Just last week, I was watching my mother-in-law read to my twins as I folded laundry and it reminded me of when I was little.
When I was 5, my sister and I would spend a few hours every afternoon at my grandmother’s house across the street. This was when my mom, who worked full-time (third shift/overnight), would do house work, cook dinner, run errands and get some sleep. Back then, even stay-at-home parents would have their relatives or older children entertain the little ones while they got things done. Nowadays, lots of people do not have extended family close by to help take care of children while their parents work.
When my children were younger, I used to feel guilty when I paid a sitter to care for them once a week. Heck, if my mom was still alive, or if I lived closer to my sister, I would certainly have their help in caring for my children. So why did I feel guilty to get that help from a wonderful sitter who has come to love my children?
I feel like I misinterpreted what my mother and our society had been telling me all along. The message I got was that I can do it all and have it all. I missed a crucial point to all of this. That is, to have and do it all (mother, professional, wife, friend, daughter, sister, etc.) then I needed a great support system.
I am here to tell you, sure you can do it all, but you cannot do it all alone. You need a solid support system. Without the necessary support, the following could be at stake…
Your partner, children, relatives and friends (i.e., anyone close to you): You no longer have patience or focus for loved ones. They are the ones at whom you are most comfortable lashing out.
Your mental and physical well-being: You are worried about the things you cannot get done. You cannot sleep because you are trying to get work done while the children are sleeping, or you cannot sleep thinking about all that needs to get done. Now you are overtired, stressed and cranky (or downright mean). You are putting on weight or losing weight.
I would like to comfort you as much as to remind myself, it is okay to get help. Ask a friend, relative or hire someone which you trust to help you in any way that will make your life less stressful and more enjoyable. In addition, my wish is that society as a whole will stop passing negative judgment on parents and caregivers alike when they get the help they need.
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(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents“R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)