Ever feel like you’re doing it all alone and you’re about to go under? Being a mom is one of those full-time jobs that truly can’t be done alone. There is always more to do than time to do it. And often, your best efforts to meet everyone’s needs fall short because…
You are only ONE PERSON.
I was recently reminded of this as I met with Kara, a mother of four kids, all under the age of 10. Baseball, gymnastics, homework and church events filled almost every waking hour of her day. And this was on top of the shopping, meal prep and laundry that never seemed to end. The reason she’d come to see me was the sheer exhaustion and depression she’d experienced since the birth of her youngest only 6 months ago. This woman was strong and competent, but she’d been laid low by sheer overwhelm. She was only one person, but the tasks in her day required more than what she could give. She needed help.
When it’s time to ask for help, most of us feel uncomfortable.
I think of all the times I hesitated in picking up the phone and asking for help getting my child to a soccer practice or asking if a friend could watch my toddler so I could get to the dentist. If the tables were turned, I rarely minded. But when it was me doing the asking, it was hard.
Why is it so hard?
There are probably many answers, but at the base of all of them is… fear.
We fear we’ll burden others with our request.
We fear others will think less of us.
We fear that we are weak if can’t do it alone.
Fear can cloud our thinking and get us into trouble. That’s what we discovered with Kara. The addition of her new baby had increased her tasks, depleted her physical strength and she hadn’t adjusted her or her family’s expectations. She recognized that she was overwhelmed but felt too much fear and shame to tell anyone about it. With a little prompting, she was able to ask her husband to help with some of the nighttime feedings and ask her friend to cover carpool for a few weeks. Her husband even came up with the idea to hire a teenager they trusted to come in once a week to help with the laundry and even do some of the shopping. Just a few helping hands shared a load that only a few weeks before had seemed impossible to bear. Gradually her depression lifted. Probably the greatest element in her healing was knowing that she wasn’t alone.
Most of us have no problem seeing that others may need to ask for help. In fact, we often encourage others to ask us for help, even reach out to them and offer our help BEFORE they ask.
But that evil little double standard creeps in when it is our turn to need some extra support. If we’re going to be strong and healthy women, then we need to learn how to grow more comfortable in asking for help when we need it.
Here are 4 things to remember when you need to ask for help.
- The smartest people in the world ask for help.
Look around at the most successful people you know. Yes, they are confident, but they also have surrounded themselves with a team of people who have knowledge, experience and support their goal and vision. They know when they need advice or a skill they don’t have and they ask for help. This doesn’t make them weak. It enhances their strength.
- Asking for help is part of healthy relationships.
When you allow others to see your vulnerability and even help you out, they grow closer to you. This is why serving others feels so good. It’s an honor to bring someone dinner or listen to their problem and help them brainstorm ideas to solve it. You are in their inner circle and that means trust is now becoming part of your relationship. When we try to do everything alone, we set up a fortress wall. Sure, no one is “burdened” by our requests, but they also are not allowed to get close to us.
- Asking for help keeps you humble.
As women, we can easily fall into the “superwoman” trap. There is a certain kind of pride that goes with thinking we should do it all. But remember that saying: “Pride goeth before a fall?” In a weird kind of way, thinking we are invincible and having unfair and unrealistic expectations for ourselves can be a prideful trap that hurts us more than we realize. When you ask for help, it keeps you humble. If I had to choose any characteristic that I wanted to strengthen in my life it would humility. Because humility allows us to learn and grow.
- Asking for help models healthy behavior for your kids
Our kids are watching everything we do. It’s how they are learning to be an adult. When you ask for help, they are learning that there will be times when they too will need the support of others.
So be smart, stay humble and ask for help when you need it. And remember that one day very soon, it will be you who is helping out someone else. We’re all in this together!
For more on why it’s a good idea to sometimes ask for help, check out Ever Feel Like No One is Taking Care of You?
I’d love to hear how what you think about asking for help. Please join in the discussion and leave a comment below!
Take care of you!