When you are a working mom with a full-time job, it can be incredibly difficult and tiring to complete even the most basic household chores. Especially if you’re a working mom with very young kids, you may be doing it all yourself and may not have a lot of help with household chores at home.
Just think about all of the things you, as a working mom, get done in a typical day from the moment you wake up:
You get yourself and your kids ready for school, make breakfast, drop them off at school, work hard at your job for 8 or more hours. After work, you pick up the kids from school, make dinner, help with homework, and get everyone bathed and ready for bed.
Then at some point, either at the end of the day or on the weekends, you are cramming in housework, like cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. Add to that making all necessary medical appointments, planning birthday parties, and arranging playdates.
And of course, “me time” or “self care” which might involve staying up way too late at night to binge-watch your fave movie, have some wine, and then regret it when you only got 5 hours of sleep. Forget about exercising, because who has time for that?
Does any of this sound like you?
If you have a husband that shares 50% in all of this work, then good for you, you won the lottery! Because in all of the honest conversations I’ve had with other working moms, even if they have a very helpful partner, a large percentage of child-rearing and household work unfortunately still falls on the mother. The Covid-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this further, but even before the pandemic, women in opposite-sex relationships did more than their partners in managing child care and housework responsibilities.
That’s why I came up with a list of practical ways to relieve that burden and get help with chores and household tasks today. Keep reading to learn how you can finally get your household organized!
And don’t forget to grab your FREE guide on How to Plan a Stress-Free Week without Burnout, which includes my top hacks and an editable weekly planner to help busy, working moms achieve a calmer, more productive week!
Why Doing It All Yourself Is Not Sustainable
How can this be sustainable? The truth is it’s not. You’re probably already starting to feel the effects of trying to take on so much work. Some of the side effects of working mom burnout are:
- Lack of sleep
- Poor nutrition
- Intense emotional and physical fatigue
- Lack of enjoyment
- Inability to focus
And the list goes on. You may be saying to yourself “Okay, I get it. But that’s part of motherhood and if I don’t do it, who will?”
No, you don’t need to do it all, and in fact, you shouldn’t or you’re going to run yourself to the ground.
I think of my mom who has shouldered the burden of taking care of everyone else all her life, including her siblings, her children, and her husband, and also excelled in her career as a teacher. I took it for granted thinking that’s how moms were supposed to be. Now, my mother is retired and is struggling with physical manifestations from years of stress (in the form of fibromyalgia) and trying to find her purpose and her own identity in her post-kids and post-work life.
It’s important to realize that you can and should get help running your household. There is no shame in getting household help and it will not make you a “bad mom.” If anything, it will make you a happier, less stressed, and more energetic mom and partner.
So how do you achieve this? Simple. By outsourcing or automating some of your household tasks. And before you roll your eyes at such a ridiculous idea (“Girl, I’m not rich! I can’t afford a housekeeper!”), read on. Because you may be surprised to learn that there are quite a few tasks that you could affordably outsource and save you loads of time.
What is Outsourcing?
Outsourcing is when you hire a third-party or contractor to take on services for you that you would’ve otherwise done yourself. Think of how a company outsources payroll or IT services. A company typically outsources to save time and labor costs. They also want to free up their employees to focus on what they do best.
You can outsource your household work and tasks applying this same logic. You reduce the amount of time you are working on time-intensive housework you don’t enjoy doing, so that you can focus on doing the things you love and spending more quality time with your family.
Why You Should Get Help With Chores
Getting household help with chores by way of outsourcing can be life-changing and bring you immediate positive results. The benefits of outsourcing chores includes:
- More time. On average, a woman spends over 20 hours per week on housework and caring for family members. What would you do if you had an extra 15-20 hours per week to do what you wanted? Perhaps you could finally use that extra time to incorporate a consistent exercise regimen, learn a new skill, start a side hustle, or catch up with old friends!
- Less guilt. At first you may feel guilty letting someone else do the housework you’re “supposed” to be doing. However, you’ll find that you actually feel less guilty over time. Just think about all of the chores you were not getting done (for example, those piles of laundry that would accumulate day after day). Your family is benefitting from the outsourced work, trust me.
- More happiness. And don’t just take it from me. Research shows that the happiness people get from outsourcing their most disliked activities is equivalent to the happiness they’d receive from getting $18,000!
- More control. This is a no-brainer. Often the lack of control we feel over our lives stems from the disarray our house is in. When you’re able to ensure those items on your to-do list gets done, you feel more organized and in control over your responsibilities.
- Better relationships with your family. Aside from being able to spend more quality time with your family, outsourcing can also reduce negative feelings towards your spouse and kids. Think about all of the times you’ve snapped at them because you were annoyed they didn’t help you with completing chores or you felt you were being taken advantage of by your family. Not saying everyone shouldn’t be doing their share, but there is less to be annoyed about if you get help completing some of this work.
- Greater ability to focus. Especially if you’re a work from home mom, it may be hard to focus on your job when your fridge is empty, bathrooms are dirty, dishes piled in the sink, etc. With that running checklist in your head plus the constant reminder in your face that chores are not getting done, how could you possibly concentrate on work? Outsourcing would allow you to focus on the task that’s in front of you and let someone else handle the rest.
Which Household Tasks Should I Get Help With?
So you’re sold on the benefits, but how exactly do you afford to off-load your housework? Perhaps you’re not in a position to hire a private chef or full-time nanny, but there are still more affordable options that can get you the help you need.
The first step would be to spend a little time writing a list of all the household tasks you take on daily and weekly. Some examples:
- Washing dishes
- Meal prep
- Grocery shopping
- Planning birthdays and other events
- Shopping for kids’ clothes
Then, for each one, determine how much time and effort it takes to complete each task. Reorder your list with the most time-intensive and high-effort tasks to the top of the list.
Finally, take a look at the top 5 or so on the list and think about how you feel about doing those tasks. There may be tasks that you actually enjoy doing, like grocery shopping, and you don’t want to outsource.
Now, the tasks that you despise and feel like they are pain to complete are the ones that you should prioritize outsourcing. You will get the most joy and relief off-loading your most hated tasks from your plate.
How Do I Budget for Outsourcing?
How you budget for the extra help will depend entirely on your own personal financial situation. One way to do it is to look at how you can adjust your current habits to make room for extra help.
For example, I used to eat out or get take-out a lot because I didn’t have time to meal prep and cook. I would also spend a fortune grocery shopping, only for half the food to go bad in the fridge because I didn’t have time to cook it. So, I calculated what it would cost to get a meal plan subscription for the family and wouldn’t you know it, it was just a little bit more than what I was already spending on food costs and most importantly, would save me time. So that item was a no-brainer for me.
Instead of cutting items out of your budget, you could also think of ways to bring in more money to pay for extra help. I sold some items I no longer cared about on Facebook Marketplace, then fought for a $20,000 salary increase when I jumped roles in my company. I had enough at that point to feel comfortable to spend the extra money on hiring household help. You could similarly have a garage sale, start a side hustle, take on more clients, or save your next bonus to pay for the extra help.
Whatever method you choose, determine how much it will cost to outsource a task, and make sure to shop around to get the best value. Ask your friends for referrals and recommendations. You can use the guide below as well, where I add the estimated cost of each item you can outsource. Then figure out whether it’s something you could pay for out of your current budget, or if you have to earn more money to do so.
Before getting scared at the numbers alone, it’s important to keep in mind the amount of happiness, free time, and stress relief outsourcing your most pain-staking tasks will bring to you. People buy material things all the time because they think it will make them happy. Those same people might balk at the idea of spending money on things that would save them time. But research shows that valuing time over money can automatically improve your quality of life and make you happier.
10 Practical Ways to Get Help With Chores and Household Tasks
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Here are some practical ways you can get help with chores and household tasks today:
1. Save time grocery shopping with grocery delivery services
You can easily spend over 1-2 hours driving to and from the supermarket and shopping and paying for all of your groceries. Why don’t you spare yourself some time and order your groceries online?
It’s easy to do and you’ll have your groceries delivered at a scheduled time at your convenience. Online grocery delivery services are hugely popular right now, especially in light of the pandemic. Some of my favorite grocery delivery services are:
- Amazon Fresh & Whole Foods Market– since you must have Amazon Prime to use the delivery service, I only recommend this option for current Amazon Prime customers. A Prime membership will run you about $119 per year or $12.99 per month. I have to say the fast shipping on almost every item I need plus the grocery delivery service is worth it! I love using Amazon because you get access to Whole Foods Market fresh foods and produce. You also get 10% off Whole Foods sale items and no shipping costs on orders over $35.00!
- Instacart- the best thing about Instacart is that it partners with several large grocery store chains, like Aldi, Shoprite, and Wegmans, giving you a ton of options. They also offer same-day delivery service which can come in pretty handy if you’re hosting a dinner party and forgot to grab a few items for your meal. The biggest cons are that some of the items are more expensive than in the store, and they charge you a host of fees including a delivery fee and a service fee. The most cost-effective way to use Instacart is to sign up for Instacart Express, which will give you free delivery over orders $35 or more and reduced service fees. The fee to join is $99 annually or $9.99 per month, so this option is best for those who will use Instacart pretty regularly.
- Boxed- for items you typically buy in bulk, Boxed is your best option! I’ve been using Boxed for years and I love how convenient it is. Best of all, you don’t have to pay a membership fee with Boxed, like you would for Costco or BJs. You also get free shipping on orders $49 and up. I use Boxed for staple items that are ideal to buy in bulk like toilet paper, olive oil, or laundry detergent. I know a lot of people are die-hard Costco fans, but once you get hooked buying in bulk online and saving the time and energy going to your local Costco, I guarantee you’ll never go back!
2. Reduce meal prepping and washing dishes by using a meal service
The problem with cooking every meal from scratch when you’re a working mom is- EVERYTHING. The effort it takes to meal prep, the long time it takes to cook, and the pain of washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen on top of everything else you have to get done can be too much. That is unless you love cooking, then at least you get joy out of it.
But if you’re not a fan of cooking, and you find yourself spending money ordering out a lot, or just cooking quick unhealthy frozen meals out of convenience, then it’s time to find another solution. I found myself in this predicament and while I tried to do the whole meal prep for the entire week thing, I couldn’t stay consistent with it.
Enter meal delivery services. I cannot stress enough what a game-changer this was for me and my family. And I’m not just talking about Blue Apron, where you still have to prepare and cook the meals. There are also services like Factor, where you receive healthy pre-portioned meals that are chef-quality, DELICIOUS and ready to eat in two minutes. At first I thought it was too much money until I realized I was actually saving money from all the ordering out I was doing since I had no time to cook. An added benefit was losing weight since all the meals are perfectly portioned and nutritious.
Here are some of the best options to look into for meal delivery services:
- Factor- Factor is the one I use and I cannot recommend them enough, especially for postpartum moms looking to get back into shape. They’re owned by HelloFresh, which has its own reputation for being one of the best meal kit delivery services. Factor offers different diet plans, including Keto, Paleo, and Low Calorie. Their meals use non-GMO organic ingredients and grass-fed hormone-free meats. All your meals for the week arrive cold, but not frozen, so they are ready to eat right out of the box. The one thing I’ll say is that each meal is a single serving, so you’ll need one meal per person. The prices vary based on how many meals you get per week, ranging from $60 per week for 4 meals ($15 per meal) to $198 per week for 18 meals ($11 per meal). Sign up here for $40 off your first order!
- Green Chef– although Green Chef is a meal kit service and there is still some cooking involved, you still save time buying groceries, defrosting meats, and meal prepping. Green Chef offers healthy organic foods and you can choose from Keto, Paleo, Balanced (included healthy meats, fish, and vegetarian recipes), and Plant-Powered meal plans. What I love about Green Chef is that the food is already prepped and portioned out, saving you a lot more time than Blue Apron, which still requires you to do some chopping. Green Chef meals can be prepared in under 30 minutes! Green Chef’s best valued plan for a family of 4, at 4 meals per week, costs $10.49 per serving and $9.99 for shipping.
- Home Chef– if you have a larger family or picky eaters, Home Chef may be the ideal meal kit for you. They offer a ton of customization, from swapping out your protein to changing the serving size. So if you have a picky eater, you can make adjustments to match their tastes as needed. They also have meal plans large enough to feed a family of 6! Best of all, they offer 15-minute meal kits, allowing you to get a healthy dinner on the table in the blink of an eye! Their meals start at $6.99 per serving plus shipping.
3. Replace in-store shopping with online shopping
If you aren’t already doing so, save loads of time driving to the mall to buy clothes and other household items by shopping online. I started doing this years ago, and now save my mall trips for days when I want to entertain my kids. Here are some great options for online shopping:
- Amazon Prime- I’m admittedly an Amazon Prime fanatic and purchase clothes, electronics, and almost everything else I need for the house on there. They’re Prime membership (about $119 per year or $12.99 per month) is worth every penny due to the lightning-fast free shipping, access to a variety of goods, and an excellent return policy.
- Walmart- if you don’t want to pay a membership fee for Prime, shopping on Walmart online is a great alternative. They don’t charge a membership fee and you can still find lots of items on there with 2-day shipping and free shipping for orders over $35.
4. Hire a cleaning professional to clean your home
Imagine after a long work day, you walk into a nice clean house and you didn’t have to lift a finger to do it. If you took inventory of how many hours you currently spend cleaning your house, how many hours would that be?
Even if you spend 1-2 hours a day cleaning, that could be up to 14 hours of your life you could get back if you hired someone else to clean your house. Even hiring house cleaners to do a deep cleaning once or twice a month of your home could save you the added stress of having to deep clean bathrooms, dust, and mop floors.
The cost usually depends on how large your home is. I’ve paid between $150-$200 per house cleaning. I’ve been using Handy.com, which is like the Uber for home cleaning professionals. You pick your plan based on your home details. Then, they connect you with a vetted and screened professional based on your preferences, and you schedule your date and time for the visit. You can also check out the person’s ratings and reviews and change your professional as you see fit.
5. Get a handle on your laundry with a laundry pick up and drop off service
Are you tired of seeing your laundry piled up in a corner somewhere waiting to be washed or folded? It seems laundry is never-ending, and by the time you’ve finally finished folding and putting away clothes, you’ve got a few more loads to wash!
There are lots of laundromats and dry cleaners now that will pick up and drop off your laundry and dry cleaning for free. They also offer wash, dry, and fold services for about $1-$3 a pound. Do a Google search for local laundry services in your area and finally get a handle on laundry for good!
6. Hire a part-time mother’s helper to off-load household tasks
While a full time nanny is certainly ideal (and a dream!) if you can afford one, if you can’t, a great alternative is to hire a part-time “mother’s helper.” A mother’s helper can help you for a few hours a week with childcare and household tasks, like washing dishes, picking up and dropping off the kids to school, meal prepping, and other light housekeeping items.
Even just hiring someone for 10 hours per week at $15 per hour, you’re spending about $150 per week to give you the extra piece of mind when you need it. How do you find a mother’s helper? Sign up for a reputable site like Care.com to find a mother’s helper in your area that is vetted.
7. Hire a dog walker to walk your dog
Especially on busy work days, walking your dog and making sure they get enough exercise might be the last thing you want to do. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy and convenient to find a dog walker that can come a few times a day to walk your pet.
Best way to find a dog walker is to ask around in your neighborhood first. You may get lucky and find teenagers or college students nearby eager to earn some cash! However, if you prefer someone with more experience and that has insurance in case something goes wrong, check out Rover.com to find a dog walker near you. A dog walker on Rover.com ranges from $15-$30 per walk.
8. Outsource your yard work to a landscaping company
Unless you genuinely enjoy maintaining your own lawn, landscaping is miserable time-intensive hard work. That’s why I think every working mom who has her own house should outsource landscaping. My husband enjoyed landscaping until we had kids and realized a landscaping company could do the same work in a fraction of the time (and it would come out better to be honest).
The best way to find a good landscaper is to ask your neighbors for their recommendations or your town’s Facebook group. The cost usually depends on the size of your lawn, how frequently you want them to come, and the kind of work you want them to do (for example, trim your hedges, remove branches and leaves, etc.). According to Taskrabbit.com, the average landscaping project costs between $60-$170.
9. Check off your to-do list with Task Rabbit
All those errands you have on your checklist to do? Yes, those can be outsourced too! TaskRabbit.com allows you to hire someone same-day to save time and run your errands for you! You can use them to do tasks like pick up your groceries, shop for you at the mall, and move your belongings. All of the expenses will be added to your final bill so no cash is ever exchanged! Price ranges between $30-$50 per hour.
10. Hire a virtual assistant if you’re a mompreneur
For working moms who own their own businesses, a virtual assistant (VA) at some point becomes a must. You can get help on all sorts of administrative and other repetitive or time-consuming tasks such as social media management, website support, and managing your calendars and emails. You could also have them help you with personal items such as planning birthday parties for your kids, making medical appointments, hiring home contractors, and making dinner reservations.
The cost will vary based on how many hours per week you need a VA, where the VA is located (sometimes hiring someone abroad is cheaper), and the VA’s experience level. They’re often cheaper than a personal assistant. For example you can find a virtual assistant for as low as $20 per hour on Upwork.com.
Last Word on Getting Help with Household Chores
I hope with this guide you’ve taken a good look at your most time-consuming household tasks and chores and figured out some affordable ways you can outsource them today. Outsourcing will not just save you time. It will also reduce your stress and free your mind to focus on the things you really enjoy, like spending quality time with your family.
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For more helpful resources, check out:
- How to Create a Realistic Cleaning Schedule for Working Moms
- The Perfect Morning Routine for Working Moms in 9 Easy Steps
- 24 Inspirational Quotes for Working Moms Who Are Overwhelmed [Printable]