You Are Doing A Good Job – 5 Things You Can Do For Parents


To some people, especially friends without children, I think I have become a thoroughly bizarre entity. Having children has done things to my brain. I’m not just talking the forgetfulness. It’s deeper than that.

Being a mother of two young children has, in some ways, been a most lonely and isolating experience. It’s very difficult to explain why or how I could possibly be crying into my digestive biscuits at 3pm because, really, what’s so bad? So Joni refused to nap and is now being less than angelic and Wilbur has been shrieking and clingy for the last 4 hours and we’ve run out of milk and the last thing I can summon the energy to do is paint pictures with the girl who is demanding to do so. Nothing to cry about though, is it? It quite probably seems completely alien to explain to someone without children that when the children weren’t waking us up, on average 4 times between midnight and 6am, we may not have been sleeping but instead worrying about how they’ll settle at nursery or whether they should be immunised,whether they’re getting their 5 a day or when I’ll lose weight and be able to wear my clothes again. Make no mistake, it’s not all tears in the kitchen – I would not change what I have (apart from that illusive lottery win) and I’m more grateful than I can articulate. It’s just that life is full: life is fantastically, brilliantly, hideously, exhaustingly and wonderfully full.

I am so grateful for the people in my life who support me – kind words go a long, long way to sleep deprived parents who are doing their best to raise their children, work, put food on the table and still be themselves.

So, if you have friends or family with young children please do these things:

1) Tell them they are doing a good job

Everyone is doing the best they can do at the time they are doing it. They may well be constrained by energy, money, patience, worry or time. But they are doing a good job – even if you would do things differently – they are doing a good job, tell them – it will encourage them and actually it will make them do their parenting job better.

2) Offer sympathy, not solutions

Unless a parent specifically asks for advice – don’t offer it. It is likely that they and Google will have thought of every conceivable solution to their parenting problem. Instead sympathise and tell them they’re doing a good job. They may well then actually ask for your advice and value it because you made them feel good about the job they are doing.

3) Invite them places

They might not be able to come but invite them. It feels good to be made to feel like you’re welcome in your pre-baby life. Money, tiredness or time might prevent them from coming but invite them anyway. They may well be desperate for child free time and conversations that don’t revolve around whether a 2 year old can watch another episode of Peppa Pig.

4) Be there

If they’re like me and like company: be there. Be there at 5pm when their house is a tip and their children are running around high on life and petit filous. Be there, don’t feel you have to join in, just be there – and tell them they’re doing a good job.

5) Be patient

Parents of young children might cancel plans at the last minute or go home early. Children have an unhelpful special talent for getting ill, needing packed lunches, dressing up costumes, bags packed, clothes washed, and keeping their parents up at night. There is never ever enough time for everything that parents have to do. So be patient, the days are long but the years are short in the early years. This time will pass and they will be so grateful that you stuck with them.

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19 Responses to You Are Doing A Good Job – 5 Things You Can Do For Parents

  1. A really lovely and thoughtful list.

  2. Louisa says:

    A really thoughtful and honest post. I agree with your list entirely. You are doing a wonderful job!

  3. Keri-Anne says:

    I was nodding my way all the way through this. I hear you!!!! But I too could not be more grateful for my daughters. I just sometimes wish for more sleep!!!!!

  4. fritha says:

    you know I think you are awesome don’t you? so many of my friends shared this when I posted it on my page. It resonates with so many! x

  5. Kara says:

    Parenting can be so alienating can’t it – I long to be invited out for some adult conversation but it just doesn’t happen these days!

  6. hurrahforgin says:

    Love this! Very true on all accounts. Especially number one, sometimes on the bad days when you feel you have got it all wrong that makes a huge difference.

  7. This is so on the nail. I was lucky in that I was the last of my friends to have children, and I got a good post-natal support group, but my family seemed to have totally forgotten how hard it all is. And then we castigate ourselves because we think we ought to be doing better. Being a new Mum really is incredibly hard

  8. Lori says:

    This is such a good post that I’ve already shared it on FB, just a little nudge to all my friends without babes to be a little more patient and that it’s not all just coffee and cake x

  9. Fozia S says:

    Great tips! Totally agree with all of them!

  10. Mammasaurus says:

    I wish I had had this post when my first was born as I would have happily passed it round to all my friends – who although wanted to help, hadn’t had children and just didn’t know x

    • bornin2011 says:

      That’s exactly it – they just don’t know, which is fine … It must be so weird for them too, I feel like I had a personality transplant (for the better!) when my first was born

  11. Such a good post! I pinned this earlier on Pinterest from Manmasaurus. Really well written & totally how I’m feeling as a SAHM to 2 young babes. Thanks Lizzie xoxo

  12. rosieapple1 says:

    Fantastic post! I am glad that someone else feels the same as I do! The amount of times I’ve had to cancel plans I’ve made at the last minute because of my children being ill,etc. You are right,patience from friends and still being invited to gatherings with them is extremely important,even if I can’t go. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  13. Josie says:

    Em, brilliant post! I really enjoy reading them!

  14. domain says:

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    like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so!
    Your writing style has been surprised me.

    Thanks, quite great post.

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