I recently had another working mom ask me for carpool help, and she appeared to make the request without a single ounce of mom guilt. Our daughters attend the same elementary school and take the same dance class on Wednesday afternoons. She asked if I could pick up her child from school every Wednesday and drop her off at dance class; she volunteered to pick the girls up at the end of dance and drive them home.
I found it an interesting move on her part, largely because at the time she asked, I’d only known her for about thirty minutes. Bold, right?
I said yes. It’s working out great. And it’s made me think.
I am terrible about asking for help. Despite writing about parenting and the need to annihilate mom guilt on a regular basis, this is one area where I just can’t seem to shake it.
I’m decent about asking my regular babysitter for her availability; my mom guilt seems dramatically lessened when I am paying for the extra set of hands. But I’ve noticed that I tend to apologize when I ask if she’s free on Thursday afternoon or Saturday night. As though I am somehow inconveniencing her by asking to hire her and pay her $20/hour.
I am slightly worse at asking family for help. My parents and my in-laws are super-involved awesome grandparents (don’t shoot me – I know how lucky I am and I don’t take them for granted), and almost always say yes when I ask for backup. But I hate asking. It makes me feel awful. (Heather is not great at this either, and she won’t be mad at me for saying that.)
I am very, very bad at asking friends for help. Once out of sheer necessity, when all other avenues had been exhausted, I asked the dad of my son’s best friend if he could take my son for a playdate after school. He cheerfully agreed – these boys go back and forth for playdates on a regular basis. But I felt so guilty for asking that I sent the family a box of Woodhouse Chocolate. (Side note: if you ever need to send a guilt present, there is nothing better than Woodhouse Chocolate. That stuff is amazing.) And then I woke up in the middle of the night still feeling guilty.
As my daughter would say, “What the what?” Clearly something is going on here.
Because part of what friends do is help each other out, right? Especially parent friends; we are really all in this together. (Yes, that was a High School Musical reference; no, I am not ashamed.) When another parent asks me for an assist with soccer practice or camp pickup or similar, I say yes whenever I can. And I can’t think of a single circumstance where I’ve ever thought badly of the parent making the request.
In fact, when that mom first asked me to take her daughter to dance class every week, I thought it was kind of a badass multitasking move by her. Especially since she did it so clearly mom guilt-free.
And I need to figure this out. I have reached a point where there is literally no way for me to handle all my kids’ activities plus my work obligations. I simply do not have enough hours in the day. I need to bring in the calvary, at least on a few specific pressure points that feel like they’re about to break.
How do I ditch the mom guilt associated with asking family and friends for help with my kiddos? That’s the $10,000 question. Lots of experts talk about this but no one has ever convincingly explained to me exactly how to turn off that nasty little voice in my head. So I’m turning to the smartest people I know: you readers out there.
Have you figured out how to ask for help without mom guilt rearing its ugly head? If so, we’d love to hear from you. How much do you ask for help? How often? What works and what doesn’t? We want to hear it all!
And now I’m off to drum lessons followed by a hefty helping of third-grade homework.