For most women I know, asking for help is an acquired skill.
It’s that superwoman syndrome. Admit it–it feels good when you take care of everything in your life without breaking a sweat.
Although you are sweating. And you’re tired. And no one notices everything you do anyway so why are you doing it alone?
It doesn’t benefit you to run yourself into the ground. I know you. I’ve been you. And I know there are a few (logical to you) reasons why you tend to try to do everything yourself:
- No one will do it like you would. This is true. No one is going to care about your kids, your family, your work more than you will. But the problem is that you can’t care 100% about every single thing at the same time.
- The time you spend showing people how to do something could be spent just doing it yourself. This was my go-to excuse for why I didn’t make the kids sweep the floor or wash the dishes. They’d inevitably make a mess and I’d shoo them away, upset that my attempt to get something off my plate backfired on me. But did it really?
This is where I help. Because there will come a time (I’m guessing for most of us it’s right now) that you need to let go and bring in reinforcements. Whether you need to put in work on a new project or you just need a breather so you can relax for a day or two, it’s okay to need and ask for help.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Those people that you admire? They have help. Lots of it.
Take Shonda Rhimes, for example. You think she could write and produce three shows, raise three children, lose over 100 pounds and write her book, Year of Yes, all by herself? Ain’t no way. She has her parents, sisters, production assistants, nannies, housekeepers. They all help Shonda in her badassery.
“But I don’t have the luxury of having a nanny or a maid,” you say. “My money is tight.”
The beautiful thing is that you don’t need to be a millionaire to have a great support system. While we may pride ourselves on being there for others, we must learn to let others be there for us as well. It indeed takes a village.
Here are four tips to strengthen your skills and get you the help you need.
1. Ask well in advance.
If we’re under the wire (say, we have two hours to figure out who to call to watch our kids due to an unexpected snow day), that need for help can easily turn into panic. (And for good reason!)
But if we think about what we might need in advance, it’s easier to ask for help without feeling like we’re inconveniencing people. For example, when my good friend was about seven months pregnant, she asked if any of her friends would be interested in donating meals for the first month postpartum. Folks signed up, she got her meals and was able to enjoy her newborn in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if she didn’t open her mouth and ask for help.
2. Ask a few people.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but asking multiple people is easier than just asking one. (Think about this in regards to asking friends to help you move. The more hands on deck, the easier it will be.) This has been most applicable in my life when it comes to business needs. If I want my friends to share about my newest venture, I will ask several of them because I know we are all busy so if a few people don’t respond, I know somebody will and it makes my life that much easier.
3. Ask according to their strengths.
If you know your bestie’s idea of a good time is whipping up some baked goods and your daughter is an aspiring chef, put those ideas together and ask your bestie if she wouldn’t mind watching your daughter for an hour or so while you unwind. It’s a win-win for everyone. On the flip side, if you know your friend isn’t great with kids, she might not be the best to ask to babysit, but you could ask her to edit your resume.
4. Ask for EXACTLY what you need.
If you’re going to move out of your comfort zone and ask someone to help you, it might as well be exactly what you need, right? Be specific with your requests. Say, your kids are driving you crazy and you just need a moment. Ask your mom to watch the kids for two hours while you go to the movies. If you want your partner to step up and do more around the house, don’t just say, “Can you help me out?” Get specific. “I need you to handle the laundry from now on — washing, drying, folding.” Specificity gets rewarded.
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