Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It Takes a Village to Live My Life

Over the past few years, I've become a fan of outsourcing. Growing up, we never hired anyone. My father was the general fix it guy and helped to build our house and then keep it up over the years. His electrical work often left a variety of switches that turned on and off with a puzzling lack of activity in the lights, but all in all he got it done.

My mother was the talented gardner and cook and had the house running like a swiss watch, while still keeping a teaching career going. While I never really took to the cooking thing, and barely absorbed the rules of cleaning, I was a pretty good laborer, and did things like helping my father build a deck, mowing the lawn, vacuuming and skimming the pool, and weekly chores of cleaning.

Cooking was never my talent (or interest) however, despite my mom's best efforts to teach me. I famously screwed up (and still do) the simplest of recipes. I could not understand why the dough for my chocolate chip bars came out so soupy...until my mom reviewed the recipe with me and discovered where it said 2-1/2 cups of flour I had read that as two half cups of flour. Ok. I'm an idiot. I never even considered that if they meant two half cups, they would have said 1 cup. Duh. And the idea of timing several dishes at once for a meal...terrifying.

I always told my mother, when she despaired of my lack of culinary and domestic interest, that I would marry a wealthy man who could provide me with a cook, a housekeeper, and all of the services I would require to live a life of leisure.


Well, I married the next best thing. A man with talent, who can cook, and who does handy jobs around the house, and eventually, we began to earn enough TOGETHER to pay for some of those little luxuries.

Cleaning. A lovely lady, aptly named Joy, comes to our house every other week and cleans. She sweeps and mops, dusts and deordorizes, scrubs and squeegies, and does all of the things I used to do "when I got around to it" - loosely translated this means "when company is coming." When I come home on her cleaning days, I truly feel JOY. I recommended her to a friend whose husband was so overJOYed at her work that he exclaimed, "My God, Mary Poppins has come into our lives."

Lawn Service. Ever since we moved from a townhouse - where all the grounds and snow removal, etc. were handled by a maintenance crew, we have contracted with a lawn service to do fall cleanup, spring cleanup, and weekly mowing. In the winter they also plow our drive. This year we are adding lawn treatments since the crab grass and dandelions are taking over completely. We don't even own a lawn mower. I used to find this embarrassing until I started to look up and down my street and realized all of my neighbors use services too.

Pool Service. The first few years we owned the house we used a private service to open and close our pool for the season. Mostly because we were afraid that if we did it wrong it would mean expensive fixes. Last year, after he flooded our basement by leaving filter hoses unhooked by the basement window and leaving the property for 5 hours, we decided we couldn't do much worse. (Of course that was before my weak grip lost hold of the cover and dumped pounds and pounds of wet rotting leaves into the pool...yeah...) Many times I think it would be best if we got this service going again, but Hubby seems to have it under control.

Car Service. I use car services to get to the airports. Living outside of the metropolitan NY area means JFK or LaGuardia. Travel is stressful enough to me without worrying about battling the highways and byways of NYC when under a time pressure. Let someone else worry about that.

Electricians, Plumbers, Contractors. Now this is suitable. You can't expect the average homeowner to get into these areas of special skills. And Hubby does an admirable job of the little stuff - from leaks to re-wiring, to dryer repair and crown moulding...he does pretty damn good for an IT guy with an artistic bent.

Today, I looked up peapod...the on-line grocery order service that allows you to place an order and they deliver it to your house.

I was equally relieved and dismayed that it does not yet serve my zip code area. I guess this is one service I cannot yet outsource. In the process of Googling this service however, I did find a way to hopefully improve my grocery capabilities...the ULTIMATE GROCERY LIST.

See, there's always someone out there willing to try and make my life a little easier.

It does seem take a village to live my life. Either that or I'm a spoiled brat.


Melissa said...

We do the same - So much of it is due to the fact that nobody has time anymore. Plus, I guarantee if I attempted any electrical work at all I would be sure to burn the house down. I used a service like Peapod in Los Angeles and Australia and it is nice for staples but I cook a lot and am very picky about produce and meats. I need to feel, smell and see it up close to make sure it's the quality I want.

Nora Bee said...

We had a housekeeper for awhile. I dream of those days returning.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I used to have a cleaning lady. Sigh.

Manager Mom said...

I am pro-staff. I will outsource pretty much anything possible. On the less happy side, since I work full time, I had to outsource some of my motherly duties to my kick ass caregivers. Missing the first steps, kind of sad.

Outsourcing the potty training, not so much.

Stephanie said...

Was that a picture of your actual pool guy? Because if it was, you should get him back on the job IMMEDIATELY. :)

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