15 Tips on Surviving as a Mom in the Suburbs



Nearly a decade ago, I moved to the suburbs from NYC. In that time I’ve learned some pretty important things to ensure surviving, nay, keeping my sanity being a Mom in the suburbs.

If my suburb sent out a handbook it would look something like this. Feel free to use it as a mini-survival guide. Good luck and in the words of that guy on Hill Street Blues, ‘Hey, let’s be careful out there.’

1. All children must be signed up for multiple sports and extracurricular activities, to ensure that no family can plan anything on a Saturday until their kids are too old to want to spend Saturday’s with their family.

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2. Do NOT be alarmed if you try to enter the wrong minivan or SUV; this is common. Try to lessen the confusion by putting fun stickers on your back windshield representing each of your children performing their favorite activity.

3. You can paint your house one of 477 shades of tan. Other colors will be categorically denied, so don’t even try it!

4. If your child has strep or hand foot and mouth, be aware that the entire town will know about it before you get his/her prescription filled. PS this same urgency in passing news applies to affairs as well!

5. As a suburban mom you are expected to start some kind of craft business immediately. Your choices are: hair accessories, jewelry, embellished clothing, or things you can print on card stock – anything else must be cleared through the Chamber of Commerce.

6. If you already have a job, you are expected to purchase these crafted goods, in bulk, at the myriad of local holiday boutiques that celebrate everything from Ramadan to Flag Day. Like PTA meetings, being absent is frowned upon.

7. If you do not find a grocery store or Starbucks within one mile of your current position, you’re lost and have entered an inferior neighborhood! Please stay calm and return to your suburb immediately.

8. You are required to join a gym. There, you must take spin classes with disco lighting, pretzel yourself into a reformer, and learn the art-form that is Zumba.

9. You will be expected to pressure clean anything and everything from your sidewalk to your dog. Be prepared.

10. Make sure your dog is cute, as neighbors will constantly stop to pet it. Be warned, the same neighbors will turn you in to the association the first time Rufus barks after 9PM. (Don’t name your dog Rufus.)

11. Make an immediate trip to lululemon/Athetica/GapBody/Target, and pick up workout/athletic/golf/tennis gear that’s trendier than simply wearing sweatpants. Wear these goods at least 50 -100% of the time; in the winter, simply wear your athletic gear with Uggs.

12. You will need to attend a mind-numbing amount of birthday lunches/dinners for ladies turning anywhere from 30-50. Get there early, as who you sit next to (or don’t sit next to) can make or break your day.

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13. Cut back on sex ASAP, as you will find yourself in conversations where moms discuss their infrequent, and unsatisfying sex life regularly – at lunches, parties, dinners, play-dates.

14. And stop giving BJ’s! People in the ‘burbs are only expected to give them on birthdays and anniversaries (it’s one of the perks).

15. Living in the ‘burbs is a little like reading Us Weekly: Everything is sensationalized. It’s fun to discuss “who wore it best,” but not as much fun as playing Fashion Police. You will find yourself looking for cellulite/wrinkles on young skinny moms. And gossip is treated as gospel.

I hope this helps you fit into the suburban life you’ve chosen. Maybe I’ll see you at the next boutique sale – I’ll be selling picture frames with random findings glued to it!


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  1. Debbie says

    Oh Jenny this is wonderful. Love it. What i call following the crowd. It is amazing to me what lenghts people are going to go to, ‘to fit in’.

    My kids are grown, but i see and hear this going on with my girls and grandkids. I love checking there FB and laugh at what they put on it.
    I always get a kick out of the play dates. When my were young, I wanted to go over to a girl friends and have a cup of coffee or beer and the kids played. I didn’t make up a name for this active, I knew that i was thirst and it was going to be great to have kids to intertain kids while we ladies had a little adult conversation.

    My heart does go out to you mothers these days. All I can say is be yourself and if they don’t like it you aren’t going to be spending the rest of your life around them anyway. Most of them are going to find a nicer community to live in someday, because the old one just isn’t classy enough any more.

    I do like the idea of bumper sticker for the mini van so you can find yours. Thanks Jenny for the smiles this early morning.
    Have a great day,

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      Any time Debbie and the truth is PLAYDATE for me is usually a word that means let’s have coffee or whateve while we try to make our kids friends so we can do this again sometime!

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    • Elsie says

      Don’t be terrified Katie, the older mommies will be very clear about their expectations for the newer mommies :) Seriously though, join the PTA and help out occasionally. ‘Burb mommies take their PTA duties VERY seriously.

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  2. DEbi says

    LOL! I could have written this piece. Do we live in the same “hood”? You forgot the mandatory brow beating you get if you don’t join the DAR or Junior league at once and OMG, the reason for the gym membership is so we don’t embarrass ourselves when we go to the neighborhood pool ( which is mandatory on weekdays throughout the summer) while we sip Fraps to the skinny, perfect 25 year old who just had a baby yesterday and is wearing a bikini and sporting a bronze goddess tan today. Cripes,I;m tired just talking about it and now, I must go workout. May is just around the corner.

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  3. MarySunshine says

    I’m the weirdo mom on the court. But I’ve always been a “weirdo”, so I’m used to the looks. LOL

    I do like to craft though, so I got a little butthurt by 5. No one wants sugar scrubs or crocheted scarves? Crap. There goes my idea of work when they kids start school. ;-)

    I might not be a city transplant, but I’m definitely an outsider looking in on the suburban mom phenomenon. LOL

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  4. Ariana says

    I grew up in the burbs so the environment has always been the same for me, but definitely nail on the head! Sending my kids to private school when they were young made me aware that every other suburban myth was indeed fact! (And love #14…I didn’t know that!)

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  5. Stephanie says

    Ha! I’d love to see Ramadan in my development.

    This makes me very glad my kids (and life) keep me too busy to canoodle with the neighbors. (Though they’re probably gossiping about that. Or the blog. Either one.)

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