Tips For Adulthood: Five Parenting Duties I’d Readily Outsource

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s list is inspired by a recent post I did on five reasons we all need a wife.

As with the division of labor within marriage, I’m a big believer that – it’s best to be honest as a parent about which tasks you like and which tasks you find onerous.

I’m not in a position to hire a nanny right now – (and we all know how hard that can be) – but if I had an imaginary care-taker for my children, here are five jobs I’d readily delegate:

1. Swim Lessons. Much like riding a bike (see below), learning to swim is one of those formative childhood experiences that’s meant to stay with you your entire life. I was at a dinner party last night and everyone at the table very clearly remembered their first swim lesson (often with a grimace.) I don’t mind going to watch my kids swim (as I currently do every Sunday morning.) But those early lessons where you also have to don a bathing suit and jump in and “acclimate them to the water” while singing Motorboat, Motorboat over and over? No thanks.

2. Riding a Bike. You know how they have that expression “It’s like riding a bike!”? I think there should be a sister expression: “It’s like learning to ride a bike” which captures the tedium, frustration, and near-death experiences that characterize the bike-learning process. Yeah, I know. This is parent blasphemy. What can I say? I told you I valued honesty.

3. Art Projects. I’m cool with some paper and crayons, even a scissor or two. But once glue, paint and – God Forbid – anything with a needle and thread get involved, I’m totally ready to hand off to someone else. I don’t, mind you. But I’d like to. Which is why I’m *so* jazzed that my daughter is at a camp this week where she’s learning to make her own clothes. Today she came home in a tiger-fur waist coat (vest, for you Americans.) She was so proud of herself. And so was I. And relieved.

4. Science Experiments. Ditto. Mind you, I love the *idea* of a test tube. But once you actually start mixing things in those beakers and waiting for them to react…uh-uh. (And by the way, why do all the experiments require iron filings? I mean, really. Who has those just lying around the house? Sure. Right here with my copy of the Constitution…)

5. Spectator Sports. I enjoy watching my kids compete in sporting events. It’s when they ask me to take them to watch a sporting event that I wince inwardly. This might be because – as someone whose own sporting prowess doesn’t extend much beyond pool and bowling – I just don’t find sports that interesting (Musical Theatre, in contrast? Now you’re talking…). So attending, say, a professional soccer game? Not my cuppa…

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of parenting duties I do enjoy: reading, writing, singing, play acting, playing board games, doing homework, baking cookies, ice skating. And more.

But I’ll happily pass on those listed above.

What’s on your list?


I’m over on today talking about a controversial CIA torture case in the UK and why it’s been so divisive for this country.

Image: Sewing Lesson by Robert the Noid via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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16 Responses to Tips For Adulthood: Five Parenting Duties I’d Readily Outsource

  1. Joe says:

    I’m right there with you on the bike thing. Tried teaching my older son, and between his fear of falling and our penchant to butt heads, we got nowhere.

  2. LPC says:

    Um, cleaning up vomit, waking up at 2am, losing my temper:)?

  3. Lindsey says:

    Great list. Mine is bathtime… (two young kids, 3 and 1). And emptying the dishwasher. I know, it so easy…but it kills me every time! I’d much rather clean the floor or windows or something. Why? I am not sure.

  4. Michael Hickey says:

    Fairly obvious one, but changing diapers is something I’m going to be happy to see in the rearview.
    As to your list – not sure where I read this – but I recall someone saying the key to bike lessons are for the parent (or whoever is doing the teaching) to pull on a pair of rollerblades and zip along with them to help. They said it took about 10 minutes.
    Now I just need to learn how to rollerblade.

  5. Keren David says:

    With you on everything except art projects, my favourite bit of parenthood! Science experiments are the worst.

  6. Madeleine says:

    Potty training. I’d rather change diapers. Maybe that’s why my children are in diapers until first grade.

  7. Daryl Boylan says:

    I could deal successfully (well…maybe?) with bikes, etc., but I must say having to watch team sports, whether or not my own offspring were involved, was pretty tedious. I postponed swim instruction till they were old enough (5-ish??) not to need my participation. Attempting gourmet baking projects with an older kid was frustrating for both of us — better any number of diapers! Likewise supervision of homework and/or music practice with an unwilling child, But yay for reading, writing,art and/or music with the willing, & most board games.

  8. delialloyd says:

    yes I was going to add music lessons-deadly!

  9. I’ve heard teaching your kids to drive is the absolute worst parenting task.

  10. Lindsey says:

    Oh this is fabulous (am just catching up!)
    Mine would be definitely #1 arts and crafts … eek that is just NOT my thing and I am so impatient … otherwise I’d add brushing teeth, washing hair (my daughter has adult hair and doing it in the tub is damn hard) … ok those are the top three. also, swim classes when they were little and i had to go in (the horror) or likewise gymnastics when they were little and i had to participate.

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