I recently stumbled upon Denise Duffield-Thomas during a “scheduled” Facebook scroll. Her latest post made me stop in my tracks. It was called I am a Self Made Millionaire and This is Exactly How Much Help I Have at Home.
Now, Denise is a mind set money guru from Australia and she has built a multi-million dollar business through her courses, book writing and speaking appearances. Although I am definitely not even close yet to becoming a financial guru like her, the part of the post that connected with me most was “help at home”.
When I started my business, everyone thought that I had chosen to be a stay at home mom. I love my children with all my might, but after staying home for awhile with my first baby I was a bit bored.
A creative entrepreneur and problem solver at heart, chasing after toddlers every day wasn’t quite as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I wanted to do something else for part of the time.
So, I started designing. And designing. And designing.
It turns out that graphic design and product creation was a great creative outlet for my mom brain. I loved designing new products, interacting with customers, making something they loved, building an audience and coming up with awesome marketing ideas.
The business started to grow. And as it grew, I admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it all. I needed help. But, was I allowed to get help as a work at home mom?
There is an attitude floating around the internet about WAHM’s – work at home moms. We are supposed to work, run businesses, make critical decisions AND watch our kids, cook meals and take care of the household.
If you admit to anything different and don’t showcase the perfect lifestyle on social media, guilt takes over. You start to think of yourself as a bad mother.
Denise’s post turned that idea on it’s head. Finally, someone said it.
The truth is she has three kids under 5 and all of the help in the world. She wouldn’t have been able to build a successful business without it.
After looking over her post, my favorite part is that she has a housekeeper. This isn’t even the nanny. Someone else is in charge of helping with the kids.
The housekeeper is the person who handles daily tasks to keep the household functioning. The tasks Denise might do, but doesn’t because she is busy running her financial empire. The housekeeper makes meals, preps meals, runs errands, does the grocery shopping and other household tasks (as basic as replacing batteries).
Can you imagine somebody showing up at your door on Monday morning to help you get your household buzzing for the week?
One of the problems I’ve had while running my business and being a mom is that there isn’t always time to get done the necessary household tasks each week. Many of them get left undone.
I am a work at home mom, not supermom.
Some of you might tell me that I need to delegate more. And I am trying. But, as I am sure many have noticed, the best person to fix any problem in the household is MOM. (Or the housekeeper you just hired.)
So, exactly how much help do I actually have?
To be honest, NONE really right now. Alright, maybe not quite none. I had preschool when the kids were small and these days I have school. But the school day only lasts 6 hours a day (which I’m fine with). And there are also still vacations, summer break and sick days. I don’t employ any cleaning people, housekeepers, additional babysitters or errand runners.
The truth is, I’ve never been confident enough in myself or my business to make that investment. It didn’t seem frugal enough for me. And at moments I do regret it.
I think a lot about how successful my business would be today if I had gotten over the guilt and believed in myself more during these first phases of motherhood. I could have invested in some help at the early stages. Nothing was stopping me except for my hang ups. We’re supposed to be able to do it all, aren’t we?
I look at the empire that Denise has built and wonder if that could have been me sooner. Instead, I’m still working to keep my head above water by managing much of the childcare and household tasks by myself, while growing my business at the same time. And, I’ll be the first to say it can be exhausting.
Time is money, so I’ve heard. If the time you save from doing the household tasks equals more time to put into the growth of your business, is it worth it?
I have always had a feeling that I’m supposed to do it all. My mother did.
Deep down, I’ve always envisioned myself running my business, taking care of my kids and managing the household. Me, just me. I can do it.
Look at Martha Stewart. She does everything and still has time to sleep. (Yeah, right. I should have looked at the list of her staff before embarking on this journey.)
At some point in your business journey, you will become too big to do it all. You won’t be able to manage all the pick ups, school projects and trips to the supermarket. You will need to hire someone else to help.
The important part is recognizing when that time comes. Denise predicted the future from the beginning and set herself up for success.
Here are some ideas to consider on hiring help as your business grows.
Hire when you can afford it
Denise mentions that she had help from the beginning, not when she became a millionaire. Although that would have been nice, it isn’t everyone’s reality.
We needed the income from my business to help make ends meet in the city – especially when we started a family. I didn’t really have the option of hiring help because we couldn’t afford it.
Don’t feel the pressure to hire help from the beginning if it’s outside your budget. Try to find other creative solutions instead. Sharing jobs with other moms (such as babysitting exchanges), keeping a more minimalist household with less stuff and making all your meals on the weekend can cut down on the number of chores you have and help you be more efficient with your time.
After your business starts growing, though, consider taking some of those profits and investing them to gain more time. If someone else is managing the household tasks that you loathe, then you will have more time to put towards building your business into an empire.
Consider it an investment
Just like you might purchase a new computer or the latest graphics program to make your business more efficient, getting extra help to have more time is also an investment. It’s just a time investment.
Unlike other business investments that you can physically see, you might not get the results from hiring help immediately.
Remember the more time you have, the more time you can spend on your business. Eventually, and it could take awhile, you will see your business grow.
If you don’t have enough time invested, then your business won’t grow as quickly. That’s what happened to us. If I had invested in more help to get the time I needed, then we probably would have grown even faster.
Focus on domestic help first
The thought of bringing on an employee scares me. I hate the idea of trying to train someone to do the tasks that I do every day. What if they mess up the process or cause a negative review because they aren’t as careful as I am? Yes, lots of anxiety there.
Hiring someone to help at home is a lot less overwhelming. It’s also great practice if I decide to expand the studio in the future. Managing someone in my household requires me to make a task understandable, give directions and approve the quality of the finished product.
And, as I’ve learned, with any hired help, you have to stand up for yourself. We had a part time babysitter when my first little was a baby. I could never put her down and needed to finish my graphic design certificate somehow.
This babysitter came for four hours a week. We shared her hours with a very rich family that lived downtown. They paid her almost triple what I could afford and used this leverage when they wanted to take the measly four hours I had scheduled every week.
To say the least, it became an unhealthy work relationship. She started canceling last minute to go work for the other family. I understood that they were paying her more, but she’d agreed to do the job for us too. She became very unreliable.
One day, I was on a deadline to finish a custom graphic design project. She called hours from the due date to tell me she wasn’t coming that afternoon. Since I had to watch the baby, I was unable to finish the project on time.
After getting over missing the deadline, I realized that her job was to show up. If I couldn’t depend on her to actually come, then she wasn’t really doing her job.
Sadly, I had to let her go. But, moving on turned out to be the best thing for everyone. But at the time, I was an emotional mess over it.
Can you imagine if I behaved like that with an employee? I let this babysitter walk all over me. A good boss would have let her go the first or second time she cancelled. I know that now, but it was great practice in management.
Look at local preschools and day cares
If you have little kids that are home with you, finding time to work can be nearly impossible. For awhile, building your business around the naptime schedule can work. But, eventually, the kids outgrow naps, quiet time or just want to get going in the afternoons.
Additional childcare might be the first step to hiring some help. My kids’ preschools saved my business. It gave me a predictable schedule that I could depend on (unless it snowed) and guaranteed work time each week.
As much as I love preschool, it was also a great learning environment for my kids. Not only should you invest in your business, but you need to invest in your children’s education. Preschool was my investment. They learned new and interesting things, made friends and developed social skills they wouldn’t have otherwise. All while I was at home working.
At the time, preschool was the only kind of childcare I would use. I found ones that worked for my schedule and business needs. And our family was never happier. They are some of my favorite childhood years.
Now a days, there are lots of different kinds of preschools and day cares. You can find part time schedules, full time hours or even all year varieties.
The best part is that it’s not just babysitting. There is real learning going on, so your child is exploring their world with others.
Figure out what takes the most time
When trying to decide on what kind of help you should get, figure out what tasks take the most time out of your day. Do you stand in the laundry room with multiple loads running at once that then need to be dried and folded? Is meal prep tiresome and tedious? Are you unable to get any work done because you’re chasing your littles each day?
Household tasks are not meant to be burdensome, but they do take time away from growing your business. Especially, if you’re properly managing a household.
I recently made a list of all of the tasks, errands and childcare that I do every day. I spend almost as much time organizing our home life as I do on my business. This is a lot of time to spend on things that aren’t growing your business empire.
See if you can find other solutions to get these household tasks completed. If you don’t feel comfortable hiring help, try finding more efficient methods to get things done.
One idea is to hire someone from TaskRabbit to complete a task for you. They do everything from grocery shopping to deliveries across town. I’m thinking about how hard it is to drop off library books on time or pick up that teacher gift. Hiring someone temporarily might be the solution.
No matter what, you’ll find more success in your business if you have more time to work on it and spend less time on household tasks.
Remember your marriage is a partnership
With many two person working households these days, it’s important to remember that our marriages are a partnership between two people. It no longer is okay for one person to do everything.
This is easier said than done. It can be hard to build a supportive partnership with your spouse. But in order to succeed with all of the tasks to run a household and business, it’s really important that you try.
To start, figure out what each of you is good at. Your spouse might be better at cooking and you love to do the laundry. Whatever tasks they are, divide and conquer. Assign each person a job and get to work. If the tasks become routine, you won’t even need to think about whether or not they’re getting done.
Recently, I realized that I was doing most of the household tasks as well as after school childcare and running my business. No wonder, I’m exhausted.
Since I haven’t been willing to hire out a lot of these tasks, I just keep on doing them. It’s as if I’m stuck in a hamster wheel that I can’t get off of.
One day, I decided to write down all of the time spent on these tasks. Once I saw how many hours they take each week, it was very clear why I was so tired.
This year, I’m working on delegating more to my family. I have a very helpful husband, but he needs to be asked directly to do things. He can’t guess when I need help. As long as I tell him I’m drowning, he’s more than happy to jump in.
Dismiss the Guilt
The real reason that I haven’t found the courage to hire household help is because of guilt. I grew up in a very hard working two person household. And by working, I mean all the time. My mom also ran the home and figured out the childcare puzzle.
If I can’t manage the same, I feel like a failure.
Wrong. I have to write that again. Wrong.
Things have changed. Our family is bigger. The needs of our family are different. What worked for my parents doesn’t work for me. What worked for my parents’ parents didn’t work for them.
If you choose to hire someone to clean the house or deliver books back to the library, you aren’t a terrible person. Stop feeling guilty.
Guilt is an awful feeling, but it’s something you have to get over.
I know. Easier said than done. This is coming from someone who has been trying to put it aside for years. The feeling can be crippling and really hold you back if you aren’t careful.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work, you will never be everything to everyone. Work at the things that matter most. And let everything else go. (And if that means that if you give up the laundry or the grocery shopping, that’s okay.)
Use your time wisely
This is one phrase I heard way too often in Middle School. But it’s true. There’s no point in gaining more hours to your day or giving up certain tasks if you aren’t going to use them productively.
One of the reasons that Denise’s hiring out system works is because she uses the extra hours to build her business. She writes, researches, develops, designs and networks during these extra hours. That’s why she’s been so successful. She doesn’t fritter away her time scanning social media or binge watching Netflix (or maybe she does, but can afford to these days).
If you decide to invest in getting some time back in your day, make good use of it.
I find that even when I’m able to save some time on one task, I end up not knowing what to do with those extra minutes. I usually jump on social media or start pinning random things. Not very productive.
I want to spend more minutes on my businesses to keep it growing. Not help Facebook make more money through advertising. How is scrolling the latest funny cat videos or wine memes on social media helping again?
So, I created a list of business tasks that I can accomplish in a short amount of time. They range from posting on Facebook groups, creating pins, commenting on Instagram posts and sketching new designs.
Now, I know what to do when I’m caught off guard with a free ten minutes. It has increased my productivity. Those ten minute chunks add up throughout the day.
If you decide that it’s time to invest in your business, plan your time accordingly. Know how you want to use these extra minutes ahead of time. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Any kind of help that you can get can be a huge asset to growing your business. Whether we like to admit it or not.
The task of raising a family is a full time job in itself. I have finally admitted this over the years. If you don’t have help, you’re only hindering your own progress. It will take twice as long to accomplish anything and you’ll start to notice everyone around you getting ahead faster.
It’s not that they’re smarter, more driven or working harder, most likely it’s because they have given in to get the help they needed. They got over the guilt – so hard – to create a business that worked for themselves and their families.
If you’re struggling with overcoming the guilt factor, you might need to just try hiring some help and see how it goes. Guilt doesn’t just go away. You need to face it head on and do something about it.
Actions are the best medicine. Put your child in preschool once a week, hire the cleaning person you’ve been discussing or get Task Rabbit to drop off your library books.
Then, do something productive for your business during this time. After you’ve hired one task out, put the process on repeat. After a month, see if you notice any additional business growth. You might be pleasantly surprised that the extra time investment in your day equals more dollars in your pocket.
More importantly don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your business by hiring help. You and your business are so important. So is your family, but your business will keep you sane through the years.
It might also keep you afloat financially, especially if your family faces a future job loss. Both are worth the investment. Don’t forget that.