Life as a parent is exhausting. We spend all our time working for and worrying about our kids. Day or night. It doesn’t matter if you’re awake or asleep. If you are a parent, you are on duty—and it can be stressful.
Parental burnout is a real thing. The exhaustion that comes from weeks, months, and years of trying to function as a contributing member of society on zero sleep is mindboggling. You’re not just tired, you are bone tired.
Whether you work outside the home or not, all moms and dads work hard. However, there is no question that trying to maintain a career takes the unpredictability up a notch.
I’ve been a working mom since I had my first child three years ago.
Since then, we’ve also added twins to the mix. Three kids in three years and I’ve been a working mom every step of the way. Sometimes I’ve worked more and sometimes I’ve worked less. I’ve worked in the office and I’ve worked from home. In this current season of life, I work exclusively from home as an attorney and writer.
I know what it’s like to balance life, kids, career, relationships, self-care, and all the other things that come along with being an adult. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy, and I’ve had more than my share of hilarious working mom fails.
There are days I’ve left the house wearing an inside-out sweater. Days my son spilled milk on my work outfit moments after we left the house. There’s also the time I left the house wearing two different shoes and didn’t know until my mother-in-law told me when I dropped my son off before work. Apparently, I’ve had a lot of motherhood-related wardrobe fails.
But I’ve also had other kinds as well. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve been on a conference call, or on the phone with opposing counsel, or even on a call with a judge while my son hollered about something in the background. Sorry about that, Your Honor.
We all remember BBC Dad and how hilarious it was to watch his children burst into the room during an internationally televised interview. It’s funny because it’s relatable. As parents, we’ve been there. We know what it’s like, and occasionally, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones saving face when a wily toddler suddenly appears on video conference.
That’s why we asked real working moms to share their hilarious working mom fails—and boy, did they come through. Their stories will make you laugh. They’ll make you cry. They’ll make you wish you hired a babysitter. But, more than anything, they’ll make you appreciate that we’re all in this together.
1. “I worked night shift as a NICU RN and came home to make my daughter’s lunch before school. I forgot I had gotten both sliced mozzarella cheese and American cheese while food shopping. I made my daughter her American cheese and mustard sandwich and sent her on her way. She came home [later that day] and said I gave her funny cheese. It wasn’t until later when I made dinner I realized I gave her a mozzarella and mustard sandwich.” — Tara Michelle
2. “I was at a deposition with a major client. I put my work bag on the table and started to pull out my notepads and laptop when a bunch of diapers spilled out onto the table. The opposing attorney just stared at me.” — Jordan Marie
3. “I was in court with a client and settled her case. I needed a pen for us to sign on the dotted line, so I reached for one in my bag. No pens. Just one blue crayon. A crayon! My daughter swiped my pens. Now I keep at least four pens in my bag at all times. Thankfully, my client was a mom too, and this just made her laugh and reminisce. But I was so embarrassed!” — Megan LeeAnn
4. “I asked my mom to look after my son while I met with a client in my home office for a quick contract signing. Just as we were finishing up, my two-year-old came crashing through the French doors wearing only a diaper and asking for milk. He had broken loose while my mom stopped to use the bathroom.” — Julia Jacobs
5. “I gave daycare some spare clothes for my three-year-old at the beginning of the school year. He didn’t need to use the spare clothes for a long time. One day in December, I arrived after school and found him dressed in a classmate’s pastel Frozen sweatshirt and mismatched leggings. Apparently, I forgot to update daycare with a set of winter clothes, and the only ones he had were shorts and tank tops from August. They had no choice but to scrounge around for something else. Face. Palm.” — Katelyn K.
6. “I was in my office on the phone with a client. While I was talking, I was looking at a picture on my desk of my daughters. They must have been on my mind because, before hanging up, I told my big important client that I ‘loved’ her. Still haven’t lived that one down. She laughed about it, but I’m sure she gave me some serious side eye after we hung up.” — Melody Brown
7. “I work from home, which entails lots of teleconferencing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out so well when you have a toddler running around. On the day of an important video conference, my husband was late getting home and couldn’t watch our son. In desperation, I grabbed some crackers and shoved them at my thirteen-month-old in the hopes he would be quiet for just a few minutes. He mostly complied, except for one super awkward moment when I was in the middle of talking and out of nowhere a teething cracker hit me smack in the face. Needless to say, explaining that one to my coworkers was super fun.” — Emily Solberg
8. “You’re not going to believe this, but once, years ago, during a work dinner, I asked my colleague if she needed help cutting her food. She was eating spaghetti. I have no idea what came over me besides the fact that I would cut my kids’ spaghetti whenever we had it. My brain must have seen the spaghetti and just went on autopilot. We about died laughing afterward. Later when I told my husband what happened he told me I probably need to get out of the house more.” — Colleen Jones
9. “One time, I had a new business partner who was super excited about getting her business launched. Everyone was on the Zoom. I had headphones on, and my baby started getting fussy. My baby proceeded to scream the entire time I was on the call. I thought because I had the headphones in, the others on Zoom couldn’t hear her—but they could. Finally, my new business partner—in her sweet, soft southern accent—said, ‘I can’t concentrate. Your baby is so loud. Let’s reschedule.’ I was mortified! She is now one of my best friends and business partners but that was a crazy night.” — Caitlin Wheeler
10. “My mom came over to watch my son while I went downtown to take care of something work-related. I was five-months pregnant with twins and had a lot on my mind. As I pulled out of our driveway, I completely forgot my mom’s car was there and crashed right into it, side-swiping her door. I don’t want to blame pregnancy brain, but that was definitely pregnancy brain.” — Candace Alnaji (yes, this is my story!).
See moms? You’re not alone.
If these made you laugh, be sure to share your hilarious working mom fails with us!
Candace is a practicing attorney, working parents advocate, freelance writer, and proud mom. Her legal practice focuses on workers’ rights. She can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law.