As Mums we are always looking over the fence to the next Mum wondering: how does she do it all? How does she successfully manage all that she has going on in her life? Knowingly, or unknowingly, we measure ourselves up, questioning: does she have more on her plate than me, and if so why is she coping better? A side note before I carry on: everyone has a different sized plate, and everyone struggles in some way.
We have an unquenchable thirst for clues to help us more effectively manage the push and pull of: our own care and fulfilment, children, home, personal and family administration, business/career, relationships, community and causes we’re passionate about.
In my coaching, clients ask: can I really do it all? And: how do you do it all?
The truth is that I don’t do it all. I know what I like and want to do, I pay people to help me/us and there’s stuff I choose not to do. Simple, right? The concept is, but the execution of it requires self-belief, willpower and the right mindset!
I read this blog post by self-made millionaire and money mindset coach Denise Duffield-Thomas in 2020 about the help she put in place around her to give her more time to grow her business. It’s directed at entrepreneurial women and it had a profound impact on me, as has the counsel of other successful entrepreneurial women since then.
I want to add a disclaimer here. I’m human and was a little hesitant to write this piece, for fear of judgement – being labelled a ‘bad mother’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘selfish’ or ‘entitled.’ I absolutely acknowledge and own the fact that I’m a privileged middle-class white woman. I’m not sharing this as a ‘look at me I’m so good’ post.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out all of the time.
My intention in sharing what I am here is that if Denise’s story inspired change for good in my life, perhaps my story may also spark change for you. And I’m not prepared to withhold this information, that could be helpful for others, in order to feed the ‘perfect mother myth’ beast.
Without diving into the societal and cultural expectations that generally set mothers up to feel like they are failing when asking for help (another post in itself!), what I will say is that by doing the inner work over time I’ve accepted that it’s safe for me to have more help. I’ve actually come to love it, and love that in turn it contributes to prosperity in other’s lives too.
Getting more help is exactly what I’ve needed to do to become more in alignment with myself, to take better care of myself, focus more on the things I am good at and love to do.
We live remotely on a property in Queensland and have four children (all boys) aged 4, 6, 6, and 8 at the time of writing. Motherhood is intense. I’ve learned the hard way that life without space for what lights me up is not good for me, or anyone around me. Inwardly I shrivel into an angry, frustrated, anxious woman. I move into dis-ease which shows up mentally and then physically. Space for my work, creativity, being able to contribute on the farm, and self care is essential to my wellbeing and personal fulfilment.
To do this, I have built a team around me/us to support our family, my business and our farm business:
- Sarah, our 3 day/week Nanny/Amazing All Round House-Children-Farm Helper/Personal Assistant/Administration Assistant in our farm business and my business.
- Julie (and sometimes Katie) the superstar cleaner who comes for 5 hours every fortnight.
- Jenna, the part-time Queen of Operations in my business who makes everything happen behind the scenes!
- Krystal, our delightful and meticulous part-time Support Angel/Illuminate Program Manager/Administration Officer in my business.
- Sarah, our $ savvy part-time CFO and bookkeeper who works across both our businesses.
- A team of talented specialists we frequently work with including a graphic designer, web designer, copywriter photographers, accountant, etc.
I am so grateful for each of them and they are how I do it all on a consistent basis. What is ‘it all’ anyway, by the way? There are no rules – only those we define for ourselves.
Here are some tips to get started with ‘doing it all’ through the leverage of more people in your support crew:
- Get clear on what you want to keep and let go of. Everything happens on the other side of a decision!
- Ditch the guilt and give yourself permission.
- Start small. So I know you could be thinking ‘well it’s okay for you – you have the money to do this.’ We have a big family and two businesses in their growth stages. The truth is that sometimes we’ve had very little surplus cash, but we have found a way. We prioritise it. Outsource one thing a few hours a week to start with. Exercise the muscle and it will get easier over time to bring in more help.
- Start before you’re ready. If you don’t, you’ll likely never be ready or there will never be a ‘right’ time! I took steps toward the team above before I could really afford it on paper. The mental space and happiness it provides me/us is worth it. I see it as an investment, and what price can you put on your health and all the good things you attract into your life when you open up to receive help, value yourself and feel good? It’s priceless.
- Believe you are worthy of help! If you don’t build that belief, you won’t take action. You won’t give yourself permission. You’ll stick with the same old stories and things stay the same. You might need to do some inner work here.
- Build the belief and hold the vision that the right people for you are out there. They are! We live remotely and have had help with our home and children fairly consistently for 6 years. We’ve always attracted the right person at the right time and had the most beautiful people come into our lives!
- Focus on what’s most important to you, what you love and what you’re good at. I have finally embraced this in the last 12 months by stepping into the CEO role of my business. I concentrate on doing the coaching, servicing my clients, writing content, sales, business management and business development. My team does the rest. It wasn’t a stroke of luck that it became this way; it took time, building capacity and systems, and letting go (which I wasn’t good at).
- Value your time! Acknowledge all the things you do – even the seemingly small everyday things. It’s all work that’s valuable and contributes to your life, your family and the fabric of society in general.
- Do what’s right for you! There are no rules and you get to choose what supports you to thrive. For example, I enjoy cooking and nutrition is important to me so I make most of our main meals, with Sarah’s help at times. Sarah likes baking so she does a lot of our baking. I pay someone externally to help with more meals and baking during busy times on the farm like harvest. If you don’t like cooking, find a way to let more of it go. If you like bookkeeping but you can’t keep up with personal and family administration, hold onto the bookkeeping and hire a virtual assistant 2-3hrs a week to assist with admin. Or don’t outsource anything and instead book a day of daycare – again, do what’s right for you.
- Clients tell me what’s holding them back is feeling bad about paying someone else to do something they don’t personally like to do. Remember that engaging others through paid work is offering them an opportunity, adding value to their life, and if it’s a service they offer it means it’s something they like to do – and nothing for you to feel bad about. I truly value every member of my team, with their unique strengths and gifts. I do my best to express my gratitude and share how their contribution is valuable in my/our life and vision.
- Start with the end in mind. Take steps that will give you or your business oxygen for the longer term game.
Without paid help I wouldn’t have written my book that’s supported other women through infertility, I wouldn’t have re-launched my coaching career post-babies, I wouldn’t have attended events and done things (for me) that have enriched my life, our house would be a whole lot less clean and tidy, and the list goes on.
To be honest I literally don’t think I could have survived motherhood and entrepreneurship without paid help. Seriously.
Yes, I would have had more time with our children but would it have been quality time? I can answer this with an honest no. I decided a long time ago I didn’t have to be the one to wipe every bum, cut up every apple and unpack every dishwasher load to be a good mother.
Motherhood and housework are not the same thing. I know I’m a better mother, human, wife, when I have people to share the load and the opportunity to pursue what fulfils me on top of the gift of being a mother.
I haven’t mentioned family members yet. We don’t have family nearby who can help regularly but both mine and Adam’s family help us from time to time when they can and we are very thankful for that!
It’s all personal choice but my experience is that it’s transformational to gather more help around you! It gives you space to be more organised, calm, creative and more ‘you’. If you want to. There’s personal growth involved, which I have come to love the feeling of.
Everyday is too precious to be stuck and feeling unworthy of help!
I’m happy to answer any questions about the help I have, or help you brainstorm what your next steps are – feel free to reach out!
❤ Benita x