We have all seen the articles, listing the ten friends that everyone woman needs her in life. The organizer, the trustworthy “best” friend, the single friend, so on and so forth. Here is my attempt to cut through the feel good malarkey. Here is my real world, truly helpful, most necessary list of top six ‘friends’ that every working mother needs:
- The Cleaning Lady: As a working mom, you bust your butt all week to keep your family organized, and to make sure tasks get accomplished. Why waste your weekends cleaning? Hiring a cleaning lady is an expense. However, there are several cleaning options you can subscribe to; you can opt for weekly, bi-weekly, or even once a month. There are professional cleaning services, and private individuals (who I’ve always found to be much cheaper). This is an expense that will pay you back in countless ways. After all, you can’t put a dollar amount on uninterrupted fun time with your children on the weekends. If you are looking to trim your budget find the extra cash in other areas, try losing that Friday take-out meal of pizza or Chinese food, or give up your morning drive through coffee or frappuccino. No only will this free up some cash to hire a cleaning lady, it will save you calories.
- The Stylist: I know, we all wish we had Jenna Lyon as our own personal BFF, but I’m talking hairstylist here. Working moms don’t have a lot of time to spend worrying about their hair. Find a stylist who understands your lifestyle, understands your job, understands your budget, and understands the effort you are willing to put in to getting ready in the morning. Also, it is helpful to find a salon that is working mother friendly. Are they open on weekends? Are they flexible with appointments? Do they call you last minute looking to change your appointment? Working moms don’t need this hassle. Commit to a salon that commits to you and make this relationship work. My current stylist is a working mother herself, she gets it. She recently persuaded me not to chop off all my hair, as I showed up for my appointment looking frumpy, unwashed, and 5 months pregnant. It also helps that my stylist is the owner of the salon and has been helpful to me in scheduling other services that I am badly in need of, like pedicures, facials and massages. If you are looking for a wonderful, working-mother friendly place to receive salon services, check out Per Se Aveda in West Hartford. Shari and her staff will give you the treatment you deserve!
- The Boozer: Working moms deal with lots and lots of stress. Every now and again we need to unwind, decompress, let loose and drink! Every working mom should have at least one friend that is her go-to drinking comrade. Someone who doesn’t judge you when you order two cocktails over dinner and follow it up with a dessert drink and maybe a stop-over for trivia night and beers at the local pub. We all have been in those “mommy situations” where we are out with some “mom friends” for dinner and everyone is worried about ordering a drink, and everyone is wondering if a second would seem inappropriate, and you need to excuse yourself to touch up your powder because you did go for the second drink and now you are turning slightly red and you need to cover it up because you know the two moms down at the end of the table will be discussing it over drop-off the next morning. That’s all fine, on occasion, but find yourself the lady who will go the distance with you and be proud to mention that the two of you finished a pitcher of Coors Light and got all the 80’s music questions right at trivia night.
- The Daycare Director: It’s a no brainer that you want to develop a close relationship with your child’s direct daycare teacher or provider. But I think that moms (especially those with children enrolled in day care centers) need to take it one step further. Develop a relationship with the manager or director of your center. Treat this person with great respect–they deserve it, and they will treat you accordingly. Personally, I love the Assistant-Director at our daycare center and she would be my friend regardless of her position, and will be my friend long after my children have left the center. However, having a relationship with her has benefitted my children, who also adore and love her. Developing a relationship with the management at your facility offers you insight into various events taking place at the center and provides you with a perspective that is different from the classroom teacher. Also, if a difficult or uncomfortable situation arises it is beneficial to have an ally in the management team.
- The Free Babysitter: Having quality adult time is important for working moms, but finding a trustworthy babysitter can be both difficult and expensive. The best alternative is the person in your life who is the free babysitter. This might be a grandparent, a relative, the empty-nesters living next door who derive great joy out of listening to your children yell and scream. It does not matter who they are, they are your friend! If you have a person in your life (that you know, safety here ladies, not just some random person) who offers to babysit for free, you can be guaranteed of two things: (1) they aren’t the sixteen year old high school girl who is being paid and most likely persuaded by her mother to take the job. They WANT to do this, and hence are more likely to take better care of your children, (2) you will be buying them an awesome Christmas present for all that they have done for you!
- The Most Valuable Friend: You and your best friend may have known each other since pre-school, and each of you might still have one half of a broken heart that fits perfectly together to form “BEST FRIENDS”, or you might not. I find that as women get older, we tend to have ‘best friends’ from various phases of our lives. The best high school friend, the best college friend, the best finding out about yourself in your 20’s friend, your best work friend, your best husband friend…etc. Some of these friends might be actively involved in your life and others may not. All of these relationships are important and add value to your life. However, as a busy working mom you sometimes need to take a look at your friendships and evaluate where things stand. You don’t have much as time as you did in your 20’s to invest in each of your friends, so oftentimes you need to prioritize. I bet if each of you were to take an inventory of your friends (I realize that might sound cold and detached, but it’s the real world ladies, it’s honesty that counts) you would be able to identify your most valuable friend. This may or may not be one of your oldest and best friends; it could be your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your neighbor, any number of people. Your most valuable friend is going to be the person who you can always depend on to help you and your children. They won’t judge, they won’t question, and they will simply show up at 10 pm and help you take care of your infant who has double ear infections and your toddler who has a virus with a 104 degree fever. You can call them when you are on the edge and scream into the phone “I can’t even stand being around my children for one more second!” They will understand, not judge you, drive to your home, and take your children out for ice cream. They will watch your children so you and your husband can go on vacation. They will take time off from work to watch your daughter’s five minute preschool play. They love you and your family unconditionally and you never have to second guess if they will show up when they say they are going to, and if they are going to follow through on their commitments, it’s a given.
Like any other relationship in your life, these six relationships take hard work and commitment. To make the relationships valuable to you, you need to keep open channels of communication and show appreciation for your friends. If your cleaning lady has an especially good week, leave her a card, or call and thank her. Bring your stylist something thoughtful during the holidays. Buy a round of drinks for your boozer friend. Remember your daycare Director’s birthday and have the kids make her a homemade card. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway to make up for the hours of free babysitting they have done for you. Be the most valuable friend to your most valuable friend. I guarantee you that your life will be better with these six relationships.