Rent-A Grandma

The Next Family

By: Shannon Ralph


Cooking, cleaning, kissing boo-boos, baking cookies, spoiling children—these were once the domain of grandmothers who lived nearby or oftentimes, in the case of multigenerational households, in the same home with their grandchildren. These days, however, many people find themselves starting families hundreds of miles away from their own parents. In addition, people are living longer, healthier lives. You may very well find that the grandmothers in your family are too busy with their own bustling lives to take care of your brood. So who will do the cooking, cleaning, boo-boo kissing, cookie-baking, and child-spoiling?

One Los Angeles-based company is attempting to fill this void. You can now rent a grandmother for a day, or longer, through a company called Rent-a-Grandma. The company currently employs about 50 “grannies” throughout Los Angeles County to serve as nannies, maintenance staff, pet sitters, chefs, personal assistants and more. Although they do not have to be actual grandmothers, all employees of Rent-a-Grandma must be older than 50.  Founder and CEO Todd Pliss started the company in August 2010, and is now venturing into the national arena with the first franchise opening in Texas within a few weeks.

What a phenomenal idea! Not only does the company provide relief to frazzled parents, but it is provides employment opportunities for seniors who find themselves in the position of needing to work longer into their golden years than previously expected.  In the midst of an economic downturn, Sandra Nathan, the National Council on Aging’s senior vice president of the economic security group, said that an employment opportunity like this offers an alternative to a population that has been hit especially hard by a poor economy. In addition, it gives children the opportunity to have older adults in their lives and gives parents the security of an experienced, prudent adult to watch their children. As one client notes, “Teens are great, but the grandma is not going to be text messaging and is going to be focusing on the kids and not who she’s going out with Friday night. It’s a whole new level of seriousness in babysitting.”

The company’s website, which promotes the tag line “You can trust our Grandmas,” also maintains a  Twitter account full of grandmotherly advice. “Hot water with lemon juice and honey is one of the best natural remedies for soothing a sore throat,” reads a recent tweet. Ahhh….such sage advice.

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