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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.

Break It Down

If you give your child a big job, like cleaning up his or her room or the playroom, break it down into manageable tasks. Post those tasks on the back of their bedroom door, so they can refer to it as they clean.

I used to ask my 4-year-old to clean the playroom and her eyes would glaze over. “It’s too hard!” she’d moan. “It wasn’t too hard to get all the toys out in the first place,” I’d counter. She wasn’t impressed.

But when I started asking her to “put all the dress-up clothes in the box,” that was a bite-sized chunk she could handle. Then I’d say, “Put all the dolls back in the dollhouse.” That wasn’t too bad. The other day, all by herself, she kept picking up small items, moving them to the right spot, and organizing toy bins until the room was spotless. When I regained consciousness, I was thrilled.

Ask Your Friends

It’s easy to forget that you have more resources for help than just your immediate family. No, you can’t ask your BFF to empty your dishwasher or fold the laundry, but you can ask her if the kids can come over for a sleepover next weekend so you can have a night to yourself (or with your partner). You might be surprised at how willing she’ll be to help out.

“One of the fundamental things that makes people feel good -- one of the quickest ways to turn a bad mood into a good one -- is to help somebody else,” says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Mass. “We’re all wired to feel good by helping someone else, so don’t look at it as a burden. Call your friend and say, ‘I’m burned out, I need a break. Could you help out by taking the kids for a few hours this weekend, and then maybe we can take turns?’”

And whether you’re getting support from your partner, your kids, or your friends, make sure to show your appreciation. “Let them see that they’ve done something to make a difference in your life," Moore says. "Let them see your eyes shine.”

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Reviewed on September 24, 2013

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