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Colleague's child at meetings

(72 Posts)
poisoningpidgeysinthepark Wed 13-Sep-17 14:12:59

I work in a small and relatively informal company.

My boss brings her three-year old child to our meetings about twice a week. The child is not exactly quiet or well behaved, so most of the meetings are spent either running around trying to contain the inevitable destruction of the office or being unable to speak/listen because of the noise.

As I am the next person down, my colleagues keep moaning to me that 'someone should do something about the situation'. They are already voting with their feet and making up excuses not to attend meetings when they know the child will be there. I think they're right - it is affecting our ability to do our job, and it's not exactly professional on my boss's part.

I don't know how to broach it though. My boss doesn't seem completely oblivious about the disruption (gets up and tries to contain the child, makes futile attempts to shush), but she is obviously used to her child's antics and doesn't mind herself, and everyone is too polite to complain to her face to face.

WIBU to ask my boss to find some kind of solution? How? I'm a bit of a coward my boss is scary and I'm struggling with this.

Penny4UrThoughts Wed 13-Sep-17 14:16:34

Is your boss also the owner of the business? If not, speak to the owner. If not.. Well think you and your colleagues don't have much option but to go with it. Their business, they call the shots (unless it involves dodgy dealings, obviously!)

I'm a year or two the child will be at school....

Penny4UrThoughts Wed 13-Sep-17 14:17:17

The second 'if not' should read 'if so'..

pluck Wed 13-Sep-17 15:10:11

Twice a week?! shock

Would it work to find a different way of reporting to her (if that's the purpose of these meetings), or if sharing information (if that's what you're meant to be doing). See if you can pre-empt having to meet. Then be very matter-of-fact about all of you using your time better this way.

Otherwise, someone's going to have to stomp out of a meeting "to go and get dome work done," and it would be a shame for such a brave and sensible assertion to be punished by the embarrassed boss (and that might well happen!)

slbhill42 Wed 13-Sep-17 15:31:45

Are the meetings otherwise totally brilliant? Can you think what else could be done better at the meetings (agenda, different people, staying on topic?) and approach your boss with a suggestion that you think the meetings could be improved for instance by <whatever>. Which gives you an easy opportunity to move on to, "obviously having your child there can be a bit disruptive too, might it be possible to find an alternative arrangement?"

Tiddler7 Wed 13-Sep-17 15:41:13

Can someone maybe to look after the child outside of the meeting room? Maybe she will get the message..?

Tiddler7 Wed 13-Sep-17 15:42:06

Can somebody maybe offer I mean blush

HeebieJeebies456 Wed 13-Sep-17 15:46:24

send an anonymous typed note saying how it's affecting the whole team........

PotteringAlong Wed 13-Sep-17 15:47:19

What does your bosses boss say?

Pallisers Wed 13-Sep-17 15:51:37

Is it always the same two meetings or is it ad hoc? If it is the same two, I would simply email her and say "how about X time for the meeting instead on Mondays and Thursdays - would that work better for you? If so, I will set it up"

ParadiseCity Wed 13-Sep-17 15:55:13

Don't go over her head or behind her back or anonymous or whatever.

Just tell her you need to talk, say it's really awkward to bring up because x is a lovely child but when they come to meetings you have noticed it is really hard to concentrate.

If you are working in such a family friendly place then the answer might be that you have to suck it up tbh.

OfficiallyUnofficial Wed 13-Sep-17 15:55:13

Two options:

- be brave and just talk to her. Tell her it's becoming an issue

- walk in with an ipad and a bag of crisps to shut the kid up.

PoppyPopcorn Wed 13-Sep-17 16:03:26

How totally unprofessional.

Can you borrow a child / kitten / dog / sheep to take along too?

RhiannonOHara Wed 13-Sep-17 16:05:46

Can you borrow a child / kitten / dog / sheep to take along too?

grin

PLEASE take a sheep.

<<not helpful>>

oldlaundbooth Wed 13-Sep-17 16:06:58

Yes, a sheep sounds good.

Maybe Shaun?

Atenco Wed 13-Sep-17 16:09:32

Couldn't she get a tablet to keep the little'un quietly occupied during the meetings?

morningconstitutional2017 Wed 13-Sep-17 16:10:20

I think Paradise City has the best advice here. Could one of your colleagues accompany you to discuss this as you feel worried about broaching this subject on your own?
Plus, I wonder who looks after the child when there isn't a meeting? Is there a child-minder involved? Could the day or time of the meetings be changed so that this alternative child-care is in place? Otherwise someone will stomp out of a meeting, perhaps saying something they regret - although this would drive the message home, wouldn't it, but not in a very diplomatic way.

poisoningpidgeysinthepark Wed 13-Sep-17 16:14:53

I'm going to have to say something aren't I?

It's not a childcare issue, the child has a stay-at-home dad and plenty of family members around, but my boss just likes having her child around and doesn't want work to get in the way of their time together.

She is somehow able to multitask...but the rest of us are not.

ToneDeafHamster Wed 13-Sep-17 16:17:59

I take my 3 year old to work. But I own the business, so if anyone doesn't like it, its too bad.

Is it a family business? Is she the owner? If so, there is bugger all you can do about it.

notangelinajolie Wed 13-Sep-17 16:18:58

Look on the bright side - it's not a long term thing - the child will soon grow up and it won't be an issue any more.

Sorry, not very helpful. How old is the child? Could you bring in a colouring book or something?

poisoningpidgeysinthepark Wed 13-Sep-17 16:21:55

Nope, not a family business. My boss does have a boss, but he isn't very hands on or approachable and doesn't get involved in stuff like this - only in making money.

Badweekjustgotworse Wed 13-Sep-17 16:26:05

I brought my two children to a meeting last week, I work in an industry that is lobbying hard at the minute to promote women back into the workplace after taking time out for maternity. I'm proud to bring my children to work, they are very well behaved, I'm proud of the companies I work for for supporting freelance working mothers, and I'm proud of my colleagues for supporting me in doing so.

If women want to close the pay gap and start to challenge the restrictions that stop many women returning to work either at all or quickly we need to start supporting each other in alternative arrangements, such as bringing (well behaved) children to meetings, especially in our own businesses FFS.

If its's her business she is running it the way she sees fit and I applaud her. Does she support other working mothers in the company? Maybe thats the way to approach it, say to her that you admire her for building her work life around her children and being flexible with the companies policies on having children at work. Maybe you could suggest that the company write some guidelines for other parents to encourage them to follow suit? That might make her think about how to run meetings more effectively. could she have a play area set up, or a company iPad loaded with educational games to stay in the office in case anyone needs to bring their child in.

guilty100 Wed 13-Sep-17 16:27:59

I'm going to dissent gently from some of the other replies here: I think we should be more tolerant of parents working with children. It can be so hard, emotionally and practically, to juggle everything and if it makes the parent really happy and teaches everyone else to multitask, is it such a bad thing? Informality is something I really value, though - I don't like rule-bound contexts and I tend not to get on with the kind of person who talks a lot about professionalism. smile Maybe try having a word and seeing whether a half-way house solution can be reached so that these meetings are no longer quite so chaotic, without the child being completely 'banned'!

Tiredstressed Wed 13-Sep-17 16:31:23

I'm all for women returning to the workplace if they wish. However, bringing a child to a meeting twice a week is not appropriate (for either parent). Equally I cannot imagine my three year old being excited to attend my meetings. If she wants to bring her child to work, can't she entertain the child with some drawing or something during meetings? It sounds like a ludicrous situation.

ShellyBoobs Wed 13-Sep-17 16:32:22

It's incredibly unprofessional and disrespectful to other staff.

I would make sure it was stopped, if you've got a chance of making that happen.

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