How to Ask for Help During Motherhood

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A mother holds the feet of her young baby

Be honest with me now. How many times have you heard someone say to you ‘well if you need anything, let me know.’ And how many times have you actually let them know when you needed something? Right, I thought that would be the case. The maths never seems to add up and here’s why. You feel like you shouldn’t be asking for help. You don’t know how to ask for help. You don’t think you have a right to ask for help. 

I see mothers like you all the time. You’re doing it all, plastering on your most convincing smile and burying the anxious feeling that one of the balls is about to drop. I’ve also heard all the excuses from ‘The School of Guilt-ridden Mamas’, that are getting in the way of asking for help. So I’m going to dismantle them, one excuse at a time, in the hope that the next time you try digging one out, you’ll be better equipped to let go of your insecurities, pick up the phone and say ‘actually, could you help with…?’

Excuse #1: I don’t want them to think I can’t cope

Admitting you need help, does not mean you’re failing as a mother. I want you to repeat that to yourself often and whenever you start putting two and two together and getting I’m-a-bad-mum-because-I-can’t-do-it-all. There is a ridiculous amount of pressure on mums, sometimes it’s self-inflicted and other times it stems from judgy side-eyes at the school gates or opinionated mother-in-laws. Wherever it’s coming from, you need to either let it wash over you (read my mum-shaming article that explores how you can do this) and reframe your mindset. 

If you were having a tough time in your romantic relationship, you would reach out to a friend for advice over a cheeky cosmo or five, right? If your work/life balance was off, you might schedule in some much-needed selfcare without a second thought. So, why are you treating motherhood any differently? We often lean on our inner circle and our intuition for all other areas of our lives, but yet when it comes to motherhood it’s something that needs to remain perfectly shiny – ‘nothing to see here, no cracks at all honest!’ – when the reality can be far from it. Being a textbook ‘great mother’ has nothing to do with whether you ask your partner to help out or call on your bestie to babysit.

Release yourself from this toxic narrative of needing to do it all, without complaints, without a second to yourself, without accepting help or only asking for help when you’re at the point of complete burnout. Your nearest and dearest will applaud you, not judge you, for asking for help. There are people in your life who genuinely care about you and your wellbeing and it’s those people who you need to be calling on for help.

Excuse #2: I asked last time

I’m really happy to hear you asked for help that one time. But, remember that it doesn’t mean you’ve used up all your asking credits for the baby’s lifetime. Keep asking as and when you need help, regardless of how long it has been since your last favour. 

If the person you’re reaching out to can’t commit, perhaps only on that one occasion, don’t bolt the door and never ask again. If you invited your friend out to lunch and they declined, does that mean they’ll never have lunch with you, ever again? It sounds absurd when you apply the logic to other everyday scenarios, yet for some reason motherhood myths exist like you can only ask every now and then, never on a full moon, and only up to 3.6 times each quarter. Ask again. Ask someone else. Just, keep asking. 

Excuse #3: I don’t want to be a burden

I get it, you feel like a problem shared is a problem doubled. But, if you label yourself and your baby a burden without someone telling you to your face that the ask is indeed a burden on them (ie. a ‘heavy load’, this is the actual dictionary definition), this excuse is based on assumption. 

You can eradicate that assumption by either a) simply asking if the request for help is too much or b) find someone else who doesn’t find helping out to be too tasking. To one person, a couple of hours of babysitting on a Monday night is easy to organise, to another they need to do a bit of juggling to make it work, and another person has to be somewhere else on that night. But, you don’t know until you ask and the person on the other end replies with their own set of boundaries and expectations. Give that person an opportunity to make their own mind up and base your next move on fact, never assumption.

Here’s your permission slip: How to ask for help

If you find it awkward to ask for help or don’t know how to phrase it, I give you permission to copy and paste these suggestions to the next person who asks ‘Is there anything I can do?’. 


“I’ve found it really hard lately to {INSERT HERE WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH. eg. SLEEP/RELAX/COOK} and I need some help. Would you mind coming over on {INSERT A DATE/TIME FRAME}”.

“I haven’t had a chance to {INSERT WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH HERE}, would you be able to help me out this week?”

“I don’t know how you can help, but I’m struggling and I need someone to talk to. Are you free {INSERT A DAY/TIME}

Never feel like you need to justify why you need the help – but be specific as to what you need the person to do (eg. bring over shopping, babysit for 2 hours, call me for a chat) and a timeframe (today, next week, Saturday at 5pm). It sets the expectation up front and allows the person on the other end to see if they can commit to helping you in a way that truly benefits you.