Download: MP3 (65.0 MB)
When I think about the main categories into which our lives are broken up, I generally think in terms of work, relationships, and self care. The health of each of the categories depends on the health of the others.
In the “work” category, I include things you would expect like a day-job, building your own business, artistic pursuits, and such. This category also includes things like getting groceries, cleaning the house, and getting the kids ready for school.
As your family grows and with it your responsibilities, the work can start to become all consuming at the expense of your relationships and personal well being.
In this episode we will talk about the importance of asking for the help you need, where you can get it, and how you can build a solid support system that will serve your work in the long term.
Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins
- Focus on the things you’re trying to accomplish and not on the work itself.
- Meet regularly with your spouse about your goals.
- When you establish a schedule, it’s a lot easier to get consistent help from family and friends.
- Take help where you can get it.
- Demonstrate an “all hands on deck” mentality by visibly participating in doing household chores with your kids.
- Be aware of the value of your time now and under circumstances in which you are able to free up your time.
- You are capable of producing enough value to hire somebody to do what keeps you from spending time on things you value more.
- Find help in a new place through the organic outgrowth that comes from surrounding yourself with community.
- Your default should be to accept help and grow the infrastructure of help in your life.
- The people who have changed the world all had help.
- Help is not a variable you can leave out and expect to be able to accomplish the same things.
- Ask for help and show other people that it’s okay to do that.
- 03:04 Ben: I want to preface this by talking about the way I think about the different aspects of our lives. I have these three main categories that I use. In no particular order, the first category is work, the second category is relationships, and the third category is self care. Within those three categories, it branches out into different things. In the relationship category, I break that out into close living-in-the-house-with-you family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, and any other human being with whom you have some relationship.
- 03:57 In the work category, I include things like keeping up the house, cleaning, getting groceries, and raising kids. I categorize those things as work, because they really are work, even if we find fulfillment in doing some of those things. Within that category, I keep those things separate from a day job and a business you’re building. As your family and your responsibility grows with that, the work portion can become all-consuming. It can start to come at the expense of the relationships you have and you being able to take care of yourself. Guess which one takes a hit first?
- 04:46 Rachel: Taking care of yourself.
- 04:49 Ben: The health of all three of those areas influences the health of the other two. When one is out of balance or it’s taking up too much time or attention, the other two suffer. That’s how it works. Today, I want to specifically talk about the piece of work that is keeping up with the responsibilities around the house, the raising of the kids, and those kinds of things. I want to talk about how we can ask for the help we need to build something sustainable that supports us to thrive in our work and in the other areas of our life.
Focus on Goals With Your Spouse
- 05:45 We’ve talked before about how the relationship you have with your spouse and the way the work is split up, you’re never going to find this 50/50, absolutely even split (Related: e029 Balancing Work and Household Responsibilities). It’s too complex to be able to do that. If that’s your goal, you’re going to be more frustrated. Your goal as the spouse is to be able to contribute in whatever way you can.
Focus on the things you’re trying to accomplish and not on the work itself.
- 06:34 When the focus is on goals that are outside of the housework, it makes it a lot clearer how you should divvy that up. In one season, it might make more sense for one spouse to do more than the other. In another season, it might be flipped around. This is something that, through communication, you’ve got to arrive at an agreement about. One thing you can do is to meet regularly with your spouse about your goals. Talk about the things you’re trying to accomplish, and a natural part of that is how other responsibilities are influencing your time. If you’re both focused on the goals you want to accomplish, it’s going to be easier to talk about, “I need you to take over this thing for a while so I can focus on this other thing.”
- 07:29 Rachel: We’ve gotten in trouble with each other when one of us didn’t communicate that we needed help with something. We let it be there unspoken, and when it wasn’t taken care of, blame and frustration can come into play.
- 07:52 Ben: It can feel scary to ask for help. We have six young children, and keeping up with the house is more than a full time job for one person. I feel tentative, sometimes, about asking Rachel to do things, because I know that she’s already doing so much. You may have expectations of what you’re trying to keep up with that are unrealistic for the season that you’re in. Communicate those things and say, “This has really been bothering me. It’s taking my focus away from being able to build something.” That’s really helpful.
- 08:46 Rachel: We dusted our house for the first time in three months last weekend. It was kind of nice. You should have seen the ceiling fan in our bedroom. It may have been longer than three months. When our boys saw me cleaning, they asked, “Who’s coming over?”
- 09:19 Ben: When you go to make a request or you’re talking about trying to share different responsibilities, it’s important to connect your request to something tangible that it frees you up to do. That could be specific time that you need. Cleaning the kitchen every single night while the other spouse reads maybe isn’t working for you because that takes an entire hour of your time away. If you shared that, you would each have 30 minutes of time or even longer. When you work together, sometimes it ends up shortening the amount of time you spend on that work.
- 10:09 If you get too many people involved, sometimes it makes it less efficient. You have to find the balance there. You could say, “With that 30 minutes that opens up for me, I could spend that 30 minutes every day doing this. That’s two and a half hours of extra work time that I get to build this thing.”
- 10:29 Rachel: You may not even be doing something. You may just be hanging out with your spouse and kids.
- 10:36 Ben: I’m talking about this as it relates to freeing up your work, but it could also free up your time to strengthen your relationships. It could free up your time to allow you to take better care of yourself, like working out. Connect the request to those results, and don’t make the focus the work itself. We’re really fortunate, because we like and care about each other, but we’re also laid back about those things. It’s easier for us to navigate those conversations, because we have a deep understanding of the goals we’re trying to reach. Not everybody is in that situation.
When Your Spouse Isn’t On Board
- 11:31 On the seanwes podcast, there was a question recently that came up that had to do with negativity and the cost of negativity in your life. The question came up about your spouse. What if your spouse is the one who’s negative? You can’t cut your spouse out of your life like you can certain people. I started to answer the question right away, and I was coming at it from the standpoint of how you have to offset that negativity with other positive influences. Sean brought something up that reminded me that I was missing the point. You and your spouse are one.
- 12:12 When you’re married and you’re sharing a life together, if your spouse isn’t seeing your goal and isn’t making the connection between the responsibilities you have to take care of and how that’s keeping you from being able to accomplish something, that can be insurmountable. It can keep you from experiencing the success that’s best for everybody. Sean said something that I really like. He said, “Forget pursuing your passion. Forget trying to build your business. Forget all of that. Your full time job is to invest in that relationship so that you can get yourself and your spouse to a place where you’re on the same page.” I thought that was good, because it holds the relationship in higher esteem than the goals and the work you’re trying to accomplish.
- 13:11 The fear is, “What if that means that I never get around to pursuing my goals because I’m spending all my time investing in this person?” If you’re doing it right, that’s not going to be your experience. Also, do you really want to accomplish your goals and not have the people you care about the most be able to experience that with you? In this case, if your spouse isn’t seeing the connection between the responsibilities you’re dealing with and how freeing you up from that might make it more possible for you to achieve some goal or build your business, stop having that conversation.
Focus on that relationship and invest in your spouse until you get to a place where you can see eye to eye.
Getting Help From Family & Friends
- 14:17 One of the first notes that I have here, which probably has more to do with family than friends, says, “Don’t use the kids as a bargaining chip.” People say this playfully, “Tell them that if they want to hang out with the kids, they can come babysit!” You know what it’s like to do all of the work of taking care of children—bathing them, getting them into bed, feeding them. There are joyful moments in between. Grandparents know that they’ll have a good time and that they’ll enjoy spending time with the kids, but if you’re asking your family to come help with the kids in some capacity, there’s going to be work involved.
- 15:18 I don’t like to even give the hint that if they don’t come help with the work, there would be a possibility that I would be less likely to let them come enjoy the fun parts of it. That goes both ways. The example we set there lends itself to our family members seeing the value of doing the work part of it and not just coming over for the fun. There’s also the joke on the other side, where the grandparents get to have a good time with them and when they’re all sugared up, they send them back.
- 15:57 Rachel: When the kids went to my parents’ house, they threw up everywhere. That’s a lot of work.
- 16:07 Ben: Do they do things differently? Probably. Are they going to be a little bit more lenient on certain rules? Probably.
- 16:15 Rachel: Are the kids going to be out of their minds when they get back home? Yes, most likely.
- 16:21 Ben: It’s no less work. It’s important to think about it that way. Don’t let it become a bargaining idea. It’s a gift that’s given when your family does that work with you. When they get to spend time with the kids and enjoy the fun parts of it, that’s a gift that’s given. Another thing we can do with friends or family is to establish a schedule. We haven’t done a great job of this, but when we’ve employed it in the past, we’ve saved a lot of headaches and made things a little bit more consistent.
- 17:08 Rachel: What do you mean by schedule? A daily schedule?
- 17:11 Ben: Not a daily schedule. I mean that you actually schedule ahead of time if you’re going to get regular help from family or friends. Schedule when that happens. This is great for you, because then you can make plans around those times. It’s great for them, because they are able to build their schedules around that and have that anticipation.
When you establish a schedule, it’s a lot easier to get consistent help from family and friends.
- 17:50 Ben: When you don’t schedule, you lose the ability to not make last minute requests. Those last minute requests are really difficult. A declined ask still counts against you. When you ask somebody at the last minute and they’re not able to do it, even if they want to, you still asked them recently. They don’t feel like they owe you a time to go watch the kids. It wasn’t this pre-planned thing. It feels to them like you’ve asked them. When you ask someone too much in a short amount of time, you start getting the feeling that you’ve taken something from them. That reciprocity comes into play. You think, “I already asked them several times, and they haven’t been able to do it, but I feel bad going back and asking them again.” Avoid that at all costs.
- 19:02 Rachel: I’ve found that, when you’re in the trenches of raising children, especially when they’re young and they need so much work, it’s really hard to maintain friendships. This is especially true of the kind of friendships where you can trade off childcare. Everyone is so busy, and they all have their own kids to take care of. I feel like we don’t have a whole lot of friends who have children—at least not as many as we do—so it’s a difficult thing to maintain those friendships.
- 19:38 Ben: It’s really hard. The purpose of those friendships isn’t so that you have help, but help can be a natural byproduct of investing in those relationships.
- 19:51 Rachel: When you have friends come over to dinner, your kids are sort of entertained, because if they have friends then they can go play with them.
It takes a lot of work to maintain friendships when you have young children.
- 20:10 Ben: It’s good to make that investment. It’s worthwhile, even with the hard work. Also, we’ve experienced that we have a pretty diverse pool of friends. We have friends who have families that are as big as ours, friends who have really small families, friends who are young couples without any kids yet, single friends, friends who are older and have kids who are teenagers or off to college. For a number of reasons, that diversity has been really great for us. We get to experience people’s stories from all walks of life. We’re hearing about a good friend of ours who’s son just got engaged. It’s a very happy time, but her boy is growing up.
- 21:15 When you’re connected to those people and those stories, it has a way of preparing you for when those things happen. That’s a fantastic byproduct. Also, we have really good friends who have teenage daughters, and the daughters help out with the kids every once in a while. The wife’s name is Carol, and she’s become like a grandmother to the boys. She comes around a lot. My parents live pretty far away and Rachel’s parents live even farther away, so it’s not practical for them to come regularly to watch the boys. I still think we could get them on a schedule.
- 22:02 This particular friend lives in our neighborhood. It’s someone we met and got to know through church. She offered to us one day, “Any time you want me to come watch the kids, give me a call and let me know.” That’s very rare. If somebody makes that offer, as long as it’s somebody you trust with your kids, get rid of your pride. Don’t do that thing where you say, “Oh, we’re okay, but I really appreciate it.” No. Take help where you can get it, as long as it’s safe for your family. That’s the key. It’s a long term play with friends. You have to invest in those relationships without the expectation that it could ever mean having regular help. A lot of times, that becomes a natural byproduct of it.
Rotating Help With Other Parents
- 23:16 Another thing you can do is to find a handful of other couples with kids and set up an arrangement where the kids rotate from house to house.
- 23:36 Rachel: We’ve had this vision for a long time, but we haven’t done anything to make it happen. The kids go from house to house.
- 23:42 Ben: Coordinating that wouldn’t be so hard that it’s impossible, but it’s a matter of making the time to do that. Get three other couples involved, and if you do something weekly, you’ve got a date night three weeks out of the month. Once a month, you’ve got all of the kids.
- 24:07 Rachel: For us, that wouldn’t be so bad, but for others it might be.
- 24:12 Ben: That’s the challenge for us. We’ve got so many that it seems unfair. They send their kids over, and we think, “Oh, there are a few other kids here.” That’s a typical day because of the neighborhood kids. They’re always coming over to our house. Sending all of the Toalson boys over could be a little overwhelming, but I think we could figure that out.
Getting Help From the Kids
- 24:50 In the short term, it takes a lot longer to teach kids a skill than it takes for you to do it. That’s a given. In the long term, it’s going to take longer for you to continue doing something indefinitely that you hand off to them. I grew up in a home where we were responsible for certain chores. My time was split between my mom and my stepdad and my dad and my stepmom. My stepmom is kind of a busybody and she enjoys cleaning, so she would definitely participate in the work of that. We were teenagers at the time, so we had pretty high expectations for what we would do around the house as well.
- 25:51 With my mom and my stepdad, it always felt like certain things were “the kids’ job.” “The kids are going to take care of that.” I can’t recall whether or not that’s true, but I know that I had that sense.
- 26:11 Rachel: They were saying, “No, that’s the kids’ job,” and the parent just gets to sit around?
- 26:15 Ben: It was like they were saying, “We’ve done our time.”
- 26:18 Rachel: I don’t think it’s like that at all. I remember my mom still working. We had our chores, but she would still do things.
- 26:28 Ben: I want to be really careful as the parents to not equate the work we’re doing making money, paying the bills, and supporting the family to doing the work of keeping up the house. I don’t feel like that’s fair. You could look at it a certain way and say, “If you’re spending 60 to 80 hours a week at your job and you still have responsibilities at home, that seems unfair.” The mentality I want our family to have when it comes to keeping up the house is an “all hands on deck” mentality. We’re on this ship. We all play different roles, but when someone is doing something and I’ve got free time, if there’s someplace we want to be as a family or something we want to do, I would rather finish my thing and then help out with what that person is doing until we get it all done.
- 27:38 We have this little saying that we’ve been trying to get the boys to memorize. Our second oldest, Asa, came up with this. He said, “We clean up together until it is done. We clean up together and shine like the sun.” This is for our after dinner chores. After dinner is done, we all put our plates away, and each of us has assigned chores. The idea was that, on any given week, if your assigned chore doesn’t take you as long, when you’re done you should look for other ways to help. If we all work together until it’s finished, we’ll all finish sooner than we would if someone said, “I’m done with mine. I’m going to go play. Good luck you guys.”
- 28:39 Rachel: Kids aren’t great about that. They want to get done as fast as they can, because it’s chores. Who wants to do chores? Especially when it’s sweeping the floor.
- 28:52 Ben: It’s definitely not fun.
It’s really important, as parents, that we demonstrate an “all hands on deck” mentality by visibly participating in doing household chores with our kids.
- 29:14 It gets a little bit tricky when the kids are really young, because it can take a lot of time for them to start cleaning and doing chores, certain things they don’t really have the skills for yet. Think about it as a long term investment. It’s great for the kids, because when they’re helping and contributing, their sense of autonomy grows. That’s something really important as a part of their development that they’ll take into adulthood, their feeling that they are contributors. Wherever they are, they have skill and value to offer. Because of that, despite their complaining, they want to contribute to the family and add value. They want to participate.
- 30:07 That is, until they become teenagers and there’s weird stuff going on in the brain that we’re not going to get into in this episode. Early on, that’s why they have those play brooms and stuff at the store. Kids like to pretend they’re doing the stuff that they see their parents doing, and you can capitalize on that. I’m not saying that you should take advantage of this, but it really is great for your kids when they do something and they feel like they’ve made a contribution to the family. That’s a gift that you give them.
- 30:47 Rachel: We tell our kids this all the time—it’s kind of our mantra: “We can do hard things.” When they’re having trouble getting the broom under the table to sweep up all of the food that the baby dropped, it’s a hard thing to do. It takes a little bit of skill, and sometimes they get frustrated. The practice of it helps them realize that they can do hard things. They can finish, and we can leave the kitchen better than when we came into it. That seems like a small lesson to apply perseverance, but in a child’s reality, that’s a huge thing.
- 31:41 Ben: Our oldest is nine, and he’s experienced this a couple of times, where he’s gotten creative about how he gets out of doing certain work. This is a valuable skill, too, and it’s something many adults haven’t mastered, and that is the ability to recognize when the value of your time is greater than the amount you would spend to have certain things taken care of for you by hired help. For the kids, that’s a tremendous skill. The can recognize, “The things I want to do with this time are more important or valuable to me than the time I’m spending doing this. It’s still my responsibility to make sure it gets done, but I get to decide how that happens and I can be creative.”
- 32:47 There’s a recognition of value and problem solving skills and creativity that goes into finding a way to make that happen. A couple of times, Jadon has hired his brothers to do certain things for him because he wanted to work on a drawing or something. It’s good to pay a fair wage, but that’s subjective. It depends on the person.
- 33:19 Rachel: The six year old was happy to get a quarter.
- 33:23 Ben: If the six year old will do it for a quarter and it will get done the way it’s supposed to, then he can do that. We have to do some teaching about fair wage. I think that would be good. Now, when is the right time to say, “We’re going to hire somebody now to do this thing”? It could be any number of things—mowing the lawn, childcare, doing the cooking, the dry cleaning, the laundry, or cleaning the house. All of the things that need to be done for the house take time. Part one of the question is this: would it cost me less to pay someone else than I could make in that same amount of time?
- 34:27 That’s an important question. We’re going to break that out a little bit here. First of all, you can’t hire help if you don’t have the money to pay for it. It may be a situation where you need to save up for a certain amount of time and you build a buffer to where you know that you have this chunk of money that you can devote toward that. Let’s say it’s mowing the lawn, and it takes you two hours every week. You might be able to build up enough cash to afford to pay somebody to do that without it affecting the rest of your bills, and for the first four to six weeks, you’re not making up the difference. That doesn’t necessarily speak to the value of your time.
- 35:21 Part of the value of your time is not what you’re making right now, but what that freed up time will enable you to make in the future. You’ve got to think, “I’ve got eight weeks of having somebody mow the lawn for me saved up. The question is, can I make the difference up between now and the end of that eight weeks, so I can continue to do that?”
Be aware of the value of your time now and under circumstances in which you are able to free up your time.
- 36:02 Rachel: This is where I have a little bit of trouble, because the things we could pay to have someone else do are things that we typically do on weekends. We try not to work on weekends at all. I wouldn’t be making money in that time anyway, so how do you justify it there?
- 36:24 Ben: It costs you in other ways, like the time you could be spending with your family on the weekends. Because you’re working, it’s not really like you’re spending time with your family. There is some value to getting into work together as a family, so I’m not denying that. What would be more valuable to me? Spending that time doing housework with your family, or spending that time having some other experience that’s really fun and meaningful and that strengthens your relationship in other ways? You can’t always quantify the cost of that. What is the cost to your business, your work, and your personal health when your relationships aren’t as strong as they could be?
- 37:27 Rachel: There’s more than just the monetary cost.
- 37:29 Ben: Right. It’s okay to think about that, too, to think, “I may not be able to make this up,” or to compensate it in other ways. You could say, “If I opened up this time on weekends, I would feel more fulfilled and motivated, and I think that would play itself out in my work so I could produce more value there. That means that I would be able to charge more, so I would be able to pay somebody to take care of that stuff on the weekends for me.”
- 37:59 Rachel: I think about the value of feeling sort of ahead in your life. Right now, I feel like we’re constantly catching up. There’s always something that comes up, something that needs doing that we didn’t quite plan on. We don’t mow our lawn until we get a letter from our HOA, and it would be so nice to be ahead of all of that.
- 38:38 Ben: This is our personal situation. Rachel is building a business and her brand as an author, and I’m also building my business. I’m making pretty decent money at it. We’re keeping up with things, for now. We have to earn the right to be able to get ahead. Things are going to come up. You have to believe that you are capable of producing enough value to overcome the things that come up. Sure, there are exceptions. Sometimes, there are extenuating circumstances that are out of your control, but if you focus on those things, it’s going to keep you from being successful.
You are capable of producing enough value to hire somebody to do what keeps you from spending time on things you value more.
- 40:04 It’s not just things that you don’t like doing or that you would rather not do. I enjoy cooking, but that takes an hour a day. If you count up preparing food in general, it can take between two and three hours a day, depending. What is that time worth? Could you get more value out of that time in other ways if that task were taken care of by someone else? What would be worth more to you? It’s going to take work and time for you to produce that much value, but you’re capable of it.
Getting Help in a New Place
- 41:03 This question was from Cory, “Moving to another country is going to rob us of our happy, willing, and free babysitters (read: my family), and put us into a fairly unfortunate situation with that. Do you have any tips for making those sorts of connections in a new place where you don’t know anyone?”
- 41:50 Rachel: We kind of had to do that here. We’re away from all of our family. My sister lives an hour and a half away. My brother is a couple of states over. My parents are almost four hours away. The best thing for us was getting involved in a community where there were people. For us, that was church, but there are other things you can get involved in. I’m not sure about other countries, but there are all sorts of mom groups. A lot of my blogs post on UK blogs, so I know that they have mom groups and those kinds of things where you can meet people.
Find help in a new place through the organic outgrowth that comes from surrounding yourself with community.
- 42:44 Ben: Depending on your personality, that can be really difficult. I happen to know that Cory is a fairly outgoing person, so I don’t see him having a difficult time making new friends in a new place, but you may have to overcome some anxiety with that. You may have to look for creative ways to soften that initial contact so that it doesn’t feel as abrupt where you might be uncomfortable. Also, it takes time. It will take a while to invest in those relationships to a place where you may actually have the support that you need to get that kind of help.
- 43:28 Rachel: I know for us, we’ve had to be okay with paying every now and then. The reality is that free babysitters are not available all the time.
- 43:42 Ben: This goes back to the value of that time. It’s worth a lot to have some alone time with your spouse. You know that especially when you go for long stretches where you haven’t been able to spend that one on one time and how that manifests itself in other areas of your life.
- 44:03 Rachel: When you pay a babysitter, especially when you have six kids, that’s a pretty heavy price tag. A lot of times, we’ll just go walk around a store, because date night budget is done.
- 44:18 Ben: It might look like saying, “The money we were going to spend having a fancy date we have to spend on a babysitter, so we’re going to go sit out on the Dublin hillside, look at the city, and watch the sunset. That’s going to be our date. We’re going to pack sandwiches,” since they’re going to Ireland.
Warning Signs That You Need Help
- 44:52 Kelsey asks, “How do you know when you’ve reached the point that you need help around the house? What are the signs and red flags that you should listen to?”
- 45:05 Rachel: For myself, I start feeling really burned out on everything. I get this really bad attitude, and I start snapping at kids whenever they make a mess. I’m so focused on having a clean house that I don’t let the kids be kids. I know how much work it took me to do that, and I feel like it’s an attitude thing for me.
- 45:37 Ben: There are different pressure points for different people. You start to see things being off in certain areas. Maybe you’re going through a week where you’re not working out as much, because you’re spending so much time trying to take care of other stuff. When you’re not taking care of yourself—you’re not exercising, you’re not sleeping well, you’re not eating the right kinds of foods—those things can zap your productivity big time. They are also self-perpetuating, to where when those things fall by the wayside, you tend to do more of the same.
- 46:20 It creates this pattern. Specifically, I don’t know that I can answer that question. Generally, when you see one of those areas starting to suffer, it’s okay to bring it under the microscope and say, “Okay, what’s going on? Why is this happening? Why did I stop working out this week, or why am I snapping at my kids so much?”
- 46:53 Rachel: You also may just be feeling like you’re constantly so far behind on everything. There’s always so much to do. When there’s so much to do that you always feel behind, that’s a red flag.
If you always feel behind, get some help or have a conversation about the important things that need to happen.
- 47:16 Ben: Another red flag could be feeling too comfortable. It sounds funny from our perspective, but for someone who doesn’t have as many responsibilities, who has fewer kids or no kids, you can get into this really great rhythm for working, household stuff, and free time. Everything’s really comfortable. That could be a red flag, because you might be leaving on the table the possibility of having some things taken care of that you’re spending time on now that you don’t really need to be spending time on. You could be spending that time on creating more value, doing more of the thing you love, or spending more time on your relationships.
- 48:02 In that situation, you’ve got to realize that your life comes in seasons. The season you’re in right now, where you feel really comfortable, is not always the season you’re going to be in. Long term thinking requires you to plan and prepare. It’s great to be comfortable now, but if you could push a little bit more, hire that person to do that thing so you could work more on your business and set yourself up to be in a much better position when your family does grow, so that you can stay ahead of things.
When You Don’t Want Help
- 48:47 Eric says, “This is more of a reverse of the topic, but sometimes I don’t want help, especially when I have a plan for it. Maybe organizing my space, fixing my stuff, taking care of the kids, etc. Is that a mindset I need to work on and accept more help?” Not necessarily. It’s a case by case thing. When I read this question, I think immediately of the kids. As great as it is to learn how to help, every once in a while, I really don’t want the three year olds to be putting on their own shoes, because we’ve got to get out the door. Every once in a while, I don’t want all of the boys doing their after-dinner chores, because I know that Rachel and I could wrap it up and we have things we have to do later that evening.
- 49:45 That’s a short term approach to it. What’s important is to recognize those moments as, “Okay, we’re taking a short term approach because the situation calls for it,” but not to let that be your default. Your default should be to accept help and grow the infrastructure of help in your life, so you have freedom from those things. Every once in a while, as needed, you can say, “I don’t want your help right now. I’m going to take care of this so I can knock it out.”
- 50:20 Rachel: I’m going to be honest here. I feel like, for Ben, it’s a lot easier to ask for help. For me, it’s not very easy. I think it might be certain personalities where this might be true. I tend to think that whenever I ask for help, it’s an admission that I can’t do it all. We live in a society where we’re expected to put up that front of, “I can do it all. I can handle all of this.” “All” is a lot of stuff. Asking for help almost feels like it’s a failure, because you’re putting it out there that you can’t do it all. For me, it’s a pride thing sometimes, when we really feel like we’re in need of help, but I have a really hard time asking for it. I will run myself to the ground trying to keep up with everything.
- 51:29 Ben: The people who accomplish amazing things, who make a huge impact, and who change the world, all had help. The history books talk about a single person, but if you look at that person’s life, you see them surrounded by people who helped, who did things so they didn’t have to along the way. Raising a family with six boys, that’s a big undertaking, a huge, enormous task. That’s not something you, or even two people, can do on your own. Raising children, regardless of the number, is a tremendous task.
Help is a necessary part of the equation, it’s not a variable you can leave out and expect to be able to accomplish the same things.
- 52:24 On the other side, the myth that anybody does anything significant on their own, without help, is really detrimental. Recognize that for what it is. It’s just not true. People need help. We’re designed to reach out for help. When we’re going through something difficult, there are systems in our body that cause us to reach out to other people. That’s how we’re wired and how we function best. To fight against that is to fight against something that comes very naturally to us. It’s hard, because we see it in our culture a lot. A lot of people are holding onto this idea publicly, but privately, their lives are falling apart because they don’t see anyone else demonstrating how to ask for help. Let’s be the people who ask for help and show other people that it’s okay to do that.
- 52:28 Rachel: A lot of times, when people see us out and about with our kids, they say, “I can’t even imagine. I don’t know how you do it all.” My go-to response is typically, “We don’t. You should see our house.” I wonder if the better response would be, “You know what? We have a lot of help.”
- 53:56 Ben: I think both are good. One says, “We don’t have it all together.” Look at our van! Our van is gross. Our room, the room the kids don’t live in, is messy more often than it is clean. Our lives are not neatly put together. Also, people need to know that we do have help. Everything is better when you get help.