As I stood in the reception area of a high-rise building in the city, workers swarmed out of corridors on their lunch break – and I couldn’t have felt more conspicuous. They were all dressed in smart, business attire and, here I was, with a pram and a baby wearer covering my outfit.
As I checked-in, the receptionist looked puzzled and asked, “Is the baby going to?” I can understand her confusion, in a sense. Their corporate headquarters, which had steep stairs and no elevator, clearly didn’t have a lot of miniature visitors.
I could have explained the reasons behind my plus-one: working mum, exclusively breastfed baby, family on the other side of the world, do you know the hourly-cost of a nanny? Instead, I smiled and answered in the affirmation. At the moment, my son and I are package deal – even in the professional sense.
As a editor and author, I have creative-license to be quirky. However, I’m not the only working mother to mix parenting and professional commitments.
A few weeks ago, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history by bringing her baby daughter, Neve to the United Nations general assembly alongside her husband, Clarke Gayford.
He posted a photo on Twitter of Neve’s security pass, writing: “I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change.”
Because everyone on twitter’s been asking to see Neve’s UN id, staff here whipped one up.
I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change.
Great yarn for her 21st. pic.twitter.com/838BI96VYX
— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) September 24, 2018
As flexible working blurs our roles, I know women across all industries, from media to banking, who have brought their baby into the office or fitted in a ‘quick brainstorming session’ towards the end of maternity leave. So, what’s the etiquette? As a baby-toting professional, here’s what I’ve learnt:
1. Control your surroundings, as much as possible.
If you’re meeting in a café, is there space for a pram? If you’re meeting at an office, is there a private room to contain your chaos? One of my favourite meeting spots is my local library because, surprisingly, it’s quite noisy and they have carpet so I can lay the baby under the table. One of my editors suggested a team meeting – on a boat! I had to politely point out, it wasn’t very practical for #mumlife.