Mom, you can’t do EVERYTHING.
It’s okay to ask for some extra help!
I remember speaking to my cousin one day when we were in our early 20’s. We were both college graduates, starting our careers. She was an engineer and real estate investor. I was a nonprofit strategist and had just purchased my first home. Neither of us had children at the time. She was traveling all of the time for work and was rarely home. She mentioned that she had a housekeeper who would come in and clean her home, as she didn’t have time.
At the time, it struck me as a little odd, as I hadn’t really known anyone personally to have a housekeeper. So, I asked her why she felt like she needed a housekeeper if she was the only one living in her home and I will never forget her reply. She said, “I don’t have time to get to the small details like cleaning my baseboards.” I laughed to (and at) myself, it takes me 12- 15 hours per week to clean my home and I know for certain that I miss the baseboards most of the time. It was one of those conversations in passing that I never really thought about until years later. In the meantime, I kept up with my weekly cleanings, mostly splitting the time over the weekend. Cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen on a Friday night with the music blasting, sometimes while indulging in a little bubbly then finishing up the rest of the house on an early Sunday morning was my usual routine.
Fast forward to 2013 and life was very different. My children, then 7 and 9, were busy with school, ballet and piano. Running educational services firms in multiples states and holding a hefty real estate investment property load, my businesses were in full swing. At the same time, Working Mother Magazine was collaborating with Diane Sawyer and the World News to cover a story about busy working moms struggling to find balance. The producers at ABC learned about the things I was doing and decided to have me share my story to represent working mothers all over the world.
I quickly realized after speaking with the producers over the phone, that life in the spotlight moves at lightning speed. They told me that a camera crew would be coming to meet me at my home within the week and they’d be following my family and me around for three days filming our every move.
I was honored and shocked that the world-renowned, Ms. Diane Sawyer caught wind of my regular little life and saw fit to choose me of all people to be on tv. Can’t you just see me smiling from ear to ear while happy music is blaring in the background? Well, cue the DJ to scratch the record because just as quickly, complete panic set in. ABC PRODUCERS ARE COMING TO MY DIRTY HOUSE. Ohh em gee! Did they say that they’d be here in a few days? Looking at the unorganized fridge, in the cracks and crevices that I thought were pristine when it was just my family and me and around the dusty baseboards that I swore would be amplified by the network’s “good” cameras, my vision became like Instagram’s superzoom. How was I going to scrub this house from top to bottom to prepare for the world to see my house, keep up with my weekly chores of laundry, cooking and washing dishes while working, parenting and driving my kids around from activity to activity like UberMom? The only thing I could do was work smarter, not harder. It was time to follow my cousin’s advice.
I scoured the internet for a maid service in the area. There were so many. I had no experience in the area? How should I choose? I had no clue. How could I be sure that they wouldn’t take anything? Was I going to really let a stranger into my home, my sanctuary, and give up my privacy in exchange for a quick clean? Cue in every Lifetime movie where the mom hires the crazy helper that ends up terrorizing the house. After carefully thinking about how overwhelmed I was on a regular day and weighing it against the reality that lots of people hire help with no problems, I decided that the only sane thing to do was hire a cleaning service.
My friend, a fellow working mompreneur, also has a stressful career and multiple children. Her home was a decent size and was always clean. I wasn’t sure if she was just the perfect mom or if she hired help so I did something I hadn’t done before…I simply asked. She was more than receptive to my inquiry. She gave me a knowing look as if she had been in my shoes and revealed that she hadn’t thoroughly cleaned her house herself in years. She immediately texted me the number and for the first time, in a long time, I felt like I was being invited off of the island we oftentimes call parenthood. You know, where the mommy/daddy guilt kicks in because it’s unrealistic to accomplish everything we imagined we could do before we actually became parents. Does that sound familiar?
When I tell you that I am completely over the mommy guilt I used to hold on to before initially hiring the service to clean my home. I couldn’t be more serious. What took me close to 15 hours to complete on a weekly basis took the cleaning ladies 3 hours. Let me say that again for the folks in the back that may have missed it. One phone call gave me back 15 hours of my week. Everything in place, bed linens changed and the entire house smelled like the cleaning aisle at the supermarket.
I was able to tape my segment over 3 days and I didn’t have to lift a finger, broom, mop, etc. I looked like the “perfect mom” too. And, I was. Not because my house was ridiculously clean or because I was fancy enough to hire help. I finally come to realize that asking for help was okay and that my previous assumptions that I’d previously made about other moms were based on a falsehood.
While waiting for my daughters to arrive home from school to tape their segment, I had to opportunity to chat with supermom and ABC anchor Amy Robach about how she balances her busy life. As we bonded over our mommy guilt moments, I realized again that most mothers found the need to have help with tasks they used to conquer before having a family.
Prior to talking to both women, I had been working on ways to expand my existing business, a tutoring service, to include other services that parents found useful. However, once my segment aired and so many parents expressed how overwhelmed they were by the demands of parenting, working and running a household, I realized that there were lots more working mothers in the same situation than I had imagined. It was the reaction of those parents that gave me the permission I was looking for to close my tutoring service and create a more inclusive and comprehensive service for parents than had ever existed on the market. Shortly after my segment aired, I formed Kid Care Concierge, a concierge service for busy parents like me who would no longer feel guilty about need to hire help.
5 years later, we have tutors, helpers, sitters and almost every other service that one could think of helping overwhelmed parents. Like a concierge service in a hotel, my staff does everything for parents after just one call. My first client was myself because I was in desperate need of help. Ironically, I was scrolling through a Facebook “mom group” last week and I stumbled upon a post from a mom looking for recommendations for a cleaning service. What I found most interesting was that she sounded like me years back, justifying why she was looking for help as if it was not okay. I inboxed her to reassure her that perfect moms don’t exist and it was okay to need help. We all do!
As I sit at home after working at my office all day, I’m sitting in my kitchen with my daughters cooking dinner together as I type this post. At the same time, my staff is upstairs taking care of the weekly cleaning. I feel ZERO guilt.