When I went back to work in September, five months ahead of schedule, I had one major sticking point upon which I struggled: how the fresh heck was I going to get it all done?
The all, of course, being almost precisely what I talked about in my last blog: the literal everything of mom life, work life, partner life, being a woman, a person, a friend.
Transparently, a considerable part of my decision to return to work early was financial. Maternity leave payments were dismal relative to the salary I was used to and, frankly, I missed the total financial freedom I’d come to enjoy. A regular topic of conversation throughout the weeks before my first day “back” (I work remotely so this feels like a bit of a joke to say) at work was how we would split the domestic/household workload that seems to grow exponentially month over month.
Since we had initially hired an in-home caregiver for S, this all felt a bit like a moot point. Part of the caregiver’s responsibilities were to to general tidying around the house – nothing major, but getting dishes washed by hand or in/out of the dishwasher, keeping the main floor tidy by sweeping or putting away toys, and maybe the occasional dropping of kitchen towels into the washing machine. But, when she resigned on Day 3 and we realized that maybe an in-home caregiver wasn’t a solution that fit our family, we decided to give up on that plan altogether.
Three months later, I am not exaggerating when I say that most days the house is a catastrophe. Going for groceries became an olympic chore. I do multiple loads of laundry a day. The question of What’s for dinner? followed by an emergency trip to the store to grab something at the last minute is an epidemic. So I did what I do at work: I looked for ways to outsource.
The reality is that I’m not currently an executive but this article? It hit the nail on the head of my life.
If managing my household was my paid job and I was struggling to get all of my tasks done, I’d be looking for freelancers, services, or platforms that would lessen the load to free me up to spend time on the most important parts of my job that would allow me to succeed, to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and to drive value for my company and my team. But doing it at home? That felt a bit like failure but also a bit like I was being “extra”.
I did it anyway.
It started with ordering groceries for pick-up, a service my spouse hates but I adore. Just last night, I gave S a kiss goodnight, told F where I was going, and hopped in the car to pull up outside the PC Express doors to receive a week’s worth of groceries. In total, I was gone for 20 minutes. It would have been less had I hit green lights and not chatted for a moment with the kid who loaded three bins of groceries into my trunk.
I hired a mobile car detailing service to come to my driveway and clean my car for me.
To supplement our groceries and reduce the mental load of meal planning, I subscribe to Chef’s Plate. Once every few weeks, I choose our meals and then I forget about it until the box is on my doorstep on Monday mornings and a couple of meals a week are taken care of. And, starting in January, we’ll have a regular cleaning service to get our house back to Square One so we can spend less of our downtime scrubbing things down and more time enjoying our lives.
The article I linked to above talks about the outrageous cost of outsourcing domestic work to focus on our careers. I think part of why we don’t talk about this is because women feel pressured to “do it all” but especially because, even in 2022, the expectation that women devote their entire beings to their children still holds fast for many.
Note: I am privileged to have the option to outsource domestic work. I know this. For a good chunk of my adult life, this was so far from being an option.