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"I Hate Asking for Help"

Excuse #4 “It Won’t Get Done Right if I Don’t Do It Myself” continued...

When her son, now 14, started seventh grade, Reidel heard about a new carpool down the street, and she took a deep breath and joined. The result has been win-win: Logan has become pals with the other kids and Reidel has gained more time — and more trust in the other parents.

Relinquishing lesser tasks may be easier, but it also requires an honest evaluation of costs and benefits. Is it better to let your 9-year-old make his bed badly or to take the time to do it yourself? After a party, does it make more sense to let guests help you clean up or to stay up by yourself washing dishes? Finally, Reynolds says, ask yourself this, “Is it the end of the world if my son’s bed looks sloppy or my margarita glasses aren’t perfectly lined up?” Focus on what you stand to gain — a lighter workload; more time for your kids; a chance to bond with your friends.

Excuse #5 “I Was Raised to Be Self-Sufficient”

When her husband went away on a five-day business trip last September, Isadora Fox, 39, of Austin, couldn’t bring herself to call on a neighbor — even just to watch her 4-year-old daughter, Sasha, for 90 minutes while she prepared for two big exams. Fox, who works part-time as a writer while she studies to become a nurse-practitioner, also had three major deadlines and sole responsibility for driving Sasha to preschool, swimming, gymnastics, and a birthday party. To get everything done, she stayed up until 2 every night, even though she was five months pregnant. “I chose to be a mother, go back to school, and work part time,” Fox says, “so I thought I should suck it up and handle everything myself, because this is what I signed up for.” Instead, she collapsed with a nasty sinus infection.

Subduing an independent-to-a-fault streak takes soul-searching. Try to shift your focus from self-reliance to self-care, understanding that doing what’s best for you will give you strength to care for others. Edit your mental self-talk about independence by telling yourself it’s nothing but a self-imposed, self-limiting mantra.

That strategy worked for Fox. “I started thinking about how I do favors for other people,” she says. “I don’t think worse of them for needing some assistance, and I’m sure that none of my friends and neighbors would mind helping me.” A few months later, when her husband was away during her final exams, Fox asked a friend to babysit for three hours one night while she studied. “I still won’t call someone for help because I’m just tired,” Fox says. “But I will in an emergency — and being eight months pregnant and in the throes of finals counts!”

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