Ever listened to the Beatles’ iconic song Help? Try ignoring the music and listening to the words. They speak of a desperation and vulnerability few of us want to admit. As one starts juggling multiple roles that may or may not overlap the meaning of the song hits home. Not only is it important to call in extra help but it is equally as important to accept genuine offers for help. Modern women seem to have fallen into the trap of believing our mothers and grandmothers did it all without any help. (Perhaps this is rooted in some sort of need to do things the way our mothers did to some extent and still keep the feminist movement at bay.) This is however seldom true. On closer inspection we see a vast network of girlfriends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors who chipped in at different points in the cycle of life. Many of us were fetched and dropped off at school by a parent who carpooled with ours. People brought main courses and desert items when they came over not wine. This saved alot of cooking time. It was not unusual to hear a friend say some aunt or relative was coming over to assist her mother with some major household chores for the weekend. Today we are far more likely to live thousands of miles away from any family and more likely to live in other countries and cities for a few years at a go. The support system enjoyed by our parent’s generation is less likely to still be intact for ours. What are the options for a busy executive mother and wife? Swallow thine pride and look for ways of finding and accepting help and building a support system around you. Where do you find help?
1. Accept help from family and friends who offer you help – stop believing you need to do it all. If they don’t offer ask. I have often seen friends and family offer help to in particular new moms who quickly decline. After a few nights of dancing with a cranky cholicy baby and mornings in a zombiefied state the tide turns. Either you swallow you pride and ask for assistance or observe how pride comes before the fall. Lately I have seen more women trying to do it all end up in hospital, some for weeks on end. Their bodies have completely shut down and sometimes their minds are not far off. We were made to live in community, accept the systems in place that work for your good. Accept that it might not be the people you expect, it might be a group of ladies from church and not your oldest friend. I have had complete strangers give me no strings attached assistance and could only point to God. Next time someone offers to cook you a meal, accept it. A friend offers to look after your children for an afternoon, take it. Your colleague says they will finish a report and send you the final document later, no crisis – go home.
2. Pay someone else, preferably a freelancer – if you can afford to pay for a little extra help do so. I have recently hired a part time PA service company to help bring all the loose ends in my life together. They help when once in a while I can’t fetch kids or make appointments, deliver important contracts, research a topic for me or remind me to do stuff that is important but I have been procrastinating. It makes a huge difference for someone who has so many loose ends. I can focus on the stuff that I need to be going and am a professional in.
Last year I extended the scope of the work done by my book keeper and accountant service provider. Through granting them power of attorney they are able to do a lot more of my profesional administration and compliance work so that I stay on the right side of the law and industry bodies. Plus they are attending to my pet hate – filling in forms. I am also able to attend to opportunities in a more organised manner. Some of this stuff used to slip past unnoticed. This made me look like an unprofessional chancer. I had to come to the conclusion that I was not projecting the professional image that I wanted to and needed to take a step back and see why. I have also recently hired a 2 IT service providers, a video and film agency and a graphic design agency. All are on retainer with the option of reviewing needs up or down every so often. I therefore have no staffing issues to attend to. On the cards is another administrator. It is worth noting to state that all the guys I employ I have had a long standing relationships with or have come from people who have had such relationships and understand my stance on God and my additional requirements for integrity, compliance and professionalism. They are just about all christians who walk the talk.
3. Hired help – we often take on jobs around the house that could be outsourced to someone with greater expertise then ourselves. Or sometimes we are just being plain pennywise and pound foolish. I found out a friend of mine, who is a financial director at a large asset manager, spends her Saturdays doing her cleaning, washing and ironing. If she enjoyed this task I would agree that she should go ahead but not only did she have the means to pay someone, she resented the time she spent doing it. She saw the light. Myself, I am happy to say I have not purchased any furniture needing a ‘small’ bit of ‘fixing’ in a while. Years ago I would save costs by buying good quality second hand or store damaged furniture and do so some fixing. When I started remodeling a few years later I realized much as I loved these bargains they were no longer an option for me. The time spent either fixing or finding someone to do the fixing would not be worth any discount I could get on the furniture. Not only that these items hanging around began representing failure because I didn’t have the time or energy to do anything about them. Instead of being a blessing they became a mocking reminder of how my priorities had changed and I felt like a failure for having incomplete projects lying around. So I let that go.
4. Pray for help. God is not an unpractical God. There is evidence everywhere that He attends to our needs.
Moral of the story – free up time by accepting help from others, contracting freelancers so that you can spend your professional time on what you do best and hire help around the house so that the little time you have left can be spent on things that matter – you, God, family and friends. Lastly pray for help. God is always faithful to answer.
Don’t forget to post tips below on how you are taking back time by finding help.