Ways the World Could Make Life Easier for Parents of Young Children

J. Schatzel works in healthcare administration in rural upstate New York and has a master's degree in history.

A Parent's Wish List

1. Leave a cart (or two) in the corral in the store parking lot so I don’t have to carry a baby, purse, reusable bags, and a toddler through a busy parking lot. I appreciate the diligence with which some hard-working employee pushed a very heavy stack of carts across the parking lot, but next time I wish they’d leave me one.

2. Don’t install a diaper-changing station between the automatic hand dryer and the auto-flush toilet so that no matter where I stand, I set off some loud noises. Now there’s loud noises and a screaming baby. I’d rather there not be a changing station so I know to seek an alternate changing area, than finding out too late that I’d be the cause of your entire restaurant/gas station/store stopping what they’re doing to look our way and wonder why we’re being so loud.

3. Don’t touch my baby. Just don’t do it. Don’t touch as you’re asking if you can touch, don’t touch when you think I’m not looking, and don’t assume that I’d be okay with you touching. If I am walking through the grocery store, trying to keep a newborn and two-year-old from losing their $#!+, why would you walk over and “pet” my baby who was sleeping? Now they’re awake, and realizing they’re hungry, and you get to listen to them scream as you’re stuck waiting in line behind me at the checkout counter.

4. Know that if you offer my two-year-old a sticker, they will expect one again next time. If you want to tell them how cute they are and put a “Thank you for shopping” sticker on their shirt, don’t be surprised when at our next visit to the checkout, he asks for a sticker if you don’t offer. And heaven help us all if that sticker is a different color this week than it was last week, because he’ll probably want the same green one he received last time, not the orange one you’re offering him today.

5. If you see a woman with a newborn, it is best not to try and bag as many groceries into the fewest (and heaviest) bags. This is not a grocery-Tetris game for her; she is probably having a hard enough time pushing the cart, let alone trying to unload the heavy bags of groceries you’ve packed. Especially if she had a C-section.

6. If you are physically fit, with no kids in tow, please, please, PLEASE, I beg you, don’t park in the spots closest to the shopping cart return. Save those for the waddling pregnant lady, the parents with small children, or the people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc. Just because there’s no handicap decal in my window doesn’t mean I won’t have to circle the parking lot 3x looking for a spot or be stuck waiting it out like an FBI surveillance van. Please let me run in and get my pads, nipple cream, and hemorrhoid wipes without a game of parking lot Olympics.

7. If you see a parent with a stroller coming toward the door you are also going through, please offer to hold the door for them. I can’t count the number of times someone saw me, pushing a double stroller toward a door that doesn’t open automatically, and kept on walking without holding the door. Ummm, thanks?

I must be missing out on a successful career as a spy, because I am apparently camouflaged with my environment and able to fly under the radar, even with a two-year-old narrating our walk. Children are not contagious; holding the door for us will not send you home with a case of the terrible twos. You could not spare 6 seconds, so now I’m forced to make a door shim out of a toddler shoe to get into the DMV.

8. Don’t give a new mom the side-eye or an environmental lecture when she buys paper plates. Biodegradable. Compostable. Lifesaver. When I brought home my newborn, I was cooking and cleaning for a family of 4, with no dishwasher, after a C-section with complications. Paper plates could be tossed in the compost after use and were that many fewer dishes I was stuck washing late at night after a toddler was in bed, when I wished I was sleeping instead of preventing a giant ant infestation in my sink.

With all the visitors we had wanting to meet the new baby, I can’t begin to calculate the time saved washing all those extra bowls/plates. Recyclable plastic cups to offer to company when they were visiting were equally as helpful. When someone gave me a HUGE bulk package of paper plates as a baby gift, I thought it was a bit much... until I found myself home with hubby working out of town, trying to do as much housework as possible post-op, with a toddler trying to climb me and a newborn on my boob like a third nipple. If you want to give me a lecture about the environment, you'd better be prepared to come over and wash my dishes.

9. Don’t judge a new mom when they check out at the grocery store with adult diapers. I was given a box of Depends as a baby gift when I was pregnant with my first child, and at the time thought it seemed a bit extreme. However, they made life in those first few days postpartum so much more comfortable!

When I was pregnant with my second child, I grabbed a box for those first few days postpartum, and I was so glad I did! I ended up needing an unplanned C-section, and all of my underwear came right to my incision and were uncomfortable to wear. I ended up wearing Depends (they come up past the incision!) for the first 3 weeks until I could comfortably wear regular underwear again.


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