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Asking for Help as a Working Parent Juggling Too Many Responsibilities

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I’m an entrepreneur, mom of two kids, wife, volunteer and juggler of schedules. At any point in time, I have a lot of balls in the air, and a couple that are rolling away from me faster than I can catch them. Until lately, I thought it was my job to juggle all these balls.

  • Advocating for my child – I can do that.
  • Managing home and work schedules – I’ve got this.
  • Keeping on top of client work – all good.
  • Running kids to appointments – no problem.

Well, until it was a problem.

I recently had an (albeit a bit late) aha moment that I don’t need to do it all. Whereas I once saw asking for help as a weakness, as it meant admitting I couldn’t do it all, I now see it as a strength.

What changed? Someone gave me the honest advice I needed to hear.

Team approach

A friend told me it was time to hand off some of the work so I could create space for the things I enjoy — reading a book, writing articles, or just drinking coffee while it’s still hot.

Being a type A personality, I took a deeper look at everything on my plate, including the mental load I carry. This includes wondering what’s happening with a specialist referral, planning for birthdays, worrying about my elderly parents and more.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a supportive and fully involved husband. But since I’m the one who manages the home schedule, the mental and physical load of the family tends to fall on my shoulders.

As I considered what’s on my plate, I began looking at which pieces I needed to carry, and which pieces I could hand off to others. While some of these pieces came with a price tag (getting a house cleaner), others were just about letting go (having my husband be responsible for organizing some of my kids’ appointments — not all, but some).

And guess what? The world didn’t fall apart. The balls continued to get juggled — but with multiple hands juggling, not just my own.

No going back

The first step in gaining a bit of space is asking for help. The more challenging second step will be continuing to ask, not slipping back into old habits as new items get added to my plate.

It’s about prioritizing. Prioritizing my time. Prioritizing what’s important to me. And prioritizing the areas that don’t bring me joy — handing them off to others.

As I write this article, my carpets are being cleaned by someone else. After years of lugging a carpet cleaning machine up and down the stairs, spending days sweating over the cleaning, I have finally decided to hire someone to clean for me.

Although it was a small step (and one I wish I’d done earlier), it brought a powerful lesson.

First – the cost of the cleaning was way less than I expected, especially when you factor in the cleaning supplies.
Second – in not spending days cleaning the carpets (as nothing is quick with kids), I had more time for client work, which allowed the cleaning to pay for itself.
Third – the stress was gone. One of the to-do items from my list was taken care of, with no stress or effort on my end.

Now I realize we can’t buy our way out of our to-do list, as there are financial realities. However, the lessons learned from asking for help on a task I don’t enjoy carry over to other areas of my life.

New patterns

With kids in school and a busy consulting practice, I’m taking an honest and fresh look at how much my plate can hold. Each new request needs to be carefully considered, as I’m not looking to replace the items I’ve removed from my plate.

From now on, I will be asking “who can do this task?” instead of assuming I need to personally take it on. And if it’s me, then I will have the space on my plate to be successful.

While I know this new approach will likely come with some bumps in the road, I’m committed to moving forward, not backward.

I encourage you to also take a close look at what’s on your plate. What can you offload to someone else? What do you need to carry? And where do you need to ask for help?

I promise, you will grow stronger by asking for help and grow your network of support in the process.

Getty image by Sergey Nivens.

Originally published: October 11, 2020
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