“Am I really the only person who can do this?”

Solo Episode

Show notes:

One thing I ask a lot of clients as the founder of a Virtual Assistant agency is: “Are you really the only person who can do this?”

Asking for and getting the support you need is what I am ALL about at work. But I’ll admit, I find it a lot harder to ask for help when it comes to my home and family life.

Being a parent and business owner can be really overwhelming. If you feel like you’re failing, please know that you are NOT, you just need some help.

I’m talking about my tips for deciding where you need support, getting past the mental load hurdle and why it’s not easier to just do it yourself. Spoiler alert: everything can probably run just fine without you if it has to.

Bump to business owner links:

Website: www.bumptobusinessowner.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bumptobusinessowner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolinepooley/


Hello and welcome to Bump to Business Owner, thank you so much for tuning in today. This podcast is inspired by my mission to find out why more and more mums are leaving the employment world for the entrepreneur life. I’ll be talking to some of the people I believe to be the most inspiring women in business about their journey building their businesses alongside motherhood. I’ll be also sharing some of my own experiences of juggling my award winning virtual assistant agency Upsource, while raising my two young children. Right now they are two and four, and trust me, it can be chaos.

Caroline [00:00:45]:

Hello, I’m Caroline Marshall, your host of Bump to Business Owner and also founder of virtual assistant agency Upsource alongside a mum of two pesky little boys. Thank you so much for listening. Today as I’m recording I’m aware it’s strike week. So I felt a super relevant podcast to record because sometimes I feel as mothers we can take on so much ourselves and forget about asking for help. And I know sometimes it can feel awkward or I mean I especially do, I’m very English, why would I ask for help? I could just try and get on with it myself. Or sometimes you can feel it’s the wrong time for someone or I think we’ve kind of got out of this place of asking for help and it feels too obvious or silly to do that when we’re all trying to get through. But sometimes we all give back. You can ask someone for help and then they’ll give you help back another time. So I think something I wanted to share was just ways I have learned or tried to get over certain what my blockings have been over asking for help running my business, not just running my business, but being a mum as well. So an insight into how my household runs is I don’t cook. Which I’m really not proud of by the way.

Caroline [00:02:07]:

I am not proud that I don’t cook. I don’t like cooking. For me to follow a recipe would take a long time. I’m not proud of that fact. I think everyone should have basic life skills. But having said that, I was extremely smart, I chose a husband who’s a great cook. He likes to cook, it’s his job.

Caroline [00:02:25]:

And I can’t lie, before we had kids, people were so strange about it. It’s kind of like I don’t know what decade we were living in, but people were like, what do you do when he cooks? I’m like, well I might be working, I might be out, I might be doing the laundry or just having a chill, which is what he does while I’m cleaning up his cooking. And men are well, he is not a tidy cook. It’s a really interesting thing to think about. So basically this is something I’ve learned about how overwhelming something can be when you’ve not kind of realised something you need help on, which is something I kind of realised early on in my journey of parenthood with my first child. Because when he was getting to the point of weaning him, I did all the basic stuff and we had some childcare help because I was already back at work at that stage and so he had like food at nursery and things. But I think I was really struggling with what do I feed him? And it was because I don’t do the cooking in the house, that’s not my job. And I remember just being in Sainsbury’s and being so overwhelmed, I was like, I need your help, it was like I needed to hand over the feeding stage.

Caroline [00:03:35]:

I’ve kind of made a joke about it with my second child who I breastfed for the first year and stuff. It’s kind of like I feed them until it’s time to hand them over to my husband to take it from there. I obviously feed them, by the way, when he’s not here and stuff. But we’ve learned he does batch cook things, so the healthier dinners he batch cooks for me and that’s how partly how we split up some of the loads. And it was really smart. And now all those women, I say women, it was mainly women who are asking me or telling me I was spoiled with my husband cooking. Now I’m smart because he does it all and that’s his job and he keeps us all eating well in the house and then also things that come with that, like the food shop. So I’ve realised sometimes things can feel so overwhelming where you don’t really understand why you’re feeling overwhelmed but it’s because you need to ask for help.

Caroline [00:04:32]:

And I think that’s a really important thing, especially from my discovering in these early years, is it’s like when you’re sleep deprived and that’s even worse because you’re sleep deprived. And we now know so much about sleep and there’s so much out there, an overwhelming amount right now, if you’re in this sleep deprived time of your life where oh, how we should all be sleeping, it’s knocking years off our life. I love sleep, I’m very good at sleeping, but my children sometimes aren’t. And they’re a lot better now than it has been the past few years, but it’s just reality sometimes. I remember. I think my youngest was eight months old and he was a particularly challenging sleeper and I think it got to a really bad stage to suddenly realise I had to go somewhere. And not everyone does this. And I think it’s because he was a second child while he was breastfed and still feeding at night early on.

Caroline [00:05:32]:

I remember my eldest got croup when he was four months old, so I had to leave him once because my eldest had croup in the middle of the night. I wasn’t going to let my husband take him to hospital. I wanted to go, my child was poorly, I was going to take him to hospital. So therefore, my second child just had to suck it up and have a bottle. I’m fully aware not all children are like that, but at the same time, my second one, at times, even as a precious NICU child, he just had to survive because my first child needed me. And I think that, yeah, like I was saying, I was sleep deprived. I got to a stage where I needed to be like, I have to go away and sleep because they’re not going to let me sleep here. Irony was obviously then my second child slept until 06:00 a.m..

Caroline [00:06:15]:

So my husband had a great night when I was away as well. I think that comes to my first point as sometimes it’s like trying to see past the noise of what you need help on. Because I think there’s so much now I see online about how exhausted we are in the young motherhood years and how much is going on and how unfun we are because we were busy planning everything and there’s so much noise. I had a conversation with some friends the other day who they’re all on second children and they were like, it’s so much harder to work with two children. I’m like, oh, is it also because our first children are now at school? And this is not just about the nursery routine, it’s the school routine and everything that comes with school, it can feel so like, oh, I don’t even know what’s wrong with me. Why am I failing? And it’s not that you’re not failing, you just need to ask for help somewhere. And it is sometimes really, really hard to be like, what do I need help on? What is it? And I think writing things down, what’s on your brain? Is it because your house is a mess? I mean, I’m saying that because I’m literally sat here in a messy house and I really need to clear it and I don’t have time. And so I’m not saying your house is messy, but mine is and I might need help with that.

Caroline [00:07:33]:

Maybe I’m coming to an epiphany myself that I need to get some help at the house. And I think this next point as well, I say this kindly, but I think sometimes we can shoot ourselves in the foot. I mean, I kind of spend my days saying this to clients. There’s so much we think we can only do ourselves and it’s not true. I have recently had the flu and it was bad. It was bad in the sense it was proper flu.

Caroline [00:08:11]:

I literally could not keep going. I could not. I had the flu. I think we got to draw a line somewhere on how much we keep going as mums. And I could not keep going. And it turned out the flu was bad, that I ended up getting an infection and I had to go on antibiotics and stuff, so it lasted longer as well than I thought. But the house continued going without me. Okay, I get it.

Caroline [00:08:34]:

I am privileged in the fact that my husband was at home working that week so he could do the school runs. We had inset days, so he also was able to at least be around for our four year old. Obviously, we would have needed more help and I don’t know how we would have got that, but I think we would have just had to figure it out or I just would have had to spend less time recovering. But because he was at home, because he did all the school runs and I was so poorly, my whole thing went into recovery. I had a really good recovery because the house just kept going without me. And it’s that realisation of, like, not only I can do it, and I think I spend so much time talking to business owners about it, and I’ve done this myself with so many things about but only I can do this. And yeah, I think that’s that feeling, that importance about ourselves, which is not a bad thing to say, but I think sometimes there are facts. Maybe you’re still breastfeeding and only you can do them, but I think we could all question ourselves a little bit more on, am I really the only one who can do that? I mean, can my husband? Yeah, I might have to point him in the right direction, but can he get the school uniform ready for the first day of school? And that’s where it comes round to.

Caroline [00:09:56]:

And I’m also so my final point on this snippet today, it’s about sometimes it feels like it’s more effort asking for help because that’s where the mental load comes in. I get it of like, oh, I’m the one thinking about, has my kids homework been done this week? My husband’s not thinking about that and now I have to ask him to do the homework with my son, whereas if I was doing it, I’d just get on with it. So this is like the whole point of the mental load, but I think this is still even with the mental load, it’s more of an effort to ask for help, just get past that hurdle because it will still be quicker. And then the next time, if it’s a recurring task, I’m going into a virtual assistant agency founder mode here about recurring tasks. I think I got sick a couple of months ago. Story of my life. Very sick this year, I think two little ones, post COVID, all of that jazz. I got sick and my husband didn’t read the books that my kid was meant to read.

Caroline [00:10:56]:

And I had said to teachers, just, the house fell apart. But now my husband kind of gets what the homework is, so you had to go through that. And I think we can always be like, oh, it’s more effort, or if you get a cleaner in as a one off, it was more effort where to show them that. And I see this a lot in the virtual assistant world, and I tell you what, who are great at saying this are VAs. They’ll say it’s more effort to show someone than they could just do it themselves. And that is, like, completely contradictory about the service we sell. And I think that’s just sometimes maybe a sign of women and mothers of like, I might as well do it myself. And the thing is, if you just carry on doing it yourself, things will never change.

Caroline [00:11:37]:

I’m not saying things need to change, but there’s only so much we can do. If you’re running a business and you’ve got the kids and you’re not lucky like me and have a husband that does the cooking, you’ve got to find a balance. Me and my husband have actually gone through this exercise of we went through all the household chores and put our name next to them and who does them? I mean, I don’t think we’ve looked at it in a while. I think it made both our heads hurt. Who does the bins? I don’t do the bins, which my husband does have issues with because I’m meant to be a feminist, so I should do the bins. But I allocate that job to him. I do the laundry. We have some stereotypes in our house.

Caroline [00:12:16]:

I think that it is sometimes about going through the tasks, because maybe that’s an exercise that’s a great one to do, is just going through all the household tasks and what belongs to who. I think that does solve arguments and things, because I think if my husband’s been a bit resentful, because he does get bored of cooking sometimes, but I get bored of doing the school run sometimes. Yeah. So that’s my food for thought, I think sometimes asking for help could feel like such an effort, but it will always be worth it in the long run. And maybe a bit of homework. I’m going to give you homework on this podcast this week. Ask for help on something, get something off your plate and make it a task that happens time and time again. So then you go through it once and maybe like, little bits of it will stick in whoever’s helping you.

Caroline [00:13:06]:

So that’s your homework for today. Thank you for listening. My name is Caroline Marshall. Please connect with me at Bump to Business Owner. I hope you have a great day and I hope this has been some help for you on your crazy journey of business running and motherhood.

You have been listening to Bump to Business Owner, the podcast for mums running businesses, aspiring to run businesses, or simply supporters of mums who go on this crazy business journey. I’m your host Caroline Marshall and I run a virtual assistant agency called Upsource. I started it in lockdown 2020, I’ve seen it through maternity leave and it is growing alongside my two growing boys. Thank you so much, please connect me at Bump to Business Owner, my name is Caroline Marshall.