Family is a team sport

By Kate Christie

Why you need to master insourcing

As a busy working mum you are familiar with the concept of ‘outsourcing’ – where you identify all the tasks you perform at work and home that you are prepared to pay someone else — an expert — to do because they will do the task faster, better and cheaper than you. The reason you outsource the tasks you don’t want to do, or don’t have the skills or time to do, is to give yourself time for the things you do want to do. Go figure!

However, getting help around the home needs to go beyond just you and the cleaner doing everything. It’s time to ‘insource’!

Insourcing is the exact opposite of outsourcing – where you identify everything you do around the house for the people you live with that they can do for themselves, and that you don’t have to pay them for.

The 5 Basics of Insourcing

1 Family is a Team Sport (and happily, you are the captain).

2 The younger you start your kids insourcing, the better – little kids are enthusiastic, compliant, and they don’t back chat. If you leave insourcing until your kids are teenagers, you will be fighting a much harder battle.

3 You are not after perfection, you simply want to instil in your family the habit of helping out without a fight. The dishwasher may not get stacked exactly the way you like but that’s OK; the beds might not be perfect but at least the doonas are off the floor; no-one expects a six year old to vacuum like a pro, however by the time s/he is fifteen s/he will be a pro and what’s more, s/he won’t argue when you hand over the vacuum.

4 Everyone is responsible for their own ‘stuff’ and their own room – they are capable of tidying away their belongings; hanging up their towels; making their beds; and cleaning their floordrobes.

5 Identify the family-based chores and divide them up and rotate them – for example, feed the pets; walk the dog; take out the bins; vacuum the floor; pack and unpack the dish-washer.

But there are traps – let’s not kid ourselves here!…

The 2 Big Traps to Avoid

1 The ‘Oh MY GODDDD, my kids have left their towels on the floor again! How many times do I have to ask them to hang their towels up? Honestly, I am not their [insert swear word of choice]slave!’ trap.

And then what do you do? You pick up the towels and rehang them. You know you do this. Is it any wonder that your family don’t pick up their own towels? If you were living in a hotel where the towels you left on the bathroom floor were collected, washed, refreshed and re-hung every day, you would probably leave your towel on the floor too.

I am not blaming you. I am just telling you that you are a major part of the problem.

Solution: Stay strong and be consistent, because you are breaking two habits: (i) the habit of your family who are used to leaving their ‘stuff’ lying around because they know you will pick it up and put it away, and (ii) your habit of picking it up and putting it away.

2 The ‘It’s really no bother – it only takes me five minutes to do!’ trap.

No, it does not. It’s time for a reality check — the small stuff that you think only takes five minutes actually eats up hours and hours of your life. For example, if you spend 10 minutes a day tidying up all of the ‘stuff’ your kids leave around the house, that’s 60 hours of your time a year.

Solution: From now on, when you see your family’s stuff lying around just begging you to pick it up, clear it away, tidy it or make it magically disappear, take a deep breath and back out of the room and quietly shut the door.

Insourcing is all about creating independent and resourceful human beings as opposed to dependent and helpless ones. After all, my sons are going to grow up to marry your daughters, so let’s do them all a favour.

Kate Christie is a time management specialist, best selling author, global speaker and the founder and CEO of Time Stylers. This is an edited extract from her fourth book, Me First: The Guilt-Free Guide to Prioritising You (published by Wiley), is available in all good book stores.

For more information about Kate go to

Peninsula Kids – Winter 2020


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