Saying what we need can be challenging at any life stage, and it doesn’t get easier after you have a baby. In this time of literal battles, like carrying a stroller up some stairs, and figurative battles, like struggling with postpartum depression, it’s not strange to feel uncomfortable asking for help.
It’s human to feel like we’re imposing on our friends and family when we ask for a helping hand. On the other hand, trying to get through baby care by yourself will leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed. Parenting your new addition requires intense amounts of strength and energy, and it’s okay if you can’t gather them at the time.
To assist you with getting the help you need, here are some strategies for asking your co-workers, family, friends, and partner to lend a hand.
Explain what you need.
In the stressors of the parenthood transition, you’re not always thinking clearly. While you’re up to your ears in dirty diapers and running on fumes, you may feel like you’re hidden by a cloud of things you have to do. Try getting through the mess with a writing activity to get the most helpful support. A journal or to-do list can be an efficient way to sift through what’s going through your head. Once you have your needs written down, you can think about how to communicate them effectively. It would help to list things that feel overwhelming, then sort them into categories from highest to lowest priority.
Keep your to-do list within reach.
Keeping an actual to-do list handy will help give others direction while helping you sort through your thoughts. For example, when people visit, most want to hold the baby. In reality, you need them to scrub the toilet, put in a laundry load, or make you something to eat. What may help is making a list of things you can’t get through and giving it to them when people ask what you need.
Make sure you follow up with people.
It’s already hard enough to reach out to people. However, doing it a second time can make you feel even more uncomfortable. So when a meal delivery service goes missing, or the friend who said she’d help you doesn’t show up, you may feel scared to follow up, but you shouldn’t. Having your needs ignored feels disheartening, primarily when focusing on your baby’s needs, but you should be cared for too. Stay persistent in having your needs met, whatever they are. If your partner isn’t receptive, ask your friends and family. Think about it this way: wouldn’t you want your friend to tell you that you dropped the ball with helping them?
Try supportive online platforms.
In modern times, there are more than enough websites and apps to lighten new parents’ loads. It may help to think about letting one of them digitize your baby-associated needs. New parents can effectively discuss their needs using Trello boards as to-do lists. Their digital organization is often used in work environments, but you can also use them for responsibilities at home. You can also use online communication to stay on the same page with your partner if you have a busy schedule. Try using communication methods that you both can read.
Have someone delegate for you.
If you feel self-conscious about asking for help, it may help to find someone who can make requests on your behalf. Everyone has that family member or friend who doesn’t hesitate to speak their mind. Well, this is the time to use their power to your advantage. Going through a family member or friend that makes things happen will take something off your plate, and you won’t have to worry about imposing.
Use social media sensibly.
Most people may know from experience that social media can be a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, this sentiment doesn’t change regarding feeling supported after your baby is born. Social media can be the perfect place for new moms to find support from other moms and connect with other community resources and parent groups. While attempting to get the baby to sleep, a mom can scroll through social media to find helpful tips from other parents.
However, when asking for help from family and friends, you shouldn’t broadcast your needs on social media. Posting things like that on social networks can make you feel vulnerable, and you don’t need any added pressure from strangers commenting on your personal life.
Rely on a stranger’s kindness.
If you need to get your stroller through the door or struggle with handling your diaper bag, car keys, and groceries, there’s a time and place to ask a stranger for help. The question is, how do you go about it? The easiest way is to smile and make eye contact, so they know you’re looking at them. You can say, ‘Hi there, would you mind opening the door for me? My hands are so full.’ Always end the conversation by thanking them for their help. People like to feel appreciated for doing a good deed.
Have discussions with your partner.
The most challenging conversation about getting the help you require may be with your partner or spouse. In this relationship, it’s critical to have honest communication at the right time. Choose a time to talk about your needs when you both have some free time and are in a good mood. Try always asking your spouse or partner if it’s a good time to talk before diving into the topic. For example, don’t try to have a serious conversation when you’re both cranky and tired in the middle of the night.
After you’ve had the initial conversation, don’t stop. Discussing what you need isn’t a one-time conversation; instead, it’s an hourly or daily discussion. The best thing for you and your partner is to be open to flexibility and know that sometimes you’ll need more help than others.
In today’s culture of self-reliance, it can be hard to admit we can’t do it all by ourselves. Still, new parenthood is a time of significant adjusting, and there’s no shame in discussing what you need. When you get the help you need, you won’t feel bad that you spoke up.