How to outsource parenting: a guide to letting somebody else raise your child

When I started this blog nearly 1 year ago, there were two words I was certain I’d never utter on these hallowed pages — lactation consultant.  Yes, this is a very dark day for the dough roller.  Indeed, this is a very dark day for parenting.  Need a lactation consultant?  That will be $85 per hour.  Need to know what a lactation consultant actually is or does?  Well, you’ll have to turn to a different blog for that answer, because I have absolutely no idea (ok, maybe I have some idea).  But apparently, lactation consultants are just one of many ways parents are finding to outsource the job of parenting, according to a recent Washington Post article written by Annys Shin.

It turns out that parents can outsource quite a lot.  Having trouble potty training your child?  Potty training consultants can help you for $250 for the initial consultation, and $175 for each follow-up visit.  If we had used this service for our daughter, it would have cost us about $10,000. Your children having trouble sleeping?  No worries, a sleep trainer can come to your rescue for $250-$500 per consultation.  At that cost, your child may be able to sleep, but I would be lying awake at night in a cold sweat worried about all the money I just spent.

Need a night nurse?  $20-$30 per hour.  Need a nanny tax accountant?  $475-$800 annually.  Want a personal shopper (and who doesn’t)?  $30 for a single item, and $15 per additional item.  Don’t want to get up in the middle of the night when your child is crying?  Here’s what the Washington Post article had to offer:

Staying up with your baby “used to be a rite of passage,” said Barbara Kline, president of White House Nannies in Bethesda.  “Now you outsource it.”  Her company places night nurses at a cost of about $400 for 24 hours.

And here’s my personal favorite.  You can hire a professional to baby-proof your home for $150 per consultation plus $500 per 1000 square feet for products and installation.  Now what I was growing up, there was no such thing as baby proofing a home.  Instead, we home-proofed the kid.  Here’s how it typically worked in my parents’ home.

Little boy Dough comes flying into the kitchen and whacks his head on the corner of the counter.  He goes down in a screaming fit and a pool of blood.

Mom: Alright, alright. You’re going to be fine. It’s just a little blood.

Stepdad: What’s all the racket?

Mom: Oh it’s nothing, he just hit his head on the kitchen counter.

Stepdad: He didn’t damage the countertop, did he?

Mom: I sure hope not.  [She examines the countertop closely]  No, it looks like the countertop is just fine, although the blood may be a little difficult to get out of the lines in the linoleum.

Stepdad: Well that will teach him to watch where he’s going the next time he comes flying into the kitchen.

And sure enough it did.

Today, we cover every surface in a house with a least 3 inches of foam.  And now, to top it off, some of us are actually going to pay $500 per thousand square feet.  Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I’m really starting to miss the 1970s.

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13 Responses to “How to outsource parenting: a guide to letting somebody else raise your child”

  1. I don’t think you can put LCs in the same category as those other “consultants” you mentioned. After all, it’s not like she can breastfeed FOR a woman. Mine was worth every penny – and I paid her a lot. But I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed without her.

    And I’ve been thinking of hiring someone to install a new safety gate at the top of our stairs – we did it so badly the first time, I think it might be money well-spent!

  2. I’m with CFO on the lactation consultant. And the one I used was included as part of the hospital cost for delivering a baby, so I didn’t notice how much she cost.

    An LC helps you get nursing your baby off to the right start and decreases the chance you will quit breastfeeding due to a baby’s improper latch and the pain that goes with it.

    As for the other stuff? I’ll just do it myself and save the money. The potty training consultant would have broke the bank trying to train our son. Man, am I glad those days are over! 🙂

  3. While I agree the other things are silly, hospitals hire LC’s and have them visit the new mothers to be sure babies are latching on properly. Although it looks like it should come naturally, breastfeeding is very difficult for the first two weeks and LC’s usually have tips that can help avoid blisters and cracking and bleeding. Owch!
    Getting the most information and help on how to feed your child in such a benefital way is in no way shirking responsibility.

  4. Yep, in the ‘olde days’ a new breastfeeding mother could turn to an older generation woman who had also breastfed to give her advice and help, but since our moms were part of the bottle generation, we have to pay someone for the information. Not to say they aren’t worth the price, it’s worth every penny.

    Then again, we’re raising our daughter with the “watch where you’re going next time” mentality as well.

  5. Augh. I hope the Post gets some letters about this.

    The Lactation Consultants, at least where I work, aren’t a part of outsourcing parenting. In a non-communal society, they’re quite important, they take on the role of the older women.

    I hear so many new moms saying, despairingly, “I don’t know if she’s getting enough….I don’t even know if she’s getting anything…what am I doing wrong?” LCs help the moms figure out the nuts and bolts of feeding, give them tips, and reassure them that “yes, the baby’s getting enough to eat” (or not).

    As a baby, I almost died from not nursing right (lost 25% of my birth weight in 2 weeks), so this is very personal to me. One doesn’t like to see one’s lifesavers belittled by the Post. 🙁

    My parents had to get a consult to discuss how they were going to fix this without putting me on an IV. They weren’t looking for an easy way out, they didn’t want their daughter to starve to death. Most people probably don’t have as dramatic motivations, but getting a checkup with an LC at the hospital can prevent this kind of thing from happening.

    If Ms. Shin thought or implied they were wet nurses, she obviously didn’t do her research.

    There’s a lot of ridiculousness that parents pay for (potty training consultants?) and there’s a lot that kids can do fine without. But despite my occasional fights with LC’s over who gets the baby first, I think they’re immensely valuable.

  6. Okay, so I was all angry and uptight and going to yell, but the ladies before me said things much more calmly and rationally so i will not.

    But to reiterate, a lactation consultant is not outsourcing parenting.

    Is not.

    At all.

    In the least.

    You try and figure out how to get a screaming uncooperative upset freaked out confused baby to take your breast and get milk out of it without a little help, DR. Good luck. 😉

    Not everyone needs one (my daughter was a natural at it) but without the help of an LC I would never have gotten my son to nurse, ever.

    And that same son…. who at 3 1/2 is still not potty trained (and believe me, we have tried every method I can stomach) I’d probably pay a lot of money to get someone who knew a method that would work for him. Heh.

    Don’t judge til you are in those shoes. Like, seriously. let Mrs. DR proofread from now on. 😉

    (This was the nice version of my original comment btw. )

  7. From I’ve heard breastfeeding a baby can be very difficult for a new mom so the availability of LC’s is important.

    Onto the 70’s. I had to laugh at your counter top incident. I grew up in the same type of household. Remember when Tonka trucks were made out of metal and the corners would get all scraped and sharp? I remember a time my folks let me play with a soda can, a nail, and a hammer. You can say I never played with that combination of “toys” again. I miss those days….

  8. Whew, I thought the comments were going to be WAY more flame-y when I saw you’d lumped an LC into the other things that DO seem a bit extravagant (to put it mildly). The whole “potential to crack & bleed” thing was news to me until a friend went through it recently.. in a very real and painful way.

    I tell ya… the whole thing just doesn’t seem natural to me. When will we become pod people? 😉

  9. Your post made me laugh! How times have changed then. I remember when my fave toys were mud and water to make “delicious” pies. God knows who or what had been in that dirt before I got to it ….. numerous neighborhood cats no doubt. My PIL’s favey toys were screwdrivers and car radiators …. tinkered with while wearing nothing more than a half-falling-off diaper and cowboy hat and holding a filthy floppy donkey. I’ve seen the pics.

  10. There may be situations where every one of these things are required. My cousin’s wife, who is about as hands-on a parent as one could expect, broke her arm in a fall two days after baby came home from the hospital. She could not pick him up for six weeks! They had a nurse come in to help her with the baby while her husband was at work, and it was a godsend.

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