If you’re a mom, then you’ve probably been in a situation where a family member, friend or a random stranger [who, for some reason, thinks they have a right to tell you how to live your life] says something about or advises you on being pregnant or being a mother. It can be awkward, annoying and infuriating. Most of the time us moms like to figure things out ourselves, or seek advice from someone WE choose, not hear something that is unsolicited and unwelcome. If our child is about to hurt themselves or run out into a busy street that’s one thing, but way too often other people like to talk to new moms about their experience as a mom, or how to do something better, or how it was 50 years ago when their kids played with a stick and hoop instead of an iPad, and it can be super frustrating as a new mom. [Or a seasoned one!]
So if you have a new mom in your family, friend group, neighborhood or anywhere in your world [therefore, everyone out there] I have some of my own unsolicited pieces of advice for how to interact with new moms.
- Don’t start ANY sentence with “well my baby…” if what follows is that your baby was/is a better sleeper, better eater, or less fussy. Us moms have a hard enough not comparing ourselves and our babies to every single other mom and baby, we don’t need you to tell us yours was different or “better.”
- Don’t tell a new mom to enjoy every moment- sometimes when you’ve had no sleep, shower, or food that doesn’t “cook” in the microwave for days, there is just no way to enjoy it. She’ll enjoy it when she has the sanity to do so, and sometimes those moments come in the midst of the sleepless, showerless, hunger-filled days, and sometimes they don’t.
- If possible, don’t bring your kids when you go to meet the baby. [Especially if it’s the winter!] New moms are usually germaphobes, and that’s ok! They’re probably worried enough about your germs, let alone adding your kid’s germs into the mix. [Exception: if you’re family or if new mom invited you to bring your kids without you asking.] Second-time moms probably won’t care if you bring your kids since they have other kids bringing germs in the house anyway.
- Don’t stay longer than 30 minutes unless you clean something, cook something, fold laundry, or are able to hold the baby so mom can sleep, eat, shower or a combination.
- Don’t show up dressed to the 9’s. [Side note: that phrase seems weird when written out…] If possible, first go home and put on sweat/yoga pants, a t-shirt, take off your makeup and maybe even rub a little grease in your hair. Mom doesn’t need reminding that she looks like the swamp thing. [Plus, that way if baby spits up on you, your nice clothes aren’t ruined! Win-win.]
- DO bring a meal. DON’T bring a meal that needs to be prepped or cooked. Bring it hot and ready to eat, and don’t forget dessert. [Preferably something with chocolate!] Bonus points: bring the meal in a disposable aluminum pan- purchased anywhere. No cleanup or having to get your pan back to you.
- Don’t offer any unsolicited advice to new moms unless asked a direct question, and even so, try to stay away from telling her what to do. Instead say what worked for you and your child(ren), reminding her that not all babies respond/behave the same. And if you feel that you NEED to offer unsolicited advice, make sure it’s done in a loving, gracious manner. Like I said earlier, new moms need to be given the ability to figure things out on their own, and choose for themselves from whom to seek advice.
- This SHOULD be a no-brainer, but don’t WHAT SO EVER mention mom’s weight [or the fact that she still looks pregnant months later…] unless it’s to say, “you look so fab!” or something along those lines. And even so, she probably won’t believe you.
- Don’t say a SINGLE word about your personal level of exhaustion. Unless you’ve had a baby who is younger than the new mom you’re talking to, she will ALWAYS win in the exhaustion competition. Even if you just ran a marathon, underwent major surgery, or didn’t get any sleep the night before because you’re house training your new puppy, DON’T SAY YOU’RE TIRED. She’d still beat you. And then she might find some unknown source of energy deep inside and actually beat you. [Which reminds me, 9b: don’t EVER EVER EVER compare what a new mom is going through with your new puppy. A baby is not a dog…you did not BIRTH your dog, your dog is not sucking on a very sensitive part of your body every 2 hours, and you can put your dog in a crate and LEAVE THE HOUSE ALONE. So just don’t even go there.]
- Don’t forget to ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE. New moms have no idea what they’re doing, [don’t forget- you were there not too long ago!] and they need to be reminded over and over and over that they’re doing a great job, that this is just a season, and that they WILL sleep again before their kid leaves for college.
So in conclusion, it all comes back to the golden rule: treat new moms how you’d want to be treated as a new mom. Encourage, listen [while keeping your mouth shut] and provide lots of chocolate.