Honesty, sometimes I wish people would just keep their well meaning but ultimately unhelpful “advice” to themselves. I’ve heard a lot of useless advice from people over the years, but never as much as I’ve heard about motherhood. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Sleep when baby sleeps.
Okay, Susan. Should I also wash the dishes while baby washes the dishes? Shower while baby showers? Like, yes fine, in an ideal world I would be able to nap when my baby is napping, but then when am I supposed to do the gazillion other things that need done?
2. Little kids, little problems.
Nothing boils my blood like moms of older kids who invalidate moms of babies and toddlers because their problems are “little” compared to those that will come later. Listen, no problem feels little when you’re walking through it. And even if it continues to be hard when they get bigger, or even if it’s harder at that time, that doesn’t make these very real, very present problems feel any smaller.
3. Enjoy these times. You’re going to miss them.
I agree; I will miss my kids being little. I know that one day I will reach out for them and not feel their soft, dimply skin under my hand. One day their sweet, nasally voices won’t fill our home. But there are also many things that I won’t miss about this age, and I refuse to enjoy the sucky parts right now. Can we please just let moms acknowledge that some stuff sucks?
4. Back in my day we didn’t have all these “safety” precautions and my kids turned out just fine.
Mmmmmkay but like, maybe progress is a good thing? I’m not putting my kid in the front seat just because gramma used to let me ride in the front when I was four years old. I’m not using bumpers in the crib just because that used to be the norm. Civilization is always learning and adapting. It’s weird to me when people don’t think moms should keep up with what the rest of the world in learning.
5. Don’t pick the baby up too much or they’ll get spoiled.
I am reluctant to put this one here because I recognize that a lot of people give this advice to help moms let go of the guilt-driven habit of always holding the baby. And frankly I think that’s valid. Moms deserve breaks too, and babies are resilient. They will survive being put down in the crib for a minute to cry if mom needs a break. That said, babies cannot be spoiled. Babies need their parents, and caring for their needs is not going to spoil them.
I understand that all of these examples are usually meant with good intent (although you can never be quite sure that there’s not a bit of passive aggressiveness in there as well). However, I think that a more useful way to help moms is to actually do something for them. You know a new mom who isn’t getting enough sleep? Offer to come over and watch the baby while she naps. Think she’s not getting enough chances to make memories with her little kids because she’s got too many other responsibilities? Ask to come over and do some household chores for her while she spends time with the kids. These are things that actually bring relief. And that’s what moms really need.