PSA: Don’t do these things to a mom with young kids, just don’t.
1. Show up without notice.
Instead, try texting her first and include this sentence: “I am bringing you coffee.”
2. Wake her napping kids.
Who knows how long it took her to get those kids down for a nap, or how many tantrums and tears were shed before they lay peacefully asleep. Now that they are settled, Mom can sit with her feet up (or more likely she will begin to conquer the pile of laundry or dishes). The house is finally quiet. If you cut that short, not only will you be interrupting a mother’s quiet time, but you will be causing her kids to wake up without the adequate sleep they need. She now has tired, cranky kids on her hands and she is impatient and cranky herself because she didn’t get her much needed alone time. Why do you hate her?
3. Cancel when you said you would babysit.
Mothers love their kids like crazy, but when they have some kid-free time coming up, they can’t wait. Whether you were going to babysit for an hour or an entire day, chances are she was really looking forward to the break, even if it was only so she could go to the dentist or have a pap smear.
4. Drink all of her coffee.
A mom needs her coffee like a fish needs water. Maybe I should rephrase that: If you drink all of her coffee, you will be like a fish without water—dead.
5. Ask her what she does all day when she is home with the kids.
Allow me to let you in on a little something: She doesn’t have enough time to even explain to you what she does all day. Instead, tell her she is a great mom. Trust me—she doesn’t hear it enough.
6. Refer to her maternity leave as vacation.
Let’s go over how a mother spends this “vacation,” shall we? She is recovering from giving birth (possibly major surgery) and adjusting to life with a new baby who cries a lot and doesn’t let her sleep more than an hour or two at a time. She is learning how to breastfeed, waking up drenched in sweat or breast milk, losing her hair, losing her mind, reaching a new level of exhaustion she has never experienced before and crying hysterically for no reason. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? Instead, offer to bring her a meal or play with her older kids so she can nap with her baby. Recognize she is going through a wonderful but difficult transition.
7. Call and tell her you will be home late.
Remember when you were in high school and you would sit and stare at the clock waiting for the bell to ring? The closer it got to the end of the day, the slower time would go. Well, imagine if the principal came over the intercom and said that the bell was going to be postponed for an undetermined amount of time. Now, remember that feeling, and add trying to cook dinner while nursing a baby and pacifying a whiny toddler who keeps trying to get into the knife drawer. Your husband finally calls, you jump over a pile of Legos and run to answer the phone while thinking, Thank God he is on his way home. I hope he is calling to ask me if I want a coffee or wine.
He instead tells you that he has to stay at work late and doesn’t know when he will be home. Of course, you appreciate his hard work and know he would come home if he could, but it’s still OK to cry a little…and order pizza.
8. Imply that her life is over now that she has kids.
Having children brings another level of joy, love and accomplishment that can’t be put into words. Her family is her whole world. Her life has simply changed, and it is a change for the better, even if she does miss sleeping in and going on actual vacations.
She just wants to be a good mom and keep her sanity, so please don’t make it harder on her. If you want to earn some big points, bring her a coffee and tell her that what she is doing is important and that she is doing a great job. It will make her day. Just remember to let her know you’re coming first!