Five ways to ask for help if you're a new mum
We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a visit to mothers group, and you’re the only new mum there who can’t remember the last time they washed their hair, sleep is a long forgotten pastime and you’re pretty sure that your baby is the only one who cries all night long.
Or maybe you’re scrolling through social media, seeing picture after picture of perfectly tidy homes, while you’ve still got the dishes piled up from dinner two nights ago taking up room in your sink, a laundry full of washing and the toys from tummy time are creating an interesting visual pattern (or mess) on your lounge floor.
Everyone has moments when they feel like they’re doing a rubbish job at this parenting thing, and the feelings of inadequacy, guilt or pressure that can come with comparing yourself to others is something that lots of new mothers (and to be honest, even those of us who have long passed that baby stage) can easily fall into.
When it rears its ugly head, it can be easy to draw into yourself, forget that all these things you’re comparing yourself to are actually just a tiny portion of reality, and block out any offers of help. Which ironically is the time when you probably need it the most.
If this is sounding like you, here are some tips that might make taking the big step of asking for help that little bit easier.
1. Comparison is the thief of joy.
It’s can be really hard to not compare, especially if you’ve got friends with kids around the same age, but remember that you only ever see a tiny portion of what goes on in people’s lives online or in situations like mother’s group, or the school gate. Everyone has times when they find parenting tricky, overwhelming or hard. You’re doing the best you can by your family, and that’s what matters most.
2. No judgement.
Reaching out for help is never a sign of failure or weakness. Nor is accepting it. And if you’ve got friends who think it is, you probably need new friends. Ok – maybe you don’t need to abandon your friendship circle just yet, but try reach out to those you trust to have your back and will listen without judgement.
3. Surround yourself with people who get it.
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It might sound naff, and it totally is, but as your kids get older (or maybe you’re super lucky and stumbled on them in that first mothers group meeting) you’ll discover people who share your parenting values (and a bottle of red wine). Treasure them, as they’ll be your most valuable support team members; taking midnight phone calls, picking your kids up from school if you’re stuck at work and delivering meals when you’re sick.
4. If people offer, take it.
If you’re like me, the thought of actually taking someone up on those offers of help is so absurd, they may as well be offering to drive you to the moon. However, sometimes it’s worth swallowing your pride and accepting the help graciously, as hard as it might be. Remember, you’re not a burden; most people don’t offer to help if they don’t mean it and you’ll hopefully be able to return the favour one day.
5. Get the professionals in.
If you’re at a point where you’re really struggling, or maybe it’s not something you can speak to your friends or family about, or you feel like it’s more than just a bad day (week, month, whatever), don’t hesitate in getting the professionals in. There are lots of services available to help you, and you’re not alone.