Women are programmed not to accept help. When a guest offers to help clean up after dinner: “Oh no! I’ve got it. You sit and enjoy yourself.” Or if help is offered at work, we worry it is a sign of weakness to accept assistance. We think we have to do everything ourselves. My instant response whenever anyone offers me a hand is a chipper “no thank you!” And I see it with my peers all the time when I offer them help.
Well quit it! Ladies, times are too tough to be doing this all on our own. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks last week.
My husband and I both work full time and we only have six hours a week when both our young children are in childcare. This time is critical for our careers. That childcare fell through unexpectedly last week. I freaked! I had a total meltdown that was three parts stress about how I was supposed to hit upcoming work deadlines, exhaustion from the pressure we have all been under since March, and panic about what we are going to do if schools don’t open back up.
As I always do, I texted my best friend—typing wildly about how mad, stressed and tired I was. She offered to help. And as I always do, I said no thank you. Then I thought “you are in tears because you don’t have childcare. Someone that you love and trust is offering you assistance. Are you out of your mind?!”
So I took my friend up on her offer. I drove to her house, my daughter played with hers, and I worked in another room. I kept trying to come out to join in but my friend pushed me back in, saying “It would be great to visit with you but I know how important it is for you to focus on work right now. Go away! I’ve got this!” We stayed for two hours and I banged out more work than I would have in a whole day without childcare.
My friend was happy that her daughter had a playdate and felt good that she had helped me. I’m truly grateful and am eager to return the favor. Everyone wins! If I had said no (like I always do) I would have been miserable and my friend would have been annoyed I didn’t accept her sincere offer to help. No one wins.
So ladies, accept the damn help! Next time your friend, colleague, or family member offers you a small bit of service, take a breath and then accept it. You need it! You are doing an amazing job, AND you need help. I won’t suggest you ask for help. I know I’d be pushing my luck ;)
Hang in there! And know that I’m always here to help.
Anna Ballard is Pepperlane’s Director of Marketing. She has two small children. And she is thankful everything day she has the opportunity to support moms building their businesses.