Work. Kids’ activities. More work. Doctor’s appointments. Important work meeting. Routine errands. A not-so-routine emergency work project. A flu bug that’s ransacked your home. Business travel with a jam-packed itinerary.
The list goes on….and you get the picture. And this picture may be the very snapshot of your everyday life. Sometimes even the best juggler could not balance what is thrown at working moms in a single day, or even mere hour. There isn’t a magic answer to covering it all either, yet many of us seem hesitant to ask for help. Why is that exactly?
The answer is simple. We don’t ask because we believe we’re supposed to have it all figured out, so there’s a major guilt factor involved. We don’t often see other mothers asking, so we shy away from asking as well. To put it bluntly, if our mothers didn’t wave the white flag for help when things got tough, then why should we?
It’s important to consider that today, 70% of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, compared to 1975, when just 47% of mothers worked outside the home. So there’s a very good chance the vision of the perfect mom in control of everything that you’re comparing yourself to didn’t also run a company or lead a department within an organization….so it’s quite possible that standard never existed at all.
In other words, it’s safe to say motherhood is even trickier than it used to be.
Mothers today are also faced with harsh realities that previous generations didn’t have to deal with. Autism is on the rise. Childhood obesity has quadrupled. Food allergies are up 50 percent. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of fear-factor news coming across our televisions and computers. We’re facing new and different challenges all the time–and that is just in one facet of our busy lives.
So these days, it’s important to digest that asking for some assistance in life as you need it actually has a positive effect on your professional efforts. Research shows that individuals who have the necessary support are more effective on the job, whether professional challenges more easily, are less likely to feel overwhelmed, and find it easier to maintain perspective.
A recent survey found that while working mothers take on most of the chores and childcare at home, nearly one-third of them don’t hire outside help because they feel guilty for having to ask.
Learning to get comfortable asking for and receiving help can take practice, though. But it’s not just acceptable to need others; it’s in our nature to give and receive help. We are meant to experience community and connection, to lean on and into each other, not just when things get tough —but every day! Here are some great guilt-free ways you can start requesting some help:
1.References, references, references.
You would not hire someone at your company without first validating their skillset –same goes for anyone you hire to help at your home. Babysitters, housecleaners, landscapers, etc. –as a starting point, rely on neighbors to get recommendations. It removes a step from the process as you reach out for a helping hand.
2. Divide and conquer.
A relationship or marriage is referred to as a “partnership” for a reason. Lean on your children’s other parent to help as they can as well; you don’t have to do the grunt work on your own and that precedent must be set sooner rather than later. Being true partners means sharing the responsibilities, divided by your strengths, and pitching in on any as needed.
3. Establish a school “network.”
Befriend two moms you can count on in each child’s grade. If you help them when you can, it will be easier to ask for their help when you need it.
4. Set up your own “rideshare” program.
No, we’re not talking Uber here, but an agreement with other busy working parents in your area who share the responsibility of kids in mutual activities. Plan things out with work travel, etc. Of course, there will be curveballs thrown at plans, but this will help in at least attempting to schedule life!
5. Remember, it’s a family affair.
As your children grow, instill in them the importance of every family member playing a role. That means putting clothes and toys away, helping to clean up messes, and doing their part in keeping the household in order. Little things add up and if your kiddos pitch in as they can, it will make a difference to you quickly. Also, if your parents offer a hand, don’t refuse it. Accepting their help helps you, and may also even give your kids a little extra invaluable time with their grandparents.
Your strength is not determined by your ability or inability to ask for help. After all, you could use a little right? Can’t we all! Getting started may not be as easy as pulling a rabbit out of your hat, but once you put your mind to it and consider how a helping hand can really help all aspects of your life, the real magic will begin.