By Joy Adams
Did you know that there are plenty of people who come home each and every day to folded laundry, a hot meal, a clean house and fresh flowers? They have great careers and happy families. There is no guilt or shame. Yes, you guessed it. Most of these people are men.
Despite all of the really positive changes that have taken place in the last century, there are still a number of sobering points out there:
- According to a study from the Office for National Statistics, women in households with children under 18 carried out an average of more than three hours a day of childcare, compared to just two hours for men.
- A study – carried out by life insurance broker LifeSearch – found that almost half (45%) of female breadwinners said they did most of the chores in their house, compared to just 12% of male breadwinners.
- In 1965, mothers spent a daily average of 54 minutes on childcare activities, while mums in 2012 averaged almost twice that at 104 minutes per day. Fathers’ time with children nearly quadrupled – 1965 dads spent a daily average of just 16 minutes with their kids, while today’s fathers spend about 59 minutes a day caring for them.
So, when all is said and done, how can a woman make it to the next level in business despite work, school, a partner (or the search for a partner), friends, extended family and everything else?
The answer is simple (and possibly grating). We have to let go and get help.
When to let go
When your kid needs lunch, you expect them to ask you for help to make it with (or for) them – especially if they are too young to use a knife or stove.
In other cases though, kids and partners have to be taught to do things on their own. When I was a kid, my mother used to visit my grandmother and we were left alone with our tough military father.
His style of parenting was very different from my mum’s.
My mum would set the table and get things ready for dinner. Dad asked us kids to do it. Mum would help us get dressed. Dad insisted we do it on our own. Mum would hold three plates at a time and ask us what we wanted to eat at the buffet. Dad gave us a plate and got busy choosing his own meal.
I still wonder what my mum made of all of this when she returned. Suddenly, her three kids were doing their own thing.
Are you upset because the towels are not folded perfectly? Are you skipping a nap to do the laundry, whilst your kids relax in front of the TV? Are you worried because your house is not perfectly clean?
We need to drop some expectations around perfection.
Get some help
If you saw someone drowning, would you throw them a life preserver or would you wish them luck and hope they survive?
Hopefully, you would throw them a line. The reality is that we expect others to survive and do it with a smile. Humans have lived as tribes for thousands of years and now we expect two people – or even one person – to do and be everything.
It is not sustainable.
Sadly, many women are not interested in taking the life preservers being offered to them. What do these look like though and how are we rejecting them?
1. Get help at home.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of women who refuse to have others help with cleaning or cooking. Yet, they also complain about feeling burnt out, upset and broken. They get frustrated and lash out. I am dating again after my divorce and if a man says that he doesn’t believe in getting help or support at home, I end it.
There are many female-owned cleaning services and you can ask them to focus on light cleaning and organising if you feel nervous. Open the door for the cleaners, get a massage, then come home to a clean house. Learn to trust people or hide your valuables…but get help. Start trusting your kids and partner more.
My father used to post all of the chores he needed done on a sheet of paper. Next to it, he would put prices he would pay for each job and we could sign up for these jobs. It was a strange take on chores, but we learned to work for pay (or in my case, find higher-paying babysitting jobs!).
2. Delegate at work.
Are you doing it all and not giving your team a chance to develop? This is not only unfair, it is selfish and will stress you out. When I hear women say that it would take longer to give it to an employee, it tells me that they haven’t put in the work to train their team. Get people to a level, or hire at a level, where their output can support your goals. If you can’t hand over your work, reduce the size of your business or let go of underperforming employees.
3. Use technology.
I am a big fan of tools like Calendly (virtual PA to book meetings), Google Calendar, Open Table (restaurant reservations) and Siri. There are also other great options. Buy a dishwasher. Did you know there are really great and affordable robot hoovers? Some of these robots can also sweep and mop too. Consider an air purifier, white noise maker or scent diffuser. I often order things like stamps, candles and fresh flowers with my grocery orders, just to make life a bit nicer and easier.
4. Hire a concierge service or virtual assistant.
If you and your family are struggling, consider a concierge service. There are companies out there who can help support you. I started to use these services a few years ago and haven’t looked back. They can book tickets, cancel reservations, order items like cakes and birthday gifts. You can find people using companies like Upwork. I personally use The Ten Group and they book nearly all of my personal travel. There are other great services like Laundrapp (picks up and wash laundry, which is great for duvets), Flowerbx (flowers in the mail) and TaskRabbit (does small tasks, repairs or furniture setup).
Who do you admire?
The men and women you admire are probably doing many – if not all – of the things I just mentioned.
At the end of your life, your business clients will probably not care about how clean your bathroom was. However, they will remember the book you wrote, that gave them the tools they needed to improve their lives.
Your kids will have forgotten the many lunches you made (let’s face it, they wish every day was pizza day). However, they will remember the fun times you all had at the park, while you let the robot hoover clean the floors. They will appreciate that the money your business made helped them pay for university or get on the property ladder.
Perfectionists lose out
Perfectionists are often major failures.
They are the ones who won’t do anything unless their idea and situation is perfect, so they never move forward. Think of the person who can’t pitch their business until it is perfect versus the one who keeps pushing and pitching until she succeeds.
There’s that famous story about the Americans astronauts wanting to use a pen on the International Space Station. They spent $1 million to create an antigravity pen. Their Russian counterparts decided to use pencils. Sometimes, we miss the easy solutions right in front of our own faces.
Today, as you read this, make a list of what needs to be done. Start saying no. Share your cooking responsibilities via a dinner batching club, make the kids fold the laundry if they want to watch TV, book a nail appointment and tell people you are busy.
You are a female business owner, and you can have it all.
About Joy Adams
Joy Adams started Weekend Startup Warriors in 2019 to help people who are building businesses around their 9-to-5 day jobs. The idea started when Joy faced a number of dilemmas while trying to research a business idea. Many events for new businesses are held in the middle of the day or cater to those who have the financial resources to leave their job. There are few “in-between” spaces for individuals and small teams taking on the tough task of building a company. Weekend Startup Warrior aims to help bridge the gaps.