Between managing households, chores and making sure everyone's needs are met, being a mom is pretty hard work.
When you are "mom" to a house full of college-aged girls, things can get a little more interesting.
Sorority house moms — or housing directors — are property managers with a twist. They act as the chaperone and supervisor of a house of sorority girls, maintain the home and act as a mentor to those living in the house.
But for Emporia State University sorority house moms Bert Woodruff and Caroline Wade, it's a job that can be as rewarding as it is challenging.
Woodruff, who serves as the house mom for the Chi Omega Sorority, said she first took the job last year because she heard the girls needed some stability.
"They were kind of desperate this year because their last house mom didn't decide she wasn't coming back until almost the beginning of the school year," she said. "They needed somebody fast and I said, 'Yeah, OK. I'll do it.' So, I basically make sure everybody is in line."
Woodruff said she did not have a lot of sorority experience beforehand. She never had an interest to join one when she was in college, but she had friends who were involved.
"I think from when I was in school to now, I think the clientele has changed a little bit," she said with a laugh. "It used to be all 'girly girly' but I don't think they are like that anymore. That's probably better for me that way."
As the house mom, Woodruff makes sure residents are following house rules. Chi Omega is a "dry" house, meaning no alcohol is allowed, and boys are only permitted to visit the first floor. She also makes sure the girls clean up after themselves and makes sure the house is running smoothly. She also turns off a lot of lights that have been left on.
"We have cooks so I don't have to worry about that, but we sometimes make snacks — cookies and stuff — and watch movies," Woodruff said.
Now into her second semester in the house, Woodruff said it didn't take long for her to establish herself as a friendly face with 42 residents of the house.
"It's been very rewarding to be around the young people and get to know them and their interests," she said. "They have even helped me learn how to use a computer better."
And the girls enjoy having her there.
"It's really nice having an older person living in the house to help take care of things," Chi Omega President Katie Born said. "If there's something that's going wrong in the house, we have somebody we can go to. She's always there to help us out."
Born, a junior elementary education major, said Woodruff has helped her bake cookies and other treats for her students. Woodruff is also around when other people can't make it to the house, which helps keep everything under control.
"She's just really awesome," she said. "She just gives us guidance."
Woodruff said she enjoys being able to be a supportive figure for the girls who aren't able to get back home very often.
"We kind of hang out on the weekends a lot, talking and stuff," she said. "I think it probably helps if they can't go home as much. Even boyfriend talks, I've even had that."
Cora Kimble, a sophomore rehabilitation services major, said she enjoys being able to talk sports with Woodruff. Woodruff has even been known to attend ESU games to support the Chi Omega athletes.
"She comes to our intramural games and cheers for us," Kimble said. "She also does challenges for us around the house and hides eggs and things and when we find them we get candy."
As she approaches the end of her first school year at the house, Woodruff said she's excited to see what the future holds in the coming years.
"I'm going to keep doing this for as long as I can walk up the stairs," she said. "It's been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to doing it again."
^Sigma Sigma Sigma
Wade came on as the Sigma Sigma Sigma house mom last year after learning about the job during her move from California.
"I thought it sounded like it would be an interesting job that would put me in touch with people in the community," she said. "Since I was moving from so far away and I thought it would give me people that I would know, instead of moving to a new town and not knowing anybody. I honestly didn't even know a job like this existed."
Like Woodruff, Wade has a lot of responsibility. She sanitizes and organizes dishes in the kitchen and purchases and orders all of the paper goods and cleaning supplies needed in the house.
"I walk around at night at make sure lights are off and nothing's going wrong in the house itself," she said. "If things happen and something breaks I get in touch with maintenance or the housing corporation. We don't want to be surprised by a flood or a toilet overflowing or something like that."
Wade is a little younger than your average house mom, and is also studying counseling at ESU. That helps her relate a little bit more to the Tri Sigma girls, she said.
"Most house moms are older and maybe a little more 'motherly,' I guess," she said. "I would say I'm more like an older sister or a cool aunt than like a mom."
She was told that the sorority's previous house mom was very strict and rigid about the house rules, even keeping certain cabinets and even the refrigerator locked up. Wade said she didn't want to treat the girls like they couldn't be trusted.
"I want to treat the girls like they are adults," she said. "Things were locked up and I got here and I said, 'Do your parents lock things up? Do they lock up cabinets and rooms?' and they said no. I said, 'Well, this your house. As long as there's no problems, there shouldn't be a need for that.' I think just treating them like adults has been helpful."
Wade said she has enjoyed getting to know the girls over the course of the school year. She's there when they need someone to talk to, need advice, or even just need a hug.
And the girls like having her there, too.
"She has a big presence in the house as far as getting to know all of the girls and helping all of the girls out when they need it," Baylie Duryea, a junior nursing major, said. "She's here for all of us and she's really that 'mother figure' for us when we're not at our own homes."
Duryea said she was impressed with Wade early on because she took the time to get to know the girls in the house, asking them about their studies, their interests and things like that.
"With Caroline, I know more about her than I ever did about my last house mom," she said. "I really appreciate that, because having someone that I can look up to and talk to about things is really nice."
Emily Henderson, a senior rehabilitation services major, said Wade puts her all into the house.
"Anything you ask her to do, she goes above and beyond," Henderson said. "From being able to talk about things that are going on my life, or things that are going wrong in my room, she just listens and she does it. She's so personable with us. If I walk into breakfast and I'm like, 'Oh, I have this big test. I'm so stressed out.' Later she'll ask me how my test went. She's been really helpful and really genuine about the care she gives to us."
"It gives them some help in that 'in between,'" she said. "You still don't have the full responsibilities but it kind of gives them some independence because they are not living with mom and dad. There's rules here, there's etiquette and expectations, and I respect them and they respect me. It's a nice way for them to have that in between."
Girls from both sororities said they were positive their houses would not function nearly as smoothly without their house moms.
"Our electric bill would be a lot higher," Born said of the Chi Omega house.
"I don't think it would run at all," Duryea said of Tri Sigma.