With kids out of school, family vacations, and increased demands on parents, work life balance is a big issue for both employees and organizations. So we looked at how television moms are portrayed as they try to handle the challenges of career and family. Some are realistic, some are aspirational, and some just make you wonder who writes this stuff. Who does it best? Let's take a look at five TV moms today.
1. Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife
Alicia was a stay-at-home mom with a law degree rotting in the closet. But when her politician husband landed in jail, she had to go back to work. She dusted off her law degree and landed at Lockhart Gardner, working for an old friend. She balances work and life by realizing she can't do it on her own. She enlists the help of her mother-in-law, which goes about as smoothly as you'd expect. While having gobs of money and a fabulous wardrobe are handy, Alicia fights the same battles every mom faces — dealing with teachers, emotional crises and limiting internet access. She maintains separate ring tones for her children so she can immediately answer when they call, and sometimes a child comes before a client. Having family responsibilities allows Alicia to push back against her bosses and they accept it.
2. Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Leslie is the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation department in a small Indiana town. She starts the series single, gets married in season five and has triplets in season seven. While the thought of triplets could make even the strongest of women too tired to think about work, Leslie pushes forward. She gets a job offer in Chicago, which would mean relocating and uprooting her life — something that's never easy. She negotiates and gets the job to come to her. Her national parks job is moved to Pawnee, Indiana. That's a mom who is good at balancing her family's needs with her career aspirations.
3. Frankie Heck, The Middle
Frankie was a car saleswoman who got fired, so she went back to school when her three kids were teenagers, and becomes a dental hygienist. Frankie is the antithesis of the June Clever-type television moms, and even the Alicia Florrick type. Her career isn't high-powered. She doesn't have everything together. She doesn't sip wine while she makes gourmet meals in a spotless kitchen. She buys takeout, she has a job she doesn't love. But, she has great kids. She doesn't helicopter parent, but she shows up when she's needed. She puts the life into work-life balance.
4. Elizabeth Jennings, The Americans
Elizabeth is a travel agent and, well, a Russian spy. Frankly, she rarely gets any travel agency work done, so we'll focus on the spy part. She has to lead a double life — espionage at night and being a model American during the day. Being a spy is a 24-hour a day job, but so is parenting. Elizabeth tries to combine the two the best she can. In order to help keep an eye on her daughter's pastor, who knows the truth, Elizabeth attends church with her daughter. She doesn't go crazy when her kids do something wrong, and she supports them the best she can. Elizabeth's best tool for work-life balance is that she lives in the days before cell phones. When Elizabeth goes out with the kids, she's out of contact with work — something today's moms only dream about.
5. Lorelei Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Lorelei started out as a teen mom and seems more like a big sister than a mom to daughter Rory. While she's had a contentious relationship with her parents, she asked for their help when she realized it would be best for her daughter to attend a private school. Lorelei manages work and family by becoming the boss — she opens her own Inn — and by drinking lots and lots of coffee. She keeps involved in her daughter's life by making a real effort to understand everything that's going on. It may be easy, though, because she's younger than most moms of teenagers. Nevertheless, Lorelei does step in and act the part of the parent when necessary.
There is something to relate to with all these moms, especially feeling tired. Maybe we should turn off the TV, finish answering those last few emails, and enjoy the longer evenings outside with our families.
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