So I'll level with you: most non-moms really aren't all that helpful when it comes to helping moms raise their children. Sure, they're great friends and considerate people and try their best to be supportive, but what they don't realize is that the absolute best way to be supportive is to offer a bevy of unsolicited advice. Advice based not on experience or knowledge of children or parenting, but on their gut feelings and knee-jerk opinions. Those people are the best. There are things those kind of non-moms say that actually make a lot of sense to moms.
Maybe it's because some moms are soft on their kids (damn entitled Millennials) or maybe they're just too fried out with their mommy brains (not actually a thing, but if you want excuses, fine, whatever) to realize some obvious, common sense truths, but I find it often falls on non-parents to let moms know the best way to handle a parenting challenge. How do they manage to out-parent the parents? I would argue their "outsider" status really equips them to know how best to approach a situation with which they have absolutely zero experience whatsoever. They go with their instincts. (By the way, they have the best instincts. Believe me, there's no problem with their instincts, that I can guarantee you.) That's why I prefer to take my parenting advice from a non-parent, my medical advice from a mail carrier, and my financial advice from a potted plant at my grandmother's house.
Moms can learn so much from the non-moms in their life who are kind enough to spew forth fountains of really helpful advice, including the following:
"Sleep When The Baby Sleeps"
As in: "You're so tired, but you can catch some Z's if you just sleep when the baby is sleeping, whenever that is."
I mean obviously! That makes perfect sense. Like the other day when the baby fell asleep in the car. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw she was snoozing and was like "Score! Time to take a nap!" I immediately entered deep REM sleep, which wasn't terribly convenient since I was driving, but, you know: sleep when the baby sleeps.
Or there was this other time last week when she fell sleep while I was cooking so I just stepped away from the stove and cuddled up on the couch for a bit. Pro-tip: the smoke detector can also serve as an alarm clock! Life hack!
"Make Them Eat What You Give Them"
As in: "Don't give them an alternative. If you put it on their plate they will sit at the table until the plate is clean. They have to learn."
Yes. I completely agree. Crazy that some people have just definitely never even thought of this, so I have a step by step guide to help you through it:
Step 1: Prepare one dinner.
Step 2: Tell your child to eat it.
What could be easier?! Other parents might suggest some sort of modified force feeding where you manually move the child's jaw to make them chew, but I say that's unnecessary. Because they'll do it; you just have to really want it. You know what they say, "You can lead a horse to water and you can definitely force it to drink through sheer force of will."
"Just Get A Sitter"
As in: "Hey, we're going out in a few hours for an afternoon, adults-only event, followed by an evening of dinner and dancing. Come with us! Just hire a babysitter!"
Duh: getting a $20/hour sitter on a moment's notice is something you can easily do as a parent. Seriously, just go to the babysitter store. It's like a dry-cleaners, with a rotating rack of available sitters just sitting around waiting for someone to pick them up. It's like impromptu dates with people who didn't think to invite you until hours before their plans aren't a priority for some people.
"Skipping A Nap Won't Kill Them"
As in: "I know you said one o'clock wasn't a good time because that's when the baby naps, but skipping a nap won't kill them or anything. Let's just go."
Just calmly explain to your child, "Listen, I know you're tired, but we're gonna need you to rally right now, bro." If they start to crank up doing whatever it is you are doing instead of accommodating their usual nap, remind them to be a team player. It will probably help if they also know that missing a nap won't kill them. Really, it's your job as a parent to teach them that. Once they know that I believe you will find your infant/toddler/preschooler is quite reasonable.
"Bring Them With You"
As in: "It's OK. I'm totally cool with kids because I'm laid back and cool. Just bring them to the scheduled cocktail party/dinner/chamber orchestra performance/party."
Why do people not realize that going to any event, perhaps even especially events that aren't child-centric are totally enjoyable with a child or two in tow? Because not only are you totally able to focus on whatever is going down (knowing, of course, your beloved child is nestled comfortably by your side), but your little one is going to be absorbing the wondrous culture of adult culture and conversation, which they find absolutely fascinating. And in the totally unlikely event that they get bored, just give them a coloring book. That should occupy them for about seven hours or so. (If you have an infant who starts crying, just tell them to stop.)
"Just Go To [Chain Restaurant With A Play Area]"
As in: "I don't want to have to see or hear children when I am at a restaurant. Literally any restaurant, even the ones listed as 'family friendly.' If someone wants to bring their kids out to eat they can go to a children's play place that happens to serve pizza or a fast-food place with a jungle gym."
Fun fact: parents should spend approximately 40-73 percent of their time apologizing to child-free people for bringing children in public. It's like they say, "Children should be neither seen nor heard." So this advice is actually brilliant: why should parents expect to have decent food outside of their home with their family? They can wait 15 years or so, when the kids fall firmly into "young adult" status — parents know what they're getting into when they have kids, after all. In fact, I saw why stop at restaurants? Keep your kids locked in a basement or attic until they're at least 15, but ideally 21. (A furnished attic or basement of course: you're not a monster!)
"Don't Fly. Drive."
As in: "There is nothing worse than a baby shrieking on a plane. It's so rude and so entitled that a parent thinks they have a right to invade my right to travel that goes exactly the way I want it to. Look, if you have kids, don't fly: drive."
I couldn't agree more. Of course it wasn't easy to spend three days in a car to visit my in-laws in California. And yes, things got a little complicated when the whole family had to sail the Atlantic to get to my Zia Fortuna's funeral in Italy, but you know what? It's really entitled to assume we have the right to potentially inconvenience people who are entitled to blissful airline travel. And the whole trans-Atlantic trip wasn't a total loss: we made it a family event. We built our own longship and learned to pilot it together! We played "I Spy" to pass the time. (Granted, the answer was always "water" because we were on the open sea for, like, a couple months). We had fun fishing my husband out of the ocean when he fell overboard during a particularly terrible storm. It's called making lemonade out of lemons, people.
"Allow For More Time To Get Out The Door"
As in: "You're always late ever since you had kids. Have you tried allowing yourself more time to get ready to go?"
How is it that child-free people think of this but so many parents don't? Seriously, people. If you're always late when you give yourself an hour to get ready, wake up an hour earlier at four in the morning. Schedule your baby's diaper blow-outs for when you're not heading out the door. Krazy Glue your preschooler's shoes to their feet so they never lose them. If your kid starts throwing a tantrum on their way to the car just tell them to stop. This is basic stuff.
"Control Your Kid"
As in: "Your toddler crying is unacceptable. Make them stop. Control your child.
I swear, some days it's like the child-free people and I are the only ones who attended that Baby Mind Control class. My birth center made it easy for you by offering it in tandem with their Bradley Method class. Come on, people. Have complete and total control over all of your child's thoughts, actions, and emotions. It's called parenting.
All Their Plans For Their Future Children
As in: "When I have kids they're going to eat what's given to them or starve. And they will know how to behave in a restaurant. And we're not going to tiptoe around their schedules, they're going to live on our schedule. And we're not going to stop doing the things we love: we're just going to take our kid with us everywhere. And they will know who's the boss at all times."
I can't even sarcastically come up with anything to say in response to all this, you guys. It's too hysterical on its own.