I’m still slowly working my way through Tsh’s ebook One Bite at a Time and journaling my progress here.  My favorite part of the book is that it can be done in any order, which is helpful for my oftentimes scattered brain.

Somehow there is so much mama guilt out there.  Or rather, in here.  For some reason, I’ve come to believe that not only do I have to do it all, but I have to do it all basically perfectly, and without complaint, hesitation, or even so much as a sigh.

And you know what?  For a while I tried that.

And you know what?  It didn’t work for long.

So this year, I made the decision to not put my daughter in preschool and instead use the money we would have allocated to her tuition to hiring a mother’s helper.

There are a lot of reasons (too specific and boring for me to bother laying out in detail here) why I made the decision, but part of it boiled down to the simple fact that by the time I did all of the load up, car seat buckling, unbuckling, driving to and fro, I would really only end up with a whopping one hour of unencumbered time.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was a very expensive hour.  What I really needed was just an extra set of hands for a few hours per week.  Someone to put the baby down for his nap and keep my 4 year old occupied while I did my part in the hybrid homeschooling program my son attends.

And if that someone could do a few simple household chores while she was at it, well, that would pretty much be heaven on mama earth.

After much hemming and hawing, back and forths, and heaping tons of guilt (Why couldn’t I just do this by myself?  Other moms set up lavish work boxes for younger siblings to do during home school time…why can’t I?  My grandmother would be appalled that I am hiring help!  Ack!), I finally hired a mother’s helper.

Three months in, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  Here’s why I love it, and why you might want to consider hiring one yourself:

There is no picking up/dropping off.

Honestly, even though I live in a fairly small town and nothing is very far away, loading up multiple kids into multiple car seats just to drive 2 miles away, somehow manages to eat up a lot more time than you would think.  And somehow, it’s always right when the baby is napping.  Which, as you know, is the WORST.

The kids think they have a personal playmate.

As far as my daughter is concerned, Miss Bri is here to play with her.  Miss Bri works through her alphabet with her and minutes later, dons a ruffled apron and plays kitchen.  Sometimes, she even takes the kids to the park, and I have an hour of quiet time.

Not only do I get help with the kids, I get the added bonus of help around the house.

Every Wednesday, Miss Bri folds and puts away kid laundry.  Let me repeat: she folds and puts away kid laundry.  The amount of laundry I do weekly is now a fraction of what it once was.  I feel like I have so much more time.  I cannot express to you how huge of a difference this one task has made for me.

She also helps the kids with cleaning up their rooms, empties the dishwasher, tidies up the playroom, and sweeps the kitchen.  (She doesn’t do all of these everyday, but these are the types of tasks I ask of her.)

I can run quick errands without littles in tow.

I’m typically at the house a majority of the time she is here, but it’s really nice to be able to pop out for a quick run to the grocery store, or to pick up a prescription without toting along all the kids. Again, the efficiency is incredible.

I can truly focus on homeschooling with my older son.

I realize that lots of mamas home school with toddlers and preschoolers underfoot successfully.  I, however, am not one of those mamas.  I suppose that perhaps I could be.  But I feel a whole lot less stressed when I’m not trying to juggle multiple squirrely balls all at once.  I like that I can focus on one thing and do it really well.  Plus, since we can be really focused, we finish up sooner and he can have some Miss Bri time too.

She folds and puts away kid laundry.

I know I already said that.  BUT SHE DOES KID LAUNDRY.  (Actually, my kids put away their own laundry…but she’s there to facilitate and put away for the younger ones who can’t yet.)

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For now, she comes two afternoons per week for three hours at a time.  Next year, I will have 3 out of 4 kids in school so things will look completely different and I don’t know that I’ll need a mother’s helper.  Or maybe I will.  I don’t know.  But for now…for this year…I’m so glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone, quieted my shame, and said yes to getting some help.  I’m much less frazzled, and I’m really enjoying home school this year.  Which is saying quite a bit over last year.

Have you ever hired a mother’s helper?  Has there been anything stopping you?  Am I the only one who feels really guilty and “less than” for hiring help (because it’s still totally there.  no matter how hard I try.)

Are you working through One Bite at a Time?  You can get it here for only $5!  Join me!  It’s really kinda fun!