Forgive her “first-time mumness”
So she’s packed half the wardrobe for a two-hour play date. So she’s sanitising everything her child touches. So she’s hovering over her child and jumping at every near miss or dropped lip. So what?
When you were a brand new mum you worried and stressed and hovered too. You wanted to be on top of it all. Remember? Don’t roll your eyes and make her feel like she’s being an idiot. She knows she’s being OTT, but it helps her feel in control. Just smile and tell her how scary you found it when your little ones were learning to walk. Because it was … remember?
Let her figure it out
You know what’s likely to cause homicidal rage in a first-time mum? The phrase “Trust me, I’ve raised X amount of kids ..” (subtext “and you clearly need my help because you’re doing it all wrong”) as you hover and wince and barely stop yourself grabbing the baby out of her arms.
Congratulations, we’re all so happy for you and your X amount of children. But you haven’t raised this woman’s child. Condescension isn’t going to give her the confidence to figure it out.
Please note: the intensity of her homicidal rage will be directly proportional to the age of your children. If your kids don’t live at home anymore, please forgive this new mum for laughing off your friendly suggestion that she dip her baby’s dummy in brandy to help him sleep. Things have changed.
Don’t ‘one-up’ her stories
When she’s telling you how her baby woke five times overnight, don’t scoff and tell her that’s nothing because your two used to tag-team all night long and you averaged four minutes sleep because when you’re a mother of two you never get a break.
Keep your eyeballs front and centre, keep your eyebrows where they are and tell her you understand. Tell her you know how hard it is and you totally understand her desire to head-butt the wall.
Don’t dismiss her worries by saying it “will get better”. She knows it will. But she doesn’t care about 12 months from now, she only cares about today. And today it sucks. Remember that?
Don’t tell her you’ve got it worse
When she’s crying because her baby is sick and there’s snot everywhere, don’t tell her your three kids have gastro so she’s “getting no sympathy” from you.
Spread the sympathy around. She might only have one child, but it doesn’t make her less of a mum. Try and remember what it was like the first time you had a sick baby. It sucks.
Don’t say “wait until …”
When a first-time mum is saying how hard she’s finding her new baby, don’t be a complete arsehole and say “wait until you have two!”
Mums always want to have it the hardest. “You think you’ve got it bad? Wait until you have FOUR children refusing to eat/get dressed/ bathe/ speak to you…”
You know what? She knows. She knows it will get harder with a second or third child. Most people can count well enough to know that two is more than one.
I have never heard a first time mum suggest things are harder for her than they are for a second or third time mum. NEVER. We may be tired, but we’re not stupid.
She’s at the start of the race …
Being a mum is a bit like being an athlete. You need to train and build up your fitness in order to survive more than one child (with a very deep tip of my hat to all the mums of multiples).
In the beginning, you’re like a couch potato who has been told to get up and sprint for 1km. That’s rough. That’s falling across the finish line and spewing your guts up rough. If you’ve never even jogged before, you’re going to find it the toughest run of your life.
By the end of the first year you can run that 1km easy. You might even be making it to 2 or 3km. You’re still wrecked at the end, but you’re not passing out from the effort.
Then you have a second kid and you’re suddenly told to go flat out for 10km.
Of course that’s hard. That’s crazy hard. All of a sudden that 1km sprint sounds like a piece of cake.
But that mum who’s doing her very first 1km sprint is also struggling. She’s just not as fit as you. There’s NO WAY she’d be able to do what you’re doing but she’s not trying to compete with you, she’s just trying to finish her race.
So when a mum of four or five kids says “You’ll get no sympathy from me!” that’s a bit like Usain Bolt saying “Pfft! You call that a run?”
So Future-Lauren, I hope you’re reading this when you have another kid or two. Remember, don’t be an arsehat.