I read a wonderful blog post called How to Help a New Mom. It contained some really practical ideas. Having some friends who just had new babies, I was excited to put these to use.
However, I realized that I would not have accepted a lot of that help when my first baby was born. For some reason I was under the false self expectation that I handle everything on my own. I would be failing if I accepted housework assistance or too many meals.
This is ridiculous for a number of reasons. Here are three things we may believe that stop us from accepting help.
- My mom did it on her own, so I need to.
- Women have had babies and raised them since the beginning of time, I must be able to survive too.
- If I let someone help me, they will see how truly disorganized and chaotic I am. My cover will be blown.
Let’s look a little closer at each of these points and see how they hold up.
1. My mom did it on her own, so I need to.
My mom did manage to survive the baby stage four times without any extra help since we lived away from all our extended family. Now does she have tons of wonderful, positive memories from these time periods? Not really. As the oldest child, I also remember the intensity of those days with two of my sisters. Yes we made it through, but why not relieve the stress on marriage and family a little?
2. Women have had babies and raised them since the beginning of time, I must be able to survive too.
It was very common in the days of old for people to live together in communities, or very close to their families. Many women would share the load of new babies, cooking, and cleaning. If you had enough money you would have hired help, and even families who were not very well off had at least one extra helper around the house. When a new baby was born it was also common to send a younger sibling to live with the mom to give her a hand.
The women who did live in isolation, such as the pioneers, often suffered from deep depair. There have been diaries found of new moms suffering from postpartum depression in the 1800s, that illustrate such loneliness.
This isn’t always portrayed in the wonderful stories like Little House on the Prairies or my beloved Pride & Prejudice.
3. If I let someone help me, they will see how truly disorganized and chaotic I am. My cover will be blown.
Well I guess there is some truth to this. You might not be able to fake that you’re handling everything ok.
Since entering the world of mommy-friends, I have NEVER discovered one new mom who doesn’t feel overwhelmed, suffer at least slightly from baby blues, or who has a perfectly clean house.
So loosen up the expectations on yourself! When someone who has been through this experience offers to help you, they truly do want to be a blessing. They know how tough it can be.
I for one hate feeling like I am a burden, but when I am on the other side of the table, wanting to help, I am thrilled to serve. So don’t be the one to stop someone from using their gift of serving! Wave a red flag: “HELP! I’M A NEW MOM!”
If you don’t have any family near you to help out or you aren’t in a church family that has a ministry to new moms, check out this video from Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and see his suggestions for avoiding parental burnout.