Courtesy Photo

I learned all my swear words in my mother’s office. When I was 5 years old, I was standing beside my parents at church on Sunday when the priest called for the usual moment of silence. Sometimes there is a light squeak of a bench or maybe a cough, but mostly it’s just a quiet time to slow down and think. Instead, I took a good look around and yelled, “Oh, shit!” at the top of my lungs. In a mere two words, I let the entire congregation know that I was spending a lot of time after school and on weekends inside a newspaper office.

Starting a business while having a family is really hard for parents, but it can also be confusing and tough on children. That’s why I so enjoyed reading and looking through the hundreds of full-color photos of Patagonia’s new book, Family Business: Innovative On-Site Child Care Since 1983. Written by Matilda Chouinard and Jennifer Ridgeway, the book takes a look at how important on-site child care can be for the strength of a company. It goes back 33 years to when Patagonia started the Great Pacific Child Development Center at their Ventura headquarters. For children ages 2 months to 9 years old, the program promotes unstructured play and outdoor learning, and allows employees the balance of working while being close to their little loved ones. After hearing these interesting ideas through the ages for fun activities that also teach about the great outdoors, I hope other businesses can be inspired and use this as a tool to start their own on-site child-care options.

My mother did her very best while starting this newspaper to always have a place for my brother and me. She hurriedly turned storerooms into playrooms and, when we were very young, let us build forts under her desk. I know my mother was determined to have this business succeed, but she also wanted to be with her children. Even though we might have whined at times, my mother admits she worked better with us around. I was able to grow up in a real world where people had deadlines and coffee addictions and didn’t have time to speak with a filter. And even today when I enter her office, it feels like home.

See — Elizabeth Poett is the daughter of The Independent’s editor-in-chief, Marianne Partridge.


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