Friday, December 19, 2008

Mystery Shopping: The Bane of My Existence

I did two mystery shops today, both of them paying pretty well for what mystery shopping usually pays. I dragged my kids along with me. They didn't mind too much the Arby's shop, because they got to eat lunch, and they thought the Anywhere Fitness I "checked out" was pretty cool because Avery kept slipping on their floors with her wet shoes and making all of us, including herself, laugh. But I found that I minded taking my kids along because it wasn't how I would have chosen to spend time with them. (And yet, I did choose this because I am the one who signed up for the shops!) I'm discovering more and more how I loathe performing these shops that I sign up for, and when the due date approaches and I finally have to make good on my obligation, I'm cranky and resentful and stressed. And the people who pay the price for my bad mood are Kate, Avery, and Lilly (and Mac, too, I guess, but mostly the girls).

When I first started mystery shopping a couple of years ago, it was fun and interesting. Here was an unusual way of making a little mad money that often got me free stuff and allowed me to role play different scenarios. I fell in love with it! But as Mac's work schedule has gotten busier and the number of babie's I've birthed has increased, I'm finding that it's just not worth it to me to spend my precious time out on these errands that have become so laborious and so, well, stupid. It's not just the time spent doing the shop either. Once I'm home, I have to find time to input all of the information online while other important things, like cleaning, cooking, playing with my kids, reading, addressing Christmas Cards, and relaxing all have to wait. It's just not worth it anymore!

So why haven't I quit? The same reason any intelligent person doesn't stop a knowingly destructive habit: Because I'm addicted. I keep saying that I'm trying to stop, but doing the stopping is actually really hard. I've always enjoyed making money, and when I became a mom and quit working full time, I began looking for other ways to make money, even when I didn't need to. But I'm hereby declaring that once the new year is upon us, I will sign up for no more mystery shops! I mean it. I do have one shop I'm already scheduled to perform in January, but really - that will be the last one! By making this commitment public, I'm counting on myself actually standing by it. Mylife will be richer, fuller, and more stree-free if I can finally let go of this little money-making side business that has made me into more of a working mom than I want to be.

I blame (er, thank) Lilly for pushing me to this state. That third child really makes you come to grips with your limits.


Cathy said...

Thanks for sharing the perspective! I've been thinking about doing mystery shopping, but it's good to hear about the downside.

Alicia said...

I have often wondered how you do it, and although I know you have the ability to do it all, you are amazing, you are so smart. Time with the kids is the way to go. I love this post, you rock, Julie.

Brent & Andrea said...

Merry Christmas! I love that your family is the most important thing. Love you guys!