The world has changed significantly in just a generation or two. Though our great-grandmothers and grandmothers may have had the option to raise their children at home, the US Department of Labor Blog says that "70 percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-time." This means working moms aren't just out there killing it in their fields, but they're now the norm. It makes sense, too, when you think about it. Economically, most families have to have two breadwinners to live comfortably, and there are single mamas out there acting as the sole earner in the household.
Ladies, we're all trying to find that balance between what feeds and nurtures us as individuals and prioritizing family. That's one thing mamas who stay home to take care of the household and mamas who leave it to help take care of it have in common. Balance isn't the easiest thing to find, but it's so necessary in our world. Below you'll find twenty ways you can tell you're definitely a working mom, from knowing the best food delivery places to being an email savant-
GrubHub, UberEats, EatStreet, working mothers know their food delivery providers in the area so that, on the nights where homework, extracurriculars, and maybe even running a little late make everything tight, they can feed their families. They know what options there are, how much it'll probably cost, and how quickly most restaurants respond to their orders. If you fall into this category, you might have the apps right on your smartphone so you can place your order while stuck in traffic, watching a swim class, or preparing for that big meeting. You have your family's favorites lined up for the nights you're too busy or too exhausted to cook a hearty meal and don't want to resort to cereal (again). Do you exchange texts or emails in the middle of the day with your significant other, trying to decide what delivery spot sounds the most appetizing? Yep, you're definitely a working mom.
Really, what mama's car is sparkling clean? If you're a working mama and your car looks a lot like your makeshift closet, you're right with the pack. You know that going home and kicking your feet up, a glass of wine in hand, is mostly a dream. You have places to go, kids to see, and an implied social life because of those little people you spouted into the world. That means that your array of sneakers, pumps, boots, and flip flops may all have taken permanent residence in your backseat or trunk so that you can change as needed. You don't want to trip yourself up climbing bleachers in your work shoes, nor do you want to stand in the gross weather waiting for school to get out in your good heels. You're prepared, even if it looks a bit chaotic to outside eyes. Your significant other may have made quips about the array of options you drive around with as well as their decided lack in organization, but you know the truth. You're messy because you are prepared, and the time it would take to organize it as it requires would be better spent hanging out with the kids.
Before kids, sick days might have meant something totally different. They were personal days when you'd stayed up too late the night before, days when the type of sick you were was of the hungover variety, or simply days when your significant other had off, and you wanted to chill. Now though, you've come to realize that sick days mean somebody's unwell, but it's most likely not you. Either your kids are puking, or running fevers or your partner has a fatal version of the man cold that needs constant nursing attention. After all, the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation found in 2017 that, "among mothers, about three-quarters report that they are the ones who usually take charge of health care responsibilities such as choosing their children’s provider (79%), taking them to appointments (77%), and following through with recommended care (77%), compared to approximately a fifth of fathers who report they take care of these tasks." Thus, sick days equate to you running around doling out medicine and checking temperatures.
That's right; you know that working doesn't get you out of doing household chores. It also doesn't mean that you should be the only one responsible for the never-ending piles of laundry, dishes, and toys needing to be put away. Working moms tend to allocate chores rather than drowning in them. In fact, it's been proven that working moms produce more helpful sons. In this Mommyish article, it says that the sons of working moms make better partners as adults because they're not afraid to take some initiative in housework. Like it said above, being a working mom is a constant search for balance. Most working mamas know that achieving that zen feeling is way easier when everyone who lives in the home pulls their weight in an age-appropriate, go team! manner. There are mamas out there that have this down to a science with charts and earning trackers. Others just point and ask for dishes to be rinsed or laundry to be sorted. As long as your system works for you and your family, there's nothing wrong with either style. Efficiency is the name of the working mom game.
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That's right; you tote around either physical or digital pics of your kids and family everywhere you go. That means that when that co-worker asked in passing what your kids dressed up as for Halloween or how they liked Christmas, you flash your photos proudly whether they really wanted to see the photos or not. Your office may be a shrine to your family milestones, or you may keep those school yearbook wallets contained, but you've definitely shown them around. Go ahead, Mama! You should feel like boasting about your greatest accomplishments, and a happy, healthy family surely is one of them. Plus, other parents know how rare it is to get pictures in which everyone's eyes are open, and no one looks like they're wearing stains from the last spaghetti dinner. Pass around those recital videos and post those vacation pics if that's your jam. No one should judge you for your several memory books worth of memories kept constantly at hand. We're all guilty.
Image: Paramount Pictures
Kids have no sense of time, that's one thing any parent trying to get anywhere knows. Their socks aren't right. Their hair needs more attention. They're suddenly hungry despite whatever you just watched them wolf down. Working moms have places to be and schedules that may not always accommodate a kid's attempt to put off going to school or daycare. Therefore, moms have developed coping mechanisms to try to get their kids out the door expediently but without heaping undo stress on them. No one wants to have the kid with belly aches in the mornings because getting ready is such a stressful time. On the flip side, no one wants to be fired because there's not a single day where mama's not late. Have you tried bribing them out the door or threatening them with impending tardy slips? Yeah, those are all signs you're for sure a career mom. Don't feel guilty. We all do it at one time or another. It's like we've given birth to sloth/human hybrids sometimes.
You communicate with everyone over email, mostly because you can't take a thousand calls during your busy workday. This means that you've figured out the preferred platform for talking to the kids' teachers, doctor's offices, and coaches via email or other digital means. You know the apps for parents in the school district. Maybe you're even part of a Facebook group that lets parents carpool. Just like you pay your bills through mobile banking, you manage your children's schedules and needs using your electronics. You're so good at mastering the nonverbal communiques you've probably even sent out invitations or cards online because you know that efficiency matters. The Huffington Post featured some research about just this phenomenon. It quoted a Wireless Network Quality Performance study that said, "wireless usage patterns continue to evolve, as fewer calls are being made or received. On average, wireless customers use 450 minutes per month, a decline of 77 minutes from 527 in 2009." You know what you have time for and what can be relegated to quick email exchanges.
Your alarms are, well, alarming. There are wake up alarms, reminder alarms, drop off/pick up alarms, and that's not even counting the reminders you've set for yourself, so you don't forget classmates' birthday parties or whatever else your kids are supposed to attend. You only wish that alarms actually meant something. In a perfect world, you could set one for bedtime, and everyone would drop into their beds, deeply asleep, in order to wake well rested in the morning, chipper as could be to the early alarm as soon as they hear it. However, you've come to learn that alarms are helpful but not really predictors of the future. Have you started relying on backup alarms for that ten extra minutes of sleep or cross-electronics alarms that will find you whether you're working on your phone, your laptop, or your tablet? Yes? Take that as a sign you're definitely a working mom. You know time is precious and that five minutes more of rest and relaxation could make a tangible difference in your day.
That's right; you know that leaving ten minutes early or ten minutes late can affect which way you take home. Whether this is because of rush hour, because of school letting out, or because of big events in your area you know there are several options to get you home faster. You already spend time away from your family, perhaps more than you'd like on some days, and you don't want to waste the time you do have sitting in traffic. You're a back road, frontage street expert. You might even text your partner to avoid this intersection or that highway because you know your way around so well.
In the after-work rush to practice, a game, a recital, or anything else that comes with school-age children, you've given in to the temptation to eat something on the way. However, that greasy, weirdly colored, or some other noticeable stain causer ended up on your outfit. Knowing that there's no time, you probably went to the kid's event anyway and hoped that you could sit or stand in a pose to make the offending mark less noticeable. Hey, it's not breast milk (or maybe it was, who cares?). The important part is that you were there for the kiddo.
Image: STX Entertainment
You saw it and loved it. You saw it and hated it. You've not seen it and have no plans to. Either way, someone has mentioned that you should see the movie Bad Moms assuming that in some way you'll relate to the Zumba-hating, over-stressed, working mom played by Mila Kunis. She's the mom that tells the PTA to shove it and takes her boss to task for not acting like a grown up in the office. While that may sound appealing to you, you're not a replica of working moms and know that no mom is.
The days of loading up the cart, scrambling to keep the kids near it, and hauling heavy bags back to your trunk are over (mostly). You've learned that when it's time to stock up you can get it done quickly and from the comfort of your electronics. While there may be something nostalgic about going out to department stores or malls for holiday shopping, getting the weekly necessaries is so much easier when you can make a list with your partner and kids from home, getting everyone what they need, and pick it up with little fuss later.
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You adore your yoga pants and hoodies, but you never get to be in them. They're expensive, comfortable shelf decor. You buy them with plans to sit on the couch or get household stuff done, but those are the activities that always get placed on the back burner. You know wearing them at the gym only doesn't count. Your sweats are meant to be enjoyed in a lounging position, something you don't assume often enough. Someday, you tell yourself. Someday you'll wear yoga pants and watch Netflix. It just might not be for another decade.
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That's right; you learned a long time ago that you can't do it all on your own. Working means finding a balance between the time you spend with your children and the time you rely on other people to help care for them. You've learned that those few people you can always count on are invaluable, and you're willing to go out of your way to make sure they're happy with the situation. In fact, losing them is something that's a legitimate fear of yours. When someone loves your kids, they earn an immediate high place on your priorities list.
Because you have to. You know that you'll run out of fuel if you're constantly on the go or trying to please others. You can't make every meeting, every party, or every get together. While your kids may not always appreciate it, you've set limits on how much your family can take on. After all, this article from BabyGaga says that "there is a reason parents get little no sleep when a baby is born, that child is preparing them for a lifetime of sleep deprivation." If you're sleeping less but working just as much, you've learned by now that something has to give. This means that you've practiced and hopefully perfected saying no to too many additions to the family schedule.
Image: Marc Rodriguez
You could be a coffee, tea, or soda drinker. Maybe you swear by a certain brand of energy drink. Maybe it's Vitamin C or the echinacea you completely believe saved you from coming down with the family's last round of the cold. Whatever it is, including wine or mani-pedis, you've found whatever nectar that energizes you. You don't mind people knowing that you love it, and both your family and co-workers can probably name whatever it is that fuels your efforts in and out of the home. Don't feel bad about providing it for yourself. Working is hard. Momming is hard, too. Doing both deserves some kind of reward.
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You've explained, in an appropriate way as you can manage, economics to your children. They've asked why you have to work when Tommy's mom or dad doesn't. You've listed the things your family would have to give up if you didn't spend time away from home and, essentially, away from the people you love most. You've also tried to explain to your kids why your job is important, not just financially, but why it's what you've chosen to do. You're careful because you don't want them to believe you're choosing something over watching them grow, but it's important to you that they see the responsibility you carry.
Before you had kids, you had something you filled your off-the-clock time with. Whether it was playing or watching a sport, going to concerts, or reading a lot, it was something that you enjoyed a great deal but haven't yet found the time to get back to. While you know the touted importance of self-care, you also know there's a hierarchy of needs. Moms need to coin the term "hierarchy of demands" too because those kiddos are both incredibly rewarding and incredibly demanding. Time is limited, and you want to spend it with your family. It's okay both ways. It's okay to try to pursue this interest again. It's as equally okay to say that it can wait a few years, as long as you're finding fulfillment elsewhere.
Work. Kids. Sleep. Eat. Repeat. Yet, you know that humans need more than this. Your partner and you need time together, time in which you're not answering emails on your phone or discussing the kids' school situation. It can feel impossible for two busy people to find this time to spend, but you've reminded yourself and each other that you're in this together. You know a firm foundation for your family begins and ends with the stability of your relationships. Plus, you realize when you don't make time for romance, you genuinely miss your partner. Get romantic, Mama. It's good for you.
While some ladies like to play with their looks, you know what works and how much time it takes to apply. Sleep is precious. Cuddles with kiddos are precious. You don't want to cut into either, so you've paired down your primp time to the bare necessities. That doesn't mean looking your best isn't important to you. It just means you've learned what works, incorporated that into your routine, and even know how long that put together look will last before it needs a touch-up. You are, after all, your own hair and makeup team.