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the crib sheet

knowing when (and how) to ask for help

Brooke Nalle

In my line of work, I keep meeting parents who say either, "where were you 5 years ago", "I should have called you 3 months ago", and "I thought I could go it alone".  This piece is not a big I TOLD YOU SO nor is it a plug for my business.  Rather I am asking my faithful and few readers to consider why we wrap ourselves up with hard work and suffering when we could look for support.  And by support, I mean a glass of wine with a friend, an honest conversation with a doctor, or a sit down brain storming session with a partner to ask for help.  

I am guilty in each of the above situations - all of the time.  Rather than have a mature conversation with my husband, I will act angry and put upon, hoping that almost by osmosis he will know I need help and somehow read my mind and give me exactly what I want and need.  When I go to the doctor, I always say, "I'm fine", when sometimes I am far from fine.  Certainly as a parent, I have tuned my spirit to suffer first and enjoy later.  When my son was an infant, I just assumed that sleeplessness was normal and would always be a state of being for our entire family.  Three years later, my daughter needed me and only me for all bedtimes because I never took a moment to say, "help, you do this, I need a break."  Any of my friends would tell you that I am very good at bringing up and complaining about my problems.  However it takes a lot for me to reveal that I am not just complaining and that yes, I actually could use a little assistance.

How does this connect to sleep and sleeplessness for parents and families?  

I am asking you to pause for a moment and make a decision for the good of the family.  This does not mean hire me (or maybe it does).  Rather, decide to deal with your suffering constructively - tell your pediatrician and your ob what is going on, actually truly happening.  Call a friend and say I need you to talk and to ... babysit, cook, fold laundry, whatever it is.  Trust me, they will say YES.  During a power outage recently (thanks Hurricane Irene), my friend did all of my laundry, all of it, and she has two boys to take care of, plus a husband, a job, cats, etc.  In another example (there have been quite a few lately), even with the power back on, my life was growing more and more busy with not enough time to take care of my responsibilities.  After a few days of mucking about and being mean to my husband and probably my children, I reached out to another parent in my school community and asked her for some help.  She said, YES.  Here is the thing; people like to help each other, it is our nature.  

To that end, I must mention my incredible experience speaking to the moms at babybites Westchester yesterday afternoon in Larchmont.  I commend these women because they were at lunch with their babies, looking great, and helping each other.  They asked such good questions of me.  However I was even more impressed by their willingness to help each other.  They listened to each other so attentively and so sensitively; it made me feel confident and lucky to be in a place personally and professionally where I can ask for help and get it.  That feels great.