Outsourcing It All

I'm sure some media-type will come up with a catchty word for this, because it has to be some sort of trend, even in this dodgy economy. Maybe especially in this dodgy double-income and then some economy. As a lawyer, I bill by the hour. Plus, because my work is more flexible for hours and location, and since Kirby's job and career (and insurance) are the primary financial supports for the household, 98% of the domestic responsibilities - errands, appointments, repairs, service arrangements, shopping, supplying, ordering, cooking, cleaning, dropping off, picking up - fall to me. With a 3 year old and baby, and also trying to work, things get nutty. I get nutty.

About a month ago, it occured to me that, if it wasn't billable and it wasn't spending time with the family, I didn't want to do it anymore. And if freeing me up from some of this stuff helped me to be able to bill just a few more hours a month, then it was worth it and may even pay for itself. So I decided to outsource everything "else" that I do to outside vendors.

Now I have a cleaning service come twice a week for an hour to tidy up, mop floors, and do one major chore. I'm ordering dinners for delivery every Monday. And I just hired a personal assistant who helps with everything else for a few hours a week. There are still some chores for me to do, the largest being the laundry, on top of the daily picking up, washing, loading and unloading the dishwasher. And there's still meal prep to do - I only order one full dinner and then maybe some sides and put something together quickly. But Thursdays we have leftovers, Fridays we order pizza, and Saturdays we eat out or order in, so there's been a significant reduction in the time spent on making dinner. And the assistant can't do everything, but she can do a lot, and it helps. In the two weeks since she's started, all of the burned-out lightbulbs have been replaced, the fridge got cleaned out, she's done my grocery shopping (twice), gotten my broken shoes repaired, and found a handyman to install the baby-gate.

I'll probably start pulling back on some of the services as the kids become more and more self-sufficient. Ada weaning from the bottle this fall will give me back about 3 hrs/day on the weekends, and an hour on weekdays. And oh, not to be washing and mixing bottles every night. And then once she moves down to just one nap, I'll be able to run errands with both kids much more easily, since I'm firm about having her in her crib for each nap. So all of this assistance is just temporary, but it's great while I have it. I wonder what the trend-wathers will call it ... House-sourcing?


DrRuth said...

wow! Do you mind telling me how you found a personal assistant and what you pay her? It's tempting!

Liz said...

CraigsList, baby!

I placed an ad describing what I was looking for - flexible schedule w/in certain needed hours, kinds of tasks, max. hrs/wk, and to please send a resume and references and then saying that I'd respond only to those selected for interview following a references check. Then, the ones that replied w/o resume or references were screened out (I need someone who can follow instructions), two more were screened out after checking their references/resume, 4 more didn't bother to call me back, 2 others got other jobs, and of the 2 that I narrowed down to, I accidentally talked one into opening her own business and the other was absolutely perfect. She's young, married, and was in college but had to drop out for health reasons. Working a few hours at a time on her schedule is a perfect fit for her, and she's bright, sweet, reliable and responsible. I really lucked out with her. The pay that I advertised was $10+ DOE.