I had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine that got me wondering. Is it possible for working moms and stay-at-home moms to get along? Or are we all doomed to be trapped in mommy wars?

My girlfriend has just entered the workforce after raising kids at home for over a decade. She's very excited about her career, but she started noticing women treating her differently. These weren't just random people she met on the street, but women she had known and spent time with her whole time as a mother. "The conversations would just fizzle out," she told me. "All of a sudden, they acted like we had nothing in common." What could the reasoning be behind the sudden cold shoulders?

The Problems

Schedules

Scheduling is always an issue between working moms and moms who stay home. While one is at work, the other is able to do social outings, plan trips with small children, and help around the classroom. When the working mom comes home, if she has any time for socializing, typically the home bound moms are focused on family activities and unable to hang out. They've done all that during the day. It's a natural human response to congregate around people with whom we're comfortable. Usually, these people are the ones we spend the most time with. Working moms may feel left out because the stay-at-home moms have spent more time together.

Judgments

My friend who went back to work felt there was an underlying judgment on her from some stay-at-home moms. "People would say things like, 'I would never be able to leave my kids at daycare,' " she told me. "I already struggle with mommy guilt, now I feel even worse."

Typically, beginning a sentence with the words, "I would never..." is a sure-fire way to alienate yourself from an audience. It's rude. Stay-at-home moms need to be nice. Working moms have it really tough. They have to do everything. There's never enough time to get done what needs to be done.

Being a stay-at-home mom, I've encountered the same stigma, from a different angle. I can't count the number of times someone has said to me, "I would never be able to stay home all day with kids. I just need more mental stimulation."

Really? You think it's fun for me every day? There are times when I would love to put on pantyhose, shower, do my hair, go out and work and feel a sense of measurable success. I resent the assumption that anyone with an IQ higher than broccoli cannot handle staying home with small children. It's hard sometimes. Eating bon bons and watching soaps all day can really take it out of you.

The Solutions

Avoid the typical pitfalls of miscommunication with a few easy steps.

Stay Focused

Look at where your life is and don't be distracted by someone else's path. Just because your life works for you and your family, doesn't mean it's for everyone. Respect the decisions of others. You never know what their circumstances are.

Respect Time

Whether you are a busy working mom, or a busy stay-at-home mom, respect the other's time. Don't assume a stay at home mom can watch your kids while you work, just because she stays home. She didn't choose that lifestyle to watch someone else's kids. Don't take advantage and go out for drinks after work without setting it up ahead of time. If you are a stay-at-home mom and are planning an outing with a working mom, be on time. She has a lot going on and can use your help to stay on schedule.

When in Doubt, Help Out!

See if there's anything your working mom needs. Make a dinner for her one night, or offer to clean her house and do laundry one day. If you're a working mom, ask your stay-at-home mom friend if she wants a girls' night out. Offer to babysit for a date night, or get a chick flick and just hang out. Reaching out is the best way to change your perspective.

Have a Sense of Humor

It's the secret to great marriages and the secret to great friendshipss: never take yourself too seriously. If someone asks you how you can stand staying home all day, make a joke about eating snacks and watching soap operas. If someone asks how you can abandon your kids at daycare, answer with "the foster system is already over-crowded." Hopefully, your friend will laugh. If not, you can always duck and run.

Take a little time to get perspective, be courteous, and have fun with friends who have a different role as a Mom. With a little sense of humor, and a lot of understanding, you can be the first to call a truce on the age old mommy wars.

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