Are you a control freak? Learn to let go and accept help during pregnancy!
Pregnancy can be a time when you learn things about yourself and your relationships – and how things will work once your little bundle is on the scene.
One of the things I’ve had to practice is the skill of asking for and accepting help. This might sound trivial to some, but for Type A personalities (*control freaks*) – it’s a trait we need to learn.
I’m independent and I like things done a certain way. Asking for help doesn’t always come easily to me. Sometimes I feel guilty asking for help. Other times, I want things done a certain way, and it hurts my OCD if things aren’t done ‘right’.
Here’s the thing, though – pregnancy is tiring, and involves a lot of preparation. At 34 weeks, I’m tired, I’m sore, and it’s harder to move. It’s a wise idea to strengthen our skills in asking for and accepting help, or we’ll burn ourselves out.
Some people refuse to let their pregnant partner lift a finger. Others are on the selfish side and won’t offer any help at all. Luckily for me, my husband provides massages on tap, fetches me things on request (he’s particularly willing to fetch food items, e.g. pizza), and tells me to rest when I’m tired (if I’m extra lucky he’ll bring me a mocktail). For all I know, he’s groaning on the inside – but if that’s the case, he’s doing a good job of hiding it.
My main issue has been overcoming my angst about the actual asking – especially now that he’s taking care of some of the things I’d usually do myself. I think that open communication has really helped us. I share all milestones with my husband, and he’s joined me for almost every medical appointment. We have a weekly ritual of checking my pregnancy app together – he reads each update aloud. This has meant that he’s clued in not only about the baby’s development but also about the physical challenges of pregnancy. If I’m uncomfortable, feeling sick, or tired, he’ll usually know about it. There’s no point trying to be a warrior when you’re pregnant because you need to look after yourself and your child. Involving your partner in the journey helps them understand why you need their help. Ultimately, this has enabled me to feel less ‘naggy’ when I do ask for an extra hand.
Now, just because you become better at asking, doesn’t mean every fella will fall into line. They probably won’t be used to doing so much, and there might be some resistance. How to deal?
If they’re sulking but they’re doing the work anyway, just let them deal with that – they’ll get over it. If they’re refusing to help, you probably need to work on your communication so that they understand why their help is required. Some partners might feel overwhelmed by all the preparation of pregnancy and not know where to start or how to help. One idea is to give them a list of jobs that they can work on. A bit of guidance can go a long way, and any man worth his salt will be happy to do something to help you out and prepare for your baby.
Personally, I think that it’s important before bringing a child into your family that you and your partner have figured out how you work together as a team. I want our children to see a relationship where we both contribute, where we help one another ‘just because’, where we carry our weight without having to be asked, and where we don’t have gender-defined chores. The sooner both parties realize that they’re going to need to up their game once baby arrive, without being prompted, the better.
The cherry-on-top of asking for help is, well, letting go of the cherry on top. And by that I mean, doing away with perfectionism. I suspect many husbands tactically don’t clean the bathroom thoroughly so we don’t ask them to do it again. For a super smart guy, my husband has taken a long time to learn that the bathroom cleaning products go back in the cupboard after they’ve been used, not draped over the bathroom as decorations. (Wink, wink, I see what you’re doing, dear husband!). I guess sometimes we need to make like Elsa and ‘Let it Go’.
What about when it comes to accepting offers of help from other family members? These are lovely gestures, though you might need to learn to confidently ‘project manage’ so that that the assistance is actually a help, not a hindrance. If the help that’s being offered doesn’t suit you, try saying, “Thanks! I’m all set in that department, but could you help me with XYZ instead?”. When people offer help they want to be involved and want to make your life easier – so accept these kind offers, negotiate if need be, and make it work for both parties.
Letting go of the tendency to be in control of everything is definitely a skill that needs to be practiced, especially if it goes against your regular grain. Now that I’m just a few weeks away from delivering our baby, it’s been a relief to receive help lately – and I can see it makes our families happy, too. I know once the baby arrives, this new skill will go into overdrive.
Meanwhile… would someone like to bring me a cup of tea?!