The Outsource Initiative.

People always ask me, “Woman, how do you do it?” As I was getting my hair blown out Wednesday afternoon, it occurred to me how I do it, or at least how I pretend to do it all. One word – Outsourcing. American companies do it; moms can too.

 

In our uber-connected, globalized, Flat World era, consultants in

India
will do everything from fix your Ipod to tutor your kids for their SAT’s. Yes, I know that taking

U.S.
jobs overseas is controversial, but I think there’s a lesson moms can learn from corporate giants. Outsourcing works.

 

Stay-at-Work moms are already doing this, whether they know it or not. We outsource our kids when we go to work. I would argue that that this is often not economically beneficial because many of us work to pay our unaffordable childcare, but I digress. The way to make work work is to outsource more of your life. Sisters, this is our modern village.

 

A recent article in the “New York Times’” Styles section reported that people now hire personal consultants who can not only find you an apartment, decorate it with fabulous décor, take care of your dry cleaning, but also can handle your social life, too. High priced consultants can introduce newly transplanted New Yorkers to “hip” friends and can teach them clever cocktail banter by providing talking points on modern art, opera and other snooty topics. While this may strike some as shallow, obnoxious and frankly bizarre – outsourcing to make friends and paying for Cliff Notes to conversation, I see this as inspiration.

 

Moms should not be shy about outsourcing what we don’t have the time or are unable to do – for instance, my hair. I have what one would call uncooperative hair. It’s time consuming, labor intensive and simply a pain in the ass to blow dry. I’ll admit it…I’ve become a blow out addict. When I discovered a fabulous salon close to my office last week with affordable blow outs I felt liberated and downright giddy. For those 45 minutes while I’m sitting in the chair, no kids, no clients, no phones ringing, flipping through cheesey women’s magazines and reading important articles about ways to maximize my orgasms, I am at peace. Being served a cappuccino in my chair also helps.

 

A huge time suck that affects all moms – those working in and out of the home – is grocery shopping. A brilliant Internet invention in the past few years is online grocery shopping. Many moms I know swear by it. I have still not accepted the idea of someone else choosing my cantaloupes but I realize that this is extremely efficient. I say let someone else buy your toilet paper. This is a smart idea. I must start shopping online.

 

When it comes to school bake sales or any event where cooking may be in order, again I outsource – this time to Toll House. There is no reason to sift and fold when one can easily slice and bake. I would bet my life that a working mom at Nestle invented this concept.

 

Celia
07.03.08

It is critical to distinguish between what really matters to you and what you think you *should* be doing, so that you outsource that parts that are less important. But I find that this distinction is hard to make...

If you would like to know more about how working moms use Au Pairs to help them manage work-family issues, check out the blog at www.AuPairMom.com. It is not affiliated with any agency, and it offers advice to host moms, from host moms. It can give you a pretty accurate view of the Au Pair option.

Celia
07.03.08

Mandy, I would love to hear more about how you make your au pair relationship work well for you and your family. Would you come over to www.AuPairMom.com and share some tips?

jduckworth
06.18.08

Mandylu: Your life sounds exactly like ours. We have an "angel" from Thailand who arrived in May through Cultural Care Au Pair. As a PhD student/professor with three children under the age of five and a husband who works evenings and weekends we needed childcare that was affordable and flexible. We do not have a lot of money right now so I cannot outsource housecleaning, but with FlyLady's help at www.flylady.net I am at least keeping up with the daily cleaning in small doses. We also do online food shopping in the winter when it is too cold to drag kids (or myself) to the store in the evening. I print out my shopping list and menus from www.savingdinner.com and create my online order in the winter or run to the store in the spring/summer/fall. When we are on our game our house is humming and that actually happens...once in a while.

Grand_Diva
06.15.08

I love the concept of the New Village. You're so right - it's the equivalent of the old days. So we pay our babysitters money. I'll bet the old village woman who watched the children play while the young women cooked got paid, too - in food! Sometimes we beat ourselves up too much. I know I'm guilty.
http://iwillovercomeprocrastination.blogspot.com/

shan
03.25.08

My husband and I had this ephiphany last fall while I was pregnant with #2 and he was traveling often with his job. It makes it so much easier when you finally admit you can't do it all and ask for help. It's so much easier for us, and we no longer feel like we're living in the middle of complete chaos. It's so nice to come home to a clean house, or a raked lawn free of leaves, or to a bit of shopping on the front step (I LOVE internet shopping and our friendly UPS man, I could not survive without it)!

Mandylu
03.24.08

I guess I never really realized how much I do outsource! The bi-weekly housecleaning, the pick up and drop off dog grooming. Going to Costco for Semi-homemade meal prep, etc.. The one thing I must admit I could truly not live without is our au pair. I have two small children, ages 2 and four. Our current au pair is from Thailand and is truly our "angel". My children love her as part of our family and so do my husband and I. My husband and I both travel a fair amount for work and having flexible live-in childcare has been a tru life saver for us over the past few years. We use Cultural Care Au Pair. Our coordinator is great and so was the selection process. We highly recommend this type of care for your children. Another great bebnefit of the program is that you can use it as a child care credit and it does qaulify for your flexible spending account. Oh and by the way...you can have 45 hours a week of flexible care for $300 per week! www.culturalcare.com - check them out!

Allamerican
02.27.08

Ever so busy you feel like you need an assistant just to manage your day-to-day life? Please visit our website http://www.AllAmerican4you.com and discover how we have solved that problem. Our unique service caters to busy parents in Massachusetts who occasionally need an extra hand around the house or office to keep things running smoothly.

Allamerican
02.27.08

Ever so busy you feel like you need an assistant just to manage your day-to-day life? Please visit our website http://www.AllAmerican4you.com and discover how we have solved that problem. Our unique service caters to busy parents in Massachusetts who occasionally need an extra hand around the house or office to keep things running smoothly.

lifeisgood
02.07.08

LOVE the concept of outsourcing, need help with the reality...Any advice regarding learning to ask for help (rather than just drop hints and get frustrated that no one picks up on it), delegate the tasks (and not micromanage) and not pull my hair out when they are not done the way I would do them (control enthusiast)? I am lucky to work and afford a nanny and housekeeper and pay them above average, but frustrated at my poor management skills that I can't seem to get things done the way I think they should be done.

thewellreadchild
11.26.07

As a new "stay at work mom," I'm getting the hang of outsourcing. When I first went back to work, I felt that I had to spend every minute I had with my daughter, and if I didn't, I felt extreme guilt. After all, I was gone all day. How would she ever know her mother? Then I realized that absolutely nothing was getting done in my house. I had to set up a schedule and outsource lots of tasks to my husband and even my mother-in-law who is very willing to help out. My husband drives the baby to daycare and picks her up every day. My mother-in-law does her laundry. Let's Dish helps provide dinner: I prepped them at the store and only have to pop them in the oven when I come home. The result? I get to spend more time with the baby. The house looks sort of decent. Baby goes to bed and I get to "play" on my blog.