Are you a working parent who struggles to ask for help? Well, you’re in good company. Circle In Co-founder Jodi Geddes has felt the pressure to juggle it all on her own. But here’s what happened when she let down her guard and accepted a helping hand.
Let’s face it, asking for help is not the easiest thing to do as a parent. For some reason, our inner voice tells us it’s a sign of weakness and we’re not able to handle this whole parenthood thing.
Have you experienced that moment when a friend asks how you are, only to reply with “great!” Yet deep down, you would prefer to respond with “I am actually pretty crap. Not coping with the juggle, kids driving me crazy and no time to myself. I am about to lose it.”
So, yes, I am renowned for the “I’m great” comment and pretending all is going very smoothly in our household. Deep down, I know I should ask for help more often, but I don’t, and the fact is I struggle with it. But one weekend I let my guard down and accepted help. And trust me, it felt so good.
Up until that point, I hadn’t been handling things well. I was struggling with our eldest who has a number of behavioural issues. It had gone on for a very long time and I hadn’t asked for help enough, nor had I reached out to my closest friends. Each weekend I was pushing through, trying to tell myself that it would be the last tough weekend and next week things would get better.
So, on this particular weekend I was at my daughter’s swimming lesson on a Sunday morning (where I am usually up for the social chat with the other parents). But given my emotional state, I tried to escape quickly, only to be caught at the last minute by my closest friend. When she asked how I was, my eyes filled with tears and I headed straight for the car. I didn’t want her to see me upset and know that my struggles were much worse than she understood.
And then it happened. The friendly childminding offer:
“Hon, you need a break. Drop the kids over and we will look after them for a few hours.”
At first, I felt uncomfortable and guilty that she would have four children to look after for the afternoon. How could I drop my girls off and walk away child-free and feel OK? Was I supposed to go and relax or spend the time doing chores? (You will be happy to know I did the first!).
When we debriefed later that day, it was a conversation I was not expecting. She seemed so happy and amazed at how much easier her afternoon was because the kids had each other to play with. They were busy, stimulated and having fun with their friends. And because they had each other, her time was, in fact, a little easier too. Overall it was a success.
As for us, it enabled my husband and I to have the break we so needed. To enjoy each other’s company, to have some ‘me time’ and to recharge our batteries ready for another week. It was the three-hour break we needed more than we knew. It was the best three hours we have shared in so long.
So, it’s a simple concept but one that I want to do more of. I want to encourage more mothers to speak up when they need help. Encourage more parents to adopt the parent swap. I can’t wait to reciprocate the gesture to my friend who helped me when I really needed it. In fact, a common trend popping up of late is mini babysitting groups to help parents have some time for themselves.
So, do you need help or do you know someone that could do with some help? Reach out and offer the parent swap. I bet you both will love it.
Written by Jodi Geddes, Co-founder of Circle In.