The irony is not lost on me that as I write this blog I’m simultaneously thinking about:

  • My daughters swimming kit for school
  • Birthday presents and cards I need to buy, write and send this month
  • The washing I put in the machine this morning
  • Which clients need what when this week
  • Diary management
  • Holiday planning, buying and packing

If you’re a working parent, I’m sure you’ll recognise this list and that this is the short version!

It’s common amongst women who have been on maternity leave to have picked up a lot of the household chores during this time. Then, when it comes to returning to work, it’s really difficult to re-adjust.

Why it’s so hard to ask for help 

Asking for help comes up in coaching sessions with working parents regularly. We know we would benefit from help but something stops us. Here are a few ideas, see if you relate to any.

  • You have an underlying belief that working hard is the only way to operate.
  • Before you can ask for help, you first need to identify what you need help with and that becomes one more thing on the to do list.
  • You’re surrounded by people who seem to be able to do it all (I blame social media for this one!) and that comparison can feed into the high expectations you hold yourself to.
  • You have high standards and no-one else can do it the way you do.

 

What happens when we don’t ask for help?  

  • Some outcomes of not asking for help can look like:
  • Resentment towards other people, (team members, family members)
  • Breakdown in relationships
  • Burnout

You might also be depriving someone from doing something to show that they care you about you

If you recognise your situation in any of the above, here are some ideas to support you in identifying what help you might benefit from and taking the first step towards asking for it.

 

What help do you need?

  • As highlighted previously, some of the tasks we have on our to do list have landed there as matter of habit. With this in mind, set a timer for 10 minutes and write down what you would do differently if you were able to start from scratch.
  • Write down everything you need to get done in whatever timeframe suits you (a day / week) then consider what a ‘good enough list’ would look like.
  • Talk with a trusted friend (or professional if this isn’t possible) about what kind of help would benefit you the most. Brainstorm with them what this help might look like – is it a cleaner at home, is it a conversation with your partner or line manager?  

 

How to ask for help

  • If you find it really painful to ask for help, start with noticing how others ask for help. Either from you, or from other people. How do they phrase it? How does it come across? What could you beg, borrow or steal from their approach?
  • Practice what sounds reasonable to you. E.g. I would really appreciate some help with X, It would help me hugely if you could X… try not to apologise for asking!
  • Remember how good it feels to help someone else? That is how other people feel about you too!
  • Start a weekly meeting at home to go through all the things that need to be done and don’t assume who is going to do it, decide together taking into account skills, time etc..

 

As with anything, there are varying degrees of difficulty with this area. These ideas are shared as intended light touch tips and advice. If you’re really struggling with this, please consider seeking professional support from a therapist or a coach to build a tailor made solution with you.

If you’d like to explore this area on your own, I recommend reading ‘Fair Play’ By Eve Rodsky. If you’d like to explore it with a coach, feel free to be in touch.


Laura is an EMCC qualified and accredited coach with a background in HR and Recruitment. She has 15 years experience of coaching individuals around their professional and personal development. Her own experience of returning to work after having her daughter highlighted that there was a need for more robust support through this transition which lead her to specialise in maternity return coaching. Clients share that they find her to be warm and down to earth, giving them a renewed sense of self belief, motivation and tools to cope in a fast paced and often challenging world. Her coaching approach is grounded in Positive Psychology focussing on mental health and well-being. She see’s her role as providing a safe and calm space for those facing uncertainty and making big changes in their lives. You can find out more and book a free discovery call through her profile page.