Most parents would say that having kids is incredibly rewarding and brings them happiness. Mothers especially take a lot of pride and draw their identity from being a mom. So if parenting is so great, why does it feel so stressful sometimes?
A 2016 study actually found that parents in the U.S. have a “happiness shortfall” when compared to adults who don’t have kids or even parents in other countries. Researchers were able to pinpoint the reason for this happiness gap, stating, “The negative effects of parenthood on happiness were entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations.”
This tells us that the more support parents have, the happier they are. But it’s not always easy to find – or ask for – that support. As a mom of two school-age kids, it’s always been hard for me to ask for help. Even when my kids were babies, I wanted to believe that I could do everything myself. After all, they were my babies – I should be able to care for them, right? So I hesitated to ask for help when I just needed a break or if I was feeling overwhelmed. This even included asking for help from my husband! He was very involved and was always willing to pitch in, but I still tried to take all of the nighttime feedings and change all the diapers. Looking back, I realize that I shouldn’t have hesitated to ask my husband to help more or ask our families to pitch in. They all would have been willing and ready and it would have helped me feel much less stressed.
I’m trying to get better about asking for help. And I’ve found as my kids get older, sometimes I don’t have a choice – if my husband has to work late and my son has to be at hockey practice and my daughter has a guitar lesson, I’ve got to ask someone to help! It may not come naturally and sometimes I feel bad about it, but knowing that I have people I can count on and who are willing to help me, helps me feel much less stress.
I see my friends with children struggling with the same problem. We all feel like we don’t have enough hours in the day, but that we still have to figure out how to fit it all in. We spend our lives taking care of other people – our children, our partners, our colleagues – that sometimes we forget that we are worthy of support, too.
Here’s the thing. We all need help. And there is no shame in admitting that.
Moms need support – from their partners, their family and friends, and their community. Many days we feel like we’re doing it alone, but we’re not. We’re all in it together.
Our goal here at Great Mother Heart is to help moms understand that there’s no reason not to ask for help and there’s no reason to feel like you’re in this alone. We want to build a community of mothers who support each other – we look forward to hearing from you and your motherhood journey!