Health & Wellness

Need a mom? New service lets you hire one for advice, home-cooked meal

When the world’s problems seem overwhelming and you wish your mom were near to soothe the worries away, a new service boasts it can replicate the experience — or even improve upon it — for a fee.

Meet Nina Keneally, the founder of Need A Mom. For $40 an hour, she’ll listen to your problems, dispense advice (if asked), cook chicken soup from scratch, iron your shirt, keep you company at a doctor’s appointment and do all sorts of other “mom” things that 20- and 30-somethings may crave.

All that, while promising NOT to question your lifestyle choice or compare you to your siblings. Her business motto: “When you need a mom ... just not YOUR mom.”

“It’s the mother without the baggage,” Keneally, 63, told TODAY. “Empathy and listening to people comes to me naturally, and I really enjoy young adults.”

Courtesy Nina Keneally
Nina Keneally is the founder of "Need A Mom" in New York.

But she stresses there are limits to the service.

“I’m not going to clean your bathroom, I’m not going to do your laundry. I’m not your maid, as any good mother would say,” Keneally noted.

Under experience, she lists raising two sons, who are now 27 and 30, a background in theater and training as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor among the entries on her resume. She cautions she’s not a professional therapist, but can refer you to one.

Keneally officially launched Need A Mom last week, two years after moving back to New York City with her husband from Connecticut and settling down in the hipster-filled Bushwick area of Brooklyn.

Courtesy Nina Keneally
Keneally's service has gotten so much attention that some have asked if she plans to franchise the business to cities beyond New York. She has no plans for that so far.

The idea for the service came to her as she began to get to know her neighbors. While taking yoga classes, volunteering and walking her dog, she started meeting lots of young people who would chat with her and, after a little bit of time, confide in her when they had problems, Keneally said.

They also often told her how they loved their parents, but found them to be judgmental about their lifestyle choices, like being vegan or choosing an unorthodox color for their hair.

Many of them were simply overwhelmed by living in a big city — far away from their family and missing the emotional support.

“New York can be the loneliest town sometimes,” said Keneally, who lived in the Big Apple in her 20s and 30s and remembers the experience well.

“It’s so full of people, but sometimes it seems like everyone else is so busy and out having a great time and no one has time to talk. You just need someone to be there for you.”

Need A Mom immediately attracted lots of media attention, but just a handful of clients so far, Keneally said. She’s accompanied one client to a colonoscopy, tweaked the resume of another and helped a third write a letter to a landlord who refused to return a deposit.

Courtesy Nina Keneally
Keneally is the mom of two adult sons.

She’s careful to screen prospective clients, declining to meet one who said he wanted a “hate session” in memory of his mother.

“I’m pretty good at picking out the weirdos,” Keneally said. “I have good radar and I have good boundaries.”

The idea of hiring a mother-like figure has obviously touched a nerve, she noted, but she thinks of herself as a personal mentor who helps others with life matters, much like a professional mentor might help workers with their careers.

Meanwhile, Keneally’s real-life family is amused by all the attention she’s received, but they don’t mind sharing her with strangers. They know she’ll always have time for them, she said.

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