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I Really, Really Don't Know How She Does It

Here are some Mother-to-Mother tips for survival.

Recently, the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It came into theaters. The movie is a based on a book with the main character being a working mom trying to keep it all together.

I know I read the book several years ago, but compliments of my "mommy haze" at the time, I have little recollection of the actual plot.  I do remember hoping to get some handy tips on “how to do it” because at that time and in the present, I’m not doing such a bang up job (see any of my columns as evidence).

Sadly, the only real tip I got from the book was how to make a store-bought pie look like a homemade pie with a change of plate and a few gashes here and there. While not Earth-shattering, this tip has come in handy when faced with the 8 p.m. request for a bake sale item. 

All of this has made me think long and hard about what handy tips I would pass along to moms, seasoned or new. So here is my own personal Mommy Cheat Sheet for getting everything done while looking fabulous and smiling. OK … that was a bit over the top … it’s more like my cheat sheet for getting me through the day without actually having to go into my closet and cry.

This brings me directly to tip No 1: find yourself a “happy place." This is code for a private, quiet, dark place to cry. Just knowing I have somewhere to go where I can have myself a pity party for a few minutes then get my act together is a relief. Unfortunately, my kids cannot understand why the closet is actually not clean since that is the excuse I commonly use.

No. 2: this goes back to the pie. Don’t feel guilty about feeding your family frozen foods. While I love the idea that I can make a homemade meal every night for my family, this flies squarely in the face of reason and the time space continuum. There just isn’t enough time on the clock or real patience on my end to make this happen. In particular, I love making homemade meatballs. I even go so far as to grind my own meat so I can create my own blend. The truth is, my kids like the frozen ones much better and they only take three minutes to nuke.

No. 3: schedule is everything. If I were to lose my phone and its calendar, I think the world might actually come to a screeching halt even though I do have the dry erase fridge calendar (that hasn’t been updated since 2010, apparently this year was not on the schedule.)  The only pitfall is if something goes awry and the schedule gets bumped, it is very likely all chaos will break loose. See tip No. 1 and head to your happy place for a few minutes.

Last, and probably most important, No. 4: get help. When someone offers assistance, actually take them up on it. If they really mean it, they will happily provide it. If they don’t, they have learned a valuable lesson in faking compassion or fondness for your children. Either way, you win. I have always believed that accepting help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

So, moms of Milford, what are your tips for keeping it all together?

Michelle Garber September 23, 2011 at 04:00 PM
A big one for me was to spend time with Moms who have kids your kids age, so you can all compare notes and realize that you are, in fact, not going insane, and most of your friends are going through the same things!! It helps to know you are not alone!!
Mary MacDonald September 23, 2011 at 04:31 PM
I think most mothers are too hard on themselves. You can't do it all. The home baking and cooking and all that takes time, and frankly, that's something a lot of us don't have. My mother had five children in eight years and when I was 8 went back to work. (I'm the youngest). We had a lot of dinners that came out of a crockpot, and did just fine. Don't be so hard on yourselves.
Myd Nevins September 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM
The older I get, the more I appreciate what my parents did for me growing up. I'm lucky to be still young enough to tell them that before its too late.
Shannon Pataky September 26, 2011 at 02:44 AM
1. feety pajamas are really used to keep the kid from taking their diaper off and cleaning the walls with it. 2. Dawn dish soap gets marker off skin. 3. There is no mom like you. don't be afraid to not be like the other moms. everyone has strengths and weaknesses. but they are yours alone, own them. 4. everyone thinks they know how to raise your kid better then you... trust your instincts. Help is good, but no one knows that child or your life better then you. So don't feel guilty when you don't take advice from them. Just politely nod and smile. and most important 5. don't be afraid of being a bad guy. Love isn't always shared through hugs and kisses. And it will shine through in the end.

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