- 6 mins
Asking for Help – Advice for New Parents
Becoming a parent for the first time can be a daunting experience. Even though there is excitement around welcoming a new member into the family, not everyone is a natural parent. In my own experience, at age 28, I didn’t have a clue about the first diaper change and nervously asked the midwife to check if I had done it properly…and this was with modern disposable diapers! This should have been a far easier task for me than the cloth ones fastened with pins I had somewhat mastered when helping to change my nieces’ and nephews’ diapers!
I remember looking around at how well the other women in my hospital ward were getting on with it all. I felt so self-conscious that my face positively burned with embarrassment. Previously, I was under the misguided belief that parenting knowledge was something that would magically burst into my consciousness at the moment of giving birth. I didn’t want to let on that somehow the baby wisdom had missed me completely because I hadn’t a clue what to do with this beautiful and precious new little bundle of life.
Why it is important to ask for help:
Of course, we want to make sure that our new arrival is well cared for and has the best start in life both physically and mentally. However, it is crucial that we take good care of ourselves as well, and one of the best ways to do this is to ask for help when we need it.
Typically, humans are regarded as creatures of habit and routine. Becoming a new parent can be somewhat unbalancing, with established routines and lifestyles thrown out of the window. And yet, all too often new parents feel that they should instinctively be able to get everything right without any help. We may feel too embarrassed to impose on others or feel intimidated by a friend or family member we perceive as being a more competent parent. Dealing with these feelings on our own, on top of the heavy sense of responsibility that comes with new parenthood, can negatively affect our mental well-being and we may start to feel increasingly inadequate and overwhelmed.
There is something that every parent should know: There is no perfect parent or a manual that fits all. Having any of these feelings of doubt is perfectly normal at any stage of your parenting journey! Therefore, it is more than okay to ask questions and seek advice. Learning to ask for help instead of suffering in silence will not only help improve your own mental and emotional health, but also the health of those around you including your child.
How to ask for help:
Take a moment to think about the type of help you may need. Write things down if it helps and be as specific as possible. Not all help is helpful and your goal is to make things easier for you. Consider whom to ask and what skills and time they have. Here are some examples of how to ask for help.
- I am feeling really tired right now. Can you take the baby out for a walk while I take a nap?
- Small errands and tasks are piling up and I need help with checking things off my list. Can you help me by going to the post office and the pharmacy this week?
- I feel lonely sitting at home all day with just the baby. Can you talk on the phone or come over for some adult conversation?
- I’m having a hard time prioritizing keeping the house picked up. Will you help me tidy up a bit so it feels more settled in here?
Can there ever be too much help?
The simple answer is yes. This could be in the form of a well-meaning friend or relative who has assigned themselves to your service and ends up overwhelming you with their constant presence, enthusiasm, and advice. They may point out things you are doing wrong and offer to take over.
Try to remember that they are usually acting from a place of love and they may not realize how it is making you feel. Then, set some boundaries. If you are not feeling confident enough to say anything to them yourself, ask your partner to step in and politely explain that you are grateful for all their help and advice, but now you feel ready to start going it alone.
Not just for new parents…
We have focused a lot here on advice for new parents, but the need to seek advice can come at any time. There are many stages throughout a child’s life that are part of the natural development process. Some of these times can be extremely challenging for both the child and the parent. Once again, asking for help may feel awkward or embarrassing, but don’t let that stop you from asking for help. There is some truth to the old proverb, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” For example, a child who is transitioning from crib to bed, suffering from adolescent anxieties—or going through growing pains at any stage in between—can be extremely challenging, especially when you are trying out numerous different parenting approaches that don’t seem to be working.
Try asking your other parent friends for advice, parenting hacks, and support. Ask what they found worked for them and if you can, give it a try. However, please do remember that one size doesn’t fit all here and you won’t be a failure if what worked for them doesn’t work for you in the same way.
There is an abundance of help and information available online for new and more experienced parents alike. The internet and social media in particular have come a long way as a place to seek that information or provide a sanctuary with support networks, parenting hacks, and play activities to keep your little ones amused.
Moshi is always happy to help. The website has a Knowledge Base and Blog Articles with content covering an extensive range of topics, such as sleep regression, taming tantrums, and managing routines and transitions.
The Facebook community at Generation Moshi has members who are parents themselves and ready to help each other out with tips, tricks, and general support. We also have two health professionals on hand: Elle Walsh, a child psychotherapist, and Kaylyn Smialek, a behavioral therapy consultant. The community is set up so you can post anonymously to the group, or if you prefer you can privately message Elle and Kaylyn, who are on hand to help.