It's a competitive world out there. Everyone is trying to get ahead and make the most of that most precious commodity: time. We often find ourselves trying to make our lives more efficient, but there are times when our trite efficiency mottos get in our way. One of those mottos is the famous "time is money."
When you evaluate which activities take the most time for a family, yardwork is bound to come up. Yardwork is all-season work — mowing, edging, weeding, gardening, watering, raking, landscaping and shoveling snow off the walkways. Just as these tasks start to overwhelm you, a smiling teen in your neighborhood offers to mow your lawn or shovel your sidewalk each week for a mere $15. Who wouldn't see the economic logic behind taking his offer? If he can do all of your yardwork for $15, you save time and can (potentially) make more money over that time than the $15 you're paying out.
And that's the catch. It only seems to make sense at first. But in reality, you're missing the big picture. Here are the top three reasons why you should do your own yardwork.
1. Think time is money? Not on Saturday!
I'll explain this principle with a short statement:
You don't do yardwork when you're at work. Therefore, the idea that your time is "worth more" than doing yardwork while you're at home? False.
You aren't going to pick up some contract work on Saturday morning. Paying someone else during that time does not provide an opportunity to make more money. Don't spend money during that time if you aren't earning more money in its place!
2. If it's yours, own it
It's your yard. Take care of it.
Whether you have a massive estate of three manicured acres or 0.05 acres behind your townhome, enlist the help of the whole family in yardwork. Not only will you take better care of your property if you are the one maintaining it, but your kids will also develop a stronger sense of stewardship for your home. Much like teaching your toddler to pick up his Legos, getting your teenage daughter to rake leaves will teach her what it means to be responsible for property. When you pay someone else to tend your yard, you're showing your children quite the opposite.
3. Stay active. Stay together
Modern lifestyles are largely sedentary. We sit at work, our kids sit at school, and when we get home, we sit in front of some sort of screen. Getting up and taking care of your property is invigorating. You may actually have to bend or lift or squat! It's like that circuit training program your personal trainer neighbor has been trying to sell to you for over a year now. Aside from actually using your body to do something other than typing or clicking, you can use this as family time.
I know. It sounds thrilling. But this is big picture thinking.
When I was little, we lived in a house that was uphill from street level. A section of the yard was covered in gravel — the ultimate breeding ground for weeds. Every few weeks, my dad would wake us up early on a Saturday and we would go out as a family, put on our gardening gloves and pull weeds for at least an hour. When we moaned and groaned, my parents smiled and said we were building character. We didn't believe a word they said (we knew they were breaking child labor laws).
But they were 100 percent right. We learned how to do hard work, and we learned it while our parents were working side by side with us. We saw how they handled difficult, mundane tasks. Sure, it wasn't going to the pool or catching a summer flick, but that family time taught us how to get through hard times with the people we love. Your children don't learn that from watching a team of landscapers sweep over your yard with giant machines for 15 minutes.
The next time someone says you should hire a landscaping crew for your yard (or even a maid service for your house), think twice about the offer. Don't waste your money. Develop a sense of ownership. Stay active. Stay together.