Take the Day Off: Yes, It’s OK to Outsource Your Chores
You've earned a break.
I’m a firm believer that outsourcing chores and child care is necessary for success as a working mom—but I didn’t always feel that way.
When my son was a baby, I tried to do it all: Work. Breastfeed. Make homemade baby food. Keep a clean home. On the weekends, my husband and I would pass our son off like a baton, so one of us could clean the house or go to the supermarket. By playing hot potato with the baby, we managed to tackle our never-ending list of chores—but we weren’t spending much time together as a family, or as a couple. We were miserable, but I was reluctant to spend our hard-earned money on help around the house.
Blame it on my mom. (Sorry, Mom!) She launched her career in an era when mothers were expected to keep the house clean, bring cakes to the company picnic, and attend every PTA meeting, all without much help from their husbands. (Sorry, Dad!) She rarely went to sleep before midnight.
I reasoned: If my mom could do it—and make it look easy—then surely I could too.
But those years of grueling work took a toll on her health, and she didn’t want me to repeat her mistakes. “Hire help,” she told me. It was the permission I needed to let go of my guilt, and invest in the assistance my family needed. I started subscribing to meal services, getting groceries delivered to our door, hired a date night babysitter and scheduled a twice-monthly house cleaning.
It wasn’t easy. We had to make financial compromises to afford it—but it was definitely worth it.
Researchers at Harvard Business School agree. After conducting seven studies with over 3,000 people in committed relationships where both partners worked at least 20 hours per week outside of the home, the researchers found that couples who spent money on time-saving tasks (like house cleaning and grocery delivery) reported greater overall relationship satisfaction. Not only did these purchases allow the couples to spend more time together, they also made the relationships more resilient. The couples who spent money on household help were better equipped to deal with the inevitable conflicts that come with any committed relationship, the researchers discovered.
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Even for single parents or families on a tighter budget, investing in help can still reap dividends, especially if you can pay for it by cutting back on stuff. A previous study led by the same Harvard researcher found that people who spent money on time-saving services were happier than those who spent money on material goods.
For moms who work outside the home, spending cash on cleaners and sitters not only protects your relationship with your partner—it can also save your career. That’s because moms still handle the bulk of chores and childcare. This heavy burden is a big reason why women quit working—and that was especially true during the pandemic, when millions of women were pushed out of the workforce.
Take it from me: Don’t wait until you’re miserable. Don’t sacrifice your job or your health or your relationships. Ignore the notion that being a good mom means “doing it all.” Let someone else take a task off your plate, so you can take a day off every now and then.
One place to make your life a lot easier? Meal prep and planning. Thankfully, there are lots of devices and solutions available nowadays that make this often-onerous chore a lot easier. Here are a few suggestions, from the experts at Splendid Spoon:
The Fix: 3 Essential Ways to Simplify Mealtimes
Food can be a beautiful ritual, a delicious moment to ground yourself, or an opportunity to connect with loved ones. It can also be a source of stress, an essential everyday task that also eats up valuable time. Here’s what’s involved in a single meal for ourselves and our families: planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and cleanup. Let’s get real about what goes into meal time and figure out some high-impact ways to optimize, granting busy parents some of that time back.
Consider future you. Making a home-cooked meal? Add extra servings. Leftover pasta, proteins and casseroles freeze well to reheat in a pinch or combine with other ingredients to make a full meal when the fridge stock gets low.
Be OK when it’s not gourmet. We all want high quality nourishment for ourselves and our families and our standards can be incredibly high. But the facts are, the more detailed the recipe, the more dishes pile up in the sink meaning meal time doesn’t end with the last bite. Pick one-pot or sheet-pan solutions to lighten the load. Slow cookers, pressure cookers and air fryers are your friend!
Outsource where you can. Investing in a service to outsource one of the five tasks associated with mealtimes can be a game changer in time savings. Chores like going to the grocery store or cleaning up the kitchen after a long day are two areas where a service can bring the multi-step checklist down. Meal delivery services can also be a big help on days when time together is out of balance with the needs of meal prep. Options that provide real, whole foods and flexible plans can be there for those busy nights without worry about ingredients or cook time.
For delicious food there for you in all your moments, Splendid Spoon has flexible subscriptions for over 65 meals that are 100% plant-based, free of gluten and dairy and ready when you are. Get $50 off your first box with any subscription of $100 with code HONESTLY at checkout.
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Over half of moms (55%) say they had an easy time getting back in the hang of things when going back to work, according to a poll of 2,000 employed moms of school-age children returning to the workforce, commissioned by SurePayroll. However, the survey also found that moms are taking less maternity leave than they’d like. Two-thirds of working moms believe between four and eight months is the ideal time off for maternity leave, but six in 10 moms went back to work less than four months after their child was born.
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