When it come to accepting help with a new baby this comes to mind – It takes a village to raise a child. Have you heard of this saying? 👀 We’ve all heard this, right? But then you look around and you’re wondering ‘Where’s this village? Where are the people who are supposed to be in this village?’ Maybe you’re even asking ‘Where’s the help?’
If you’ve been feeling like you’re alone in raising your child, or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and thinking “This is a lot!” You’re doing so because IT IS 😭. You’re not crazy, losing your mind, or doing something wrong. You might also want to know that this is a common concern for new moms.
You might feel even more alone because there ARE people around you, trying to help. Your partner, family, friends, even in-laws who are eager and happy to help but their way of helping isn’t really “helpful.” By this, I mean the help they offer isn’t what you need exactly.
For example, when I had my first child, accepting and asking for help was extremely difficult. I assumed that I was better equipped to take care of my baby since I grew him in my body and I was breastfeeding him. Can you relate to this? 👀. In addition, I have this background of helping children and families. So who else would know better? Additionally, just the thought of telling them what to do when all they want is to hold the baby, felt SO awkward.
But here is the problem, it is UNREALISTIC to try to do it all alone. It is also unrealistic for you and your partner to try and do it all.
So what do you do instead?
I had to consciously make a mindset shift and remind myself that my partner is my child’s other parent and he is capable of taking care of our baby. Other things I accepted was that he just might know things that I don’t, I want my baby to have a good relationship with their second parent, and for the sake of my mental health, I can’t be the only one taking care of my baby.
This mindset shift is not easy, but it is possible! In fact, it is necessary.
“Valerie, everybody wants to help in the beginning with things I prefer to do myself.”
😩Yes, you’re right – and the important part is -”everyone wants to help” and this is where a little direction matters.
That very early stage of having a newborn is usually when family and friends are eager to help. It is normal for everybody to be excited about the new baby and want to hold them, feed them, and even change them. But for you, since you grew your baby in your body during your pregnancy and now you might be breastfeeding, which means they are with you frequently, you might have a desire to keep them close. Things like holding and feeding your baby are things you feel like you have to do yourself. And there is nothing wrong with that. Other things you might appreciate help with might be:
- The dishes
- Cooking food
- Taking care of the other kids
- Taking the garbage out
Did I hit the nail on the head with this list? 😃
If you are nodding yes, there is something you need to know:
Your helpers do not necessarily know you don’t need help with that. You need to tell them what you need help with. That’s the only way for them to know and be helpful.
Having help with tasks like the ones I mentioned, allows you to have some downtime, feed your baby peacefully without worrying about the 1000 other things there is to do. Maybe it will even give you much needed time to take a nap. Most people that want to help, immediately assume you want a break from your baby because you’re with them all the time but if that’s not what you want or need help with, then keep reading.
When it comes to asking for help, if you’re not used to it, it can feel super awkward or uncomfortable at first. But I encourage you to stick with it because over time it gets easier. Think of it like picking up a new skill, you need repetition to get really good at it. Once you learn it – your hard work will pay off.
Useful phrases when asking for help
So you’re ready to get the kind of help you want but you don’t know what to say. Perhaps this is what is holding you back. Are you asking the following questions?
How do I ask for help?
What do I say exactly?
“I don’t want to feel like I’m putting a burden on the other person”
“I don’t want them to feel like I’m pushing them away.”
Like I mentioned earlier, asking for help can be daunting. Sometimes it is tricky finding the right words so let’s practice together using the following phrases:
- Hey, could you please help me with the dishes? I would really appreciate it.
- I’m happy to hold the baby or while I feed the baby, it’ll be really helpful for me if you could please give me some water.
- Could you please give me a snack? Thank you so much.
If someone offers to get you a snack, instead of saying, “I got it myself,” take a deep breath in and say, “yes, thank you.” That brief pause is very important. When you pause, you give yourself a chance to avoid saying no out of habit.
Try practicing saying “Yes, thank you.” It will get easier the more you do it, I promise.
Keep in mind that the tasks people help you with might not be done perfectly like you want but it’s a start. It’s an opportunity for them to learn how to help you and for you to learn how to ask and accept help. This way, their help can be actually helpful rather than stressful. This will result in them wanting to help more over the long term, and you getting the support you need. Win – Win in my books.
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