Before I became a mom, I was one of those women who rarely asked for help. I was incredibly stubborn and believed that I could – and should – achieve everything I wanted to achieve and overcome every challenge I faced on my own. If something was hard, I just worked harder. If I didn’t know how to do something, I took the time to learn it. And if someone offered support, I viewed it as a handout and said no thanks.
In truth, my whole “I can do everything myself” approach didn’t work that well back then. But I couldn’t fully see that until I had my daughter.
When she arrived, I still tried to do it all. I told friends to forget the meal train and instead just come over for dinner because I had plenty of time to cook. I told my mom and mother-in-law that we loved having them visit but that I didn’t need them to do chores or watch the baby so I could rest. I even had trouble letting my husband help so I quickly took over the nighttime feeding and rocking and diaper-changing duties just to prove I could handle it.
Looking back, I can see how I was setting myself up for failure. How I was wearing myself down and putting myself in danger of completely burning out. But I didn’t want to change because I also believed that it would make me less of a mom and less of a woman if I couldn’t handle the demands of motherhood alone.
Then, after many, many overwhelming days and evenings spent crying, I finally realized that something had to change. I had to get comfortable accepting help.
If you can relate, the first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re resistant to the idea of accepting help in the first place. So ask yourself What am I making it mean about myself as a woman or a mother if I ask for help or accept help when it’s offered? And why am I choosing to think that having help is a bad thing?
Then, if you really want to dig deep, it also helps to understand what you're giving up by trying to do it all. To figure that out, you need to ask yourself What am I missing out on if I don’t ask for help or accept it when someone offers it?
The first two questions were eye-opening for me but that last question is the one I use again and again when I find myself saying no to help because I think I can do it all. Once I understand what I’m giving up, I almost always realize my life is better when I have help and support as a mom.
Here’s what I mean: this past weekend, my in-laws offered to take my girls to the beach so my husband and I could enjoy a few kid-free days. In the past, I’d wave their offer off. I’d feel ashamed for admitting that I’d love a break from parenting and instead join them at the beach. But then I asked myself What will I miss out on if I don’t accept their offer? My answer? I’d miss the chance to connect with my husband and do all the things we used to do together before we had kids.
So, I said yes even though it was uncomfortable. And because of that, I spent the weekend reading and resting and binge-watching House of Cards. I went out for a curfew-free date night with my husband and slept in until 8 on Sunday. We even went for a hike and out for tacos in the middle of the afternoon.
When my girls came home after two days away, I was rested and overjoyed to see them. And I’d learned a valuable lesson that accepting help is one of the best things I can do to create time and space to take care of me.
P.S. Next week, I’m sharing the first interview in my Thoughts on Motherhood series and I can’t wait to introduce you to mother and leadership coach Sarah Kaler. If you want to get a sneak peak of the wisdom Sarah shared, be sure to check out my Instagram feed for a few inspiring quotes.