Should Overwhelmed Working Women ‘Take It Like A Mom’ Or Ask For Help?

Written by admin on June 18th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff, Rants

Karen Larson needed a break. An associate in the merchandising group at Macy’s in New York, her husband Scott had just been made law partner a month before their daughter Sophie’s second Christmas. His promotion meant longer work hours and less time with his family, leaving Karen with the care of the apartment, which was undergoing renovations, their daughter and holiday obligations. Oh—and her job.

Did we mention it was the holiday season?

Two weeks into the rush, Larson, was reaching her limits. Each morning when she woke with Sophie to get her dressed and off to daycare, Scott had already left for work. After hours on the floor of the busy department store, she rushed to pick up her daughter, feed and bathe her, deal with her growing temper, she says, and put her to bed—all before her husband returned from the office.

“I was running myself into the ground,” she says, “But what’s worse, the stress of juggling everything was killing my relationship. It all just felt so unfair.” Why should she be doing everything, she thought, and never get a break when Scott got away “Scott-free?”

By Christmas Eve, Karen had nothing left to give. Her husband was expected to be off in time to pick up Sophie so they could make the trip to Scott’s parents’. When Karen received a call at 4:45 pm that Sophie had not been picked up and was the last child at the day care center, she rushed out of the office, grabbed her daughter and took the next train to her own parent’s house. Leaving Scott both bewildered and behind for the holidays.

“In hindsight, of course, it was a dumb move,” says Larson, 30, still married to Scott and a still-working mother now of three. “And one that could’ve cost me my marriage. The truth was I just needed a break. I needed help and I wasn’t getting it. I should have just asked Scott. But instead, I ran.”

With women making up more than half the workforce and still spending an average of 12 more hours a week with their children than their partners, it’s no wonder that stress levels are rising. And in a recent partnered survey by ForbesWoman and parenting hub, an astounding majority of responding mothers can commiserate with Larson’s predicament: 94% of working moms say they need a “time out” from parenting. Stay-at-home moms told us they feel about the same: 97% want a time out, nearly 20% of them say “yes, all of the time!”

But is it possible that the combination of working, parenting, running a household and taking care of herself is simply too overwhelming for women? Or is the underlying truth that, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, mothers have always had the power to get that “break” if they repeat the magic phrase: “There’s nothing like asking for help…there’s nothing like asking for help.”

Susan Newman, Ph.D., and author of The Case for The Only Child admits it’s complicated. “Sixty percent of mothers are returning to work before their child’s first birthday,” she says. “And while both men and women are working nearly 11 more hours a week than they did in the 1970s, mothers are still spending about the same amount of time with their children as they did in the 1950s.” As the number of hours in a day hasn’t changed in recent years, it stands to reason, she says, that stress levels are skyrocketing. “They’re cutting back on their sleep, exercise, any form of relaxation or fun. Read a book? Forget about it.”

Carley Roney, editor-in-chief, says it’s not just a matter of taking on too much. From her perch as the editor of a leading parenting network and as a mom of three, she says that women have to ask for help with the countless balls she juggles each day—work, family, home. Instead, when it comes to asking for that much-needed break from parenting duties, many mothers are loathe to outsource even a single task.

“There is an underlying self-doubt and guilt in saying ‘I don’t want to do this’” she says of parenting. “It’s literally ingrained in most of us to want to be Super Moms, and that feeling is so often compounded in working moms, who feel the added guilt of being away from their children for a number of hours each day to begin with. When they have the chance to be a mommy, to give up any control can be quite painful.”

That guilt then, and the reluctance to relinquish any task of motherhood, might just be Public Enemy No.1. “It’s a martyr syndrome,” Roney contends. “You want to do everything, but you want to be recognized for it. You want to be offered the help, not to ask for it; and that’s where the resentment kicks in.” Seventy percent of working moms admitted resentment towards their partners for not being as helpful as they’d like with parenting duties.

Census data from 2010 shows that married households are officially in the minority. As my colleague Kiri Blakeley notes, married people have dropped below half of households, to 48%. Forty-one states showed a decline in the traditional household set-up: A married couple with children. These numbers imply that single parent households are on the rise and such nuclear families may be as nostalgic as Family Ties. But according to our survey, which queried 1,259 mothers who live with their partners (91% married, 9% in a relationship), even with the presumed luxury of having a partner in parenting, everything isn’t equal. And it certainly isn’t fair.

According to research by The Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit that studies the changing workforce, when both parents are working outside the home, women spend 28 hours per week with their children while men spend just sixteen. The same working women told ForbesWoman and TheBump that they also tend to the majority of the household work (shopping, cooking, cleaning), parenting work (discipline, feeding, bathing) and even parenting “play” than their partners each week. Oh, and 44% of them also provide more than 50% of the annual household income.

Like Karen Larson learned after the runaway Christmas of 2008, avoiding a breakdown means a willingness to communicate her limits with her husband and asking for help when she needs it. The couple now trades off Sunday mornings with the kids to give the other an official break, and she’s outsourced housekeeping and laundry to a weekly cleaning service. “I do occasionally feel guilty that I can’t be everything to everybody,” she says, but at least she’s spending holidays with her whole family.

“There’s ego in motherhood,” Roney concludes. “And an ego in being a wife. It’s the nature of being a mother—that you’ll just do it. That you’ll take it ‘like a mom.’” Communicating the need for help is a troubling but necessary first step, she says, to relieving stress, avoiding resentment and—ultimately—getting the time out every mother deserves. “At some point, you’ve got to say: I can do a lot of it, but I don’t want to do it all.”

Meghan Casserly
GIRL FRIDAY, 15 June 2011

Maths @ 22 months

Written by admin on June 17th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

2nd May 2011

Kaia whipped out some maths this morning on Day 2 of video tutorials via YouTube. We asked what’s 1+1? She says 2! What’s 2+1? 3! and 3+1? 4! All of which sent us erupting into a roar of congratulations and air tosses! Her face lit up and she was absolutely beaming with pride and soaking up the praise as if it were oxygen. It’s so wonderful to see your children gaining confidence in new knowledge.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video that inspired her Addition for Kids.

I’m Aching for….

Written by admin on April 27th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

an open fireplace and a good bottle of red right now….

Like me are you sitting somewhere quietly listening to the Autumn rain wishing for it to be Friday with a flight itinerary in your hand and a good babysitter booked ready to rock & roll on an AO vacation? However in reality it’s Wednesday and the kids are finally in bed after kicking up a stink flopping themselves on the floor before you, biting their toothbrush in protest and kicking you in the guts while you’re trying to dress them appropriately for the miserable cold night that will soon fill the house. You’ve collapsed on the couch barely finding the strength to have a meaningful conversation with your partner when you realise now’s the time to pick up the phone to your grandparents, girlfriend, sister WHOEVER to beg, bribe or steal a weekend away to be ravenously human again!

For those who manage to swing it, here’s a travel tip for the weary parents who love fresh air, great food, beautiful Pinot and reconnecting with nature – Freycinet Lodge in Tasmania via Hobart serves the most amazing seafood I’ve laid my lips on (growing up in The Whitsundays, I know great seafood!) and lovely wine all alongside the most earthly of human needs: a 2 storey open fireplace! Ohhhhh I can still feel the warmth. Or that may have been the warm rush of the heady port… NO. Definitely the two storey fireplace. The wide decking embracing the restaurant reaches out across the majestic views of Great Oyster Bay where the sunsets will melt your worries away and the jetty takes you off into another land…little Johnny who?

Freycinet Lodge from the Jetty

For the affluent desiring a more contemporary abode, Saffire should easily satisfy your senses.

Suite at Saffire



For a splash of outdoor therapy, both are within easy reach of the famous Wineglass Bay bushwalk (voted one of 10 best remote beaches on Earth) you can walk along the most varied and amazing scenery I’ve ever encountered on a 3 hour walk. Be sure to pack a bottle of your favourite ‘something’ in your backpack for the finale at the lookout over Wineglass Bay, or if you don’t fancy carrying it that far and you hear desperate pleas of “drink me!” coming from your bag, at the beach of Wineglass Bay. (That’s taking the walk in reverse as suggested by a lovely local at one of the vineyards).

In short, Tasmania is certainly on my list of things to re-do before I die. It was the beautiful randomness of a blank postcard from Wineglass Bay blowing onto my beach towel in Bronte on a windy day 5 years ago that led me there. But my nose will take me back. Let this be your e-card blowing across your lap. Freycinet needs to be on your bucket list.

With warm licks from the fireplace and an earthy smile of satisfaction, I’ve just taken a “virtual” holiday AND I LIKE IT! More stories like this to come no doubt… the way…..I did find a good bottle of red.


PS: This article on Tasmania comes with a warning – You’ll never want to leave.

The love of a good child

Written by admin on April 8th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

An old Italian lived alone in Batavia, New York. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,

I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here, my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop,

Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop,

Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

Love, Vinnie

Drumming Lessons – FREE

Written by admin on March 24th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

Our girls LOVE drumming. But before we go running out and buying a drum and rather than let them run riot whacking things against the glass coffee table I directed their energy into a couple of nappy boxes with wooden spoons/ serving spoons.

Your kids will find inspiration at Hip Hop Drumming.

Here they are listening to YouTube and going for it! The boxes never knew what hit them. Luckily they’re easily replaced.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Written by admin on March 14th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

Fun Stuff to do with a spare hour, a pair of daft hands and a marker pen.

Fresh Berries ROCK!

Written by admin on February 7th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

A great Vitamin C Boost for kids!

Frozen berries are just as good if not better. Snap frozen fresh from the farm they pack a great punch for Vitamin C along with other minerals and phytochemicals and flavonoids.

Find out about the great health benefits of Berries and a few tantalising recipes.

Health Benefits of Berries

Tasty (& healthy!) morning treat….


  • Handful of Frozen berries (The 4 mix from McCain is my fave – blueberries, redcurrants, mulberries & raspberries)
  • Fresh orange juice (not reconstituted)
  • Mango Juice/Syrup
  • Ice
  • A dash of love

Sing while blending and serve while icey! If you like a tangy edge, dollop in a spoon of plain yoghurt to the recipe. Serve to your loved ones with a smile.


Written by admin on February 5th, 2011. Posted in Fun Stuff

Gloop squished between your fingers! The simple things in life are often the best.