As promised, today is part two of my back-to-school primer for adults. On Wednesday I covered some of the top things to avoid when talking to your working parent friends. Today I'm going to list the conversational pitfalls to avoid with your stay-at-home friends.
1. "So, what do you all day when the kids are at school?"
I can almost guarantee this is not how most stay-at- home parents spend their days. In fact, it's much more probable their days include things like frantic laundry (currently under consideration for Olympic sport status) and grocery shopping.
2. "Do you mind picking up/dropping off/hosting a playdate?"
Remember how you get annoyed when your stay-at-home friends try to make unauthorized use of your nanny? They feel the same way. Just because they are at home doesn't mean they are a dumping ground, errand running resource or alternative childcare option.
3. "I almost didn't recognize you."
It's true. There are the days when your stay-at-home friends might wear the same pair of coffee-stained sweatpants three days in a row. It's hard to get motivated to dress nicely when little people are treating your thighs like their own personal painting canvas (smear of ketchup here, or is it blood, dab of mustard there).
That they've become 'almost unrecognizable' isn't going to put anyone in a good mood. As I mentioned on Wednesday, general, unspecific comments about people's appearance can go downhill in a hurry.
4. Your status as a working parent is not a get-out-of-volunteering card.
If this statement tempts you to enter into a comparison of who works harder, you're missing the point. There is always a need for volunteers and the beneficiaries of all that volunteerism are some pretty important people, namely your children.
True, many of the hands-on opportunties are during the school day, but most schools have numerous weekend and evening events that need to be staffed. The other thing to remember is any form of help is appreciated, from offering to provide the Saturday soccer game snacks to using your working parent expertise to create organizational spreadsheets for the school carnival.
I know. It's the same rule I gave the stay-at-home parents. As I was writing today's post I realized most of these tips are just the flip side of the ones for working parents.
I've been a stay-at-home parent, a working parent and a work-from-home parent and this rule has served equally well in all those capacities. It's important to remember you have something in common with almost EVERY parent you meet, in that (excepting the child abusers) everyone is trying to do the absolute best for their children.
When you think about it, that's a pretty big thing to have in common. Chances are, if you can avoid the conversational no-nos outlined in my last two blog posts, you might find out you have even more in common.