When I pictured having children, I didn’t imagine having two kids less than two years apart. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure I even wanted more than one child. However, one of the most surprisingly stressful parts of having kids close in age has been dealing with judgmental comments from friends, family, and strangers.
Don’t get me wrong, having kids close in age has some amazing perks, but I’m sure most moms of multiples, two under 2, three under 3, or (gasp) four under 4, can all agree it isn’t always easy. I’m sure there’s good intent behind some of the comments, like wonder or amazement at how we do it all, but aside from my sweet 90-year-old grandmother who gets a pass, here are some things other moms of kids close in age are tired of hearing.
“You have your hands full.” – Jen B.
Often, the person saying this means well, they truly do. But it also seems like they have the worst timing ever. This comment inevitably comes out while we’re having a particularly frazzled day of meltdowns and diaper blowouts.
“Just wait, they’re going to hate each other.” – Rebecca P.
As moms we are already worried about doing everything right, making our children happy, while maintaining a healthy balance of discipline and education. But when others interject new worries, like our children hating one another, it just seems like an unnecessary pile-on.
“Just get a babysitter for date night.” – Jessica K.
Most of us would love to have a babysitter for date night or, honestly, just so we could take a nap. But when you have multiple children that are all close in age, babysitters are not often accessible or affordable.
“You know there are pills you can take to avoid that, right?” – Jen B.
It’s 2020. We’re all aware of the many birth control options. Of which none are 100 percent foolproof. Not to mention some women are unable to use birth control for medical or religious reasons. This topic seems best suited for a person to discuss with their partner or with their doctor. Not with a “concerned” stranger at the grocery store.
“You need to get fixed!” – Jerrica O.
Again, what’s with commenting on peoples’ bodies and sex lives? People are not pets. We don’t get fixed, and either way, it is no one’s business what a mom (or her partner) chooses to do with their reproductive system.
“Did you want it that way? Was it a mistake?” – Radwa M-Y.
Referring to a child as a mistake is never OK, and there’s a special kind of awkwardness this question creates.
“Are they your real children?” – Kristin B.
Since I’m adopted, this particular comment is more offensive to me than most. Children can become a part of the family via adoption or fostering. but that does not make them less “real” than biological children.
“Are they twins? Are you sure?” – Constance J.
This one made me laugh out loud. I think a mother would know if she gave birth to multiple babies. A mom is not lying when they say their kids aren’t twins.
“Do you do daycare?” – Jo B.
This person thinks they’re a comic. Yes, mothers of children who are close in age are multitasker-extraordinaires, but their hands are full enough already.
“How do you afford it?” – Autumn L.
It can be taboo to discuss salary and bills with family and friends, so it’s definitely off-limits from strangers. Children are expensive, we all know this, but no one understands the unique financial situation or stress someone could be under when this comment comes up.
“You think it’s hard now, just wait.” – Tamera J.
Wait for what? The “terrible twos“? Having a threenager? Puberty? College?
With parenting, each age has its challenges. Comparing future struggles feels like someone is trying to invalidate our current experience.
What do moms of kids close in age want to hear?
Comments that help support moms instead of criticizing them are such a boost to our confidence (and are so rare) that we appreciate and remember every single one. As a mom of two children 16 months apart, I can tell you I really enjoyed it when people I didn’t know complimented me or offered to help! Here are some ways to help a mom of kids close in age.
If you see a mom struggling in a store with multiple children, make sure to smile or tell them they’re doing a great job. Because at that moment, I can tell you that it feels like we can’t do anything right. Compliments and a helping hand are the most appreciated and sometimes all it takes to turn a mom’s day around.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just go about your day and ignore the mom in front of you in the checkout line juggling a screaming toddler and a baby wearing mismatched clothes. Managing multiple little ones is a balancing act that takes a lot of time and practice. Sometimes moms appreciate NOT being noticed in public.
We don’t want others to feel bad for us or even to offer to help, because we are trying to figure it out for ourselves. Each day is practice to make the next day better.
A good rule of thumb is the five-second rule—if you can’t help the mom fix a problem within a few seconds, like picking up a dropped pacifier on the floor, don’t mention it. Comments on family planning, parenting philosophy, or unhelpful advice are best left unsaid.