Asking for Help

Asking for help is something that is foreign to many women. The traditional roles for a man and woman still exist in many homes these days. Over and above work, women still pick up responsibility for raising the children and running the household. Of course we know couples where the husband plays a strong role at home. These cases though are by far in the minority.

Women face significant challenges when it comes to finding work-home balance. There is a high degree of depression among women who choose to be stay at home mothers. This is often due to the woman sacrificing her own needs and dreams for a period of time. Asking for help does not come easy.

As much as we criticise our own mothers for being “pushovers” we may also find ourselves caught in situations where we sacrifice ourselves for our family.

How many of us have the following inner conversations: “My husband works so hard I cannot still expect him to help around the house. He is stressed and does not have the capacity to deal with the children and their whims, etc. My child is already stressed about the school work. I cannot ask him for help here at home.” And so it comes that we put the needs of others before our own. Before we realise it, it becomes a pattern. We just continue with it.

It is critical therefore to make time to reflect on what is happening in your life at work and home. Identify what is working and where you require support. Then ask for help, one step at a time.

At Work

Asking for help does not mean you are weak or unable to cope. There are times when work pressures and deadlines are extremely tight and where we need assistance. Or perhaps there are other people who are better equipped than us from a knowledge or skills point of view to complete a task. Are you picking up projects at work because your seniors know these will be done well?

The first thing though is that we need to think more consciously about the work we take on. What is your current workload, do you have the capacity to take on something new? Could someone else do the work under your supervision? Do you need to delegate more as opposed to doing the work yourself?

If you need to work from home because you have an ill child and no back-up systems ask you senior. Ask in a way just as a man would who says he needs to go to the doctor or the dentist. Ask in a matter of fact way. Stop yourself from giving some long explanation about why you cannot be at work.

At Home

On the home front we have options. It depends partly on whether we are in a financial position to outsource some of the activities e.g. house cleaning, washing and ironing, meals. This is the easy part. Everywhere around us are services to make our daily life more stress free.

The second consideration is: How will getting help make us feel about ourselves? Will we think less of ourselves if we do this? Who are we trying to please or impress: our mother, mother-in-law? Can we drop our standards somewhat by not expecting everything to be perfect? Can we ignore our concerns of what others may think of us?

One manager said her mother always used to clean her house thoroughly when she came to visit. The question is: Can the manager see this as her mother’s issue as opposed to her own? Her mother was never a career woman and had two live-in helpers!

Finding practical solutions to asking for help is the easy part. The greater challenge for women is often the demons or ghosts within ourselves. It is the latter that hinders our well-being and work-life balance. So take some time to work out what your particular inner stumbling blocks are and how you can start shifting them.

To learn more about the impact of physical and emotional well-being of women in the working environment, download my free guide to Balancing Work, Your Family and Your Career.



Posted in Intuition, Women, Work-life balance.