2. Ask for and accept help
You may have heard the adage: it takes a village to raise a child. While we have largely moved away from collective childrearing as a society, this phrase still rings true in many ways. Asking for and accepting help can play an important role in protecting the well-being of parents, even if it feels difficult to do so. Without the help of others, we may end up feeling overwhelmed or overextended, which can negatively affect our health.
If you struggle to ask for or accept help, here are a few strategies you can use to help you lean into support systems.
Think small. It’s common for parents to feel like they’re ‘burdening’ others by asking for help. One way to overcome this is to come up with a variety of smaller tasks that don’t feel like big commitments for others. For instance, you may ask a neighbor to grab a few miscellaneous things at the grocery store or pick up an online order for you. Alternatively, you could ask a friend to help you get some time away by asking them to take your child for a short walk a few times each week or watch their monitor during naptime. Brainstorming potential tasks in advance can help you respond and accept help when someone offers it.
Change of perspective. Sometimes, we may feel apprehensive about letting others care for our children because they may not ‘parent’ them the same way we do. This can hinder our ability to accept much-needed help by focusing on slight differences rather than the benefits of having support. When someone offers to help watch your kids, try to adapt your perspective and practice flexibility. You can tell yourself that even though this person may care for your child in a different way than you would, it can still be good and helpful. If a person’s style of care does impact your child, you can always change your mind.
Collective tasks. Asking a person to take on a care task by themselves may feel like too much to ask. However, you can also invite friends, family or neighbors to help you complete tasks as a team. For instance, you may invite a family member over to help you cook dinner or watch your children while you prepare a meal. Alternatively, you may ask someone to accompany you while you’re out doing errands so that you don’t have to worry about caring for your child while trying to complete other tasks. Try to think through some everyday tasks that you struggle with on your own and come up with a list of people who may be willing to help. Tackling things as a team can also help you socialize and get support from loved ones outside of your immediate household.