The Best Parenting Advice My Friends Gave Me


The day our twins were born, we all came down with heavy colds — the runny nose, fuzzy head kind that makes you want to down a Lemsip and disappear under a duvet. No chance of that though, not that day!

My parents came up to give us a hand. I can still remember my mum standing by the hospital bed as I wearily attempted to  breastfeed the twins only to realize it’s impossible to do that  and simultaneously blow your own nose. My mum wanted to help but didn’t know how to, so hovered indecisively for a moment or two before opting to prop both twins onto my breasts, freeing my hands so I could blow my own nose… it  seemed the best solution. I’m pretty sure my dad wished he wasn’t there. I have never felt less independent. I like being able to do things for myself, however motherhood has forced me to learn how to receive help.

Our families are very supportive, but they do not live locally. In fact they are hours away. At 37 weeks into my pregnancy I begged the obstetrician to bring forward the date for my C section. By that stage I could only walk about 50 meters before I had to sit down. I was no longer able to drive because I couldn’t reach the foot pedals, and I had long since passed the stage of being able to reach into the bottom of a supermarket trolley. I was as wide as I am tall (which isn’t very), but the thing that convinced the obstetrician to agree to my request for an earlier delivery date was the fact that I had started to see stars – quite literally – I  never realized this was actually a real phenomena until it happened to me.

A few weeks before the twins were born our parents started taking turns to visit and help out. They were the ramparts holding us up until we were able to stand alone again. Obviously our parents have their own lives to lead, and this level of help was not sustainable for them or us. We needed to re-establish ourselves as a family unit, and that’s when my friends sprang into action.

Two of my good friends had already had sets of twins and quite frankly they became my twin gurus. The best advice they gave was actually very simple but quite hard to do.

If someone offers to help you, thank them and ask what kind of help they are offering. Make a plan to put that offer into action. If people genuinely want to help but don’t really know how to, give them examples of what they can do, small things and bigger things, once a month things, weekly things, one-off things. Then give them time to think about what they would like to do and take it from there.

I followed this advice, and as a result I had a whole range of people who all helped in various different ways. Lots of friends made dinners for us. L took Leila to her ballet lessons every week. H came round once a week and made me cups of tea, chatted to us all, helped with bath times. C cleaned my fridge and invited Leila round to play with her girls a lot. R cleaned my house. L, who is brave, took both Leila and Edward to a Chinese New Year celebration for a few hours. A few friends would babysit for an hour or two in the day time so I could go to appointments/shops/have a bath, whatever was most needed. And the list could go on – they all helped in different ways.

I suppose I could have tried to stay independent and kid myself that I could do it all alone. I’d have soon crashed and burned and been unable to look after myself or my family.

I could have smiled and said thanks when people offered to help but not taken it further. I might then have received plenty of good wishes but little practical help after all.

As the kids have got older I’ve needed less practical help, but my friends and family have remained a vital source of support. My fellow mum friends are thankfully not a competitive bunch who endlessly harp on about children’s achievements. We do celebrate successes but we can also talk about what’s difficult and what’s really going on. I honestly think motherhood would have been a million times more difficult without these friends of mine. This weekend we’re going away together, just as we have done every year or two since our kids were past babyhood. We’ll catch up over cake, wine and blackberry gin, and I know being in their company will be like water to my soul, renewing my energy for family life.

A version of this post was originally written for Family Fund in October 2016.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Filipovic018


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to General Parenting

Mom holding daughter in hospital, smiling

How to Help Your Child Cope With a Medical Emergency

It seemed odd the nanny was calling me at work. With a shaky voice she asked if I was sitting down. I wasn’t, but I said I was. My daughter was in an ambulance following an accident she had at the pool. The EMT got on the phone and said, “She’s going to be all right, but [...]
a piece of paper that says [dare to dream] on palms of someone's hands, with a star background

My Child With a Rare Condition Taught Me About Never Giving Up on My Dreams

As a parent, I try to inspire my children to follow their dreams. I tell them to work hard and not to fear rejection. “You can be anything you want with hard work and determination,” I say. But I failed to practice what I preach lately, and my son who lives with many more challenges [...]

4 Rules My Husband and I Set for Ourselves During Our Child’s Hospitalization

In the beginning of our daughter Wendy’s hospitalization, my husband Michael and I arrived at the hospital at different times. I had first flown with Wendy from our home in Vermont to a hospital in New Hampshire. Then a few hours later when it had been determined that Wendy was in kidney failure, she and [...]

Dear Jason Chaffetz: This Is Why My iPhone Isn’t Going Anywhere

Dear Mr. Chaffetz, Yesterday, while the nation was talking about the proposed replacement for the ACA and I was busy writing about the importance of “herd coverage” in health insurance, you suggested to low-income Americans that they’d might able to afford healthcare if they would only give up their new iPhones. Now, that remark was quickly and thoroughly [...]