We’d all love to outsource household tasks to Alice from the Brady Bunch, so she can be there at home to help with all the things. Someone capable, reliable, and smart enough to manage the household, not just do some cleaning.
I’ve always had this argument with my hubby that you can’t just leave it with the cleaner unless you have what I call “Packer money”, or as my mentor, Tobi Fairly, would say, “Oprah level” money. Then you would have someone to run the house – make sure the cleaner did a good job, actually change the vacuum bag, book the proper maintenance, or wait around for the tradesmen to eventually come and fix the Miel oven.
In fact, when I first got to know my husband, he’d been told by his family to get a cleaner before that “girl from Australia” comes all that way. So he did, but dusting around piles of papers was the best she could do. I mean, how could she know what stuff to throw out?
This is usually where the wife comes into play, but these days, we wives need our own wives (or housekeepers, I should say), because whether we’re capable or not, most of us have other things we would rather be doing.
So, now I am curious… with the growth of the middle class, the reduction in the pay gap, and all the household appliances and conveniences of today, why are we still so busy? Why hasn’t hiring help become commonplace? At what point is it financially or socially acceptable to hire a housekeeper or outsource household tasks?
I’d like to argue that it’s sooner than we all think.
A Model of Success to Follow
Let’s think about it like this: In a business, you have the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) setting the vision, while the Chief Operating Officer (COO) is the action-taker getting things done, hiring the right people, and overseeing quality control. Why do we not apply the same concept to the household?
If the husband and/or wife is the CEO of the home, the housekeeper would be the COO, with the authority to make decisions and delegate in support of the CEO’s charted course.
I see so many people and clients struggling to manage a cleaner and waiting around for days for the oven fix-it man/gardener/electrician to arrive, and it feels like such a waste. Is it because Australians are brought up with an egalitarian view, and it just does not occur to us to pay for a housekeeper? What if investing in their help had far greater returns than the time you lose doing it yourself?
“But Nadine, what does all of this have to do with interior decorating?”
Great question. It all comes down to this: living beautifully. It’s our motto, and I don’t believe that having a home that fills you with daily pride and joy is the only way to get there (though it certainly helps). My point here is to help you see the big picture and decide what’s really meaningful in your life.
Time is Worth More than Money
We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money”, but I’d like to edit that phrase to: Time is life.
Read that again. Time is life. What you spend your time doing is what you spend your life doing. Wasting a few hours waiting around for the maintenance man might seem like a meagre amount of time in the big picture, but these little moments do add up… and most of us don’t even realise we’ve said “yes” to them!
What could you be doing instead? What are you saying “no” to by default because you’ve said “yes” to these household tasks you don’t really enjoy?
Bottom line — you get to decide where your time is best spent, to discover what brings you joy, what inspires you, and what makes you feel fulfilled each and every day.
Hiring a housekeeper to buy back your time may be appealing to you or maybe not, but a great way to test the waters is to start by outsourcing smaller tasks. I will list a few ideas here for you, but no matter what you do with my ramblings this fortnight, I hope it inspires you to more actively choose how you are spending the currency called time.
What Good Things Can Come from Outsourcing?
- You get to focus on what you do best.
- The task might get actually done. (There comes a time when nagging doesn’t work.)
- It’s not wrong to outsource household tasks you don’t enjoy and relax. Imagine if you could start a hobby or have more time to look after yourself. (My inner workaholic is slowly learning to understand this concept, and yes, relaxing feels like a skill I am having to relearn!)
- Booking work to be completed can give you just as much of a sense of achievement as doing it yourself.
- The task may be completed even better than you could have done it yourself.
- Saves you the clutter of tools sitting around waiting for the eventual day they will be used.
- You are employing another person in your community and providing them with work! What’s wrong with that??
Idea List: Outsource Household Tasks Guilt-Free
More obvious tasks:
- Housekeeping and ironing.
- Landscaping / gardening, including hedging. (I am recently outsourcing hedging, as it is such a big job to do on my own now.)
- Hanging art. (It definitely pays to do it right.)
- Handyman. One of our builders recently spent a week in our clients home fixing things before even starting the job. It’s a great idea to have all those fix-ups completed when competent skills are on hand.)
- Car washing. I have recently signed up for the Waves car wash subscription. It’s very affordable and we can have the car washed whilst walking the dog.
Less obvious tasks:
- Sanding and oiling your outdoor teak furniture. (You can use Airtasker to find backpackers for this, or your painter can help.)
- Dog walking.
- People who sell your crap on the internet! (Try Airtasker.)
- Virtual Assistants. They can do everything from organise your Christmas cards to book your holidays to scheduling other tasks and appointments.
- Travel agents. Bookings take a tonne of time and research.
Well, that should get you started! And who knows — once you have some time freed up for yourself, you may even have more time and freedom to create your own beautiful forever home. 😉
P.S. Have you grabbed our complimentary Design & Decorating Project Planner yet? If not, grab your copy here!