I don’t know where mothers came up with the concept of we have to “do this home management thing” alone. It’s a fallacy, because we don’t. Many of us just choose to. For generations many non-American cultures have embraced the idea of “it takes a village to raise a child” and apparently to run a household. Recently on a rare visit to the nail spa for a pedicure, the nail technician could not help but talk to me about all things baby. I mean really you cannot blame her because my protruding belly made it hard to focus. So hence the questions began.
Technician: Is this your first baby?
How many do you have?
Technician: What do you have?
Me: A girl at home, we are expecting a boy.
By now, you would have thought that my brevity and the fact that I was still flipping through my Essence magazine would give her a clue. But she just kept going.
Technician: Who take care of baby?
(I break away from my magazine and look up at her in disbelieve.)
Me: Me of course!
(She looks at me as if I have a third eye)
Technician: You no work?
Me: I work from home
It was then I came to realize that obviously in her culture, things were much different. This kind of got me thinking… I need to build a team. I would call it my “home management team”. Ever since that conversation with the technician at the nail spa, similar conversations have been popping up around me with other mommies at playgroups, my daughter’s dance class and even at church.
Coincidence? I think not. Moms are stressed, tired and everyone is striving to achieve some type of balance (whatever that means). Some moms are stressed about keeping the house clean; others are sick and tired of fussing with meal plans and cooking while others yearn for a date night child-free.
While I realize that this topic is a “hot button” in the mommy circuit, I am going tackle it. Sometimes you just need to outsource. And as I type this very article, I am keeping in mind that I need to also take heed to my own advice. Outsourcing help does not make you less of a mom or home manager…it does not make you less of a woman. Outsourcing does not mean that you have to live in a big house where everyone has their own room and your house has its own name. Outsourcing means that you have a team! You have a team of people that you can count on for one thing or another. Some people you may know, some you may not. Some people that you pay, some people that help you for free. It’s just a team of consistent individuals that you can trust…that you can count on.
Keeping the House Clean
Similar to running a small business, there will come a time when you realize that you cannot do it all alone. Especially when you are a mommy with small kids, the lure of a pretty chore chart with stickers on the fridge may still be out of reach. So here are a few options. Hire a cleaning person/s. One such company that you can outsource such a task to is Merry Maids. But, don’t worry, there are several similar companies that do the same thing. Even if you cannot afford to have someone come to clean once a week, having someone come to clean once a month may be something that is attainable. Even having someone come in and do a deep cleaning a few times a year is better than nothing at all if cleaning is not your thing. Still feel like you cannot afford to hire a big company? There maybe someone in your church or neighborhood that you can call on. Just start asking around. Also, mommy does not have to be the only one pitching in to get the house clean. Be sure to delegate chores between your spouse and kids. Make a chart or schedule. The point is make a plan and get it done.
Is cooking or meal planning your area of weakness? Raise your hand. I think that this is one of the most important yet misunderstood areas of home management. People get so overwhelmed by the mere thought of cooking that it drives them to quit before they have even started. The reason I have written articles like “14 Pantry Staples for Healthy Family Meals, Top 10 Tools Under 10 Dollars that every Kitchen Should Have and Five Simple Ways to Figure Out What’s for Dinner ” is because home managers are longing for this information. If this an area that you struggle with, don’t give up! You can continue work on it until you get better. Do things like have recipe swap/potluck parties with your friends or partner with a friend who loves to cook and see if they can show you the ropes.
Another option is to use websites like Food on the Table, which allows you to plan meals, create meal plans and even review sales in your local grocery store all for free. But, if you are “over” the whole meal planning cooking bit and you can’t afford to hire an “Alice”, like from the Brady Bunch, then it may be time to outsource the task. Actually, our home food management service, “It’s Meal Thyme”, offers customized meal plans for you and your family at your convenience. All you have to do is prepare it. Pretty simple, huh?
Securing Reliable Childcare
This may be one of the hardest home management tasks of them all. If you are not blessed to have a mama or loved one that lives nearby, where do you find trustworthy and reliable child care for things like date night, running errands or anytime mom or dad need to get away? One option is to inquire with a teacher or teacher’s assistant in your child’s class. It’s a viable option for those in need of reliable child care. Think about it. Your child’s teacher/teacher’s assistant/daycare provider is one of the few people that spend a comparable amount of time with your children as much as you do. They are usually already CPR certified (depending on the requirements of your state), know your child’s allergies, personality and there is already an established trust in this relationship.
Another option is to start a babysitting swapping service with your friends. This works especially well if you have friends with kids around the same age as yours. Start the swap with friends you really trust and work out a schedule between the families that work for you. Websites like Care.com and Sittercity.com offer parents the opportunity to search their database for a match to suit their family’s needs. It’s like having a matching service but its primary role is to help you find child care.
At the end of the day, none of us can really do it alone. Maybe we can for a period, but there comes a time when you need someone else to hold your hand, someone to “have your back”, shoot…maybe you just need somebody to cut the lawn.
So as I sit here nursing my now one month old baby boy… my toddler is asking me to “jump and play” outside, I realize that dinner is going to have to be pizza tonight and that the laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. My phone buzzes with an incoming text from my mom telling me that she has landed back home safely after visiting to help with our new baby. We are back to reality and the shocking truth has set in. Six weeks after my visit to that local nail salon… one month after the birth of our new baby, I ask myself the same question that I now ask you:
“Who is on your home management team?”.