How I’m navigating COVID as a mom and essential business owner
A CEO shares her key to ‘keeping the plates spinning’ is asking for help.
By Elyse Stoltz Dickerson
The spinning plates I tend to can be overwhelming in “normal” circumstances — like running an essential business, participating on boards, running charitable donation drives for my community, and being a parent, wife, and daughter. Add on a pandemic and suddenly things get far more challenging. There are two things I’ve learned as a CEO navigating through a pandemic with two teenagers: One, I can’t do it alone. The second thing I’ve learned? That’s okay.
Since I can’t drop any plates, I have to think creatively, delegate, and be okay with not doing it all. Surrounding yourself with a positive, helpful team is key to keeping everything spinning. My kids are old enough now to be a part of my team, and they’ve surpassed my wildest expectations. The other day, I told them that I needed them to pitch in by cleaning the house and doing laundry. When I arrived home at 6:15 pm, the house was impeccable. Spotless. Floors were mopped and vacuumed, laundry was folded, and everything was put away. At first, I assumed my husband had done it, but I quickly learned that my 12- and 14-year-old had done it all. I told them they were hired!
Asking for help and seeking advice from others when you are in uncharted waters is essential to survival. It helps you realize you are not alone in your daily struggles and failures.
Redefining and reframing what failure is also aids in keeping those plates spinning. A failure is a learning opportunity and reframing it as something gained instead of lost is a mentally strong move.
“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. And in tough times, being kind to yourself is a top priority — that includes giving yourself a break when you need it.”
For instance, if you’re struggling with homeschooling your children and a math session ends in tears for the both of you, it might feel like a failure. However, if you reframe, you might find that there’s something to gain. Perhaps appreciation for teachers and educators might come to mind. Additionally, the fact that your child is still able to receive an education thanks to technology is a win. Sure, not everything about the situation is ideal, but making these mentally strong moves can improve your mood and outlook.
Since my business is essential, not only are we up and running, but we are shipping out inventory almost as soon as we make it due to high demand. Keeping everyone six feet apart with masks and face shields on is no easy task, but it’s necessary. Things feel hectic, but the same lesson applies to business: it’s okay to ask for help.
Women are disproportionately affected by the virus due to societal disparities in home and family workloads. Women with children are often the teacher, chef, principal, mom, boss, and employee all at once during quarantine. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. Asking for help from your boss, members of your team at work, kids (if they’re old enough), partner, and others helps lighten the load and leaves you feeling less alone.
At the end of the day, I think we’re in this together. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. And in tough times, being kind to yourself is a top priority — that includes giving yourself a break when you need it.