Buy the damn cheese!

How dropping the guilt can give us our lives back. 

Recently, I started a full-time role after several years of consulting. An exciting opportunity, lovely boss, great company, huge potential — all that. Oh, and I had to go back to working FULL TIME. I suppose that’s the thing about the full time thing.

Being a strategy type, I knew I needed a plan to manage this time. Easy — I held a “family meeting” to explain that bin-emptyin’, meal cookin’ and floor tidyin’ was no longer going to magically happen, so please DIY (lots of head nodding ensued).

I rehired the cleaner. Reorganized my closet in “work” and “casual” sections (lasted one day.) Skimmed “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and promptly rolled up all of my knickers (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know.) I bought new bed linens (gonna need more sleep). Cut the hair into a shorter bob.

But the one thing I kept on doing was the bloody grocery shopping.

One evening, we realized we had run out of night diapers precisely 2 minutes before PJ time. A “moment” was had by all. The next day, I decided to do Instacart — the online grocery shopping service. 20 minutes later, groceries ordered, cup of tea made. Boom. Ah, the satisfaction.

Then, the guilt set in.

I got my bags within an hour. The delivery guy had a handsome smile. I finished my book (2016 goal — read more) AND and drank entire cup of tea WHILE IT WAS STILL WARM! I should have felt blissful, right? No — pure guilt. Pure juicy bourgeois guilt.

What is it about paying a $5 service fee that made me feel so bad? (And then, horror of horrors, HOW MUCH DO I TIP?!)

Even as I was deciding on which cheese to buy, I realized I was procrastinating about buying it, because it was slightly more expensive than if I had driven to Trader Joe’s to buy it myself. I had to physically will myself to buy the damn cheese.

Yet — I am a woman who has been billed out at several thousand dollars per day. I have been flown to Europe simply to be at my client’s side for a conference. I have presented to conference rooms full of financial executives. My teams have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars per year of clients’ money. And yet, when I had to click on the cheese, the $5 cheese, the guilt crept in.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week, is famous for his idea of “outsourcing” your domesticity. How we scoffed. But here it is! Right now! And yet, we still resist?

Part of it is a residual role expectation. I helped my Mum shop at Tesco’s every Saturday for years during my childhood. The same stuff, same store, same chore, every week. At the time, there was no other choice, not for Mum. But I have choices, so why would I want to continue in the same way?

And then, there’s the ongoing control freak mode. My world is changing, but I can sure as hell make sure the cupboards are stocked with the same stuff as before. Because, that is calming….right?….

Being an avid current affairs reader, is it my awareness than I am extremely fortunate to be in the position where I can consider even buying $5 cheese? Others don’t have, so why should we?

A friend recently put it: “it’s because you’ve made it enough in this world that others do your groceries for you”. So is this where the guilt comes from? For being successful?

Well — all of the above. No-one is expecting me to continue these chores. I am putting them on myself. I am taking time away from the things I love to perpetuate something that I feel I “should” do.

If I do Instacart twice a month, I’ll spend about $25 more than if I did it myself. Deduct $5 for gas. Then 3 hours of my time @$150 hour, and all of a sudden, I should be PAYING MYSELF for grocery shopping!

Sheryl Sandberg talked in Lean In about choosing the right life partner so that the household burdens are shared. So true. And hard to manage even if you have a fantastic partner. 

What’s equally true is that we should lighten our own load by jettisoning guilt from our OWN shoulders and realizing, every day, that our energy is precious.

This doesn’t mean we need an instant Entourage. But it can mean we get groceries delivered when we need them.

Do it — you may like it….