Outsourcing Mom and Dad

Parents want to share the fun times with their children, reports the Nashville Tennessean. Everything else can be delegated.

Teaching your kids to ride a bike, shuttling them to doctor appointments, reminding them to say “Yes, ma’am,” helping with algebra homework and training them to be sensible shoppers.

These aren’t the stuff memories are made of in some families.

Instead, there are services in the Nashville area that give you the choice of outsourcing traditional parental duties.

Some parents hire sleeping coaches for their babies and toilet trainers for toddlers. They pay experts to teach their kids to ride a bike or write a “thank you” note.

At Your Service will take children grocery shopping to teach them the value of money and how to compare brands, as well as take them pet-sitting to teach responsibility, said co-owner Rose Mary Rovansek, who spent 20 years as a child-care teacher before opening the service.

“Parents have a lot of stress and don’t have a lot of time or patience,” Rovansek said. “One mom said she’s always in the hurry when she goes grocery shopping and doesn’t want to take the time to explain the Kraft brand vs. the store brand.”

The kiddie concierge service costs $45 an hour.

I knew a man whose ex-wife had given him custody of their children. “She loves them but she doesn’t like all the little things” that parenting requires, he said. “The little things are all there is,” he said.

About Joanne


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Sad isn’t it?

    My teenagers can do the grocery shopping on their own. Why because my mother had the great suggestion of giving them some items on the grocery list when they were 8 and 10 years old. They were to find the items and bring them back. Since then they have learned how to pick out the fresh foods, what is on the weekly list (memorized), etc. It is a joy to go to the grocery store. Why? Two reasons – first are the comments I receive “did I see your son with a cart?” Yes you did. Second, we are in and out of the store in half the time.

    Oh yes, between my mother, husband and me we taught them everything else. It does take a family to raise children.

    I am from Nashville…I did not even know all these other services existed.

  2. What’s even sadder than the existence of these services — and the existence of people who would pay for them — is the fact that a lot of these “services” are probably no better than trial-and-error at home. I mean, honestly, toilet-training coaches?

    Sounds like a good way for somebody to make $45 an hour — get affluent parents to believe that money can alleviate the chance for error.

  3. Reading that actually turned my stomach. I think my kids are going to get extra hugs today.

  4. Hunter McDaniel says:

    I don’t think this is a new phenonomenon, nor is there any danger of it becoming a mass phenomenon. Some parts of the upper class have long used nannies and boarding school to insulate themselves from the bother of parenthood.

  5. wayne martin says:

    Hmmm .. “Parenting”, another of those jobs that Americans don’t want to do that justifies illegal immigration.

  6. 1. Why have kids, then?

    2. Maybe a competing company needs to spring up – rent-a-kid. Where, for $45 an hour, people can attend mock birthday parties, christenings, etc., and pretend that they are the parents of the children involved. (It would perhaps be a good opportunity for child actors who are no longer cute.)

    3. One thing I learned as a kid from my parents is that many things can be an opportunity for fun (or at least, learning) – we played I Spy while waiting in line at a restaurant or waiting at the dentist, my mom would give my brother and me particular items we were to look for in the grocery store, even cleaning house together.

    Isn’t part of being a grown-up accepting that you have responsibilities that will not necessarily be fun, but because they are your responsibility, you should do them any way? What kind of message does it send to the kid: anything that’s less than wonderful, you can pay someone else to do? I predict an even greater crop of kids caught hiring subs to take their college exams for them 10 or 12 years from now….

  7. GradSchoolMom says:

    What I have been finding interesting is how incompetent many parents are feeling these days. I’m not hearing Moms say that they don’t want to do these things but they seem to be saying that they think someone else can do a better job. I can’t imagine what has made them all feel that way. My guess is that they’ve all read too many psychology books and are afraid to be responsible for messing up their children.

  8. But at least a nanny is a stable presence, not a “in and out” service provider.

  9. greifer says:

    Yup, the parents feel utterly incompetent.

    I think there are a lot of reasons. The main one is that they have no reference point, because families are shrinking and parenthood is being delayed. It used to be that a girl or boy was around babies as a matter of course, and then young people were around tons of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other matronly and patronly folks who provided the occasional advice. But it wasn’t difficult to toilet train or sleep train a child when you were 25 because you’d seen it done half a dozen times when you were a kid–heck, you were left in charge of your younger sibs and cousins at 11, and no one thought that was odd or dangerous. So, if you at 11 could handle it, you didn’t have any reason to think you couldn’t handle it at 31.

    The second reason for this feeling of incompetence is media bombardment of experts–experts in all walks of life. We aren’t comptent at handling our own diets, our own finances, our fashion, our relationships. How could we possibly handle parenthood? This incompetence is increased when you hear about the extreme cases. The child who dies from crib death, the carjacking with the kid in the car, the child allergic to soy, milk, meat, nuts, wheat, and rice. So we delegate to experts out of fear. The less we have to be afraid of, the more we feel fearful and incompetent as we have no real obstacles to overcome.

    Third, the constant signalling that doing it “okay” or “the way my parents did” is no longer good enough. You must do BETTER! you must make them perfect! you must do everything in a pain free way! You must make no mistakes or you’ll RUIN YOUR CHILD!

    Of course, some of it is simply not wanting to be hassled by children. But I think the desperation that women in particular feel now as mothers is the main problem. Many mothers –who never are around or have enough children to see what’s innate, what’s normal–are terrified. It’s quite sad, and exactly not what kids need.

  10. It used to be that the manners coach, the sleep coach, the toilet training coach, and the homework coach were all the same person – Grandma. These days, people move far away from their families, so they have no support system and no experienced person to advise them. Instead of taking this as evidence that parents are shirking responsibility, I see it as an indicator that families are too isolated. This information that used to be found in aunts and grandparents and neighbors is now found in arrogant experts warning you about the danger of not following their advice.

  11. I like Dawn’s comment about kids getting extra hugs.

    just think when husbands and wives are outsourced…oh never mind, some people do that — sickos.

    Outsourced grandparents…now that’d be even sadder?

  12. Being a concierge myself I focus on giving the busy parent more time by doing all their errands and running around, taking care of all the “little things” so theycan take time for their children and teach them and rise them themselves. I am under the beleif that there is no subsitute for a parent. When busy parents hire me they make the choice to spend that time with their kids, and the moments that only come once in a life time. So if people want to out source because of time, I encourge them to start with the dry cleaning, bank, post office etc….

  13. I have 4 kids, and enjoyed doing the little things with my kids. I would never want someone else to get the satisfaction or frustration that I experienced in my kid’s growth. We have stories to tell that are funny now that we thought we’d never get through. Many times, that’s when the kids open up, when parents are expecting answers and the kids feel relaxed. When we were frustrated, we also used as a fact of life and got through it. I enjoyed my kids, though at times I could have used a stand in. But I would never want to give up that time that we spent together.