Weekdays can tend to blend together as you navigate through a hectic work schedule, while trying to keep up with your family and take care of yourself on the daily basis. This process gets to be, as you well know, stressful. During the course of the week, you certainly don’t have all that much free time, but if and when you do, a funny movie that you can relate to provides a great escape, and a big laugh. A get-together movie night with other working mom friends is also a good idea, where everyone can share in the relatable fun.
There was a time when the challenges of being a working mom were barely, if at all, represented in media, especially on the silver screen. While such portrayals have increased, it’s still worth mentioning seven of the gems available to kick back and enjoy when you actually grab some time to yourself.
1. Baby Boom (1987)
Often viewed as the working mom comedy that laid the foundation for those to follow, Baby Boom features Diane Keaton as J.C. Wiatt, a career-minded management consultant whose ambitions are disrupted when she inherits a baby from a distant relative. The now-single mother must learn to make tough decisions on how she wants to live her life, and the film really was groundbreaking in terms of chronicling the bind that modern women find themselves in. Keaton is hilarious in this flick; she is both self-possessed and goofy, but also strong and sensitive.
2. I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011)
“I don’t know how she does it” is the astonished statement of wide-eyed admirers and envious detractors of Kate Reddy, a woman in her 30s (portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker) who is juggling two lovable kids, marriage to a successful architect, and a high-paid job as an investment adviser. Based on a best-selling novel by Allison Pearson, the film is highlighted by Parker’s comedic performance, as the character of Kate manages to retain her essence: this is a woman who loves her job and her family, and is just trying to juggle the two.
3. Mr. Mom (1983)
This John Hughes-penned film turned the tables. Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his engineering job at the Ford Motor Company. His wife Caroline (Terri Garr), who has been a housewife for years, puts her college degree and prior experience to use by reentering the workforce in the advertising industry. The family, which includes three children, must adjust to life with a stay-at-home dad, and Jack has to deal with these new responsibilities. While Jack’s antics create laughs, Caroline faces her own set of challenges at her job, with her maternal instincts jeopardizing her position as an executive. She also has to contend with Jack becoming jealous of her working situation. What makes this film especially poignant is that both parents are struggling to maintain their identities in the face of parenthood and career.
4. Parenthood (1989)
With an ensemble cast including Steve Martin, Joaquin Phoenix, Mary Steenburgen, and Keanu Reeves, Parenthood blends multiple stories of families contending with complicated situations while balancing work and daily life. One storyline of particular interest: Dianne Wiest plays Helen Buckman, whose dentist ex-husband has remarried, abandoning her and their two teenage children. She is doing everything she can to support them with a secure life at home, but they stray off the path she has envisioned for their futures. The touching nature of this film has prompted two television shows by the same name.
5. Erin Brockovich (2000)
With three kids to feed and bills to pay, brassy single mom Erin Brockovich argues her way into a job as a file clerk and then stumbles upon a case that pits a small community against a corporation that might be poisoning their water supply. Even though it means more time away from home, she refuses to let go of the investigation, even bringing along her kids on runs to retrieve water samples. Julia Roberts won an Academy Award for her starring role.
6. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Miranda Hillard (Sally Field) is at the tail end of a marriage in which she was the primary breadwinner. The divorce is bitter but she’s not a battered woman. She embraces divorce as opportunity and keeps ahead of the game at all times. Miranda hires a nanny to care for her three children, who she believes to be Euphegenia Doubtfire, but is actually her ex-husband Daniel (Robin Williams) in disguise. Miranda had been granted full custody of their kids, and this is Daniel’s way to remain in their lives. A lot of comical moments ensue, but at the heart of the movie is balancing life’s ups and downs, and how throughout, parents’ involvement in their kids’ lives makes all the difference.
7. 9 to 5 (1980)
This comedy stars Jane Fonda (Judy), Dolly Parton (Doralee), and Lily Tomlin (Violet) as three working women dealing with a chauvinistic boss, played by Dabney Coleman. Two of the three women, Judy and Violet, are moms, and Judy has just reentered the workforce after a tough divorce. Featuring other emerging issues of the time including daycare, staggered work hours, equal pay, and merit promotion, 9 to 5’s fantasy turn lightens up the struggles these women are facing with unabashed humor.
So, if by luck, you’ve actually found a bit of time to yourself, catch one of these films for some comic relief about balancing it all – work, family, and whatever else the past week may have brought your way. A laugh, after all, is a great remedy for a particularly stressful day.