How Solo Moms can implement an infant-at-work policy
There are many factors that play into deciding to work full- or part-time as a new mother. These factors are especially daunting as a Solo Mom and may be impossible to consider because of financial constraints and career choices. Many offices are now offering mothers an option to bring their babies to work with them. Studies show that these employers generally have a happier staff with employees that require fewer sick days and are more productive at work.
Infants-at-work policies are becoming more popular with many organizations. More than 200 companies and organizations in the United States now have implemented these programs, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.
Solo Moms have much to gain from the option of bringing their baby to the workplace. Contending with a single salary and long commute times can be very stressful for a new mother. Child care is so expensive that many two-parent families opt to have one parent work from home part-time or survive on one salary instead of it all going to child care. If you are interested in setting up an infant-at-work program at your work or looking for a new job that already has a program in place, there are some factors to think about.
Your baby is in the workplace
You are still at work. This means that, unless you have a closed office, everyone around you will know when your baby is unhappy or needs something. Moms will need to respond quickly to their child if they are fussing. This can be especially hard if you are on a call, working with a client, or in a meeting. How do you negotiate this?
- Plan your meetings on the phone while you are nursing or bottle-feeding. Babies tend to be less fussy and quiet for longer periods of time.
- Schedule your in-person appointments during your baby’s nap times.
- Ask your employer to keep a small Pack ‘n Play or bassinet next to your desk during office hours. If you can, opt for a corner desk or to be moved to a quieter part of the office.
- Find another mother or helpful coworker in the office who can watch your child during bathroom breaks, phone calls, time spent writing important emails, or just to give you a few minutes break. You will be surprised with the babysitting requests you may receive.
The baby-friendly zone
Ask your employer about a baby-friendly zone. If there are other moms at work with their babies, you may be able to have a section of the office or a room designated for you all to work together. This is a fantastic option for mothers who are breastfeeding and pumping as well. Plus, your children will have other friends to play with, and you will have some added support. It can aid in productivity and teamwork.
Be prepared to work longer hours
Your workload will not go down, but your time is now being split between baby and deadlines. Most of the time it will mean staying a bit later and putting in some extra hours. You may want to speak to your boss about logging some of those hours from home or on weekends.
As a working Solo Mom, I have had to be especially creative at times to get my work done. The best thing I have found to keep my baby calm and happy is using a wrap or carrier like the Ergo carrier. My child will sleep, nurse, and generally stay happy for long periods of time, and my hands are free and I’m not turning around to check on her every minute. There are many kinds of carriers that offer a variety of comfort and options. A great place to look is Babywearing International, a nonprofit organization providing free educational meetings about babywearing and support within communities.
Skeptics at the workplace
There will be many employees and managers that start off skeptical or negative about program feasibility. Generally, once a program is in place and people get to know the babies, you will see a change in support. In actuality, many employees find that interacting with a baby lowers their stress level and can make those especially hard days at the office easier.
Dos and don’ts
- Be patient with yourself and your baby. You are making a huge transition as a Solo Mom.
- Talk to your coworkers, office manager, or boss about your fears and expectations about bringing your baby to work.
- Create a program in writing with all the agreed-upon terms.
- Don’t ask your coworkers to make changes in their workload to help you do less work. You will always have support if you are respectful of others.
- Don’t forget to thank your boss, staff, and coworkers for being open-minded, flexible, and creative in working out and implementing a baby-at-work program. A bit of baking and some coffee can go a long way.
- Find other mothers, or even fathers, who work at your office. Every parent has hard days with their children, whether they are sick or just fussy. Some advice and a smile usually calm a Solo Mom’s mind.
- Do have backup child care. You may need an occasional day of extra help when you have that important presentation, too many clients, or need to be out of the office. Your child may be sick or having an especially fussy period.
A few extra tidbits to tell your employer
According to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute, babies in these structured programs are “overwhelmingly content” because of four major factors:
- Highly attentive parents who soothe quickly to avoid disturbing coworkers with a fussy child, resulting in psychologically healthy babies.
- Increased physical contact with the babies from parents and coworkers.
- High levels of social interaction with the babies due to occasional visits from coworkers.
- Higher rates of breastfeeding, which result in healthier babies who are easier to soothe and fewer sick days taken by mom.
If you are fortunate to have a job where this is a possibility. Go for it! It’s good work policy all around. If you are wondering how other Solo Moms make it work, submit a question to Sister Chat.
Rebecca Cherry is an accomplished musician, writer, and creative seeker. She is enjoying her new role as a Solo Mom to her baby girl. You can follow her on Twitter at @CherryRebecca and Facebook at Rebecca Cherry.
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