Why asking for help doesn’t work for overwhelmed moms

“Why didn’t you ask for help?”

In the moment, it never seems like there is a good answer. You’ve clearly denied your child something great, or at least good.

Feature Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

Would you let your children be hurt before admitting you don’t have it all together?

You’ve researched advice on how to get your family’s life in order, but all you get is, “Ask for help.” These authors assume that your helpful mom lives in town. Your husband can pitch in. You could pay somebody to help you.

You’ve tried asking for help. It didn’t work. The favor indebted you. Worse, the “help” was ineffective. Like when I paid for grocery delivery, and the produce was inedible.

In reality, your family is far away, or a drain. Your husband is working. The budget is spent.

Is it your own fault for having children without support?

Why asking for help typically backfires

It seems simple. Someone else has the ability to cover your short fall. They help. Your need is met. Except, that isn’t the end.

By asking for help, you’ve indebted yourself. You and your progeny are now under an expectation — even if you don’t know what it is. It might be a payback. You’ve delayed your problem. It might be an expectation of how you make the most of help. You’ve grown your work load.

When your commitments are growing and your resources are static, that’s overwhelming.

What asking for help is not

Many people think that advice is the same as help. It isn’t. Advice is the cheap (actually free) thing you’re getting from this article. It allows you to help yourself, but it isn’t actually help.

Admitting that you have more to learn is different than allowing someone into your mothering world to fix your problem(s). When you invite someone inside the boundary of your family, you lose some control.

Losing control feels overwhelming.

How to know if asking for help is worth it

Of course there is a time to relax your grip on the steering wheel of your family’s life and accept help. How do you know whether it’s really going to make your life better?

Here are a few hints that might indicate that now would be a good time to ask for some outside assistance.

Was it offered? Did your friend say she’d love to keep your kids? Is there a grocery service advertisement in your mail?

Can you afford the payment? My groceries are now delivered by a woman who knows produce better than anyone I’ve ever met, and dotes on my kids. While my husband did a masters degree, and my toddler’s wiggle defied all safety belts, it was worth the marked up groceries.

The best help is free. We can’t repay the mom who drove us to the hospital when my daughter broke her arm while camping. The elderly couple who gave us the coin for a luggage cart when we got stuck in London while moving around the world has no ability to impose their expectations on us.

Most of the time, however, you aren’t overwhelmed by a crisis. Help isn’t what you need, because your inability to handle life isn’t the problem.

What‘s really sucking the life out of your family

It’s the little things. New moms just need to keep their jobs, feed and change infants, and stretch the budget to cover one more person.

Moms supply donations, snacks, extra sets of clothes, and costumes. You help with home work and get places on time. Your calendar is cluttered with activities related to activities. What might have been free time is spent organizing all the stuff.

None of it is a big deal. ALL OF IT is overwhelming.

Getting places on time with kids is tough. (Photo by SOCMIA Fotografía on Unsplash)

Our culture has been obsessed with growth for years. Every organization in society and every facet of our lives must improve. And it must all be more fun. Multiply by the number of people in your care.

We moms are overwhelmed by the strain of multiplying micro demands.

How to vanquish the overwhelm, and rescue your sense of well being

To take back control, moms need to do two things.

Start by sharpening your management skills. Time management. Self care. Home management. Money management. E-mail management. Learn to manage each domain and feel the overwhelm fade.

Next, make saying “no” a habit. Know what is important to your family, and cancel the rest.

I’ve found that the little “no’s” are the important ones.

Our kids have energy and interests. You don’t want lose the sunny day at the park watching them play a sport they love. You want to lose the stress of snacks, and pictures. Sign up, but skip the snacks. Let your child play the piccolo, but skip the Christmas recital.

Do you want to make a detailed scrap book with beautiful pictures? Do you want to go out with just some other moms? Does your baby need those clothes?

“No” is a valid answer. So is “yes”. But, you need to be the one deciding.

The hidden benefits of going without

It is scary to start saying, “No.” What about disappointing your kids? What about their skill set and college career?

If this is a change for your family dynamic, your children may give some push back initially. In the long run, they’ll be grateful.

Kids intuitively know that they need a mom who has it under control more than they need the opportunity to max out all their activities or own all the toys. Children would much rather have a great relationship with their mom, than go to one more activity.

Let yourself start enjoying your kids. (Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash)

As for their future, successful people from Thomas Edison to J.K. Rowling were denied opportunities. A little going without may be exactly what your children need to build self-reliance and become successful.

Your children will benefit from knowing realistic boundaries. Members of generation Z joining the workforce cite this as their major advantage.

By learning to manage your mom life and say “no” to the unimportant, you’ll find time to work on building relationships. You might video chat with grandparents, or catch up with your neighbor while your kids play in the yard.

You can handle the craziness of motherhood with a flourish and a laugh.