There is a new oasis for parents in the Research School of Physics – a room stocked with supplies and toys, where they can breastfeed quietly, or play noisily with their little ones, without fear of disturbing colleagues.
The parents’ room in the Cockcroft building features a kitchenette, a change table, three private cubicles with comfortable chairs and curtains, lockers, a high chair and plenty of toys and books.
The driving force behind the initiative has been Dr Julie Tournet and Dr Noemie Bastidon.
“Sometimes when you are looking after your kids you have bad days, and it’s hard to work out what to do,” Dr Bastidon said.
“Now there is a place you can go, with no guilt.”
The project became necessary as a number of parents rooms in the vicinity of the Cockcroft building have been converted to COVID handwashing stations. Dr Bastidon was inspired by parents’ facilities at her former workplace at Northwestern University in the United States, so she joined forces with fellow breast-feeding mum and physicist Dr Tournet and enlisted the support of the RSPhys Diversity and Equity committee.
“A Parents’ Room is such an encouragement to keep working,” Dr Tournet said. “I’m from France, where it is not breastfeeding friendly - in research it’s so easy to feel your research is being delayed by time off.”
“In Australia I see more male co-workers taking on family responsibilities. I’m hoping to see as many dads as mums using this room!”
At the morning tea launch of the room, horror stories abounded of awkward parenting experiences at overseas conferences, in crowded rooms or cold toilets with no seats.
“We hope visitors will be inspired to copy these facilities at their home institutions,” Dr Bastidon said.
Director of the Research School Professor Tim Senden welcomed the addition to the school.
“We hope it will help parents juggle their very complex lives - they’re an important and enriching part of the school culture.”
The Parents’ Room is located in Cockcroft 4.36, one level above the tea room, overlooking the mechanical workshop, around the corner from the lift. For access ask Nikki Azzopardi at reception (final access arrangements are not yet in place).
Dr Noemie Bastidon