Sunday, November 1, 2009

Messy Monday: Buy Someone's Time

You know how it goes: there’s always so much more to do than there is time to do it. We can’t add hours to the day or reduce the workload. So what’s the solution? You can buy someone else’s time.

To us frugally-minded folks, this may not seem very thrifty. Why should we pay to have someone iron our shirts, for example, when we can do it ourselves for free? When a task is consistently not getting done, and we see no end in sight for when it will get done, it may be time to consider it money well-spent. In fact, hiring someone to do the work we never get to is worth every penny of the investment.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can’t. It came from Sandra Felton’s book, Messies Manual, The: A Complete Guide to Bringing Order & Beauty to Your Home—a great source of tips for those of us more…organizationally-challenged (shall we just say “messy”?!).

I look around my house on any given day and see a zillion (yes, there really are that many!) things I need to do, but getting them done feels like climbing Mt. Everest. My boys, I’m realizing, need almost constant supervision (not an overstatement!); and so that means if I don’t want liquid Tylenol in a “child-proof cap” poured all over my bathroom carpet while I put some laundry away, there are just some areas of my house and tasks that routinely get neglected. But not if I buy someone’s time!

I can’t afford to do this every week, but once in a while, I could probably pay someone to come in as a mother’s helper. She could provide the supervision for my children for a few hours while I provide the cleaning. Buying her time frees up my time and allows me to tend to the rooms and tasks I can’t seem to get to with my busy boys right by my side. A more frugal alternative is to swap kids with a friend a few hours a week.

So whether it’s your laundry, your ironing, your dusting and vacuuming, your scrubbing, or any other task that’s conquering you rather than you conquering it, maybe it’s time to buy someone else’s time—at least until you can get caught up. It doesn’t have to be a weekly expense—maybe once a month is all you need. I know my husband would kiss the $20 bill that bought me some help if it meant he could walk into a clutter-free room when he got home!

So what about you? Do you pay for any services to help you more effectively manage your home? How do you budget for the expense of it?


  1. ya, I have a hard time paying for any help. Its just not in the cards right now! I dont think I would anyway. I always feel like there is a list also, but that's life I think. When the kids get really occupied with something I run and do what I need to do. Maddie and Jake don't get into too much they aren't suppose to, and if Jake does Maddie runs and tells me. And Carson still isn't old enough to get into too much, so I think right now is a break for me compared to in another month or two! ha!

  2. When my oldest were closer to the ages of your boys, nap time was my only saving grace! Even after Allie stopped napping at 4 or so, she would read or play in her room for 1 - 2 hours while Sarah and Lindsay slept. Then I kicked it into HIGH gear. It is truly amazing how much can get done in such a short amount of time!! The key - have a realistic list and don't be afraid to break a sweat!

    Now that I have 2 more little toddlers at home, I still rely on nap time from 1 -3 each day, but homeschooling usually takes up some of that time. One tip for the litle ones -- get them involved in the cleaning. Mine love to run the vacuum and dust.

  3. YES, EXACTLY. Good points jodi. I definitely use nap time to its fullest potential too. My kids have to be in their room, reading or sleeping. Period. I also do have them help me. They love it!

  4. yes, that's probably part of my problem...they have a way of drifting. Can one of you come over to help me keep certain children in the places they're supposed to be during this illusive nap-time so I can get something done? I'll pay you:)

  5. LOL. I am assuming that your nap time is when our nap time is and if I am helping you during your nap time, then I lose my nap time...... ha ha.

    I would love to get together for a playdate soon -- Wednesday or Thursday mornings are great for me. Liz, you too. Let me know and I'll heat up some spiced cider and the wee ones can play hard so they will sleep hard!

  6. I have a way to keep them in their rooms. haha. IT's not the best way, but it works for JAke. Jake is also a drifter, and didnt stay in his bed ever....well I was going to fix that if it killed me. I had to stay on him for weeks! It was a lot of work at the time.. If you are ever over and see a metal spoon hanging on the wall just outside of his room, in the playroom...ya....its not decoration, Its for the kids. They are scared of it, and know that if they come out, out comes the spoon too. So, a success! ha!

    Ya mom time has seemed to fall apart now days. I have no idea what happened to it. If I can get everything done we will be up for a play date. I have too much to do and not enough time right now, just in case we move. Let me know and I will see!