Time vs money: why working parents should outsource household chores

I was taught good money management skills from a young age. My dad has always had a strong work ethic and throughout my life he has worked hard to provide for our family. I was taught to save, rather than to borrow, and not to waste money on meaningless junk.  My dad is a handyman and will never pay someone to do something that he can do himself. Growing up around this mindset, I never understood why people paid for gardeners, cleaners, handymen, car washes or removalists. Surely people who did this had more money than sense? Or maybe they were just too lazy to do it themselves.

My views were turned upside down after my daughter was born. I returned to work shortly after my daughter’s birth and I very quickly resented that I was spending half of every Saturday morning cleaning the house. Within weeks we had hired a cleaner and for the first time in my life I was paying for a service that I was equally as qualified to provide myself. How did it feel? Freeing!

Hiring a cleaner was one of the best decisions I have made. (I’m not the only one who thinks this way, Kim Stone at Undercover Mum also thinks that all working parents should hire a cleaner.)

I’d learnt the error of my ways and it all boiled down to a time vs money equation. Before I was a parent I was rich in time. The number of hours I had each day was the same, but I had far less to fill them with. I’d happily spend half a day cleaning (I actually quite enjoy it) and another half shopping and cooking meals for the week ahead. But after my daughter was born, cleaning wasn’t quite so fun any more. I much preferred to spend that time with my daughter, walking the dog, reading a book or maybe even working.  Becoming a parent certainly didn’t make me rich in money. Like most families, our household income decreased as I worked fewer hours, but I realised that my time was now much more valuable to me than my money.

You see, ‘having it all’ does not mean doing it all. If we really want to make time in life for the things we love, we may just need to let go of some of the things we don’t love.  Gone are the days when I spent time researching almost every substantial purchase or service to make sure I was getting the best price. These days I am more than happy to find a product or service that looks reasonable and go with it. The time I would lose by researching is not worth the money I may save.

Do I feel guilty or lazy for outsourcing? Not in the slightest. For one, I don’t believe in mum guilt, but more importantly, paying for things such as cleaning is a much better use of my resources. Not only that, coming home from work to a clean house complete with folded towels on the edge of the bed and the toilet roll end turned into a fancy triangle is actually rather nice!

It’s not just cleaning that can be outsourced. You can find someone to provide almost any service. My advice is to identify the time consuming jobs that you don’t enjoy and outsource them. It may be cleaning, gardening, laundry, ironing, cooking, or planning a family holiday. It may not be as costly as you think!

11 Responses

  1. This was one of my greatest problems while working.. It is so hard to keep up with. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I think you are spot on about this subject. So many of us feel guilt paying someone to do a job we could do ourselves, but doing everything ourselves comes at the cost of time spent on self care and our relationships. We should be more willing to contract out for things we don’t want to do without feeling guilty. It’s really ok to focus our energy on ourselves and our family.

  3. This is a great read. The point you’ve made is significant – quality time spent with your kids or doing what you love is far more important than the bucks you save! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

  4. I am so with you on this! I would rather outsource and use that time to be with my family, household chores in particular are endless, as soon as you finish there is another following it. #mg

    1. They can feel endless at times! I honestly never understood it until my daughter was born, but these days I’d much rather spend my precious time with her than doing chores!

  5. Coming from South Africa I was used to having a domestic worker (cleaner) 5 days a week from 7am to 4pm. I had for kids then. Now I am in the States, 31 weeks pregnant with my 5th and cleaning up everyday after our family. We have looked into getting a cleaning service, but paying over $100 for an hour or two really gets me. I guess I should let go of that!!!!! Soon 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us Lucy! #globalblogging

    1. Oh wow! $100 an hour! We pay less than $30AUD an hour. I hope you get some help once your new bub arrives xx

  6. When April was a newborn I had a cleaner as I was overwhelmed with a newborn and toddler. But I found myself cleaning before she arrived and getting anxiety about her coming lol. So clearly this didn’t last long. One of my best friends has a cleaner and she loves it, it frees her time up. I have thought about getting someone in again, but we’ll see. I totally agree with all you say here. #mg

    1. Yep I’ve heard about the people who clean before the cleaner comes! I definitely have a tidy up, but that’s just to make sure things are put away rather than an actual clean.

  7. Truth be told, I only iron uniforms! Always have done, always will. Life’s far too short! As for cleaning, I do the surfaces and deep cleans every now and again. yes we get bugs but doesn’t everyone? We’re as healthy as the next family and I certainly don’t stress about it! #mg

    1. I’m with you Carol! I iron as little as possible. I even try to buy clothes that won’t need ironing! I loved ironing when I was a child and I would tell my mum to leave it all for me and then spend hours ironing on a Sunday. No time for that these days, I have far better things to do!

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