Time-Saving Services to Make Modern Family Life More Doable
Local companies are answering the call for help around the house.
How many times have you wished for an extra pair of hands or a way to duplicate yourself so that you can cross something off that long to-do list? There is a way to get it all done, but you can’t do it all yourself. Outsourcing every day household tasks can mean more family time and reduced stress for moms and dads. The benefits of family time and less stress sometimes outweigh the costs associated with paying for a service.
Local companies are answering the call for help around the house by building businesses that help ease the load for working parents. Help is available for everything from lawn care, laundry and meals to housekeeping, child care and exercise. Sometimes doing it yourself can cost as much in time and energy as it does to hire someone to do it quickly and efficiently.
Selena Giovannelli, 47, mom to a 13-year-old boy, has used several services over the years to lessen the burden. “It absolutely puts the emphasis on my family time. There’s time for family dinners and meaningful conversation. It makes my life easier,” Giovannelli says. Consider how these services could make a big difference in your workload and family life.
Kids: Extra Help Required
Unless you are able to rely on family for child care, it is necessary to find a dependable and safe sitter. Several child-care referral agencies offer nanny services, baby-sitting, mother’s helper and overnight stays. Local child care services take help do the legwork in finding a sitter or child care.
“We want you to have a few people that mesh with your family,” says Charlotte Care Services owner Christine Blettenberg.
Some companies require a membership or have application fees. Baby-sitting rates range from $15-$20 per hour for 1-2 children. Cost of nanny services depend upon family needs and agency.
For more than 20 years, Queens University of Charlotte has coordinated a Service Referral List, (also known as The Babysitter List). The list is $25 and includes contact information for current students who are interested in child care, tutoring, lawn care and odd jobs.
Sanity-saving tip: Form a baby-sitting co-op with friends and family.
Meals: Magic of Delivery
Options for tasty healthy meals have expanded with the development of mobile meal services like Greatfull Plates, Zone 7 Foods and modPALEO. Greatfull Plates delivers frozen meals to your doorstep. Customized meals are available for special diets. Cost per meal is $30 for a family of four and $45 for a family of six.
Charlotte’s community supported agriculture (CSA) has grown in recent years. Bell’s Best Berries, Coto Family Farms and Small City Farm are a few that provide organic fruits and vegetables. Prices and delivery options vary depending on the CSA.
Sloan Crawford, 37, is mom to three girls. She and her family are members of Small City Farm. They pick up a dozen eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables each week.
“Certainly [the CSA] simplified my grocery shopping. Fresh food is immediately available,” Crawford says. “It is one less thing I have to think about, and I know it’s fresh and good plus my kids get to see where it comes from.”
Grocery stores also are making shopping easier for parents. Groceries may be ordered online, picked up at the store or even delivered to your doorstep. Harris Teeter’s app keeps track of past orders for quick shopping and makes it easy to choose a time for pickup. Local Instacart shoppers can deliver groceries to your home from Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Costco, Whole Foods, Publix or BJ’s Wholesale Club. Fees for pickup and delivery services range from $5-$12.
Sanity-saving tip: Split a CSA membership with another family to save on the cost and as a way to be sure to use produce before it goes bad.
Errands: Cross Them off
Moms are the best at multitasking, but as much as we try, we cannot be in two places at once. Metro’s Other Woman is one local service that can be that extra set of hands. Sarah Benken founded Metro’s Other Woman in Charlotte in 2008.
“We handle all the things you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. Any of those time sucks like laundry, errands, housekeeping, scheduling trips, really anything you are ready to hand-off to someone else, we are your girl,” Benken says.
Metro’s Other Woman sets you up with a personal assistant that provides services like laundry, meal prep, child transportation and errand running. They can be your personal shopper or organize spaces in your home. They work with you to find a person that fits your lifestyle and that is able to meet the needs you request.
Clothes shopping and keeping track of prescriptions can be time-consuming, too. Curvaceous Closet makes home visits with its mobile truck, and none of the clothing costs more than $60. Some pharmacies, including locally owned Cannon Pharmacy, deliver prescriptions to your doorstep.
Sanity-saving tip: During a busy time of the year, use help to get through your to-do list.
House and Laundry: Keep Them Straight
Maintaining a clean house is a challenge. The day-to-day cleanup of homework, school clothes and dishes can be overwhelming. Hiring a cleaning service on a regular basis eases the pressure of having to spend a weekend doing a deep clean.
If hiring a weekly cleaning service is not in your budget, consider using one when family visits, before leaving for vacation (we all want to come home to a clean house) or when you are arriving back from a business trip.
Piles of dirty or unfolded laundry can overwhelm any parent. Dry Clean Delivery Service and 2U Laundry picks up dirty laundry and then drops it off clean and folded ($1.50-$2 per pound).
Sanity-saving tip: Use a laundry service during children’s sports seasons when there are extra clothes to wash and less time to launder.
Fitness: Finding Time
Often parents run out-of-time and exercise is pushed further down the to-do list. Companies recognize that a workout takes planning and child-care coordination. Many places, like the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Burn Bootcamp and Fitness Connection, provide child care.
Loryn Wurst, personal trainer and owner of Hero Fitness, makes it even easier: She brings a nanny with her to your house. You get a personalized workout while the babysitter cares for your kids at your house.
Sanity-saving tip: Find a trainer who facilitates a boot camp for a group of neighborhood moms.
Vanessa is a freelance writer and mom to three boys. Follow her on Twitter @morethanvmi.