I believe people are generally quite terrible at asking for help. Especially us mum’s. Think about the number of times you’ve said one of these: “It’s OK I can do it”, “No thanks, I’m on it”, “It’s fine, I’ve done it loads of times”. Now compare that with how many times you’ve said: “Can you help me?”.
Yes, mum’s are amazing, we multitask like nobody else on the planet, we give, we play, we love, we feed, we plan, we clean, we work, we listen. We don’t however like to ask for help or accept it when it’s offered, and we don’t always tell the truth when we’re finding things really tiring, difficult, stressful or depressing.
Only tonight I burnt three of my knuckles on the oven – ouch! It hurt so much my face and body went hot, I ran it under the cold tap until my hand went numb but as soon as I turned the water off it was agony. So what did I do next..? Well I put both kids to bed. I read to Florence whilst feeding Eden with a cold flannel wrapped around my fingers. I was in pain the entire time and constantly telling myself “almost done, don’t think of the pain” when what I really should have said was: “Hey Ben can you take over?” He would have done it in a flash, but it seems asking for help is actually more difficult than putting two young kids to bed single-handedly (literally).
What’s so wrong with asking for help anyway?
We somehow think it makes us weak or seem like failures. I don’t know about you but for me it might have something to do with how my mum was. She told me time and time again that my Dad worked away a lot when we were little, that her mum didn’t help her with us and that she raised us pretty much alone. What I would have heard is: “I did it, so you can do it”. My mum didn’t mean to give me this message, but it’s what I came to believe. I forget that my mum didn’t work, that she was 10 years younger than I was when I started a family. Nutrition and diet planning wasn’t as important to her and she didn’t have the distractions of email, WhattsApp and social media. Times have changed. And yet our willingness to ask for help hasn’t.
And what effect is this having on our children?
I’m only seeing it now. When Florence needs help, she doesn’t ask; she cries, moans or get’s irritated. I haven’t properly taught her that she gets to ask for help whenever she likes. I haven’t displayed in my actions how this might look. So how can I change this? I’ll keep reminding her that when she asks for help I will listen. I will make sure that when she does ask for help I do in fact listen! I won’t help her when she cries without asking and most importantly I will make sure she see’s me asking for help when I need it.
Why is it so important to ask for help?
It will make us more loving and here is why: I know when I’m running on empty; I’m pretty irritable and I usually have a vacant ‘here but not here’ look about me. I’m no fun for Florence or Eden and I can feel myself watching the clock for bedtime. How loving am I being in those moments? Not very! This afternoon I asked Ben to play with Florence so that I could go for a walk with the buggy as Eden slept. I took a slow and quiet trip to Sainsbury’s where I bought some essentials – nappies and chocolate. When I came home I was a different person. I was happy, full of energy and grateful. What a difference a walk makes! In doing this I can see that me asking for help doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong when I’m having a moment of weakness. It doesn’t make me a failure, it makes me a success for the rest of the day.
Asking for help can make us feel vulnerable, but let’s see this as a good thing. Sharing our vulnerability with others can make us feel really connected, and give others permission to do the same.
What if you don’t have a partner who’s around as much as mine, or parents who live as close? You can ask friends, siblings or trusty neighbours. You may be surprised to see how people love to help. How good do you feel when you help someone who needs a hand?
Despite our reluctance to ask for help, our ability to give it is pretty special. So when a friend or fellow mummy offers you help, don’t say “it’s OK”, grab it with both hands and run. Let’s get better at asking for (or accepting) help and show our children that when they need help, all they have to do is ask.