Friday, August 23, 2013
How Moms Can Get Help
I never met a mom who thought she had enough help. So here's a few ideas to make your days a little easier. Some ideas come from me, and some from other moms, but they're all offered from someone who's been there, done that, and wants to pass on what she's learned.
1. Ask for it. Moms sometimes have trouble asking for help, either out of pride or because they don't want to burden those around them. "For me, the word ‘help’ stuck in my throat like a fishbone," admitted author Serena Kirby. "When you don’t ask for help you don’t get support and research shows with decreased support comes increased isolation, anxiety, fatigue and depression," she continued. So, overcome your reluctance, and ask for the help you need!
2. Ask your husband. Whether it's a small task like a changing a diaper or a big task like firing up the grill to make dinner, your husband might cheerfully pitch in to help on difficult days. You can also ask him to take the kids somewhere to do an activity they all enjoy, like biking or swimming or going to the movies. How will that make you feel? "Oh. So. Grateful," said my friend Tara when her husband recently barbecued for dinner.
3. Ask your friend. One day I saw a mom with two baby strollers sitting in Starbucks. Curious, I asked her what she was doing. She was watching both babies while her friend got a haircut, and her friend had promised to do the same for her. What a genius idea! Friends can also take stroller walks together if they have only one or two kids apiece, or meet at the park if they have multiple munchkins. My friend Beth frequently offers to get me a gallon of milk and loaf of bread when she swings by the grocery store. It can save me from an hour's errand with a bunch of cranky kids bound on destroying the store.
4. Pray for it. Don't underestimate the power that fifteen minutes of prayer can add to your day. St. Teresa of Avila suggests that you take the peace that you find in prayer and carry it with you, careful not to spill it, as you take care of your daily duties. Just picturing that image can help restore calmness and peace.
5. Pray more for it. Prayer groups combine prayer and friendship. Most of them are happy if you bring a few kids to play on the rug while the moms chat and pray. Writer Bonnie Krueger has received a great deal of comfort and support from joining a group of moms who pray for their children, and their children's teachers, administrators, classmates, and school. "No longer do I passively spend my day worrying about my kids in their school environment. I am actively seeking God to bring Him my concerns; and also quick to give Him the glory when we see prayers answered," Bonnie said.
6. Get it as a gift. My friend Bette, a mother of seven and grandmother of many more, once received a gift certificate for a full house cleaning as a Christmas gift. She kept it until a day she really needed it, and said it was one of the best gifts she had ever gotten. If people are stumped on what to give you for Christmas or your birthday, you could always ask for this!
7. Listen for it. Sometimes we tune out other people's observations or advice because it sounds like criticism. But sometimes another person's perspective can be invaluable. Writer Amy Skalicky related that "a friend, who had the professional knowledge to do so, shared with me years ago that she observed in my daughter sensory processing issues. I had no idea at the time, and afterwards, I realized that a number of people had made the same observations, but did not have the courage to say something to me. ...At any rate, I appreciate this lady to this day, for it spawned a completely different view of my daughter and myself as her mother."
8. Pay (a little) for it. My 12-year-old daughter Lelia really wants to earn money so she she can pay her half of her cell-phone bill. I offer Lelia a few dollars an hour to be a mother's helper and watch my 3-year-old while I'm nearby taking care of the other kids or doing something else. It frees up my time, and gives my daughter a chance to learn responsibility and earn money.
9. Close the bathroom door. For those of you who go to the bathroom with the door open to maintain constant availability to your kids (you know who you are), shut it. My friend Sharon says she leaves her children sitting on the floor in the hallway staring disconsolately at the bathroom door. She still won't let them in. Sometimes mommy guilt can be taken too far.
10. Flash back to a simpler time. Remember your own childhood without car seats, bike helmets, electrical outlet covers, and a million other safety devices? You're still here, aren't you? There's a fine line between being safety-conscious and being safety-obsessed. If you ever start to panic, remember "what our parents did wasn't so bad," advised writer April Carvelli.
11. Think out of the box. If it's too difficult or expensive to arrange for a night-time date with your husband, arrange a breakfast date instead, recommended Lauren from G+. Drop the kids off at school or day-care and go in to work an hour or two late, if your employer won't mind. Or if your parents are visiting or live in the area, ask them to watch the kids a few hours on a weekend morning, just because.
12. Give in to your kids. If you automatically respond "no" to virtually any request by your kids, try saying "yes." It may totally change the way they relate to you. Once I was so sick with the stomach flu that I could barely get off the couch, so I let the kids eat Twizzlers for breakfast and watch tv all day. They remember it fondly as the day mommy "just gave up." And surprisingly, they didn't start to expect Twizzlers for breakfast every day.
13. Organize a little. You've heard it a million times, because it's true. Organization really makes everything run more smoothly and easily. But organizing everything might be out of your league right now. So organize a little. Spend 15 minutes organizing one drawer. Or commit to accomplishing just one thing a day beyond your normal household chores -- returning one phone call or making one doctor's appointment. Slow progress is still progress. You'd be amazed how it adds up.
14. Organize a lot. If you're desperate for a major over-haul and willing to invest the time and effort to make it happen, have I got a book for you. A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot gives you step-by-step instructions for organizing every aspect of your life. Scheduling things at the optimal time makes them happen more quickly and with less hassle. The pay-off is huge.
So, go out there and get the help you need!