We’ve all heard the cliche – “There are only so many hours in a day.” Never is this more true than when it is said by a working mom. We juggle, balance, and occasionally drop at least 20 different plates a day holding all of the different roles and tasks that we have in our lives. Everything from the big project at work to cleaning the kitty litter — not to mention everything in between — is swirling in our minds and needs our time.
When I became a mom, I quickly found that some items were just going to have to be ignored. While I’m a master at efficiency, it just isn’t possible to do all of the things that need done in a day. When I had twins, this became even more evident. Some of my plates were easy to discard — tasks I didn’t enjoy doing anyway or hobbies that didn’t bring me joy. But other items — many on the must do list – just weren’t negotiable.
As time goes on, I’m finding more and more ways to conserve my time and energy for the “big things.” However, usually, this conservation comes at some cost — usually monetary. For example, instead of doing all of my work during the night, I hired a sitter for a few hours a day (now I pay preschool tuition — but I’ll be hiring a sitter again this summer). This costs money, but saves sanity. Also, last summer we invested in a landscaping service. After living in our house for nearly three years, we realized that we were never going to get caught up with garden maintenance. Yes, it cost a chunk of cash — but it gained both my husband and myself (mostly my husband…) countless hours together with our a family on the weekends — instead of hours kneeling over the gardens.
Outsourcing for outside help is a sensitive subject for many — in part because asking for help and paying someone to do tasks that you are physically and mentally capable of doing is very personal — and also because paying for outside help is often associated with numerous socioeconomic factors. When Megan Francis, author of the book and blog, “The Happiest Mom” admitted to hiring a house-keeper every other week, her blog lit up with debate.
Often, people comment that they don’t understand how I find time to cook and bake. But the two hours I invest in baking Oreo cupcakes to share with friends is time well spent in my eyes. I enjoy doing it and love sharing them. Those same two hours weeding the garden? Yeah. Not so much. I’d rather be grading papers and pay someone else to do the weeding. Someone who enjoys doing it much more than I would! It all depends on personal preferences.
This week, I’m trying out a fresh-prepared meal service. I have a huge project due for work and I’ve wanted to try this local companies meals since we moved here three and a half years ago. The cost isn’t cheap, but significantly cheaper than carry-out ($6.14 per meal). They also hold the promise of weight-loss, which is high on my priority list right now. So we’re doing it. I still have to cook for the kids but Mike and I are eating the prepared meals. They taste good, save time, and the convenience factor is amazing. But to be honest, I miss cooking. Sure, every now and again, this might be a good idea (and if I lose significant weight — well, that is a different issue!) but since I enjoy cooking, I’m not sure this is worth the cost.
What tasks (if any) do you outsource? Have you had a good experience? Do you feel guilty for spending money on tasks you could potentially do yourself?