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Shannon Miller: ‘It’s Critical to Ask Others For Help’

06/05/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy of Shannon Miller

For Shannon Miller, when it comes to surviving new motherhood — it takes a village!

“If you don’t schedule time for yourself, there’s always going to be something else going on,” the Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast, 33, tells Working Mother, adding that women should lean on friends and family in the days and months after bringing home a baby.

“When you’re not getting sleep and your hormones are raging, it’s critical to ask others for help,” she advises.

Between her role as an author, an organization to run and a website on the horizon, Miller concedes that she’s become efficient at balancing the demands of work with the demands of raising son Rocco, 6 months.

“There was this one time, I was trying to stay covered while pumping in the back seat of a car going to an event,” she recalls.

Not that she’s complaining! Rocco has only served to motivate Miller to advance her cause. “I’ve grown in my passion for what I do because of my son,” she explains, “and I have more of a voice now because of him.”

Husband John Falconetti earns credit for shouldering the load. “He’s been great about stepping in and helping me out and running errands,” Miller reveals.

“He’ll say to me, ‘Hey Shannon, let me have some guy time with Rocco,’ so I can get out and do some shopping, or he’ll call a couple of my friends and tell them to ‘make sure Shannon goes too.’”

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Showing 10 comments

Shelley on

So true! I do not have children (by choice), but I love to help my friends and family with theirs. I come over and play with the kids so mom can take a shower without worrying about them. I also tell my friends to call me when they need to run errands or go to the grocery store. I hang out with their babies/toddlers while they do that. Even the simple things like errands are made 1000 times easier if you can do it without the young kids.

Also, it is important to have time with your friends and time alone to just recharge. Life is hard when you’re on the go AND trying to take care of a baby. Give yourself a break and DO NOT be afraid to ask your friends/family for help. That is what we’re here for.

Robin M. on

She is absolutely right. It is important that first-time moms know that there is no way they can do it all so they shouldn’t even try!

JM on

shelley, everyone should have a friend like you. i really respect your choice to not have kids, though i have five myself, and i think it’s lovely that you still appreciate kids enough to want to spend time with them and help your friends out. i can imagine that your friends’ kids mean a lot to you and that you give them undivided attention when they are under your care. i guess everyone knows that they could ask for help, but to have a friend like you who seems to willing must make it easier. how lovely.

and yes, mothers should never be afraid to ask for help, no one said you had to do it all on your own.

Natasha Williams on

I totally agree with the article and with Shelley too! I do not have kids of my own (yet!) but have friends who do. When they want to run an errand or go do chores, I look after the kids for an hour, take them to the park, sometimes for ice cream or to the movies. Personally, I love it, and it helps my friend out too. Plus, I have a great relationship with their kids that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Motherhood isn’t something you should feel obliged to do it alone. Many family members and friends will be just as eager for some quality time as you are for some quiet time!

hayley on

i could not agree more if i tried!! i have said it on other post before one of the you must learn as a mum is when t ask for help because its hard too sometimes, it can feel like your failing but there is no shame in asking or taking help thats offerd out.

i said it beofre ill say it again , mums not martyrs :D

great post! i love reasing this kind of stuff you just can’t be negative about good advice! :D :D

Good on

Wonderful that Shannon is open and hopefully many friends and family will feel good about helping when they can. Also, this love should be shown in respect for those able to afford nannies, because parents need help.

jessicad on

Shelley you sound like an amazing friend! Even watching a baby for an hour or two while Mom showers or eats a meal in peace makes a huge difference. I felt so guilty asking for help when my daughter was born, for some reason we have this attitude like we’re supposed to be able to do it all alone, we don’t give ourselves time to rest after giving birth or in the crazy sleep deprived months after. I remember just wanting to cry some days because I was so exhausted and just wanted a minute by myself, but afraid to ask for help because people would think I was selfish or ungrateful for my child, which of course isn’t true. I think all new Moms should be allowed a few hours a week to recharge, there is no shame in asking for help from family and friends, thanks to Shannon for bringing this up:)

Angela on

Shelley and Natasha, would one of you mind coming to Chicago in August when we have our third baby? :)

dfs on

Shelley, most people are not like you. A large amount of people, especially those who don’t have children really resent it when their friends ask them to baby-sit. Your friends are lucky to have someone like you.

MiB on

Jessica, what You say is so true (and You notice it a lot on cbb too). We should all remember that it was not long ago where raising children was a family project, as in mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, siblings, cousins and friends. Nowadays we may not live close to our families anymore, but ist still takes a village to raise a child.

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