We, mothers who want to develop professionally aspire to be perfect in many things, but we do not have time for all. So we optimize time, schedules, manage ourselves and outsource tasks or ask for help. We learn to free up or create time.
First time I asked a cleaning lady to come was when Sasha was born. I hesitated. I thought I can do it myself, why pay someone. And then I tried. And it felt great. Sasha was 2 months, she was asleep, the lady was cleaning the room and I WAS PLAYING THE PIANO. I still can recall that feeling of “i created time for myself” though it was 7 years ago. I would never find time to play the piano if i cleaed in the only few hours I had for myself when she was asleep. This is when I learned the value of outsourcing tasks.
What is this outsourcing? In simple terms it is finding outside resources to do something (in our case at home). Businesses do it to save money (outsourcing programming to India where costs are lower) or free time to focus on more important activities (buying research to focus on business recommendations). At home it may be as simple as paying a cleaning lady to get your house in order or buying a homemade cake for daughters birthday.
I outsource a few things at home and it is not to save money but to create time. Saving money can be possible as well. If you are a free lance writer or book designer and you are paid by hour of work, it may be worthy to do more hours of work and buy few hours of home tasks if they are cheaper.
Think how to create time and what you can outsource. This is what works for me:
- Home tasks that are monotonous and ones that I do not like doing CAN BE OUTSOURCED. Like cleaning, unless you love cleaning. If it is not yet outsourced – think twice. You get your precious time back. Ironing, gardening, what else?
- Do not outsource what you love even if it is time consuming…. I love cooking dinners. So I learned how to make them fresh, hot, tasty every day within 30 minutes after I get home. I do not want “ready made” solutions from our nanny even if it would save time.
- Tasks that require expertise and that you do not do often may be outsourced. For Sasha’s birthday we invited about 20 children/parents at home. I was thinking if I should bake a cake or buy it. I knew I would not be able to make a beautiful cake (by standards of this generation) with magic heroes and decorations. I could try, but when I thought of the effort and time that would be required, I went online, found a lady whose cakes got good reviews and asked her for help.
- Do not outsource what helps to build relationships. For the same birthday party my choice was to focus on creating right party plan, spending time on making atmosphere right, focusing on interactions with parents and children before and during the party and leading party program. I would not be able to do it and also enjoy it if I also had to create the magic cake the day before and cupcakes the same morning. I prioritized to do what I enjoy and leave rest to experts.
- Do not outsource planning and thinking (unless you really hate that). Think what you want, how you want it done and outsource ‘the doing’.
- Have your own list of “what I will never outsource” choices. When times get tough I take a look at it and think what more can I NOT do and when to stop.
- Spend the “created” time on most important priorities – yourself or relationships.
What I will not outsource
- Planning a year, week, planning and booking vacations. This is the backbone of what we will do and who we are. I want to have it my way. While we do most planning together with Maks, in reality I think, propose, we discuss and get to final schedule or solution
- Bedtime stories and reading books. Even if nanny stays later, when I come home I spend time to talk about the day, read a book, sing a song. It is pure relationship and I really enjoy it.
- Homework with children. I want to ensure we spend this daily time together and we learn together how to learn. I want to stay close to how they develop and help overcome challenges. I am ok with outsourcing teaching but not the homework. After a year of trying to progress with Russian bukvar with Sasha (she was 5 by then) we made the decision that she will learn language with the professional teacher. It was difficult to keep up with proper lessons even once a week after work or on weekend, someone had to plan and prepare them, we would need to allocate family time for something none enjoyed and we were not progressing in learning. Now she does Russian in her international school twice a week with a teacher who develops the program, and we spend 3-4 evenings together getting the homework done. I am close to her learning, but I am not stretching myself too far.
Think today if you are doing too much and how you can create a little more time for yourself.
Have a great Monday