I attended a women’s circle last night and we were doing an exercise on asking for what we want. It was really interesting to see a group of 13 women working through the complexities of asking for not only what we need but also for what we want. Requests came in a myriad of forms;
“Would you mind doing X?”
“I’d appreciate it if you could stop doing Y”.
“Would you like to Z?”
All of these questions were passive and indirect and have the potential to confuse the person being asked, especially if that person is your spouse! As we continued with the exercise, we re-framed the questions so that they came from an active voice and were decisive.
“I need X, Will you please do it?”
“Please stop doing Y”.
“I want to do Z, would you like to join me?”
The above formats are active and they clearly convey what you want or need. There is no ambiguity and the person receiving the request can more easily respond “yes” or “no” because they know exactly what is being asked.
So what does this have to do with Mamas on Bedrest?
One of the most common questions I receive is, “How do I get help while I am on bed rest? “ The other side of this is, “People ask what I need and I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to impose.”
There are 2 main issues here and they are easily solved. First, if you need help, ask. So often people want to help, but they don’t want to impose or invade your personal space (pry) If you need help it is up to you to actively request it. Let the people in your life know that you are down and need help and support.
Secondly, you need to be specific. If you need help with meals, ask for help with meals. State specifically what you need, how many days per week, for how many people and if there are any limitations on what you and your family eat. This way, people know specifically what you need and can assess if they can or cannot meet that need.
Clear communication is key when enlisting the help of friends, family members or even paid assistance while on bed rest. The following tips make “The Art of Asking” clear, simple and effective:
- Sit down and make a list of all the things that need to be done for your home and family. Be specific and include times, dates, locations and who/what is involved in the tasks. Clearly state how you want the tasks done.
- Realistically assess with your partner what he/she is able to do
- See what tasks your children can assume (if you have other children and they are old enough to assist.)
- Then put on a calendar what needs to be done and when.
I suggest that you take advantage of the Care Calendars. These are web based calendars that you can fill out and post online. Then simply give your friends and family members the link and login and they can take a look at your needs and then sign up to fulfill them. This is really great in that you don’t have to feel awkward asking, and People don’t have to call you and ask what you need. This also eliminates ill feelings-You feeling upset if they can’t do something you asked, or them feeling awkward if they can’t fulfill a need. If they can’t do it, they simply don’t sign up for it!
Asking for help can be an anxiety ridden process. You hate to impose, because it feels like too much. You’ve already asked. People have already helped. But if you still need help, you need help. Remember, if friends and family are asking to help, let them. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t mean it! But do value their time an energy by being clear about what your needs are and clearly state what you want people to do, how, when, what day and time and if possible how much time it may take. You can’t always get what you want, but you’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask.
If you have had success getting assistance while on bed rest, share how you did it below. If you have a question regarding getting help while on bed rest, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We’ve been having a lively discussion in response to the following question from Mama on Bedrest Jenny on our Facebook Page (head on over and weigh in!!),
“Tips on boosting husband morale? Hubby comes home from work and has what we call “sunset fatigue.” That combined with a wife who can’t do much around the house, I think the added responsibility (or the idea of it since he hasn’t changed much) is getting to him. I end up pushing myself down chores around the house (a BIG no no) just because I can’t handle it and feel terrible asking him.”
First, this is an excellent question! We all must keep in mind the fact that when mamas go on bed rest, the entire family is impacted, and dads/spouses/partners often bear the brunt of the burden.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, that’s not really a bad thing. I think that men should know what we mamas do at home-many of us after working long hours outside of the home! I say this not to “man bash” but to raise their awareness of all that we mamas do. So all that being said, when mamas go on bed rest, you essentially have to teach dads/spouses/partners how to multitask as we do. This is no easy feat.
There is an actual physiologic reason that women are able to better balance the demands of work outside and inside the home. Women are blessed with larger corpora callosa, the fibrous tissue that connects the two halves of the brain, and as such, we have many more neurons skipping back and forth between each side of our brains. This is why we can cook dinner, talk on the phone, keep an eye on an older child and bounce a baby all at the same time. While men have a larger, heavier brains, their corpora callosa are not as thick and don’t have as many neurons skipping back and forth across their brains’ hemispheres, so consequently, it’s a lot harder for them to multitask.
But it is not impossible. I have seen some dads/partners rise to the occasion of their wives being sidelined by bed rest in fine fashion. Some men will just rise like fine cream in a difficult situation. Others need a bit of coaxing. There are 5 excellent tips from mamas on bed rest on the facebook thread and a few more here for those not yet in the conversation.
1. Talk with your partner about your bed rest. Many people really believe that women are “trying to get out of working” when they go on prescribed bed rest. We all know that nothing is further from the truth, but as they head out each day and you recline back into the pillows, you have to admit, it may seem a bit enviable. If your partner was not with you when the prescription was given, explain as explicitly as possible why your doctor placed you on bed rest and the exact parameters of your bed rest. If necessary, have a little “conference call” with your doctor so that your partner can hear directly from the doctor why this bed rest prescription, and why its so important that it be followed.
2. Talk with your partner about what you do. How many of us really talk with our partners about what we do around the house? It’s an unspoken code that we get things done, our partners see that everything is done and assumes everything is kosher. We continue in this unspoken trance until a situation like bed rest occurs. This is a great opportunity to share with your partner how you “make it all happen” and with such ease and grace (and yes ladies, you do it with ease and grace! Take a bed rest bow!!). If necessary, sit down with him, give him a pad of paper and a pen, and give him clear details on how you do things (especially if there are things you want done a very specific way.) Most guys really appreciate clear, specific instructions and will like knowing exactly what and how something should be done.
3. Write out what you do and prioritize what he needs to do. Now some people (and I would have fell into this category!) may feel like, “Well if I have to do all of that, I may as well get up and do it myself! I can do it faster and right.” This may well be true, but I refer you to Mama on Bedrest Vet Lisa’s response on the discussion of the potential consequences of not adhering to bed rest. Mamas, you need to stay in bed (or on the sofa), no ifs, ands, or buts!! Put your tush to the cush and stay there! Give your guy the list and let him handle it. Accept that things won’t be done exactly as you would have done them, but I can assure you, that on the most important things, your partner will get it done sufficiently enough.
4. Relax your standards. (This would have been next to impossible for me.) I am not saying that I am a neat freak, but I do have ways of doing things and tend to get a bit pissy if things aren’t done how I prefer. This is an exceptional time ladies. It’s really okay if your house isn’t spic and span. It’s okay of your older children have sugary cereal (a real bone of contention in our house!!) for a few weeks in their lives. It’s okay if the clothes aren’t folded immediately out of the dryer (or your could share this responsibility if your positioning permits-he can wash and dry and you can fold!). Life will go on, your family will rally and most importantly, your baby will thrive inside of you as you stay in bed!
5. Give him praise and credit. Some of you lucky gals have men that really pitch in around the house with as much ease and grace as you. Others of us have guys who are loving, but somewhat skill challenged when it comes to household responsibilities. For these guys, I recommend that you prioritize the most important things that need to be done and table the rest until help in the form of mom, neighbors, friends or a wonderful service like Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond arrives on the scene!! (okay, shameless self promotion here!) For those things that he does do, generously pat him on the back. It’s not easy to be out of your comfort zone. Add to that the fact that they are also worried about you and the baby and it’s a tough road. Give your guys some credit for what they do accomplish and take some tips from Mama on Bedrest Megan, who recognized that her guy was running on empty and found ways to allow him to recharge his battery.
These are just 5 tips on how to help your guy survive bed rest. Do you have other tips? Share them below or mosey on over to our Facebook Page and chime in on this thread!
On November 30, 2003, my husband’s father died.
It was a heartbreaking loss. We had all gathered at my inlaws to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. My husband, daughter and I had flown in to surprise my inlaws and together with my sister and brother inlaw, we were going to throw a big family party to commemorate the event.
On the morning of the anniversary, my husband and I were jolted from sleep by my mother inlaw’s cries, “Daddy isn’t waking up!” While I tried to perform CPR my husband called EMS. The emergency rescuers worked on my father in law for some 45 minutes before transporting him to the hospital. My father in law never regained consciousness. The doctors estimated that he had actually died a couple of hours prior to my mother in law waking up. My mother in law lost the love of her life on their 40th anniversary.
Losing a parent is never easy. Losing a parent in such a dramatic fashion is even more difficult. My husband speaks very little about his father’s death, yet I know that it had a profound impact on him. For months following his father’s death, my husband functioned on autopilot; he went to work, came home, played with our daughter abit and then retreated to his home office. While I knew that he was in great pain, I was unable to get him to talk about his father or to get help in the form of counseling. Those were very dark days.
Even now, 9 years later, my husband speaks very little about his father or his death. When we spoke recently, he admitted that the void that he feels is almost unspeakable. Without my father inlaw, my husband finds himself with no male role model, no patter for fatherhood. His grandfathers are deceased. His father had 2 sisters and his mother has 3. My husband is the oldest grandchild so others look to him as a role model. There is no living male relative to whom he can turn for advice or guidance.
It really took me aback when I considered my husband’s situation. When I had my daughter, I was constantly on the telephone with my mother and sister, making sure each little “coo” was okay and that I was providing her with everything she needed. When I had my son 3 1/2 years later, my sister became my beacon, as she had 2 boys. I talked to anyone and everyone; moms at parks, moms at preschool, moms at church, women in the grocery store, friends…I sought out and accepted any and all advice. I don’t know how I would have made it without all the sage advice of the multitude of women in my life. I really could not imagine how my husband was making it on his own.
I have repeatedly suggested that my husband obtain counseling to help him cope with his feelings surrounding his father’s death as well as his feelings of being the family “patriarch”. I have also suggested that he seek out other men, other fathers, with whom he can share ideas and gain support. To date he has refused.
Dr. Bruce Linton has clearly outlined the stages men go through as they transition into fatherhood. According to Linton, an important stage is reconciling one’s feelings with one’s own father. My husband has admitted that there is much he had hoped to share with his father and now he’ll never have the chance. It’s tragic indeed.
I will keep trying with my husband. It will be very difficult for him to resolve some issues as my father in law is gone. Ultimately he has to find a way to cope with his feelings so that he can have some peace. But he will have to choose whether he wants to resolve his feelings or bury them.