8 tips for parents outsourcing responsibilities

Hiring out services that are traditionally assumed by parents is the latest trend happening in today’s modern families. Whether it’s the Uber car that drives your child to their soccer practice for urbanites or the nanny who attends the weekly physical therapy appointment for suburbanites, more and more outsiders are taking the place of parents and being hired to fill in the gaps where parents can’t.

The pace of life and what needs to occur in any given day is too much for one or even two parents to manage without help. Siblings needing to be at two different locations at the same time is commonplace in today’s modern families, where kids’ schedules are almost as full as an adult’s schedule.

And the frenetic lifestyle that so many parents lead is getting to them. I recently spoke with several moms who disclosed that the dentist office is their newest version of a “spa treatment.” Having fallen asleep myself during a dental procedure the previous week, I was shocked to learn that I’m not the only mom who views a visit to the dental office as a form of respite. It’s the one time and place when parents aren’t accountable and they can’t be expected to even answer the phone.

For the modern family, the high school babysitter of the past can’t meet the needs of today’s families. Care.com reported that interest is up for sitters who can do more than watch the kids. Sitters now need to be able to drive kids to places, help with homework, but also do errands, make phone calls and even attend children’s medical appointments.

I have counseled many moms who are up against the wall for time and yet they struggle with hiring out some of the tasks they think they “should” be doing. Technology use has added to the challenge for parents. Parents no longer need to monitor homework only to make sure it’s being completed. Today, parents need to monitor homework to ensure their children aren’t surfing the web or posting on social media when they are supposed to be studying, as most homework requires a use of a computer and technology access. Most parents don’t have time to monitor homework closely and sitters can help manage children’s technology use.

Given that the pace of life is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, more parents are outsourcing traditional parenting responsibilities. Here are eight tips to help you do just that:

1. Accept that you are not superhuman and allow yourself to get help. You deserve more time for yourself to take care of yourself. Hiring others to do some of the daily parenting tasks will help you to have “me” time.

2. Let go of the guilt. Your kids will be more well-rounded and adaptable if other adults serve in different roles in their lives. Children grow by becoming comfortable with others and asking for what they need and learning how to communicate with adults other than their parents.

3. Use a sitter website or generic job sites like Craigslist to find qualified candidates. Screen candidates for maturity, reliability, trustworthiness and flexibility. You want to hire someone who wants to help, and not someone who will make your job harder by giving you attitude when you ask them to extend themselves beyond the traditional sitter role. Look for someone who understands the demands of your lifestyle and who wants to make things easier for you.

4. Be specific. You are not just hiring a sitter. Instead, you are hiring a sitter and assistant to you.

5. Be realistic. You can’t do it all and stay mentally and physically healthy. Hiring help for driving and completing errands when you have to be doing many other things is healthy.

6. Outsource to your children. Teens can take on some of the burden as soon as they are old enough and capable. Just because they have school work and sports doesn’t mean they don’t have time to help you. Cutting the grass, doing laundry, even running errands for you if they drive are all tasks they need to learn and they can help you in the process.

7. Train your children. How your children interact with whomever you hire is important to the success of your new sitter/assistant. Your children need to be polite and respectful even if they’d rather have you 24/7 at their beck and call and are struggling to accept that they can’t.

8. Give your kids a cellphone. If your kids are going to be transported and relying on someone other than family, buy them a cellphone, and it doesn’t have to be a smartphone. It’s a way for you to check in with them when you are not with them and for them to have a way to contact you when they want to reach you.

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