We’ve all been there. A mum friend pours her heart and soul out to you and tells you something terrible that’s been going on with her child, or confesses that she is struggling with motherhood in a big way. Or maybe, your friend doesn’t say anything at all, but you can see the frustration behind tired eyes, and you know how she feels – because we’ve all been there.
Motherhood is not an easy journey. It is full of ups and downs, and crying in your bathroom. You can love your kids so fiercely one minute that you feel like your heart might burst, and then want to curl yourself up in a ball and rock back and forth and dream of a far away deserted island the next.
So, we’re bound to be sitting in a coffee shop and have a friend tell us that she’s afraid her son has school anxiety, or that she doesn’t know what to do about the fact that her daughter has body image issues. She will most likely look tired (because who doesn’t) and down.
No parenting journey is easy, and no parent should have to do it all alone.
I know there have been many times that I’ve felt like I had no one. I wanted to have a friend that could say, “Me too!” or would lift me up when I was feeling down. We all want that connection, and we all want to feel like we’re being thought of and loved. Especially from a fellow mum who knows.
And, honestly? Sometimes mums don’t get that a lot. We give and give and give until sometimes we feel like we have nothing left. So, it’s always super meaningful when someone gives to us, and we feel thought of.
Here are 10 ways you can help a friend who’s struggling and let her know she’s not alone.
Send her a Starbucks gift card.
You don’t have to send a lot of money on that gift card to make her feel special. A simple $5 gift card and a note like – “You’re a great mom” will be enough to bring tears to her eyes. My cousin did this for me once, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Offer to babysit.
Watch her kids for an hour. It doesn’t have to be all day. But, reaching out and offering means so much. She might say no, but you will for sure help her know that she’s not alone.
Women love to talk – I know because I am one. And, sometimes, all we really want is someone to listen. Offer to take her to lunch, and let her ramble, or better yet, offer to bring her lunch during the baby’s naptime. Little gestures like this can go a long way in a friendship.
Take her a favourite treat.
Friends who know me well know that all I REALLY want every day is a large diet coke with lots of ice. If a friend were to show up on my doorstep with that, I’d know that she cares. Think about your friend and something she really loves, and go get it. She will feel cared for.
Slip a handwritten note into her mailbox.
In the age of social media and quick text messages, it means a lot when someone takes the time to actually use a pen and paper for something. Write some words of encouragement (not advice) into a note, and leave it in her mailbox or on her front door. All mums need to hear that we’re doing a good job, and it’s the best way to show love to a friend.
Offer to pick up something at the store for her.
Most mums hate going to the store, especially with kids in tow, so this is the perfect way to ease someone’s burden. Text her and ask her for a shopping list, and offer to get all the things on her list. It’s the best way to make her load feel a little lighter.
Set up a meal group for her.
I know when I’m really struggling, the last thing I want to do is make a meal. You could always drop one by one night, but if you have a friend that is going through a big trial like miscarriage, or the loss of a family member, get multiple people involved to help that mama out. Setting up a few days of meals is the perfect gift for anyone that needs help.
Don’t offer advice – send funny memes instead.
The last thing mamas need is more advice (unless they ask for it). Mums usually get advice from EVERYBODY. So, when you have a friend that is struggling, send her things to cheer her up instead of the latest blog post that might solve her problem. A funny meme, or an article that might uplift and encourage her is a great way to let her know you’re thinking of her.
Stay in touch.
When you pour your heart and soul out to a friend, the last thing you want is radio silence afterward. Make sure that you stay in touch and keep reaching out. You don’t have to provide solutions to her problems, but just a quick – “Hey! Thinking of you today.” Text is enough. Offer prayers if that’s your sort of thing (and hers) and keep reminding her that you’re there for her. Without judgment.
Don’t ask her what she needs.
It’s been my experience that sometimes people are too embarrassed to admit they need help. So, don’t ask – just do. You know your friend best, and can anticipate what she might like or want based on her personality. And, if it’s someone you don’t know that well, the Starbucks gift card is a safe option. Asking a friend what they need is just an opportunity for them to turn down your service. Be proactive – even if it’s just with sending a funny meme.
It’s hard to tiptoe around tough things our friends might be going through. We have to find the balance between bringing it up again when they might not want to talk about it anymore, and being there for them. But, these ideas are meant to just show your friends that are struggling that you care. And you are there for them, every step of the way.
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