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Dear Moms: Outsource Your Troubles Away

I was chatting with a friend recently about the purple chocolate crosses favors she was planning to make for her daughter’s communion.  I was in awe and I give her all the credit in the world for doing this – but what slips out of my mouth is “I would have outsourced that!”

That took me back to a course I took in college called Operations Management.  I wasn’t much of a fan of that particular course, but realized that some of the strategies taught clearly apply to parenting and other daily life responsibilities.  By trade, I’m a corporate HR gal, so I have had the opportunity to apply these in business, but it’s cool to see how these approaches also mimic the life of a parent.

Who knew that I was learning real “life” skills in college too!?

Here are a few examples:


Business Definition: Obtain (goods or a service) from an outside supplier, especially in place of an internal source.

Parenting Definition: Passing off responsibilities and/or hiring a vendor to handle certain tasks that you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do – aka time is money.

My theory is that the longer you are a parent, the quicker you are to outsource.

  • Birthday parties: The first few years you may have a sweet little party at home, but as children enter preschool or grade school it’s a whole different ball game.  Sometimes the whole class gets invited.  Brave folks may still keep it in house, but I’m all about having it in an external venue.   We had my daughter’s most recent birthday party at a local bounce place.   They did everything – literally stress free for me.
  • Cooking:  The days of over scheduled families are not going away.  Luckily, there are many ways to outsource cooking!  Eating at a restaurant, as well as delivery or take out.  Many supermarkets also have ready-made food for dinner.  Usually healthy options are available too.
  • Play Dates:  Cleaning, entertaining, snacks, etc.  Let’s have them at your house, please.
  • Summer Fun:   School is Out!  Go to camp!  Camp Jacobowitz is out of business and let’s face it – you’d have more fun at real camp anyway.

Economies of Scale:

Business Definition: The cost advantage that arises with increased size or output of a product; with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output.  (Got that?)

Parenting Definition: In plain English – procrastination, laziness, or saving some effort.  Wait until the last minute. Do it all at once.  Sorta like “Go big or go home.” 

  • Laundry: Wait until it all piles up and knock it out in one day.  Instead of small loads, fill that machine to the brim.  This works well if you live in an apartment building or have to go to the laundromat.
  • Running the Dishwasher:  Stock that baby up until there is no more room (or until it really stinks!)  Also an energy saver.
  • Food Shopping:  Stock up! Pretend you are getting ready for a big snowstorm every time you go to the supermarket.
  • Cooking:  I’m more of an “outsourcing gal” here, but plenty of folks love to cook.  Cook large meals with enough for leftovers or to freeze.
  • Television Shows:  Binge watching.
  • Carpooling:  Why should all the parents have to get dressed and venture out?

Just-In-Time (JIT):

Business Definition: Just-In-Time (JIT) is an inventory strategy companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process, thereby reducing inventory costs.  Materials are delivered just when needed – not sooner or not later.  It has a due date and it has to be delivered and finished on time.

Parenting Definition:  JIT Parenting.  Completing anything and everything at the last minute. Get it done however and whenever.  The kicker is – it has to be DONE and it can’t be late. Give me a due date and you can count on me to complete it.  I might not do it until it HAS to be done though.

Brilliant.   JIT Parenting is probably the parenting strategy that I use the most.  I see a trademark coming.

  • Food Shopping: Many may use the Economies of Scale strategy for this.   Personally, I think the process of a BIG food shopping is daunting.   Many times when we’ve done the huge “must stock up” shopping, so much goes to waste – especially those fruits and vegetables.   And since there’s always something needed at the store, my philosophy moving forward is….buy what you need, when you need it.   You get the freshest merchandise and no waste.
  • Cleaning: Does it even pay to start cleaning before you actually have to?  Especially with kids in the house?  We don’t.  Company is coming on Saturday?  Cleaning is started Friday and finished up on Saturday morning.
  • Laundry:  Having a planned laundry day is so passe.  You ran out of socks and undies?  Yep, it’s time to the laundry.  It’ll be done so you are not going commando in the morning.
  • Clothing purchases:  Like for special school events, weddings, etc – Kudos if you’re stocked up on fancy shoes, a sports jacket and that fitted button down shirt for your son. Concert tomorrow night = Trip to Target or Kohl’s today.
  • Gas: We can go just a little longer before we’re stuck on the highway somewhere.
  • Birthday presents:  I’m always the parent whose gift receipt has the same date as the birthday party.
  • Taxes: Definitely an April chore.
  • Goodwill donations:  We have hit Goodwill on December 31st way more than once in order to get that tax deduction in for the above mentioned April chore.
  • AND Telling My Husband Anything:  He constantly asks “What are we doing this weekend?” or “What time is soccer tomorrow?”  Being that he never exactly “hears” me the first few times he asks these questions, I find no need to answer these questions until the 11th hour now.

Dispute Resolution:

Business Definition: The process of arbitration, mediation, or other means to settle disputes without going to court.

Parenting Definition:  Refereeing fights and/or solving disagreements.

  • Between:
    • siblings
    • child and parent
    • children and friends
    • spouses
    • friends
    • family members
  • Please note:  No matter what, there will most likely be at least one unhappy camper.


Business Definition: Monies owed by a company or plant.

Parenting Definition:  Sadly, no explanation needed.

Unfortunately, there are certainly some Operations Management terms that rarely have a place in parenting, no matter how much we try.  We can leave these out of the parenting manual:

Cash Flow: The beginning and ending net cash as a result of cash that has flowed through an operation over a given period of time. See Debt.

Customer Satisfaction: A term in Total Quality Management that implies the degree to which customers are pleased with a product or service.  See Dispute Resolution.

Net Income: The income remaining after all expenses have been deducted from revenues including taxes and extraordinary. See Debt.

Schedule: Ordering of production to meet forecast or actual customer demand.    This is a funny one.

You can manage strictly by one strategy or a combination of strategies.  No matter what approach, something to keep in mind in business is the Return on Investment (ROI). The Business Definition of ROI is average yearly income divided by the average investment. The Parenting Definition of ROI isn’t revolved around numbers at all.  Analysts and shareholders probably wouldn’t like this, but no number value can be placed on raising my beautiful and loving children. Through all the laughter and all the tears – and dispute resolutions – it is blessing to help them learn and watch them grow, develop their personalities, and achieve their goals – and ultimately witness what awesomeness they can bring to mankind.  The ROI here is truly priceless.


Credit for Business Definitions:


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