Insourcing and Outsourcing 

I really like checklists. I like knowing concretely that I’ve done my work, which is one of the reasons I liked menial tasks like shelving even once I had my MLS. I like report cards.

And that’s one of the hard things about staying at home full time.

Because I can fill my day with any combination of tasks, but I’ll never be able to do all the things.

I make my own bone broth, my own granola, my own pizza crust. I don’t make pickles, or yogurt (though I’ve tried), or hummus. I can embroider, but I can’t knit. I’m not much of a gardener, though I might like to be. I mend shirts that need buttons, but the other day I threw out a cookie sheet because whatever was on it (baked-on potato starch???) was so thick and unyielding that I refused to scrub anymore. I like to bake and I don’t like to iron, so I do a lot more of the former than the latter, and people might be able to tell. (Wrinkles, waistlines.)

 

Most of the jobs I have had centered around scheduled hours and specific tasks. If I showed up for the scheduled hours most of the time and performed most of the specific tasks, I was doing well.

I like doing well.

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Stay at home motherhood is not that way. I need to take care of the kids, keep them safe and tolerably clean and reasonably happy, and it would be good if, barring illness and crisis, I made sure we had regular meals and enough clean laundry to limp by.

Beyond that, it’s kind of up to me, and it’s kind of bewildering.

I’m listening to Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect right now, and while that’s helping, I’m also remembering my reflections years ago on her essay, “Things I Don’t Do.”

My question, I guess, is this: How do you, as a homemaker, choose? Frugality? Interest? How do you know if you’re doing a good job? How do you feel good about the decision to hire a cleaner, or buy your produce at the farmer’s market instead of growing it yourself? When you can do almost anything, go deep on any one task, which ones merit your lingering attention?

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Fairly typical, honestly.

 

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