Don’t Judge Me!


dont judge me

It was a few years ago now but I remember it clearly. I was a busy working mom and we were trying to leave for vacation. I was rushing around to make sure I finished up all my work, the laundry and the packing. We were leaving to go visit my parents in Texas. My mother sent a last minute email asking me to list the things she could get at the store for us, things that the kids would eat. I quickly typed out a list and it looked something like this:

  • hot dogs
  • mac and cheese
  • chicken nuggets
  • frozen french fries
  • fish sticks
  • tortillas and cheese (for quesadillas)
  • raviolis (in a can)
  • gummies (fruit snacks)
  • fruit
  • jello
  • spaghetti
  • beans
  • juice boxes

Before I signed off, I read the email again and cringed. Is that really what our grocery list looks like? Is that what I was feeding my family? I was stunned. Then, I added in one last (sarcastic) line before signing off…


The last line of the email was supposed to be a joke but I was definitely not happy with what I saw. Yes, I was burning the candle at both ends and trying to make it all work but surely I could do better than that. But working and having picky eaters is really tough. It is hard to put nutritious meals on the table every day after a long day at work. In fact, my favorite night of the week was when I met a girlfriend and her boys at McDonald’s where we all ate fast food and let the kids trash the joint.

The truth is that I did feel judged. Not by my Mom (she is awesome and a fellow Proud Working Mom) but by others. I wondered what people would say if they saw this list, what people would think of me if they saw this list. Would they think I was a bad mother?

It is years later and with age comes wisdom. I know now that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, nor does it matter what is in my refrigerator. Working and raising kids is a tough gig. Sometimes you have to take a few shortcuts to make it work- especially if you have picky eaters!

As it turns out, everyone is thriving and most importantly, happy. I wish that when I was younger, I would’ve had someone explain to me that I was giving my best and that was always enough.



Are You Just Tired or is it Something Else?


Your youngest child was up with a fever last night and vomiting. Between pacing back and forth while holding your child and the essential clean up, you didn’t get much sleep. But lately you feel as if you’re never getting enough sleep, ever. You don’t feel quite right but can’t put your finger on it. You notice you’re having difficulty concentrating at work and are forgetting things at home. When you do get a full night’s sleep, you still feel tired too. Your muscles ache, your throat is sore off and on, and your headaches are getting worse. You feel as if you almost, but not quite, have the flu. So what could be wrong with you?

If this has been happening to you for more than 6 months, you may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Extreme tiredness and weakness is one of the main symptoms of CFS. Other symptoms may include:

  • Forgetting things or not being able to focus or concentrate
  • Still feeling exhausted even after a full 8 hours sleep
  • Pain and aches in your muscles even when you haven’t exercised them
  • Your headaches hurt more, or are of a new type completely
  • Your lymph nodes under your arms and in your neck are tender to the touch
  • Your throat is sore constantly
  • Your eyes are sensitive to light, may hurt, and your vision my blur.
  • You can be irritable, have mood swings, become anxious or have panic attacks
  • Night sweats and chills can occur
  • A low grade fever or a low body temperature can show up
  • There can be a sensitivity to foods, odors, chemicals, noise/sound and medications
  • In your face, hands or feet there can be numbness, tingling or a burning sensation
  • You may become dizzy, have balance problems, have trouble standing straight up or difficulty sitting

Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive test for CFS. Because CFS resembles other illnesses or medical treatment side effects, it can be difficult to diagnosis. There are some tests your doctor can perform, however. In this your doctor will ask you about your physical and mental health and do a physical exam. Urine and blood tests need to be done here to eliminate other causes of your illness. If nothing shows up on your tests, you then can be diagnosed CFS if you’ve been extremely tired for 6 months or more and have 4 or more of the symptoms listed above.

If you are diagnosed with CFS, there will be some needed lifestyle changes. For one thing you need to keep track of what triggers your tiredness. Also write down what you do each day and how you feel after doing it. Rate each thing from 1-10 with 10 being the most fatigued. Try to keep track of how much energy you used for each task. Using energy‘s just not physical but also emotional and mental as well.

Treatment includes scaling down to what is most important to you that you have to do daily and doing other tasks on a day you feel better. Make your family members aware of how much energy you have to do what is needed too. Then delegate tasks to other family members to help you conserve your energy. Also, using over the counter pain relievers can help relieve some of the stiffness in your muscles and joints. Antihistamines can help you with itchy eyes and a runny nose. Alternative treatments such as massages, yoga, stretching and acupuncture have been known to help some people relieve the pain.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’s something you can live with, if you have the right outlook and support system.

Linda R. is a freelance writer and fellow Proud Working Mom.

Working Mothers: Ask For A Raise


It’s that time of the year again – your annual review. You know you have done a good job, but your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, and you are DREADING the conversation. Why? Because you know that your annual review might be the only real opportunity to ask for a raise.

Asking for an increase in pay is both stressful and hard to do. As working mothers, we often sell ourselves short and often don’t ask for what we need and deserve. How many of us entered into conversations like these and found ourselves saying things like: “I am kind of thinking that $5,000 would be ok.”- when what you really want to ask for is $10,000 because it is fair. Why do we do this? Quite simply, as women, we don’t want to appear to be greedy, unappreciative or perceived as non-team players. Being accommodating is part of who we are. “We make working work”- for our families, for our co-workers, for our friends, for our bosses.

In doing this, sometimes we sell ourselves short. By the way, your male counterparts don’t think about these conversations even remotely the same way. Often, for many males, review time is viewed as an opportunity to shine, brag, and ask for what is deserved.

This post is dedicated to finding your courage and getting fairly compensated for a job well done. As working mothers, we spend a lot of time away from our families.  As Proud Working Moms, we believe work can be both empowering and rewarding. But, in our effort to Lean In, we must also KNOW OUR VALUE. We must prepare for these conversations, ask for what is appropriate, and expect a positive result. As all Proud Working Moms know…it starts with us.

Step One: Put Your Big Girl Panties On
I can’t remember ever having a boss that has proactively approached me and offered to pay me more money. Remember that while we are all on the same team when it comes to working, when it comes to salary, we are on different sides. Your boss’s objective is to get you to do the work for the least amount possible (and still be happy and productive). Your objective is to get paid the most amount possible (while also being happy and productive). Two different goals.

Once you understand this, then it is time to raise your hand. You should not expect your boss to be happy you are approaching him/her with added expense, but if done correctly, they will respect you for having the courage to do so.

Step Two: Get Prepared
These are tough conversations, for sure, but get even tougher if you stroll in unprepared. If you are not thoughtful, you run the risk of embarrassing yourself and highlighting your flaws instead of your strengths. Here are my top tips towards getting ready for this important conversation:

Start a work journal: Every day for at least one month prior to your meeting, document each major task you do, why it is valuable, and anything you learned along the way to completion. Keeping track of the work you have done will help you outline what you have accomplished and keeping track of how you did it, will help remind you of what worked and what didn’t. This can be useful.

Give yourself an honest review: Before the review with your manager, have one with yourself. Be your worst critic. Have you done the hard work to justify the expense? What has your work attitude been like? What have been your accomplishments this year? The more detail, the better. Know it cold.

Gather market data: Don’t go in blind. Knowing your value begins with knowing what the going rate is for your position. Do some homework and comparisons against organizations of similar size, industry and location. Take into account the standard stuff when comparing your resume against others: experience, education, and performance.

Step Three: Schedule the Meeting and Be Clear of Expectations

This is an important meeting, don’t wing it. You can’t just “pop in” or make your approach at the water cooler. Schedule the meeting in advance and don’t be evasive about what you want to discuss (your review, your career path, and your raise). 

Be happy, not defensive: No one likes to hear criticism, but sometimes it is worth hearing. If you are given specific suggestions on how you can improve, show your boss you are a professional and take these tips with an open mind.

Step Four: Decide What You Will Do If You Get Turned Down
Whenever I go into a business presentation, I always have in the back of my mind what I will say should the deal go south, fall apart, or crumble before my eyes. Your annual review and salary negotiation is no different.

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Before you step into your managers office, be prepared for what you will do if she says “no”. Will you quit? Beware: threatening to leave over salary demands could alienate you from your boss, who may resent feeling held hostage. Or what’s worse- she could take you up on it.

Will you look for a new job?

Will you take any constructive criticism he or she may have to offer? Maybe there is a good reason for the undesired response: company financials, downsizing, or… you are asking for too much money.

Step Five: Be patient
Remember that your manager may need a few days to think things over. Don’t lose hope if you don’t get an instant “yes”, it may require some additional discussion with his/her boss, too. Big decisions are never easy.

No matter what, be proud that you took these steps to think about and plan for your future. Go get em’ Proud Working Moms!

Summer Camp Registration – A Cautionary Tale


Guess what happens when you wait until the first week of April to sign your kids up for summer camp?


I know this because I just tried to sign both of my kids up for a local summer camp nestled in the mountains. I was shocked, surprised, and a bit angry when I discovered that the entire camp is sold out for the entire summer. They don’t have ANY openings. Did I mention that it just snowed here last night? I don’t know about you but I am still recovering from Spring Break. No way is it time to sign them up and plan the entire summer. I am not ready for that yet. I finally called the camp to confirm what I already knew – there will be no fun summer camp for my kids. Instead, I am going to have to send my kids to “Recycling Camp” or “Taxidermy Camp” or one of the crappy camps made for kids of slacker moms.

This was definitely not in any of the parent manuals! I really wish my kids were back in day care where the summer fun was planned for me and there was an available spot for my toddler. Now, I have been thrust into the cold, cruel, cut throat world of summer camp. And I am losing.

What is a working mother supposed to do? What am I going to do with my kids all summer? Are most of the other camps also sold out? Who are these mutant parents who signed their kids up for camp in their spare time over the Christmas Holidays?

After some research on camps and summer programs in my area, I am happy to report that there is a summer track program that had availability for both of my boys. So, for several mornings this summer, my boys will be in track and I also found a golf camp that I may force them to attend. Maybe I will start making them write blog posts. I can’t be sure. Either way, it is going to be a long summer here.

So listen up all you Proud Working Moms out there – I am writing this post to inform all of you who had no idea about summer camp that you better get on it and start planning your summer! Either that or we can carpool to Taxidermy Camp.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Should They Stay or Should They Go? Sick Kids and the Working Mom Dilemma

Should My Sick Child Stay Home or Go To School?It is 6:00 a.m. when the alarm goes off. I would love to say that I was in a deep sleep but I was not. It had been a long night and my son was up for most of it. His growing cough kept us both up. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep because all I could think about was what am I going to do in the morning? He will definitely be sick and I have the worst day imaginable at work. Could I give him some Motrin and send him anyway? No, it is the sleep deprivation talking. Cue the panic.

Of course it would be easier if I could either just work from home, or be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately, this is not my reality. I work 8-5 every day, and I have only a few sick days a year. I can’t be the only mom with this challenge- can I?

Does this sound familiar? Welcome to the world of the working mother. This dilemma is among the most difficult to navigate.
When you have a child that is sick or borderline sick, should they stay home or should they go to day care/school?

I have been here before and will admit to teetering on the edge: I have ignored signs of illness that I knew were there, and sent my child into daycare anyway. Was I putting other children at risk? Was I putting my own? Probably. Yes.

The most helpful thing to do is get rid of the negative thoughts and energy: they never are productive. So working mommies, let’s put all of the feelings of guilt and judgment aside and come up with a game plan…below are my suggestions:

1) Call on family. Do you have family nearby that can be on call for days where you have to keep your child home? If so, I would make arrangements in advance for days like these. That way, you can have someone you trust and can rely on to help on those days where you have a sick little one and cannot phone it in.

2) Negotiate. If you are like me, you do not have any family nearby and are on your own. In this instance, I whip out my calendar and look at my day. My husband and I negotiate the day to see which one of us can stay home. During schedule negotiations, scrutinize your schedule to see which appointments really need to happen and which ones you can reschedule. It is helpful to keep in mind that you could each take a half day off and switch at lunch time.

3) Call on Colleagues. Do you have people at work that can stand in for you?
If so, I would call on them. I make sure that I help my fellow moms at work when they are in need because I always know that it is just a matter of time before I will need them.

4) Use your intuition. If your gut is telling you that you need to get your child to the doctor, always trust your instincts. Sometimes, we are busting our humps to get into work to impress other people and as a mom, your first priority is your family. Call in and say you have to be with your sick child. That is what sick time at work is for.

I am not sure if I have written this to help you or to reiterate to myself that it is all going to be o.k. Today, I have decided to reschedule all my appointments and stay home with my sick son. I am going to let go of the guilt of not going into work and worry about it tomorrow. For today, I am going to cuddle up in bed with my boy.

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