When you received visitors to see your new baby, what were two things that almost every visitor said?
"Let me know if you need anything," and "I'd love to babysit for you - just let me know."
Exactly how many of those people did you contact to take advantage of their sweet offers?
That's right, none.
Or, to put it conversely, how many new mamas whom you have visited have called you up and said, "You know how you offered to bring me a meal if I needed it? Well, I could really use it tonight."
That has probably never happened - in fact, it would probably feel a bit odd if it did.
Why? Simply because women have an incredibly hard time asking for help. We also have an intense need to put on a front of "having it all together." That's just how we are.
I'm the same way. During my last pregnancy, the deaconesses at our church offered to arrange meals for us when I was at my sickest point. I declined. And declined again. When I was finally so desperate that I accepted, one of the deaconesses emailed me - "Diana, it's about TIME you accepted help!"
Yes, like most women out there, I have serious problems accepting any form of help.
Now I'd like to showcase two of my friends - these are just examples out of many who blessed our family; these are not the only ones.
Friend #1 - After our first baby was born, she called me repeatedly and said "I want to babysit for you so that you can get out and do something. When can I come over?"
If she had said "Do you need babysitting?" I probably would have declined. Because she used a more forthright method, she was successful - and I got a 2-hour break.
Friend #2 - She heard that I was really sick with my second pregnancy, so one afternoon she called and said "I have some meals I want to bring over for your freezer. Is this a good time?" She did the same after baby arrived.
If she had said "Do you need food?" or "Would you like some meals?" I probably would have declined. Again, the forthright method works better.
So, here is the announcement!
Women of the world, we need to change how we try to bless new mothers (and people dealing with illness, hospitalization, and life transitions of all kinds).
Fact #1 - Women try to appear like they have life handled, regardless of how sick, exhausted, busy or stressed they are.
Fact #2 - Most women have trouble asking for help, even when needed.
Fact #3 - Most women will decline offers of help, even when needed.
Therefore, here's how to do it.
When you see a need, here is what not to say (not because it's not very sweet, but just because it's generally unsuccessful in getting mamas to accept the offered help!):
- Can you use some help?
- Let me know if you ever need anything.
- Call me if you would like me to babysit.
- Let me know if you'd like me to bring some meals by.
- I'd love to help out, so just let me know.
When you see a need, here is what you need to say instead:
- I want to babysit so you can get out for a bit. Would you like that? When would be a good time?
- I would like to bring you dinner. Would tonight or tomorrow work better for you?
- I have some meals for your freezer. When can I drop by?
- I want to help out with your situation. Would you like some meals or would you prefer help with housework?
Get the point? This is really important. It's the difference between mamas and families having needs met and being blessed and mamas and families having unmet needs that are needlessly neglected while families suffer in hard circumstances.
I have taken the example of my friends above to heart, and that is my new method. When one of my MOMS Club friends hurt her back, I tried it out - I called her and said "I'd like to bring you dinner tonight! Would that be okay? When can I drop it off?" And it worked!
Try on this method and see how much more it enables you to bless families who need the help.
Oh, and need some ideas for new-baby families/mamas? Try these out!