When to spend vs. When to do it yourself

March 19, 2019 by David Riedel

I don’t know one single stay-at-home parent. Mothers, fathers, doesn’t matter. Not one. And all the people I know who have kids are racked with guilt: We don’t spend as much time with our children as we want to spend.

There are all kinds of reasons for having two working parents (or more, depending on your family dynamic): Maybe your family needs two incomes (mine does). Maybe you both are seriously dedicated to your careers (my wife and I are). Maybe there’s some other reason that’s unique to you.

Whatever the case, there’s always a time — sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly — when you have to decide how you’re going to spend more time with your kids. That usually means something else you were planning to do at home gets benched. It could be something simple like doing the laundry or cleaning the bathrooms. Or it could be bigger, like refinishing your dining room table or really committing yourself to Marie Kondo-like decluttering your home.

So do you let the bathroom stay a mess or not do the laundry? Of course not. The kids need a clean bathtub and clean clothes. In our family, we outsource housekeeping. My wife and I have weighed the costs vs. the benefits, and we’d rather pay someone to clean the house and do the laundry while we spend the time with our kids.

Of course, there will come a time when the kids can clean their own bathroom and do their own laundry, but our oldest is only approaching four, and we don’t yet trust him with with a box of Tide. One day during the warmer months, maybe he’ll mow the lawn so I don’t have to.  Or maybe we’ll outsource that too. Then he and I (and his mother and brother) can take in a Red Sox game at Fenway instead of pushing a mower in the hot July sun.

Mind you, these aren’t decisions we take lightly. A good housekeeper isn’t inexpensive — and we’ve gone through several trying to find one that can do what we want done.

I’d rather spend $65 an hour to have someone clean my bathrooms and mop my floors so I may spend those hours trying to teach my son to kick a soccer ball while he ignores me and throws it into the street.

What would you rather spend money on so you can have more quality time with your family?


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