New Zealand’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Trevor Mallard, called for order during a parliamentary debate while feeding his colleague’s six-week old baby. The sweet gesture not only helped his colleague, but it is also helping normalize childcare at work. If a baby can be brought into a national debate, then it should be okay to bring them into other professional spaces.
It can be difficult to pursue a career while you have a young child. Many cannot afford a nanny or daycare, or sometimes things happen that make either unavailable for the day. Staying focused at work while tending to your child’s needs is difficult in of itself, so a parent shouldn’t have to deal with negative and discouraging colleagues. With a more child-friendly work environment, more parents can feel at ease as they attempt to balance work and family.
Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me. Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family. pic.twitter.com/47ViKHsKkA— Trevor Mallard (@SpeakerTrevor) August 21, 2019
Trevor Mallard offered to hold Tamati Coffey’s six-week-old son as he began the debate. Coffey and his husband just had a baby last month, and he needed to be cuddled during last Wednesday’s debate. Mallard even fed baby Tutanekai while the MPs were passionately debating fuel prices.
Coffey’s baby wasn’t the first child brought into the parliament during session. Since 2017, Mallard has relaxed rules regarding children at work. Around a dozen current MPs have children, and sometimes they need to bring them into work. The move follows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s family-friendly policies and attitudes. She was the country’s first premier to take a maternity leave, and she was the world’s second elected leader to give birth during her term. She even brings her daughter, Neve Te Aroha, to meetings at the United Nations General Assembly.
New Zealand's speaker, Trevor Mallard fed an MP's baby during a parliamentary session. The baby is the son of Labour MP Tāmati Coffey and his partner Tim Smith. https://t.co/5ig2my4IZY pic.twitter.com/7ZyMeglaYT— euronews (@euronews) August 22, 2019
The more relaxed attitudes on childcare in public office is helping other industries advocate for similar work policies. Workers' rights advocates are fighting for more family-friendly attitudes, and they hope that the examples the MPs are giving will greatly impact people’s opinions. Bringing your child into work not only relaxes your anxieties because you’re not away from them, but it also helps boost morale. There’s something about showing your kids your work that makes you want to work even harder.