M.O.M.: A Fun Manual For How to Handle Stressed Out Mothers

02/26/2012 at 11:00 AM ET
Courtesy Atheneum Books

While pregnant with her second child, and simultaneously raising an 18-month-old, Doreen Cronin managed to find the perfect encapsulation of how she was feeling in an unorthodox place.

“I was just playing around on the computer and I came across the instructions on what to do if you run into a bear in the wild,” she tells PEOPLE. “I read the instructions and I thought, ‘You know what? This is so similar to what anyone should not do with me right now.'”

Getting a laugh from the list, which included such tips as “do not make eye contact” and “back away slowly to prove you’re not a threat,” Cronin was inspired to create her own guide for those dealing with sometimes stressed-out matriarchs, M.O.M (Mom Operating Manual).

“People need to know how to take care of their mothers,” she says. “Husbands and children need to know we’re all running on very little sleep, very little food and a shortage of time, patience and cooperation, so here’s how you can all make this go much more smoothly.”

From giving moms some peace and quiet to feeding them the crusts of peanut butter sandwiches, Cronin’s book offers tongue-in-cheek advice on how to handle a “malfunctioning mom,” which has helped it find an audience among fellow mothers who recognize their own behavior between its pages.

“I’ve heard a lot of moms get the book, then give it to their sister, mother, their friends, because they can relate to it. I think it’s a good opportunity to kind of laugh at yourself or let your kids laugh at you too,” she says, adding that older kids, like her own 5 and 7-year-olds, best understand the humor.

“The ‘Malfunctioning Mom’ page, I know so many kids who say, ‘I know when my mom looks like that,'” Cronin says. “It’s also comforting for kids to know that everybody’s mom yells sometimes, everybody’s mom has rough moments, and we all recover pretty quickly, but we do have those moments.”

Kiran Hefa

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Showing 8 comments

Mina on

So if a mom is so busy and stressed, how is she going to find time to read a book? If she is so sleep deprived or hungry, use the time that reading this book would take to sleep or eat. Complain, complain, complain…dont have kids if you cant handle it….NOBODY ever said it was easy, in fact the total opposite, you hear how hard it is. Having 2 makes for 2 jobs instead of 1, yet people just keep poppin them out, then whine at how tired or stressed they are. We need to be thankful for the luxuries we have today! 200 years ago a woman didnt have a washing machine…she did it by hand while taking care of on average around 6 kids!

Kat on

Get a sense of humor Mina. 200 years ago you might be washing by hand, but you also didn’t have a cell phone ringing non-stop and lessons/practice every waking hour of your children’s lives. A different time, but the same stress. So people use humor to keep it sane – try it some time. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less.

seriously people on


come on here, lets remember something we all should have been told in Kindergarten.. if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all..

Dont be so busy tearing other people down… how about CONGRATULATIONS.. Doreen.. You took a moment of total frustration and made it into something positive… something that might even make someone else somewhere laugh when they too needed a laugh..

On the flip side, Kat, Mina may have a sense of humor, but maybe she is having a bad day, Maybe for whatever reason she is unhappy in her own life. Perhaps she is missing the smallest shred of self worth so she feels the need to bully anyone doing something positive with theirs?

I dont know why everytime this ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE posts something about moms, children, breast feeding, stress anything related to being a mom, it becomes a launch pad for nastiness.. Shouldnt women be supporting eachother…


megan on

“but you also didn’t have a cell phone ringing non-stop”
“and lessons/practice every waking hour of your children’s lives”

Oh no, not a ringing cellphone! How awful and difficult! That’s right up there with having to plow a field!

If your kid has that many lessons / practices to attend, that’s your own fault for letting them sign up for that many.

Kat on

It is horrendous that you might encourage your children’s talents/interests, or have responsibilities outside yourself. It would be so much better if the kids just put in some free labor around the farm.

I was up with a teething toddler all night and am managing to live my life without snark, seems like the only whining is coming from those who are complaining about whining mothers.

JM on

to seriouslypeople, this:
‘come on here, lets remember something we all should have been told in Kindergarten.. if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all..’

is absolutely one of my pet hates. it is just so wrong and self-contradicting. it sounds like a mindless mantra from some orwellian novel and i always question whether people who say it actually stop and think before they say it or whether it’s just something they’ve been told to say and thus repeat it.

now, jorja was not being hateful or inciting hatred or violence, so i think anyone can agree she is firmly in the parametres of freedom of speech. that being said, when you say stuff like that, do you not wonder at the contradiction when you then go on to criticise someone for stating their opinion? well, if you don’t have anything nice to say (about the thing someone said that you thought wasn’t nice) shouldn’t you refrain from saying it in the first place?

you see what i mean about the pointlessness of this statement?

i’ve mentioned freedom of speech, but if THIS is really what you think we should be teaching children in kindergarten then i would not be sending my kids to that kindergarten. ‘kids, if someone is saying something you don’t agree with, for heaven’s sake don’t ever speak up. that’s not nice, so we shouldn’t say it’.

of course i KNOW what you actually mean. you mean something like: be polite, respectful, treat others as you would wish to be treated. all those things: great! but please please please stop spreading that empty mantra that basically amounts to all of us walking around sounding like air-headed barbies with no opinions of our own and no sense of what freedom of speech actually means. (we all end up sounding like miss universe candidates: ‘i wish for world peace and love and happiness and rainbows for the children’)

a better philosphy?

‘i may not agree with what you say, but i will defend to my death your right to say it.’

Kat on

If you think that moms 200 years ago weren’t complaining about the kids and how stressful life was – take a visit to your local historical archive and read old letters. Today someone writes a book or a blog, then they wrote an letter or an article in a magazine. Same tune, different century. The way people have dealt with stress for eons was to commiserate.

MiB on

Come on! I could definitely have needed that when I was working in kindergarten, a good laugh is a great stress reliever! So is a short break, as long as you remember to take it!

(Oh, and by the way, there is actually scientific evidence that the stress levels have increased with the rise of the cell phone and e-mail)