Babysitters are everywhere... if you keep your eyes open!
Published: August 31, 2020
By: Pam Moore
I have 20 sitters listed in my phone. My friends sometimes wonder how I’ve acquired so many. I sometimes wonder why my friends don’t have more. Babysitters are everywhere if you keep your eyes open!
Here are nine places to find great sitters:
1 | The Internet. If you live in a college town, online university job boards may be free and available to the public. Other free ways to find childcare online include your local moms’ Facebook group or other social media groups.
Many apps offer help. Wyndy, an app developed by a Birmingham couple, enables parents to quickly and easily connect with background-checked, full-time college student sitters. Other apps include Care.com and SitterCity. Some charge a monthly fee for access to sitters, and others are free to download and the app charges a percentage of your payment to the sitter.
2 | On-Site Services. Sometimes it’s easier to bring the kids to the childcare, rather than bringing the childcare to the kids. Ask your friends and search to see if any centers or churches offer on-site sitting.
3 | Through Friends. While many search online, some prefer their potential sitter to be vetted by a friend. One of my best sitters was a friend of a friend. Though she had zero childcare experience, she had a fantastic character reference. I didn’t need a baby whisperer. I needed someone I could trust to follow instructions, and to be punctual and kind. Because of her relationship with my friend, I was (relatively) relaxed about returning to work after my maternity leave.
4 | In Your Neighborhood. Post a message in your neighborhood email list, Facebook group, or Nextdoor, or tack a “help wanted” note to a physical bulletin board, if you have one. If those fail, take a walk in your neighborhood with your kiddo(s). If anyone so much as smiles in your direction, introduce yourself and ask if they or anyone they know would be interested in watching your little angels.
5 | Restaurants. While you may have the Happy Hour menu at the forefront of your mind, the quest for potential sitters should always be in the back of it. Barring a creepy vibe, be ready to strike up a conversation with anyone who throws a peek-a-boo, a silly face, or a wink in your kids’ direction. Be open to anyone who offers a sympathetic smile when your kid throws food or a tantrum.
6 | The Park. Be on the lookout for anyone with kids who appears well rested and patient; this should limit your chance of mistakenly targeting another parent instead of a sitter or nanny. While the person in question may already be employed as a nanny, you never know what her situation is. Perhaps her employer is about to relocate, or she needs a few extra hours. Wear dark sunglasses if you feel more comfortable eavesdropping behind them. If the nanny seems responsible, kind, and more interested in the little ones in her charge than her phone, just ask. Worst case, she turns you down.
7 | Traveling? Ask the Hotel. Maybe you’re traveling with your kids for an adult-only wedding, or you want to enjoy dinner at a place with tablecloths on your vacation. Many resorts have a list of names to share with their guests. When our eldest was eight months old, we traveled to Aspen for our friends’ wedding, where we rented a VRBO. One quick phone call to the wedding venue (a hotel), yielded multiple phone numbers of local preschool teachers. The first one we called was available, and she turned out to be awesome.
8 | Your Kid’s Preschool or Your Gym’s Childcare. The caregivers at the gym childcare or your child’s preschool may be looking for extra hours. A major plus is that you and your kid already know and them. If you go this route, you save yourself the initial interview, in which you determine that the caregiver is neither sketchy nor flaky. As a bonus, the gym or childcare facility has probably already completed a background check.
9 | Your Kid’s Classes. Music, dance, art, swimming lessons, and karate are also options. If your child is enrolled in an activity, consider asking the instructor if he or she is available for babysitting. Such instructors tend to be great with kids, and many are students who would love to earn extra income through babysitting. And if it doesn’t work out, keep an open mind. My daughter’s gymnastics instructor was happy to watch our kids, but she wasn’t available on the date I needed. She introduced me to her roommate, who ended up being a great fit for our family.
The world is full of babysitters. Your next sitter could be the hostess who chats up your preschooler as she sets the crayons and the kids’ menu down, or the friendly lady working the front desk of your gym. (I have found sitters in both of these situations). They say when the student is ready the master will appear. I say, when the parents need a few hours to themselves and start thinking outside the box, the sitters will appear.
Pam Moore helps women push through fear to become their best selves. To get her free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome visit pam-moore.com.