After years of bloody poop and projectile vomiting in ice cream stores I decided to have my son tested for gluten and lactose intolerance. It’s not a small test. He had to be put to sleep with anesthesia, and just as I got everything scheduled, Joan Rivers died having the operation he was scheduled to have, so I canceled it.
This deciding process involved three people who helped me: One person did research for me (percentage of children who throw up from milk products, definition of gluten intolerance, amount of blood in poop that is alarming vs just sort of a problem.) One person dealt with all doctor appointment scheduling (the allergist, the general practitioner who kept not referring me to the allergist, the ENT, the surgeon.) And Carla, our driver, who took my son to appointments where all he needed to do was pee in a cup.
You can’t outsource holding your kid’s hand when they get wheeled to the operating room. But you can outsource almost everything else. The trick is to think in terms of discreet tasks and what sort of person is good for doing that task.
You might not think of delegating doctor appointment schedules as delegating homeschooling, but it’s getting rid of stuff I don’t like to do so that I can spend time on decisions that I would never want to delegate, like whether or not my son’s biology tutor is doing a good job. That’s a lot of what it looks like to delegate if you’re a homeschooler.
Hiring someone for quick projects doesn’t have to be expensive. I use Odesk for tasks that are repetitive, systematic, and don’t require perfect English, like putting my address list into a spreadsheet for bar mitzvah invitations. You will find people there who are totally capable of that type of work and charge only a couple of dollars an hour.
For short, immediate problems, that need to be solved in person, there is TaskRabbit. Task Rabbit is not cheap, but it’s a life saver. When I was in Chicago and we left the cello bow in the north suburbs of Chicago, I found someone on Task Rabbit that would pick up the bow, pay for it in cash, and deliver it to our hotel room.
For projects that are more involved or require some cultural knowledge, there is Perssist. This is where you’ll find rock-star caliber assistants who can plan events, or figure out how to fit soccer and karate into your kids’ schedules, or make your winter vacation a dream. I especially like the list of common requests on Perssist because it gives me ideas for projects I am doing myself but could be outsourcing.
There is so much advice in the world about how to delegate to get your office job done. But it’s very difficult to get insight as to how people are delegating their personal life. I try to be very up front on this blog when I am delegating stuff, so we can share ideas, but I also like reading the job descriptions on Persist to get ideas on how I could get away with doing less as a homeschooler.
Well, maybe not less, but definitely less of what I don’t like.