August 29, 2007

Some thoughts on outsourcing

A friend in a high tech company I do consulting work for shared this story:
Both he and his wife work in high tech. They have 3 kids.
He has a confession to make - they've come to terms with their decision to "outsource childcare."
Outsourcing? As in sending out your manufacturing to Flextronics? As in offshoring your call center to India?
His explanation:
The nanny (metapelet) stays with the baby at their place, and at 1 PM picks up the older kids (ages 5 and 7) from kindergarden/school. Feeds them. Helps with homework. Takes them to their extra-curricular activities.
By the time mom and dad arrive, they're done with most of the activities of the day. But, he's fast to add, if there are any emergencies (older son forgot to sign approval form for his karate club? Younger kid wants to have a playmate over?) either parent can get there in 15 minutes or less.
Costs them a fortune, but doesn't sound too bad. It certainly beats our arrangement of leaving my kids until 4 pm at their respective kindergardens, and having a teenage babysitter several times a week (confirm availability an hour earlier) to pick them up and walk home (rail, sleet or scorching sun), who then feeds them hopefully-colorant-free-but-sugar-loaded shlukis (hey - whatever keeps the kids happy) and makes a mess out of my livig room in good days, watches 2 hours of TV in bad days.
Or maybe not.
My friend's confession is not that they have a brilliant Mary Poppins every day. It's that they've "come to terms" with outsourcing childcare.
No way. I refuse to accept that I'm outsourcing childcare or child rearing. Outsourcing is something you do with
a) things so specialized you're better sending them to an expert,
b) a task so common or simple that it's cheaper for someone else to do it (or by economies of scale as my mentor Ben Gilad would say)

Could motherhood not be a core competency of mine?
(okay, save your comments)
Is money all that is at stake here?

I don't care how many other "parenthood helpers" we hire to get on top of our regular workload - I'm not outsourcing this bit. I'm insourcing help. Creating new jobs. Bringing diversity into my children's day.

Is it only a question of semantics? It all comes down to what the I balance book will say in the end - did our kids show a profit from our activities as parents? Did we?


Ido Angel said...

outsourcing, insourcing - that's all very funny - but the point is not the semantics, but the intention: are you treating your child like a project? is it a "task", being a parent?

Loving your child is the most important thing. Doesn't matter what he does all day, or even with whom. I am a divorced father with 2 girls, one of which is only a year and a half and would never understand the meaning of family. but hopefully, she will know her worth because I love her, and she knows it, and feels it.

I'm a bit emotional on this, but as I said, it was really funny to read :)

Vivi said...

A project... Sad, isn't it. We treat kids as such from the minute "we decide" to try to conceive. We then "decide" to rule their lives until we either get sick of it or they rebel.
Oh, but how often do we see this as a gift? As something we can't mold to our liking? As something whose outcome we can't take full credit for? As something we don't actually own? (Not shouting at anyone, just my own conscience speaking)

At the same time, parenthood is a task. One that most people undertake out of choice, but a task that requires a certain mininum of duties nonetheless, duties that only you can fulfill. Fortunately, love is the most important one of these. You've got it going right.

Thanks for sharing, Ido