toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 12, 2012

don't take toddlers to work!

Winnie, 24, is a single mother of a pre-schooler. While she has a great job bringing in a good income she is having a lot of trouble with reliable child care.

"On occasions when I just can't find a reliable sitter I have no alternative but to take Johnny to work with me," confesses Winnie. "But, after hearing what my coworkers say about this practice I won't be doing it again."

Firstly, by bringing a child to work when she could not find a sitter Winnie was seen as being unprofessional. Her coworkers argued that if she cannot manage her private affairs then how is she going to manage a major account - or even a minor one?

It really does not matter if Winnie spent an hour on the telephone before coming to work desperately trying to find someone to replace the sitter who let her down. Taking a child to work is not a professional thing to do.

Winnie would have been better off calling her workplace and telling them she was unwell. If would not be a lie because after an hour on the telephone trying to find someone to take care of little Johnny Winnie will definitely feel unwell!

Secondly, Winnie’s co-workers resented having a child in the workplace. No matter that they billed and cooed over little Johnny, the fact is that a workplace is a place to work not a nursery or a child-minding center. Winnie’s co-workers may have chosen to stay at home if something similar had happened to them.

"They called me a bad mother," grimaces Winnie. "Not to my face, of course, but it got around to me through the grapevine."

Thirdly, taking a child to work is not good for the kid. He or she will necessarily have to be told to be quiet. To stop running around. To stop touching things.

"It's true, says Winnie. "You really cannot expect a toddler to remain perfectly still and quiet for five minutes let alone five hours or more. There will be tears and tantrums before the day is out, and there often was when I took little Johnny into work with me."

Lastly, taking a child to work is bad for Winnie. She was already stressed by the morning's events. Keeping little Johnny quiet and occupied all day is going to be a full-time job. Winnie got more and more stressed as the day wore on.

And, Winnie obviously forgot that it is not enough that she turns up for work - with or without a child in tow - she was actually expected to put in a day's work!

"I may be earning a good salary," confesses Winnie, "but I have a mortgage and heavy financial commitments. I work because I need the money just like everyone else, and by staying at home when a sitter lets me down I will lose out on a day's pay."

There is no easy solution for this problem. Every working mother faces it at least twice a year. Some at least once a week if the child has a serious health or behavior problem. It is a particularly difficult problem for single working moms who don't have a partner to share the burden of childcare.

And, when little Johnny is sick, Winnie really cannot take him to work with her. It is grossly unfair on her co-workers to inflict a kid with an illness in their midst. And grossly unfair on little Johnny to take him outside his home when he is ill.

More and more workplaces are incorporating child-minding centers, or family rooms, for emergencies. But not enough.

"My workplace isn't particularly child friendly," says Winnie, "and I've learned pretty early that it's harming my reputation and my child’s safety to bring him into work with me."

"Next time I have a problem finding a sitter for little Johnny," says Winnie, "I'll be staying home with him and calling in sick. It means that I can't afford to take time off when I am sick - and my employer will probably wonder why I take time off for minor illnesses but turn up when I am on death's door - but that's the way it has to be from now on."

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