Friday, September 7, 2012

Back-to-School Primer for Adults: Part Two

As promised, today is part two of my back-to-school primer for adults. On Wednesday I covered some of the top things to avoid when talking to your working parent friends. Today I'm going to list the conversational pitfalls to avoid with your stay-at-home friends.

1. "So, what do you all day when the kids are at school?"

You might be genuinely curious about where your stay- at-home friends go and what they do between the hours of 8:30 and 3:00. You might have a vision of coffee shops, followed by leisurely lunches and early afternoons spent strolling through boutiques.

 I can almost guarantee this is not how most stay-at- home parents spend their days. In fact, it's much more probable their days include things like frantic laundry (currently under consideration for Olympic sport status) and grocery shopping.

2. "Do you mind picking up/dropping off/hosting a playdate?"

Remember how you get annoyed when your stay-at-home friends try to make unauthorized use of your nanny? They feel the same way. Just because they are at home doesn't mean they are a dumping ground, errand running resource or alternative childcare option.

3. "I almost didn't recognize you."

It's true. There are the days when your stay-at-home friends might wear the same pair of coffee-stained sweatpants three days in a row. It's hard to get motivated to dress nicely when little people are treating your thighs like their own personal painting canvas (smear of ketchup here, or is it blood, dab of mustard there).

That they've become 'almost unrecognizable' isn't going to put anyone in a good mood. As I mentioned on Wednesday, general, unspecific comments about people's appearance can go downhill in a hurry.  

4. Your status as a working parent is not a get-out-of-volunteering card.

If this statement tempts you to enter into a comparison of who works harder, you're missing the point. There is always a need for volunteers and the beneficiaries of all that volunteerism are some pretty important people, namely your children.

True, many of the hands-on opportunties are during the school day, but most schools have numerous weekend and evening events that need to be staffed. The other thing to remember is any form of help is appreciated, from offering to provide the Saturday soccer game snacks to using your working parent expertise to create organizational spreadsheets for the school carnival.

5. Play nice.

I know. It's the same rule I gave the stay-at-home parents. As I was writing today's post I realized most of these tips are just the flip side of the ones for working parents.

I've been a stay-at-home parent, a working parent and a work-from-home parent and this rule has served equally well in all those capacities. It's important to remember you have something in common with almost EVERY parent you meet, in that (excepting the child abusers) everyone is trying to do the absolute best for their children.

When you think about it, that's a pretty big thing to have in common. Chances are, if you can avoid the conversational no-nos outlined in my last two blog posts, you might find out you have even more in common.


Tonja said...

I was once a single parent with full custody of a grade-schooler and an infant and a full-time job. I told another mother I wished I could be a stay at home mom. She looked like she wanted to punch me in the face. Now I get it.

There are definitely benefits to working and to staying at home. Sucks that we can't have both.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't have children, but I also don't have a J-O-B. However, I am self-employed, so don't even suggest I laze around all day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Be great to be a stay at home parent! Oh wait, I'd need kids for that...

Unknown said...

I don't have kids, but I did nanny work so I know all that goes on between 8 and 3. It's such a short amount of time when you really think about it.

jaybird said...

I've been both: a stay at home mom and a full time working mom. I've had to suffer through certain prejudices and ridiculous assumptions from both sides.

Once, a working mother (in a very condescending tone) asked me "God, you must be SO bored. What do you actually do all day?" Ack!@!

And on the flip side, a stay at home mom once asked me why I bothered having kids at all, if I was just going to pawn them off on someone else all day. Argh!@!

I wanted to slap both of those ignorant women! I think the bottom line, no matter if you choose to stay at home or work, showing a little respect goes a long way.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Like you Johanna, I've been a working full time mom (after kids in first grade, a stay at home mom (a little after birth to 1st grade), and a work from home mom.

the way I look at it, regardless of whether you work from home or out in the working world, as a mom, you don't just have one job. There is employment and then there is the rest of the stuff you do. You learn quickly to multitask.

A stay at home mom works is also a working professional, you know, and they work hard. Sometimes you feel like you got caught up in a whirlwind--kids tend to do that to you. :-)

I can't remember many making any comments about my staying home. Yes, some would say, aren't you lucky. Truth is, I WAS lucky to be able to stay home. Being a dumping ground for extra kids not encouraged--except the ones mine brought home.

Being at home? I'm never bored. I'm not the poster child for at home fashion although when I'm on the clock, I do tend to dress in more than lounge clothes--part the mind-set with I'm on the clock. I wear lots of comfortable maxi skirts and tees anyway so that works. As a working professional from home I do work barefoot--don't tell anyone, lol!


Anonymous said...

I know it's not a leisurely job, but I think I'd much rather stay home than be here at work.

Emily R. King said...

My mom used to tell people who asked her what she did at home all day that she was doing everything they wished they could be doing. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I would have loved to have been a stay home mom when the kids were little. I love my job too - but being with them when they were tiny would have been awesome!

Play nice is the very best rule of all!

Unknown said...

My legs are normally sporting at least one or two stickers, which are my daughter's current reward for potty training. She loves to plaster them all over my jeans. The other day a lady at the grocery store was kind enough to inform me that I had an Elmo sticker on my butt. But I'm not the most fashionable person to begin with.

And I bet there's been a working mom or two who's shown up to work with a sticker stuck to them, too.

Talli Roland said...

These are great tips. I'm amazed how insensitive some people can be!

Nicki Elson said...

You did such a great job showing both sides - makes sense that you've had experience with both for you to keep it so objective. I feel really, really blessed that I was able to strike what I found to be the perfect balance - a part time job w/ flexible hours. Gave me the best of both worlds with no chips developing on either shoulder.

Margo Berendsen said...

Ah, I love your balanced view of both sides of the fence here. I admit to wondering at times about those moms who get to stay at home when all their kids are old enough to go to school, but this makes me more understanding.

Kristen Wixted said...

I hope lots of people read this. I read the one below, fyi.Good rules.