Mom-on-mom fighting is tough on everyone, and nobody wins. Jealousy can break up circles of friends, and alpha moms cause pointless wars in the classroom. It’s time to knock it off and show good “sportsmomship.” Weed out the high-maintenance moms who are sucking the life out of you by competing relentlessly. And don’t fight your battles on social media!
Every mom deserves a little “me time” now and then. We are stress absorbers, and we need some space to decompress. We all know this, but it’s hard to ignore the guilt that rises up when we hire a cleaning lady or get away from the kids for a few hours to go to the gym or have a drink with our friends. Remember: getting a manicure or buying a dress is not a criminal act! We come back refreshed and ready to help our husbands and our children work through their issues.
If you see a friend stressing at her job or because her child won’t do his homework, it’s time to step in and build her up. Babysit her child or fill in for her carpool shift so she can stay at work later or spend an evening with her husband. Take her out to lunch and let her vent. Then tell her that your kid won’t brush his teeth and loses his piano books on purpose. It makes her feel human and understood. Acknowledge and help her without keeping score.
Learn to text, tweet, and use Facebook. You should be familiar with social media, not to spy on your kids but so you can relate to them. We need to understand how to effectively parent our iThumb generation. This is how they communicate with each other so we have to understand their norms. Our best chance to influence them is to show we understand their world and that we live in it too. Devices are here to stay, so work together with your friends to make sure your children are safe and happy when they’re using them. And moms can use social media to stay in touch with friends and other moms, right from the home. Moms connecting is key.
Unfortunately, there are teachers, coaches, and PTA parents out there who show no empathy or don’t have your child’s best interests at heart. Some parents even fool themselves into believing that their child is perfect and yours is not good enough to have over or include. You may be worried that speaking up to these tormentors will make things worse for your children. That’s not enough of a reason to remain quiet. You need to be confident and diplomatic so you can advocate for your children and yourself. Especially in sports!
Don’t make assumptions. Everyone has a long, complicated history that affects how they make the choices that they do—so unless you know exactly where she’s coming from, keep an open mind when you’re tempted to judge another mom’s parenting ability. There is not only one way to raise a child, and moms have to stop offering unsolicited parenting advice or criticizing a decision another mom makes, such as working or letting her child watch TV during the week. And let’s minimize the “my child is better than your child” attitude.
It’s how we stay in balance. If your husband can’t watch the kids, hire a babysitter. Having strong relationships with your friends is crucial to your well-being. When moms get together to laugh and share the details of their hectic lives, they feel lighter and their stress is rinsed away. Then they get up to face the next onslaught of challenges refreshed and ready. Because the reality is, we’re not looking for massive changes but we want to feel understood and appreciated.
There’s a difference between solving a problem your kid can’t handle and taking over every time things get the least bit hard. Try to let them work out their problems for themselves. It’s a primal instinct to protect your kids from danger, but there’s also a time when you need to step back and control your urge to display bad “sportsmomship!” Stop hovering over your child to mask every weakness or clean up any little mess they make. And let’s knock off the hyperscheduling—children with multiple sports, instruments, tutors, and playdates don’t have the downtime they need to let their imaginations and personalities grow.
Work with your husband to keep the flames burning. Remember the woman you really are! When you first met your mate, chances are he was attracted to your optimism and flair. There were no kids so you dressed up and went out, feeling confident, and oftentimes ended the evening with romance and sex. That woman is still part of you, and you need to continuously connect to her. You are an individual that exists separately from your husband and child.
Image management is rampant and self-destructive. Don’t stress about achieving perfection for yourself or your children. Accept that you and your family have flaws. Don’t beat yourself up if your kids are eating Kraft Mac & Cheese a few times a week. Guess what, chances are there aren’t too many mothers serving organic kale at every meal out there! And don’t sit out photos or turn down trips to the beach just because you’re not as thin as you want. All our kids are somewhat overscheduled, don’t cringe when they are not excelling at everything.
Recently my child did not get into the “it” private school and I had to sit there and listen to another mom, who is supposedly my friend, at a girls’ dinner rave about how her child got into all three private schools she applied to. “She just has this ‘it’ factor,” she said. “She’s always had it.” And she went on and on for most of the meal. It made me feel so bad. Finally I was either going to cry or change the subject so I asked, “Why is she so incredibly accomplished? What’s your secret to raising such an amazing child with all this talent?” She looked at me and replied deadly serious, “Well, obviously it’s our parenting.” I threw up in my mouth and skipped the next girls’ dinner.
There is a clique of moms who refer to themselves as Team 2024—the graduation year of their kids. They hang out, vacation together, and exclude everyone else.
I dread every March when the “What are your kids doing this summer?” season kicks in. That, and “Where are you going on vacation?” The competition on vacations, school, and kid’s activities is pounding and exhausting.
I was so sick of a mom bragging that when she said her four-year-old son was reading the Jack and Annie books, I replied, “Well good for him, he’ll be reading porn by first grade.” I don’t know why I said it, it just leaked out!
I unfriended a high-maintenance mom on Facebook, but she had an ‘unfriended’ app so she found out and called me on it publicly at a school concert. She is the drama mom of the school. Problem is, my daughter loves her daughter, who is popular, so I find myself interacting with this woman constantly for my daughter’s sake. I had to re-friend her and pretend it was all a giant mistake. She is a one-upper on facebook so she’s always posting pictures and comments that are weird and obnoxious ON MY PAGE— it makes it seem like I think like her and share her views but I don’t! Aaahh! I’m a facebook hostage to her.
My friend is a working mom with a big job and wrestles with mom guilt all the time. She took an entire day off to present to her seven-year-old daughter’s class for Career Day. The room mom, an insecure stay-at-home mom, asked her to tone it down when she was about to present and make sure she talked about her job as a mom being more important than her pilot’s job. This didn't happen with the dads that came in (and many of them were huge braggers, unlike my friend); the room mom profusely thanked the men for taking time away from their important jobs and said nothing to my friend. She ended up crying outside in the parking lot because no matter what she does, she feels like she can’t win.