“Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” And Other Ridiculous Things We Say to Mothers


SleepI have four children, or maybe five, I don’t know – I lost count. Whether you have two or seven, anything more than one child makes all the sound parenting advice from well-meaning grocery store ladies seem downright comical. I have a wonderful, contributing partner and a huge support system, and I still laugh when I hear things like this:

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Let’s start with this one. Because this. Is. Hilarious. I’m on my fourth baby and people still say it to me. Trying to sleep with three other children awake is like trying to fall asleep in a laser tag play zone. You’re being pursued at all times and as soon as you escape one firing zone you turn the corner to another. They will find you. My laser tag partner (husband) cannot ward them off fast enough. The one time I managed to fall asleep when baby was sleeping, two other kids ate enough raisins to give an elephant diarrhea. When the baby is sleeping, you’ll probably find me preparing a meal so our kids don’t eat raisins all day. By the fourth kid no one even makes you a casserole anymore. Perhaps it’s because they have no idea how to feed a family of 6?

handsYou certainly have your hands full. Yes, I do. But that’s not the biggest challenge. We’ve been dealing with full hands since 2013 when the twins were born. I plan to ask God in the afterlife why moms don’t automatically sprout four extra arms when a baby comes out. (But like sexy, muscular, fit arms to which men are biologically attracted.) The problem this time is that my BRAIN is full. They should say “You certainly have your brain full!” Dozens of doctor appointments, piles of permission slips, library books to return, sports commitments, birthday parties, lunches to pack, the grocery list… my brain hurts, people!

Cherish it because it goes so fast. I’m all too aware. The three other big kids remind me of that bitter-sweet fact. It really does go so fast. But right now I’m beyond sleep-deprived, with spit-up on my shoulder, a Paw Patrol sticker on my butt, and spilled breast milk on my maxi skirt (because that’s all that fits). I’ve been dealing with bottles, a breast pump, blowouts and other bodily fluid mishaps for 5.5 years. This comment makes me feel guilty that I’m not staring lovingly into my baby’s eyes at 3am when I’m up (again) to feed him.  So although it goes fast, and although we chose – and absolutely love – this chaotic life, I’m also excited for having big kids. I love getting to know their beautiful personalities as they grow. 

Take care of yourself first. I know, I know, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I am guilty, as many moms are, of doing everything for everyone else instead. And the more kids you have, the harder it is to take time for yourself. A manicure or girls weekend trip sometimes just isn’t in the cards. For many moms, frankly, “treating yourself” isn’t in the budget. I hear you and I see you. You’re lucky if you fit in a walk for yourself. To me, a treat would be a long sit on the beach with a book and a cocktail. But I’m always moving at 10,000 miles per hour and don’t make the time. I even shower at lightning speed. Someday I will be better at this, but for right now I may have to settle for some evening meditation in the 30 seconds between hitting the pillow and falling asleep each night. My “me” moment may not look like yours. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

The good news is that if you have multiple children you’ve probably learned how to laugh at your chaotic life and cherish it in all its glory, including these silly comments. If you’re guilty of saying the above, next time you see a stressed out mom, say “you got this mama!” or just make them a (large) casserole.



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Jolene grew up in Luxemburg, WI. After going to college in Stevens Point and working for a year in the Milwaukee area, she moved to De Pere, WI to get married, start a family, and pursue her career. Both the youngest of six, Jolene and her husband always wanted a big family. After struggling to get pregnant, their family was jump-started by having identical twin girls, Eden and Ellie, who are now 5. Then came Jude, who will be 3 in August, and they just welcomed James, Baby #4, in June. Both she and her husband work, and Jolene owns her own company, www.howtoconcerts.com, planning large scale entertainment events across the country. Because she has to travel for work, Jolene has used a breast pump while flying, driving, walking and talking, and has the war stories to prove it. Her keys to success (aka survival) are the members of her support system, starting with her husband and extended family, and ending with good coffee and a sense of humor.


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