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How to Handle Awkward Mom Moments

Check out these savvy solutions to awkward mom moments from Emily Roy, a Scottsdale, AZ, image and communication consultant (and a mom of four).

The dreaded kid birthday party. You know no one...yet everyone else seems to know each other. How to deal?

You will have to initiate any conversation you want to have in this situation. Be direct and friendly. “Hi, I'm Jen, Jordan's mom. I've seen you around but never actually met you. You're Sarah's mom, right?” And from there, lead the conversation so that you can learn a little something about her, like “Did you grow up in this area?” You will eventually hit upon something you can talk about. Just don't say anything negative—not about your pediatrician, your child's teacher, even your neighbor's dog. You don't know these potential friends well enough to be sure you'll avoid misunderstandings.

You need to approach your boss about working more flextime. What's the best way to steel yourself for a productive exchange?

Every sentence that comes out of your mouth needs to be factual and not emotionally based. Focus on how you'll be meeting the goals of your present position, as well as any benefits to the company (like equipment your work-from-home days will free up, or being available earlier in the morning since you won't have to commute). Wrap up by giving control back to your boss and showing respect—let him have time to digest what you've said, while still making sure he understands you need an answer soon: “I'm sure this is something you'd like to think about. Would you be able to give me your thoughts next week, or would the following week be better for you?”

You pick up your toddler from daycare and find the teachers gabbing away while the kids are tearing apart the room. You don't want to make a huge deal out of this, but it bothers you.

Take your concerns directly to the head teacher. Who knows, maybe one of them had just found out her dad has cancer or her lease isn't being renewed. Everyone has off days. If the problem persists, make an appointment to talk to the director. Remember that your intention is to solve the problem, not just to vent. Keep it brief and your tone concerned (not angry): “Donna, you know that I love this place. But last week when I picked up Henry, the teachers were so deep in conversation that they didn't seem to be paying much attention to the kids.” Then wait for her response. Ask questions from there if you aren't getting the feedback you were hoping for: “Is there a policy in place regarding how much structured play the kids are getting?”

You're on a job interview, and it seems to be going well, when you're casually asked, "Do you have kids?"

This is really poor form, but not uncommon. So if you feel obligated to answer, simply smile and say “I do.” If it seems appropriate, finish with “And you?” The sooner that question is over, the sooner you can get back to showing them that they've found their candidate.