Being a parent is amazing…and hard. We all know that going into it, but once babies start arriving it can be shocking how fast our lifestyles and priorities shift, and shift dramatically. Add in careers, running errands, taking the dog for a walk, meal planning…the word “hard” stops doing justice to our new realities.
For new moms, we’re also often faced with the pleasant add-on of some pretty heavy emotions when it comes to ‘having it all.’ (Ugh...it makes me cringe just to type that phrase.)
We each have our own individual journey through parenthood, and we make different choices along the way. But the thing we have in common is we’re all trying to do the best job we can in raising our children and being “good” parents - a goal that means something different to each of us.
When juggling all my new priorities started to get the best of me (stress, crying, fighting with my husband over nonsense), I had a heart-to-heart with myself and decided that the most important resource I have is my time. Not everything is in my control, but I can control how my time is spent so I need to make sure I’m using it wisely.
And that meant accepting that I can’t do everything myself. Which is sad...but too true.
However, I can ask for help when I need it or (pause...) even hire someone to help me accomplish different tasks. (There, I said it.)
It is really, really hard for many parents to accept the idea that paying someone to help you do something you think you ‘should’ be doing yourself is OK. (Those “shoulds” man, they can really get you...)
But at some point, the value of my time outweighs the cost of hiring someone else to help me, and I’m ready to accept certain trade-offs. I can’t tell you when that time might be right for you, but it actually started being right for me a little before our daughter was born.
My husband and I first experimented with the idea of hiring help a few years ago when we decided to try out a house cleaning service. Whereas in our 20s we used to spend hours of our precious weekend time cleaning, as we got older we had more demands on our time plus a bit more disposable income. For us it just didn’t make sense anymore to spend our weekends cleaning. So that was step one.
Then, after our daughter was born, motherhood became priority #1, which meant other chores and simple errands were put on the backburner. Suddenly just running to the grocery store became a monumental task, not to mention a little terrifying to maneuver with a newborn. So, we decided to try out our local grocery store’s online order program. For ten bucks, we could order our groceries online and then go pick them up. Plus, the program saved our grocery list meaning placing future orders became a lot quicker too. I did this for probably the first six months after baby girl was born, and then stopped when grocery shopping became more of a fun outing for us to do together.
Our latest endeavor in accepting a set of helping hands (and probably the most emotionally conflicting) was hiring our first caregiver. As a mom launching a new business, I’m often confronted with the balancing act of mom-time vs. work-time (in some way, both are my babies). The having-it-all fantasy is stressful and tiresome in reality. And more often than not, it leads to a lot of guilt and feelings of inadequacy for simply not having enough time.
Despite my conflicting emotions and competing responsibilities, I finally broke down and accepted the fact that I needed help - just a few hours a week so I could get some more work done. I used Care.com to find a local college student to be a “mother’s helper” two days a week and it was such a great move. (You can read more about this experience in a separate post on my Startup Mom blog - It’s a New Day (Thoughts on Hiring a Babysitter for the First Time)).
These are just my few experiences so far. And I have to tell you - I don't regret a single one. Not a bit. They've all relieved pressure and helped me maintain my sanity, which has the happy result of making me a better mom. Spending the extra money means we have less for other things like new clothes or eating out as often as we'd like, but for us it has been worth it.
I’m sharing my experiences in the hopes that it will help other new parents feel less guilty about asking for help. (I mean, I’m launching a business inspired by my own struggle with mommy guilt, so this is obviously something I’m passionate about.)
If this is something you've been thinking about but weren't sure what options you have, there are lots of ways you can quickly and inexpensively find great help with your everyday tasks. I’ve listed some resources I know below, but please share yours in the comments to help-a-sister-out.
Whether it’s someone to pick up your groceries, call the cable company for you, or watch baby a few hours a day - help is help. Rather than spreading yourself thin, consider the fact that you’re a person with wants, needs, and a sanity to maintain. You’re not inadequate. You’re not a slacker. You’re a good mom/dad. In fact, you're awesome. You just need some reinforcements now and then. And who doesn't?
Try your best to not feel guilty about needing some assistance, and maybe give yourself permission to reach out for a helping hand. You'll be glad you did.
I know I am.
List of Resources
- care.com - There for you.
Care for children, pets, seniors, + cleaners, errand runners, and event help.
- Etsy - Shop handmade gifts and vintage products.
Unique gifts and creative projects. Great for fancy party decorations.
- FancyHands - Assistants for everyone
Wondering how could a virtual assistant help you? Some examples: Call the cable company for you, dispute credit card charges, find a plumber for you, send flowers to someone, find a restaurant and make a reservation, research day cares, research great gift ideas for your 12-year-old nephew…
- Online grocery shopping - Your local chain store should offer this. Check their website.
- TaskRabbit - Outsource household errands and skilled tasks to trusted people in your community.
- ThumbTack - Accomplish your personal projects
Find cleaning services, handymen, tutors, photographers, and lots more.
To Read More On This Topic, I Recommend:
- Letter to Working Mothers: Stop Feeling So Guilty (Forbes)
- The Myth of Doing it All: Modern Moms and Hiring Help (The Happiest Home)
- Admitting I Hired A Mother's Helper (Rookie Moms)
- Should Overwhelmed Working Women 'Take it Like a Mom' or Ask For Help? (Forbes)
- How I Made My Peace With Hiring a Housekeeper (GetRichSlowly)
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