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Things you shouldn’t say to a first-time Mum

Maybe I’m just being a big grump, or overly-sensitive, but one thing I’ve found since becoming a parent is that people want to share their opinions. I love hearing advice and opinions from other parents, and I love being able to chat about Dougie with friends of mine, but there are some comments and questions I’ve had over the last year or so that have really bothered me…so naturally I thought I’d put them into a blog post!

You look tired

I know. I know that no matter how much make-up I wear, no matter what I wear and no matter how I do my hair, I’m going to look tired. I’m currently adjusting to learning how to keep a small human alive and healthy, and the small human doesn’t yet know how damn good sleep is. I was used to lie-ins and eight consecutive hours of sleep, now I basically go to sleep in the knowledge that at any moment a scream or cry will wake me. But being told I look tired will not help me look any better. On the other hand, if the sentence is followed by ‘…so go and have a nap, I’ll take the baby’ – then by all means!

He’s the spitting image of his Dad!

I’ve never been good at looking at babies and thinking ‘Ohhh he’s got your nose’ etc, so when Dougie was born, I just saw Dougie. However, all I ever heard was how much he looks like Sam – and while that is definitely a lovely thing, it’s a bit frustrating/upsetting to feel like the little baby, who I carried for over 41 weeks and then gave birth to, looks nothing like me! Just say how cute he is. That’ll do just fine 🙂

It must be nice having so much time off!

I got this comment quite a lot. Maternity leave is not time “off” – it’s the complete opposite. You are literally on-call 24/7.

Shouldn’t your baby be doing ‘x, y, z’ by now?

ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT. I’m not going to sit and compare Dougie to other children. Dougie might not be walking as well as another baby, but maybe his motor skills are better. It doesn’t matter. As long as he is healthy, he’ll get there. It’s great if your baby is mastering every skill, but please don’t sit and pit them against each other.

When’s the baby due?

I got this question from a stranger when Sam and I were on holiday. Six months after I’d had Dougie. There’s really nothing to knock a post-partum body quite like this. I cried – did I still look like I was carrying a baby?! Unless you are 100% certain that someone is pregnant – and you know them, DO NOT ASK THIS.

Stay-at-home Mum? What do you do all day? OR Working Mum? Don’t you feel bad leaving your baby all day?

I can answer both of these. Dougie goes to nursery some mornings, and while the first few days I felt so sad and guilty, I’m so glad he goes. He loves it, he’s thriving – he’s never sad when I take him there, and he’s always excited to see me. And I work because I have to, and because I want to use my brain and my skills, not because I don’t want to spend time with Dougie.

And days where I’m at home, or working from home, what do I do all day? I get Dougie up, I change him, I give him breakfast, I attempt to get myself dressed while keeping him entertained and happy. We’ll play together, or go for a walk and run errands or get the shopping. I put Dougie down for a nap and then I frantically try and do as much work as I can. I try and keep the flat as tidy as I can, I’ll usually do one of the many piles of washing that’s building up and then hang that up. In the afternoon we’ll go to a baby group, or see some of our NCT friends. Sometimes we’ll go to the park. Sometimes Dougie won’t nap so I’ll plonk him in the buggy and walk for a couple of hours so he gets a decent nap. I make his dinner, sometimes I make dinner for Sam and I, usually with Dougie attached to my hip. We give him his bath, we read him a bedtime story and give him his bottle, then we put him to bed. Then I usually carry on working into the evening. Sometimes Dougie sleeps through the night, sometimes I’m up and down with him for hours. That’s what I do all day.

I know a lot of the time, these questions or comments come from the right place, but we’re dealing with sleep deprivation, sad babies, happy babies, clingy babies, tired babies, and being a first-time Mum can be terrifying, as well as exciting and amazing, so sometimes little comments can carry a huge weight.

Have you heard any of these comments if you’re a Mum?

  • Ha, it was literally the only comment I got for the first few months! I don’t mind at all that he looks like him, but I’d like to think that there’s a bit of me in him somewhere! And I’m exactly the same as you! My sister is my Mum, brother is Dad and I’m sort of just somewhere in between!
    Actually, interestingly Sam took the full (and very generous) paternity leave offered by his work, and he quickly found that all classes were “Mum and Baby Yoga” etc and I think he felt a bit excluded, we would alternate swimming classes, and the instructor said “Oh, got a day off to give Mum a break?” – the assumption that he should be at work while I’m at home with the baby!

    • That’s really interesting! I suppose the marketing for baby classes etc. is still stuck in the era where paternity leave wasn’t a thing, which is a shame for Dads! It’s great that paternity leave is more of an option, it certainly didn’t seem to be when my Mum had me – she’d have loved to have my Dad around to help! ❤️

  • Sarah Pears

    Ahh these are all so true! God I always get the comment of having so much free time because I stay at home, and it’s soooo far from the truth!! I must say I can see a bit of both of you in Dougie, not just one of you, which is the best mix 🙂

    Sarah | http://www.justbuttonsblog.co.uk

  • Honestly, Dougie is the most gorgeous little boy, and regardless of who he looks like, he’s still absolutely beautiful! I think you’re doing an amazing job of being a first-time mum, Hels! xx

  • Ellis Woolley

    I’m not even a Mother but these questions infuriate me on behalf of all parents out there. I also get told I look tired even now and I haven’t got a little one to look after, it irritates the crap out of me because like you said, it’s not going to make you look or feel any better! I think Dougie is adorable and that’s no surprise since his parents are beautiful people! Also the ‘what do you do all day?’ I get this all the time despite people knowing I actually work from home…it makes me so mad!
    You’re doing an amazing job with him and if I lived closer, I’d totally be taking him off your hands for a couple of hours 🙂 x x
    Ellis // http://www.elliswoolley.co.uk

  • Steph – Wanderlust Pulse

    Sometimes people don’t think before they speak, do they? I get the ‘you look tired’ one all the time and I’m not even a parent but it is totally not a constructive comment. I know I look tired, just let me get on with it and don’t contribute your comment, it makes me feel worse, thanks!

    I looked so much like my dad when I was a baby and it used to really upset my mum when people mentioned it but as I’ve grown older, I definitely look more like my mum.

    Having a baby is a full time job in itself and people need to realise that. Parents are incredible at juggling everything. You must be making parenting look effortless if people are asking what you do all day, well done haha!

    Steph x

  • Kate

    I feel like this post needs to be handed out to the public as a public service! I can’t believe how inconsiderate and insensitive some people can be sometimes, especially when it comes to things they’re having the audacity to say to parents!

    I don’t think you’re being oversensitive *at all* in this post, I think you’re being very fair. I hate how much of a misconception it is that to be on MAT Leave is to be taking time off – if anything its embarking on the hardest job you’ll EVER do! And for the next however many years, too!

    My sisters have both had variations of the above said to them, which was awful as I know it upset them. I’m hoping people are starting to be more sensitive, now that more people are writing posts such as this one my love.

    another fab parenting post – I don’t know how you always make it so relatable even though I’m not a Mum but you’ve totally nailed it again!

    Kate x

    PS – I love your new header xx

  • I’ve never understood the whole ‘he looks like you/his dad/Auntie Sue’ comments. As you say, just say the baby’s cute and leave it at that, you don’t know how you might hurt someone else’s feelings.

  • First, Dougie is SO adorable!! He looks exactly like… himself just as he should! And second, I’ve been both a working mom and a stay at home mom (multiple times over the years) and I’ll never understand the constant criticism of either role. As moms, we’re often hard enough on ourselves without hearing anyone else’s opinions or questions on our parenting styles, our work/life balance and our own bodies!! Wonderful post and the new header is super cute! x