04/05/2012 03:23 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2012

The Smart Mama, Smart Money Survival Rules

• We will call what we're doing work. Even if the world doesn't acknowledge it, we will: Motherhood is the hardest work in the world. It's physically demanding, psychologically strenuous, spiritually complex, and unpaying.

• We will cry when we need to.

• We will laugh maniacally when we need to.

• We will complain when we need to. We are allowed to b*tch. We'll never forget the healing power of a good old-fashioned rant.

• We will boast unapologetically. Yes, our child is the cutest, smartest, most hilarious, most cuddly on the block.

• While our kids are the cutest, smartest, most delightful creatures ever planted on this earth, we will not turn them into our status symbols of success.

• We will not forget to play. With our kids and by ourselves.

• We will not spend money haphazardly, or on useless status objects, or on stuff we think we "should" have.

• We will ask for help when we need it.

• We will share with other moms by taking delight in their children and by offering a helping hand when they need it.

• We will yell when we need to and feel guilty later.

• We will do our best to educate ourselves, to read valuable books, to attend parenting classes and lectures, to listen to those "experts" we admire -- but we will also trust our instincts.

• We will avoid the polarizing black-and-white thinking that pervades the media. We know people raise children in different ways.

• We will forgive ourselves when we make mistakes.

• We will share our triumphs, fears, and hopes with other parents.

• We will teach our children to accept everyone for who they are and to rejoice in the differences in the people around them.

• We will not forget the important role that fathers play, or deny fathers their own wisdom or their own experience (despite our threats to call child welfare because of their incessant need to toss the kid over their heads).

• We will be strong, smart role models -- in our successes and in our failures.

• We will find places of sanity and sanctuary in our own backyard, the library, the nature preserve, and, on occasion, the mall.

• We will not forget who we are.

• We will be honest with ourselves about who our children are.

• We will let our children see us as human beings.

• We will remember that we are not our children. We will let them live their own lives without too much meddling.

• We will learn from our children. Their innocence, naïveté, and carefree outlook are inspiring.

• We will remember to find joy in each day no matter what the challenges are ahead of us. (And just in case we can't find the joy -- no matter how hard we try -- we will keep a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc chilled and ready in the fridge.)

From the book Smart Mama, Smart Money: Raising Happy Healthy Kids Without Breaking the Bank (NAL/Penguin, March 12)