As moms, I think we can fall into the trap of believing we have to do it all on our own. We think we have to power through the never-ending to-do list and achieve "super mom status" by our strength alone. This perfectly described me for the first half of my daughter's life: afraid to ask for help. However, at some point, when she had been in the world for about six months, I realized there are things moms should never feel afraid to ask for, period.
We adopted our daughter, so some of the pressure I felt was a result of feeling the need to compensate for not having given birth to her. Because I didn't do the birth part, I felt I needed to be "extra super mom" just to prove that I was a "good mom." Turns out, most of us need to just chill out and give ourselves a little extra grace and understanding and room to learn and grow and, you guessed it, even make mistakes. Moms aren't designed to operate in a bubble and it truly does take a village to raise a kid. It's not because moms aren't strong enough or capable enough, either. Moms need back up simply because raising a child is tough stuff and sometimes a mom just needs a break in order to return as her best self.
After several months, I realized I just wasn't going to make it if I didn't ask for the following things, and I can report back that it made all the difference in my sanity and energy in our daughter's first year of life.
Advice From Other Moms
Because our daughter was a little bit of a surprise, I wasn't fully prepared for welcoming a baby in our home. We coped, of course, and thank goodness for Google! Still, sometimes Google can be a rabbit hole that's best navigated with the help of moms who have been there and done that. There's no need to apologize for asking other moms for their advice on what worked for them and what didn't work at all.
A Time Out
A brain break or a trip to a coffee shop or just a girls night out. Sometimes you need to step away from the mom role in order to return fresh and relaxed. Taking a time out doesn't make you a bad mom, it makes you a mom who knows what she needs to be her best self.
To Catch Up On Sleep
None of us should feel bad about asking for help catching up on sleep. New parents cope remarkably well with little sleep but, if you're anything like me, you'll eventually hit a wall.
When I started feeling unable to get out of bed when my daughter started to cry getting up from a nap, that's when I knew I needed help catching up on sleep so I could function just a little better for a while longer.
When our daughter was born, I dove headfirst into motherhood and basically left all of my other roles behind, including the role of wife. I still loved my husband, but my role as a mother consumed me for several months of her life. Even though I hadn't given birth to her, romance fell by the wayside pretty quickly.
In our case, I needed to ask for that romance to resume once I felt ready and I realized it had been replaced by changing diapers and feeding bottles. You shouldn't have to apologize for mom-life taking over (it's a pretty natural occurrence), or for asking for a return to the romance you and your partner shared before small people arrived.
This has become ever more important the older my daughter gets. When she was tiny, I could have whole conversations with friends or my husband while my daughter napped or was held. Now she's constantly moving and randomly saying words, so I'm usually interrupted every second sentence in order to attend to her needs. Toddlers are no joke.
It's completely OK to ask for time to have whole conversations with a friend. It's such a nice change.
An Extra Hand
I used to emphatically insist I could do everything myself, and finally had to ask for a hand at the grocery store when I had two babies and just couldn't carry everything to the car. I've found that people who offer to help don't usually have an ulterior motive. They're not trying to shame you for not being able to carry everything while your baby needs to be fed or held. They're just trying to help, so let them.
I've snapped at friends and family, and often my husband, and instantly felt terrible. However, rather than feel like a terrible human, I had to suck it up, ask for forgiveness, and extend myself the same grace. No one is perfect 100 percent of the time (or ever, really), that's just the way life goes.
Your Old Self
As a mom, sometimes we need to feel like our old selves — the selves we were before we had kids and before most of the focus of our lives changed. For me, this meant sometimes I needed to take on a work project and immerse myself in it, to stretch my brain and make sure that side of it still worked.