Learning How to Ask For and Accept Help

I don’t love to ask for or accept help.

I don’t feel like it’s a pride issue; it’s not because I can’t admit that I need help. Rather, it’s because I know that all of my friends and family are just as busy as I am. Asking for help feels like adding another burden to their already full plate.

However, now that three littles ages 6 and under outnumber my husband and me, sometimes I desperately need help.

I recently had an experience that helped teach me how to ask for and accept help. We bought a house at the end of May, set to close at the end of June. I was still trying to finish up homeschooling my 6-year-old, my 3-year-old is a little wild child, and I had an almost one-year-old just starting to take some steps. Add to that our four pets and the idea of packing felt like a nightmare. We also knew that after we moved we would have about two weeks worth of projects and cleaning to do at our old house before we could get it listed.

I needed help, badly.

As I started packing, some of my friends encouraged me to let people know when I would need childcare. I sent out some dates and the next thing I knew, they were all covered. Then they asked me for MORE dates. I hesitantly shared what I needed and they got THOSE all covered. This continued for a couple of weeks and, to be honest, I was amazed once again by how wonderful these people are. However, I was still behind schedule and was getting more stressed out by the day.

This was when I really had to learn how to accept help when it was offered. Up to that point, I was accepting help from my closest friends and family, but still, found plenty of times to say, “Oh, I think we’re good.”

Then people asked me specific questions. “Can I bring you a meal this week?” “I’m free on Monday; would you like me to come over and help with anything?” And do you know what I did? I started saying, “Yes! That would actually be wonderful! Thank you so much!”

I chose to believe that people weren‘t just being polite, but that they truly desired to help.

Learning to Ask For and Accept Help

The biggest change in mindset that was helpful for me in being able to ask for help was switching the roles in my head. I realized there is NEVER a time when I want people to avoid asking me for help because they think I’m too busy with my own life. To be honest, I am ridiculously busy; we all are, and occasionally that does mean that we have to say no. But plenty of times it doesn’t. I know that I would want my friends to keep asking because I’ll say “yes” whenever I can, and I don’t ever want them to think that I’m too busy for them.  If I felt that way, surely my friends and family have similar feelings. 

The biggest help for me in accepting help was when people made specific offers.

When life overwhelms us and people say, “Is there anything I can do?” it can be hard to even put thoughts together of what we need, let alone coordinate schedules. When someone says, “I’m free Tuesday afternoon. Would you like me to come by your house and help you pack or watch your kids while you pack?” all I have to say is, “Yes, thank you, that would be a great help!”

Equally helpful were my couple of outspoken friends who continued to request that I send out dates that I needed childcare. Just when I was thinking I had asked for too much and couldn’t ask for more, they would sweep in and let me know that there’s no limit on their love for me.

Have you learned how to accept help when you’re in desperate need? I truly believe we all have times in our lives when we need a lot of help and other times when we can really pass that blessing on to others. Do you have any other tips about how to ask for, accept, or offer help? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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