Why It’s Okay For Mums To Ask For Help

tired-mom

Why It’s OK For Mums To Ask For Help

 

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by women I would describe as ‘copers’. As mothers, most of my closest friends fall into this category; they don’t complain, they get on with whatever parenthood throws at them, they don’t feel the need for domestic help or night-nurses and they cope pretty well with sleepless nights. My own mother somehow managed to juggle fulltime work and two children (one of whom was sick), with not much help from my dad (as was the way with dads then), and still clean the house and cook everything herself to the point that we’d never even seen a fish finger.

Having these sorts of influences around you tends to make you stronger and more resilient to the hardships of parenthood because you realise that everyone is going through it, not just you, and if my social circle consisted of women who hired people to help them with all aspects of running a family home, I may have felt from early on that I ‘needed’ that too, that it was just the done thing.

But hold on a second. What if I do need it?? What if by believing for so long that I am a coper and that I can ‘just deal with’ having a child who hasn’t slept for 15 months, I’ve exhausted myself even more?

You see, I do see myself as a coper and on the whole, I have been to an extent. Although I crave time on my own to do the things I love, I also genuinely enjoy the kind of chaos that a house full of kids brings with it and I look forward to the day when my kids are older and all their friends want to come to our house because it’s so warm and inviting and there is always food on offer, just like it was at my mum’s house.

In wanting to be ‘that’ mum, my ego has prevented me from admitting when I need help, or admitting to how hard it is to survive on 4 hours sleep and be on the go all day, instead of answering with ‘it is what it is’ – which is what I do (with a smile on my face) when people ask how I cope – or admitting that I’m not as much of a coper as my buddies.

My baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I prayed so hard for him and I thank God for his existence every day. But I shouldn’t need to justify that I feel like that in order to be able to talk openly about how hard it is to be a mother in 2017.

You see, humans are pack animals. Going back to when we lived in caves, right up to not very long ago, humans lived in extended families and children would have the advantage of being surrounded by many different mother figures (mothers, grandmothers, aunts) who all had a role to play in their upbringing, while the men went to hunt / work. This is where the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ comes from. It does take a village, but the village has ceased to exist.

Nowadays, the men still go to work, but hey, so do the women. In these foregone days of extended families, the women would all chip in to do the cooking and cleaning and raising of the children, not just one woman on her own. But now, we’re expected to do all of that ON OUR OWN, regardless of how many children we have, and still go to work…

In our age of information, we also have a huge responsibility to not only protect our children from the dangers that lurk in cyber-world and out, but also to nurture our children in a way that our parents were never able to do. With access to information about child psychology at our fingertips, we have no excuse to stand back while our children suffer; we can use the information so readily available to us to work harder to be better, more conscious parents than previous generations were given the chance to be. But that, too, takes work, commitment and sacrifice, and those things take up even more time in a day that already has too few hours. And of course, all these things have to be done regardless of how little sleep we have had and, to add to that, we have to do it all with a smile on our face in case, heaven forbid, someone gets annoyed with our moaning.

Today I’m changing that. Not just for me but for any mum who is reading this and is wanting to tear her hair out from exhaustion, or whose head is about to spontaneously combust from the deluge of mental lists of all the things she needs to do but will still dutifully answer any questions of ‘how are you’ with ‘yes, great!’

I’m changing that because, mummies, it IS okay to ask for help. It is okay to voice your struggles. I’m listening.

I believe that we were created to work together, to NOT do it all on our own. And if the extended family isn’t an option anymore, then we need to be okay – finances allowing – with bringing someone in to help out.

I congratulate my ‘coper-friends’ on being able to do the awesome job they do, but I have decided, for my own sanity, to throw my ego out the window and be okay with asking for help and most importantly for my ego, not feeling embarrassed about it.

 

You can see this article on my author profile on The Huffington Post

 

You can follow Lauren Vaknine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurenvaknine

Lauren blogs at Organic Spoon which you can find here
Her Facebook page: Facebook
Her Instagram page: Instagram theorganicspoon

Her autobiography, ‘My Enemy, My Friend’, can be found here

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children? My First Huffington Post-Featured Article

 

Family cuddling

Super excited to let you all now that I am now a regular contributor for the Huffington Post in their lifestyle and parenting section. This is a massive deal for my writing and I’d love you to follow me there and keep an eye on all my articles. My first one, posted below, is up there now and you can see it here 

 

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children?

During one of my son’s infamous sleep strikes, I posed the question to my husband, ‘Why do people have children?’ It wasn’t a sarcastic, rhetorical question in the midst of a third consecutive all-nighter. I genuinely started wondering why people inflict such stress on their lives when they have the option not to. Children do, after all, hinder our lives in a way we never understood before having them.

My husband’s answer was a typically male pragmatic one: ‘Because we have an innate need to procreate.’

Although I don’t disagree with my husband that there probably is within us a subconscious, animalistic desire to procreate, I think there is much more to it than that, and only after having a baby myself and going through that first tumultuous year of parenthood can I understand the real driving force behind why we choose to have children.

Quite simply, it must come down to love. But why is that different to anything you’ve heard before? Well, because what I don’t think we’ve realised is that it’s not our need to be loved, but our need to love.

If we look at parenthood without love and simply gather all the other facets of it, this is what a typical day looks like: you are awoken around 5am, after having three to four hours broken sleep, and you have no choice but to muster the strength to smile and coo at your kids, get them dressed, get yourself washed and dressed and make them breakfast and packed lunches. They get impatient while you’re preparing everything so you distract them with TV, iPads and anything else that before becoming a parent you swore you’d never do. Then, if your children are like mine, the breakfast will probably end up on the floor being eaten by the dog.

You attempt to clean the kitchen as best you can before heading off to the school run then taking the younger one to playgroup, where all you want to do is talk to other human beings over the age of 18 but when you do, finally, sink into the comfort of a good old chat with another mum, your child has wondered off to hug another child whose mother ‘doesn’t like it’, so you have to release yourself from the only conversation you’ll be having that day that doesn’t involve singing your words, to tear your child away from the child whose mum doesn’t like him being touched.

Lunchtime no doubt ends up the same way as breakfast but… the hour of salvation has arrived: lunchtime nap time. But no, he decides that four hours broken sleep through the night, are, in fact, quite sufficient and you most certainly do not deserve any time to yourself so he thinks he’ll stay up, actually. You attempt to do the chores with him fluttering around, pulling pans out of cupboards and moaning because he is tired (!) then you get him in the car to pick up the older ones from school. Lo and behold, he falls asleep in the car. You curse to yourself but you let him sleep, because it won’t be worth your while later if he doesn’t, and you arrive at school… late.

Help the kids with homework, drink cold tea, and once again, mealtime. They might eat a bit, they might moan that they want something else, they might throw it on the floor. After a bit of play time (for them, not you – you are cleaning the kitchen for the fifty-third time that day), it’s bath time. They drench you in bath water then take every set of pyjamas out the cupboard until they decide that the very last one is the winner, and you have to refold the rest.

By the time husband walks through the door, kids are in bed reading, baby is fresh as a daisy, house is clean as a whistle but you look like Keith Richards on a bad day and you know you have to go through the whole rigmarole the following day, and the one after that, and so on…

Sound fun?

Now let’s take ‘love’ off the bench and put her back in the picture.

With love, he may have been screaming in your face for three hours before falling asleep but when he does finally fall asleep, you ‘waste’ precious minutes you could be sleeping just staring at the perfect form that you still cannot believe came from you.

With love, you may be exhausted beyond belief when she wakes at 5am but the minute you see her smiling face and smell the top of her head as she nestles into the crook of your neck, you forget you are tired and want to bottle that hug forever.

With love, you may crave the adult interaction but you know how utterly fortunate you are to be able to call yourself a mother, and how you’d give up adult conversation forever to hold onto these precious early days.

With love, you may look like Keith Richards after a two week bender, but you know that you have spent the day raising children, sustaining the lives of other human beings who love you and trust you and fall asleep in your arms because they know it’s the safest place in the world and that thought fills you with a warmth that will return to your heart every time you think about it.

The rewards of parenthood are not too dissimilar from the act of giving and receiving presents; we like to receive gifts but giving a gift stirs up a totally different sort of happiness in us.

Being able to love a person to the point where your fragile heart breaks into a million tiny shards if they so much as graze their knee, changes us as humans. It completes us, even more so than being loved. Being loved back by them is just the super sweet icing on the cake.

Love & health,
Lauren ❤