet seriously and doing the other things that this childcare plan depends on? If so, that’s the crux of the problem. This plan only works if he’s 100% committed to protecting your space while you’re working.

If he can’t do that for some reason (even for reasons that aren’t his fault, like if this kiddo is just uncontainable), then it sounds like you really can’t share the house while you’re working — either you need a separate workspace somewhere else or she needs child care somewhere else.

2. My husband was bullied by the office jerk at a company dinner

My company went on a multi-day work retreat with spouses and children. It’s a small company (20 people) operating as a “family.” I’m the only person in HR and I pay the bills for the company. At an employee/spouse dinner with plenty of adult beverages, the loudmouth office bully started bullying my husband, making jokes about penises and size, sort of suggesting my husband wanted the bully’s own penis. It was uncomfortable and my husband and I ended up leaving the dinner early. My husband and this guy have never hit it off, but this was over the top. No one said anything to the bully at the table, although I heard later that the boss kicked him under the table and told him to knock it off. Later, the boss’s wife texted me to see if we were okay.

My husband and the boss’s wife are also partners in a side business. The office bully is relatively new to the company, although many of the employees have known him for years, including me, when he was one of our vendors. He is a very loud and obnoxious guy who thinks he is hilarious, and he is also a “rainmaker” for the company. Later in the evening, we ran into the boss’s wife, and my husband vented at her and ended up saying too much about how he felt about several people at the company. What is awkward is we are also sizable clients of the company as well. Its a bit toxic! If my husband hadn’t said anything to the boss’s wife, it would have been better! The next day, he regretted saying anything.

The next day, the others who were at the table were kind to us and acted like nothing happened, including the bully. Our office has a sort of mantra, “If you have a problem with someone, speak to them directly instead of others.” My question is: Do I speak to the office bully about this or let it go? I feel it make make things worse in the future if I say something. Also, I’m questioning whether or not I even need to work here at all.

That last part is your answer — this sounds incredibly dysfunctional, starting from the first sentence of your letter! A company that thinks it can operate like “family” is a huge problem, particularly when you’re in HR (because that means you can’t do your job effectively and you’ll be the face of a lot of the dysfunction). Throw in an environment where an employee sexually harasses your spouse and no one speaks up and you (as HR!) are struggling to know if/how you can address it, and that apparently goes for bullying too, and you’re a client of the business that employs you (a sizable one!), and your spouse and the boss’s spouse have a side business going … Any one of these things on its own would be enough to make me urge you to get out, but with all of them combined this is a massive cesspool of dysfunction!

Someone — you as HR or the bully’s boss — should indeed have a serious conversation with him about harassment and appropriate behavior, but there are much deeper problems to face here.

3. Does my company not care about retaining me?

I joined my current company about a year and a half ago. I was really excited because the company has a clear work/life balance policy compared to many of my previous companies as well as a really strong mission. But shortly after I was hired, the company had a reorganization and my role responsibilities were essentially split between myself and another person on my team. Unfortunately, I got the responsibilities that focused on something that was not my strength or core experience, but my skills were transferable.

I gave the role about a year to see if I could grow into it. But I just can’t. I actually honestly hate it.

I’ve applied and networked throughout the company. For two jobs I applied for, I was passed over for either another internal candidate and an external candidate. And for another role, I was told that I was too junior (young was some subtext in that conversation which admittedly is not the first time I’ve heard that in my career). FYI, my manager is aware of my predicament and supportive that I find a new role in the company—and has even advocated for me!

I’m starting to get the feeling that the company doesn’t want to retain me despite having a large retention initiative. Because of the last quarter of rejections, I’m also incredibly self conscious and worried it’s getting around that I’m young, under-qualified, too junior or whatever. Is it time to take the gamble on work/life balance and apply at other places?

Well, you’ve only been there a year and a half, which is not a long time, especially if these are promotions that you’re applying for. So I think it’s premature to assume that the company doesn’t want to retain you, particularly when your manager is advocating for you. But it wouldn’t hurt to look outside the company as well. You don’t need to accept any job that’s offered to you if you don’t think it compares favorably to your current situation, but if you’re itching to move out of your current job, it makes sense not to limit your options.

4. Dress code expectations for training classes

I’ve just landed an job with lots of training for chartered accountancy that I definitely thought I was underqualified for. It’s my first professional job. The training is block-release at a nearby college (note: UK college, not a university). I’ve already tangled myself in dress code formality expectations; I showed up in a three-piece suit with pocket square and all for an interview where it turned out nobody in the office was even wearing a tie. At my old job, I wore hoodies and steel-toes to work. The new job is much more corporate office-job-y, a jeans-free environment, but not quite as dressy as I’d previously thought. I’m not sure what the dress expectations are for the training at the new job.

The training will be alongside two other people from the same company in the same role, but nobody more senior would be present. I’ve walked past this college a couple times and it seems to have a lot of artsy people with interesting dress sense. There will probably be students on the course who aren’t sponsored by an employer. Do I stick with clothes appropriate for my new office (“jacket but no tie” vibes) or work-appropriate in general, or do I treat this like dressing for university, i.e. “nobody cares”?

Go with business casual on your first day of training (for example, khakis and a top that’s not a t-shirt) and then adjust based on what you see. On a college campus it’s highly likely that you can move toward the “nobody cares” end of the spectrum, but business casual is a reasonable place to start. (Keep in mind that “nobody cares” for you as an adult professional with colleagues there will be different than “nobody cares” for college students; you should not, for example, wear pajama pants to the training, even if students on campus attend class that way.)

5. Employer will only provide salary info to applicants in Colorado and NYC

I just came across a job post that I found outrageous/offensive. The employer is saying that they will only provide salary information about the job to people in Colorado or NYC. Unless I’m misunderstanding, it seems like they are saying that they will only provide salary information is absolutely required by law to do so (as in Colorado and NYC), even though it creates an administrative burden for them, rather than just posting the salary range for everyone. I know a lot of companies don’t post a salary range, which is always a mark against an employer, but I think in some cases it’s ineptitude on the part of the HR team or hiring manager. There is something about the brazenness of “we know this is information people want access to but we’re only going to share if it’s the law” that I find particularly offensive. This is a job I might otherwise be interested in, but I’m not applying now!

It’s become increasingly common! There are even some companies advertising jobs as open to applicants anywhere in the U.S. except Colorado to avoid providing salary info. It’s ridiculous and it tells you a lot about how those companies operate in regard to transparency and salary equity.

{ 478 comments… read them below }

  1. New Jack Karyn*

    Oh, OP2, you are so deep in the beehive, you can’t even hear the buzzing anymore. That guy should have been fired before the end of the retreat. Neither you (as head of HR) nor your boss (as also his boss) felt like you had the power to rein him in.

    The company culture is to speak to the person you have a problem with. You have a problem with this guy. Why are you not speaking to him? Why is he still employed with your company?

    1. Artemesia*

      This. What kind of CEO allows this to continue. What kind of head of HR doesn’t take steps. I realize that you are in an awkward position and the CEO should know that too, and he should have stepped up then and there to shut that down.

      1. June*

        It should have been shut down at the table with a stern “stop it” from SOMEONE in authority or husband/OP. Not sure why behavior like this is tolerated. When someone is being over the top rude or genuinely harassing, you don’t have to sit there and take it.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          In an instance like this with over the top sexual harassment and it is because of the nature of the insults, anyone at the table would have the right to firmly tell the bully to stop. The fact that the only response was for the guy to be kicked under the table is not enough. The bully needs to be pulled into a meeting and told in plain language that this is unacceptable and there won’t be a warning next time. Your co-workers are watching this and wondering what will happen when the bully targets them. So far they can see that there is no penalty for bullying their co-workers and it’s open season on everyone.

          1. OhNo*

            Not just bullying – sexual harassment. This guy sexually harassed not only the spouse of an employee, but also one of the company’s major clients! That is huge!

            In any other, non-toxic company, he would have been at least suspended without pay, if not fired and walked out then and there, and there would have been copious apologies to the client. But you and your husband are expected to let it slide because “family”. That’s gross, and you know it’s gross. You gotta leave.

          2. pancakes*

            Yes, agreed LifeBeforeCorona. I think it’s weird that no one said anything to this guy while he was being such an obnoxious jerk.

        2. Caliente*

          This. I know everyone wants a hero but we usually have to be our own. They said they left early so I’m hoping it was a walkout in immediate response to bullying at the very least.

        3. Lacey*

          Yeah, or even just a collective look of revulsion from everyone there? I don’t understand the lack of reaction.

          I was once in a meeting where someone loudly said something inappropriate and insensitive and everyone immediately responded with horrified looks at her. No one had to actually say, “That’s inappropriate” because she instantly started back tracking and apologizing.

        4. EPLawyer*

          I can see husband not saying something. He doesn’t want to make a scene at his wife’s job’s retreat. Also probably surprised and unable to think in the moment.

          OP is in a difficult position. If she speaks out is she speaking out as the outraged wife or the head of HR? Bully can just assume its the former and make a big deal out of little wifey protecting her unmanly husband. (not saying husband is unmanly but I think that is what bully was aiming for).

          Boss should have stepped up and shut it down.

          This company is more intertwined than the Plantagenet family tree. Your only hope is to get out. You know it. You just needed confirmation OP

          1. Need More Sunshine*

            In a non-toxic workplace, it wouldn’t matter if the bully assumed it was coming from her as wife and not as HR, because what he did was still inappropriate and presumably she (as HR) would shut him down doing it to anyone else as well. But then it doesn’t sound like this is a non-toxic company….

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, I think it would be difficult for either the OP or her husband to speak up, the husband because he is essentially a guest and the OP because of being the HR representative. It could come across as a bit of a conflict of interest, “oh, you only care because it’s YOUR husband I was teasing.” Admittedly, that’s incredibly middle school, but no more so than the guy’s original comments.

            But given the boss was right there and should have realised the possible awkwardness, he should have stepped in. I find it bizarre that he was kicking the guy under the table, but didn’t think to say, “um, this isn’t appropriate” and have a talk with the guy the next day about how to treat clients and coworker’s spouses. Does the rule about speaking to the person not apply to the boss?

            While they pay lip service to speaking to the person, it seems nobody was willing to speak to this guy.

            1. Migraine Month*

              There’s a reason “kick your subordinate under the table” is not a recommended management technique for setting or enforcing expectations. It’s not terribly effective.

          3. pancakes*

            “If she speaks out is she speaking out as the outraged wife or the head of HR?”

            This is over-thinking it. Anyone at the table can speak out against obnoxious dick jokes. It’s not as if only a married person or an exec can or should object to someone behaving this way at a dinner. And it’s not as if some sort of council from The Hague is going to review what they say if they do. Telling someone who is behaving obnoxiously doesn’t require calculus about gender roles.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            We could just chalk it up to example #100,349,682,411 of why alcohol should not be part of any work event or gathering. Always remember, others are perfectly correct to judge sober you by the actions of drunk you – alcohol lowers your inhibitions, but it doesn’t miraculously make you have new buttocks. The ones you show off while drunk are the ones you had all along.

            1. Petty Betty*

              This. Everyone likes to say that we can’t judge Mel Gibson’s violent/racist rants because he was drunk, but he’s very much like that sober, too. He’s just less subtle, louder, and more likely to be recorded when he’s been drinking.

              Drunk actions are very indicative of what our sober selves would like to do/say without inhibitions.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t think people do like to say that. I’ve never heard anyone say that. It’s a really lousy excuse because drunkenness alone doesn’t give someone an entirely new set of views on race relations, religion, etc.

          2. Artemesia*

            The only reason that is relevant is that it gives the offender a tiny fig leave when making abject apology — we know he is a sexist jerk, but it is easier to apologize if you can blame it on too much to drink.

            1. Migraine Month*

              I feel like the only way that can even work as part of an apology is if you also acknowledge the drinking problem and have taken concrete steps towards treatment for it.

            2. Glen*

              Nah, that’s for when you made a fart joke you normally would have saved for that one friend who’s as gross as you are, or for speaking too loud. Something like this, it’s totally irrelevant.

      2. Heidi*

        I’m reminded of the weird dynamic with Todd Packer and Michael Scott in The Office. He was so awful to everyone and never got fired.

        1. CheesePlease*

          yes true but also a lot of people never got fired in that show and they should have been fired. Dwight? Meredith? Michael!!?? lol

          1. Clorinda*

            Jim should have been shown the door the first time he messed with Dwight’s desk.
            In fact, who would even be left if that place had a halfway competent HR? Maybe only Pam? I was going to say Toby but Toby WAS the HR.

        2. Observer*

          From everything I’ve heard about that show, it seems to me that if something reminds anyone of The Office, that’s a sign that something is veeeerrrrry wrong there.

    2. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      In order of priority:
      1) Leave
      2) Pull your business from the company, if possible.
      3) Pull the plug on the partnership in the side business, if possible.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this.
        All of you are too interwoven and now you all are stumbling, tripping and falling over all the cords of interconnectedness.

        And you’re not leaving because of the bully. You’re leaving because no one in the group recognizes this as problem behavior. It’s all okey-dokey with them. It’s a symptom of a much larger problem. The boss kicking the bully under the table is NOT a solution. The fact that he thought it was is not cool.

        And it makes sense that your husband rattled on and on about All That Is Wrong. This is what disempowered people do. This is what happens when other behaviors are tolerated. We sink to the level of those around us. They have sold themselves to this rainmaker bully and the bully is now running this company. He is pulling everyone down with him. Not pointing fingers at you or hubby, this is NORMAL under the circumstances. It takes a super strong person not to fall into this trap and very few people can do it.

        In my opinion, my choices would be to fix it or get out. Fixing it would entail saying, “This is not acceptable behavior. If we expect to grow as a company it WILL cause us problems in the future. It needs to be nipped now or we can expect lawsuits, complaints, lost customers and so on.”

        I worked one place with a bully-boss. He was also the owner. He threw a lovely holiday party for his employees. Not a single one of them showed up except for me and my husband. We ate our filet mignon, skipped the open bar, nodded a lot and went home. I totally understood why no one was there.

        1. Moira Rose's Closet*

          “This is what disempowered people do. This is what happens when other behaviors are tolerated. We sink to the level of those around us. They have sold themselves to this rainmaker bully and the bully is now running this company. He is pulling everyone down with him. Not pointing fingers at you or hubby, this is NORMAL under the circumstances. It takes a super strong person not to fall into this trap and very few people can do it.”

          I think this is really important for the OP to remember. Yeah, it wasn’t great that her husband complained about people, but that IN NO WAY absolves the bully of responsibility for sexually harassing people — or of her company to step in and do something about it.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      The dysfunction and multiple conflicts of interest in this letter were astonishing. I don’t think it’s even possible for the OP to be an effective HR person in this scenario.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        If we saw this as the plot of a tv show we would not believe the layers of conflicts of interest or dysfunction could be possible.

        1. John*

          Reminds me of a scriptwriting class I took. I had to write a treatment for a TV movie and I used a friend’s personal story.

          When the prof handed it back to me (and I was a straight A student), she’s written, “This could never happen!”

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Identical twins Esther Penelope and Penelope Esther become the top advice columnists to the nation while never speaking to each other.

              1. Pisces*

                Esther Pauline took over the existing column after the previous writer passed away. She shared the letters with Pauline Esther who suggested answers, until the publisher stopped letting EP send mail outside the office.

                PE enjoyed giving advice, so she started a local column which caught on nationally in her own right. EP’s publisher blamed her for the competition, and she herself felt betrayed.

                It took several years, but eventually the sisters repaired their relationship.

          2. Dasein9*

            I had a character returned as “a stereotype” when I’d literally described a friend of mine.
            (For a course on bias.)

          3. BatManDan*

            Maybe she meant “No one could believe this could ever happen.” Because, as we all know, truth is stranger than fiction, right? ;)

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yes. Given that, in this case, it was her husband being bullied…well, that’s a conflict of interest anyway. Then there is the fact that her husband is in business with the boss’s wife and that she and her husband are large clients of the company…the number of possibilities for conflict of interest are immense.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. Everyone is too dependent on everyone else. OP, your sources of income are too intertwined here. All your eggs are in one basket.

      4. Princesss Sparklepony*

        I’m wondering if its some really small niche business. I can’t imagine how anything could be this interconnected. It’s just weird. Everyone is everyone’s customer or salesperson. It’s like a petri dish with no escape.

    4. Raboot*

      Yes, get out because your sense of normal seems to be getting warped already. Honestly even referring to this guy as a “bully” who engaged in “bullying” feels like buying into this whole mess in a way. He’s not the popular kid who can make your husband’s school day suck, he can’t shove you into a locker. He’s an ash-hole acting like an ash. I don’t mean to minimize his behavior, but he does have the kind of power you’re ascribing to him.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Yes. In a funtional company, then either the boss, or OP, wouldhave explicitly told the bully to stop, in the moment . I mean, even if it weren;t a work function, it would be 100% appropriate to tell someone to stop harassing you, but from what OP says this was an employee sexually harassing a major client of the business. I would have thought that in most organisations that would be a fireable offence.

      My view is that since this involved OPs spouse, the steps to take on the return to the office would be for OP to speak to her boss, make clear that it needs to be addressed and suggest that as OP has a potential bais, the meeting with Bully should either be done by Boss, or by Boss sitting in while OP in their HR role speaks to him.

      But I think the fact that this wasn’ checked when it happened, that OP, espite beingthe HR person, doesn’t know if they can address it, and that Boss hasn’t taken any steps to do so, all add yuup to a fairly dysfunctional place and OP is probably best trying to get out and disentangle themselves from the company and separate partnership (I think continuing as a client is slightly different – I wouldn’t be keen on jsing a company where I knew they allowed this sort of thing to continue, but as a client the power dynamic, and the extent to which you need to be involved with the internal issues are both different. But if you do continue as clients, make sure that you have clear cotnracts, don’t rely on a ‘gentlman’s agreement’ .

      OP I think you need to speak to your Boss and frame it as Bully having sexually harassed your husband and make clear tht this is socially unaccptable, but also deeply probalematic from a business persepctive as he is a major client of the firm, and make clear that it needs to be addressed and needs to be more than just a ‘friendly chat’.
      I assume from the way that you’ve described the company that there isn’t a formal disciplinary process or policies around bullying or harassment? As HR perhaps you should consider imtroducing some, but I doubt you will be able to change the culture single handed.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      The boss or HR should have shut sexual harrassment down right away. The LW is HR. It’s literally her job to stop this sort of activity no matter is being harrassed because that protects the company. If she felt she couldn’t, she’s not good at her job, not empowered at her job, so warped by the toxic environment doesn’trecognize it’s actually her job.

      It’s certainly time to get out. It’s worth reflecting on why she didn’t do anything because if she wants to continue in HR she’s got to unlearn whatever toxic coping mechanisms she’s learned in this toxic mess of this “family” company.

    7. Generic Name*

      I’m wondering how this company is actually making money if the company, it’s vendor, and the customer are the same people?? Surely there must be other players involved, but this all sounds horribly intertwined. And if something happens to your company (like, say, a sexual harassment lawsuit), yiur family’s entire source of income would be in jeopardy.

    8. RuralGirl*

      The vibe I get from the letter is the guy makes the company a lot of money, and at a small organization with (I’m assuming) narrow margins, that can be devastating. But I’ll tell you this, every employee I’ve ever worked with who behaved this way was hiding something and eventually had to be fired for stealing, fraud, etc. So if the boss is worried to let him go for financial reasons, he should start looking for someone who can help in that area and make the swap. It will benefit him in the long run. Absolutely no one should have had to witness that behavior.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I also think the boss needs to consider what would happen if he sexually harrasses a client who ISN’T married to an employee or working with the boss’s wife. It…wouldn’t exactly be good for the company’s reputation.

    9. Ms. Clark*

      I don’t think it was necessary to fire him over this one incident, but I functional company definitely would have had a meeting with him on the very next work day. He should have been told very clearly that there will be no further warnings about this type of behavior and that he will be terminated if it ever happens again.

    10. quill*

      You can’t hear the buzzing because the evil bees packed up their honeycomb long ago and fled.

    11. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP#2 — I tried to sketch out all the relationships in your letter and couldn’t. The reason you don’t know what to do here is that you are in a position where there is NOTHING you can do that will be effective. Your company is set up that way.

      You and your husband need to have a serious talk about unwinding your involvement with this outfit. The first step is for you to start looking for another job. Check out the AAM archives for Alison’s advice on resumes, cover letters, and job search strategy.

      Your husband needs to decide if he wants to continue the partnership with the owner’s wife. I’m not clear from your letter whether this partnership is his primary job or a side business. Does he really get enough out of it to make it worthwhile to continue? Is the money he makes from it proportionate to his investment in time, energy, and emotional commitment? In any case, you and he should have a serious discussion about it.

      You also said that you and your husband are “clients” of this company. You need to start looking around for some alternate vendors of whatever products/services you’re getting from them. You don’t have to fire them immediately, but do line up some other providers.

      The longer you stay where you are, the more warped your sense of professional norms will become. That’s not a good thing for anybody, but especially for an HR professional. While I don’t think you need to run like the wind, I do think that, the sooner you and your husband back out of this thicket of disfunction, the better for you both.

      Good luck!

      1. OP #2*

        Thank you so much! This helps give me clarity about the future and my expectations. Its such a small company and I’m really only HR in name only, the boss is the true HR so to speak. Its a small insurance and related services type of company. The salary needs for both of us definately do not tie us here. I let it go too long, and I think I missed my window of opportunity to discuss with the “bully/jerk” directly. Now everyone seems to be tiptoeing with niceness around me.

    12. OP #2*

      Thank you! I love the beehive reference! Its an odd culture at a very small insurance type of firm. I’ve been there so long I obviously don’t see the dysfunction clearly. It started out smaller with about 5 people. I’m HR in name only, really since the boss is the true “HR”, but the firm is moving toward making us more “corportate”. I don’t see how that will happen. I appreciate your response, as well as everyone else’s responses.

  2. Melissa W*

    For LW1, if you community has a library, that might be a good (non-$6-beverage) place to work. Some of them even have small rooms you can work in to avoid distraction.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Love the library suggestion! LW said she is already struggling with working from home, so that is a good middle ground option.

      But mostly, it sounds like this couple needs … child care. The fact that these two adults CAN organize their work hours to each be with the girl half of the day doesn’t mean that’s the best or only solution. If day care or preschool or summer camp aren’t available, another pair of hands to help occupy the girl would go a long way. Even just a neighborhood teen to do mother’s helper duties and take the girl to the park a couple of hours a day would help.

      I am quite curious about whether the father is actually spending time and energy occupying his daughter with activities and socialization and such. Why are they home all the time? Is HE taking her to the park, et cetera? It’s not mentioned in the letter and LW is very distracted by the two other people in her space. But if he truly is doing a great job, and the combination of the space (are they in a small apartment?), and the noise, and these particular people and personalities just isn’t conducive to everything that needs to happen, then it’s probably time to bring in some help.

      1. cncx*

        yes, if he’s on childcare duty while OP is working then it’s on him to take his child to the park, to the zoo

        1. GythaOgden*

          That could get problematic day in, day out or if the zoo is like ours and quite expensive to get into. The park works a day or two a week (notwithstanding the unfortunate look of a young man around small children still has, never mind actual attraction policies can be also fairly strict — for no good reason, but for the frustrating stigma a lone man with a child atrracts) but they can’t be out all day in all weathers. My dad was awesome when my mum worked Saturdays — he took us swimming, shopping and if we were good to the local Wimpy, which was the 1980s British staple kids diet — but now…I don’t know how that would go down.

          They need better childcare full stop.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            I do not agree that a dad out with his daughter is going to attract any kind of side-eye. I have a small child and am often in child-friendly spaces, and no one looks askance at dads. This is a very strange take.

            1. Momma Bear*

              It is slightly less common but not UNcommon for dads to be caring for little kids. I wouldn’t think anything of it. I don’t think there’s any reason for him not to take his daughter to a zoo or playground or whatever. If the issue is potty time, dads navigate that all the time, just like moms and sons do.

              I suspect that this very active kiddo would benefit from even a PT preschool or camp. The parents’ flexible hours may allow them to take advantage of more affordable camps. I had my then-4 yr old in a preschool with shorter hours and it gave me time to work while she was in safe hands. Maybe Mom drops off and Dad picks up or vice versa. But definitely if she’s bored, active, and interrupting she needs more interaction during the day.

            2. Lizard on a Chair*

              Yes, this is a VERY weird take. The father should never take his daughter out in public because a random stranger might think it looks suspicious? What??

              I actually agree that it’s not realistic to have a 4-year old out of the house for all of LW’s work hours, every day, but that’s because it’s logistically challenging and can get expensive very quickly. Part-time preschool may be more cost effective and more reliable.

          2. Rae*

            My husband did all of the weekday parks/zoo/museum with our 2 kids. He wore his wedding ring since my daughter was always making friends and setting up play dates and getting other parents (usually mom’s) phone #’s. He of course had his phone on him with pictures of the kids if something weird happened, but it never did. Honestly dad’s get extra credit for being out and involved with the kids. It’s like their doing something amazing when its just moms expected activity.

          3. Temperance*

            A membership costs basically the same as going there 3 or 4 times, and you can use it unlimited numbers of times.

          4. nonprofit llama groomer*

            What? My husband was the primary caregiver of our 2 girls 15-20 years ago (sometimes one; sometimes both; he worked part time) while I (she/her) was the primary breadwinner.

            A couple of months ago, he took our youngest daughter (a teenager) to the mountains for a hiking trip during her spring break. They stayed at a very cool small hotel our whole family loves, where rooms often get booked a year in advance. There were only 3 rooms left when we booked. We gave teen girl the option of the bottom floor room with 2 beds vs the top floor room with a view with a king bed. She chose the king bed because she wanted the view and they weren’t going to be spending much time in the room anyway. She brought her air mattress and sleeping bag because she wanted her own space.

            There is nothing wrong with a close relationship between a dad and his female identifying children.

            1. nonprofit llama groomer*

              To clarify, he didn’t get side eye that long ago and even if he did, that is no reason for a man not to take on primary responsibility for his child.

              That said, this child NEEDS socialization with other kids! If that means a part-time preschool or daycare, that’s fine. My husband and I were lucky enough to have met a few friends with either SAHMs or part-time working moms who were glad to network with my husband for play dates and reciprocal babysitting. We lived in a VERY conservative, traditional area of the US and had few, if any, issues with this. The die hard traditional moms were worse about inviting ME because I dared to work to their SAHM clubs than the cool moms were about including my husband in playdates.

          5. Green Post-Its*

            I strongly suggest that you look to your namesake, Nanny Ogg, for a bit of common sense. A lone man with his child(ren) will only get side-eye from people who are paranoid.

            Even if he does get suspicious looks, that’s their problem, not his. For goodness’ sake. A dad taking his kid out alone is not stigmatised in the UK. Swimming, shopping, zoo, fast food, who cares?

            Perhaps you’ve had some really bad experiences or accusations, in which case I’d understand why you bring this up. But it is in no way the norm.

        2. Squidlet*

          Although my days of parenting a 4yo are long gone, I can say with certainty that it’s not feasible to be constantly taking your kid on outings. For a kid with ADHD, being out of the house all the time is over-stimulating and exhausting (for both kid and caregiver). Kids do need to spend time at home as well, playing with their blocks, drawing, etc. Especially a kid who has just moved into a new place.

          And at home, even if the caregiver is 100% focused on the kid (which is difficult to maintain), that doesn’t mean the kid is 100% focused on them. My sibling worked from home with an 18mo, and even with full-time childcare, the little guy was frequently banging on the office door and crying to be let in.

          Also, if the kid was previously at daycare (before moving in with OP), she is probably bored out of her mind and missing her friends. If sending her back to daycare isn’t an option, regular play dates would probably make a big difference to everyone’s happiness.

          Finding somewhere to work outside of the house, at least part of the time, would probably be best in this situation. Especially if a precedent has been set that the OP will respond when the kid interrupts. It’s very difficult to undo this type of precedent once it’s been set.

          OP doesn’t mention anything about their partner’s work being interrupted, so I’m curious about whether OP is better at keeping the child occupied, or whether the partner is just more accustomed to working through the distractions?

          1. Amy*

            For a part-time schedule, I think it’s quite possible. Our babysitter spends 5-6 hours a day out with our children so we can WFH.
            The library, the playground, a few regular Parks and Recs classes. It’s a very normal schedule for them.

          2. CommanderBanana*

            And it depends on the kid, but when I nannied, everything was fine if the parents weren’t in the house. If they were trying to work from the home office, kiddo would spend all of her time trying to get in there. The lure of knowing mom or dad was home but not paying attention to her was too strong to resist.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              (It also didn’t help that mom would periodically come out of the office and make a big fuss over the toddler because she ‘missed her,’ which would trigger a massive meltdown because happily playing toddler would suddenly remember mom was home but not paying attention to her!)

            2. DataGirl*

              This. I was an au-pair to a 3 year old whose mom worked from home, it was a nightmare. She was constantly wanting to run to mom, especially if she didn’t like what I had to say (like, eat your lunch, pick up your toys, time for a nap). It made my job a million times harder.

              I did manage to take her somewhere outside almost every day as long as the weather cooperated, but that is only an hour or two out of an 8 hour day.

            3. quill*

              Just like how at daycare and summer camp, meltdown time is drop-off and pick up time. Once the kid no longer has access to their guardian and has something else to do, things clear up. The year of doing summer day camp that I did 4-6 year olds taught me, more than anything, that they want precisely the thing they are aware of and can’t currently have, and seldom anything else. :) (They mellow a bit by six but I think that’s just experience.)

            4. JustaTech*

              My friend who’s been working from home with 2 and then 3 little kids gets up insanely early so he can be “gone” (in his office with the door closed) before they wake up, so they don’t realize that Daddy is “home” and don’t bother him. I haven’t figured out how he gets lunch, but it has worked so far (especially since the oldest kid who totally would guess he’s in his office is now off to school).

              My first babysitting job was as a “mother’s helper” to keep a 4 year old occupied while her mom taught violin and it took every iota of my creativity to keep that kid in the basement filled with toys for an hour (two hours?) and not sneaking off to bug her mom.

          3. ADHDParenting*

            It very much depends on the kid. Most ADHD kids thrive on (and also fight against) having a known routine. If the routine has 4 hours at the park every day, that is the stability.

            You don’t have to come up with new outings all of the time, you can have a cycle. Monday is the local park, Tuesday is the big park with the splash pad and the skate park, Wednesday is the zoo, Thursday is the pool, Friday is the local park and the ice cream truck. Get the kid out of the house and into a routine, and the routine can include “we eat lunch with Mommy” to have a space in the day where there is interaction with the working parent.

            My kid needs ~4 hours of gross motor a day or they become a melting down mess. Running, jumping, climbing is vital to their regulation and stability. So they go out every day.

            1. Rain's Small Hands*

              Although all that becomes really tough if you live in a place where weather is a problem. If its 104 degrees out right now, you don’t want 4 hours with a kid in a park – it isn’t safe. If you live somewhere it gets cold, then six months a year are mostly inside time. And most places in the U.S. have one or the other of these condititions – six months of too hot or six months of too cold. Other plans have to be made, but with two part time jobs, I suspect the LW is short on cash. We have indoor play parks in Minnesota (because six months cold) but its expensive to take your kid there every day (cheaper than daycare though).

              I got a second degree when my kids were young (started when the youngest was about this age), and used the quiet room at the library extensively. (The library is also a good hour long outing for kids).

              For the past five years my husband and I have both worked from home – me part time. When he got his full time demanding work from home gig, I got kicked out of the office. While my youngest was away at college, I used their room, but for six months four of us have all been in the house with no “me” space and my office was the family room. Its hard, the moment I sit down it seems my husband will emerge from the office to talk at me (notice at), or one of the adult children will show up looking for something that Mom knows where it is. My oldest moved out a month ago, and suddenly I can take four hours of door closed get my work done. I am in awe of people with small children who spent the pandemic working from home – two adults working from home – without space to have offices while managing children – and in addition to awe, there is also an awareness of that cost.

              1. JustaTech*

                Agreed on the weather – I live in a damp-and-cool but not cold part of the country so there are some folks who are outside with their kids year round, but it’s much easier to put on a rain suit to deal with 50 and raining than to take off your skin when it’s 104 and 100% humidity.

                That said, if the kiddo is 4 then she’s probably going to be going to school next year so temporary measures like trips to the park, zoo, library, nature area, soccer, or even things like regular play dates will tide the LW over to when the school year starts. (If this child isn’t going to school then they really do need to figure out preschool for her.)

            2. ferrina*

              Routine is key. If the routine is to go to PLACE at TIME, that becomes comforting. Especially if the kid gets regular reminders (I like to give heads up at the beginning of the day, half and hour before, then 5 minutes before we need to get ready. The time warnings help kids of this age, ADHD or not). If place/time are regularly changing, that becomes too much.

          4. Lenora Rose*

            It depends how you define “outing”. Going for a regular scheduled walk or trip to a playground can be a huge relief, and if it includes bagged lunch it can be stretched to a couple of hours, which is a significant time for relief. Having set planned craft time or. the like. too, but I admit I was awful about that kind of planning even when I was good about “let’s get outside to the park” on a daily or nigh daily basis. And I also didn’t have simultaneous WFH.

          5. LW1*

            We are low-income. Free public daycare is full. My partner doesn’t do any kind of work from home–his is all outside of the home. Since I am the primary income earner, he does most of the house chores so when he’s doing chores he can’t also entertain his daughter.

            I’ll also admit that it’s an issue on my end that I am behind because I struggle with the executive function to sit down and do the work when there’s this fun kid who wants to play with me. I tell myself a million reasons why I can’t do the work today, every day. I’m in therapy for this and other things but it hasn’t been helpful. I will try going to the library.

            1. Clorinda*

              Sounds like he needs to have his job when you’re working be 100% taking care of his daughter, and only do home chores if she can actually help. Then, when you’re done working, you can pitch in on home chores too.
              His kid, his hours, his responsibility.

              1. pancakes*

                Yes. And few chores are so urgent that they can’t be shifted until a bit later in the day?

            2. AcademiaNut*

              It sounds like the chores need to be a lower priority. If you get fired because you’re not getting any work done, you’ll be in worse shape than if you have a messy house, or eat Kraft dinner five nights a week.

              So maybe – you go to the library for a couple hours a day, or a couple of days a week, and when you’re at the library, he concentrates on the chores – he can’t entertain a 4 year old at that point, but she can run around and make noise and he can keep an eye on her while he works and it won’t disturb you. When you’re actually working at home, his focus is keeping her out of the way, and you work in as isolated a location as possible.

              Or look at coworking spaces, which are probably cheaper than and more available than daycare at the moment, and more reliable than the library (which isn’t necessarily going to be quiet all the time).

              It might be worth looking for a new job which is in the office, as well. It sounds like working from home with a flexible schedule is doing things on hard mode for you, even without the toddler, and a regular office space and schedule could make it much easier to get things done.

            3. Very Social*

              I am SO sympathetic, LW. I also have a 4-year-old, and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. If I need to work from home (which is thankfully rare), we have to do some contortions to ensure that he doesn’t know I’m home… because if he knows Mama is home, he wants Mama’s attention.

              I have had some success working from the library. Good luck!

      2. Alice*

        It sounded to me like they have structured it so the parent who is home is the childcare! So OP is looking after the kid AND working, and I assumed partner was working elsewhere. Either way- they need childcare or a structure where she is out of the house all day

        1. Squidlet*

          OP said that “my boyfriend and I both work part-time and we can easily set our hours to work around each other’s” – so it sounds as though they are working at different times, not at the same time.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            If boyfriend is not working from home, maybe he is not aware of the impact of the distractions he is allowing bc he does not experience them.

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          LW and BF are indeed alternating the child care. I meant it sounds like they may need more help with child care beyond just the two of them, since what they currently are doing is not working.

          1. Ali + Nino*

            My question is, what was the boyfriend doing with his child before he & child moved in with OP? Presumably he had some other childcare set up for when he was working, right? If so, why has that just fallen by the wayside?

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I wondered if maybe they lost childcare during COVID and haven’t found anything else yet. But yeah, it seems like the kid needs to be in preschool. If they are not married and this is not the OP’s child, then the primary responsibility is his.

            1. Artemesia*

              It is pretty classic for men to dump child care on women and be inconsiderate of their need to work. This feels like that.

            2. Chickaletta*

              This is a great question. I was also wondering why they moved in together knowing that the 4-year-old would be home while OP was working? This would be a major thing to talk about before making that move. I’m a single mom, and no matter who I date, once things start to get serious I think about how living together will impact my child, how living with a child will impact my partner, and if he has kids too then how they will impact me and vice versa. It’s a pretty crux variable.

          2. knope knope knope*

            Yeah, so many of us new parents have gone through this in recent years. It’s a shock but always boils down to: you need more childcare.

      3. kittycontractor*

        Complete ditto to your second paragraph. Listen, I’m not a parent and don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of pro-daycare and anti-daycare, but it sounds like this kid might need more simulation and activity than just the parents. Being around other kids on a regular basis might be really good for her and in her best intrest (as well as the adults).

        1. Van Wilder*

          Yes. Preschool is not just childcare. It gives the kid to socialize and get some energy out. I know that universal Pre-K is not everywhere but some sort of socialization is worth looking into if financially feasible.

      4. RuralGirl*

        Amen. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. But also, in this case, they can’t! They are failing at caring for this child AND doing their jobs. It’s not working, so they need a new solution.

      5. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I want to second this. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Great suggestions here for other childcare options that might be better for the situation. And someone else asked the question but I am also curious: what was dad doing before they moved in with OP? Why can’t they still do that?

      6. sdog*

        Yeah, I like the library suggestions too (for kid and/or OP), but unless BF can keep the child completely out of OP’s space for her full work time (or OP can consistently find quiet space at the library), I just don’t see they can sustain this without formal childcare.

      7. ange1ik*

        I agree and think they may have missed a perspective – the girl is 4 and will be going to school soon. If they can afford childcare, then my guess is she will thrive and look forward to going each week. Getting interaction with kids her own age will benefit her and the family.

    2. Viette*

      Libraries are a great resource. Their work/study rooms are so useful!

      The letter indicates to me that the OP probably needs to be out of the house and away from even potential distractions. “I can’t go five minutes without an interruption or three so I don’t even try” “especially something as soul-sucking as paperwork (ew)” “doing this admin work in coffeeshops…isn’t really much better as far as distractions go” reads like the ADHD is already making this a real uphill battle.

      Get some space of your own and do not put yourself in a place where you’re going to have the constant option/excuse/demand to put off the parts of your job you find tough to focus on.

      1. Leslie*

        I also recommend a public library. Even if it’s not *your* public library, they don’t care where you are from unless you want to check out materials. Some colleges are also ok with people using their library, again you might not get borrowing privileges but you can use their space.

        Also, librarians are there to help the readers, simply go in and ask. They won’t mind and will be happy to let you know what’s ok and what isn’t.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I would recommend college/university libraries, they tend to be larger than public libraries and there is more of an emphasis on maintaining a quiet space especially during exam season. You may have to ask permission to use the space but with my local school as long as you are quiet, it’s fine. Another bonus is that they tend to be open longer until midnight or 24 hours at certain times of the year.

          1. Dr. Speakeasy*

            Yes and quite a few public universities allow community members to get a library card, reserve study corrals, etc. because it’s part of the public mission.

      2. ferrina*

        On the flip side, I’m ADHD and find that some days switching locations helps me focus. Just moving my body can help. I’ve got three spots in my house that I regularly work. For certain things, I need additional stimulation. Some days I need a certain stimulation level before I can hit my stride. I struggle when I only have one task- give me 5+ and I’ll thrive. That’s just how my brain works.

        Note that ADHD brains can also change over time and based on circumstance. What’s worked for you in the past may not work now. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what sticks. (Caveat: I’ve also found that I regularly need to change my strategies- I change up my task management system every 3-6 months. Don’t know why, my brain just needs regular change.)

    3. NIGHT OWL*

      I can’t imagine any four year old (adhd or not) staying at home all day and not climbing the walls. At that age they absolutely need plenty of structured acitivities, and a lot of physical type of playtime outdoors. If you have the option of letting her go to preschool at least part of the day I think everyone would be much happier.

      1. 2 Cents*

        +1 parent of a 4YO here and I work from home. He goes to school at least 3-4 hours each weekday (and loves it), then is watched by my parents after that. On days he’s not in preschool, it’s rough bc he just wants to be by me all.the.time. He’s 4. He doesn’t get time or work or any of that. She needs more to do.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          I agree. Also the parent of a 4yo and she would be absolutely feral if all she did all day was sit at home. As it is, she’s in school during the week, has dance practice one evening, and swim on Saturdays. If we have a long weekend (like the one coming up) we have to plan around her need to work out the zoomies. It’s possible, OP, that your partner’s kid is just, well, bored. I concur with everyone else that it’s on her dad to take her out while you’re working. I know my kid loves trips to the grocery store – that could double up doing a necessary household chore, while giving you a solid hour or so of work time. But yeah, I think some kind of preschool is your best option.

      2. not a doctor*

        Agreed! I’m still not a doctor, but I am a former special education teacher, and the structure of a preK program can be a HUGE help to kids like her. Not to mention the other benefits of school, like being with her peers, developing early academic and social skills for kindergarten, etc.

        OP1, I’m not sure where you live, but many areas have free or low-cost preK programs. Since you mentioned ADHD: all school districts have a program called Child Find, which works to identify students in need of special education, and many school districts have a separate Child Find office at the preK level (every state has at least one of these). If your partner’s daughter’s ADHD symptoms are significant enough, she may qualify for free preK with special education services, whether or not she’s actually diagnosed. Despite the stigma, early childhood special education programs can be GREAT for young kids, and are even actively sought out in some districts — ECSE means low student:teacher ratios, lots of individual attention, and programming targeted to her specific needs. In the districts I worked in, most kids who started in ECSE ‘graduated’ to general ed kindergarten at the end of the year.

        But even if she doesn’t qualify for ECSE (and having said all this, getting placed for ADHD symptoms can be tough at her age), it sounds like she’d be greatly helped by a structured early education program that would get her on track for kindergarten — and she’d be out of your hair during working hours. If your district doesn’t have its own free/low-cost preK, look for Head Start or similar programs in your area.

        1. not a doctor*

          As an afterthought, placing a bigger caveat on the Child Find thing, because it’s been a few years and I’d forgotten that we rarely gave services to kids who had never been in school unless there was an extremely clear need (either a diagnosis or very specific scores on standardized age-appropriate tests). That said, we’d always give resources for other programs and other “get them out of the house and socializing” options, so it might still be worth reaching out to them.

      3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        I came here to say the same thing. Pre-school is still a great option even if childcare is NOT needed. Humans are social creatures, and any kind of pre-school or other kid group is a great way to provide that social outlet for the 4-year-old.

    4. janet snakehole*

      came here to second/third/infinity the library suggestions. I’m lucky to live near several branches of both city and county library system and they have been a lifesaver as a workspace for the boring stuff that I’m prone to be distracted from.

    5. CheesePlease*

      Libraries also have kid programs!! If your schedules are flexible, the 4 yr old can go with her dad to a morning craft club or an afternoon story hour at the library, followed by the park. 2-3hrs of the child being outside the house will surely make WFH more productive :)

    6. Teach*

      Came here to say this! Also, do the public schools in your area have preschool or headstart program that a 4 year old can go to, maybe even for a few hours a day? I recognize both these options are very dependent on the resources in your area. At least the kiddo should be able to go to regular preschool/kindergarten soon.

      1. Susie*

        Yes to libraries and Head Start program! I used to work for Head Start normally operates year-round (meaning during the summer) vs. public schools pre-k. It been more than a decade so things may have changed, but Head Start can also help with getting the child diagnosed if ADHD is suspected. They also can refer families to other resources in the area and help build a network of parents “friends” who can be helpful.

    7. M2*

      Please get child care!

      Send her to camp or a daycare. Look at your local YMCA. Other camps are part-time and would benefit everyone involved. Or get a babysitter but you would have to stipulate they would need to be out of the house. Does this child have other family? Could you loop together visits with grandparents, camps, or a play date share (the child goes to someone’s house for 2 hours one day when you are working and you reciprocate when you are not working).

      Personally I think it is good for most children to have social interactions with other kids. If child care is cost prohibitive there are government subsidies or you and/ or your partner could start working full time.

      Also, where is this child’s parent in all of this? It really needs to be their responsibility to schedule. Honestly it isn’t fair to the child either being stuck inside most of the day.

    8. Oxford Comma*

      What about the public library for the 4yo? They often have programming for young children.

      1. quill*

        Preschool storytime, playground games… some libraries have games to rent out so it’s possible that there is outdoor programming for small children. I’m thinking of things we did when I was a girl scout, like playing parachute ball, scavenger hunts… things that a scout leader or children’s librarian could have assembled a kit for and run for one to two hours.

      2. ontheshelf*

        As a children’s librarian, big yes to this, with the caveat that a caregiver has to supervise the child at the library program. I’m only pointing this out because of the many people who equate library with childcare. But a great place for parent/babysitter to bring the kiddo!

    9. Quinalla*

      Yes, this is a good idea if they can’t or don’t want to get more childcare or take the kid out of the house when OP1 is trying to work. It sounds like similar to most kids, if they know you are in the house then they are just going to keep trying to bug you. So yeah, I think it is either work elsewhere or child out of the house for most/all the time OP1 is trying to work – which could mean more planned outings or childcare. But yeah, no way you are going to be able to focus with a 4 year old and likely ADHD, hard enough with just a 4 year old bugging you! My 8 year olds still have a hard time when I am working from home while they are home, even with Dad keeping them entertained, they still want to bug me occasionally and I try to stay out of sight (so stay out of mind) as much as I can.

    10. H.Regalis*

      Chiming in on the library! My local one even has study rooms you can reserve, in addition to one floor being the quiet floor.

      Beyond that, it does not sound like you working from home while the kid is home is going to, uh, work, even with your partner watching her. Your partner won’t always be able to take her somewhere else during the day, and you already have focus issues.

  3. Riot Grrrl*

    #5 I operate a small firm. Granted, we’re not in a top-dollar industry so perhaps that makes a difference, but whenever we post a job opening, the exact salary is included in the description. The salary listed is always the highest possible wage that the budget allows, so we dispense with negotiations. We generally hope the wage is enough to attract top talent, but we’re fine with the fact that we’re not going to meet everyone’s needs. It really does make the process much smoother.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      What if you hire someone newer to the workforce than you wanted or without all the skills you were hoping for? Do you back track on the top tier salary?

      1. JM in England*

        In that case, the employer can post a salary range. In the UK, have seen job adverts that state “Salary is £X to £Y according to experience”

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          That’s exactly how we advertise jobs. In this firm we have salary bands depending on the job role (e.g. 5 is senior tech, 2 is head of division etc) and they have a fixed salary range that is broad but clearly defined. By the unions!

          So we have to say job offers are between X and Y depending on experience.

      2. Riot Grrrl*

        No. We always offer the salary we posted. Obviously the understanding is that the person can do the job. If they can’t (or don’t have the potential in the foreseeable future) then why are we hiring them? Also, I should specify that it’s top-tier for our industry, not top-tier in the universe of pay scales… nobody is retiring as a billionaire in my industry, but people who are willing to work diligently do better than ok.

      3. Liz T*

        Back track? I doubt they would actively piss off their hire when they’ve already had trouble finding someone.

        If they couldn’t find someone with the experience they’d hoped, why would they punish the person they could find? Clearly there’s something about the market that means they can’t get more for what they’re offering. I’d understand if you were asking about being able to offer MORE for an exceptionally qualified candidate, but it’s weird to worry about offering less in a situation where you’re already acknowledging the candidate has the leverage because the employer has no other options.

    2. Harvey 6 3.5*

      I wonder if OP (or any of the rest of us applying for jobs) could just ask a friend in Colorado to apply to get the salary information? Or if anyone who applies must get the information (I don’t know), this might be a “side business opportunity” for someone in Colorado or NY. For $10, they will apply for the job just to share the salary info.

      1. Mid*

        Ehhh…NY has a very different cost of living than most of the US, and NYC even moreso. Same with Colorado, and Denver specifically has a far higher minimum wage (just under $16/hr for Denver) and a higher COL than a lot of the US. I’m not sure how useful the data would be. I’m in CO but applying to jobs across the country, and many of them specify that they adjust wages based on locality, so someone in NYC’s starting wage would be very different than the starting wage in rural Kentucky. I don’t particularly agree with this practice, but I also worry that someone knowing the CO and NY salary ranges might be upset with the salary offered if they’re in Montana.

        Also, jobs in Colorado are supposed to have the salary listed in the posting, not available on request.

        1. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

          I was coming to say this too. I don’t think that practice complies with Colorado law. (I’m also in Colorado and a regulatory attorney… I’d report it to the Colorado Division of Labor if I were you…)

  4. AcademiaNut*

    For LW 1 – the novelty of having you around all day might be making things worse in the short term. Would it help to have a little routine you go through when swapping work/care responsibilities? Getting ready, saying you’re going to your work space, changing locations. And if you have to set up a desk and chair in a bedroom with a lock, that’s better than trying to be undisturbed in a shared area, which is a lot to ask from an energetic four year old.

    Given the issues with childcare right now, the simplest thing might be to share a co-working space outside of the home, and pass off the kid when you swap work/care duties.

    1. Leslie*

      A lock can also be a simple “hook and eye” on the inside, which is very cheap, east to install, and can be removed and the holes filled in if you rent.

      Good luck, LW, it sounds really frustrating and difficult. I hope you and your partner can find a solution that works for all three of you soon.

    2. Cat Tree*

      During the pandemic when WFH with kids was new for most parents, my friend came up with a similar solution. Her husband was furloughed so was the primary caregiver during work hours. So my friend actually got packed up and left through the front door, only to walk around and go inside through the basement door at the back of the house. She had an office set up there. Fortunately their house was set up in a good layout for this to work. But I think it could still help for situations where the kid knows the parent is physically present but has an official cue to show that they’re in work mode.

  5. Academicadmin*

    Re: 5 I simply can’t believe the audacity companies have! To create an administrative headache (re: OP) or to not accept Colorado or NYC candidates (re: Alison) just to avoid equitable pay and salary laws…. oh my.

      1. Raboot*

        I think they see it as having candidates from 48 states instead of just the one the office is in. So compared to pre-pandemic it doesn’t seem like a loss I suppose, they still gained remote workers in 47 states. I hope things will change as more states pass these laws.

        1. Antilles*

          Similarly, if you’re a company that has a hybrid/in-person model, the bulk of your candidates are typically regional, so if you don’t have offices in/near Colorado or NYC, you’re probably not losing too much.
          But if more states continue to pass these laws, I assume it’ll change. Even if you’re in a state which doesn’t have such a law, at some point there’s enough of a tipping point where it becomes too limiting to your candidate pool to say “no, we’re not recruiting from these 11 different states”.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Eventually companies will realize that by playing games like this they are missing out on good candidates. All to avoid mentioning something that is going to come out anyway. Which is why this is ridiculous. State your salary up front. That way you don’t get people applying that you might give an interview slot to that won’t take the job once they know the salary. No they will not be so dazzled by your company that they will accept any salary offered.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          No they will not be so dazzled by your company that they will accept any salary offered.

          This. In my recent search I found several companies that, when I stated my bottom range, wanted to talk me down lower, said their range was $5k to $10k less, and would I be okay with that? Then they wondered why they got a hard no.

          Yes, I’ve taken lower before, but it was for benefits that were fantastic, especially vacation, 401k match, education/training and an actual office. I still regretted it a bit in the end when they moved us farther away to an open plan disaster, but it was stable work in a downturn.

    1. Mack*

      The state of Washington has made a similar law which goes into effect on Jan 1st next year!

      1. emmelemm*

        Which is AWESOME

        Eventually, enough states will make it the law that it will, in fact, be simpler to do it everywhere than pick and choose. We haven’t reached that point yet though.

        1. grapefruit*

          Several other states have laws requiring an employer to share the salary range with an applicant on request (or at some other point during the hiring process, but prior to making an offer), even if it isn’t required to be in the job posting. Connecticut, Nevada, California, and Maryland have laws like this.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      I wonder what laws apply if the candidate spends a few days in Colorado or NYC during the job application process.

      Or what happens if they use a VPN to get an IP address from one of those states and claims to be in them temporarily.

      1. Mockingjay*

        In theory, local tax laws apply even for business trips. In reality, states and municipalities don’t collect because it’s just not feasible to track people in and out for brief periods. It’s also why a business license is only required for the company’s designated home and satellite offices, or for the location of a permanent remote employee, but not for business trips to other places.

        On the other hand, someone claiming residency needs to have proof of residency. An applicant spending a few days in Colorado/NYC is considered a visitor; hence the salary and tax laws wouldn’t apply.

        I think most companies are learning that even without being compelled by law, salary transparency is a good thing and attracts good candidates. My otherwise excellent company is not there on this point, but I am hopeful. They disclose salary range during the initial phone screen, but I’d rather see it in the job post.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        While I’ve only worked with primarily smaller companies, I’ve never known an ATS that provides different job postings based where you’re applying from on IP address. The job postings are usually the same everywhere unless posted to specific job boards based on location (which are likely still accessible to everyone unless a special login is required – you’d still be able to access it even outside of your home state/city).

        The pay ranges provided are only for people that live in those places – and if you get a job offer, they’d find out where you live. It may still apply for other places with similar COL.

  6. Analyst Editor*

    For LW5, I think they’re fully in their rights not to apply, and that’s how you send a message to the employer – enough people do it, so they change their policies until they can hire people they want.
    But I wonder if there’s more to it. Is it just pig-headedness and visceral, cynical hatred of workers?
    Does mandatory salary transparency impose any kind of hidden costs that might be pushing someone to conceal the salary range when they can? It doesn’t meant you should tolerate it if you can afford it, but it would be great to hear from HR or an employer who does try to not publish salaries why they prefer not to do it, to see their reasoning.
    ‘Cause for example, with mandatory paying out and/or rolling over of vacation, as in California, it’s clear – that vacation is an extra financial liability on the balance sheet; if you can write it off, companies prefer to. I’m guessing that’s why so many CA companies have unlimited PTO, so they don’t have to pay out a lot of accumulated vacation when someone separates? I personally think that’s kind of crap and judge the company, especially if they’re already very profitable, but I understand where it’s coming from.
    This I don’t understand and wonder the reason.

    1. TechWorker*

      I’m pretty sure the only hidden (not so hidden) cost is they might end up hiring at nearer the top of the range than they really wanted.

      Eg range is $80-100k, they get an underpaid applicant currently on $75k, offer them 80 and get negotiated up to $85. Applicant is happy they got a $10k raise, company is happy that extra $15k (per year) is still in their pocket. Applicant remains underpaid compared to others in the same role.

    2. LabTechNoMore*

      It sounds like they’re just skirting the law by not posting the salary, and coming up with a veneer of compliance so that their posting has plausible deniability. My money’s on them not actually divulging the salary for NYC and CO applicants (and either ignore the law for NYC and CO candidates, getting very defensive to anyone who asks, or simply ghosting applicants from those locales).

    3. Panda (she/her)*

      I haven’t seen it discussed much, but posting salary ranges can also provide a competitive advantage for their competitors – if I (as someone who may want to hire away employees from a given company) know exactly what the salary range is for a given position, it makes it a lot easier to offer just over what they would be making and possibly entice some to leave. It’s not fair to employees, but it is another reason companies are deterred from posting salary ranges.

      1. Brooklyn*

        This only matters if you’re a big enough employer in your space to be worth stealing people from. Assuming you’re not in an industry where there are 3 companies and 6 workers, your competitors already know what you’re paying. And even if they didn’t – if someone is willing to walk for 10%, they’ll tell you.

        1. Mannequin*

          I’m going to say that any industry where people are willing to jump for 10% is an industry that is vastly underpaying it’s employees.

    4. Violetta*

      Plus if they’re paying more to hire new people (if the market is tighter or whatever), their current employees might see that posted range and use it as leverage. From an employer’s point of view that’s a valid concern I guess, because I know as an employee I’d love to know what new people at my current company are being hired for.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      The hidden cost is they can no longer get away with underpaying women and POC.

    6. Dr. Hyphem*

      If they’re hiring for remote positions, I wonder if it has to do with factoring in cost of living in the salary offer–I’ve heard of employers adjusting salaries for people who live in non-expensive areas to be equivalent to the cost of living compared to what it would be for the standard salary in a more expensive area. To be clear, I don’t think that is okay, if you are willing to pay X number of dollars, it shouldn’t matter if the salary is comfortable in Silicon Valley or would make you quite wealthy because you live in a lower cost of living area, but I wonder if that is part of the mindset.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        In some ways this is the off-shoring debate brought into the domestic sphere. Typically companies pay workers in foreign countries a wage that matches the local economy that the employee lives in, whether that is Manila, Chennai, or London. Not in every last single case, but often. So it’s interesting to see a version of the same question arise domestically.

        1. Migraine Month*

          I worked at a US company that had this setup, and tried to convince their US employees to move to other countries and take a 30-50% pay cut. (Probably lower cost-of-living, but offset by higher taxes.)

          It was not a very popular option.

    7. Annie*

      There are sometimes good reasons not to list salary and sometimes they get missed by people outside the decision making circle. The people deciding on pay may want to pay higher than others who might see it and complain. I worked at a nonprofit where we didn’t list salaries because if we did, the board of directors or donors would see it and complain that we paid too much. They would say we could reduce our operating costs by paying lower and then they wouldn’t have to donate so much. It was to protect our competitive pay. People totally didn’t get it and complained a lot.

      1. Observer*

        That is a TERRIBLE reason to not list pay. And what’s more, it doesn’t even work.

        If your own Board doesn’t understand why your salaries are set the way they are, either your ED is incompetent or your Board is.

        I know that Boards are not supposed to get into individual salary lines, etc. But if they are doing their jobs. they have to know what approximate salaries are. Because they need to know what the budget and I&E reports look like, and they need to know what staffing levels look like. A bit of basic arithmetic gives you a rough estimate.

        1. Brooklyn*

          I work at a non-profit. I would be aghast to know that our board doesn’t understand how retention works. Ad for donors – we have execs to explain this to donors. That’s literally what the execs are for.

      2. sdog*

        Honestly, I don’t get it either. Did the board not know what you were paying employees unless they saw it on the posting?

      3. Lizard on a Chair*

        “Our board sucks and doesn’t understand how effective non-profits function” is…not a good reason.

    8. Huh*

      The hidden costs are competitive pay and equity. I’m not familiar with the CO law, but the NYC law was not written to adequately address pay disparities, it’s a quick and dirty band-aid on a bullet wound. That’s why employers are attempting to avoid it while its tested in court. That’s also why it’s enforcement has been pushed off to November; too many unanswered questions.

      Just because a problem needs to be fixed, doesn’t mean the law politicians create will help fix the problem.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        I’m not familiar with the NYC law, but if you don’t mind, what does it say and what would be adequate?

      2. pancakes*

        “That’s why employers are attempting to avoid it while its tested in court.”

        Employers try to avoid falling on the wrong side of the law generally, no? And it doesn’t follow that unambiguously avoiding candidates from those areas in an ad is a good way to attract other well-qualified candidates.

        I also don’t think it’s fair to say anyone expected NYC’s salary transparency in job listings law to address pay disparities more broadly. It isn’t targeted at that. It’s targeted at making job listings more transparent. It doesn’t have a mechanism for, say, salary reviews for people already employed at that employer, and I would expect that to be regulated separately. You are thinking that should all be bundled together and therefore this law is bad?

        A popular HR blog says the reason for the 6-month delay in implementation was that “The original version of the law left some terms undefined—including key ones for a law like this, such as ‘advertising’ and ‘salary’—and the law was unclear on how hourly workers would be affected.” It sounds reasonable to me to clean that up, and it sounds quite at odds with what you seem to be suggesting (heavy pressure from employers?).

    9. Observer*

      Does mandatory salary transparency impose any kind of hidden costs that might be pushing someone to conceal the salary range when they can?

      Yes, there is a “hidden” cost- and that cost is the REASON these laws exist. The idea is that pay transparency makes it harder to low ball candidates. That costs money for the employer who bases their budget on taking as much advantage as they of employees.

    10. EmKay*

      The hidden cost is that anyone who isn’t a straight white dude gets screwed over on their salary.

  7. MissM*

    LW#1: sounds like there may be motte than just your work interruptions going on. Seconding Alison’s question about where your partner is, but also if they really are undiagnosed, is he interested in trying to do more to manage his? I don’t necessarily think medication is right for young kids (every situation is different) but bare minimum for an adult is a strong behavioral approach if they don’t want to do meds, so that answer may help you clarify your situation.

  8. Analyst Editor*

    LW1: It sounds like only one of you is working at a time, since you’re both part-time. Or if the overlap is small, like under an hour, that can be managed with TV or an educational computer game. (My kid loves MS Paint, for example. Also lots of flash games out there.)
    But your approached needs to be multi-pronged. Don’t get hung up on whether child is ADHD or any other diagnosis. The adult responsible for her should be taking her out of the house maximally while the other is working, and running her ragged so she’s nice and tired. Park, playgrounds, zoo, indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, open gym time, libraries, cafe for croissant, ice pop, drive-thru, whatever. This will cost money, but it’s less expensive than childcare. In terms of the boredom, if this is in four-hour blocks of time, they aren’t that hard to fill for a 4year-old, especially factoring in the drive (buy Wee Sing or fun CDs) and time to eat food. If you can meet people at playgrounds and have play-dates, you can develop a social network, babysitting swaps, etc. and it doesn’t have to be torturous for the adult on duty.
    In the house, you find what attracts her attention for long periods of time, lean into those activities, and teach – with strict boundaries and discipline, lots of positive reinforcement, etc. – to wait, be self-sufficient, be quieter. You probably need to be on the same page as your partner about this approach, discipline, etc. and not argue in front of the girl so she doesn’t play one against the other.
    Also track her ups and downs of being hungry and tired. When I miss the time for food with my kid. they get angry and uncooperative and melt down; some food, and it’s like a new child. Same with enough sleep. I can tell, ah, I’ve been out too long, or waited to long to go out, need calories RIGHT NOW. A hungry or tired child has less impulse control and gets bored easily.

    Finally, how much focused attention is she getting? With mine, I see a clear correlation: if all day I was gone, or there-but-not-attentive-much, they’re super-clingy and vying for my attention and cuddles. Consistent and directed, present attention alleviates the attention-seeking behavior a fair bit.

    1. Jackalope*

      Adding to the options for lots of exercise or activities that can engage her. Not sure what’s available in your area, but places she can run – parks, zoo, school playground (after hours of course) – and places she can learn – children’s museum, zoo (again!), library, etc. And if she’s high energy and you’re low energy, I recommend finding games that will let her burn off some steam while you can stay still. For example, many kids love being timed. Time how quickly she can run laps around the playground equipment, or how many times she can jump in 30 seconds, or how long it takes her to run to and from the tree across the yard, whatever works and makes her happy. Anything where you can engage with her (or, of course, her father can engage, but I’m addressing this to you since you’re the one who wrote in) and have her moving all over the place but you can mostly stay still is great.

      1. Luna*

        Thinking of ways to tire the child out with exercise and playing makes me think of The Secret Garden, where they claim that a skipping rope is the most sensible toy a child can have. I actually rather agree, it gives them exercise, and it gives them something to time themselves on, and it’s not overly expensive.

        1. BethDH*

          I carry a ribbon when we’re flying somewhere because I can create ways for my toddler and preschooler to be active in the airport without disturbing others (at least compared to other activity options). We lay it out in a squiggly snake shape and they use it like those football tire races. We tie it to our bag handles at different heights and they jump over or do limbo. This would definitely work at home in a small space!

        2. quill*

          Jump ropes, skip its (remember those?), and hula hoops must all have been invented to be the equivalent of playing fetch with kids: they need the exercise but you get to stand in one place.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Take her to investigate all the green spaces on a map of your neighboring towns. I used to take my son and his friends to a historical site which had these awesome shrubberies that might have been designed as a playhouse for small kids.

        • Physical activity and focused attention
        • Try to get her some time with other kids. Whatever you can manage for the summer, and start looking now for some sort of part-time preschool option in the fall so she can meet other kids–those trips to the park or zoo are easier if you bring along a friend to occupy her.
        • The adult on duty needs to really pay attention to where the kid has wandered to, i.e. poking the working adult for attention. “She does her stuff while I tackle the laundry” isn’t working in practice.

      3. nobadcats*

        When I was teaching English overseas (Vietnam), one fun game we had that didn’t take a lot of energy for me was to set up an “Animal Race.” I had a couple of large sets of little plastic animals, and two students would compete in a race to see who could grab an animal from one end of the classroom with chopsticks from designated starting places. The task was to win the race for their team, who would shout “What animal is it?”, the racing students would have to say, “It’s a lion!” or whatever animal when they dropped it in the end circle.

        This could easily be adapted for a single child as a timed race as well as teaching language skills. Parent: You have 60 seconds (whatever) to get as many animals as you can into the final circle. When I ask, “What animal is it?” grab an animal again with chopsticks and drop it in the final circle and yell, “It’s a giraffe!” If they dropped their animal, they’d have go back to start. This develops motor skills, dexterity, and language skills all in one bundle.

        You’d probably have to do a few practice runs to your child understands the task. It works really well on a blacktop playground where you can use chalk to draw the beginning and ending circles. I had tile floors and used whiteboard markers to draw on the floor.

        And always give them a prize, like a healthy snack or a sticker at the end of their personal race. If you’re running this at a park, don’t be surprised if other kids want to join in.

        1. nobadcats*

          (Please pardon the typos in the above.)

          Another low-key activity, especially for little girls around this age, is that they love to copy women. So, during my baby and kinder classes, the last portion of the class was always coloring. I’d print out a coloring page that had some relevance to the English being taught in the lesson. We’d have a big bucket of crayons and I’d sit down and color with them. All the little girls wanted to sit next to teacher and watched me like baby hawks. They try to use the same colors I did.

          My mentor taught me that all coloring exercises are very important and effective for pre-writing instruction. The small people are learning how to sit in a chair at a desk/table, hold a pencil/crayon, and keep their paper in place. And it worked! By the time they were in my G1 classes, they all knew how to sit at and desk and draw/write. Also, coloring is a good time to listen to different educational songs. We’d either talk to each other (in English), “May have the blue crayon?” “Yes, here it is.” “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” “What color is an elephant?” “It is grey.” Or we’d just sing along with the songs whilst coloring if the lesson had been a little difficult. They were unconsciously learning English whilst singing along.

          I loved my baby and kinder classes, the coloring time actually gave me time to cool down and recharge. Also, no matter how ugly or silly their coloring or drawing is, it’s ALWAYS beautiful. They either got a star drawn on their paper by me, or a sticker. We always had an art show at the end of term for their parents.

        2. nobadcats*

          This can also be adapted to “Alphabet Race” or “Color Race” using blocks and no chopsticks.

    2. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

      My son was about this age in Spring 2020 and I had NO idea how I was going to keep him occupied all day.
      In addition to all the great suggestions for recreation that have been offered, I also want to point out that if the child isn’t enrolled in any type of pre-school, you should definitely be starting to think about kindergarten readiness. So in addition to letting her run around and play, it’s time to start building in some structured, learning-based activities.
      Story time. Counting games. Naming shapes and colors and then finding them on a scavenger hunt. Tracing the letters of her name with different materials. Look on Pinterest for “preschool sensory activities” and you’ll find some awesome, fun ideas that will fill time, keep her engaged, and prepare her for the transition to school.
      Basically, if her brain is also being stimulated, not just her body, you can help stave off some of the “I’m boooooored give me attention!” Behaviors. Good luck!

    3. jake peralta*

      thank you for this. the kid is 4, and has spent half their life in a pandemic with very limited social interaction. That is hard AF on kids. OP’s willingness to accept ADHD as a personality, and to diagnose a toddler with a mental illness, is such a problematic sign for me. There’s no indication that they can’t afford daycare, only that they don’t arrange it. As someone with ADHD and a lot of other more serious mental health issues, that letter really made my teeth hurt — esp the “I can’t work in a coffeeshop” and “I just don’t do paperwork” arguments where they’re already preemptively trying to explain why solutions won’t work for them in way too much detail out of utter defensiveness instead of reading that as a sign that something else is going on. I’ve worked from home with two kids and two small dogs over the past couple years, and it’s not a thing you can just do haphazardly. You gotta make a plan and follow through, and even when that’s hard because of executive functioning or other issues, that doesn’t get you out of doing it. Oof. (I admit I have worked very very hard on my behaviour, because I’m poor and can’t afford to get fired so there’s a lot of investment in dealing with potential barriers to my work environment.)

      I will also add that actually spending productive time with the kid, instead of only seeming to interact with them when they’re interrupting, will probably improve OP’s relationship with the kid too. “Low-energy” or no, 4-year-olds are actually pretty flipping cool and awesome.

      1. one l lana*

        I also have ADHD, I have really struggled with working at home, and I had the same reaction to this letter. I wonder if OP was diagnosed recently. Most people I know who were diagnosed as adults had a phase where they could only interpret everything through the prism of ADHD, since we suddenly made so much more sense to ourselves.

        OP, if you think this kid really does have ADHD, please talk to your partner about talking to their pediatrician. (This is another reason that having them in daycare/preschool would be good; a teacher or child care professional will have a much better sense of what’s normal developmentally.) Apparently, age 4 is not too young for a diagnosis and a diagnosis does not require medication.

        For both adults and kids, though, the ultimate point of a diagnosis is to improve quality of life by managing symptoms — not to define limitations or create excuses for not doing things that, ultimately, we all have to do. (I don’t like paperwork either, and the IRS does not care.)

        1. Clisby*

          100% second that a teacher or other child care professional will have a much better idea than LW whether there’s anything out of the ordinary with this child. (Nothing about LW’s description screamed “ADHD” to me, but of course that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.) If I understand this situation correctly, LW has no children of her own, and this is her partner’s only child. Unless they’ve spent tons of time with lot of different 4-year-olds, they may have no idea what’s typical (or not) of a child this age.

          1. Beep*

            Yeah it’s expected where I live at least for a 4-year-old to be enrolled in preschool. Sounds like that would help the situation in many ways.

        2. Mannequin*

          My niece was diagnosed with ADHD & autism at 4, it’s not too young at all.

          Hers was severe enough that she was on disability, and did require medication, but that medication made a near miraculous difference in her life, almost overnight, so I for one don’t & won’t look down on parents & guardians who choose to do so.

  9. lyonite*

    OP4: Allison’s advice is dead-on, and if you’re worried, it’s almost never a problem to be overdressed. Particularly for a job interview–almost everyone overdresses for those, and the pocket square sounds delightful! Just thought I’d throw this in here, since it sounded like the issue was causing you some anxiety.

    1. Artemesia*

      Seems obvious that this is a hit for the middle and adjust thing. Business casual is not likely to make you seem out of touch even if they have a dressier code — but I doubt they do for training.

    2. Past UK acc student*

      When I attended a UK college to study accountancy, the students were casual but the tutors were business (casualish).

      The guys usually wore dress trousers (often the bottom half of a suit – with the jacket only worn on the way out the door). The women wore trousers/dress with nonmatching jacket.

      The tutors in other subjects were sometimes more casual but in the professional subjects the tutors tried to dress a step or two above the students.

      1. Elsie*

        Just to say congratulations to OP4. You have already shown the people who matter that you have what it takes to train on the job and their confidence in you comes from knowing well what they need in a trainee. I hope by now you are feeling more assured that you are getting your wardrobe in the ball park of the dress code / norms for work and college. And good on you for asking – I was laughed at a few times for asking at my (uk) college what the dress code would be for specific events (by the tutors! How rude!). But I am still glad I did – I don’t find this stuff easy to guess from the outside and I know I was never the only person wondering when I asked. I am pretty sure no one else will even remember that I did. Good luck with the job and training.

        1. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

          Thank you :) I’m a big believer in ‘no stupid questions. I’ve done college courses before (uniformed, then) where a tutor started making fun of a girl asking about hair rules and then realised it was a very important safety question — someone was about to get caught in a lathe…
          LW #4

    3. LadyAmalthea*

      I used to run training seminars and students frequently asked me what the dress code would be a few days before the course started. Asking will give you peace of mind, it’s an easy question for a training coordinator to answer, and you probably won’t be the only person asking.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I would suggest a ‘business’ shirt (collar and buttons) and neat trousers (could be chinos or black jeans, or suit trousers) on day one. I think a jacket is unecessary but wouldn’t be egregiously overdressed. If you are worried about being too casual, avoid blue jeans but I would be about 98% sure that you’ll fine they would be fine!

      If everyone on the course is aleady employed and doing the training you’ll probably see a mix of levels of formality, as some will dress as they do for the office and some will dress down. If it is a mix of people who are already working and those who are full time students it will skew more casual.

      I am a lawyer in the UK – in the before times, I used to attend professional development courses and conferences quite regualrly and it there was always a range – some would be waering suits as they would for a day in the office, but equally it was very common for poeple to be dressed casually in jeans / t-shirt / casual dresses. I would normally wear black or grey jeansa and might wear a t-short or more casual blouse than I would in the office, and a cardigan rather than a suit jacket, and never felt underdressed.

      It wouldn’t be usual to see anyone wearing joggers or things like ripped jeans, short shorts or strapless tops but anything else was perfectly fine. (as a lot of the courses would be 2 half days, a proportion of thoese dressed more formally would be people who worked close to where the course was taking place, and were doing a half day and returning to / coming from their office)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “If it is a mix of people who are already working and those who are full time students it will skew more casual.”

        I’m getting “further education college” vibes from the LW, and I’ve worked in one of those. The vast majority of the students were aged 16-19 and beyond course-specific guidelines (e.g. protective clothing for construction, tunics for beauty) they dressed like teenagers – at the time that was jeans and hoodies. I think LW’s guess of “nobody cares” is likely to be right.

        For an accountancy course (I’m assuming AAT) I would be surprised if the other students weren’t dressed in casual clothing. LW could aim for the smarter end of that in their first week until they’re confident with the vibe, and maybe avoid any shirts with deliberately provocative designs after that.

        I’ll also remark that “casual” in the UK is slightly more dressed up than in the US (but much more tied to classist nonsense).

        1. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

          You’re right, it’s a further ed. college for AAT (lvl. 4, and then ACA, but I think the ACA is somewhere else and… I don’t want to start worrying about outfits for something that’s at least nine months away.) When I was a teenager myself I went to one, but it was boiler suits and boots for machining, so not particularly useful.

          This is helpful, thank you. I’ll put my black metal shirts away…

          OP#4

          1. ACA*

            I finished the ACA through my employer a few years ago in the UK, studied at BPP. Some people on the course literally wore pyjamas and some wore full suits! I’d dress middle of the road and then adjust, as a lot of people have said – I settled on a T-shirt and jeans and felt like I fit in fine.

            Only caveat is to say that the ACA is tough (though completely doable! Do the whole question bank!) so I would wear something that makes you feel confident and capable.

            Best of luck – from what I’ve read of your post and comments you’ll be absolutely fine!

      2. BethDH*

        Since no one else that I’ve seen has mentioned this, I’d say that shoes go a long way toward the overall impression of dressiness. A business casual outfit as described above with sneakers leans casual, with leather-looking shoes it will lean more business.
        In OP’s situation I’d wear chinos/khakis (in tan, green, navy, brown, not just “khaki” color) with a collared shirt but not a suiting shirt (so not one designed to wear with a tie). I’d wear an undershirt in a solid color and not too worn. On-site OP could tuck or untuck the shirt, roll up the sleeves, unbutton the collar to adjust dressiness.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Sometimes I get grief for my work clothes as they are 99.9% very long black dresses. But the great thing is: I can wear those at an interview, a training course, an off site meeting, coffee with friends and it all works.

        At most of the training I go to it’s normally software developer related so there is a lot of jeans/heavy metal band t shirts, but for the professional skills training (we now have a managerial training course!) there’s a lot of suits.

        A good rule for me has been ‘what I’d wear to visit my mum’. I.e. nothing shabby, nothing with overly exposed skin, just enough to not ping her ‘oh make an effort!’ radar.

        (I love my mum, and dad, but it is one of those ‘don’t swear and at least be tidy’ homes)

    5. GythaOgden*

      Having done this sort of thing on evenings we were in our work clothes, but on Saturdays and during study leave revision classes we had more casual clothes. But yeah — in many cases you’re still representing your firm and need to look like a professional even if you dress down a bit. It’s not the gym or the beach or the bedroom.

    6. Snow Globe*

      When I was in college, most students dressed pretty casually, but there were always a few students that dressed up; probably some of them had jobs right before or after class, or maybe they just preferred more professional clothing. I don’t think it’s noticeably odd to be more formal than others in the class.

    7. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

      Thank you! You’re right, it’s been stressing me out perhaps more than it should be — maybe because it’s something I can address before the job starts, while the regular new-job stress is at present unfixable.
      OP #4

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        And of course, if you perhaps *enjoy* wearing the whole suits and dressing like that, you can certainly lean into the style. I know people who do and it’s awesome.

        (I once wore a 3-piece suit complete with hair in a French twist, heels, and full makeup to Pajama Day at work, as an act of rebellion)

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Ahh a load bearing source of anxiety! Totally understand.

        Btw husband unit goes to work at a very low key tech company in waistcoats and pocket watches every day. He’s perfectly accepted alongside his jeans/t shirt compatriots.

      3. UK*

        OP, I’m in the UK, but work somewhere without any dress code, which is accountancy adjacent. Even with no dress code, internal candidates still dress a lot more smartly for interviews than they do day to day. It’s kind of just expected that people make an effort, so you won’t have been out of place! (everyone knows they don’t need to, but I think people find it helps give them confidence! After my husband got his last job there, he was complimented on the shirt he was wearing in his interview!)

        I also did some training similar to accountancy training, and this was in house, just in a different bit of the office. Whereas on work days, myself and my friends would usually wear business casual, we were jeans/shorts and a t shirt in training days!

        But I agree with going a bit dressier to begin and then adjusting to match the crowd/suit your level of comfort. Therefore, chinos and an open neck shirt (maybe one that buttons down, and maybe in a pattern, like checked?), and maybe smart boots or loafers, and then you can gradually reduce the dressiness by swapping the shirt for a polo top or the chinos for jeans :)

        Good luck! And I’m fairly certain you’re the only person who’ll notice what you’re wearing!

    8. Fluffy Fish*

      Yes absolutely!

      OP, in all my years of work – someone coming to an interview or meeting and being overdressed – never an issue. I would have thought – oh they look nice or hey they’re trying to make a great impression – and then gone about my business without giving it another thought.

      On the flip side there has been a time or two when someone was so incredibly underdressed (think the equivalent of pajama pants) that they certainly made an impression, just not the one they were going for.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, at a company that is in any way casual it’s pretty normal for someone interviewing to be more dressed up so I wouldn’t feel like that was some kind of faux pas!

      Personally, I would not dress more casually than slacks and a button-down for the class if you have colleagues taking it with you. Though I suppose if they both dress casual then you can follow their example. I always err on the side of dressy.

      This also sounds like something you could just ask your boss about! They might have a policy about it if they consider you to be “representing” them in any way, or they might say they don’t care at all.

    10. sdog*

      I was going to jump on say this, too! I think it’s always best to err on the side of over-dressed for job interviews.

  10. Raboot*

    The hidden cost is candidate salary. Of course in corp speak they’ll say “making sure we can make a competitive offer regardless of the market and candidate and it’s for EVERYONE’S benefit” but in English it’s “we’re counting on people lowballing themselves because we are holding all the cards”.

  11. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP1 – as someone who tried what you’re trying….

    You need childcare. Even if you think you “can easily set your work around each other’s” that doesn’t work with a kid.

    1. Artemesia*

      It only works if the father is actually responsible and engaged the child and takes her out during the partner’s work period. But yeah. Time for day care which will be better for the child as well as work. It is frankly outrageous for the father of this child to allow this.

      1. Jackalope*

        Given the difficulties finding child care the last few years (continuing to the present, although better now than it was 2 years ago at this time) as well as the expense, it doesn’t seem outrageous to me that the father wanted to try this without child care. It may end up being an experiment that doesn’t work in their case, but it’s not wrong to have two part-time adults trade off work time and child care. (And I’ve had friends who managed this successfully in the past, so it can be done, although I think they still had a day or two of daycare in the mix.)

        And both daycare and being home with the primary adults in their lives can be good for kids. We don’t have enough information to know if this particular child would be better served by daycare or by being with her dad and stepmom-ish type person. Daycare can be wonderful and teach kids a lot, but many kids with ADHD can also have problems in learning environments that won’t adapt to their needs.

        1. Omnivalent*

          But they’re not trading off work and child care, since the OP is constantly being interrupted while working. She didn’t ask how to entertain the child when it’s her boyfriend’s turn to work, notably.

          I wonder why he moved in with her with no apparent childcare plan?

          1. Generic Name*

            Yes, only going on the information provided in the letter, I’m giving this guy some serious side eye.

          2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

            Yes I wonder what did he do before they moved in? Who took care of the kid while he worked since he works part-time too? I wonder are they both trying to work at the same time and the kid is board and bouncing around the house?

        2. Artemesia*

          It is outrageous that he agreed to this solution but does not manage his own child during his shift. If the kid is interrupting the OP repeatedly then the father is abdicating his responsibility to engage the child and keep her away from the worker bee during her work time. That is what is outrageous. How many women allow a kid they are supervising to interrupt the male WFH partner every few minutes?

      2. KateM*

        I don’t know about that – it did work for me and my spouse; but then, we also have two kids (younger is now 4 like OP1’s, but was 2 at the start of pandemic) who keep each other engaged; and we have a separate room for office so kids know that they should not come in there. But it does mean that the non-working parent must actually take care of the kid, so I’m mostly giving a side-eye to OP’s partner. (Even more so as OP is not even the child’s parent, so it should not be for OP to worry about childcare at all! Maybe they should rethink the moving together part if it is not working.)

        1. Scarlet2*

          This.
          If the child can come and pester OP constantly while they’re working, it doesn’t look like the partner is doing much active parenting. That kind of arrangement can only work if one partner actively engages the child (and takes her out as often as possible) while the other is working.

          1. ferrina*

            Yep. It’s on the caretaking partner to run serious interference. This often needs to be preemptive- tell the kid “Today we’re going to do A, B, C” where none of those = the working adult. Take the kid out of the house at the time when they are most needy. Go somewhere where they can get some serious gross motor/zoomies out. Find opportunities to interact with other kids (rec center programs can be a great option; there’s also playgroups that you can find online). Then curl up and read a book. Go to the local bookstore and look at the young chapter book series (usually billed as 5-8 yo reading; Magic Tree House is a popular one in my house). Pick a series that can keep them going for a long time, then make this something that only Dad does. That will give her something to look forward to with that one parent (aka, a complete distraction from the working adult).

            LW also needs to talk to boyfriend (if she hasn’t already). He needs to understand that this is a serious problem. If he’s committed to this relationship, he will take action to try to get her what she needs (it may not always work, but taking action and really investing in making sure her needs are met is key)

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I imagine space makes a big difference, too – if the kid is on the ground floor, and the adult is tucked away in a locked room upstairs, or is in a converted garage, they’re out of sight and sound of the kid stuff. If they’ve got an open concept one floor situation it’s a lot harder.

          Would a nursery school type thing be a possibility? Not full time day care, but the kind of program I went to as a pre-schooler with a stay at home parent, which was a couple mornings a week and gave a break for my mom, and some socializing and learning to function in a group setting without a parent for me.

          1. KateM*

            We have the room children play in and office both at the same floor, but there are two closed doors between children and worker. And these doors are kept that way except for bathroom breaks of both sides.

        3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          I have young adult children and they would interrupt me when I was working in the dining room because of how ADHD brains work. (Now I work in a room with a door that people don’t need to go through). They’d also have conversations in the (adjacent) living room or kitchen. So, n-typicality, number and space all work into that.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            Heck, my husband will come out of his closed door office and if I’m working in the family room he will just start talking. Its often stream of consciousness “I need to talk this through at someone” and sometimes its “things I need to pay attention to.” He doesn’t pay any attention to if I have quickbooks up on the screen or if I’m watching Netflix – its all the same to him. And he’s 55 (with ADHD). He has a rubber duck in his office to do this with, but he prefers me because I’m interactive. I compare favorably to the rubber duck for talking at.

            1. ferrina*

              Ugh, my ADHD ex used to do this to me. The ADHD is an excuse for the occasional interruption, not unchecked regular interruptions. I’m ADHD as well, and he was the one on medication! I also feel the compulsion to go empty my brain onto another person, but there are strategies you can use (can take some time to find the right one for you, but you won’t find it if you aren’t trying). I’d walk in and say “I want to babble- is now an okay time?” and if the answer was no, I’d wander off. I also talk to myself a lot. It’s not uncommon for me to be mumbling and doing the dishes to help me process information. I noticed that while I owned my ADHD, acknowledged its impact on other people, and actively tried new things to mitigate the annoying bits, my ex would claim he was trying his best without ever actually trying to do anything different (and if I somehow made him behave differently, he would quickly get petulant).

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t have it, fwiw, and it seems wrong for people with it to use it as an excuse to steamroll over others. That’s incredibly self-regarding.

    2. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Yeah. I have a 4yo and do part time study. When I’ve tried to do study on her at-home days, even with her parked in front of the TV for a few hours, it’s still nigh impossible. It’s always punctuated with demands for milk/cuddles/come and see what’s about to happen on this Bluey episode we’ve seen at least 10 times/making sure she goes to the toilet/“I just want attention”. And mine is completely neurotypical – she’s just being 4. And what OP1 has described seems really usual for a 4yo.

      (Interestingly, she doesn’t usually demand so much attention when I’m just pottering round the house – it’s like she has a 6th sense that I need to do something more pressing than her and that is Unacceptable.)

      1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

        Interestingly, she doesn’t usually demand so much attention when I’m just pottering round the house – it’s like she has a 6th sense that I need to do something more pressing than her and that is Unacceptable.

        Cats and kids seem similar in this aspect.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      It’s childcare, playdates with kids of the same age, or sports. Every single of them has its caveats, like waiting lists (and waiting lists for the waiting list) organizing with other adults or cost, of course.
      (Also, a four year old should be socializing with their peers in some way or another, otherwise she will be behind the rest of class when she starts school.)

    4. Person from the Resume*

      My impression of since my boyfriend and I both work part-time and we can easily set our hours to work around each other’s is that the LW and her BF alternated childcare while the other was working. If that’s correct then her BF/the father needs to be doing the childcare MUH BETTER so his charge is not interupting the working adult. And if the house does not allow for the working adult to shut and lock the door, then the house is not suited for what they’re trying and they need to try something else – new lodgings, adding a locking door, changing the work space (ie not the living room where the child plays), work somewhere else, child spends time the adult is working somewhere else., etc. There are options.

      If since my boyfriend and I both work part-time and we can easily set our hours to work around each other’s menas that the working adult is doing the childcare. NO! JUST NO. That’s trying to do two jobs at once. Of course it’s hard to impossible. My employer has a rule that if you work from home, you cannot also be providing childcare or eldercare at the same time because they want you to focus on your job during the hours you put in.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “My employer has a rule that if you work from home, you cannot also be providing childcare or eldercare at the same time because they want you to focus on your job during the hours you put in.”

        I think this was generally the rule before the pandemic; then Covid-19 came along and you-know-what hit the fan. As I mentioned above, I wonder what the father was doing prior to moving in with OP, and why his daughter isn’t currently in childcare – is she (or another family member) high-risk? Is it a question of expense? If the latter, it sounds like he’s being pennywise and pound-foolish.

    5. Sarah*

      It’s the space setup. My office doesn’t have a door. My 2.5 year old passes me when moving from one part of the house to the other while my husband is managing childcare. She will stop, climb in my lap, give me hugs. For me it’s a 1 minute break and back to work. If I had AdHd it’d be unmanageable.

  12. Green Post-Its*

    OP4 – I’ve done the same kind of courses in the UK (at Kaplan London and Milton Keynes if it’s relevant, while working for EY).

    Everyone wore casual weekend clothes as it’s not client-facing work. T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, leggings, trainers, etc. The teachers were all on the casual side of business casual. I remember wearing spaghetti strap tops and jeans to class without it being weird.

    Basically as most of the students are recent graduates they dress as if they’re back in Uni. You’ll be overdressed if you wear business casual, but do that if it makes you comfortable. I’m sure a few other people will do the same as no one gets instructions for how to dress as these classes.

    I hope that helps!

    1. Katherine (UK ACA)*

      Agreed, when I did Kaplan (admittedly 15 years ago!) it was student wear, and if you’re doing ACCA at a local college I expect it would be the same If there’s internal training to attend, it might be more business wear or business casual. I would suggest talking to some of the trainees in the previous cohort (ie those who’ve been there a year or so) about dress codes generally, as I think they have got a lot more casual in recent years. For example, I know PwC does ‘dress for your day’, so if you’re in the office and not seeing clients, jeans and hoodies are fine.
      But, as Alison says, starting with business casual and adjusting when you see what the norm is, is a safe approach. Or even start with suit and tie, and take off the jacket and tie if it’s too much.

    2. Another ACA*

      This was 100% my experience training at Kaplan in London with KPMG. That was over 10 years ago, things have only become more casual since then. On days where we were only in college and didn’t need to go into the office or meet a client, we were totally in student mode. If I had seen someone more formally dressed I would have assumed they were going to a client or a formal event that day.

      But if you’re still feeling unsure, why not do a quick sense-check with a colleague? It sounds like you may be feeling insecure about this, but they know what it’s like to be new. (Seriously – I have been in the professional world since 2008, and I had a dream last night in which I suddenly realised I was at work in my dressing gown and slippers. And I still have the odd school exam dream too. That stuff never leaves you!)

      Just ask: “Hey, I’m going to college next week for the first time and I just wanted to check if the office dress code still applies when I’m there? I heard things are more casual for those days.”

      Sounds like you’ve worked hard to get this job, I’m sure you will do fine. Good luck :-)

    3. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

      It does help, thank you! I’m someone who wants to wear the same thing every day (autism!) so the prospect of buying a whole new set of clothes for this job is… daunting.

  13. raincoaster*

    LW#1, take it from me, when working at a cafe buy either a coffee (not an espresso drink or a cold drink) or a bagel with jam or butter. Those are the cheapest things and pretty much every cafe carries them. I worked in cafes for a dozen years, and for the last 22 have worked out of cafes writing. And eating bagels.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      But the OP says that doesnt work for her either because its distracting in a coffee shop.

  14. John Smith*

    #4, UK too here. I have never been to one of these training courses (and I’ve been on a few) where anyone (except once or twice the trainer) has worn anything more than casual wear. Usual wear is jeans/chinos and a t shirt, polo, jumper or sometimes casual shirt. But I’ve found no-one will give a fig for what you’re wearing. Unless your organisation (or the campus, in which case “eh?”) has mandated for a particular style, smart-ish casual is best bet on the first day. Just don’t do what one attendee did which was to turn up in full footy kit because he had a five-a-side afterwards. The mickey taking he got was brutal – I think he ended up on the website “full kit w*nkers”.

  15. June*

    LW 1 is much more a Carolyn Hax question and begs the question of why the change and did you consider the consequences. The library is a good suggestion if you can keep connected to the internet. Also maybe after she goes to bed. Four year old will be four year olds.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I think there are other angles to this question that are not work-related that may be worth exploring. I was a single mom when my husband and I met, and I’m still somewhat amazed that he wanted to move in with me and my then elementary-school aged child. And that was well before COVID, and I had the childcare situation taken care of because I work full time. It’s a huge commitment in normal circumstances to join a ready-made family, and as you’re seeing, it’s a lot of work. I wish the best for you, and please know, working from home with a child of any age is a challenge. Hopefully you and your partner can work something out that works well for everyone.

  16. Calmly neurotic*

    LW1: depending on your house’s layout, I eventually put a latch on the door to my office and use noise cancelling headphones/music and just completely ignore anyone banging on the door when my spouse is home. If he’s always there to look after her while you’re working, this might be your best option. My kiddos were 4 and 8 when the pandemic started and I also have ADHD (and had to handle them on my own while working full-time and it was brutal). I honestly don’t think I was ever at more than 20% of my usual productivity while they were home, and it would take weeks for my brain to recover from the constant interruptions. Now they are thankfully at school most of the time and their dad is able to be home more, but they were so used to me doing everything that they would literally walk past him watching tv to interrupt me while on a call to ask for a snack! But with the latch, they suddenly were able to go ask dad for a snack (face palm). Either way, noise cancelling headphones, music, or loud pink noise are a must. ADHD is already really hard in a pandemic – I had a poor sense of time to begin with, now I have no cues for what day of the week it is or what time of day it is (I often forget what month/season it is!). Add in constant distractions and interruptions, and it’s a nightmare. You could also encourage him to do more outdoor activities with her during your shifts (if they are during the day) – since you’re part time, if an hour of your shift can be then going to the park or for a walk, it will make a big difference.

  17. Waving not Drowning*

    OP1 – we have a child on the spectrum/ADHD, functionally at the 5-6 year old level. I was fortunate in that I started working from home first, so I snaffled the office at home to work in. It had a door that shut, and I could put up a visual sign of “STOP”, which all our kids understood. Husband had to make do with the kids playroom :-) .

    On the advice of another parent, husband took to wearing a fluro work vest while he was working, so our child had a visual cue that daddy was working, and shouldn’t be disturbed. He’d take it off during lunch time, and when he officially knocked off work and was just playing games. It worked surprising well.

    1. Ms Frizzle*

      Visuals are the best! I used to wear a crown in the classroom when I didn’t want kids to interrupt my small groups. You can have fun with it!

      1. MysteriousMise*

        Indeed! During early lockdown, when also home schooling my two kids, I had a “Mummy’s working” tiara I used wear, when I wasn’t to be disturbed.

      2. JustaTech*

        I’ve asked my husband for this because I can’t tell the difference between him working and needing to concentrate and him just meandering around Reddit when it all looks like “using the laptop”.

    2. Perfectly Particular*

      The vest is a great idea! I may need to incorporate it with my 16 year old ADHD kid who seems to only want to speak with me at the times that I need to concentrate the most…

      For the OP – what about a preschool program for the child? She would get out for a few hours a day and get to make some new friends (which you could then setup play dates and park meetups with), and the cost is minimal – nothing like daycare expense. You could use that quiet time to do your most tedious tasks. The library suggestion was also a good one.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I have adult kids with ADHD who used to interrupt me when I was working in a common space (dining room). Wish I had thought of the vest then!

    4. Contracts Killer*

      I love this idea! If a dog can learn it, a kid can, too. I only wear baseball caps when going for a run or a hike. Now every time I put on a cap, the dog gets excited because the thinks we are going to exercise.

      Our visual cue for the kid is our desks. When we are at our desks, we are “at work” and she’s really good at staying out of the space. Away from desk = fair game to ask for a snack or playtime.

  18. Ms Frizzle*

    OP 1: I’m an experienced pre-k teacher and coach, and I adore four-year-olds but I can imagine it’s very hard to get much work done with one at home! I agree with all the advice about finding other solutions (and also, if it’s possible, a preschool program is a VERY good idea before kindergarten). If you can’t make bigger changes, though, there are ways to set up boundaries while you’re working. She may want everyone to play along with her, but it’s ok to teach her that sometimes you can’t. In fact, that can help build self-regulation skills that may be challenging for her but will be badly needed in kindergarten.

    A few ideas that might help:
    -Be really direct with her about when she can and can’t interrupt you. Practice. Repeat it as many times as you need to.
    -Visuals are great! Maybe a stop sign on a door or the back of your computer when you aren’t available. Maybe pictures of things she can do while she waits for you to be able to play. Sand timers are great too.
    -If you can, invest up front in providing something novel she can do on her own (like a new simple art project, or a new set up for her favorite toys). Novelty helps a lot.
    -Consistency is key, and it can be HARD. If you set up a boundary that she doesn’t interrupt you when the stop sign is up unless it’s an emergency, though, then you need to stick to it. If one out of five times you do go play, then she learns that sometimes it works. It can be useful to have one or two go-to phrases (“I can’t wait to play with you later, but my stop sign is up right now”) to repeat as a broken record if you need to.

    1. Scot Librarian*

      These are great ideas and I’ll add that if you say ‘unless it’s an emergency’, then clarify what you mean. In our house when kids were little, if husband was home and I was chilling in my shed, the kids knew they could not come in unless there was an emergency and that ’emergency’ meant blood or fire’. Little kids (mine are autistic) have no idea what an emergency is – showing me a rock, dad’s in the bathroom and there’s a fly in the hall, there aren’t any crisps left – all of these and more are emergencies in their eyes. But they understood not interrupting mum’s 30 mins of quiet time unless there was blood or fire. At the start they would still try and I would say is there any blood or fire? And they would try and tell me about the thing, and I would repeat ‘see daddy unless there’s blood or fire’. Little kids are exhausting

      1. quill*

        My mom taught second grade long enough that her instinct when someone interrupts her is to ask “Is someone bleeding? Is anything on fire? Then you can wait.”

        Made for fun times when I was in high school/college and needed to borrow the car keys to go pick something up.

      2. Ms Frizzle*

        Yes! I always teach my kids that an emergency in the classroom is if someone is bleeding or crying.

    2. bamcheeks*

      If you can, invest up front in providing something novel she can do on her own (like a new simple art project, or a new set up for her favorite toys). Novelty helps a lot.

      I love all these suggestions, but I will say that this one is very much a “know your child”. Both of my kids will get about ten minutes play out of something brand new (generally, they’ll play with it for about half as long as they spent swearing it was the MOST FAVOURITE THING THEY EVER WANTED EVER), but then unearth a toy that’s been sat in the corner of their room for 18 months and re-purpose it into the centre of an intense role-playing game that lasts a week.

      If there’s any correlation between newness, expensiveness and attention-span, it’s an inverse one as far as I can see. :D

  19. Allonge*

    HI LW1, as you say you already struggled with WFH – would it make sense to find a job with an office to go to? Obviously there would be things to consider, like commute and so on, but still.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      I was thinking this too – it sounds like LW 1’s current job may not be a good fit right now, possibly at all! Beyond just a different space, looking into other types of jobs may be worthwhile, especially if they have more variety, physical activity components, deadlines, and human interaction than seems to currently be the case. I wonder if something in the events area would be good both for this couple’s part-time schedules and for general fit.

    2. Over It*

      Yes, this! I find it fascinating that everyone is suggesting libraries, coffee shops, working at universities, putting the child in childcare (which may not be financially feasible on two part-time jobs) and no one else (including Alison) has mentioned the office, which tends to be free of child distractions. I think that goes to show how much the commentariat here skews towards people who are fully remote. OP did not mention whether their company still had a physical office location, but if they do have an office locally going in during work hours may be a very easy solution to this problem. WFH has its benefits, but not everyone is set up for it and it sounds like LW’s home situation may not be compatible.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        OP didn’t mention that working remotely was due to the pandemic; the job may be set up as fully remote regardless. I don’t think comments indicate the commentariat is fully remote, just that there is a strong appreciation and perhaps preference for remote options, or even just a shared reading of the letter that going to an office for this job, at least right now, doesn’t seem to be an option because the LW didn’t mention it (and presumably she would have if it was an option, especially if she had been going to an office in this job previously).

      2. Janeric*

        We have an almost-3-year-old and pandemic daycare — by which I mean he spends a lot of time out of day care because of exposures/allergies/day care crud. Everyone has great suggestions for what to do if you have time/money/no recent exposure, but here are some things that work for us with two adults who wfh and are not neurotypical.
        – Consistent schedules for who does what when so we can plan to focus during quiet times.
        – Making the person who is working breakfast/lunch together. We delegate stirring, putting food on plates, moving ingredients into bowls, etc. (This usually gets the worker a quiet half hour)
        – Walks in the neighborhood: we check in with various neighborhood pets, we count how many kinds of flowers are blooming, we pick up seed pods from street trees and hoard them. (This is a quiet hour if we do it twice, and a quiet hour and a half if we do it once.)
        – Screen time at defined times (usually during our overlapping meeting hour.)
        – Playing in water, usually under the guise of “doing dishes” or “watering plants”
        – Jiffy muffin mix is a quiet 45 minutes if deployed strategically.
        – drawing together, or playing with play dough together.
        – I work before my child gets up and my husband works after we go to bed.

        It’s REALLY hard but might be sustainable for a summer? And it can be a great time to actively build independent skills with regards to getting snacks/getting dressed/etc.
        Also it helps to have a time — like after dinner — where all adult attention is on the child.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          These are excellent suggestions, and if you come back to the comments I would like to hear more about how one strategically deploys muffin mix!

      3. Very Social*

        I assumed that if going to an office were an option, the LW would already be doing that, since she states that working from home is a struggle for her.

    3. one l lana*

      As someone with ADHD who has struggled badly working from home, I think this is the answer. Coffee shops, libraries, coworking spaces at the gym, friend’s houses, Airbnbs, etc… all seem to plug into the magical thinking novelty-seeking part of my brain that thinks that one change or purchase will make me a totally different person.

      An office provides constant low-level stimulation, predictability, routine, and the accountability of other people who can tell if you’re working.

  20. Lead Balloon*

    #4 I have recent experience at a general further education college in the UK on an accountancy course. People didn’t wear business dress, they were in jeans, t shirts etc.

    The college I went to did have weird rules about not wearing hats or coats in classrooms, I think that was because a sizeable number of students were sixth form age (16-18 year olds) and I can only assume it had been a problem previously somehow.

    No one was wearing pajamas (!). I think even the most ‘alternative’ type students would have thought that was weird. But we’re not talking college with any residential provision, only the most specialist kinds of further education college (as opposed to university) have accommodation.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, I can imagine maybe students at a campus-based university turning up to lectures in pyjamas, if it’s a setup where they can roll out of halls and straight into a lecture, but not at a college – as you say those are generally for 16-18-year-olds (as well as adult learning) and don’t have accommodation on site, so it’s a bit more like a school setup rather than a university (so the students have more freedom, but you still wouldn’t be allowed to rock up in pyjamas, and there are definitely more rules around dress code like the no hats/coats in lessons rule that you mentioned).

  21. Nodramalama*

    It is so concerning to me that LW2 is the sole HR person for this company and has no method to deal with this! This is such terrible behaviour, and the office mantra seems very unhelpful

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I’m not completely surprised. It seems not uncommon that at some small companies HR doesn’t really deal with personnel aside from generally handling necessary forms and on boarding new hires. Occasionally payroll as well. A lot of times they aren’t even trained or experienced HR, but rather a more general admin type position that’s been assigned those duties.

      I have zero idea what OP’s role or experience is, they could be extremely experienced but a place full of bees can skew your perception and judgement real fast.

      Honestly they both should GTFO.

  22. Luna*

    LW1 – If you can, find a daycare or even just a half-day daycare for the daughter. Not just because it will give you and your partner a time where you can hopefully concentrate a lot better on your work, but also to give her social interaction with peers her own age.

    LW2 – Why did nobody say at the table, “Wow, that’s rude.”? Bring the problem up in the moment and don’t leave early, if anything he should have left early. As it is, show them what treating others like ‘family’ means: be blunt, be direct, and don’t worry about hurting feelings when they do something wrong. (This is something I never understand with businesses that treat everyone like family. Have they *seen* how some families interact with each other?)
    Especially if you are HR, you need to tell him that his behavior at a work dinner was appalling, including ranging into sexual harassment territory. I don’t care how much money he makes it rain, people like this cause more trouble than they and their money-making skills are worth it. And then you probably need to look for a new job because, holy balls, this place is a… thing.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      In my family there was no need to say the word penis unless there was a very medical conversation going on. So this is not “just like family” for some people.

      1. kittycontractor*

        The very thought of someone discussing penis’s at my family dinner table is inconceivable to me and I grew up in a pretty toxic and dysfunctional household.

        1. Antilles*

          I don’t think it was a “discussion” per se.
          More likely, I would guess that he started by making a one-off joke (akin to making a “compensation” joke when someone drives by in a ridiculously oversized truck or something). But then when the guy saw that his one-off joke made husband uncomfortable, he thought that the discomfort was hilarious, and just kept pushing it further.

  23. Tiger Snake*

    #3 seems a bit overly sensitive on the rejection, which is something that’s come up on this site before. They’ve applied for maybe three positions; that’s not a lot, and for at least one of them they were found to be too junior in your skills and experience. That’s not the company doesn’t care about retaining you, its that moving from one bad-fit to another bad-fit doesn’t fix the issue.

    Go forth boldly to find something you enjoy doing, regardless of if its in your own company or not.

    1. Tara*

      Getting rejected a lot sucks but I also noticed the LW is thinking of this as one entity making the same decision repeatedly. Of course it feels like that to you! But it’s actually a series of different individuals making totally separate decisions about different jobs.

      You could ask your manager if there’s a way to redeploy you into an equivalent role that better fits your skills, if that’s a thing that’s doable there.

      You should also ask for detailed feedback on the interviews where you didn’t succeed, and ask your manager if they can support you with interview coaching, job shadowing or anything else that could help you be the best candidate for the next role you want to go for. Some employers are good at this – others aren’t. But basically I’d encourage you to explore any ways they can help you with the process.

      1. Lily*

        “LW is thinking of this as one entity making the same decision repeatedly. Of course it feels like that to you! But it’s actually a series of different individuals making totally separate decisions about different jobs.”
        Very well said.

      2. NYWeasel*

        Yes, and even when it’s the same manager, it likely isn’t personal even if it feels like it is. I’m hiring for three positions, and every single position had 4-6 qualified applicants (out of hundreds of applications received). For me to make a decision, I have to dig into some real nuance between candidates that in an ideal situation, wouldn’t be the deciding factors.

        In general, saying someone is “young” often is a poor way of describing a tactical view rather than a strategic view—ie younger, more inexperienced candidates tend to view everything through the lens of the work they handle. More experienced candidates tend to recognize more of the big picture—how the work fits in to the company as a whole. Obviously there are people of all ages who struggle with holding a wider view, but it’s more common among younger people who haven’t had as much exposure to the “big picture”. So that might be an area to dig into with your manager.

      3. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking speaking to the manager might be a good way to go. OP writes that the manager is supportive and wants OP to stay at the company, so why not have a down-to-earth conversation about how much you hate the job as it has been reorged? I wouldn’t say outright that you hate it, but tell the manager why you preferred your other role and what parts of your role you would prefer not to do (again, be realistic and cautious with how you word this). If your manager is a good manager and has any sway with the company, she will see what she can do to keep you on without making you miserable. And don’t tell her that you are thinking of leaving the company over this (wasn’t there a question about this just yesterday?) but feel free to start looking elsewhere just to see what your options are.

  24. Tara*

    Honestly, four is too old to just be with parents every day unless there are covid vulnerability reasons. You can’t have everyone at home here and succeed at everything. Preschool is an obvious solution and would honestly really help her.

    1. Alex*

      Agree. Homeschooling is fine, but a 4yo (especially a hyperactive/ADD one) needs some kind of structure. “Go play and stop pestering me” isn’t going to have great results for anyone.

    2. Claire*

      AAM commentariat has been very much on the side of workers who want to avoid Covid infections even post-vaccination, but yet if parents potentially want this same level of protection for their under 5s (who just started being eligible for vaccinations and depending on Pfizer vs Moderna won’t be fully vaccinated until September), there’s no understanding.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m guessing it’s because the OP does not cite pandemic precautions as the reason the 4 year old is at home and cites instead their part-time work schedules meshing to not need childcare?

      2. Underrated Pear*

        It’s a totally different cost-benefit analysis, though. I’m a child development researcher (and parent of toddlers, and very COVID-paranoid individual). My work is very minimally affected by being done at home. A young child, however, is very severely affected by being raised in the kind of isolation we were all in those first 6 months of the pandemic. Despite my extreme fear at the time, I put my daughter back in preschool in September 2020 because keeping her at home only interacting with my husband and me while we tried to juggle our own work was so, so bad for her. The same can’t be said for my work or a lot of office work.

        I’m certainly not arguing there should be “no understanding,” and I didn’t get that from the parent comment at all – it specifically mentions COVID vulnerability. But comparing sending a child to preschool with forcing a return to the office is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

        1. Claire*

          That may be your calculation and it’s reasonable, but the “apples to oranges” part of childcare vs work is also that children under 5 cannot be fully vaccinated yet and adults can be. Each person has to make their risk decision and it doesn’t make sense to be very understanding of vaccinated people who still don’t want to go in person while ignoring parents who don’t want to expose their kids to Covid via daycare.

          1. Underrated Pear*

            I understand that. I have two children under 5 myself. But (1) I *am* taking children’s unvaccinated status into account in this risk calculation, and the calculation still stands. And (2), given that the LW didn’t mention anything about not being able to send the child in due to COVID precautions, I think it’s reading too much into the letter to be going this deep into it. I don’t know the LW’s full motivation, of course, and it’s probably a combination of many factors (including the high cost of childcare, which I think is probably a bigger deterrent to more of the population than COVID is). I’m merely replying to your comment stating that the commenters are understanding of office workers not wanting to return and not extending that same understanding to families who are keeping their young children at home, and pointing out that it’s not a fair comparison. I really and truly don’t judge any parent for the impossible choices they’ve had to make these last few years. But the reality is that the “work” of childhood NEEDS to include socialization with others, whereas much office work does not need to be done in a physical office. That’s all.

  25. Rebekah*

    LW #1 I would really try a schedule. So parent A gets up at 5am and had uninterrupted work time until kiddo gets up at 7. Then during the day you set aside blocks of time. 8-10 is outside time. 1-1:30 is Lego time. 1:30-2 is playdough time. 2-3 is quiet time with books/audiobooks etc. From bedtime at 7-9pm parent B gets their quiet work time.Schedule every minute of your time with who is responsible for looking after the kid, who is working, what toys she is playing with (and then she doesn’t get those toys at other times. Rotation is your friend), etc.

    Also have you tried working in the car if you have one? With 4 young kids in lockdown my husband spent so much time working in the car.

    1. Reality Check*

      That’s what I was going to say. Have a schedule. In the morning, Adult 1 works while Adult 2 takes care of the child. Preferably something outdoors & physical (is there swimming available nearby?). Come home, lunch, switch. Adult 2 works, Adult 1 keeps child occupied. This is a good opportunity to teach her ABCs, beginning math, etc. But whatever you do, a schedule & routine is critical, IMO. Keep her busy and make sure she gets exercise. It does sound like she’s bored.

    2. BethDH*

      Audiobooks with the “ding” to turn a page can work well with kids this age — including ADHD, at least for a few in my circle. They do better with the visuals to follow than all-audio. Our library has these available but I also sometimes find them on Spotify to accompany books we already own.
      Also podcast + quiet activity (lego, puzzle, coloring) seems to occupy them longer than either thing alone.

  26. Mark*

    #4 identified themselves as being in the UK. “Khakis” isn’t a typical term used to describe trousers in the UK like it is in the US (we’re more likely to say chinos, although they’re not quite the same thing), and I’m not sure business casual matches up one to one either – if you’re wearing chinos/khakis then you would need a shirt to make the whole up to “business casual”, not just anything more than a t-shirt. Chinos and e.g. a polo is just casual. The advice in the comments is much more useful though, and hopefully the questioner reads them.

    1. Another ACA*

      Yup, to me “khakis” sound like military surplus, and as for chinos… all I know is that from context they are some kind of trousers! (Though as a woman with no interest in men’s fashion, maybe I am an outlier on that.)

      1. doreen*

        Technically, “khaki” is the color ,”chino” is the type of cloth ands “chinos” are the pants made from that cloth – but the terms are used more or less interchangeably in the US. Some people make distinctions based on the weight of the fabric or the fit – but you’ll find Dockers described as either “chinos” or “khakis”.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Dockers means Doc Martens boots here, so this is not clarifying things the way you might have hoped. ;)

          1. doreen*

            And I actually checked to see whether the Dockers brand is sold in the UK ( It’s a Levi Strauss brand)

  27. Just Me*

    OP 1 – A few options for places to work besides a coffee shop: Is there a public library near you? Or a university (sometimes their libraries or other spaces are open to the public)? Or a coworking space you could get a membership at?

    1. Inkhorn*

      I briefly thought of attempting to draw one after reading that comment, then imagined the tangled mass of spaghetti it would resemble and gave up.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      I had to stop reading after “we function as a family.” Or whatever the words were. NOPE!

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        And I’d argue that they absolutely do not function like a family.

        Know what happens in my family over anything like this? If the offending party is blood, they get called an a-hole to their face, typically phrased as “that’s an a**hole thing to say”, “Is there a reason you’re being an a**hole?”, “STOP. Being. An. Ass.Hole.” If they’re NOT blood, but either married in or dating? Married in, well, their spouse deals with them. Dating? Cringe. At least they showed what they were before you married them, amiright?

        Yeah, we have the approximate tact of a bulldozer as a family trait.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, we have the approximate tact of a bulldozer as a family trait.

          Sometimes that’s a good thing.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I thought about drawing a little chart out, then I realized that IS the problem. No need for a chart.

    4. Squidlet*

      Yes, when I got to “…we are also sizable clients of the company as well” I could no longer follow what was going on. Who is we? OP’s company? OP and her husband? Which company? OP’s employer? Her husband’s company? If OP’s husband is the client, does that mean that her colleague was actually bullying one of the company’s clients?

      Even without all these complications, I can’t believe everyone just sat there while Mr Bully verbally abused his colleague’s husband, who also happens to be his CEO’s wife’s business partner, and that the victim was the one who had to leave.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I assumed she meant she and her husband are clients of the company.

        And yikes, I didn’t think of MLMs, but yeah, that makes sense too. I was thinking maybe OP and her husband run something like a small farm and are clients of the company, which in my example, say provides fertiliser. Then the husband has some kind of side gig with the boss’s wife.

        My guess is that the whole messiness is contributing to Mr. Bully getting away with everything. Say it was the other way around and the OP was behaving badly, I could see the boss being awkward about dealing with it, as she is also a major client and could threaten to take her business away from them AND her husband is in business with his wife and he could be making things awkward for his wife. If Mr. Bully is as mixed up with the company as OP is, and it sounds like he MIGHT be, given what she said about many of the employees knowing him before he started working there, there could be similar conflicts of interest. Not that it in any way JUSTIFIES the lack of action, but it might go SOME way to EXPLAINING it.

        I do find the motto kind of ironic though, given that NOBODY did speak up and tell this guy he was out of line.

    5. Lizard on a Chair*

      Yes, I’m so confused. I don’t think it is an MLM since there’s a CEO, LW is HR and pays the bills for the company, Bully is a former vendor…it sounds like a (toxic, but legitimate) small business. But I’m totally lost on how LW and her husband are “sizable” clients of the company that employs LW! The company is paying LW but she also partially keeps it afloat by giving it her business? And what is she buying? Is it B2C? Is it B2B for a different business that LW and her husband are running together? I’m desperate to know what kind of product or service this company provides that would make this make sense!

  28. Despachito*

    LW1 – where is the father in all that?

    I’ll be blunt – you are not the kid’s parent, and therefore you should not bear the brunt of childcare. It is her father who should, and it is HIS main responsibility. I’d expect his VERY ACTIVE role in this, and if he doesn’t perform it, I’d seriously consider to dump him.

    (I may be unjust here, but I’ve heard too many times that if a divorced father is to spend his portion of time with his small child, he very often transfers it to a female around him – his mother, his partner, even his secretary. For me, this would be a hard stop, because I hate it when someone is not pulling their weight, and even more if it is a man who “has the important things to do”, and considers it natural that a woman will take over the menial ones. My sincere apologies if your partner does not fit into this pattern, but given that it is HIS child but YOU are writing for help seems to me a red flag.)

    1. Not the mommy*

      ^^ This.

      Dad must pay for childcare. Not just find the next female to offload it to.

    2. Quandong*

      When I was newly cohabiting with a dude (way too soon, huge mistake!) his 9-year-old son would be with us every second weekend. I was horrified at how much I was expected to handle in relation to childcare, and how little the dude was prepared to do, or to learn how to do. It was ultimately the reason I broke up with him.

      I urge LW1 to quickly make a detailed agreement with their partner about childcare. I can’t overstate how crucial it is to do right away!! Any reticence or helplessness on the partner’s behalf to make an agreement would be cause for a lot of concern and re-evaluation of the relationship IMO.

      1. Quandong*

        I forgot to say – it’s not LW1’s financial responsibility to pay for childcare. The child’s parent is responsible. Especially if there are any custody orders or court orders involved. LW1 is not on the hook to either be the unpaid nanny or pay for a nanny or daycare either.

      2. Despachito*

        I think it was very wise thing for you to break up with him.

        A person who is neither able NOR WILLING TO LEARN how to care for HIS OWN CHILD is not mature enough and does not deserve a partner at all.

        I’d give him some grace if he struggled with it because before the primary caretaker had been his ex-wife but was doing his best (but the fact that he was able to agree to such an arrangement would personally be a red flag for me per se, because it would mean a high probability that he is into the traditional BS that kids are mostly the mother’s problem) – but even not trying? A huge NO.

        1. Loulou*

          This is so out of line! Actually this whole thread is. LW needs help figuring out how to get work done with a kid at home, not a stranger passing judgement on their living situation.

          1. Omnivalent*

            It’s not passing judgement to note that the child’s father is allowing her to ruin the OP’s ability to work.

            1. Loulou*

              You don’t think “it would be wise to split up with your partner” is passing judgement on the relationship? I don’t actually think that’s my opinion or in any way debatable….

              1. Despachito*

                I think I put a huge caveat in my first contribution that I might be totally out of line.

                However, LW1 said that they can easily set their hours to work around each other’s. To my understanding, this means that while one is working, the other does not have to and can entertain the child and prevent her from interrupting the other’s work. And it is up to him to figure out how to do that, as their livelihood depends on that.

                It would be so even if BOTH of them were the kid’s parents, but as they aren’t, it is the primary responsibility of the parent.

                I think that the ideal situation would be: OP is working, partner ensures that she can do so uninterrupted. Partner is working, OP does the same for him. (And both of them should be aware that the second part is a HUGE favour from the OP towards the partner, and a sign they can consider each other a family, because if she were a parent, it would be her obligation, but as she isn’t, it is just her good will, and the partner should always consider this HIS primary responsibility).

                OP says she cannot work with the kid interrupting, and I completely miss the information what is the partner doing to prevent this? If she said he exhausted all the possibilities and the problem still persists, I’d consider it more of a technical problem. But there was not a word about what he is actively doing, and it makes me assume (again, with the caveat that I may be completely wrong and he may be doing everything in his power and OP just did not mention that) that he is just massively failing to pull his weight.

              2. Indigo a la mode*

                Despachito was responding to a commenter for whom it WAS wise to break up with their partner, not the OP.

      3. anonymous 5*

        SO MUCH THIS.

        My experience with this kind of situation was many years ago now, and thankfully didn’t involve WFH interruptions, but I know I would have absolutely killed to have someone–anyone–acknowledge that my BF needed to take full responsibility for his kid, and that I got a say in the things that had direct impact on me. So LW1, for whatever good it does: dad needs to take full responsibility for making sure his kid doesn’t interfere with your working hours.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m afraid this is where my brain went. LW should be only a secondary childcare option after Parent Actually Parenting and the usual paid options.

      I hope LW isn’t also doing all the laundry “because I was putting a wash on for myself anyway” and somehow makes all the dinners and does all the grocery shopping “because she likes cooking” and and and…

      1. one l lana*

        This puts the suggestion that OP’s partner probably has undiagnosed ADHD in a different light, too. How much are they trying to executive function for two, and making excuses on their partner’s behalf?

        (I have ADHD, and I’m not suggesting a diagnosis is just an excuse. But adults need to assume responsibility for themselves, up to and including seeking treatment for mental health conditions that are making their partners’ lives difficult.)

    4. bamcheeks*

      This is all true, BUT I live in a big house where I have separate office on a different floor from the living room and kitchen, with a door I can shut, and my 4yo is at home being looked after by my partner one day a week (today, in fact!) There’s only so much my partner can do to keep my daughter out of my office. Leaving the house works (obviously), as does something very absorbing like baking a cake together, or putting the television on. But it’s not realistic for my partner to be entertaining her absolutely solidly for 4-8 hours– especially since sometimes she needs to do things like “make lunch” or “stack the dishwasher” or “hang the washing out”–and if they’re in a small house or a flat where LW doesn’t have a door she can shut or their desk is in the same room as a the television, it really may not be possible to stop her bothering LW all together.

      LW, if this does apply to you, see if you can re-jig any of the spaces so that you have a door that shuts and is well away from the “play” areas. Use space and time to signal “LW’s working, we mustn’t interrupt her”. Try and make it boring– put away things like desk tidies, staplers, stuff that is attractive for a 4yo to fiddle with. I try and have a pen and paper handy that I can give her and then ignore her (although depending on the child, that might backfire if she started coming in BECAUSE she wants the pen and paper. Works for my daughter because she’s mainly coming for attention and if she just gets handed pen and paper it’s not rewarding!)

      And just practise repeating, “I can’t, sweetie, you need to go and ask Daddy”, and then making a big fuss of “Work time has finished, now we can play!” time. Unlike 2yos, 4yos absolutely can learn to recognise boundaries around when it’s Not OK to ask a grown-up for attention, and the more you do to draw those boundaries both spatially and in time for her, the quicker she’ll learn it.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        OP1 A short-term solution that worked for a friend is screen time. I know kids aren’t supposed to have a lot or any screen time. But my friend was nursing and needed the 30 minutes of calm to focus on the baby. Her solution was to give the 5 yr old their tablet and they would sit next to each other. The older sib got to play games while mom got the time to focus on nursing. Maybe use it for the vital 30 minutes or hour when concentration is very necessary.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      It sounds like dad is minding the child while she is working, but kiddo isn’t staying with him and is running off to “see what LW is doing now!” My nephew is 4 and I was really hoping my sister wouldn’t visit last Friday when I had some important work to do from home, because no doubt she and her partner would try to keep him out of my way while I worked, but…how long he would listen for, I’m not sure. He’s a good kid, but it’s hard to explain to a four year old that “no, auntie has to work now and can’t play with you.”

      I imagined it as “I want to ask LW!!” “No, LW is working. We’ll ask her later.” *kid runs off to ask LW anyway*

      Gosh, I teach teenagers and I have one 12/13 year old student (who might have ADHD) who I have this problem with. “Miss, can I go to the toilet?” “OK, but you really mustn’t interrupt any classes. You have to come straight back.” “I will, Miss, I promise.” Afterwards a teacher complains to me that he called in to her class or was making noise outside the door because he saw a friend in there and got distracted. And it could as easily be going to get a book he forgot even though I start each class by asking him “are you SURE you have everything now, because you can’t go back to your last class to get anything once they’ve started?”

    6. AnotherSarah*

      Yes! Honestly, the child’s father should be asking other parents, a parenting column, etc.: “My four-year-old interrupts my partner’s work constantly, and I need ideas about a) what to do with her so we’re not in the same space and b) ways to keep her occupied while we need to be in the house together.

      1. Despachito*

        This was exactly my thought!

        I think this is the situation that should be owned by the parent as HIS problem, not make it the problem of the other partner.

    7. Generic Name*

      I confess, my mind went there as well. I was on the opposite side of this coin, in that I was a single mom when I first met my husband. At that time, I had half custody, and all of the childcare/transportation responsibilities during my parenting time were mine alone, and I never asked him to pitch in. Now that we’ve been married for a few years and I have full custody, my husband will sometimes take my kid to school or sometimes will handle the custody exchange with my kid’s dad, but I never would have let the parenting stuff fall on him when he first moved in.

      1. Despachito*

        I’d expect exactly that from two reasonable people. That the parenting responsibilities are definitely NOT EXPECTED from the non-parent, and that they probably slowly grow into some of them (I assume that if I have a partner who cares about me, I will care about him to the extent that we would MUTUALLY help each other, but not stop pulling our own weight for that.

        I can very well imagine that after some time, the kid becomes a part of the newly formed family and the non-parent will treat her as such but the parental responsibilities, and therefore obligations – except for real emergencies, such as the parent sick at the hospital – will always weigh more on the biological parent (so in cases of time conflict, if they do not expressly agree otherwise, it will always be the parent who will have to take care.

    8. MEH Squared*

      Umpteenth agreement here. That was the first thought in my mind as well. Where is this child’s father and isn’t he supposed to be watching the child? (That’s how I read the splitting up the work time portion of the letter.) He needs to be involved in the solution to this problem and if he’s not, why isn’t he?

    9. Elsajeni*

      Yes, I don’t want to be too hard on the partner, but I did wonder about what’s going on when he’s working? Maybe his part-time work is not done from home, so kid interruptions aren’t an issue for him, or maybe he also gets interrupted every 30 seconds but that’s his problem, not the OP’s, so they didn’t mention it. But if he is also working from home but managing to get some uninterrupted work done, then I’m concerned about the possibility that he’s treating the OP’s work time and space less seriously or with less respect than they’re treating his.

  29. Al who is that Al*

    #4 Lead from the front! Dress how you like. I work in a casual office, polo shirts, jeans but one guy does the suit and tie thing. I’m a bit steampunky – wear a waistcoat, shirt, pocket watch with chain. For the college days wear what you want, it’s college. At the office be the trendsetter. I actually had the Office manager come up to me and say that she was buying polo shirts for the office – did I really want one as as I looked quite alternative, I did decline.

  30. Audrey Puffins*

    Re: LW1, it could be that the daughter isn’t in daycare because of the financial costs involved, or for COVID reasons, in which case this is maybe a wildly unhelpful thing to say, but. If you could get her in daycare even just part-time, it will not only take the burden off you, it will also be nice for the kid to spend time with friends. On top of that, you’d also have some childcare professionals who probably have some great ways to help potentially-ADHD kids deal with things, and could even be a big help if you did want to look into getting her a diagnosis a little further down the line.

    1. M2*

      The LW stated both they and the parent work part time. If the parent can’t afford child care (there are subsidized options) the parent should be working full time to pay for it.

      I grew up with a single mom and she worked her tail off (never worked part time). In the summer we went to a day care some weeks and other weeks each grandparent took us for a week and she took some vacation in the summer too. This isn’t LW1 responsibility but the dad really needs to do it!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Quite possibly, the parent is unable to get a full-time job. That may be why they are unable to get childcare, because they can’t get a full time job and part-time wages don’t pay enough. Especially with covid. A lot of companies went out of business. If say the father is working in the hospitality industry and his company lost a lot of money, he might be VERY lucky that they could even keep him on part time when so many others lost their jobs or the companies went out of business. And if he IS in an area where lots of people lost their jobs and many companies went out of business, then all those people are competing for the few jobs left.

        While some people choose to work part-time for family reasons, etc, a LOT of people do it because that was the only job they could get and the choice isn’t part-time or full-time; it’s part-time or unemployment.

  31. Thegreatprevaricator*

    Lw1 – I have a 4 year old and ended up spending more money to send him to nursery an extra (I’m in the uk so that’s preschool/ daycare) rather than have to deal with a) logistics when my partner got a job b) having to be around and bothered when working from home. I spent far too much time enforcing boundaries about not interrupting my work.

    I also want to highlight the benefits of early years provision in terms of social interaction, learning how to be in a different environment and also depending on the provision there can be good support in working with a child’s needs and also providing pathways to diagnosis and accommodations (at least, in the uk there is). This means if there is something going on then the child will have support before entering school system. Although I have to say, as someone with adhd in the family, sometimes I look at my child and wonder ‘is this adhd or is this 4 year old’. I’d be more keeping an eye right now.

    It should go without saying that this is the child’s father’s responsibility to sort. You need to make clear that you can’t work in this way and see if you can find a solution that works for your family.

  32. Suzie SW*

    Oh, LW1, I so feel for you because our situations are so similar. I have a 4-year-old who has been home with my husband and I through most of the pandemic and was recently diagnosed with ADHD (side note: the diagnosis and treatment have been life-changing for us). We work full-time and the interruptions of a hyperactive young child are frequent and impossible to ignore…a catalyst for my husband to get evaluated and back on ADHD medication after weaning off as a teen. I do hope your partner can step up to make sure your work time is uninterrupted.

  33. LilPinkSock*

    #2, as the saying goes, a big part of HR’s job is keeping the company out of court. Allowing your colleague to sexually harass employees and their family members without consequence could be a short trip to a lawsuit. As a person, you’re well within your rights to talk to the jerk. As HR, you have a professional responsibility.

    1. Velawciraptor*

      And that professional responsibility kicked in as the employee became known as a bully. Not just when his behavior impacted LW2 and her husband.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I was thinking, what happens if/when he sexually harrasses a client who is neither married to an employee or in business with the boss’s wife? The OP’s husband has some incentives not to retaliate. Presumably most clients would have absolutely none and would at the very least, stop doing business with the company.

  34. Other Alice*

    LW1, you write “we can easily set our hours to work around each others” but that would mean your partner is minding the child while you work. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Where is he in all of this? All the other solutions (finding a different space to work, sending the child to daycare, enforcing boundaries) are all placing the burden on you but it’s your partner who should make sure his child is not bothering you while you work… Otherwise this arrangement looks more like you providing free childcare than anything else.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, the way OP describes their arrangement sounds like it should be something like, say, OP works from 8 to 12 while partner looks after his daughter, and partner works from 1 to 5 while OP looks after his daughter. But if that were actually the case, OP shouldn’t be distracted and interrupted by daughter to the extent she describes (I guess the child sometimes knocking on the door or similar would happen anyway but what OP talks about goes far beyond that).

      It very much sounds to me like partner isn’t pulling his weight at all but if he is and this is still what ends up happening, the only logical conclusion I can come to is that OP’s home is way too small for this kind of arrangement, in which case it… might not have been the best idea to have the two move in with her. I know there might be extenuating circumstances, like partner was evicted or fled from living with his abusive parents or similar, but no matter what, it sounds like the setup is far from ideal and something has to change, for OP’s own sanity.

    2. Emm*

      Yeah, that was my reaction. It sounds like you actually can’t “easily” set your work hours! This seems like a difficult and frustrating situation, and there’s a lot of good advice from parents/those in the know in the comments, but I’d like to emphasize communicating with your partner about this. You need to collaborate to come up with something that works for all of you, and the first step might be having an open conversation with each other.

  35. Kitkay*

    For LW1, I think there’s a few things that need to be addressed
    1. You and your partner have to agree that the person in charge of child care is in charge of preventing interruptions. If it means that you have to lock the door and put on your headphones, do that. If you have to leave the home, go to the library and get a study room.
    2. Consider getting a child care minder for a couple of hours per day at least a few days per week.
    3. Get organized for the month. Look on-line and find activities for her. Libraries have children reading hours; book stores have storytimes (just checked – Barnes & Noble has one near me), recreation centers have activities (I live in Northern Virginia and the local rec centers have children programs Abrakadabra Mini Doodles and Outdoor Animal Antics among others as well as classes for swimming and gymnastics). Sign her up or, for the free stuff, put it in the calendar and plan to take her there for a couple of hours. Take a look at your neighborhood – does it have a playgroup? You shouldn’t schedule something for every day but if you have an activity 3 mornings per week, that will get her moving and out of the house.
    4. Consider getting a workbook for Pre-K level activities. My kids used to do 15 minutes per day and earn a marble that they could spend on screen time. Two of mine have ADHD and were thrilled to do this.
    5. Get organized for the day. Set up a schedule and lay out meals and snacks ahead of time. Plan breakfast, morning activity, lunch, workbook, quiet time or whatever works. Whoever is in charge that day or during that time follows the schedule.
    6. For the fall, you might be able to find a pre-k that still has spots. If you find a local church, the costs tend to minimal (as compared to day care) and you will have a few mornings where she is out of the house, engaging with other children.
    Not all of these will work for you and your family but some might. Good luck!

    1. Despachito*

      7. Let all of the above be resolved primarily by your partner. You can definitely give him the list of ideas, or help him make the ocassional phone call, but definitely do not take on doing it all or most of it by yourself.

      If he is a decent person, this should go without asking. If it doesn’t, and if he takes for granted that it will be you who either has to suffer or find and arrange for the solution for HIS kid, then… perhaps he is not your Prince Charming.

      1. Delta Delta*

        8. OP doesn’t say this specifically, but where does kiddo’s mom fit in to all this? Unless the partner is widowed, there’s another parent for this child who presumably has some say/input/financial responsibility for what child does.

        Also, let’s all not lose sight of the fact this child is 4, which means this situation will likely soon be abated by turning 5 and going to kindergarten. Although it sounds like this she would also really benefit from a preschool program, too – most kids do.

        1. Loulou*

          There are a ton of options other than “widowed” that result in someone being a single parent…this is getting way too personal imho.

          1. SoloKid*

            Agreed. It’s one thing to say “get your partner to parent his child while you’re working” but another to assume there’s another woman in the child’s life that “should” assume responsibility.

            1. Despachito*

              But it does make a difference if there is another functional parent, because the parental responsibilities can – and should – be split primarily between the biological parents (and again – it should be THEIR primary responsibility to arrange for that as THEY are the kiddo’s parents).

              1. SoloKid*

                “Get your boyfriend to deal with childcare for his child” is all that needs to be said. No speculation on custody (!) needed.

              2. Just Another Starving Artist*

                Except that there are a dozen reasons other than why there might NOT be another functional or present parent, and absolutely none of them are any of our business.

                1. Despachito*

                  None of our business, certainly, but OP will probably want to factor this in.

                  If the kid has other functional parent, the dynamics would be somewhat different – as a partner in a functional relationship, I’d be inclined to offer slightly more help and to cut a little more slack to a person who is the only caregiver.

  36. FinSys Nerd*

    LW5 — As someone who recently interviewed a bunch, I think many large companies still factor employee location into the compensation they’re willing to pay as a type of cost of living factor. I’ve started to see some companies list the job in every major metro in a state (e.g., Dallas vs Houston vs Austin) with the salary range based on whatever sliding scale they use, but thats a lot of job postings to maintain, and it still doesnt fully apply to those outside of the major metro areas.

    I don’t entirely get why choosing to live in a smaller city/town changes what the job is worth to the company (e.g., why location-based is a thing vs purely job-based), but I think until the location factors are either abandoned or standardized/published with how they impact range, we’re likely to continue to see the preference of companies lean towards not disclosing the budgeted salary.

    1. M2*

      Because it’s cost of living. Living in San Francisco is a heck of a lot more expensive than living in a lot of other places and salary reflects that. No one would live in San Francisco if they got paid the same as someone who lives in say Idaho!

    2. Clisby*

      This is good advice. I don’t know these people, so have no opinion on who does or doesn’t have ADHD, but both of my neurotypical 4-year-olds would have been constantly antsy if shut up in the house all day. They were fine with indoor activities like building with blocks or an Erector Set, setting up a train track and playing with Thomas the Tank Engine cars, coloring … but not for an entire frigging day. Besides needing much more physical activity, they needed to be with other children.

    3. Zee*

      I don’t entirely get why choosing to live in a smaller city/town changes what the job is worth to the company

      I think you need to look at it not that the job in NYC (or San Fran, or wherever) is $X and elsewhere it’s $X-10, but the other way around – the core job is worth $Y, and there’s a COL bump for people in NYC that makes the pay $Y+10. And the reason for that is that otherwise they wouldn’t get any candidates from NYC, and there’s a high concentration of qualified candidates there.

      (Personally, I’m always a little torn about that situation – if I moved from an expensive city to a less-expensive one, yes my rent might go down, but my other bills like student loans aren’t affected. I don’t have a good solution… and am not in a position to hire people anyway, so it’s moot.)

      Having multiple postings in multiple cities is… bizarre. I’ve seen plenty of jobs that say “the range is $X to $X+20, factoring in location” and that seems fine to me.

  37. bamcheeks*

    khakis and a top that’s not a Tshirt

    This made me laugh because “khakis” are really not a thing in the UK, except for a few months in the late 90s when Gap first arrived. I don’t even know whether they’re the same thing as chinos, or whether they’re looser, beiger, more pleated and more casual than chinos? And even “chinos” is something you only really see that in stuff that’s aimed squarely at mid-to-high income, not-interested-in-fashion 35-50-year-olds.

    That translation aside, I’d try and aim for the middle-of-the-road for the first few sessions until you’ve got the vibe, OP. So bottom half:

    – if you’re going to wear jeans, make them dark straight-legged jeans, not tight/stretch, very faded or with frays/rips
    – casual trousers/chinos in a dark plain colour (navy, black, dark green), again, not too faded, stretch, etc.
    – smart work/business trousers

    top half:
    – plain or checked/patterned shirt, not massively colourful, oversized or tight
    – no tie
    – if a tshirt, plain colour, not oversized or tight
    – avoid hoodies until you’ve got the vibe, but sweatshirts in (again) plain, darkish colours and not ripped, faded, distressed etc

    Basically, I’d avoid anything distressed, ripped, faded or with really bright colours or patterns. But also, remember that it’s unlikely anyone is going to be judging that hard– this is really about you feeling comfortable and being able to concentrate on the learning rather than feeling out of place and unable to focus. You’ll probably feel fine rocking a three-piece suit once you’re more confident and you’ve taken your place in the team. My office is a very broad business-casual and I’ve a (male) colleague who veers between loudly-patterned three-piece suits and hoody+jeans, and we all think it’s great.

    And congratulations on the job and I hope it goes well!

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Khaki is a color. Chino is a fabric. You can have khaki chinos, or other color chinos. They’re often overlapping but aren’t by definition so.

      1. quill*

        Also, this could be from growing up in the 90’s, but if you’re wearing beige khaki pants, that is not any less formal than black or navy blue dockers. Khakis and polo shirts are a uniform, same pants in a different color (with a polo shirt or button down) are for people who had to work in a cube farm in ’95.

        1. bamcheeks*

          .. I understood about half of those words. :D

          I think beige trousers are just generally not a thing here. You can definitely get plain canvas trousers in dark colours and jeans-type styling, and that’s what I’d call chinos, but that’s not a widely used term and they’re not a massively popular style for either casual or work clothing. Like, I can immediately think of a few brands which would label their casual trousers as “chinos”, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “I’m planning to wear chinos” or “I must get a new pair of chinos.”

          My grand theory is actually that cords occupy the ecological niche in the UK that khakis/chinos occupy in the US.

          1. quill*

            That’s actually a pretty good theory because I just remembered that when I, circa ’05, last had to have khakis for a formal-ish event they were actually made of courduroy, and cut like jeans.

          2. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

            That’s some clever comparative anthropology–and very useful, because I love cords. Fuzzy texture good.

            I think in the UK we associate beige trousers with posh people riding horses and maybe hunting foxes, and therefore avoid them.

            LW #4

  38. Lynca*

    LW 1- As another parent with diagnosed ADHD with a child the same age some things I would recommend:

    You say this is a recent move. This change is immensely hard on a kid that young ADHD or otherwise. You do need to have them settle into a routine where you clearly establish that your working. My 4 year old knows when I’m in a specific room with my laptop, etc. it means I’m working so I can’t play. It helps if this is a seperate room with a door you can shut. You will be out of sight, out of mind so to speak.

    This obviously will still not stop every interruption (4 yr. olds gonna 4 yr. old) but it keeps the interruptions down. You also have to give them grace to settle into the current routine.

    Something else to consider is whether your work could be done at a library/co-working space. I have a hybrid schedule so I’m in the office half the time. So my child also associates working with me sometimes being gone. It also removes the appeal of coming to me for something. Our library was just renovated reservable rooms for working if you have to do something like conference calls. Otherwise you’re free to work in the main part of the library on a laptop.

    But the final thing- if your partner is supposed to be watching the 4 year old, they need to be actively doing so. Being undiagnosed does not mean you can’t start learning some coping skills when it comes to child care and parenting with ADHD. An engaged partner should be working with you to find a way to make this work and not leaving this entirely up to you.

  39. Workerbee*

    LW 1, what did partner do with his child before he moved in with you? Unless he suddenly won full custody just before that, I’d have him revert to whatever arrangements he had made. I am of course assuming here that those arrangements worked and will work with two adults in the picture now, agh. But I just don’t like the thought of you being driven out of your own home.

    1. Despachito*

      I was thinking that too – why should LW accept being driven of her OWN home because her boyfriend is not capable to pull his weight?

    2. WellRed*

      I really wonder if OP and boyfriend really thought through how this would work instead of just … assuming? Communication and flexibility are crucial. Tying your life to a partner and their kid is challenging. If possible, I think getting some child care help is needed.

    3. Office Lobster DJ*

      That could be true, but before moving in with LW, there probably wasn’t a need to have quiet during those hours. It could be that sticking to the previous arrangement is the problem, if the previous arrangement was just letting the kid run around and play at home.

      For better or worse, it’s the BF and child’s home now, too, so I don’t think it’s a terrible option for LW to look at possibilities to work outside the home.

      1. Despachito*

        But what about the boyfriend’s work – if the kid is as disruptive as she seems to be, he would not be able to work if she was running around the house? Or does his work not require the same amount of quiet?

        And I would consider it outrageous if I let someone stay with me, only to be forced to search for solutions much more awkward to me (looking for free spaces/having to pay to stay somewhere/possibly having to carry work stuff with me) while the partner seems rather lax in terms of searching a solution.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          Yeah, that’s definitely a missing piece of the puzzle. Is he working when she’s asleep? Is he just used to the distractions or can more easily be interrupted? Is he interrupted less because he’s not as new and interesting to the 4yo or has previously established this boundary with her? If it’s that he’s able to work because LW is better at keeping the 4yo occupied, then that is totally inequitable and he needs to step up.

          I guess I read the situation as LW and her boyfriend choosing to make a home together rather than her letting them stay there, e.g. crashing between leases or something. Ultimate responsibility for his child remains with him, but it’s everyone’s home now.

  40. Sean*

    LW2: So you have an employee who is sexually bullying a client of the company, which your husband is? Is there any reason why this idiot is still employed?

    What sort of behaviour would constitute termination?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      But he’s family! You know how it is with family – creepy lurch is just gunna creep and everyone just has to accept that’s how he is.
      Too bad they are are a family; a business would fire his ass.
      I’m surprised they have a HR. Seems like the OP holds the role of an helpless enabler.

  41. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: From the description of the whole environment you’re in it sounds more like a server room filled top to bottom of unlabelled misaligned cables resembling an upturned lorry of spaghetti and you’re trying to find out why Port A340 is flashing an error.

    Without solving the underlying problem (there’s cables everywhere!) you’ll never be able to do it.

    Yes you have a big problem – massive one in fact – but you’re twined to this firm in multiple ways that’ll seriously hamper a satisfactory solution.

    Personally I’d leave, take my business elsewhere too. Sometimes it’s easier to just buy a new server room.

    1. Cormorannt*

      Excellent analogy, except that in this server room, some of those cables are actually snakes.

  42. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW1 Have you considered working from your local library? If your work is mainly independent, as opposed to video calls which are harder to accommodate, you’ll find a quiet environment at the library. Unlike coffee shops there’s no expectation that you purchase anything and no issue if you stay for multiple hours. I’ve worked from my local library during power outages at home and definitely prefer it to the other options. In addition to public libraries, most college and university libraries are also open to the general public.

  43. Oakwood*

    Re: clothing

    I suggest, for the training period at least, you have your clothing professionally cleaned and pressed at a dry cleaners.

    You can still wear the same khakis and shirts as your coworkers, but the crisp neatness of your clothing will set you a step above your colleagues.

    In general you want to be dressed better than your colleagues but not so much better that it makes you look out of place. Professional pressing is a good way to do that. You’ll still be dressed the same, but “for some reason” you clothing will look better than your colleagues.

    I’m always amazed at the people who show up to work in wrinkled, unpressed clothing.

    1. metadata minion*

      If you have the budget to do that, feel free, but plenty of people manage to do stellar work without crisp lines to their clothing.

      1. Sylvan*

        This is the same person who advised a college student or new grad to buy a second wheelchair to look more professional.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Sylvan is unfortunately not joking. Search “can I have stickers on my wheelchair” (it’s letter 3 at the resulting link).

    2. bamcheeks*

      In general you want to be dressed better than your colleagues

      This is very “everyone should be above average”!

      1. Oakwood*

        “Should be” and “are” are two different things.

        In my experience, most people do what’s required and no more when it comes to dress. And, a significant number do less.

        1. bamcheeks*

          But why’s that bad? What’s the positive advantage of doing more? I mean, I love clothes and thinking about clothes, so it’s fun for me, but if it isn’t, why waste your energy?

      1. Oakwood*

        It is a low bar.

        Yet, I’ve noticed that the simple act of pressing your clothing will make you stand out.

        Even in the jeans and t-shirt world, jeans can be pressed. T-shirts can be in good shape, pressed, and well fitting.

        1. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

          I’m the kind of person who tries to match their tie to their pen, and I’m going to be honest, if I know that someone has their jeans professionally pressed and dry-cleaned to wear to work, I’m going to make some conclusions about their mental state.

        2. pancakes*

          “Pressed” sounds over the top and would give jeans and t-shirts and odd look, but steamers are cheaper than they used to be and running one over wrinkly clothes can be worth the little effort it takes. I think it’s a good idea to remove bad wrinkles and creases, but most people with jobs where they can wear jeans and t-shirts don’t need to be taking that so far that they end up dressed like missionaries.

    3. Waistcoat Enthusiast*

      What’s the particular benefit you’re seeing to (expensive!) dry-cleaning and pressing as opposed to… owning an iron?

      1. Oakwood*

        I grew up in the dry cleaning business. You will never get as crisp and clean a pressing at home as you do via a professional laundry/dry-cleaners.

        Laundered clothing is pressed while still wet on specialized presses. They are dried during the pressing process, which gives the garment a better press. Even garments that have zero starch in them have a crisp look to them.

        Dry cleaned garments (like wool suits) are pressed using “dry” steam. It’s called dry steam because there are no water droplets suspended in the steam. All of the water is converted to steam. It requires an industrial steam boiler. Also, it doesn’t produce a “shine” on the garment, which is often a side effect of using a hot iron on natural materials like wool. It’s also impossible to burn the fabric with this process.

        Neither of these processes is achievable at home. Thus, neither is the quality of pressing they produce achievable at home.

        There’s nothing wrong with pressing your own garments. It can look quite good (and certainly looks better than wearing them wrinkled). But, you aren’t going to achieve the level of pressing you would get from a professional business.

        1. quill*

          I do wonder what the utility of this is once you have sat down and stood up more than once, but also, being a fairly curvy woman and living in a hot area, stuff just isn’t going to stay crisp on me for very long. Once I move in an ironed shirt, it’s all over for the shirt.

        2. biobotb*

          You’re apparently an expert on pressing clothing. I sincerely doubt that most people will be able to tell a decent home ironing job from a professional job.

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      Unless someone is coming to work dressed like a total slob or against dress code- what you wear doesn’t much matter in most industries in this day and age.

      If it makes a difference in how you feel about yourself at work to press your clothes, by all means do so.

      But in the grand scheme of things, your clothes aren’t (and shouldn’t’) be what gets you noticed at work – your actual work is.

      I don’t generally notice what others are wearing and and I don’t care because it has zero bearing on the job.

      1. Oakwood*

        It shouldn’t make a difference. Neither should combing your hair, keeping your beard trimmed, or clipping your fingernails. But in the real world it does.

        In a world where “small strokes fell great oaks” your appearance is one of those small-strokes that help you get ahead. It’s not everything, but it is something. The little things add up.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I’ve been in the real world for decades – it has never made a difference in any work environment I’m in.

          Generally neat and clean is good enough. No one disagrees on that. Yes you should brush your hair and trim your beard in most work environments. Clothes should fit decent and be clean and neat.

          Dry cleaning and pressing your clothes isn’t going to get you a promotion. It’s not going to make people like you more. It’s not going to make you stand out. Most people won’t notice at all. It’s not middle school where everyone was vying for cool points. You may notice, but you notice because of your affiliation with dry cleaning and because it’s important to you. Perhaps things like that still matter in certain industries like finance and fashion. But it’s simply not of any consequence in most fields.

          Why don’t you ask around? Ask your colleagues if they notice that you press your clothes.

          In fact focus on appearance is hugely problematic – ask any POC with non “white” looking hair. Apparently you made comment about how someone in a wheelchair should consider buying another because appearances. Look at studies on how people in larger bodies or who aren’t conventionally attractive fair in the workplace. The answer to raging inequity revolving around appearances being held against people is not to capitulate. It’s to continually point out that those people are wrong in using appearance against someone.

          Little things do add up – like how you treat people, how you react to crisis, etc. Those are the things that people should be concerned with.

          I’m sure nothing that anyone has stated will change your mind. I comment not to change your mind but for someone new to the working world who may be reading this.

  44. Trek*

    OP2 I really want to know how the boss’ wife reacted. Did she just nod and imply she agreed or did she respond verbally in any way? Husband should schedule a meeting with the owner(s) immediately and state ‘I wanted to follow up on Craig’s behavior at dinner. What is being done to address this situation? This could open all of us up to lawsuits and we can’t do nothing. I am not going to be treated this way by anyone.’ In other words he can’t go back to pretending nothing happen either. They may try to put it back on husband in the well what would you want to happen. I understand he’s the rain maker but how do you ever trust him with clients again? You may even want to call clients and ask about his performance. Don’t just speak to fellow sales people but to support staff as well.

  45. Veryanon*

    That first letter – there are all kinds of red flags here, and only some of them are related to OP’s question. The advice was spot-on, and OP needs to figure this out quickly, as it sounds as though they are having some pretty serious performance issues in their job. But I have to wonder where the partner is in all this. It’s their child! Why aren’t they taking the lead on finding appropriate child care? Did they move in with OP just to have a built-in babysitter????

    1. Dust Bunny*

      My guess is “yes”? I mean woman in the house = default childcare, right? I would not be at all surprised if he felt overwhelmed and moved in in large part so he would have a de-facto mom to manage Kid for him, even if he wasn’t consciously thinking it.

    2. bluephone*

      That’s kind of what I’m thinking even though I’m trying to be less cynical about like, everything nowadays.

  46. Oakwood*

    Re: verbal abuse

    I’m going to recommend a book: “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense” by Suzette Haden Elgin.

    You only need a few tools to deal with a verbal bully like the one in the story. Simply focusing on his behavior instead of just sitting there dumbfounded is often enough to end the behavior.

    “Frank, we’re at a company dinner you’re discussing your penis! What’s wrong with you Frank?” Keep hammering the bully’s out of line action. Make it the center of the discussion. Make his actions uncomfortable for him.

    Whatever you do, don’t address the subject of his bullying (“my penis is perfectly fine; no I don’t want yours”). Nope, nope, nope.

  47. Radical honesty*

    #3 – hiring managers are going to hire the best person for the job, they aren’t thinking about whether they will retain you. If your manager is advocating for you, then clearly they want you to stay.

    People get passed over for promotions all the time. I would focus on increasing your skills and getting exposure to other departments so you can get the job you want, instead of feeling like they don’t want you there.

  48. AnonyNurse*

    LW2 – I hope your partner is taking kiddo to regular visits at a health care provider, such as a pediatrician. If you are in the US, in most places, the young child of a single parent who is working part time (unless for an inordinate amount of money) will be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, if she doesn’t have other insurance. Well child visits are covered at no cost as part of any ACA plan. Seeing a provider about your concerns doesn’t mean “medicate the child.” It means making sure you have the right information, resources, and support for the kiddo’s wellbeing.

    If your partner is unsure of what the options are, a call to 211 in most places in the US can point you in the right direction. Most county or city health departments also have clinics for young children for vaccinations and routine screenings. If she is diagnosed with ADHD or anything else, it will likely open a lot of doors — such as no-cost pre-K, therapy (behavioral, occupational, etc.).

    For all your sakes, but mostly for this child’s, please seek out resources and care for her!

  49. Oakwood*

    Re: salary

    Ask them bluntly: at what point will you provide salary info? How many years after I’ve been working at you company will I have to wait to find out how much I’m making?

    Not telling you the price is an old salesman trick. They want to get you all excited about the product. They want you to be mentally committed to purchasing the product. Then, and only then, do they spring the price on you, which is usually way more than you wanted to pay, but because you have gotten interested in the product its harder to say no at that point.

    Employers do this trick in reverse. They don’t tell you the salary or benefits hoping you’ll get excited about the job, picture yourself in the job, and mentally commit to the job. Then, at the last minute, they reveal the (low ball) salary. Had they revealed it up front you would have walked. Now that you’ve fallen in love with the job they hope they can get you for a discount.

    If someone refuses to reveal the salary range up front, it’s almost certain they are going to try and low ball you.

  50. Claire*

    Since LW#1 isn’t the child’s parent, I think the only thing she has direct control over is her own workspace. Moving from easiest to hardest, I’d recommend 1) installing a lock (could be as simple as a hook and eye lock) on her workspace door 2) working out of a local library 3) paying for a space at a local coworking space (would your job potentially be open to paying for a space?) 4) asking partner & daughter to move out if an alternate/non-house childcare arrangement for the child can’t be found.

  51. ABBBK*

    I WFH with six kids in the house, ages 2-8. It’s totally possible but the adults and kids need clear and consistent boundaries about space and noise. THEY AREN”T ALLOWED IN MY OFFICE (/bedroom). period. I come out for lunch and warmly say hi to everyone, but that’s it. they also can’t be screaming and otherwise disrupting adults WFM (there’s usually at least 2 of us). these are strict house rules consistently enforced by everyone. Your partner needs to enforce these rules HARD, and then you do the same for him. Also: she needs a schedule. one outing in the morning, another in the afternoon (or something), meal times, snack times, playdates wtih friends, etc. it’s hard to keep an antsy child well behaved.

    1. Nunya_Bniz*

      Honestly, that sounds wildly irresonsible. An 8 year old isn’t old enough to be supervising children as young as 2! And your concern seems to be that they not bother you and the other adult working; not that they aren’t getting into things, tearing the house up, wandering out of the house, etc… YOU may think that it’s working just fine to have 6 young children unsupervised while you close yourself in an office all day (except to “warmly say hi”???) but… it sounds like a recipe for a trip to the ER one of these days.

  52. Wry*

    LW1 – You might consider doing your work at your local public library. It sounds like working at home is untenable, and you have good reasons not to want to work at a coffee shop. At a library, the environment will typically be quieter and less chaotic than a coffee shop, and you can sit and work as long as you want without being expected to buy anything. Sometimes there are even private rooms you can reserve ahead of time.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      . . . maybe.

      My local library branch is heavily used, especially by kids whose parents aren’t home from work yet, so it’s actually very noisy and busy. So much so that I really only pick up hold books, I never actually go there to work or read.

  53. Just another queer reader*

    LW1: You might find low-cost activities/ childcare through your city’s parks department. In my city, the parks department holds $10/wk summer day camps for kids. Good luck.

  54. Fluffy Fish*

    OP – Being junior is not an insult. You are a junior employee. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with experience. In general it takes about a year just to settle in to a new job – to lose that I have no idea what I’m doing feeling. Being passed over for jobs thus far is unsurprising.

    A strong retainment program doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means. In general no, they don’t want to lose employees – but that doesn’t mean anyone who wants to leave or is unhappy they’re going to find some way to put them in a new position or promote come hell or high water. And in your case, it doesn’t mean promoting you to a position that they don’t think you are ready for yet just to keep you.

    What it does mean in your case is having a supportive boss. Things like offering opportunities for training and growth so you can eventually get promoted.

    So. Since you are unhappy, by all means look elsewhere for a better fit. In the meantime, work with your boss for those growth opportunities like trainings and stretch projects. Those things will serve you professionally whether you leave or not.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Can agree. I know IT is a strange world all it’s own sometimes but the average length of time I needed to hold a job as a techie before I felt really comfortable to say I knew exactly how to do 100% of the job was 2 years.

      It has taken over a decade to get to the point where I felt I could effectively manage a senior technical team.

      I definitely wouldn’t promote a tech with under a year’s experience to a senior role – not unless they’d literally developed a failure free and cost effective alternative to SQL in their own time and even then I’d hesitate.

  55. WFH with Cat*

    OP #4 – Don’t worry about having over-dressed for an interview … I think most of us have at some point, and it is better than under-dressing. :)

    Since you are in training for your first professional job, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity to dress a little more professionally than might be strictly necessary. You’ll get used to dressing for work — and be able to try 0ut new outfits and work out a style you like and find comfortable that will fit well in your new role.

  56. CJR*

    OP1 – I used to have similar problems and found the local library to be a haven of peace and quiet – and no $6 coffee needed for entry.

  57. Invisible today*

    Op1 – would you look into / can you afford even a part time preschool program ? It’s so hard to get things done with a toddler/ preschool aged kid bouncing around (sometimes literally )

  58. Contracts Killer*

    As a WFH mama who endured elearning for 2 months of kindergarten and an entire year of 1st grade, and now works from home with a 1-hour overlap of the kiddo coming home, here are some things that have worked for us:
    – Sitters with lesser qualifications. If we were leaving our child alone with a sitter, we would expect them to know CPR, have basic first aid training, be at least 15 years old, etc. If I’m home, I’m comfortable having a generally responsible 11 – 13 year old babysit and my kid feels more like it’s a playdate than a sitter. You may also have retired neighbors who are a bit too forgetful, distracted, etc. for regular care, but would do great just coming over 1-2 hours per day to play or even just snuggle together watching TV.
    – Pinterest! There are a million ideas for things kids can make/play/do without help from adults. It may take some pre-preparation from you or the kiddo’s dad, but things like a backyard scavenger hunt with pictures instead of words.
    – Electronics. Our daughter is too young for her own fully activated phone, but she has one of our old phone that only works with wifi and is loaded with age-appropriate games and activities.
    – Structured playtime. It’s a great time to start teaching her how to read a clock and give her a time each day when she can come find you to play.

  59. Ewing46*

    LW1: Parent of a 3 year-old (and 1 year old) here. I also work from home. If you are able to work in a separate room with a door, that’s your best solution. My office is in the basement, and the kids know it’s off limits. I also have a “do not disturb” sign when I’m on calls so caregivers know not to disturb me. My daughter (3) knows what the sign means and has scolded me for going into my own office when I’ve left the sign up!

    I’ll second Alison that your partner/the child’s caregiver needs to take a more active role. Kiddo should not be allowed to waltz into your office. On days my kids are home (they are in daycare most days), they spend most of their time outside, or if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we have a slide inside ($5 at a garage sale). They really need movement or they get so antsy and grumpy.

  60. animaniactoo*

    LW3 – I don’t see any indication in your letter that you’ve actually told anyone – most especially your manager! – that you dislike the work you were left with doing when your role was split. Which – from a retention standpoint – gives them a very different picture of what you need/are trying to do when you are applying for different roles. There may even be other options within your current role that would help and they may be willing to do if they knew how unhappy you are. So if you haven’t done that – go forth and do that.

  61. River Otter*

    LW3:
    Can you ask your boss about restructuring work in the department so that you have more of the duties that were split off from your role earlier? This would mean shifting some of the duties that you currently handle to somebody else. Essentially, I am suggesting that there could be two people in the role you originally had.
    Have you really emphasized to your boss that this is turning into a retention problem for you? I am not suggesting that you give him an ultimatum of “give me something else to do or I will quit.” I am suggesting that you have a conversation about how you see yourself with this company for the long term but Your current duties are such a bad fit that you don’t think you could be there for the long term if that is what you will be doing.
    Retention is a high-level strategy which will need your boss to have conversations with his boss about how they can either restructure work directly under their control or how they can find a fit for you elsewhere in the company. Because staffing needs a fairly high level strategy, you don’t see immediate results when trying to rearrange peoples rules. What you do need in place is a clear understanding that there is going to be a retention problem, so if you haven’t started introducing the two points of wanting to stay with the company but not wanting to stay in the role, then start working that into an ongoing conversation.

  62. Essess*

    OP2 – as the HR person, this is literally your job to shut down this bully. He was sexually harassing others at a company event. It doesn’t matter that the person he was harassing was not an employee, it still falls under company responsibility. Not only did he harass your husband, anyone that heard it can also file EEOC harassment complaints if the company does not step in and stop this bully’s behavior. You (as HR) have a legal obligation to make sure he does not continue this behavior. The fact that someone from HR was a witness to this makes it even more of a legal liability against the company if you do not act to discipline the bully for it.

  63. ZSD*

    #2: I just want to add that kicking someone under the table is not a good management practice.

    1. Smilingswan*

      It sounds like every employee at that table needs to be either written up or fired. I’ve never heard anything so disfunctional in my life.

  64. Dust Bunny*

    My brother and SIL are the parents of a high-energy four-year-old. He gets up early and watches Kid until about noon so SIL can work. She takes Kid after noon, roughly, so brother can work. She gets up and starts work early and he works well into the evening/after Kid goes to bed. If Kid is just too rowdy they go to the park/run around the yard/whatever it takes to keep Kid out of the other parent’s hair. They are in an area where Kid can be back in daycare part time, which helps, if that’s an option where you live.

    If your boyfriend is going to do this, he needs to have more of a plan–and he needs to lead on this, not leave it up do you under the pretense that it “bothers you more”. He’s the parent here and it’s also not fair to set you up as the Bad Guy who won’t play on demand. He also needs to teach his daughter about boundaries–four is old enough to learn that you don’t get to demand that everyone play with you all the time.

  65. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    OP1 seconding what everyone else has said about libraries. Also I worked in daycare for a decade and was the single momma at who’s house all the cousins and neighborhood kids hung out. And I have ADHD. 4 even with ADHD is old enough to learn not to interrupt you during certain time frames. Make a simple chart like a stop light. Green means its ok to come in and chat for a while, Yellow means you can come in but the visit needs to be short and have a point. Red means come back later unless the house is on fire and your father is incapacitated. Don’t live it on red all day. But use it for Zoom calls, phone calls, and I can’t be interrupted until this is finished type stuff. If child comes in just point to the red, then point to back out. If the child comes in again, you call the father to come get her and to enforce any consequences. Build little breaks into the day so you can be on green and give her moments to look forward to tell you about what her barbie is wearing, or the bug she spotted. If she has trouble waiting for a red time frame to end get a cheap little kitchen timer. “I have to work and can’t talk to you until this dings, when it does I’ll be able to spend a little time with you”. I’d also advice for more structure in her day. Daily outside time at a local park or a neighborhood walk. Maybe matching your “red” times with her quite time to look at picture books or work on puzzles by herself. I’ve found my ADHD little buddies in my pre K class did well when they had predictable structure and something to keep them busy, and a good does of outside/rainy day indoor PE class to take the edge off them. For my own ADHD when I was in an office environment I found noise cancelling headphones and a good radio channel blocked out the distractions.

  66. NYC Resident*

    On #5, I live in NYC. I wonder if I can make some money on the side renting myself out as a “potential applicant” to people in other states to help them obtain the salary info for such positions.

    1. pancakes*

      Better yet, make a social media account under a pen name and make the info available to everyone.

  67. H3llIfIknow*

    For the remote worker with the 4 year old: If I were your co-worker and you were constantly being distracted or missing deadlines because of your kid, I’d be suuuuuper annoyed. It is your responsibility as an employee to make arrangements to be attentive to your job. It’s lovely that you and your partner can “make your schedules work” so that kiddo doesn’t have to go to daycare but maybe you need to rethink that. Your desire to save money doesn’t permit you to foist a constant (your word, btw, not mine) interrupting force on your employer. You need to act to the largest extent possible as if you ARE AT WORK.

    1. Claire*

      Presumably LW can’t just unilaterally enroll the 4 year old in daycare since she’s not one of the parents.

      1. Observer*

        That’s true. But the reality is that the OP *needs* to find a solution or they may find themselves out of a job.

      2. Nunya_Bniz*

        No, but she can tell BF “I cannot be a babysitter to your child AND an effective employee at the same time; we have to come up with a solution that works.” I know too many of my own coworkers who during the pandemic were delighted to save so much money on daycare, but someone has to watch the kid, right? If it isn’t someone else *tag* you’re it! When I worked, I paid for daycare, the OP and her BF need to own that the current situation isn’t “working” and suck up the cost of some care.

  68. RagingADHD*

    LW1: Many clinicians refuse to diagnose small children (like, age four) with ADHD because more often than not the children are not actually experiencing a *disorder* in their own functioning. (Interfering with one or more major life functions).

    At age four the problem, more often than not, is that the adults around them have unreasonable expectations of developmentally-appropriate behavior. At age four-as you rightly mention- being high energy and wanting to play all day, demanding attention, are typical. So is having difficulty with impulse control, having difficulty following complex directions, being forgetful and disorganized, daydreaming, having imaginary friends, being messy and clumsy, having emotional meltdowns, being unreasonable – those are all age appropriate. That’s just being four.

    Kids whose ADH traits rise to a level of big-D Disorder at age four are doing things like unbuckling themselves and trying to jump out of moving cars. They aren’t potty training. They are so picky with eating that they are not growing. Hitting, biting, frequently getting hurt (or having close calls) with dangerous things they should not be doing. Insomnia, having prolonged meltdowns every day, destructive and harmful behavior.

    Ironically, unreasonable expectations from adults are MORE likely to interfere with children developing executive function, because the things they need to do in order to develop those functions are things like spend lots of time outdoors running around, unstructured play, long-form games of pretend, etc. Large motor muscle activity. Proprioception. Swings. Rolling on the ground. Climbing, jumping, dancing: being a high-energy chaos machine.

    They need to run around and act like banshees at this age, in order to be able to sit down and do schoolwork later. If they are required to behave like “big kids” now, they will be deprived of developmental opportunities, and may in fact wind up with a disorder (or a more severe manifestation of a disorder) than their genetic lottery would otherwise entail. One of the (many) reasons ADHD risk/severity tracks with poverty and urban living is lack of opportunity for an enriched environment during critical developmental ages.

    She needs attention. She needs stimulation. She needs other kids to play with. She needs to get out of the house! If your husband is unwilling or unable to take his daughter out and give her the active time she needs, please get her into a preschool program, camp, or something where she can get those needs met. Not only will you have quiet time to work, she will be happier and calmer when she’s home, and sleep better at night. It’s the best thing for all of you.

    1. bamcheeks*

      you have answered something I was wondering, which was how you tell a 4yo with ADHD from a 4yo without it! I have a 7yo and a 4yo, and I know quite a few parents who are pursuing diagnoses for ADHD and autism and they’re all for kids who are at least 6 and in full-time school. I know a couple of children with autism who were diagnosed whilst they were still pre-school age, but I couldn’t really imagine what characteristics of ADHD would be visible that early since nobody expects 4yo to have reliably long attention spans or executive function or not have meltdowns.

      In fact if anything, a reliably long attention span seems more likely to be a sign of neurodiversity in a 4yo than the opposite? For most of my ND friends and friends’ kids, hyperfocus is considerably more visible in younger children than lack of focus.

      1. RagingADHD*

        For little kids, you have several things going on.
        1) Normal is a huuuuuge span. Way larger than most people who are just going off their own childhood memories think.

        2) It is not a “disorder” if the skill wasn’t due to develop yet anyway. Four year olds who can’t read don’t have dyslexia (though they might later). Four year olds who can’t do multiplication don’t have dyscalculia (though they might later). Executive functions are still developing, too.

        3) Little kids don’t have complex responsibilities and don’t need to do a lot of things independently. ADH traits / behavior don’t usually interfere with their major life functions because their major life functions are really, really basic.

        4) Being generally atypical is not, in itself, a problem. It is a terrible thing to pathologize someone’s mode of existing. Good care for neurodivergence and respect for the individual are about helping them with things that are harming them or making their lives more difficult.

        So, is a hyperfocused four year old neurodivergent? The real answer is: Why does it matter? Who is it hurting? If they hyperfocus to the point that they can’t communicate, socialize appropriately, or make friends, then they need some help with that. But if a parent just doesn’t want their kid to be “weird,” you don’t need to treat the kid. You need to educate the parent.

        The only kid I know of who was treated with ADHD meds under age six also had major diagnosed physical / genetic disorders and needed to be stopped from hurting himself or others because he was functioning on the level of a small toddler in a 4/5 year old body. Even then, his mom had to just let him completely trash the doctor’s office, throw heavy objects at the doctor, and require several adults to wrestle him to the floor before the Dr would believe her and prescribe anything.

        He doesn’t just have ADHD, he is extremely disabled in multiple ways. He has much bigger problems, but ADHD meds are an important part of his management plan.

        Most people with ADHD are not dealing with that severe of issues and don’t start experiencing a disorder in their functioning until later on when their life functions are more complex and demanding.

  69. Another JD*

    As a parent of a 4-year-old, they will interrupt you any time you let them. Your boyfriend has to stop the interruptions, since that’s his job while on duty. Use a white noise machine where you’re working, and put up an impenetrable baby gate to stop the kid from getting to you/knocking on the door. If the kid does break through, DO NOT ACKNOWLEGE THEM. It’s what they want. Make and enforce consequences for interruptions. Don’t reward them (because your boyfriend must interrupt you too if the kid is) with your attention. When I was working from home, I set specific times for when we would visit together and set a timer. I was firm with it – no more “one more minute.” I also allowed my kiddo to slip drawings under the door so long as she was quiet. It was adorable for me, I could go look at them when I had a break, and it let her feel like she was still connected.

  70. alferd g packer, esq*

    LW 5: This is arguably still a violation of Colorado’s law, which does specify that the range must be in each posting (outside of, like, a Help Wanted sign in the window). I imagine Colorado’s labor board would be interested in hearing about this.

    1. Raboot*

      I wonder if the job ad is adding that “like in Colorado” aside or if it was an assumption by OP. Agreed that if they’re advertising to all including Colorado what you say is likely true, but I’ve also seen postings that just say “open to candidates in the US except in Colorado”. They’d still give you the salary when required by law, but those would be laws like WA or CA that only require it later on in the process if you ask.

  71. LaDiDa*

    OP1- at 4 she should be in all day pre-school or pre-k. Please look to see if you qualify for a free Head Start program. She needs to be out of the house, have structure, and to socialize. This isn’t good for her and obviously it’s not working.

    1. Clisby*

      Oh, I completely disagree with this. I don’t even think kindergartners need to be in full-day programs. I do think it’s worthwhile for a 4-year-old to be in a half-day program. (Not opposed to full-day programs for 4-year-olds; I just don’t kid myself it’s for the child’s benefit. It’s for the parents’ benefit.)

      1. pancakes*

        The benefits of it being fairly well understood seem like a key part of why my city (NYC) has pre-k for 4 yr olds and is in the process of rolling it out for 3 yr olds as well. I don’t think the idea is that children strictly “need” it to live but that it’s a big benefit for most.

        1. Clisby*

          Are the “most” you’re talking about living in a completely deprived environment? If so, they probably are better off in full-day preschool.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at, but I looked it up and it’s full day for all. There are half-day programs but there’s a separate admissions process for those, I’m guessing because it’s not the standard free program.

  72. BlueBelle*

    LW2- as HR I think you need to address his behavior, both with your boss, his boss, and him. I would first talk to your boss and his boss and let them know you want to talk to him and present the problematic behavior and get their buy-in for this. What he was saying isn’t appropriate, even if it wasn’t aimed at your husband. If it was aimed at another employee they could sue for sexual harassment! Can you imagine if a client was there and witnessed this?

    Approach this professionally, as HR and not as the spouse of the person to who he directed it to. I would also make sure his boss is present for this discussion.

  73. bluephone*

    For LW 1, I’d get less hung up on “does the 4 year old have ADHD??? Find out at 11!” because this sort of sounds like normal 4 year old behavior especially in light of a 2-plus year interruption in socialization and the upheaval of a recent move. Your boyfriend does have options here–they might not all be feasible but right now, the situation as presented is coming off a bit like Ned Flanders’ parents’ “we’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas!” school of parenting :-/
    1. BF could look into daycare/preschool. Yes a lot of them are full, they may be expensive, hard to get into, etc. But you won’t know unless you ask!
    2. Play dates with other kids in the area.
    3. Hiring a babysitter.
    4. the adult that isn’t working at that times takes the kid somewhere (play date, library, park, playground, the mall, etc) and runs them ragged so that they hopefully nap/sit quietly later on.

    I feel like I’m going to start repeating what other people have suggested so go back and read those suggestions. There are definitely options here beyond the current half-assing that’s going on. Like, the kid is 4, she at least deserves an adult who is using their whole ass.

  74. Lalaith*

    #5 – I applied for a job which actually listed the salary info for Colorado (rather than just saying it would be available to people in CO). I appreciated it because I could then extrapolate for my area – which is NYC, oddly enough, but apparently their salary transparency law has been delayed until November.

  75. I take tea*

    Maybe the four year old thinks LW1 needs constant interruptions to learn to cope with their ADHD?

    1. Observer*

      For anyone who wants to know what this refers to, it’s a letter from someone who couldn’t get her coworker to stop interrupting her. The coworker claimed that it would be good for that OP to have her constant interruptions. I’ll link in the response.

      If my response gets held up google “distraction buddy” on the site.

  76. 30ish*

    Lw1: Alternating childcare between two adults who are working (even if part time) really is a lot. And having a child close to one‘s workspace is never going to be ideal. It would probably help so much to get even half days of day care. Then you and bf could work at the same time, too.

  77. Neurodiverse Mama*

    Q1) Please encourage your partner to get the kid a neuropsych evaluation.

    Two reasons:
    One with a diagnosis the public school may be required to give her care. My 4 year old is Autistic and got 2 hours a day 4 days a week in public school special education. We have her in private summer preschool now.

    Two, I’m 38 and was diagnosed with ADHD just last week. A lot of my life could have been less stressful if I knew how to work with my brain, not against it. Knowledge is power.

    Good luck!

    I can’t work from home when my daughter is here either and socialization with kids her age is good for her.

    She’s asleep on me as I type this. :-)

    1. Luna*

      I agree on the second part. I’m on the Autism spectrum, and it wasn’t figured out until I was in my mid-twenties. It not only explained a lot of my behavior as a child and teenager, but it certainly would have been nice to know early on and learn how to deal with things and act, instead of constantly trying to ‘fit in’, to the point I can’t really tell my ‘real’ personality anymore.

    2. Mannequin*

      I did not get diagnosed ADHD until I was 48 even though I am a TEXTBOOK example of “inattentive ADHD in females”. My life would have been SO MUCH DIFFERENT had I gotten an early diagnosis.

  78. I Literally Don't Know*

    LW5: This would bother the %#$! out me also (and has in the past when I have been job-searching)–so I am of the mind that salary should always be posted, why waste my time?!–but when I took my current job, I learned that my company, which has a huge percentage of remote employees and always has since the Before Times, also has to pay lots of $$ in taxes for those employees (we are in California). As a result, the position which might pay a high salary in CA will pay a little less if the employee lives out of state and creates a high tax burden for the company (for my co anyhow) Could this be the reason, or part of it, for the annoying/obnoxious behavior of some job-posters? They don’t want to promise a high salary, then later tell someone it is only for a candidate who will work on-site…?

    Also, sorry if someone else brought this up already, I haven’t scrolled the comments!

    1. H3llifIknow*

      I am definitely in the minority. But, maybe because I’m a govt. contractor? I’ve never applied for a job where the salary range was listed — honestly that is confusing to me “We pay between X and Y” isn’t everyone going to ask for Y? I’ve negotiated my salary at every job and have never had an issue getting what I asked for, or even more (one job said “we like round numbers so we’ll make it Z). My feeling is always that THEY don’t know what I’m worth, but I do… so I’m not going to let an employer dictate what I should be paid. Now of course for an hourly job at Amazon or something, that’s different but I feel like it’d be weird for a salaried position to say the compensation will be $100K etc… But YMMV….

  79. Noah (He/They)*

    LW #1: If you can afford it, I so highly recommend getting a membership at a coworking space in your area—I did that a few months ago and my productivity has skyrocketed (if you’re not familiar, it’s essentially an office building where people can rent desks and private offices to work at, usually stocked with amenities like a coffee maker, printer, office supplies, etc). If you need a no cost option, libraries are great—you don’t have to pay anything to be there and they’re usually quieter than coffeeshops (just avoid sitting near the kid’s section, lol). A lot of libraries even have dedicated quiet areas for people who need to focus. Good luck!

  80. All Outrage, All The Time*

    OP4 : you were absolutely right to wear a suit to an interview. That’s not over the top. Unless you are specifically told “Do not wear a suit to the interview”, wear a suit to the interview. I would say a three piece suit is very formal, but it’s not wrong. It was appropriate to the situation. It doesn’t matter how casually people dress day to day, wear a suit to the interview. You’re good :-)

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