Friday, April 13, 2012


I was on the phone the other night with one of my friends.  She does not have any children of her own, but works with special needs children.  She gave me an excellent tip that I do want to share, but I have also been pondering about this over the last few days....

My friend knows that I:
a) am home full time with my four kids (who are all very, very close in age)
b) work part time from home (I have a "regular job" that I spend about 2-3 hours on each day on and in addition, do project/freelance type work)
c) am with my kids 24/7
d) volunteer extensively with my kids activities
e) am often stressed out

Her tip is to have a "safe word".  Mud pie, Rutabaga,  whatever I want.  This is a word that is to be shared between me and husband.  Whenever I invoke the "safe word" I will get an automatic break.  A Mommy Time Out.  Now, there needs to be some rules with the safe word.  It can only be invoked in dire situations (not for a mani/pedi, but when you are truly on the edge and need a break!) and cannot be abused.  I like this idea.  Just saying Rutabaga five times in a row makes me giggle (why, I don't know!). 

I have been questioning, why do I need a safe word?  My husband knows (and after 12 years he should know!) when he walks in the door at 7pm if it has been a good day or a bad day or if I am not feeling well and need a break.  I have also been questioning why I am stressing myself out so much.  I have friends that do this too. I know this past week there has also been an article floating around facebook on this. We are the new breed of stay at home mom's.  Since we do not work outside the home, we feel like we have to over compensate for everything.  Have our home's look like a Toll Brother's Model (mine is far from it!), be the class mom, the team mom, the ballet mom, and overextend ourselves so much that there is no time left for anything else.  I am guilty of this.  Are the kids suffering or missing out because of this, I do not know.  Sometimes the teachers and coaches are guilty of this too - call Mrs. SoandSo, she doesn't work and can volunteer.   It seems like my friends who work full time actually have a better work-life balance.  They know what they can commit to and don't bite off more than they can chew. They also don't feel guilty (or let on that they feel guilty) about saying No.

Now, this is just my opinion. Let me know what you think.  I am going to continue to think about this and see how I can re-structure my time and de-stress a little!  I will still say Rutabaga, because it is fun!

Have a great weekend!


  1. Kathleen -- I've been in your shoes (for 7 years) and now I work full time. I know how tough it is to be home full-time, because I've lived it. However, I have to respectfully disagree that working moms have a better work-life balance. I guess I can only speak for myself, but I think the stress/guilt is just different in each situation. While at home, I felt the need to keep the house well, do part-time work to justify being home, and be involved everywhere, as you say. I definitely felt exhausted most of the time. However, I didn't really feel guilty about being home, because I believed it was good for my kids. And, since it feels like most in our neighborhood are home with kids (or is that just my perception?)it felt like the norm. Now that I work full-time outside of the house and have another part-time job, I feel terribly guilty about not being as involved in school and activities. I find myself staying up until all hours to still make the fancy cookies for the class party like I used to, or offering to do every last thing I can squeeze in, including during the workday, so that my kids (and I) still feel I'm involved. I constantly bite off way more than I can chew because I feel like I am always missing something and always feel guilty about saying no. I think that this is more a modern mom problem than a stay at home vs. working mom problem. We worry about how every tiny action affects our kids, and feel held to a ridiculous standard no matter how we spend our days. I don't think our moms did this at all!

  2. Brien - thank you so much for sharing your point of view on this! I love how you said it is not working moms vs stay at home moms but a "modern mom problem"! Why are we doing this to ourselves!?! I would love to hear from our readers in other countries - is this a challenge that is unique to the United States? Also, I would love to hear from our readers who are Grandparents - why are things more complicated for this generation? Thank you everyone!