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Rule 25: B Sur Ur Kds No U Hav a Lif

Aug 21, 2008
(Translation: Be Sure Your Kids Know You Have a Life!)

Molly Wendland juggles work and family in Kansas City with her two teenage daughters and her Big Strong Man (a.k.a "Rock"). Molly writes a blog called "Balancing Act" for Disney's Family.com.

You're thinking to yourself, "My kids know I have a life. I work. I pay the bills. I keep them in juice boxes (or Juicy Couture, depending on the age group)." Nope. Chances are, they do not know. Trust me. I have a job. I write two different blogs, and I am a contributing author to two books. I have another home-based business. Plus, I belong to a fabulous book club and numerous other organizations. I, too, thought my kids knew I had a life outside of them and their self-centered, teenage planets. But then, one day, the reality came crashing down on me. They didn't have a clue.

I had confiscated my teenage daughter's phone and was skimming through her texts to see just how many she had sent during "forbidden" hours when I came across this one, referencing my ability to drive her on a future outing with friends:

"Dnt wory my mom cn driv trst me she has no socl lif" (Translation: Don't worry, my mom can drive. Trust me, she has no social life.)

There it was. My life, summed up in 50 characters or less. My very existence, in fact, had been reduced to that of Taxi Driver. Never mind the consequences of my 13 year old's actions; that's another story altogether. The point is that our children need to understand that we do, indeed, have lives outside of them.

I don't need them to praise my achievements or hail my efforts regularly. I am a self-confident woman who can handle her own in a board room or a nursery, thank you very much. However, I do expect them to recognize the sacrifices that I make for them on a regular basis. Yes, I am their mother. Yes, I signed on for this when I donated the egg. Now it's up to me to ensure that they grow up to respect their elders and not take on the sense of entitlement that so many of our young people today seem to possess.

Here are some tips to make certain that your child is aware that you have a life outside of their little universe:

Don't automatically say "yes." When she asks to have a friend over, don't automatically say yes. Take a moment to physically check your calendar. If you have a conflict, do not rearrange it unless the play date is of supreme importance to your child.

Plan a Party. Have a party at home, and enlist the help of your child as server, coat taker, dishwasher, etc. If appropriate, allow her to invite a friend to help. Remind your child that she and the friend will be your indentured servants for the evening. If the evening goes well, offer a small stipend or reward for a job well done.

Volunteer together. Take your child(ren) with you when you go to volunteer somewhere.

Take them to work. Take your child(ren) to "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day". This program helps illustrate the value of a balanced work and family life and normally takes place in April. Your children will learn a little about what you do all day and perhaps, they'll come away with a greater understanding with what it means to be a working mom. For more information, you can visit their website at: http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org.

Let them make their own dinner. Once a week or so, have an evening when the kids are on their own for dinner. A friend of mine refers to this as "Yo-Yo Night." Delivered with her thick southern drawl, it was originally "Yo Ahwn Yo Ohwwn!" Everyone fends for themselves, which could mean anything from cereal, to frozen entrees, to leftovers, to the kids coming up with their own masterpiece. You get the idea.

When my daughter got her phone back, she received this text:

"Sory cnt drv u n e wher n e tim soon i hav a lif luv mom" (Translation: Sorry, can't drive you anywhere anytime soon. I have a life. Love, Mom)

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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