Asking for help is not an admission of failure; it is a realisation that you don’t have to do everything on your own.
It took me a long time to be able to ask for help, especially once I became a parent and then a single parent. I had to overcome the fear of rejection – that if someone said no, it was because they didn’t like me. I wouldn’t ask because in my mind others were sure to judge me, and see that I wasn’t good enough. I had an inner belief and rule that said I made my bed, so I had to lie in it.
Primitive cultures knew that it took a team effort for their community to run successfully. It was the group that took care of the children, and it was everyone’s responsibility to look after each other.
There was a time when societies and communities found there was always someone to help without asking. Everyone had tasks to do each day, and that included whatever children were running around their feet – theirs or not. The world was perceived as safer and children could explore and parents didn’t panic if they had not seen or heard their child in the last two minutes. There was a simplicity and naturalness around raising children, and it was viewed as a job in itself, to stay at home and care for the family.
I believe we have lost the ability to just ask for help or help out. Now we find ourselves in a time where life is very different. Quite often both parents work and they pay for someone to watch their children. Caring for the family is no longer given the time requirements or value it once was, as most people live away from family and close friends. Many parents I have spoken to feel they have to make up parent, which leads to parenting from guilt or fear. Employers may frown upon parents asking to take leave or time out from work to care for a child, which only amplifies the guilt. Most people are so busy and are dealing with their own responsibilities that they have no time left to help out their friends, neighbours or family members.
Over time I found a common thread in many of my clients who were coming to me for parenting support – most parents felt they needed to be seen as they can cope with anything – that they were viewed by others as super Mum/Dad. The truth was they weren’t coping and didn’t feel super.
I decided it was time to let everyone know it is strength, not weakness, to ask for help, and offer solutions to overcome this limiting way of thinking and parenting. Suggestions are listed below so you can easily ask for help when you need it.
Open Communication – Let every family member have a voice, and their thoughts be heard, in an environment of respect. If you need help at home you can ask your partner and children. A damaging habit I have seen – which is not open communication – is a person expecting their non-verbal queues (such as huffing, banging and under the breath comments) to be interpreted as, SOME HELP NOW WOULD BE GOOD. Remember that no one is in your shoes, with your responsibilities and view of the world – and no one is a mind reader. This is where clear and open communication is vital.
Unconditional Support – Unconditional means there are no conditions on the love and help you give as well as you receive. You don’t have to be good, wealthy, beautiful and perfect to deserve help. Creating a network of support that gives you a sense that you are accepted for who you are will make it easier for you to ask for help guilt free. This works both ways as you can be there for others without any expectations of reward or appreciation as well. Rewards always come to those who give – it may not be where you think it will come from, however it will come back to you.
Do your best – You can only do the best you can in that moment. Knowing that you are doing your best will allow you to ask the right questions – “If this isn’t working what can I do or find out to make it work?” “If I am doing my best why do I still feel like I am going round in circles and what can I do differently?” These sorts of questions take you out of feeling defeated, overwhelmed and comparing yourself to someone else. You can then seek help in the right places.
Stop, think and listen – Stop and take a moment to consider 3 things-
- Why do I need to ask for help?
- What do I need the most help with now?
- Who is the best person to ask?
Check in with yourself first, and take notice of the answers that come to you. Then rate the following areas of your life out of ten. One being completely overwhelmed and ten being on track and comfortable-
- Being organised
- Family time
- Time with extended family and friends
- Healthy lifestyle
- You time
- Home duties
What areas have you identified that you are struggling with? What could you ask for help with? What would increase your satisfaction levels each day if something was done for you regularly or occasionally? Most importantly – who is the best person to ask? Help comes in many different forms – from hiring a cleaner, occasional day care or babysitting, help from family members, help from your partner, and even swapping ‘services’ with a trusted colleague or friend.
Go ahead today – identify where you need help and get the right people on board to give you a hand. You will feel so much better and your children will learn a valuable skill, so that when they need help they can ask for it too.