I still remember the first day I paid someone to clean my house. (Gulp.)
Before I made the call to hire someone, I had tossed the idea around in my mind for years. I kept telling myself that it was an unnecessary luxury. I really could do it myself. My mother always did and still does. It would just take a few hours of focused effort on a Saturday morning and I’d be all set for a mess-free week.
But then something important would come up and house cleaning would take a back burner and before I knew it I’d be frustrated by the condition of my floors or window blinds or you name it. I’d squeeze in dusting on one day and bathrooms on another but I never felt caught up. It was a wicked cycle.
The day I finally took the plunge and called someone to clean for us, I wasn’t necessarily exhilarated. I didn’t hear the freedom bells ringing. Truth be told, I even felt a little guilty.
That was until the first time I came home to a spotless house and that lingering fresh citrus scent. Pillows fluffed. Blinds wiped. VACUUM LINES. Now that was when the heavens opened and the angels sang.
Today, I honestly can’t imagine going back to the struggle of squeezing in deep cleaning amid the schedule we keep. Having a clean house on a regular basis is just part of the rhythm of our life. Our housekeeper, Zita, who comes twice a month, is an integral part of our team and by having her do what she does, I can do what I do with one less thing hanging over my head.
And you know what? My kids still make their beds, fold laundry, fill the dishwasher, and know how to run a vacuum. I still wipe spots off the mirrors and faucets and mop the floor and do the dishes every single night. But we have a system in place that ensures things won’t get out of hand. It gives me incredible peace of mind to know Zita is coming.
And do you know what else? Because I was willing to ask for help, this amazing woman is able to make a living doing work that she is absolutely terrific at doing, work she’s told me she truly loves. She takes great pride in restoring beauty and order to our home and it shows in her work.
And this is my point.
We don’t always think about the OTHER side of asking for help – the person whom we bless by giving her a chance to use her gifts or to earn a living. But this matters.
Getting help isn’t selfish. It’s a win-win.
While we suffer under the burden of having too much to do and not enough time to do it, there are people in our midst who would gladly help us if we’d only ask. Some of them will help us for free because they can and some will help us for a fee because it’s how they make their living. Both count.
What I’m about to say isn’t new. You know this in your bones but it bears repeating.
When we are able to use our talents in service to others, we feel fulfilled.
It brings meaning and purpose to our day. YOU can provide that opportunity for someone and help yourself at the same time
Three examples come to mind.
1) Ask for a favor. Asking for and accepting favors may make us feel vulnerable, but there is so much upside. Ask another family to carpool to soccer or ask someone to let in the repairman while you are at work. Let someone get you a coffee while they are getting theirs or let a pet-lover who doesn’t have one walk your dog one day. And besides, this kind of help doesn’t cost you a dime, so no excuses on the “I can’t afford it” front.
2) Hire household help. The next time you find yourself saying “I’ll do it myself,” take a moment to consider whether or not this task is truly the best use of your resources. Yes, you may save money by doing it yourself, but it will also cost you time and energy you may not have to spare. And you’ll miss the chance to offer someone else the chance to use their talents. House cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, organizing, mending, lawn care, and more – there are people out there who are GREAT at these things and who find JOY in them. Let them use their gifts.
3) Outsource some work at work. If you’re an entrepreneur, please stop trying to do every single thing yourself. Find capable people who can take on pieces of that pile of work you’re buried under and help them build their portfolio while they build your capacity. Everybody wins. If you work for a company instead of for yourself, then delegate! You have a team for a reason; learn how to leverage each person’s talents and you’ll be amazed by what’s possible.
The next time you are staring down a mile long to-do list, just remember this:
Asking for help isn’t selfish, it’s smart. And getting it is almost always a win-win.
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This is based on a blog post originally published August 25, 2015