When you first had your baby, you probably had plenty of people offer to help when you needed a hand, or a nap, or a shower. You probably never took them up on it then, and now, when your hands are full of a toddler who doesn’t find any urgency in dinner needing to be made, you wonder: Does the offer still stand?
I’m happy to report that the answer is, absolutely! It’s an ah-ha moment when I realized that it’s OK to accept help, and that by doing so, you may actually be helping someone else yourself. (I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true. But I’m serious!)
The Mom Next Door
So there’s a little boy next door. He loves spending time with my daughter and she loves him. They just get each other. Maybe it’s because he’s open to the occasional princess dance party or because she’s OK with climbing trees and getting muddy.
For months, his mom and I would get them together to play. We’d chat, have coffee, whatever. It never dawned on either of us to take turns watching our little, inseparable BFFs. Because you don’t just dump your kid on the lady next door, right? That would just be rude, right? WRONG! So, so wrong.
One day, I was having one of those moments I described before. I was feeling defeated and trapped by my own toddler, wishing for someone to come and save me – if only for a half hour – from this little one. All I want is be able to grab some diapers, enjoy a quiet car ride to and from the store and to walk down the aisle without trying to contain this tiny tornado in my shopping cart.
Out of desperation, I asked the mom next door. I texted her and waited with a winced face for a rejection text back, something along the lines of, “Ummm, I’m pretty exhausted over here, too, you know. And you want to leave me with your kid?” But instead, I got this surprising text back instead: “Of course! Send her over. It’s so much easier to watch my little guy when he has a playmate.”
Mind blown. Wait – she wasn’t just helping me, I was helping her too? And then she asks, “Can I send them over to your house for a little bit when you get back?”
A thousand times yes! And you know what? When I got home, making dinner was actually way easier while my daughter had a playmate.
My Secrets to Asking for Help
There were so many lessons I learned that day:
- I CAN ask for help. Maybe more than anything, knowing this was OK was huge.
- Asking for help ended up being mutually beneficial. I got to help another mom in the process!
- Offer to trade time, instead of just being bailed out. “Hey! I need an hour to [insert that thing you need to do]. Do you mind watching my kid for an hour and then I’ll watch yours?” BAM! You both get an hour of entertainment for your kids, plus an hour off each!
- Trading kids back and forth offers your little ones valuable play time with friends (BONUS: sans TV and phone screens!).
- No babysitter fees. It’s free!
OK, so not everybody has a mom with the perfect playmate next door. But there’s probably somebody very nearby who’s looking for an amazing trade-off opportunity, just like you. It may be as easy as posting a comment on social media, asking if any mom friends out there are interested in time trading. And just like my wish came true via text, your answer may be one post or comment away.
Soon you’ll be finding yourself with magical half hours or hours to yourself to do whatever it is you’ve been daydreaming about. Nap! Stare at a wall! Clean out that avalanche closet! Or run to the grocery for diapers when you’re low without tiny hands throwing extra stuff in the cart.
Moms, it’s possible, if you just ask for it.
How has asking for help pleasantly surprised you? Share in the comments!