Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Chores to Outsource to Free Up Your Family Time

It's taken me almost a year to realize that even though I really want to, I can't do it all. I can't be a mom, wife, speech therapist, chef, maid, model, fitness guru, master crafter, blogger and friend all at once. Before I had Beulah, a friend commented on Facebook with this little piece of advice: She said, "Don't try to do it all, or you'll drive yourself crazy." In my haste, I thought "sure I can! I can do it all. I will do it all!"

What transpired after that was much like the stages of grief when it came to my new work load as a working mom happily married to my husband, only not quite as dramatic. First was denial. "I can totally do all of this. I'll just never sleep." Second was anger. "WHY is there so much laundry? and WHY isn't there more time in the day? UGH! Life is so unfair." (First world problem, I know.) Next came sadness. "I am a horrible wife and mother because I can't get all my ducks in a row and get things done perfectly." And lastly, acceptance. "I can't do all this on my own, so what do I do about it?"

Here's the real deal, guys. I'm extra lucky in several ways, but specifically for tonight's post, I'm lucky because my sweet, sweet husband does a lot to help out around the house. Almost every night he cooks dinner (I know!!!), and I'm pretty sure that dirty floors bother him more than they do me. So, that helps things A LOT. But.... I still feel like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with our energy and time by the time everything that has to be done gets done.

So, I decided it was time to outsource. I'm a crazy lady when it comes to trying to save money. Truth be told, I would totally cancel our cable and sell almost everything in our house in a garage sale to save some cash. But I decided to do a little intangible math and decide.... how much is my family time worth?

Now, I am a working mother, and I work what ends up being full-time when you include the paperwork, etc. I do at home once I'm done seeing my speech therapy clients. So I know how much I "make" per hour. And, then you add to that the intangible value of family time being enjoyed by all... and I decided on a dollar amount that my free time was "worth."

I looked at what chores I was sharing my family time with and decided to look into outsourcing them. I held off on doing this for so long because I didn't want to let go of the responsibilities. Additionally, it was hard for me to justify spending additional money on these things. But, honestly it has been the best money I have ever spent.

"Chores" I share my family time with:
1) Cleaning the house
2) Laundry
3) Grocery shopping
4) Cooking
5) Yard work

6) Working out  :(

Obviously not everything on this list can be outsourced, or else I would have outsourced working out a LONG time ago. But other things? Yes.

So, onto finding solutions for these chores that are sucking up all my precious free time with my family!

1) Cleaning the house. This was a hard one for me to justify, but when I looked at how much time I was spending weekly keeping up with the house during the hours after work... it just made sense to find someone that would come weekly. I have used commercial maid services before like Molly Maids, but for weekly service I decided to go with an individual. I was able to talk to her about the things I specifically needed to be done besides the standard vacuum, mop, dust, etc. and it has been awesome knowing that even despite a busy work week, the house will be taken care of. Most enjoyable check I write each week by far.

2) Next time sucker is Laundry. Y'all... I despise this beast. I wish I could say that I outsource this chore currently, but alas I do not. I have, however, outsourced this chore in the past, so I do have experiences to share. Between college and getting married, I lived at a condo for about a year that did not have a washer/dryer hook up. Living in a college town, there were a plethora of laundry services. Weekly, I would drop off my hamper of clothes and pick them up the next day washed, folded and wrapped in a bag plastic bag. Another check I happily wrote.

3) Grocery shopping. I actually really like grocery shopping when I have the time to walk the aisles and impulse shop. I like grocery shopping even more if it is at Whole Foods or Central Market and there are samples everywhere! But anyway, it is definitely something that takes up a lot of time, even though we do enjoy it if my husband and I can go together. I learned about Peapod when I kept seeing the Peapod truck dropping groceries off at my neighbor's house. I researched it, and I really liked what I saw. The most you will spend on the actual delivery of your groceries is $10, with a minimum of $60 grocery purchase. You can also shop sale items, and Peapod will double coupons up to .99 cents. So, not only can you end up saving some time, but you can also save some money. What I like about Peapod is that the closest grocery store doesn't have all of the organic brands that I like, and Peapod does have them, and they will be dropped off at my door. Win/win. Additionally on the grocery shopping --- we do Amazon.com Subscribe and Save for things we need monthly, such as diapers, wipes, paper towels, cat litter, and dog and cat food. It has worked out really well for us, AND I am hoarding all the big boxes they send our stuff in for when we move to our next assignment. Again, win/win.

4) Cooking. So, I say almost every week that I am going to cook meals on Sunday and also do crock pot meal, and yadda yadda yadda. They are all lies. LIES! As I mentioned before, my husband does a lot of the cooking in our house. Aside from a couple of recipes, he's just better at it to be honest with you, AND he enjoys doing it. It's his way to unwind when he gets home. But it occurred to me, even if my sweet husband cooks, if he gets home at 6, thaws meat, gets it seasoned, starts up the grill, grills the food, we eat, and then clean the kitchen, somehow it is already 10pm and time to go to bed. We are fairly health conscious (or try to be at least during the week), so a lot of frozen meals or even picking up dinner from a restaurant isn't always the best choice for us. Kashi makes delicious family entrees that is all natural, non-GMO yumminess. I just had the mushroom and spinach pizza tonight for dinner, and it was delicious. Another delicious and good-for-you frozen entree brand is Amy's Kitchen. I am 150% obsessed with her cheese enchiladas; if I wasn't more so obsessed with Mi Cocina, Amy's Kitchen would make my favorite cheese enchilada hands down. I guess what I'm trying to say is: take a look at the grocery store at the frozen food aisle, and if you can find some things that work for your family, it can save you a lot of time in the evenings. Additionally, there are places popping up everywhere like "My Fit Foods" where you can order amazingly healthy entrees and pick them up from the store. A lot of these meals can be frozen so you don't have to make daily or even weekly visits if you don't want to. 

5) Last but not least is yard work. Besides the mowing, a service that was absolutely priceless last year when I was pregnant and after ANY long winter in Illinois is a poop scooper service. Yes, that's right. I will happily pay someone to go rake up my dog's #2s. When I was pregnant, it was obvious why I couldn't scoop the poop. I couldn't even eat Chipotle without puking, how am I supposed to get through shoveling.... you get the picture. Not going to happen, easily anyway. It is also a service that comes in handy after a winter of 80 inches of snow like we had this last winter here in Chicago, because guess what y'all? I wasn't going to go out in the snow and find Max's #2s in the freezing weather. It was just not a pretty site once things melted. Ugh. Sick, gross and disgusting. Another chore I will happily hand over for the right price.

I realize in writing this post that I am still having a little bit of guilt outsourcing these tasks. However, I do feel like I am able to enjoy my free time with my family more without worrying about these things getting done or trying to multitask while I spend time with my family. Financially these might not be in the plan for you guys, but I decided that it was worth me working a couple extra hours a week to allow me to outsource far more hours worth of chores.



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