The “mom-on-demand” economy is indulging our inner lazy teenager

Outsourcing your mother, one tap at a time.
Outsourcing your mother, one tap at a time.
Image: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
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Veteran journalist and Recode founder Kara Swisher once quipped that San Francisco was becoming an assisted-living community for millennials. She wasn’t exaggerating.

The on-demand economy could easily be rebranded as the “mother-on-demand” economy. Cleaning, laundry, taking out the trash: Its goal is basically eliminating all the chores you once did as a kid. For many millennials, these inconveniences aren’t hard to remember, because they’re sometimes only a few years post-allowance. For the 28-year-old startup developer earning a $100,000 salary, why would they waste time cooking dinner in real life if they could spend the evening exploring new virtual worlds?

These types of tech workers may not be finding a solution for world peace—but lucky for us, startups are solving all the problems we used to have as teenagers.

Here are five chores that have been disrupted away by the mom-on-demand economy:

Cleaning your room

Let’s say you’ve been ordering a lot of Stitch Fix lately, so your room is littered with loads of new, algorithmically sourced items that don’t quite fit in your closet. In the old days you’d have to clean your room yourself—but not today. There’s Handy for that, an on-demand app where in the push of a button you can hire a vetted, professional cleaner. Everyone is background-checked and available within a couple of hours. For broader tasks, like putting up that new coat rack or mounting the TV, Thumbtack or Task Rabbit are other platforms that can basically eliminate the need to do anything in the house yourself.

Taking out the trash

Taking out the trash used to be a real pain, but not anymore. Atlanta-based Rubicon, now valued at over a billion dollars, is building “Uber for Trash,” helping connect waste collectors to take away your trash more efficiently. Partnering with cities like Santa Fe, they turn trash trucks into roaming data centers that they can deploy more efficiently, thereby optimizing their routes and ensuring that trash and recycling are picked up more quickly.

Making dinner

So it’s your turn to make dinner. Your sister made those seared sea scallops with the gingered pea purée last week, which really upped the ante. But never fear—you don’t actually need to learn to cook. Sign up to one of the many ingredient-delivery services like Blue Apron, Plated, or Sun Basket, and you’ll no longer have to hide those pesky Seamless take-away boxes piling up in the trash. (You know those are a dead giveaway, right?) No one will know that the shrimp and bucatini pasta with chard wasn’t exactly your idea: You just followed the required eight steps and 20 minutes of preparation to whip it up.

Doing the laundry

By the looks of your exploding clothes hamper, it’s been a busy week. But why walk all the way down the hall to put your clothes in the washing machine when you could push a button on your phone? Fly Cleaners will be there in 30 minutes and have your fresh laundry (dry-cleaning included!) brought back to you, bundled, in just a few days.

Looking after the dog

You can now outsource nearly all the responsibilities of owning a dog to your phone (except the petting). Chewy has dog-food delivery on subscription, including freeze-dried beef paddies that may be higher quality than the office cafeteria fare. If walking the dog is too much trouble after a busy day of coding, simply schedule a stroll on Rover or Wag! Someone will be over in an hour, and you can keep track of how far they’re really walking by checking the map in your phone’s in-app analytics. And if it feels like your dog’s getting wise to your aloof attitude toward its well-being, just spoil them with a monthly BarkBox subscription filled with treats and thematic toys. That’ll surely lift their spirits.

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Our phones can’t replace our need for our mothers’ enduring love and patience—but what about their discipline? If you got caught using Instacart to deliver snacks and alcohol to that house party you threw last week (that one that Handy didn’t clean up in time before Mom got home), don’t worry—allowance is over-rated. You can always just Airbnb your room.