Listen, it's hard out there for a working mom. Trying to balance being a model employee and a good mom is like trying to balance an elephant on a toothpick. There are many balls in the air at all times, it's like the sky is made of balls. We go to work, try our best to be model employees, then log off or come home and try to be model moms. Needless to say, lots of us fail at this ... so much. We're not perfect, and trying to be everything to everyone takes its toll! We feel like you can be a really good mom, or a really good employee, but being both is so hard. It's demoralizing to always feel like you're letting someone down, you know? So working moms have to look for joy in the little things. We have to get our kicks somewhere and somehow, right?
When you're a working mom, some experiences are just a little more satisfying. Whether it's finding out the meeting that would have kept you late is cancelled or learning that your kid's school doesn't give homework, these little things can feel like we won the lottery. Working moms will take any break we can catch. And we will take any bit of relief we can manage! If you're a working mom, you can probably relate to this entire list. If you know a working mom, give her a hug and a hand. She totally needs both.
Not because we enjoy being snowed in, mind you. But because it means that we get a day off from the drop-offs and pick-ups and arranging childcare and rushing home after work to make dinner. It means we get to skip the suit and heels and work in our pajamas for a day. It's a day off from office small talk, eating lunch at our desk, and trying to get everything done so we get out the door on time and we're not late picking up the kids ... again. Sure, getting a work from home day because of the weather usually means our kids will be home too. But it still feels like a day off!
That feeling when you walk through the door and can FINALLY take your bra off? Heaven. Absolute heaven. You've been trapped in that thing all day when all you want is your comfy pants and a sports bra (or no bra!). The end-of-the-day bra removal is something all working moms look forward to. It's just a nice little SCREW YOU, DAY gesture. You know that once that door closes behind you and that bra snaps off, you've left the work day behind and you can just be mom. Bonus points if you can maneuver it off in the car as soon as you've left the office!
90% of work meetings can and should be emails or conference calls. At least you can mute yourself during those! But when the boss tells everyone that they're holding a staff meeting at 4:30, and you have to leave at 5 on the dot to get your kid from after-school care, you just know you're going to be late. It's a crappy feeling for working moms, because you can't just blow off work! So when you get a slack message at 4:15 saying the meeting has been cancelled and a recap is being emailed to everyone, you do a little dance at your desk. You're going to be on time today! That is something to celebrate!
OK, so maybe all moms appreciate this act of kindness from our kid's teachers. Listen, school is important! But homework is ineffective busy work designed to make kids and parents miserable. There's nothing worse than getting home after a long day at work, only to have two hours of homework to help your kid with. We'd much rather use that time to spend some quality time with our kids, or catch up on housework, or prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal. Instead, we have to spend it at the table, trying to get our kids to understand weird new math while they cry. Working moms love "No Homework" teachers.
Have you guys experienced this incredibly inconvenient phenomenon? Some schools, to accommodate parent-teacher conferences, will have an entire week of minimum days. FIVE DAYS OF SHORT DAYS. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to arrange childcare for five straight days of minimum days? Your workplace isn't going to give you five half-days to make it happen. And that's at least another two hours a day of paid childcare, if you're fortunate enough to have it. Why can't we just go back to having all the conferences on one day and give the kids the day off? One day is manageable. Five days is a disaster.
Image: Comedy Central
School makes our lives so much easier. That's at least seven hours of the day that we don't need to worry about. Our kids are in a safe place, learning, and having fun. And public school is free! So seven hours of not having to pay someone to watch the kids while we're at work. There is no school during the summer, but guess what? Working moms still have jobs! And we work all summer just to pay for someone to watch the kids all day, or pay out of the nose to put them in several week-long day camps. It's so expensive and hard to coordinate. School is a friend of the working mom.
We want our kids to be involved in sports and music and dance and whatnot. We really do! But it ain't easy shuttling them around to practices and games during the week. And if you work hours that make it impossible but have someone to help you out, you're still missing out on watching them. It can become too big of a burden, and sometimes we have to make the executive decision to not do certain activities because of their schedule. So we love when organizations or teams have a working-parent friendly schedule. It makes us feel like we're winning at this whole working mom thing.
We have the utmost sympathy for kids with food allergies. But we also owe them a debt of gratitude. Because now there's an almost universal ban on bringing in homemade treats for class parties. Sure, we've always been able to bring in store-bought treats, nothing wrong with that. But when little Jimmy's mom who spends all of her free time baking brings in delicious homemade cookies filled with love, we look like schmucks. All hail the grocery store cookie tray! Contributing to the class party just got a lot easier for working moms. We don't even care if we don't get to sign up for utensils or plates, we will buy the cookies, as long as we don't have to make anything.
Oh man, that feeling you get when your kid comes home and says that Career Day is coming, and they want to know if you can come talk to their class? THAT IS GOLDEN. That is the best feeling ever. Because it can feel like our kids don't understand or care how hard we work, so to hear that they see it and want us to tell their friends about it? Amazing. Even more amazing if you don't have some super cool job, like astronaut or something. When you're an accountant and your kids finds that fascinating enough for you to share with their class? You are a goddamn superhero in their eyes.
Image: Dr. Donna Thomas Rodgers
OK, so not many working moms will experience the satisfaction of being able to bring your kids to work and deposit them in the on-site childcare center. It's unfortunate as hell that more employers don't understand the value of making that happen for their working parent employees! It can make life so much easier, and make their employees so much happier. And satisfied employees are productive employees, right? This is definitely a pipe dream for most working moms, but we'll just ride it out until it's the norm.
The mom guilt that hits you when you screech into the daycare parking lot 7 minutes after pick-up time to find your lone kid waiting at the door is brutal. You just know if you leave the office even two minutes past schedule, you are screwed. You drive faster than you should, cut in and out of traffic, and pull into the parking lot like you're taking a curve in the Indy 500. But then you see that two other kids are still waiting for their mom or dad, and you feel victorious. You made it! You weren't the latest parent at pickup! Savor your victory, friends. That's a nice feeling.
Listen, no one wants to spend their Saturday morning at the dentist or doctor. But it's that, or you sacrifice yet another sick day or a couple hours pay to take your kids during the workday. Here's the thing: you need to save those sick days and call out favors, because kids are gross and they will get sick. Working moms are masters at finding providers who have the flexible scheduling we need. It feels so good to know you're keeping your kids healthy without getting into the weeds at work (or getting in bad with your boss). Saturday doctor visits, FTW.
Your kids spikes a fever on Friday night. Not ideal, but OK, you can handle it. You play a soft defense at first, just letting them rest and giving them liquids. But then you start inching closer to that 24-hour mark. You know the one - the 24 hours being fever-free before you can send them to school or daycare. By Saturday afternoon, you're starting to panic. Here come the meds, the calls to the nurse's hotline, maybe even a trip to the urgent care. Because this fever needs to be gone by 8 a.m. on Sunday so your kids can GTFO on Monday. As soon as that temperature goes back to normal, WITHIN THE 24-HOUR WINDOW, you'll feel like you slayed a dragon.
Of course your first concern is that your kid is OK. OF COURSE. You're not completely heartless. But you also took the call the last two times and had to leave work, and you're right in the middle of a huge project that you can't step away from right now, and the the last time you left work early for a kid think your boss looked at you a little funny. So when that call goes straight to voicemail, and then you get a text from your partner telling you they're going to pick up the kid? You'll smile a little. YOU'LL FEEL BAD FOR YOUR KID. But you'll also smile.
Maybe it's because the last few lunches you've sent to school were basically just a bag full of shelf-stable snacks. Or maybe it's because of how mad you got at them that one time when they asked for a different lunch than the one you'd made ... as you were walking out the door. Whatever the reasons, hearing "Can I buy lunch this week?" is music to a working mom's ears. Sure, it'll cost you a bit more than throwing a Lunchable in a paper sack. But you'll be rewarded in an extra 15 minutes of sitting on the couch every night instead of cutting the crusts off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The last thing you have time for in the week leading up to school starting is heading to a crowded store to buy a list of supplies for your kid's classroom. You don't want to waste your Saturday buying pencils! Remember, Saturdays are for doctor's appointments now. So when you get that email the week before school for the supplies your kid will need, and it contains an Amazon link that takes you directly to the wish list where you can just click and buy all of that stuff? It's like you won the lottery! Bless teachers who understand that not everyone can hit up three different Office Depot locations for the right kind of markers.
It probably doesn't happen very often, but when it does? Best way to end the day, hands down. Just knowing that you don't have to do anything after a day full of doing stuff will bring you to grateful tears. That's just great teamwork, and if your partner regularly carries their own weight, and a little bit of your weight sometimes? It can make your life so much easier. You can snap off your bra, have a glass of wine, and actually enjoy your evening for once! Like we said, it doesn't happen often, but working moms will enjoy the crap out of it when it does.
See, this is even better than a snow day. Because even though you'll be working from home tomorrow, your kids will still be at school and daycare. It's like you got an unexpected day off, free from everything! We suppose you should actually work a bit on your work-from-home day. Just a tad, so as to keep up appearances. But really, you probably won't be super productive (which is OK because your boss is sick and preoccupied). You can go back to bed when the kids are on their way. You can lay on the couch all day in your pajamas, answering emails on your laptop. These free days are such a win for working moms.
Maybe they remembered that you mentioned you had a big presentation that day and would be up all night getting ready for it. Or maybe it was the size of the bags under your eyes that made them feel sorry for you. Either way, working moms understand the satisfaction of building a relationship with the baristas at the coffee shop near their office. They see them everyday, probably more than once. They're practically family! The importance of having a good barista near work can't be overstated. Plus, they always have a way of knowing just when you need a little something extra.
Sure, a date night with your partner would be nice. And you'd probably have a lot of fun hanging out with your coworkers. But an office party on a weekend night is hard for working moms. It can also be expensive, when you factor in how much you'll have to pay a sitter. So when the holiday party at the fancy bar restaurant turns into a family party at a local museum, working moms breathe a sigh of relief. Now you'll just have to keep your kids from wilding out and embarrassing you in front of your boss and colleagues.