Can Working Mothers Have Their Cake and Eat it Too? How to Avoid Parenting Burnout


To focus on the family and put them first is as natural to mothers as breathing. Failing to focus on the family is rarely a choice for any Mom–it is simply a way of life.

Not long ago ‘bringing home the bacon’ was traditionally the father’s role, but now many working mothers are ‘bringing home the bacon’ too. Today, 50% of the mothers in our country are working full time, and most of these moms experience the stress of trying to balance it all, with parenting being one of the big stressors . Sound familiar?

The Only Way Working Mothers Can Focus on the Family AND Have It All

Although working mothers bring home some of the bacon (and if you are a single mother, all of the bacon), it hasn’t changed the fact that most working mothers are doing all the cooking of the bacon too.

It’s probably no surprise to you that married women consistently report doing more of the household chores than their spouse. In addition to taking on more chores, it is common for working mothers to put unrealistic expectations and pressure on themselves–to be the perfect Mom, perfect spouse, perfect daughter, perfect friend, and perfect career woman as well. Yes, many of us working Moms have an invisible, mental “S” tattooed on our bellies, as we strive to be that unattainable Super Woman! Yet sadly, Super Woman is often Super Stressed Woman.

When interviewed on the radio, I am often asked if it is possible for working mothers to have it all. My response is always, “YES! It is possible for working mothers to have it all–BUT only if they ask for and accept help.”

The trouble is, most working mothers have difficulty hanging up their Super Woman cape and won’t accept much help (if at all).

Three Ways to Prevent Parenting Burnout for Working Mothers

Even though most Moms know it takes a village to raise a child, most mothers don’t ask their village for help. This puts undue stress on both moms and their families. The following simple tips can help you prevent the stress that leads to parenting burnout.

  1. Parenting is a big job. Realize you can’t do it all alone, effectively. You can’t do it all (and do it well) by yourself. The best thing you can do for your family is to ask for help. Burning your candle at both ends only leads to parenting burnout, and this is not healthy for you nor for your family.
  1. Graciously accept help. When someone asks if they can help you, always answer “Yes, thank you” and then figure out how. Let others in your life, especially your children and spouse, help you more. We all want to contribute–you may recognize this truth in the sense of achievement you get from doing so much. By accepting more help you will boost your children’s and spouse’s self-esteem. When they do help, remember to thank them, and focus on what they did well. Remember, focusing on what our loved ones didn’t do does not motivate them to want to help us in the future.
  1. Find ways to farm out the things you don’t like to do. Don’t like to iron? Consider sending it to the cleaner and use the extra time to focus on your family. Don’t like to clean but love to cook? Trade chores with household members, or with a girlfriend who loves to do the things you don’t.

How Mothers Can Focus on the Family and Get Their Work Done

The day you die your inbox will have messages unanswered, your laundry hamper will still hold dirty clothes and your to-do list will likely have items left incomplete. On that day though, will you look back and feel that your focus on your family was a fulfilling journey, or sadly realize it became a chore you felt you had to do?

Make certain your focus on the family is satisfying–choose to balance your work and family by finally hanging up your “Super Mom” cape and letting others help you. It is all about prioritizing. Let go of what truly doesn’t matter in the big picture, and cherish what truly matters to you–your loved ones, your hobbies, and the time you take to truly be present at work and at play.

Kelly Nault-Matzen, MA, family counselor, corporate parenting spokesperson and award winning parenting author of When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You shares time-tested tools that motivate children to want to be well behaved, responsible and happy! To gain access to more parenting tools and to access your free online parenting course visit []

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13 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Working Mother!


I have been a working mother with three children for a long time. In that time, I have had lots of people ask me questions and give me their unsolicited opinions on many occasions. While most people don’t intend be rude or judgmental, it is always surprising to hear out loud, what some people should keep to themselves

Here is my list of the top things you must NEVER say to a working mom and just for fun, I have included my sarcastic responses (that I have managed to keep to myself):

“I saw your kid on the class trip today. She was crying – I think she missed you.” Thanks, I feel much better for the information.  Anything else you would like to tell me, like about how you think she might not be meeting her milestones, or will be emotionally damaged for life?

“I could never let someone else raise my kids.” Yes, I let others make all the decisions for my children. I have little to do with anything…their parent teacher conferences, birthday parties, homework, doctor appointments, playdates, or offering any sort of parental guidance. Heck, I don’t even hug and kiss them, cuddle them, or have any part in tucking them into bed.  I am never the first face they see in the morning, and I never do anything fun with them like have picnics on our carpet, or watching the same animated movie 100 times. And, I never ask them about their day. Nope, I have nothing to do with my children.

“I don’t know how you do it. I’d feel too guilty.” So….I wrote an entire book about this.  We do feel guilty, but we can feel great too. (Buy my book- that was a shameless plug, I know)

You trust your babysitter, right?” Oh no, I actually never considered her/his credentials. I just put out a job post on craigslist and took the very first applicant based on price. But thanks for making me suspicious!

“Good for you for putting your career first!” Yes, every single day I get up and I think to myself: The most important thing in my life is my career. To hell with my family, that has nothing to do with why I work.

“I’d give anything to get away from my kids for an entire day.” If you really mean this, send me your resume and I can help you out. But remember, this “freedom” comes with its own issues. We are not getting away and going to the spa.  It is called “work” for a reason.

“I’d miss my child too much to be away from him all day.” Well, I have no idea how you feel because I am an impersonal and non-maternal mother.  I have no feelings and never miss my kids. 

 “I don’t know how you do it. It must be so hard.” It is. I don’t know how I do it. But I don’t think work is the problem because parenting is hard whether you stay at home or go off to the office. I don’t know how any of us do it. It’s glorious and rewarding and full of love and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“You must be so organized to be able to balance everything.” I love this and hate it at the same time. I think I am organized and I do think I accomplish a lot during a week’s time. But I also know I am one parent teacher conference away from a full melt down (like all moms working inside or outside the home).  Last week, Parker went to school and brought his toothbrush to show and tell. I have runs in my panty hose, and I never write thank you cards for my children’s birthday presents. I don’t exercise as often as I should and EVERY DAY something slides. There really is no “balance” just organized chaos. I am no different than anyone else.

“You look exhausted.” Wow, thanks! I feel even better now! Want to watch my kids this weekend so I can hit the spa, get a manicure, and sleep in?  No? Then let’s not say this to a working mom.

 “There’s always time to work later, these early years are so precious.” Why oh why is this NEVER said to fathers? I actually get many special moments with my kids. When Parker climbs into my bed and tells me “I am the best mommy in the whole world”, or when Emily smiles and says “I love you”, those are all special moments and I cherish them all.

 “Aren’t you concerned about not being there for your kids?” Just because I am at work does not mean I am not “there” for my kids.  Please get some perspective.

 “I’m surprised you went back to work. Your husband seems so successful.” Why would you assume that you know why I am working? Some women LIKE to work outside the home and I am sorry you are not one of them. 

Here is what we SHOULD say:

The questions and words should not be filled with judgment but with support.  After all, we are all mothers, we all adore our children and we all want what’s best for them. We are all doing what we have to do for our families and we are all different. So, let’s give each other support and understanding no matter if we stay home, work from home, work outside the home or somewhere in between.


photo credit: ktpupp via photopin cc

Don’t be an ASKhole


While not defined in a traditional dictionary, “ASKhole” pops right up in the Urban Dictionary. You may not be familiar with the term but all Proud Working Moms know this person.

An “ASKhole” is a co-worker who asks you a question or asks for your advice. The Askhole comes into your office, takes up your time batting an idea around and requires time out of your busy day to get valuable information. Once you have given your time and provided valuable assistance to this person, the ASKhole then completely disregards it and continues on to another person to ask the same question. The ASKhole knows no boundaries and doesn’t concern himself with how much of a burden he really is. It is only later in the day or the next day when you find out that not only did the ASKhole ask everyone in your corridor the same question, but he didn’t follow any of the advice given.

I know what you are doing. You are wondering if you are an ASKhole.


If you are still reading this, you are not an ASKhole. If you were, you would’ve stopped reading this and dismissed it as a waste of your time. That is how ASKholes roll. So, here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming an ASKhole:

1. Make sure you are asking the right person for information. If you are looking for advice on a work issue, find someone at work that knows more than you. CAVEAT: Avoid asking people that will answer the question whether they know the correct answer or not – these are known as “know-it-alls” and are even more problematic than ASKholes (we will address them in a separate post). If you are seeking advice about your personal life, make sure you are asking someone who makes good choices at home. The co-worker that is know for his all night parties and binge drinking is not the person you should be asking.

2. Offer something of value in return. Once you have identified the correct person to ask for information, don’t just barge into their office looking for answers. Offer to buy that person a cup of coffee or take them to lunch and let them know that you need to run something past them. It is the least you can do. A good colleague won’t let you do it and will offer advice for free, but the gesture is nice.

3. Be thoughtful about what to do next. No one says you have to take the advice once it is given. It is nice to let the person know how much you appreciate their time and that you will give some thought to their advice. And then actually do it.

4. Don’t ask everyone in the office. Maybe you didn’t get the answer you wanted. Instead of proceeding down the hallway and asking every other person what they think, take some time and reflect on the advice given. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide what to do. After careful consideration, be a professional and make the call.


Child Separation Anxiety

Child Separation Anxiety

I feel guilty because my child always cries when I leave for work.  What should I do?

I remember one Monday morning when Emily was about five years old. We had just finished a wonderful weekend and just like any family, we all had the Monday blues. I had a business trip planned and was finishing packing while trying to get everyone ready for the day. Emily was tired, she wasn’t in the mood for school, and the idea of me heading out on another work trip just added to the negative vibe we had going at home.

I was in a hurry and I made a series of bad decisions. I could see she was a little down and I too was a bit low-spirited knowing that I was on my way out of town and away from my family for a few days. So, I made the classic mistake so many guilt-ridden working mothers do: I cut a deal with my five year-old daughter. I told her that if she would get dressed faster, I would take her through the McDonald’s drive-thru and get her whatever she wanted. Bad mommy moment.

Really, there were two mistakes made: I broke away from our usual routine and I over-dramatized my departure. Emily sensed all of this – my haste, the break from our predictable schedule and my guilt. What happened? As you could probably guess, it didn’t end well. We pulled into McDonald’s and Emily, sensing the change, became upset.  As we paid at the drive-thru window, she yelled out that she did not want to go to school and that she wanted me to be a “stay-at-home mommy”.  Even though I am at peace with my decision to be a working mother, hearing this from my kids still stings.

Once we arrived at school, my poor choices continued to flow. I spent way too much time getting her settled in, setting up her breakfast, and reminding her that I would only be gone for a few days. I even read her a story. As you might imagine, my extra efforts only made the situation worse. Emily started pulling on my skirt, begging me not to leave her and in full theatrical display, threw her breakfast on the floor for all to see. I kept trying to make her feel better and calm down but eventually had to head out, leaving her in hysterics.

I should have driven to work but instead, sat in my car feeling sorry for myself. After a few minutes, I decided I would make a drastic change. I would resign from my job. A position that gave me great pleasure and a job I had worked very hard to earn. I wiped my smeared makeup, adjusted my tear-stained jacket and re-entered the school. Emily couldn’t see me but to my incredible surprise, she was happily drawing with some of her friends. I walked back into the classroom and gave her a smile. She looked up and immediately ran over to hug me and show me her creation. I admired her picture and said hello to her friends. Amazingly, when we said goodbye this time, she hugged me and almost with indifference headed back to her friends to finish her work.

Did Emily realize how sad she was making me feel that day? She absolutely did. This is when I realized the problem resided with me.

To determine the route cause of your families issues with separation, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this new behavior?
  • Does your child cry when you leave him in other situations, such as with your husband or even with a friend?
  • When your little one cries, do you often come back and prolong the departure?
  • Since he/she has begun to cry, do you often bring home gifts?
  • Once you have left, does your child seem peaceful and content? (You can ask your sitter or child care this question)
  • Do you notice any other problems besides crying when you leave?

Children cry when their mommies leave them with a sitter or child care for a variety of reasons. Some children have more trouble with separations than others; some are at different stages of development, and some cry because crying gets mom to delay leaving or sometimes even provide guilt gifts and attention. Rarely is the crying an indicator of something more serious. Remember that as long as your child care is good, your working will not have any direct negative impact on your child; hence there is no reason to feel guilty.  

Separations are hard. Even after thirteen years as a working mother, it is still hard when I have to drop Parker at school, or say goodbye to Emily and Megan for a few days. Although I try to do everything right, sometimes I still make mistakes. But I also know that part of my responsibility as a working mother, is to teach my children that it is alright if I am not always there. Parker, Emily, and Megan have all learned to be comfortable without me, to understand that I will always return, and to see that their mother has a life outside of our family. In my opinion, these are all good lessons.

It is important for both you and your child that you go about your life. Go to work, visit the hairdresser, go on a business trip, or get delayed at an airport. Whatever you decide to do with your time, do it without guilt and with confidence that your child is in the care of someone you know and trust.

10 Things NOT To Buy A Working Mother For Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a time for us all to show some love. All kidding aside (Valentine’s Day “pin”) it is the best opportunity for your partner (or your kids) to let you know how much you mean to them. Of course at PWM, we are not about the material things, in fact quite the opposite.

Let’s be honest, there are some things a working mother wants and quite a bit that we don’t. We are saying it for you, so you don’t have to! Just share this with your special someone so they can be sure not to make any of these purchases.  Good news: If they  already bought it, then they will have exactly two days to return it and get something great!

Here are 10 things you should NOT buy a working mother for Valentine’s Day: 

1. Don’t buy me a heart shaped pizza:

heart shapped pizza

Nothing says love like pizza

What you are really saying to your PWM:

“We are both way too busy to cook, and we don’t need to impress each other anymore.  Let’s eat”.




2.     Don’t buy me ANY kitchen appliances:


What you are really saying to your PWM:

You already know what you are saying….this sucks.  Try again.




3. NO edible underwear EVER:

edible underwearWhat you are really saying to your PWM:

When it comes to romance, I like to be extremely juvenile (and cheap)



4. Don’t buy me a onesie:


Snuggie anyone?

What you are really saying to your PWM:

I ran out of ideas, and thought of you while I was picking up my prescriptions at Walgreens.



5. Don’t buy me a self-help book.


Umm…what are you trying to tell me?

What you are really saying to your PWM:

We need to talk.



6. Don’t make a romantic coupon:


Nothing says love like something printed on your computer

What you are really saying to your PWM:

I was planning on getting you a real gift, but decided I could print this out on my computer for free.



7. Don’t buy me a gym membership:


I work and am a full time mom…really?

What you are really saying to your PWM:

“I love you, but I would really like it if you looked a bit different than you do now.”



8. Don’t buy me drug store chocolate:


Go Godiva or Go Home

What you are really saying to your PWM:

I don’t know the difference between crappy drug store chocolate and Godiva. Also, I still think we are in high school.



9. Don’t come home empty handed:


We don’t need to cover this.

What you are really saying to your PWM:

“I thought I only had to work at it when we were dating.”



10. Don’t buy me jewelry:


He went to Jared


#10 is actually a trick. We were just checking to see if you were paying attention. OF COURSE WE LIKE JEWELRY, NOW GO PICK OUT SOMETHING NICE!!


If jewelry is not in the budget, how about some flowers? I don’t know one hard working mother that doesn’t love flowers (even if they are a day late). Do you want beautiful flowers that are easy to order online? Click here to check out Organic Bouquet.

Eco-Friendly Gifts for All Occasions

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