Asking for help can make you Stronger
I remember when I was pregnant with my first son, I had all of these dreams and plans on how balancing a baby at the shop was going to go. It went something like this: I would have the cutest outfit on while wearing my precious, sleeping baby who wore a darling handknit romper that never got spit up on it and I would calmly be helping customers shop. Baby would never cause a scene and my customers would be so understanding if I needed to close the shop for a few minutes while I breastfed him. It is so comical to think on now. Somehow (and I really don’t know how) I took both of my sons with me to work every day until they were around two, when I put them in Mother’s Day Out. I had a pak-n-play in the bathroom where they took naps. I lived in a constant state of fear that a customer was going to trip (and sue me) on one of the million toys that were scattered all over the store. There were sooo many evenings where I closed an hour early because I was done and they were losing their minds and I didn’t want someone to come in and see me crack. Sorry if you were one of those people who came in while we were unexpectantly closed. Having children "period" is probably one of the most difficult things in life. Bringing your children with you to work is just pure insanity. I think I did it for two reasons: The thought of my kids spending a good chunk of their day away from me was too hard. I know every mom struggles with that. I was lucky enough to have the option to bring them to work with me. The other reason was that a friend told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. That is probably the main reason. I was bound and determined to prove her wrong. My husband always jokes with me that the thing I say more than anything is “I can do it by myself”. And that is probably my biggest takeaway as I look back at having to close my shop, Collected Thread.
Trying to balance having my kids at work with me AND run the shop AND provide engaging customer service was too much for one person. I wish I had asked for help more. I wish I had taken people up on their offer to help with the kids or help me with my window display installation or pay for someone to do my freaking bookkeeping! I wish I had been able to take some of the load off my plate because then, instead of treading water and barely staying afloat, maybe I could have looked more objectively at the whole situation and made it better. As much as I love doing the bookkeeping (I know, I know, Big Nerd), and the buying for the shop, and talking with customers, and making new displays, and promoting our brand, and everything else; there were people in my life already who could have done a much better job and made my business much stronger.
Am I saying not to bring your children to work with you if you have that opportunity? No! I would make that choice again in a heartbeat. You CAN do it. But make sure you are leaning on others for help. You can’t do it all well. Something is going to get lost or sacrificed. Make sure you have people in your life (who you will listen to) who will call you out when it starts to become too much. Take a step back every so often and ask yourself if there are areas that someone else could be doing a better job. Moral of this story: Asking for help can make you stronger, not weak.
Lindsay is a talented creative and the former owner of Collected Thread, a local retail shop that was located in Oklahoma City's Plaza District for nine years.