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Modern Moms Ask for Help

You can't do it all, all the time. Here's how, and why, to ask for help.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD

Women have been trained to do everything ourselves. We think we're not supposed to ask for help -- and let’s face it, we often don’t like to.

When my husband suggested that my mother-in-law come by for the day to watch my son so I could get work done, I immediately said, “Oh, no, I don’t want her to have to drive all that way.”

“Women believe that we’re supposed to handle everything ourselves, which is often at the root of why we’re unhappy,” says Randy Kamen Gredinger, EdD, a Wayland, Mass., psychologist, life coach, and blogger specializing in women’s issues. “We do everything, and feel unappreciated, but then we don’t want to ask for help. We need to be more collaborative.”

Today, make up your mind that it’s time to stop doing it all and start asking for the help you need.  

Here's how to do that without screaming, nagging, or whining.

Ask Your Partner

If you need help, approach your partner with your problem, and a plan. “Honey, I’m burned out, tired, and stressed. I need some extra time for me. Can we find one night a week (or a couple of hours on the weekend) when you can cook dinner and get the kids ready for bed, so I can go to the gym/take a yoga class/have a facial with a friend?”

What you shouldn’t do, says Amy Tiemann, author of Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family and founder of the Mojo Mom web site, is apologize. “Don’t ask, ‘Can I do this?’ Say, ‘I need this time, and it will make me a better wife and a better mom. Let’s figure out how we can make it happen.'”

 

Ask Your Kids

In Kamen Gredinger’s house, kids start doing chores when they're toddlers. “It’s not negotiable,” she says. “If you wait to give them responsibilities until they’re in school, it’s a big mistake. In other countries, they aren’t screaming at their children to do things; they just know they’re expected to do their share.”

Pick age-appropriate chores for your kids and let them do it on their own. They probably won’t do it perfectly the first time, or even the tenth time, but if you intervene and make them feel like they’re not doing it right, their pride in doing it all by themselves goes out the window.

Here are examples:

Age 1-2:

  • Pick up their own clothes and put them in the hamper.
  • Put toys in the toy box.

Age 3-4:

  • Set the table.
  • Help empty the dishwasher and put dishes away.
  • Clean up toys in their room or playroom.
  • Put laundry in the washer or dryer.

Age 5-8:

  • Help load the dishwasher.
  • Cut up vegetables for dinner with adult supervision.
  • Clear the table.
  • Bring in groceries from the car and put them away.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Make their bed.
  • Take out the trash.

Age 8 and up:

  • Take responsibility for keeping their bedroom clean.
  • Help take care of a pet.
  • Help prepare simple meals.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Do a load of laundry.

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