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Babies are great conversation starters, but it can be far too easy to slip in an offhand comment or two that, while unintended, makes it seem like you're judging a mom, her baby, or her parenting skills. If you find yourself comparing your baby to another, or wondering why a mom does something a way that you would never do, then do us all a favor and keep those lips sealed.
"Why isn't she crawling yet?"
Okay. For starters, not every baby crawls in a traditional hands-and-knees manner. Really. Some babies just lay around contentedly until one day they pull up and start cruising around furniture. And others have other means of locomotion, such as rolling, creeping or scooting along backwards. The timeline is also different from baby to baby, so if your munchkin is crawling at four months and your friend's baby is eight months and isn't moving around much, just shhh. There's no need to point that out.
While this is traditionally something that is said to (or wondered about) a dad, it's still annoying to hear that your kid doesn't look like you when you're a mom. I can't explain it, but my kids don't really look like me and hearing that they look like their dad is way better than hearing they look nothing like me. Come on people, I carried and birthed these kids—just talk about how cute they are, okay?
These sorts of statements never help and it can make a mom feel like she's doing this parenting thing all wrong.
"I could never go back to work at X age, I would miss my baby too much."
This, and its equally sinister cousin, "I could never stay home with my baby, I'd be bored out of my mind," are pretty much always better left unsaid. Even if it's not meant as a judgement, it totally feels like one. We all make choices that fit ourselves and our families, so what you do with your family doesn't apply here.
"Gosh, my baby never cried that much."
This is another example of people comparing their children to yours. When a baby is crying, it's stressful and her mother wants to make her feel better, and if you're sitting there talking about how angelic your kids were as babies, it may makes her want to stab you in the eyeballs. These sorts of statements never help and it can make a mom feel like she's doing this parenting thing all wrong. And you really don't want to get stabbed in the eyeballs, so keep these quips quiet.
Gender disappointment is very real, but it's also very unkind to bring up that you or the mom herself was hoping for a child of a different sex, either before the baby is born or after he's arrived. Chances are, this mother would rather not pack her new baby up for a return, even if she could, and to mention that there was once hope that he could be a girl, or vice versa, is pretty damn rude.