The Mom Voice: On the Playground — and at the Office?

Today’s topic: the mom voice. Do you think you have a “mom voice”? Have you heard your friends’ mom voices — and did it bring you comfort or freak you out? Have you ever noticed your mom voice encroaching at the office — and was it welcome or unwelcome? 

A few weeks ago, an old friend who lives in a different city posted a video on Facebook of her three-year-old son. She was off-camera, with her little boy front and center, and my friend K was at first encouraging him, then scolding him when he started making a mess.

It was a cute video, but what I loved most surprised me: It was her MOM voice. It’s that distinct voice that we all found once we became parents to an unruly toddler — equal parts educator, disciplinarian, cheerleader, and perhaps world-weary battle warrior. It’s something I’ve often recognized in my own home videos (“GAH, is that what I really sound like? What a nag…”), but it was kind of AWESOME to hear my friend’s mom voice. I’m not sure if it was because I was so happy to hear it in someone else — a kind of validation, like, “Look, another previously cool chick has turned into a MOM!” — or if it was because we haven’t kept in touch and her voice tells me a lot about where she is in life, which I suspect is the same place I am. Like if we were to meet up on a playground or coffee shop we’d instantly fall back into that happy old rhythm of friends.

What was really interesting was how, after she posted the video, a LOT of people commented on how nice it was to hear her mom voice. So I’m not just a weirdo! (Nah, I totally am.)

So here are the questions, ladies: Do YOU have a mom voice that you recognize? (Did it start after you grew out of the POOPCUP stage of parenting?) Have you heard your friends’ mom voices — and did it bring you comfort, solidarity, or something else? (Have you found your mom voice encroaching at the office? I’ve definitely noticed that I’m less willing to take any BS these days in any circumstance, but I’d attribute that more to being a grownup and less to a mom — but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.)

Pictured: Pixabay.

the mom voice - on the playground and at the office?


  1. Betsy says:

    I taught middle school and high school for 14 years before I had my first at 40. I don’t have a “Mom voice” but I have a “teacher voice” for sure but I have been using it for years. My children call it “being the boss” voice and I can totally live with that.

  2. avocado says:

    I have two “mom” voices–the singsongy sunshiney encouraging voice I used when the kid was little, and the stern “FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME LASTNAME get over here now!” voice. I use an entirely different authoritative voice at work.

    • Same here. I have one in the singsong mom voice phase, and one in the stern mom voice phase. I often flip in between the two within the same sentence.

      “FIRSTBORN I SAID DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER hi sweetie can you say mama? mama? THAT’S IT WE DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER TIME OUT i love you too honey but you cannot hit your brother. we use gentle hands. DOGNAME STOP LICKING THE BABY.”

      • Anon in NOVA says:

        haha exactly! there’s the “Wow, you drew a dog today? how neat!” voice and the “PUT.THAT.DOWN.AND.GET.IN.THE.SHOWER.NOW!” voice

  3. Unrelated, but this reminds me of the old Bill Cosby bit where he says that when he was little he thought his name was J*sus Chr*st and his brother’s name was G*dd*mnit, as in “J*sus Chr*st, get over here!!!”. I know the guy is a terrible person, but his jokes about parenting were so, so funny.

  4. EB0220 says:

    I try really hard not to have a “mom voice”. I figure my kids are little people and I should talk to them like people. Also, my children are often at my office (lunch, breakfast, doctor, daycare and events) and I wouldn’t want my co-workers to hear me speaking like that.

    • I was you. Click on the POOPCUP article. Your mom voice will come, even if 95% of the time you still speak to them like little people.

    • Anonymama says:

      I actually think it’s necessary for safety reasons to have a certain mom voice that cuts through their distraction and immediately gets their attention… the “this is important you must listen immediately” tone for danger or impending doom of various levels. I don’t think it precludes talking to your child like an actual person at all.

  5. Anon in NOVA says:

    I’ve been accused of using mom voice before. I’m a bit young to have an elementary-schooler (woops) and I don’t keep a lot of family photos in my office, so people often *know* I’m a mom but seem weirded out when actual evidence (like my real-life child) appears. Occasionally, when a coworker is testing my patience, my “OK you need to calm down now and I’m really trying to sound calm and not screechy” voice comes out. I’ve been called on it before, but they usually think it’s funny and it breaks the tension.

  6. Angry Illama says:

    My 2.5 year old has recently started hitting and spitting. The spitting started out as blowing rasberries when he was frustrated and has evolved into actual spitting. Yesterday he was at a play place and apparently started hitting some bigger kids, my 4.5 year old grabbed him so he couldn’t hit anyone and to protect him from being hit back. When the nanny reprimanded him and went to move him to time-out, he started hitting and spitting at her. We’ve been putting him in time-out when he hits and spits, we tell him hands are not for hitting, no hitting no spitting, but he persists. I am at a loss for what to do. For what its worth, I do not believe he acts like this in nursery school (since I haven’t gotten any calls or emails from the school), only when he is home with us and the nanny.

  7. Anonononon says:

    Not in the office, but my SO and friends have gotten it, particularly when they are overstepping and need to stop what they are doing. Right. Now.

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