You must say yes to all offers of help. At least the ones that will actually help you!
This is a skill that we’re not particularly good at as expectant or new parents. Maybe it’s our cultural attraction to the DIY model of getting things done: “If we don’t ask anyone for help, that must mean we’re strong, capable, and know what we’re doing!”
But when people ask you, “Is there anything I can do to help you once the baby arrives?” Do not hesitate – even if you have no clue as to what type of help you’ll need down the road – and answer with an emphatic “Yes!” You can always get back to them later with specifics and details. But don’t let that offer of help go.
People who make offers of assistance, really do want to help you out. Why? Maybe they remember how tough it was for them in those first days and weeks as a new family, and how they wish someone had been there to lean on. Maybe they just love newborns and if they promise to do your laundry or bring you dinner they might get a sneak-peek of your gorgeous little baby. Who really cares what their motivation is?
As long as they’re not offering you help as a decoy maneuver just so they can come over and hold your baby. That is not helpful unless you are in need of someone to hold your baby while you either a) take a shower or b) take a nap. Otherwise, their offer of help has to involve some form of offering: n. a thing offered, especially as a gift or contribution.
You get to decide what those gifts or contributions are for your new family. For some, it will mean a shopping trip to pick up milk and TP so that you don’t have to run out for the basics. For others, it might mean walking your four-legged first-born who might be feeling a wee bit neglected these days.
Brainstorm now what your biggest needs might be after the baby arrives and write these things down on a brightly colored piece of paper and attach it to your fridge, or have a running tally on an app in your phone (I like, “Keep”). Then, when someone is over for a visit and asks how they can help, direct their attention to the list and give them the option of claiming one of the ways they can help you specifically.
You have no idea what a gift this will be for you both – you’ll get the help that you actually want and need, and the person who is offering to help you feels like they’re making a difference and supporting you in a way that really matters.
Whatever you do, when someone makes you an offer? Don’t refuse.
Are you having a hard time asking for help? Would writing a list of specific items make this easier for you? What things do you think will make it to that list?