Outsourcing care: a blessing or a curse?

I read, with a little amusement, this blog article by a mum who ponders what life would have been like raising kids in the 70s.

The overall vibe of it was definitely appealing. Lazy days spent watching soap operas while hubby works; kids who take themselves off to school unsupervised; babysitters you can book for $1.50 an hour: this is definitely a lifestyle I could get on board with!

It got me thinking about how much times have changed – namely, how much busier we’ve all become.


Being a full-time stay at home mum nowadays is a very different proposition, as those parents who don’t work do a lot more than watch TV all day. There are schedules to organise, bills to pay, meals to prep, activities and events to plan, school tasks to sort out, kids costumes to create, playrooms to clean… the list goes on.

One of the things that has seriously changed, I’ve noticed, is the outsourcing of care.

We’ve become so busy that we don’t have as much time to care as we used to – and I’m not just talking about childcare and aged care. I’m talking about all the little ways in which we show care to our community.

For instance, in the past, if someone in your village was sick, or had a baby, or had fallen on hard times, people would rally around them. Children would be collected from school and looked after! Casseroles would be made under a meal roster! Friends and family would pop by and lend a hand!

These days, our villages have scattered. We’re all overscheduled and overwork, and we often outsource the little moments of care that we used to do ourselves.

We pay cleaners to tidy up after our busy families.

We buy meal deliveries to take care of cooking.

We enroll our kids into childcare centres.

We admit our elderly into care facilities.

And we do it not because we don’t care, but because we don’t have the time and energy to do it all ourselves any more.

Is this a blessing or a curse? On one hand, it’s wonderful that we have to ability to lean on support services so we’re not stretched too thin. On the other hand, heartbreaking stories like this one make me think that perhaps we’ve come to rely too much on outsourcing, without enough quality control along the way.

I don’t know whether our society has evolved for the better or worse.

And we can clutch onto some some parts of the 70s if we want too – we can even still get our hands on Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!