Mamas on Bedrest: The Art of Asking For Help

April 8th, 2013

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

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