Life with a baby is suddenly hectic again, especially when you’re used to living with an elementary schooler who can entertain hirself pretty well. Especially that whole not sleeping thing.
One thing that is recommended for we middle-class and upper-middle-class folks when time is of the essence is outsourcing. Pay someone to clean, to do yard-work, child-care, and all the little errands that need to be done. The higher the value of our time, the more we should be outsourcing. Someone else should buy groceries or take things to the recycling center! Get a personal assistant to take care of the honey-do list.
In the past, when DC1 was tiny, we did on occasion hire a college student, generally one of our mother’s helpers or a friend of theirs, to just go through our to-do list and get things done. For less than $100, a huge amount of crap weighing on our minds for weeks, months, or even years, would get done over the course of a weekend and could stop nagging us.
Any time we have any sort of plumbing problem, we call our amazing plumbers, secure in the knowledge that for the cost of $80 and parts everything will be better. It just isn’t worth it to try to fix it ourselves when we know they’ll do it right the first time without us getting dirty or wasting our time rushing to Home Depot. (My sister, who makes way more than I do, recently fixed her garbage disposal, which would have been fine if her housemate hadn’t not realized it was broken for over a week. The disgust factor alone would have be getting out my checkbook.)
Outsourcing can be awesome.
On the other hand, DH is currently doing all of our yard-work. We’d love to outsource it, but after going through something like 7 different companies we just gave up. Either they try to cheat us by charging more than was agreed to, or they run over our blueberry bushes with the mower, or they do a great job for a few years, then graduate and sell the company to someone who mows over our blackberry bushes. Finding new people we can trust who won’t kill our lawn is just way more trouble than it’s worth.
Similarly with cleaning folks… you can get a crew who will cost an arm and a leg and sometimes do a great job and sometimes suck, just depending on who is on the team that week, or you can get a one-person company. The really good people everyone recommends aren’t taking on new clients. The folks who are taking on new clients do a great job… at first, but then start turning your countertops yellow (despite the repeated explanations about bleach) and scraping your hardwood floors while ignoring things they used to do a good job on. They get complacent. And so, we just live in squalor. Squalor uses fewer chemicals too.
Since DC1 started going to preschool and our mother’s helpers and previous folks graduated, it became difficult to find someone to do personal assisting kinds of work. Sure we could advertise, but interviewing folks for something that’s only going to save the time of a weekend…well, we might as well take the goodwill stuff to goodwill ourselves. Or just put off that chore.
And let’s not even go into tax implications and making sure the help is legal so when the President of the United States tries to appoint you to a high level position there isn’t that as a reason to block the candidacy.
So yes, outsourcing can be awesome, but good help is hard to find.
I am looking forward to having mother’s helpers around again. In the past they cleaned the kitchen while DC1 nursed. A small part of their jobs, but one that made me happy. I’m hoping for the same with DC2. Hopefully we’ll find some awesome childcare help. Paying above market wage seemed to help last time and will hopefully help this time too.
Do you outsource? Why or why not? What do you outsource? Have you had trouble finding good people you can trust? Where do you find great people for outsourcing?