Part 2 of the blog – HELP Wanted: Asking for Help
I see you. Do you see me?
I see you – potential tribe members sitting in your cars at school pickup. And you, tribe candidate shrinking in your seat in front of me as you roll up to order two Happy Meals and a large McCafe. (No judgment. I’m right behind you momma).
Closer observation of my surroundings reveals that potential tribe members are everywhere. You just have to look there amongst the unshaven beards, coffee stained shirts, and yoga pants. Some days at school, you might even see a tribeswoman running down the hallway in 3-inch heels trying to get a coat and lunchbox to its intended recipient. They really are all around us.
But none of you people seem to have the bandwidth to stand up in the moment, to pause long enough and give life to the words that will one day be the call of our people. Say it with me:
I need HELP!
That’s because it’s hard to ask for help. And just why is it so hard asking for help? Why can’t I just ask you to take my kiddo on a Sunday afternoon, so I can go for a long trail walk with my dog in the woods to regain my sanity? Shouldn’t we all instantly be comfortable suggesting we trade a weekly night of childcare – to get something solid in the books so we all can reconnect with our partners, our friends, ourselves? Why does that feel so hard to do?
I’m just asking
What would it take to start a parental movement in the form of support? Could we look past the new challenges technology has created for this generation of parents and the still-developing social skills of our millennial generations and use it to help us remove the barriers of decentralization of the competing platforms that we all use to communicate today?
Could we use technology to spread a clear message to the parenting masses and rally together around the goal?
You need a hand. So do I. I want to help. Will you help me? Let’s build our tribe!
I thought about it and studied the faces of the parents on the fringes of my potential tribal community, with their heads down in their iPhones as they entered the school at pick-up time. If I asked you directly – what do you need? If I told you what I needed. Could we join forces and create the solution?
Yes! Indeed, we can!
The communication process would have to provide a safe way to connect with other tribe members, without divulging too much personal information upfront. Some elements of privacy should be available to the members. But the tools of the tribe should enable the free exchange of support, and encourage giving equitably, yet ensure that members understand that not everyone within the tribe will be able to give back in the same way.
In its simplest form, the tribe would take a cue from the traditional child-care co-op, and simplify the process in the form of an app. To allow parents to exchange help amongst each other and keep it equitable and free. We’re on the go and we need an easier way to invite connection in real time with people we want to get to know and trust to invite and build that community of support.
The tools would allow members to spread the gospel and amass an intricate network of trusted connections while continuing to spread its promise in a massive parental pay it forward movement. It would reward those who give in ways beyond the feeling we get after lending a hand.
Getting to the goal
I set out to build the solution. To create a safe place where you can ask other people like you, other parents you know and trust, for help when you need it while making it easier to give your virtual RSVP to attend to others’ needs when possible. To create a community where I could launch an invitation to parents in my communities, to connect more deeply, and begin a viral loop of giving.
You accept and participate in the exchange. You benefit and you want others to as well. It grows.
I was building a forum for communicating our needs as parents and our willingness to support each other, to help us all connect more deeply and find some much-needed balance.
The goal is to take away the burdens we feel in just trying to get us to a place where we can be better parents and take better care of ourselves. But on a more granular level, I’m talking about the daily challenges. The expense of hiring help that many parents just can’t afford, the scheduling hassles that always seem to complicate matters, and simply the fear of being a burden that keeps us from asking for help, to begin with.
This is the foundation my tribe, a parental movement of support which for now, is called: kidcareshare.
I’ll admit it. I’ve been conducting a covert review of all of the amazing parents in my communities. Who could I help? Who would I want to ask for help? I’d like to think all parents instinctively conduct such a survey before advancing each other to that higher level of accountability — someone I’d trust, with my kids.
So, now I’m inviting you —mom of that curly haired girl I know my kid played with at camp, but I never amassed enough courage to ask for her number to plan a post-camp play date. You were always on the run at pick-up.
It’s for you too dad. I see you swoop in late to soccer on Saturdays, clearly struggling with the carpool situation. You could probably use another option to help get the kids to a game on time.
And it’s an invitation to you, my “mom crush” — the classroom mom who wears that awesome pair of weathered suede boots, who has clearly rolled a few stones, but routinely demonstrates a level of patience and conscious parenting that I continue to aspire to. I want to learn from you and I’d be totally down if you spent an afternoon teaching my daughter how to braid flowers in her hair, and maybe gave me a moment to reconnect with the lighter side of myself.
In this tribe, we give to each other without expectation. There will always be times we can give more, and other times when we have nothing in our souls left to give.
Beyond an equitable exchange of childcare, carpools and play dates, we’re giving each other the space to reflect on how our worlds have shifted since assuming this demanding job and we’ll feel a stronger sense of connection because we’re helping each other.
How can I help?
Every day I’m listening and learning from you about what you need. I’m finding ways to make the process of connecting and scheduling care easier, to create stronger connections with our communities, to give back to those who give, and to help us all stay a little more organized along the way. Every day we are creating the solution.
So, if you receive a request to join my kidcareshare network, I hope you’ll accept. Say you’ll agree to take care of yourself and that maybe you’ll be there one day to help me when times are tough if you can.
Still, even if you can’t help at most times, that’s okay too. By accepting my request, you’re saying: I see you, I hear you. I’ll help you if I can. We’re in this together. We simply cannot do it all alone. We’re all doing the best we can, and sometimes, at different times, as it ebbs and flows, we may have more to give. When that time comes, I’ll be your rock.