Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Babies in the office?

I was inspired to write this post after watching a fantastic two part BBC documentary called “Babies in the office”.
For those who didn’t see it, London based taxi company, Addison Lee, trialled the American trend of allowing staff to bring their babies into work.  At the start of the trial, many of the staff were a little wary of the idea and to be quite honest, I did wonder myself how they would be able to meet their targets and continue a normal working day amid the chaos of a dozen little people. 
We all know that little people can be rather demanding.  What do you do when you are in the middle of an important phone call and all of a sudden, your baby starts crying?  Would the babies become bored of sitting by a desk for 8 hours with no other stimulation?  Surely being stuck in an office cannot possibly stimulate a child in the same way that, for example, a trip to a baby and toddler group can?
After the first trial week, many of these issues did arise.  The babies and the staff all had to fit into a new routine.  At times, some parents had to leave the office early because their children had had enough and some parents were unable to meet their deadlines or hit their targets.
It was decided that the trial would be extended for a whole month.  During that time, it became clear that the office was not really an ideal environment for a toddler.  Although many of the toddlers did find a nice routine and were stimulated by the environment around them, we all know how demanding a toddler can be.  We also know how inquisitive a toddler can be and you can’t really afford to take your eyes off them for a second!

Parenting is a full time job.  So is working.  Is it really possible to combine the two?
The longer trial proved to be a success.  The parents and babies found a system that worked for them and the company found that some parents were even meeting their pre-child targets.  Ok, the level of work achieved might not have been as it was before the babies arrived but the company were not just looking at what they could gain in the short term.  Addison Lee discovered that by allowing parents to bring their babies to work, they were creating loyalty within their staff.  Many staff that would have given up work to look after their children, were returning to their job thus saving the company time and money that would be required to recruit and train new staff. 
By the end of the trial, Addison Lee had to make a decision.  Were they going to continue allowing staff to bring babies to work or would the idea end when the trial did?  I am delighted that Addison Lee have become the first UK company to allow babies into the workplace.  Based upon the results of the trail, smaller babies are welcome into the office and the older babies and toddler s have been provided with on-site crèche facilities.  The positives for both parent and child outweighed any negatives.

It’s a huge step forward in dealing with childcare issues in this country.  Many parents, including myself, either give up work, change their career or take a step down the career ladder in order to raise their children.  Addison Lee are helping parents to work whilst still being there for their children.   Juggling work and children is never going to be easy , Addison Lee have taken a step closer to making it easier.   
 What did you think of the programme?  Would you welcome this type of scheme in your workplace?  Have you felt like you have had to choose between a career and being a parent?  Would you take your baby to work?

Monday, 9 July 2012

A day in the life of a Tight wearing Tyke - part 2

Quite a long time ago, I posted “A day in the life of a tight wearing tyke”.  I thought perhaps it was time to do another one.  Afterall, a lot has changed in that time.  In the first post, Toddler Tyke was just 18 months old, he is now a strapping 3 year old and has a completely different daytime regime.  Another big difference, is that Daddy Tyke was then living with us, now it is just Mummy and Toddler so, of course, many other aspects of daily life have changed to take this adjustment into consideration.

So, Toddler’s day starts anywhere between 7:00 and 7:30.  He usually lays in his bed talking or singing to himself until he hears me call him.  Then he comes running into my bedroom and jumps into bed for a morning cuddle.  After a sit on the potty and getting dressed, it is downstairs for a drink.  Cup of tea to wake mummy up and usually milk or ‘nana’ milk for Toddler. 

3 days a week, it is then a mad rush to get to nursery on time but today is Wednesday, a more relaxed start to the day as we don’t need to be anywhere until half past 9.  Toddler’s morning routine includes spending at least 15 minutes deciding which cereal he would like.  Weetabix?  Shreddies?  Shapes?  We go through all the options but usually come to the same end result – Ready Brek with raisins. 

After breakfast, it is upstairs to do teeth.  Sounds so simple doesn’t it?  After procrastinating, choosing several toys to take, forgetting something very important when halfway up the stairs and having to go back down for it, more timewasting and eventually we get to the bathroom.  Cue time to clamp mouth tightly shut whilst twisting head in all manner of directions to avoid the toothbrush.  Sigh!

Back downstairs for shoes and coat.  (Coat?  In May?)  This can easily take 20 minutes and usually results in mummy Tyke counting to 3 with the threat of the naughty chair if Toddler doesn’t act upon the given instructions.  Toddler has to do EVERYTHING himself and his way. Often he succeeds but often I hear the words “You must do it mummy” when he realises that actually, he can’t.   Finally, all ready to leave and Toddler decides he is taking his train/peppa pig van/gruffalo bag/slinky/torch with us.  More procrastinating as I tell him in no uncertain terms that we do not need to take toys to Toddler Group.  Instead we agree that Toddler can take his imaginary friends – Twigs and Tree Fu Tom who he has cradled gently in his hands.  Finally, just as I think we are going to get out the door.  Toddler reminds me that Tree Fu Tom and Twigs haven’t brushed their teeth.  Of course! Silly Mummy! After digging out the imaginary toothbrushes to brush their teeth, I am informed that the toothbrushes aren’t kept in the kitchen and I ‘must’ go upstairs to find them.  Sigh.  Count to 10 and calmly tell Toddler that these are the only toothbrushes we have and if he isn’t happy with that, Tree Fu Tom and Twigs will have to go to Toddlers with dirty teeth.

Amazingly, we arrive at Toddler Group just 5 minutes late.  Toddler quickly rushes off to socialise with his little buddies and grab the tools before anyone else spots them whilst I settle myself down for a good old natter with my buddies.

After Toddler Group, it is home for a quick lunch, sit on the potty, grab Toddler’s rucksack and off for an afternoon at nursery.  I don’t need to go into more detail about doing all this I’m sure.  If you need more, just re-read paragraph 5!

4:30 and it is time to pick up Toddler.  Mummy has managed to do a few jobs, a couple of orders and not a lot else.  (Except that lovely cup of tea drunk in complete silence and finished in one sitting!)
Toddler 'helps' me make dinner by taste testing every ingredient as I try to add it to the pan.  After dinner it's play time which at the moment seems to revolve around pretend play.  Toddlers current favourite is making the sofa into a train and taking me on a journey.  He also likes to sit on his trampoline and pretend that he is an ice-cream man - I have been sold some very strange sounding ice-cream flavours over the last few weeks!

Bath and bed are not without their struggles.  Again, procrastination and independence seem to be the theme and everything takes so much longer than it used to!  After I have read Toddler his chosen story, he then likes to read it to me, his own version.  I love listening to how creative he is when he 'reads'. 

Some things don't change from my first post, Toddler in bed and it's time to get to work - maybe with the odd glass of Rose thrown in!