Being a work-at-home mom can definitely seem like a thankless pursuit at times, on both the personal and professional fronts. Aside from that, you can face difficulties when it comes to separating your work and home spheres, finding the motivation and energy to get everything done, and dealing with the solitude that inevitably accompanies working in your home space instead of in an office where you can interact with other adults. So if you’re feeling a little low and wondering how to get out of your funk, here are just a few inspirational movies to watch on your own or with some girlfriends.

  1. The Color Purple (1985). This inspiring book-turned-movie holds up even 25+ years after its initial debut on the silver screen. The story plumbs the depths of human character, including both cruelty and kindness. And the result is the tale of an African-American woman, Celie (Whoopi Goldberg in a standout performance), who suffers physical and emotional torment at the hands of the men in her life and yet, somehow manages to find love and realize her own self-worth. If you’re looking for cinematic inspiration when it comes to overcoming hardship and coming out the other end whole and complete, this is one movie that no woman should miss.
  2. Erin Brokovich (2000). When it comes to hardworking moms trying to make a difference in the world while holding together a family and making ends meet at home, this story of a legal assistant who goes after big business delivers in spades. Untrained Erin (Julia Roberts) is desperate for a job, but she gets more than she bargained for when she discovers that California water company PG&E has knowingly allowed customers to ingest hexavalent chromium (read: poison) in their water supply. Based on a true story, this film will have you rooting for the outspoken heroine who risks it all to do what’s right.
  3. Waitress (2007). This story of a pie-making mom-to-be (played by a charming Keri Russell) looks at what one woman can manage even when beset by poverty, abuse, and a hopeless situation. Although she strikes up an ill-fated love affair with her obstetrician (hunky Nathan Fillion), she eventually realizes that she doesn’t need a man to save her from her lot in life. When she learns to stand up for herself she finds that life holds a joy she never imagined possible.
  4. Legally Blonde (2001). Reese Witherspoon plays the adorably ditzy blonde, Elle, in this comedy. But despite the lighter fare, there’s inspiration to be had from this entertaining romp that takes the titular blonde from a fashion merchandising degree in sunny SoCal to the cooler climes (and positively chilly professors) of Harvard Law. True, she’s hoping her “serious” turn will help her land the guy who got away. But what she discovers instead is that she’s smart, motivated, and hardworking, a revelation that turns out to be even better than getting the guy.
  5. The Women (1939). Who says you need a man to make life worthwhile? This story may be driven by a plot that centers on a philandering husband, but it nonetheless revolves around the life of the woman who kicks him to the curb and the female friends who surround her in her time of need. With a daughter to raise and a life that has lost focus, main character Mary picks herself up and learns she has a reserve of strength previously unsuspected. With plenty of old movies getting DVD releases (thanks to duplication services like you can enjoy the original starring Norma Shearer in the lead, Rosalind Russell as her meddlesome best friend, and a catty Joan Crawford as the husband-stealing harlot. But if you need a double dose of women, you might check out the 2008 remake with Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, and Eva Mendes. Either way, you’ll enjoy the story of a woman who learns to stand on her own two feet and value herself, with or without a man.

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