PARENTS

Please Don't Bring Your Baby To Work

31/01/2012 19:25 | Updated 22 May 2015
Please don't bring your baby to workGetty

You're either the kind of woman who wouldn't be seen dead doing it, believing it to be distracting, unprofessional and simply no one else's business.

Or you're the type who's dreamt of this moment ever since you cooed over your colleagues' new baby.

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Taking your baby to work during your maternity leave is one of those divisive issues, which for some is the pinnacle of procreation - to introduce everyone to what became of the lump they saw you heave around. Or it's a cringe-inducing walk of shame on which your most personal and intimate possession is paraded like a new handbag.

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For me, I am of the latter persuasion. In the decade at work before I became a mum, I saw countless beaming women, still looking slightly psychotic with post-natal happiness, displaying their badge of fertility through the building.

It always made me feel queasy – the workplace is for work, not for nappies – and being forced to smile, agree the baby was beautiful and have the scrunched up prawn-like body plonked in my hands was not just embarrassing but, I thought, highly inappropriate.

I was genuinely happy the women in my office had enjoyed a safe delivery but when the crying started, awkward stares would replace admiration as the new mum tried her best to satisfy her baby.

So when it came to my turn, I vowed never to go there (particularly as I hadn't had my roots done in months and I had aged overnight thanks to no sleep, glorious sleep). People would ask 'why don't you bring him in? We'd love to meet him'.

But I just couldn't inflict it on them, particularly the lady I knew who was desperate to conceive but had been trying unsuccessfully for years and the man who'd had an acrimonious split from his wife who was denying him access to his kids.

It's as if you're saying 'look at me, I've reproduced, aren't I clever!', how insensitive can you get? Work is a place to escape your private life, be it good, bad or otherwise. And working mums have it hard enough as it is, having to prove they're up to the job once they've returned to work.

Never mind that these visits always interrupt productivity – in my experience, a 'quick hello' lasts for hours as people queue up to have a hold. Not good when you're working to deadlines and phones need answering.

The reality is that if there are people at work who genuinely want to meet your baby then they will be friends enough to see you out of work.

Obviously, there are some child-friendly places of work which don't bat an eye-lid at mums showing off their new bundles.

Sarah Childs, 42, a part-time receptionist and mum-of-two, took both her babies into work to show her colleagues when she was on maternity leave.

"My employers are a family firm and the staff are all very close so it was natural for me to bring in my babies during my time off. Children are a part of life – they shouldn't be hidden from view - and becoming a mum was part of my identity; they were a part of me so why shouldn't I introduce them to everyone?

"Criticising mums who bring in their babies is another way of undermining motherhood. Staff spend a great deal of time making personal calls, going online for their own benefit and gossiping but that's considered acceptable.

"Work shouldn't be a clinical, staid place where our lives outside don't matter."

But parenting expert and author Liz Fraser, who wrote The Yummy Mummy Survival Guide, advises keeping the worlds of work and baby entirely separate.

"Any crossover between the two results in some very pissed-off work colleagues or a very neglected baby. It also means you risk going to work looking somewhat below office par (sick on the shoulder)," she says.

"At home you are mummy but at work you have to transform into Work Lady. Don't talk about your baby at work: nobody cares. Honestly."

I couldn't agree more. That's why, when the boss sends a bouquet once you've produced an heir, the note should say 'congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby – but please don't bring him or her to work'.

Strong words, what do you think? Should work and baby be kept separate or are they both part of you?

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