You’re two or three weeks postpartum and, despite all your good intentions and the mountain of breastfeeding literature you read during your pregnancy, your little one is not nursing well. Your pediatrician recommends a lactation consultant and after one visit and another week of practice he’s latching on with gusto.
That’s just one of the many ways a personal trainer can help parents through their most difficult moments. Although the prices are more than many families would initially feel comfortable with, these services can make a world of difference for families struggling through these milestones.
Professional potty trainer
If you’re a parent on social media, you probably don’t go a day without seeing a story about potty training. It might be the parent who is boasting about training junior at nine months. It might be the parent lamenting the child deliberately defecating on the furniture. Or it might be the so-crazy-it-might-just-work advice from parents with a sample size of one kid. There’s also the much saner adage that all kids will figure it out by kindergarten, but that often goes ignored due to preschool potty-training requirements.
Parents staring down a preschool start date might start with the over 2,000 potty-training titles available on Amazon. Those looking for more personalized help can choose from a range of options, from group classes to potty training camps to private online forums to phone consultations to live-in help. The most common approach is the one-hour phone consultation, during which the potty trainer and parent discuss the child’s potty training progress and work together to develop a comprehensive plan for success. Some consultation packages include e-mail or text follow-ups in case parents need help sticking to their plans.
These consultations aren’t cheap. An individualized plan plus 60-minute potty training phone consult with Oh Crap! Potty Training in Chicago will run you $180. A similar package at The Potty Whisperer runs $450. NYC Potty Training’s phone consult will set you back $600. Potty training companies charge thousands of dollars for two-day live-in sessions (roughly $40 per hour, considering that the trainer is effectively working 48 straight hours).
Before you write off the ridiculous things that monied people will buy, it’s worth considering who can benefit from these services. For parents of children with disabilities, professional potty training can be a lifesaver. Ashley Hickey of Successful Potty Training specializes in potty training children with Autism spectrum disorder, but has expanded her practice to work with children with disabilities. What can initially seem like a ridiculous business model built on parents’ laziness is actually an amazing service for parents of children with special needs. These coaches can give previously untrained kids a magical gift of independence.
Even if your child is developmentally typical, you might find that $250 for a single potty-training session is less money than you’re spending on various enticing toilet seats, potty training books, bribes, and cleaning supplies.
Certified sleep consultant
If your social media feeds aren’t full of parents complaining about potty training, that’s probably just because they’re crowded out by parents discussing their babies’ sleep schedules.
Parents struggling to sleep train their children have a range of options, among them e-mail and phone consultations, in-home visits, group parties, and even expectant parent workshops for parents trying to get a leg up on future sleep disturbances.
Like potty training coaches, sleep consultants charge high prices for their services. Quiet Nights in Phoenix charges $528 for an in-home consultation, video library access, and follow up phone calls and e-mails. Blissful Baby in Houston charges $590 for a two-hour home consultation plus phone and e-mail support. At Dream Team in New York, parents can choose from phone consultations and in-home round-the-clock help. A single overnight stay is $1,950 if you’re local and $2,300 if you’re more than 45 minutes away.
Those prices seem absolutely outrageous to parents. But considering how much the parenting landscape has changed in the past few decades, that may be money well spent.
Sleep training is not a difficult physical problem to solve. It is, however, a complex philosophical one, because parents often don’t see eye-to-eye about how to help their babies sleep. Parents have certainly disagreed about exactly how to parent before. But at least two large changes have made it more difficult to settle those disagreements. Today’s parents are confronted with tens of thousands of books and websites competing for our attention by fueling debates about the “right” way to raise children. All of that expertise makes it difficult to choose a sleep training method and stick to it.
Furthermore, as men are expected to be more equal co-parents, they may be offering more opinions about childrearing, increasing the opportunities for disagreement. If the parents are not completely in sync with their approach, or they apply their approach inconsistently, sleep training generally fails.
The key to sleep training – any kind of baby training, really – is in being a unified front. What you’re buying with a sleep coach is, first and foremost, time to talk with your partner about how you want to put your child to sleep.
Researchers have found that overall happiness levels drop after the birth of a child, perhaps in part because parents are so sleep-deprived. Paying for a baby sleep consultant could help those parents save their sleep and their sanity. A sleep-trained child might even help save the parents the cost of future marital counseling sessions.
Maybe you’re not worried about all of your parenting and not just a specific issue like potty training. You might feel overwhelmed by the messes in your home, discipline issues with your child, fighting among siblings, or a frayed relationship with your partner.
If you hire a potty trainer or baby sleep consultant, your child is likely to notice another person in the room. But many parenting coaches will never even meet your child. That’s by design, because in this case the coach is not helping your child reach a milestone. The coach is helping you reach your own parenting milestones.
Many parenting coaches offer phone or Skype consultations, as well as in-office meetings. Because many parents are looking to retool their entire approach to parenting, parent coaches often recommend 10-12 recurring sessions so that parents can learn and practice over the course of multiple months.
Parent coaching is predominantly charged like a therapist’s hour (50-minute sessions). Rates vary greatly depending on the expertise and/or certification of the coach. The Parenting Coach charges $225 for two sessions, while Positive Parenting Solutions charges $225 per session. Some parenting coaches receive credentials from organizations like the Parent Coaching Institute (PCI), which also features a list of certified coaches by state.
The PCI’s website insists that parenting coaching isn’t just for those who feel they’re doing it “wrong.” In fact, they argue, “people who hire coaches are already doing their best.” They group parents among musicians, athletes, and any talented people who “embrace opportunities to do better.” Parent coaching is for any parent who wants to be a better parent.
All of these coaches, whether they’re teaching potty training, sleep, or parenting in general, reflect a bigger phenomenon. When we read about how some kid potty trained at nine months, or how some other kid always sleeps for 12 hours, or how some parent is always feeling #blessed with her kids while we’re feeling terrorized by our own, we look at other parents and feel like we’re not measuring up.
On top of these stresses, we increasingly find ourselves moving for work and living apart from large family networks, making it harder for us to get help through the occasional daily drudgery of parenting. Professional potty trainers, sleep consultants, and parenting coaches can fill a role that was previously filled by siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Although that extra time can come at a price, it may in some cases be worth months of more relaxed and satisfying time with our families.