You often hear people say “You can’t say anything to anyone nowadays without someone getting offended”. That may be true, but there are some things you really shouldn’t say, ’cause it’s just plain rude.
So if you find yourself in the company of a mum of two kids aged 2 and under and are unclear about the blurred lines between conversation and rudeness, help is at hand. Here is a guide to 8 things you shouldn’t say. I like to think of it as basic etiquette.
1. “You’re not pregnant again, are you?” Having two children in a space of two to three years may mean it’s possible she will get pregnant again. And again. And push babies out every year until menopause. But having had two children in a fertility window of potentially twenty years, makes it unlikely. If she is pregnant again, she will tell you when she is ready to, so, until then, mind your own business.
2. “I’m really tired.” You probably are tired. Most people are, due to the sedentary lifestyle we live nowadays. However, chances are, she’s just as tired as you. And if she’s not, then, after spending all day with a toddler and baby, or two toddlers, she’d rather pluck out the hair from her head, strand by strand, during the kids’ nap-time, than hear another person whine.
3. “Why are you always tired?” If you don’t have children of your own you will never understand and may even be forgiven for your naivety. As long as you don’t ask more than once! If you do have children but insist you were never this tired then take the kids off her for a few hours and GIVE HER A BREAK.
4. “I need a holiday.” It’s likely that a mum of two children aged two and under may not have had a holiday yet. Like a real holiday, in which she relaxes and reads books. If she has managed to afford a holiday, it’s probably a short break discovering how the kids sleep less and scream even more, at a new location. In this situation, she might just not want to hear about your need for a holiday, especially if your last one was only four months ago. Unless you’re planning to take her with you.
5. “It’s much easier to have them close together, you won’t even notice and they’ll be grown up in no time.” Encouragement is good. But suggesting they have it easy is not. It’s hard work raising two toddlers, or a baby and toddler, and making a person who struggles with it feel like they are doing something wrong or are just not up to it, is not cool. No one’s going to give you an award for imparting your perfect mum wisdom, so zip it.
6. “You’re no fun anymore.” Fun? What’s that? To her it’s the magnificent fantasy of undisturbed sleep. Otherwise, the fact is, the definition of fun has changed. For now, fun is no longer hitting the town, staying up till the early hours of the morning, partying or having a dance or movie marathon and sleeping until noon the next day. Fun is running in the park with the kids, rolling on the floor in fits of cuddles and giggles, and achieving at least 4 consecutive hours of sleep, so that you’re ready for a re-run of the ‘fun’ and games the next day. Reduce the comments and join in the fun with her. You will understand her crazy and overwhelming, but lovable world better.
7. Anything that involves you talking to her abdomen. If you want to have a conversation, have it with her, not her tummy. As much as you may kid yourself, the fact is, you are not discreet when you look at her belly, trying to work out whether she is pregnant again. It’s bloomin’ obvious!
8. “You’re not pregnant again, are you?” This one just keeps coming! Please stop before you tempt her to get pregnant again, even if it’s only to spite you.
And there’s one thing you should say as often as you can: “I’m coming over to watch the kids and help with the housework, while you take a break. And I’m bringing dinner!”