You might have been a strong, independent, capable woman who did everything on her own before you had a baby and feel like you have to be that way after. But you don’t. There’s no failure in being vulnerable and accepting help. You know the old saying, it takes a village? Well, mama, they were right. This parenting thing is hard and it’s relentless and you need to know when, and how, to ask for help.
Asking for help might seem easy, but in reality, it can actually be really difficult.
Even if you have a partner who is very hands-on, the reality of those early days of motherhood is that the majority of care, and especially if you’re breastfeeding, falls to the mother. And many of us are conditioned to believe we can, and should do it all. And then we feel like failures when the harsh reality hits and we feel like we are drowning.
Here are some tips to help you ask for help:
Get your partner involved
Usually, the partner is your first point of call, and sometimes they will be proactive, but sometimes they need a gentle nudge. Get them involved by giving them a task they can own each day – like the bath. This will help them feel important and will give them precious time to bond with the baby. But more importantly, it will give you some time to yourself. Have a rest, go for a walk or watch some trashy TV.
Enlist friends and family
Chances are your nearest and dearest are just itching to help (and spend time with your baby) but they don’t want to step on your toes.
Clarify what it is you need
Don’t think people can read your mind. Be clear about what you need and when you need it. That said, however, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overtired and you’re not exactly sure about what you need, try and write down how you are feeling and think about what could help make that better and go from there.
Make the most of visitors while they’re there
Visitors in those early weeks and months with a baby can be exhausting and overwhelming so make them work for you while they’re there. Write out a to-do list that they can help you with while they are there, or get them to pick up some groceries for you on their way.
Get someone to do the asking for you
If asking makes you feel too uncomfortable, get someone to do it for you. Task your partner with setting up a roster for help or meals. Or get your mum to rally your siblings and relatives to step up.
Get professional help
Whether that’s someone to speak to about how your feeling, or help with a specific problem like a lactation consultant to help with breastfeeding or a mothercraft nurse to help with sleep problems. Babies are hard but there are trained professionals who can help make it easier.
Outsource your village
Did we mention that it takes a village to raise a child? Well, we don’t all have that village readily available, or yours might not be stepping up so you might need to take matters into your own hands. These days you can find someone to do just about anything online. Whether it’s childcare, cleaning, cooking, odd jobs, a massage or literally anything. Weigh up what areas you need some relief and your budget and if there’s no other way of managing it yourself, then if not, you might need to outsource it.