Helping a Mom in Public: Dos & Dont's for Strangers

toddler running awaySometimes parents of toddlers are totally overwhelmed and need help. And sometimes parents of toddlers just seem overwhelmed, but really we'd love it if you could just mind your own business. It can be hard for a well-meaning stranger to tell the difference. When should you step in to help, and why are parents of toddlers so pissy and defensive all the time, anyway?

Relax. I've got all the answers right here. This is a list of the ways parents of toddlers would love your help -- and when we don't want your help.


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Please open the door for me when I'm struggling with the stroller. You're not obligated, but I do appreciate it.

Please don't tell me children don't belong here, wherever we are.

Please don't give me a lecture on disciplining children while my toddler is in the middle of a meltdown. I can't hear you.

Please just give me a sympathetic smile and move along when you see my toddler back-bending and caterwauling mid-tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle in the grocery store.

Please don't offer him candy, either.

Please don't offer my kid any food of any kind, ever, come to think of it.

Please keep your dog the hell away from my toddler while he's strapped down, helpless, in his stroller.

Please tell me if something disgusting is leaking from my toddler's pants. I don't want to know, but I need to know.

Please tell me if you just saw my toddler put something in his mouth. Especially if that something is still alive.

Please hand me a tissue if you happen to notice my toddler's face is coated in mucus like a glazed donut.

Please don't tell me I'm "doing it wrong" -- whatever "it" is.

Please offer to help me juggle my bags if you see my struggling, but don't just start grabbing things because I have no idea if you're about to rob me.

Please body-block my toddler if you see him running directly into the street.

Please don't clutch your pearls and offer to call the paramedics if my toddler falls and scrapes his knee. He'll be fine, really.

Please don't tell me my toddler is too big to still be breastfeeding.

Please don't make that scary face at my toddler. We are not amused.

Please don't tell me it's too dangerous for my toddler to jump/slide/run. I know his limits, and so does he, for that matter.

Please tell me if my toddler has kicked off his shoe and thrown it out of his stroller. Bonus points to those of you who pick it up and hand it to me.

Please direct your sneezes and coughs and belches away from my toddler's face.

Please offer my toddler a seat on the bus. Actually, give me the seat because I'm more tired -- the kid can sit on my lap.

Please tell me this time passes quickly because, honestly, I only hear that 100 times a day and I need to hear it again.

Thank you.

What kind of help from strangers do you appreciate?


Image via Richard Stephenson/Flickr

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