I took my baby to a 3-day work conference, here’s how it went

What do you do if you were invited to a 3-day interstate professional development summit, but you’re exclusively breastfeeding your 5 month old baby?  Go to the summit and take your baby with you, of course!

My first thought when my employers offered to take me to the ALPMA Summit last year was ‘I’m not going to miss this just because I have a baby’.

My first words after their proposal were ‘Can Lilly come too?’  I’m not sure that’s quite what they were expecting me to say, but my mind was already racing to come up with a plan. I already took Lilly to work the office with me, so surely we could make it work!

My plan was that my mum would come to Melbourne with us to help me take care of Lilly. At five months old, she was still sleeping for the majority of the day. She was also too young for solids and refused to drink from a bottle, so needed to be fed from the source!  At the time, Lilly had never spent longer than about an hour away from me, so I didn’t know how she’d be when I wasn’t around, but our apartment was a ten minute walk from the summit’s location at Etihad Stadium so I’d never be far away.

Mum, Lilly and I at the airport

I wasn’t sure how a baby would be received at a summit designed for lawyers and legal practice managers.  By that time I’d been taking Lilly to work with me for several months, so we were used to having a baby around, but I wasn’t sure if others would be so open-minded so I had planned not to have Lilly with me during the day. If she needed me, I would go to her, wherever she was. That plan went out the window on arrival when my over-tired baby fell asleep in her baby carrier just as we arrived at the summit right on opening time. Every parent knows to never wake a sleeping baby, so I kept her with me and got started at the trade fair.

Within the first few hours I’d lost count of the number of people who had approached me to ask about Lilly. The vast majority got out their mobile phones to show me pictures of their own children.  Many people had travelled for the summit and were already missing their own kids.  Everyone I spoke to thought it was brilliant that my employers had allowed me to take Lilly with me. I knew then that my inhibitions had been wrong and I was no longer worried about having Lilly with me.  I wore her in the carrier while she slept and while I showcased our practice management software.  I breastfed her on the stadium seats outside the trade hall. I even sung and danced up and down the corridors with her during our play time together.

 

I asked the staff at Etihad Stadium to unlock the parents room so my mum and Lilly could play in there when she wasn’t with me. They went one up and gave them a corporate room!  So Lilly had a high-end play room while she was awake and the comfort of snuggling in her baby carrier with me or my mum while she slept. What more could a baby need!  My mum was in her element – three days off work to spend with her first grandchild! And the little weekend city-break we had after didn’t hurt either!

Lilly Etihad Stadium

The whole event worked out far better than I had imagined.  Lilly became well-known among the summiteers.  People I hadn’t yet met stopped me and asked where the baby was when she wasn’t with me, how we slept last night or if I could bring the baby back, please! Networking was a breeze – people stopped me so they could admire Lilly.

Unlike the rest of the summiteers, we were attending in dual capacity. We were there for professional development and networking, but we were also summit sponsors. This meant that our ‘breaks’ were not in fact breaks, but were our opportunity to showcase our software at the trade fair.  Put another way, this was three days of full-on (but really fun and inspiring!) work.  My goal was to help the team showcase our practice management software during the trade show and hopefully catch a few speakers that I wanted to hear.  Not only did I manage this, I saw almost all of the speakers and made the most of many networking opportunities.  I even made it to the gala dinner once I’d nursed Lilly to sleep, arriving just after entree was served!

On a broader level, the summit was inspiring and thought-provoking and I benefited immensely on a personal and professional level from having attended.  I’m so glad I didn’t let the fact that I had a baby stop me from going and I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to give it a go. My experience is proof that with the right mindset and support, we can achieve anything!

 


 

 

29 COMMENTS

  1. Susie / So Happy In Town | 27th Feb 17

    So great that you were adamant you weren’t going to miss that conference because you have a baby – and quite right too! You’re very brave for taking Lily, as many people would have gone for the easier option. It’s time that the working world was more open to mothers managing to work and care for their children. And it sounded like it went really well and you were productive, while looking after your child. Hopefully your post will inspire others to not feel they can’t do both. #bigpinklink

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 27th Feb 17

      Thank you for your lovely comment Susie. I’d love to see the working world become more adapted to the needs of parents and families. I think we’re making slow progress, but there is a very long way to go.

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 28th Feb 17

      Thank you Susie. I do hope so.

  2. Ursula (Mumbelievable) | 27th Feb 17

    Lucy, this is SO inspiring! I think there are many factors which affect our mindset when it comes to inhibitions and preconceived ideas as to how we’ll be treated if we incorporate our children into our working lives. Most of all, I think that culturally we are under-prepared for parenthood in general because we’re raised and educated in a world where academic and professional achievement is what we’re taught to aim for, which means that the impact of becoming a parent is overlooked as we grow up. When we combine the two, we’re faced with a fight because we’re unsure how to manage both effectively. There are so many examples (yours is one!) of women changing this culture and modelling to others how we can design a life for ourselves that celebrates both our roles as high achieving female professionals and as mothers. I agree there’s a very, very long way to go but this is so positive. X

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 27th Feb 17

      I definitely agree that we are underprepared for the impact that becoming a parent has on us. I know I was! I thought I’d change, but I didn’t realise just how much I’d change.

      The separation of work and family just doesn’t feel right to me. We’re all going through the same thing, we all have a life outside of our profession, so why do we have to try to hide that?

      We can design a life for ourself that fits who we are. I think the key is working out who we are and what we want and not being constrained by society’s expectations.

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment ❤ xx

  3. Bethany | 27th Feb 17

    I took my baby to a conference when she was about 4 months and then again when she was 10 months. Luckily by 10 months she could be with the sitter most of the day. She did great, but I was more fearful in anticipation. Love to encourage working and breastfeeding moms!

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 27th Feb 17

      That’s great! Good on you for taking her! I must admit it was tiring, but totally worth it.
      I’m a big breastfeeding advocate too 🙂

  4. Intrepid bebe | 27th Feb 17

    This is awesome, and hopefully inspires lots of other women that it’s totally possible.

  5. Angela Watling | 27th Feb 17

    This is brilliant! Amazing (and right!) that Lily was so well received. Sounds like it was a really successful summit! I really wonder what would happen at a UK conference… I’m also impressed you more it through the conference. I was still struggling for sleep at 5 months so couldn’t have mentally coped with my work – haha!

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 28th Feb 17

      Bed sharing saved me! I barely woke up to feed during the night. Don’t get me wrong though, I was exhausted by the end of the summit!

  6. Heather Keet | 27th Feb 17

    This is so fabulous. I can’t wait for the day when more employers embrace parents as workers. Studies have repeatedly shown that workers are more efficient and focused when their babies are cared for in the manner which makes them comfortable. If you’re baby were away from you all day, I’m sure you would lose productivity due to worry about her; your mind would only be half on your work. #GlobalBlogging

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 28th Feb 17

      That’s very true and it applies more broadly too – happy workers are more productive workers! I’ve been researching this for a presentation I am preparing so it is very topical for me at the moment.

  7. Mackenzie Glanville | 28th Feb 17

    oh I love her playroom! What a brilliant post! I am so proud of you, this is how it should be and I think you are just amazing. It is so important to show others what we can achieve as working mums. Thanks so much for sharing this with #mg

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 28th Feb 17

      Thank you for your lovely comment Mac! I really do hope that I can show others that anything is possible. I struggled for a while as I felt like I didn’t have anyone whose footsteps I could follow, so if I can help someone else who feels like I did then it will all be worth it!

  8. Courtney | 28th Feb 17

    This was awesome! You have such a positive and can-do mindset! Such a great example of a working mom!

  9. Emma me and b make tea | 28th Feb 17

    I think it’s brilliant you took Lilly and just got on with it. and made the gala! I was at a conference as exhibitor last nov and a mum was there with her baby. I don’t see what it would be an issue as when they are so tiny they do sleep a lot. #globablogging

  10. Helena | 28th Feb 17

    If only more companies were supportive of us mums and our children #mg

  11. Lisa Pomerantz | 1st Mar 17

    This is such good news and I hope you have inspired more and more women, men, caregivers to do the same. That is the only way to break the glass ceiling and teach our mighty girls to be strong women. Thanks so much for sharing with us on #globalblogging

  12. One Messy Mama | 3rd Mar 17

    Firstly, I think you work for an amazing company. A company that cares so much for the family is a company that is definitely valued! Secondly, what an amazing opportunity for you and your little one. And your mom of course! 🙂 It must have been eye-opening when everyone showed so much support. So pleased it turned out well! Thanks for sharing with us at #globalblogging

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 3rd Mar 17

      I really do. They are great. I am very grateful that they allow me so much flexibility and are happy to work with me to do what is needed. I know not everyone is so lucky.

  13. Louise Pink Pear Bear | 3rd Mar 17

    This is absolutely brilliant! I’m so pleased it went well. You are opening up the idea of the possibilities for so many others and hopefully it makes other bosses sit up and take note. She’s gorgeous! Thanks for joining us at the #bigpinklink

  14. Hayley@ Mission: Mindfulness | 3rd Mar 17

    What an amazingly up-lifting and inspiring post – you have such a ‘can do’ attitude that I LOVE! I’m so pleased it worked out well and Lilly clearly was a natural conversation starter for you when networking. Well done you! I want to catch up on you blog over the weekend – you are publishing such interesting posts all the time 🙂 xx #globalblogging

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 4th Mar 17

      I tend to just get on with it, whatever ‘it’ may be. There’s no use dwelling, we won’t know if we never try! Thank you. I was on a roll, but now I’m out of posts so better get writing! xx

  15. Mackenzie Glanville | 6th Mar 17

    Congratulations you are #mg’s featured writer! This was my favourite post from last weeks link up. Thanks again for supporting #mg

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