As work-at-home parents, my husband and I always feel as if we have a kajillion things to juggle. There is Emily, pulling at our pants legs and shoving books into our hands. There is Emily, needing her next meal or a new sippy. There is Emily, needing to be shuttled to music class or story time or a play date. There is Emily, smelling like poop.
And on top of that there is grocery shopping. Cooking. The laundry. There is work—I juggle multiple clients, while my husband freelances on top of his full-time job. And when all of this is done, there is the business of taking time for ourselves. Taking time to breathe.
Is it any wonder there are certain tasks that always fall to the bottom of the to-do list? And by "fall to the bottom," I mean "never get done."
They say you can always make time for the things that are important to you. But what about the things that aren't? At least a month's worth of meals has congealed to my stove top and at least a third of Emily's every meal has come to rest beneath the kitchen table. There is so much of my hair on the bathroom floor I could make a wig—which is why we've decided to hire a cleaner to come in once a month.
Once upon a time, I considered any type of hired help to be a rich-person thing. But I've gotten to the point where I can see the value in outsourcing the things that drive me the craziest. And the possibilities are endless! Some of the most common options?
1. The one thing people seem to outsource the most is grocery shopping. Which I can understand. Every trip to my local grocery store sends me into a road-rage-with-shopping-carts frenzy. My buddy Lyz Lenz extolled the virtues of Peapod, a grocery delivery service. Kristel Acevedo told me about HelloFresh, which sends you recipes, along with all of the necessary ingredients! Rebekah Henderson uses Instacart, saying, "I hate wasting my babysitter on a trip to the grocery store when I could be getting a foot massage or something."
But Betsy Aimee appears to be the master at outsourcing her household shopping. She gets her groceries via Amazon Fresh, and sometimes buys prepared meals from Plated. She also recommends automating things like toiletries and other household items by getting them delivered once a month from Amazon Prime. I bow down to Betsy and her outsourcing prowess.
2. I'm also relieved to learn I'm not the first person to consider hiring a cleaner. When I put out a call to my Facebook friends, mentioning that I was in the market for someone, I immediately got five recommendations.
But why should we when someone else could do it more quickly and easily?
3. Then there's the obvious: childcare. Most moms I know regularly use babysitters or mother's helpers. Others bring their children to day care. Still others spring for part-time nannies. I still don't pay for childcare, but that's because I'm nuts. And also, my husband and I have family close by who are eager to help out.
4. Another pain in the ass is the landscaping. One mom I know is planning to move out of her condo, and is preemptively mourning the loss of the landscaping work and snow removal that comes with living there. Another mom I know pays for someone to do that stuff. Meanwhile, I think my husband secretly enjoys it. "So, did you notice I mowed the lawn today?" he'll ask proudly whenever we have company. (We don't get many visitors.)
5. One thing we do pay for is updates to the house. Sure, we could hire a floor sander and refinish the hardwood ourselves. We could spent several days repainting a single room. We could struggle with installing new doors. But why should we when someone else could do it more quickly and easily?
6. Amy Wruble mentioned that she's consulting with a professional organizer. Which actually sounds like fun. At the moment, I just throw things away when my husband's not looking.
7. If you're a mom to both a human and a dog, you might want to hire a dog walker. This could be especially helpful if you're a working mom.
8. And really, you could outsource any old thing you want to. I know one woman who used Task Rabbit to have her A/C window units installed when she was living in Brooklyn. She found someone else via the same site to do her baby-proofing for her.