Either I know a lot of genuinely crazy-nice humans, or I come off as a hot mess that can’t be ignored, because people always offer to help me. Probably a bit of both. Like many mothers who want to take care of everything, it can be hard for me to come up with an answer to “What can I help you with?” With my working-mom goggles on, I came up with a few ideas that really make a difference in my life. Hopefully, they’re things you can do to support all working moms, and not just if you run into me in my full hot mess glory.
Don’t worry about why they’re working.
Unfortunately, many people still think women need a good enough reason to leave the home and work. In the past few months I’ve personally had more than one person tell me that there’s a difference between me working due to a need or a want. It was both offensive and hurtful, particularly coming from someone I had respected. There’s a lot I could say in response that I won’t, but I will say this: mind your business. Stop trying to figure out if they deserve support before you give it. Whether a woman works because her husband left the family, her spouse is disabled, it helps keep her depression at bay, or she just plain loves what she does–it’s still none of your business. If your support for a working mom has worthiness conditions, then keep it.
Don’t over-glorify working moms..
I’m all for accepting compliments gracefully, but it can get awkward. “You work AND you go to school AND you have a husband AND a baby AND you’re pregnant?! You’re amazing!” No, I don’t think it’s much different from how I could respond to stay at home moms. “You fight them at mealtimes AND have to come up with stuff for them to do all winter AND put them down for all naps AND change every diaper AND stay awake to hang out with your spouse once they’re finally asleep AND you’re still happy about it?!” Sometimes hearing all of that is a nice reminder of what a bad mamajama I can be, but a lot of the time it just reminds me of all the AND’s you accomplish that I’m still falling short in. We all work hard. Compliment each other, but let’s not make it weird.
Plan meetings they can attend.
Life would be much easier if work would let us out early to hit up school meetings, church committee meetings, play group, book club, etc., but most employees don’t have that opportunity. My daughter isn’t in school yet, but I really want to be able to attend some PTA stuff when she goes. I’d love to help plan the T-ball party one day. There’s a hiking group in my area that I would looooove to participate in and make some friends, but all of the hikes start an hour before I go to work or an hour before I get home. Obviously, I wouldn’t expect a group to accommodate me for everything, but including some times I can easily attend would be awesome.
Let them help.
Working moms are busy. So are moms who don’t have jobs. I appreciate all that people do to help me out, so when I offer help, I really mean it. I would love to return the kindness. If you’re sick and I offer you food, take it. If your baby doesn’t sleep, holy Hannah I get that and please let me watch the child so you can take a nap. I can at least doze off for a minute at lunch, you have to be “on” all the time at home. Though I enjoy working, I see how much my non-working friends do for others and wish I had more time to be like them. Helping others makes everyone feel good, so let us help you!
Include them in fun
Usually, all I want to do in the evenings or weekends is to hang out with my husband and daughter. Let’s get real, though: sometimes mama needs to get out! I don’t need a girls night every week or anything, but every woman needs to get out of the house with at least one other woman. A lot of women probably have some close friends they hang out with when they need a night out, but not everyone does. They may be so busy at work that putting themselves out there is just one more thing to do. Maybe they don’t love working and feel judged by other moms. A simple invitation to go out for a smoothie with a few women from the neighborhood is huge. Like anyone, they can’t make it to everything they’re invited to, but it means a lot to be asked.
Support good policies
There are many political issues that are very important to working mothers. Maternity leave, equal pay, daycare costs, schedule flexibility, etc. Even if you aren’t a working mom, these issues affect you too. They affect your spouse and their employer, your children, family members, friends, your kids teachers, and pretty much society at large. I don’t care if you don’t like a specific politician, abide by more traditional gender roles, or don’t pay much attention to policies. But, if you want to support working women and their families, then you need to look at the issues, understand suggested policy, recognize that helping working mothers doesn’t diminish stay at home moms, and make an informed decision of whether a specific policy will help. I have plenty to disagree with politicians over–in all parties–but when there is good policy, I’ll support it no matter who sponsors.
This blog is about creating and maintaining strong women, and one of the ways we do that is to support each other whenever we can. These aren’t huge things, but they can have huge impact. In what ways do you support working moms?
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to support stay at home moms!