PUI (90) commuter marriage (40) research with undergrads (26) workload (24) work-family balance (20) single motherhood (18) working while pregnant (15) house moving (14) just bitching (9) self-flagellation (8) gym (5) self confidence (5) Skype (4) Tenure Bid (3) community service (2) science geek-out (2) . (1)
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Survival: Paying for Services
Hub's PI/ Mentor is a brilliant guy, tenured at MRU (Major Research U), and is married to an equally impressive wife (also tenured at MRU). Here's the kicker; they have 4 kids, two of which are pre-school aged. Minus the solved two-body problem, these folks have all of our problems, multiplied (raised to the power?). During a lab outing, Hub asked him how they did it. He said, we have a lot of help. What he meant was they hire away a lot of household work. For example, if the car needs to go to the shop in the middle of the day, they hire someone to do it, and don't waste their time on such things.
We are doing that to some degree. We have a young woman who comes in for four hours a week and does housework. That is very helpful, and keeps the invading ants at bay since I can't seem to manage getting all the food and dirty dishes taken care of while wrangling a toddler. By necessity, I have to hire a babysitter on average 1-2 times a week for the evenings (church league volleyball, yoga, evening meetings). I would like to hire someone to weed my yard/ garden, too, but haven't checked that off the list. These services do make life saner! I am very grateful that the help we have is reliable and good.
The weekend at Fun Place was another example of paying for conveniences/ services. We stayed on the premises of Fun Place, so we could simply walk out of the lobby and be there. No transporting stuff and a child, all of which adds to the chaos and wear-n-tear. We also used the Bell Staff and Valet, which again was so much easier.
This may be second nature to some. Some of you may be thinking "no duh". Hub's family is certainly amenable to the idea. But it engenders a bit of conflict in me. I grew up in a place where if someone "worked like a ranch hand" that was a high compliment. With two grandmothers who worked crappy jobs to put themselves through the great depression, there was a strong mentality that you didn't pay people to do things you can do yourself. As a teenager and college student, I spent many-a-school break under the car with my Dad repairing stuff on my clunker car. My folks remodeled their own house (and the results, though fine, were clearly NOT professional). This mentality obviously still lingers, as I find myself rolling my eyes at the friends I have that have nannies.
Moreover, a clear distinction between Hub's PI and us is, well, their income is a multiple of ours. Though services do make life more manageable, they cost. For us they cost a significant percentage of our income. For example:
Day care: $160 / week
Housecleaning: 4 hours * $10 per hour = $40 / week
Babysitting: approx 4 hours * $8 per hour = $32 / week
That doesn't include garden help or painters, etc.
So we pay on the range of $220-$250 / week for services i.e. $1000 per month!!!!
That's more than our mortgage, and about 1/4 of MY income!!! YIKES! (Hub makes less that I do.)
Is it worth it? Well, the day care is a given. Granted, I could cut it off in the summer and not work (the work I do in the summer is unpaid; read here, here, and here). But I want to keep working, especially to get ready for the semester I return from maternity leave. Besides, the days that I do have Boy alone all day (especially the unplanned ones) have convinced me that I am NOT stay-at-home Mom material (read here ).
Now that it's summer, I could drop the Housecleaning. Our person will be leaving in July, but the new baby is coming in August, and I simply can't imagine getting all that stuff done with a new baby and a toddler. ALONE. We *have* to hire someone then. Might as well just keep her on for another month and load up on organizational projects and stuff that won't get done for another couple of years.
The babysitting seems pretty important, otherwise I would not get out in the evenings. I felt so isolated and lonely this past semester that the evening socializing seems important, too- although this is a bit iffy. Do I REALLY need to be playing church league volleyball 7 months pregnant? eeeh. (but I LIKE it). The yoga is a definite yes. Absolutely. It makes me sooo happy. :) The other stuff is relatively rare.
There are several other considerations about frequent use of services:
1. It takes organization... so it still requires work
2. It changes your mentality about what you are willing to do... I do dishes less now even when I can. This is a dangerous slippery slope.
3. You have to find people you trust with your child and alone in your house.
4. It adds to Mommyguilt (i.e. some evening I see Boy for only 1 hour)
5. Its money that just "goes away" unlike spending on something you can resell later. It is NOT a good investment monetarily.
Right now, Hub and I chalk it up to simple survival. That seems right. I hope that in 3 or so years things will be manageable, and we can cut back... Or if Hub can COME HOME (or we can be together in some way). But right now, it certainly helps us survive.