Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, and even if they did, I bet we’d be spending more time trying to figure out the manual than figuring out our children. But even without instructions, there is one incredibly simple thing that every parent should learn to do for themselves. It’s not infant or toddler CPR. It’s not figuring out what your child needs every time they cry. It’s not even getting your child to sleep through the night.
This one skill is something that is far simpler than any of that, but oh so very, very important.
Every parent should know how and when to ask for help.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? But if you’re a new parent, or remember the hazy, sleep-deprived days of new parenthood, asking for help can seem like a monumental task.
To our children, Moms and Dads are superheroes. There isn’t anything we can’t do.
But as Moms and Dads, we know the realities of what that superhero vision our children have of us actually entails behind the scenes in the day to day workings of our family lives: We sacrifice a lot, we say yes more than we should, and maybe we don’t get to go to bed as early as we’d like to anymore, because there’s a lot we have to finish up for the day now that the baby is asleep.
There is no shame whatsoever in asking for help as a new parent.
I think a lot of us don’t do it because we think to ourselves, “We’re the parents now, so we should be able to have all of this under control!” And the truth that we quickly discover is this: parenting can the most difficult and rewarding job of our lives.
Help doesn’t have to be anything major; it doesn’t mean dropping off your little one for a week at Grandma’s. Help is something as simple as asking a stranger to hold open the door for you while you struggle with a stroller. Help is asking a friend to watch you toddler so you can go to the bathroom in peace. Help is asking your partner to handle the morning routine so you can get another hour of sleep, and then returning the favor the next morning for your partner.
Learning to ask for help is to accept the vulnerability of not being in control, which, if you’re a control freak like I am, can be incredibly challenging.
I promise: You’re not a bad parent when you hire a sitter for your newborn. You’re not a bad parent for putting your child in daycare. You’re not a bad parent for admitting that yes, parenthood can be a LOT of work and that yes – you could use a hand.
You’re not a bad parent when you ask for help.
If anything, you’re a smarter parent for doing so.