You see a friend struggling, but you’re not exactly sure how to help. You’re not certain about what they need and you’re too afraid to ask, so you offer a standard “Call me if you need anything” and then hope that they do.
….but we all know that call rarely happens.
It can be hard for us to ask for the help we truly need. While I don’t suggest bulldozing your friends into accepting your help, I do think there are so many alternative ways to offer support to a friend that is struggling.
Try these instead:
- I’m heading to the store. Send me your list, and I’ll drop it off on my way home. You don’t need an exact grocery list (unless they send one over) in order to help stock up on essentials. Frozen lasagna, milk, COFFEE, and easy to eat fruits & veggies are great options. Think basic – easy – no mess items.
- I know [insert situation] must be tough, tell me how you’re feeling about everything. When you ask a vague question like “how are you?”, you’re likely to get a simple, polite response. Being direct gives them comfort and reassurance that you actually want to talk and that you’re prepared to handle what they need to say.
- I made dinner for your family, can I drop it off? When you ask if you can make them something, 9/10 they will decline the offer for fear that it’s an inconvenience to you. This way you’ve already made the meal (even if you haven’t *actually* prepared it) so it’s no trouble at all. When bringing food, prepare meals that are easy to freeze and reheat.
- Since I’m headed that way, I’ll grab your kids from school today, this week, etc. Sometimes leaving the house can be difficult, for someone struggling it may seem daunting. If you have small children in car seats, that’s a whole other situation. But for older children, adding an extra kid or two to the caravan is a simple way to take something off a friend’s plate.
- I have time off this week. What can I do? How can I support you? You’re letting them know you have time open, and that you want to use that time specifically for them. Asking how you can support them can add an emotional layer that may open the door to a bigger conversation about what they need.
- Let’s go for a walk on Thursday. Ever try and make plans with a mom friend? It goes something like this: Step 1 – Express interest in hanging out, Step 2 – If possible, find a day and time to get together. Step 3 – Reschedule those plans. Step 4 – Repeat until you die. Proposing a specific day and activity helps solidify plans, and going for a walk could be the breath of fresh air they need. Thursday doesn’t work? What about Friday?
- You need to rest. I’m bringing your kids to the movies/park/WHEREVER so you can have the afternoon off. Again, be direct. I’m not asking if I can help you, I’m telling you exactly how I can help. If they’re not comfortable with the kids being out, offer to stay at their home with the kids so they can rest, take a bath, binge Netflix, or whatever they need to recharge. *Keep in mind that guilt may cause them to hesitate and not truly take a break. Be vocal and reassure them you WANT to help out.
- I pre-paid for your hamper service, what day do you want to have it picked up? For some, not everyone, feeling overwhelmed can make it easy to get behind in your household chores. This is a great choice if you are unable to provide a meal or be there physically. Pre-paying for something can take the pressure off by allowing them to be in control of how and when they use it. Other options: pampering services like a haircut or mani/pedi.
- I’m free this weekend. I’ll stay with the kids at the house so you can run a few errands. This one is a no brainer – Free babysitter? OH, HECK YES! Avoid any guilt from their end by reiterating you don’t have any plans other than being there to help.
- I don’t think you’re okay. I really think you should talk to someone. Often times we are unable to see how far we’ve seeped into darkness, much less admit it. Hearing those concerns out loud may help to see things in a clearer light. You might feel hesitant to voice your concerns, but being a true friend means not being afraid to have those tough conversations.
In case you didn’t notice, there are significantly more statements of action above than questions. If you’re worried you may be overstepping, be transparent enough to express you respect their decision to share or not. In today’s insta-filter world of super-moms that can do it all, it’s difficult to admit that you actually can’t do it all. Accepting help from others can be a hard pill to swallow, and it’s helpful to know the difference between a friend that is actually offering help and someone who is just being polite.
You may feel awkward or uncomfortable initiating these kinds of conversations, but I promise:
You will never regret offering support to a friend in need.