I think you’re right, it depends a bit on why you want your kids with you — and why they would want to be there. I have a very introverted daughter who would have found it really nervewracking to be hauled to a conference only to be thrown into childcare with strange kids; and another who would have loved the experience. And all this changes as they get older.

Where I get really tetchy is when the profession normalises the participation patterns and output of people with no dependents and then penalises those who really have non-negotiable other things to do that they must do in their lives, including the care of others. Enabling child-friendly conference participation is a good step, and still doesn’t fully address the huge other systemic problems that I think cause many academic parents just to give up.

I went away when my kids were little, and they remember these trips vividly and generally pretty positively (airport gifts! suspension of mum’s rules in the home! hotdogs for dinner every night!). By contrast they’re candid about the everydayness of the stuff I was never fully there to share. This has really got me thinking hard about the fact that it’s not work that’s the problem, it’s overwork.

This is such an important topic, I’m so glad you’ve raised it.