Help. It doesn’t have to be a dirty word

self care

As successful business women, many of us have learned to work hard, overcome adversity, fight our corner and beat the odds. We’re hard wired to want to do things on our own and earn our success independently. 

As mothers we have been taught that we are unbeatable. We’ve created life, we’ve grown a human,  we’ve made a whole new person!  We’re strong, we’re miraculous. We can do anything. 

But does the ability to do anything mean that we have to do everything?

Let’s face it, we’d all like to be winning in work, getting that promotion, climbing the ladder. But then we’d also like to be Nigella Lawson in the kitchen, Mrs Hinch around the home and don’t forget Mary Poppins with the kids. At the end of the day (and what a long day that would need to be) “Practically perfect in every way” just isn’t, well… practical.

Spreading yourself too thin and worrying about not doing enough, is one of the biggest stresses in a professional mom’s life. The guilt of a full laundry basket, the breakfast bar in the school lunch box or the story you were just too tired to read at bedtime, can embed itself in the back of your mind and nag at you for the whole day.

Is it time to give yourself permission to not be perfect? To leave some tasks unfinished? To simply ask for help?

Why are we so reluctant to admit that we need help? Hang on, why do we need to “admit” anything at all? Needing help is not a sin, it doesn’t require confession.  As professionals we can be reluctant to ask for help because it can feel like we’re conceding defeat, that the task has got the best of us, that we’re failing. Asking for help requires us to display a chink in our armour and open ourselves up to judgement and possibly rejection. As a mom we’re used to being the one that everyone turns to when they need help, we’re the person who fixes the problem, who has all the answers and who knows what to do. Moving out of that role can feel wrong and uncomfortable.

But asking for help isn’t surrender, it’s a strategic move, designed to help you to navigate the work/life balance and streamline your time. Think about the areas in life where you could do with some help? Is it staying on top of housework? Maybe it’s time to invest in a cleaner. Even if it’s only for a few hours every month, it could really make a difference.  

Is your dirty clothes pile out of hand? Your local laundry is there to help. Fill up a black bag and forget about  washing and folding this week. Are you under pressure to get home from work to get your daughter to training? Ask another parent to help with the drop off. Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to pay them back.  

We  need to treat asking for help at home the same way we do when we’re at work. Except at work we call it delegation. Choose those tasks that are overwhelming, that you never seem to get round to, that you can’t manage to fit into your schedule no matter how  hard you try (or that you simply just hate doing) and ask someone else to do it. Your partner, your sister, your mom, even your children, if they’re old enough. 

Asking for help is not an acknowledgement of failure and we need to stop viewing it as such. 

As clinical psychologist, Anne Wilson Schaef said “Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.”

So maybe it’s time to stop and think, not “can I do more?” Not “can I do better?” But “what can someone else do for me?” It’s time to stop going it alone, it’s time to stop pushing for perfect. Help is out there. All you have to do is ask.