parent opinion

"Sleep when they sleep." 13 mums on the worst parenting advice they've ever received.

Recently I saw a meme doing the rounds about parenting advice. 

It read: 

ME: I have three small kids so preparing a healthy breakfast can be a challenge. 

FRIEND: You should meal prep at night to make things easier. 

ME: I guess I should have mentioned that the kids live here at night too. 

I can laugh now because as a mum to teenagers, people generally give less advice.

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Video via Mamamia

But when I had three children under four years old, people certainly gave me my fair share of unsolicited (and often unrealistic) parenting advice.

Image: Supplied 


These are my top five favourites: 

1. "Sleep when they sleep." 

This sounds great in theory and it's probably solid advice for some. But I found that while I was "sleeping", the mountain of washing was piling up. Plus, my twins got themselves on opposite schedules, so one was ALWAYS awake, plus I had a toddler to deal with. On top of that, no-one actually offered to come and do any of the jobs that piled up while I was sleeping. 

2. "A mother can always tell her twins apart." 

Once again, this is perfectly friendly advice for most people. But I'll be honest, my twin daughters are 16 years old, and I still can’t tell who’s who if they are dressed in the same outfit. 

3. "Craft is fun." 

Um, no. Never. Glitter is the herpes of the craft world, and was banned from my house.

4. "Don’t adjust your life for your kids." 

Look, I tried it, but sadly going to nightclubs or concerts with a baby is frowned upon, so I really needed to make some big changes. 

5. "Don’t make two or more meals." 

I typically agree with this advice, especially for big kids. However, when they were little and lived on sausages, mash, carrots and broccoli and ate dinner at 5pm, I got to the point where if I ate another sausage, I would vomit. So I fed the kids and got them into bed and then worried about mum and dad's dinner later.

I was sure that there would be more examples of unsolicited parenting advice, so I asked around. 

Here are 12 mums on the worst parenting advice they've ever received:


"When you work part-time and they say, 'Enjoy your day off', as though you are going to spend the day at the beach. I am still working... only this work is paid in love."


"Make sure you sleep a lot when you’re pregnant. You won’t be getting much once the baby is here."


"'It gets easier.' I am a mum to three tween and teen boys. It's just a different type of hard now."


"'Lower your standards.' Sure, but you still need to eat, not catch hygiene related diseases, and wear clothes, right? How low should I be going here?"


"'Just reach out for help if you need it.' I was never too proud or embarrassed to ask for help, but nobody wanted to take my screaming child."


"'It takes a village.' Where exactly are these villagers? They were nowhere to be found unless I paid for the help."


"Babies sleep when they are tired; they don’t need a nap schedule."



"'Exercise when they go to bed.' I am wrecked when they go to bed. I'm a literal shell of a person, so no exercise is happening when my kids are in bed."

[There were many of variations on this theme. One mum shared that she was told to get up an hour earlier than the kids to exercise. The only problem was her children started their day at 4.30am... meaning she would have to exercise at 3.30am in the middle of the night.]

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"Having a baby is like getting cut with a thousand knives all at once - you just have to remember that it will stop, eventually."


"'You should study now while they are young so when they start school, you are ready for the next step in your career.' This was said to me by a social worker who came to visit me and my one-year-old and three-year-old who has severe cerebral palsy. Seriously! I’m lucky if I get everyone fed and dressed for the day."


"'If you think this age is hard, wait until they are (insert age of their child here)'. Many mums echoed this advice. When you are in the trenches of whatever age and stage, no-one needs to be told what is still to come may be worse."


"'Enjoy every moment, they grow so fast.' I just didn’t love the newborn phase, and I kept being told to 'enjoy it'. I felt like a failure as I was hating it. It’s okay to let people know you’re hating it. Tell the right person and they will support you to work it out."

There are dozens of more examples to add to this list. However, we all know that the advice is well meaning, but often ill-timed. 

As a mother-of-three, here is my advice for anyone thinking that they have a pearl of wisdom for a new mum or dad. 

Instead of imparting advice, the best way you can help a new parent is to just get in and do something practical. Do a load of washing out, pick up some groceries, or take the baby (and older kids) for an hour so that mum can get some much needed down time.

I can promise you that doing something, rather than telling them how to do something, is far more helpful.

What's the worst parenting advice that you've ever received? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Feature Image: Getty.

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