Domestic Outsourcing

I just read this article and comments on Blog Segullah (a literary blog for LDS women). I started to post a comment and decided to post my response here instead (and maybe link to this?) so I don’t feel guilty about creating a LOONG post.

Some of the thoughts in the post and comments make me sad becuase of the guilt the sisters are expressing in taking the “easy way” when it comes to the domestic arts. Perhaps it is because I’m a “working Mom” (gasp!) but outsourcing as much as we can free’s up my time to be with my girls and my husband. 

In addition to the time it “buys” me with my kids, it allows for me to have time to develop the domestic talents I am interested in.  I work to have the satisfaction of completing a craft, crocheted blanket, sewed curtains or whatever, but I don’t waste my time working to create bread, for instance, which almost always fails (without my beloved breadmaker, of course).

Last summer, when DMP was working, doing an internship and full class load and I was working we hired a housekeeper, I did Dream Dinners (only after I got sick of frozen food at Costco) and I was constantly trying to find other ways to “outsource” all of the domestic things at our house so we could have some time with the girls (not to mention sanity).

Now we aren’t so busy, and DMP is on the job hunt, so we have scaled back our “outsourcing” – now we (mostly) cook at home and do our own cleaning. 

The thing I guess that bugs me the most is the belief that seems to prevail among some LDS women is that the virtue is in the work.  But I think the virtue is in the actions- are you a better mom if working to hand wash and line-dry the clothing that you handmade for your children and baking bread from scratch leaves you tired, cranky, and unable to read story books or play with your kids?  Does sitting around the table enjoying a frozen pizza make family dinner and the conversation and time spent together less meaningful and important? What is going to have the most impact on your kids- the time you spend with them or what you do for them?

I really admire the way DMP does his “housekeeping”. As essentially the SAHD for the entirety of our marriage, he has been primarily responsible for the cooking, cleaning and child care for the girls. There are some days when I come home from work and the house is a mess, dinner isn’t even a glimmer of a thought and the kids look like orphans.  When I ask him what he did all day (instead of housekeeping) the answer is usually something like “I took the girls for a long walk up the canyon by the river. EJ found the coolest thing…”.  Do you think the girls will be sad that Daddy didn’t clean and make a “from scratch” dinner that day (even if I am :>)

I also disagree that just because our grandmothers (or mothers) did something a certain way that we should, too. I agree with many of the comments on this blog that they would have likely jumped at the chance for “outsourcing” and the conveniences we have today.  It is the same way I feel about people who choose to go through childbirth without drugs. I think it is super if you have personal feelings about medication, treating pregnancy like a disease, allowing your body to go through a natural process unaided and etc.  But don’t tell me that ‘women have been doing it this way for generations” as the justification because I bet most (if not all) of them would have been overjoyed if you told them you could numb them from the waist down :).

Am I saying that focusing on developing your “domestic” arts is bad? Certainly not.   If that is what you enjoy and what you have a talent for, then great. However, I don’t think we should kick ourselves when we have neither the time or the inclination to do some (or any of them).  I also agree with the principles of the blog that emphasis working to accomplish something and feling that satisfaction and I think life presents many opportunities for that learning both inside and outside the home.

I think that instead of focusing on the acts themselves, we should instead have a goal of what we want our home to feel like and who we want our children to be. If we focus on making our home a temple of beauty and peace does it matter if getting there involves a housekeeper, nanny and/or gardener?  If we focus on raising smart, healthy, happy, well-adjusted children of Heavenly Father does it matter that their clothes aren’t home made, their mom bought their class birthday cupcakes, they learned to write their name at preschool and they ate a lot of McDonalds? It is the end goal that matters and we can all get there in our own way.

Bottom line is that we are so blessed to live in an age of technology, advances in our domestic life.  There has been no other time in history that has enjoyed the freedom and access to information, opportunites for travel and learning, and ability to make social connections with all kinds of people everywhere.  I don’t think we as LDS women and mothers should feel guilty that we don’t do things the “hard way” and that we outsource task that we dislike  or don’t have time for (if you can afford it- why not?). 

When our housekeeper first started, I was kind of embarassed to tell people- like somehow I was a failure as a Mother and a Woman. My Mom told me “Don’t you dare feel guilty” and gave me the “permission” to let that part of our life go and focus on spending that time with the kids.  I deeply thank her for that!

In addition to focusing on what you want the end result to be I also think that the key is what you do with the time that is made more free by these conveniences.  Do you use it to develop a talent or skill that you enjoy? Or play with your kids or spend time with your spouse? How ’bout taking some time for yourself to excersize or read a book? I agree with the blog that if we spend this free time on empty or mindless activities, we are worse off.

I think that is the beauty blessing and opportunity of living in these days- just make the most of it and for heaven’s sake don’t apologize or feel guilt for it!

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April 9, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized.

5 Comments

  1. Jane replied:

    Amen! Well said.

  2. Kim Reid replied:

    Can you link to this response on Segullah? I’m sure they’d be glad to see it.

  3. Les replied:

    As the post author, I am glad it prompted you to voice your thoughts. I love to be able to respond to people’s thoughts. I believe we agree on a large number of points. I am not advocating making tasks harder. I don’t think guilt is the component that is at the crux- I advocate for a conscious choice amongst domestic labors- knowing what we give up for other things, because I think we get used to our modern routines. My main goal was to emphasize that there can be joy and fulfillment and competency found in the work of the home that we may too easily outsource. Leisure and free time has become the driving force in our society. This has improved our lives in many ways but also had negative implications.It is far too easy to take for granted what we have and be excessively “consuming” if we become very detached from the work it actually tkaes to do those things. The ease of convenience dinner has actually been one of the reasons so many families don’t eat together today, while the food we each for dinner is not the real issue, it’s the larger impact of convenience on family rituals.

  4. Johnna replied:

    I’m glad you posted. I really struggle with this. My husband travels a lot, and recently there is money enough for me to hire someone to clean or help out with the kids. But I’m not working, so I do worry if I’m doing anything great enough to JUSTIFY it. Yet one of my best friends, who works a full-time job, is a great Mom and I don’t think twice about the fact she’s paying other women to clean and to do stop-gap childcare between school’s out and she or her husband getting home.

  5. Libby | inbound sales outsourcing replied:

    I don’t see anything wrong with outsourcing what you don’t enjoy doing or you don’t have time to do. If you have the additional money to spend why not free up your time to do something you enjoy like spending time with your family and their development.

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