You can take your baby anywhere you want when you work for yourself. There is no one to tell you that you can’t. Whatever you do, DON’T ASK PERMISSION.
I was lucky with the first project I worked on after my daughter was born. I was working with a technical team that had very few other meetings so meeting times were flexible and not very long. On days when we needed to meet, I would call when she woke up from her nap and tell them I was on the way. I took her along in her little baby carrier and everyone loved seeing her.
Sure you’re thinking, newborns are pretty portable, what happens when the toddler stage comes along?
I create a portable safe haven for my babies. It has some similarities to crate training a puppy. Used appropriately, a crate gives a puppy a sense of security and a consistent place to enjoy some down time while preventing him from getting into trouble when you can’t supervise directly. I introduce the safe haven gradually with lots of positive reinforcement just like you would with a puppy. I use a Pack ‘n Play and rotating toy stock.
I started doing this with Baby #1 because I take dance class several mornings a week and didn’t want to stop or pay a babysitter once I became a Mom. I would set up the Pack ‘n Play in the corner and bring a large bag of toys she only got to play with in the Pack ‘n Play. This worked so well that I realized I could also take my baby to business meetings and speaking engagements if I needed to or wanted to. I have even taken my babies to important board meetings. I now have three large bags of toys which I rotate. I currently use this set-up three or four times a week. You think your baby would never do this but you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you try it. You need to start putting your baby in the Pack ‘n Play when they are very young so they get used to it.
The First Real Test
The first real test came one morning when I was just about to get ready for a very important board presentation. The Nanny called and said she had locked her keys in the car. Her boyfriend was bringing the spare key but she would be an hour or more late. I had allowed some leeway in my timing since it was such an important meeting but if I waited an hour, I would be late. My daughter was a little past two at the time.
I figured I had three choices: 1) Call and tell them I wouldn’t be there 2) Join the meeting by phone or 3) Pack up the baby and take her with me to the presentation. I carefully dressed in the most powerful, power suit I owned along with the best shoes, jewellery, make-up and briefcase I could muster. I arrived at the meeting before anyone else and set the baby up in the corner in her Pack ‘n Play. I sat near but with my back facing her so she couldn’t make eye contact with me. I pretended to be VERY busy reading something VERY important as other people came into the room. Everyone looked at the baby wondering what the heck was going on but no one said a word. The meeting started, I made my presentation and the baby played quietly in her Pack ‘n Play the entire time. At the end of the meeting someone finally said, “Does that baby belong to anyone” I very casually replied, “Oh, she’s mine.”
Wait, Wait, You Can’t Park There
One day when my daughter was about three, I was judging a business plan competition at University of San Diego. For those of you who know University of San Diego, it’s perched on a hill with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. My little daughter refers to it as “the top of the world”. I always like to go there because they treat their guests so well. At that time, they had a parking lot next to the business building and each guest had a parking place with their name on it. I pulled my Honda Accord into my spot and started to unload my toddler. A nice young woman came running over and said, “I’m so sorry, we’re having a business plan competition today and these spaces are reserved for the judges.” Imagine the look on her face when I told her that I was, in fact, a judge.
Lady, You are in the WRONG Place
I have a regular speaking gig at Lee Hecht Harrison the second Monday of every month. I teach a seminar on how to start a successful consulting business. When Baby #2 came along, I would take him with me. He often fell asleep in the car on the way so I would drop the baby carrier onto the stroller and push him into the building. At that time LHH was in a very fancy executive tower. The Lee Hecht Harrison folks start the session about 30 minutes before I arrive to speak. I show up at the back of the room at my allotted time, the host introduces me and off I go into my talk. You can imagine the reaction of this executive crowd when a lady pushing a baby carriage shows up at the back of the room. It’s quite clear they are all thinking, “Lady, you are in the wrong place!” The dismay grows tenfold when the host introduces me as the speaker! It was so fun… I would push the baby to the front and dive into my session. When the baby started to stir, I would drop him into the Baby Bjorn never missing a beat. By the end of the two hours, everyone had forgotten there was even a baby in the room. In fact, I did a lot of speaking all over town with the little guy. Sometimes he even had his own name tag.
So you see, you really CAN bring the baby, whenever and wherever you choose. It’s always amazing how well things work out if you simply believe it will be so.
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