Stress Tips for Working Moms: Real Simple Editor Kristin van Ogtrop

Jeanne Sager
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Kristin van Ogtrop's new memoir might be called Just Let Me Lie Down, but the editor of Real Simple magazine and working mother of three doesn't spend much time resting on her laurels.

Van Ogtrop's new book is subtitled "Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom," and it's been set up like a dictionary for moms to loot for words of sanity -- in alphabetical order.

Van Ogtrop shared some of her irreverent wisdom for turning the stress of motherhood into a taste for life with The Stir.

Your book offers an irreverent look at working motherhood.

Kristin van Ogtrop: I think if you take it too seriously, you're in trouble!

What are your best tips for staying stress free as a mom?

Aside from alcohol? What works for me is having these really specific compartments in my head. When I leave the office, I rarely do any work at night . . . A lot of working moms will tell you, you've absolutely got to call the pediatrician in the middle of the day, and you might have to do it from the office. So there are home things you absolutely have to do at work and work things you absolutely have to do at home. But you have to know when to leave the other world behind.


Photo by Kim Myers Robertson
Your book is heavy on humor; is that important in staying sane?

I tend toward that sensibility, but it's probably also a little bit of a defense mechanism. If you leave home every day and think, "my child is getting another day older, and I'm not there," it's too much. If you look at life through that lens, you'd never stop crying!

There are women who work because they have to, women who work because they want to, and women who are in between -- where I'd say I am. The humor buffers you a bit.

It's a generic question, but what do you love most about being a mom?

Activity-wise, taking my kids to do something that's totally new for them and totally new for me. Like taking them on a vacation to some place I've never been. We're all completely engaged; nobody's bored. It's a completely shared experience.

It's also really helped me not take things in life so seriously. It's like a vitamin!

Any specific examples?

Yes, it's in the O's in the book: oppositional advantage or Newton's law meets your life. I need those two things to keep the other in perspective. The things that happen at home are much more important than the things that happen at work. I use the example in the book that the week my first born pooped on the potty for the first time, it was a big deal. It was probably bigger than anything that happened at work that day!

If I didn't have the experience of being a mom, I think I'd put a lot more emphasis on the things that happen at work.

Kristin van Ogtrop's Just Let Me Lie Down is out in bookstores this week.

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