My family and I recently moved, and before that happened I had a whole crew of babysitters at my fingertips. Getting one wasn’t even a concern of mine because if my parents or my husband’s cousins or aunt and uncle couldn’t do it, I had at least five ex-high school theatre students of mine that were always excited to help me out! We had quite the network of babysitters… and then we moved. I’ve been spoiled and it blows my mind that we parents go through this… hiring a person we don’t know to watch our kids. It’s nerve racking, frustrating and time consuming and I’m done with it.
Upon moving I really gave it my best shot and hit the ground running to try and get to know some sitters. I created accounts on the big name sitter-finding sites, even paid for the “background check upgrade” and all of that. My goal was simple, get some sitters to come to the house while we were unpacking to just play with the kids, get to know them, invite them back one more time and if we hit it off, voila, babysitter on the books. But nope. Apparently it just isn’t that easy. We interviewed a few people from the sites we joined. One was a complete no-show, and three came to the house to play with the kids with us there, as planned. We liked them for the most part but then they were never available again. And before you start to think it must be us, that we scared them off, I will say they did reach out to me at times to see if I needed help, but they were never available when I needed them and/or would say they were available and would flake out the day before. Not cool.
I was officially done. We had spent money, time and energy getting connected to people, inviting them to our home, for basically nothing. The exact problem? I’m honestly not sure. I think maybe sitters need to be more honest on that site as to their availability? Or maybe the key is finding someone closer to home. I did talk to neighbors thinking someone was bound to have teenagers who were interested but that was mostly a dead end (our neighborhood is mostly retired folks). So what are parents to do? We can’t never go on a date night again. I wasn’t going to spend anymore time on sitter-finding sites either. They found me lots of work in my years as a nanny, but I can’t believe how difficult it is being on the other side. (Did all my employers go through this?) In my frustration I canceled our accounts soon after yet another sitter wasn’t in town when we needed someone, and started searching elsewhere. But where?
Well I came up with two very interesting answers. The first is a service you join that helps you find a babysitter with a more personal and local approach. They aren’t nation-wide companies, and they are real people talking to you when you join. The one in our new city pairs a team of sitters with you so that you always know there will be someone available. If one sitter isn’t able to help, one of the other sitters in your “team” of care probably is. This was a great option for those of us tired of doing the searching and interviewing ourselves. These companies interview, background check and train the sitters so that you know you are getting good quality care. There is bound to be something similar where you live, check the internet!
While the above is a good option, we ended up going with something else; drop-in care. If you haven’t heard of it these are places that are licensed like day cares and can almost always take children from age 6 weeks and up, and will have policies in place to keep kids safe, be able to work with kids in diapers or potty trained, and feed them. The big advantage to these places is that you get a team of people, working in a more open area, together. So rather than inviting a stranger into your home (well not total stranger but maybe you’ve just interviewed them) you are dropping your kids at a facility that will have several care providers who are well trained and have some sort of management present. That made me feel so much more comfortable. It was also a huge plus because of our toddler, Superman. We wanted to get him prepared for getting dropped off at preschool, so I take him there to play for just a few hours every week during the day. There are other kids there his own age and he can get into the swing of what school will be like without the big time (or money) commitment of actual school. Now what’s special about these places is that they are open normal “day care” hours, but also date night hours. Friday and Saturdays these sorts of places stay open until midnight! So we can take both kids and they even have cribs and cots incase the kids get sleepy. It’s great for Superman because he gets a fun night out too, and honestly great for baby Rogue because she gets used to being around other adults.
So if you are having trouble in the babysitter department fear not! Google search for drop-in care and hopefully there is something up and running in your area! Just make sure you do your homework. These places should be licensed and have policies in place to keep your kids safe. Things like requesting your ID upon pick-up, good communication with the parents, and staff that has been background checked are all important things to check on their website and ask management about.