I thought it was about time I continued my little series on ways people have been unhelpful during various parts of my pregnancy and parenting experience so far. Everyone and their cat loves a newborn, almost as much as they love making suggestions and comments on how you should be parenting/coping so far, so Part 2 is going to be all about ways to NOT be helpful to new parents.
1) Use the phrase ‘sleep while they sleep’.
We’ve all heard this at least 10000 times. It’s a favourite amongst extended family, midwives, health visitors and strangers alike. To begin with you think ‘yeah that’s reasonable’, but after about week 2 you realise, this suggestion is useless. If I sleep when the baby sleeps then when will I wash, eat, maintain the already questionable standards of cleanliness of my house, be a human etc. etc. The list is endless!
2) Guess the newborn’s gender.
If it isn’t obvious and you don’t know, DO NOT GUESS. It is possible to speak without using gender specific pronouns – remember that. If you’re wrong the poor parent you’re speaking to is going to be wounded, to them their baby is the most beautiful thing in the world and they will not understand if you think they are the opposite gender, however genuine their correction may seem.
3) Laugh when I say I haven’t slept in a month.
Whether you’re laughing it off because I look like I’m about to cry or you think I’m joking, this is not a helpful response. After a month of no sleep I can barely remember what laughing is like, never mind understand that you might be using it to comfort me. If you want to comfort me offer to babysit while I pass out.
4) Say things like ‘it’ll fly by’ ‘just you wait’ etc.
When G was tiny I think I heard these phrases or something similar at least 20 times a day, if not more. At the time I’d smile and think nothing of it, but looking back I refuse to ever let these phrases enter my small talk repertoire. The most unhelpful thing about these comments are that they’re true, just don’t remind me!
5) Tell me your Grandson/niece’s/neighbours daughter’s sleep routine.
It will undoubtedly be better. It always is. Don’t make my sleep-deprived mind question my parenting skills any more than it always is, I appreciate that whatever baby you’re talking to is a Superbaby that sleeps 12 hours a day and feeds only when it’s convenient for it’s parents but if you could just keep that to yourself it would be great.
Have you ever experienced any of these unhelpful suggestions/comments? Do you have any you would add to the list? Shout out to all your Mamas of newborns out there – you’re doing great!