Spending a few bucks can make you a happier parent
Published: December 28, 2018
By: Sandi Schwartz
Do you get into bed every night wishing you had more time in your day?
Parenting is a full-time job for many, while others are trying to balance work, family life and other activities. The feeling of never having enough time — or “time famine” as it’s referred to now — is becoming more widespread. It’s a serious issue for many, especially busy parents juggling multiple responsibilities.
On average, moms spend about 14 hours taking care of the kids each week, as well as 18 hours on housework and 21 more working a paid job, according to Pew Research Center. Despite the recent overall trend of dads helping out more at home, moms still spend twice as much time on childcare and housework. Add the constant barrage of emails, texts and social media posts, and it’s no wonder we wonder where the time went.
Constantly feeling the time pressure can lead to stress, insomnia and general unhappiness. Science has a solution for your time crunch— but it will cost you. A recent study directed by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that spending money to buy more free time can make us happier.
The researchers evaluated over 6,000 adults in the United States, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands to test whether buying time made a difference in their lives. The group was diverse, including 800 millionaires. The participants were asked how much money they spent on buying time, and discovered that fewer than a third of them spent any money on it at all. Even the wealthy were reluctant to spend money to save time.
On average, moms spend about 14 hours taking care of the kids each week, as well as 18 hours on housework and 21 more working a paid job, according to Pew Research Center.
Those who did reported greater life satisfaction than those who did not. The effect was true for people in all income levels.
The participants were also asked to rate their feelings about stress related to time issues and their overall life satisfaction. In one phase of the research, 60 adults participated in a two-week experiment. On the first weekend, they were asked to spend $40 on a purchase that would save them time, such as paying to have their house cleaned, buying lunches to be delivered to work, or compensating neighborhood kids to run errands for them. On the second weekend, they were told to spend the money on material items like clothing, wine, games and books. The study showed that people felt happier and less stressed after spending money on ways to save time as opposed to stuff.
So, how can you buy more free time? First, evaluate which of your daily tasks you absolutely dread doing. Then ask yourself whether you can delegate this work to someone else for a fee. Many people feel guilty, inadequate or lazy if they pay someone else to do chores for them. Maybe they shouldn’t, because the research indicates that buying time will make them happier.
“Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences,” says one of the study’s researchers in an interview in Science Daily.
Of course, not everyone can afford to buy a lot of time, if any, but maybe you can at least manage the extra expenses in your budget so that you can consider getting your groceries delivered; calling someone to handle household maintenance; or signing up for a landscape service to mow your lawn. If paying for these services is a challenge, then consider hiring kids from the neighborhood for less money or exchanging services with others, such as having a teenager mow your lawn in exchange for some tutoring help. You can also budget in a cleaning service once a month or every other month, which will still make a difference in freeing up some time.
The best part of having extra time is that you can enjoy more of what you love (yes, even parents deserve time for a hobby!). You will also have more time to spend with your children — to listen to, connect with and hug. You know, be a better, happier mom.
Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer. (In case you’re wondering, she didn’t pay someone to write this article for her.)