We’ve all been there — you’re going through your #girlboss morning ritual before heading to the office, then something ends up not going your way. (Mercury in retrograde, anyone?) That might mean spilling coffee on your shirt, an extra-long, stressful morning commute or having your child care back out on you. For working parents, losing a babysitter without warning or learning your day care just had a head-lice outbreak are very real problems that don’t happen often, but when they do, it can make it really hard to have a normal, productive workday. We spoke to Seema Alexander, a career expert and founder of The Transition Lab, on how to deal with a last-minute day care emergency with the least amount of impact on your office reputation and workday.
1. Try to rearrange your day as much as possible. You might have to consider naptime, feeding times and more. “If you still have a few conflicting meetings and can’t find someone to look after your baby during those times, dial in versus going to the meeting in person to mitigate any distractions,” says Seema. “If you have deadlines and can’t get things done at work because your little one wasn’t cooperating in the way you hoped, thank your boss for allowing you to bring your child, and offer to get your work done when you’re home that evening. That offer alone will tell your boss that you are a rockstar and appreciate their flexibility.”
2. Grab some space. If you don’t have an office, Seema advises reserving a conference room so that “when you’re working and your baby is awake and active, there are limited distractions to others on your floor.” Make sure your baby or toddler has books, toys and a pacifier to keep them busy and out of your coworkers’ way — unless your colleagues welcome a little baby time. “Some distraction with your cute baby might be more than welcomed by others!”
3. Check your employee benefits. You might be surprised at the benefits you aren’t using. Seema says investigate a back-up care facility or day care on the premises. “[The on-site day care] might allocate daily spots for emergency care for free or for a nominal fee,” she says. “That way, the baby is close by and taken care of with trusted caregivers.” If there’s not child care on-site, there might be a place close by that your company has a contract with for a discounted rate during emergencies. Employers sometimes even have a contract with in-home care providers, so you can get an agency-vetted professional at a discounted rate to come to your home.
4. Consider your workplace culture and policies. Seema reminds that “back-up plans are always important to have as a parent, but just as important to have as an employer to many mom and dad employees.” In fact, many companies are experimenting with bring-your-infant-to-work policies in order to allow babies and parents to stay together during that critical bonding period and make breastfeeding much easier for working moms.
However, bringing a baby to work, even in an emergency, is still a major no-go in many workplaces. Consider your office culture, then put a contingency plan in place early for the least amount of stress to you, your baby and the company.
Tweet us @BritandCo if you’ve ever brought your baby to work and let us know how it went!
(Photo via Getty)