i was quite interested by the discussion around this story about an australian MP who took her child into the house for a short while:
Politics has to be, perhaps along with long-distance road transport, one of the least family-friendly occupations in the country.
Even your average backbench Federal MP works long hours. They’re away in Canberra 19-20 weeks of the year, and with a long schedule of electorate events and duties when they’re back home. Ministers, shadow ministers and swing vote senators, who have to get their heads around every piece of legislation and work out whether to back it or amend it, work even harder.
This time of year, the last sittings before the winter recess, are particularly intense.
Sarah Hanson-Young is to be commended for having her child with her in the chamber yesterday. It was for a division, not a debate, and her daughter was about to leave to return to Adelaide.
Instead there has been some remarkable vitriol, particularly on radio, and from at least one of her colleagues, Barnaby Joyce, who accused her of pulling a stunt. That was one of the lowest jibes I’ve seen in this place for a while. The distraught look on Hanson-Young’s face as a staffer took her daughter outside didn’t look much like a stunt.
the debate is mostly between those who think there's no place for children at all in the workplace, and those who think workplaces should be more accommodating of family needs. and then there are those who are saying that this was just a one-off event in the case of a particular crisis, and why is everyone making such a huge deal of it.
as for me, i'm a working mum & well know the pressures associated with that. i'm really lucky to have a workplace where my employers are really understanding, and i'm also lucky to have an office of my own. which means that i've had one or other of the children with me during the day, now and again, when childcare has fallen through in the school holidays or when one of them is sick. it does mean i'm not as productive as i would have been if the child wasn't there, but it's at least a lot more productive than if i hadn't been there at all.
when my eldest was really little & i was working at a university, i'd often take her in with me to lectures. she'd be well fed and sleeping on the floor near me in her little carry cot. or, when she was a bit older, i'd sit her to one side with a few toys and she'd play away quietly. of course, once they're toddlers who want to be running around, there isn't the scope for that.
i know that many workers don't have the luxury of having their kids with them in the workplace, and i'm sure this places stress on many families. it's probably high time that we, as a society, put much more thought into the structure of workplaces. at least this aussie MP has gotten a real debate going in her country.