As a mom of four kids ages 7 and under, I am no stranger to the phrase “you sure have your hands full.” Any time I am out with my girls (even if it’s only two of them) strangers seem to feel the need to comment. I’m sure most people who say this mean well and are trying to be friendly. However, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear this comment over and over again. Here’s why this phrase is annoying for strangers to use and how they can better approach moms with lots of kids.
“You Sure Have Your Hands Full”
First of all, the phrase “you sure have your hands full” is often said in a negative way. This implies that having lots of kids is a burden or a chore. It can be hurtful and dismissive to moms who are proud of their large families and love their children deeply.
I’ve always wanted four children. I come from a large family with three other siblings. I loved the family dynamic we had growing up. As an adult my siblings are some of my closest friends. I want my girls to develop those bonds into adulthood too.
Yes, my husband and I “know what causes kids”. What random stranger has any right to casually joke about our sex life? Parenting is a joy and a privilege. We don’t want to be made to feel like we’re overwhelmed just because we have more than the average number of kids.
Secondly, this comment can be incredibly unhelpful. Instead of acknowledging the hard work that moms with lots of kids do every day, it can make us feel like we’re being judged or criticized. It can also be awkward and uncomfortable, especially if we’re just trying to go about our day and don’t want to engage in small talk with strangers.
What to Say/Do Instead
So how can strangers better approach moms with lots of kids? Here are a few suggestions:
Focus on the positive.
Instead of commenting on how full our hands are, try saying something like, “Your kids are so well-behaved!” or “You’re doing a great job as a mom.”
Offer to help.
If you see a mom struggling to juggle multiple children and bags or strollers, offer to hold a door open or carry something for her. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in making a mom’s day a little bit easier.
No, I don’t mean ask if we’re going to “try for a boy”. If you’re genuinely interested in learning more about my experience with lots of kids, ask me about it! Ask what we love most about having a big family. Or ask how we manage to keep everyone organized and happy.
Treat us like individuals.
Just because we have a lot of kids doesn’t mean we’re all the same! Don’t assume that we’re all tired and stressed out all the time. Also, don’t assume that we all want to talk about our kids all the time. Treat us like the unique individuals that we are, with our own interests, hobbies, and personalities.
Ultimately, the phrase “you sure have your hands full” is a pretty rude thing for strangers to say to moms with lots of kids. Instead of making us feel judged, why not focus on the positive. Find ways to support and encourage each other as parents. We’re all in this together, and a little bit of kindness and understanding can go a long way in making the world a better place for moms and their children.