You’re in the throes of motherhood, overwhelmed by the job of raising little humans. You might be heavily pregnant, or just had another baby. “The Village” should be rallying around you, offering to help with the washing, dishes, vacuuming, taking the older kids or baby so you can have a rest and recover, or even just one.little.moment of a break.
But what if they’re not?
What if the visitors just come around, empty handed, leave their cuppa teas on the bench, don’t take the kids out, don’t bring you food, or don’t offer any specific practical help like folding that next load or sweeping that crumb strewn floor?
What do you do then? Do you keep your feelings of resentment bottled up inside, and then rant to your partner later on? Or what if it’s your partner, who is leaving you drowning in doing all of the jobs, not pulling his/her weight? You might jump online, and vent to your Facebook Mummy Group? At least you’re not keeping those feelings inside.
But how do you address the actual problem?
How about raising awareness with said visitors of the load that you are under as a Mother. The sometimes called “invisible” load. The never ending list of jobs and chores and doing-all-the-things-all-of-the-time-for-everyone.
How exactly do you do this with those visitors, some of whom (bless them) may not seemingly be aware of that load.
One strategy I’ve employed over the years is to be direct with asking for help.
And the best way I’ve found to do this is by saying:
“Hey it would be really helpful for me if you could…”
“…gather up the cups from the lounge and put them into the dishwasher.”
“…take the kids for a walk to the park. Would that be possible?”
“…quickly grab the washing in for me please.”
“…bring a packet of biscuits or some fruit with you next time, would that be OK?”
“…get the vacuum cleaner out of the garage so I can do a quick vacuum after you leave.” (Maybe they will take the subtle hint and do it themselves!)
“… hold the baby so I can get a load of washing on/start dinner while you’re here.”
I have reached the stage of parenting where I don’t really “entertain” guests any more. That is, if people come over for a visit, I very rarely tidy the house, I don’t really make them a cuppa (just direct them to where the cups are), I fold washing in front of them, I prep dinner while they’re around.
In other words, most of the time I continue with my normal mothering role while they’re around. And, I don’t really care if they do the same thing when I’m at their house either.
If we want to be waited on then we go to a cafe and pay money for it.
If we want to be a village then we ask each other for help and fold washing together. And we acknowledge that the mothering role is hard, never ending, and that we *all* need help.
Much has been written about the lack of a village for young families these days. This is one way I’ve started building mine…
…. being real about mothering and breaking through that stigma of “we all have it together all of the time“.
… by asking for specific help, breaking the overwhelm of the household tasks into small bite sized chunks and handing them out to my village.
“It would be really helpful for me if you could.” Phrasing it like this makes it easy to avoid awkward moments and feelings of resentment. Most people are happy to help – but sometimes they just don’t know exactly how or what to do. Giving them a small bite sized chunk makes it easier for them to help.
And asking for help this way you won’t be left with a yucky taste in your mouth afterwards. Try it and see.
This post has been written for NZ Mental Health Awareness Week. Because we all need help, especially when mothering.
#MHAWNZ #NZMHAW #MHAW2019 #mentalhealthisforeveryone