Brief - The Hustle

Virtual babysitters are here to give isolated parents a break

Written by Nick DeSantis | May 1, 2020 9:13:47 AM

Life in quarantine is stressful for everyone. For parents who work from home, closed schools and daycare centers add an anxiety-inducing question to the mix: How the heck am I supposed to get a moment’s peace if the kids have to be entertained all day long?

Virtual sitters are Zooming to the rescue

Video conferencing really is for everything these days, and child care is no exception. The Washington Post reports that entrepreneurs are spinning up virtual services to lend struggling moms, dads, and kids a hand:

  • A stay-at-home mom in Boston who has 4 kids launched SitterStream, where parents can book virtual sessions for 30 or 60 minutes at a time (at $15 and $22 a pop).
  • The CEO of SitterCity told Forbes that demand for virtual services has risen 700% recently. SitterCity’s site is running a promotion that cuts the monthly fee for new members in half.

The new tools aren’t meant to replace in-person sitters of old, who might tag in when the adults needed help for longer periods — like date night, the old-fashioned tradition of 2 months ago.

But even a little help can make the 2nd shift easier

Even in the Better Times, child care and the chores that make up domestic life (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) fell more heavily on the shoulders of women. The New York Times wrote about how the pandemic has only made those disparities worse.

Women also work disproportionately in industries that have been decimated by the virus, like health care and hospitality.

Though they may offer temporary relief — or at least enough time to fire off a few emails — virtual-sitter services do come with some unique challenges. Like reeling the kids back in when they stray too far from the camera.