When I had just met my husband and I went to his apartment for the first time, I was impressed to walk in and find him ironing work shirts. That went on for several years. Today, he pays someone to press his shirts because with three kids and long work hours, it's worth the cost to have the two hours of ironing time each week to spend with his family.
We all have tasks that save us money, but cost us time. Weighing one against the other is critical for optimal work life balance.
I just read a piece by Katy McLaughlin in the WSJ.com/Juggle that asks, "What is the price of a home-cooked meal?"
She writes about how she likes to cook and considers it a gift to her family. But she came to realize that some nights, her dedication to home cooking was actually more of a burden. While she was cooking away, her husband was dealing with sibling rivalry and cranky kids.
After her husband forced the issue, she agreed let him handle dinner once a week — even if he decides to order in. She says she accepted that the harmony of sitting on the living room floor playing with the kids has a value too.
My friend, Maria Bailey, is a big advocate of applying the work life equation to her every day life. She advocates spending money whenver, whereever possible to hire help to free up time.
So many working moms say they can’t afford household help, Bailey told Working Mother. She realized she spent four hours each weekend cleaning. “At my hourly work rate, it was costing me almost double what I’d pay a housekeeper each month,” she says. “If that help frees me up to gain kid time or do something else important, I can justify it.”
So, take stock. What are you doing yourself that could be outsourced to gain you time with your family or doing something you truly enjoy? Is it preparing your taxes, cooking dinner EVERY night, doing laundry, washing the dog?
My husband did the work life equation to decide whether to oursource cleaning the pool. He decided to continue doing himself because it takes only a small amount of time compared to what he would spend on having a professional do it. And, it's a project he likes to have our sons help him with each week.
Doing the time/money equation doesn't always result in outsourcing, but it's worth doing the math to figure out.