Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank God for Sittercity


My husband and I live very far away from any family - the closest are in New Jersey - so when it came time to actually want to do things on our own, we had to wait until my parents were up from Florida to go on dates, and plan things with friends. We would watch all of our friends go out without their babies, while we sat home envious of their freedom. But I was unable to fathom having my daughter watched by a stranger. How can we trust someone we don't know with the life of our child? It took me a while to get up the courage to begin the process of finding a sitter, but finally we pulled the trigger in January and signed up for Sittercity.com...and it has changed our lives.

Sittercity is one of those creations, like the iPhone, that once you have access to it, you don't know how you lived without. Created by a classmate of mine from Boston College, Sittercity is an online resource for parents to find babysitters or nannies for their children. It is so simple, and so ingenious, you will wish you thought of this million dollar idea first.

You simply sign up (7-day free trial, pay monthly or yearly, which is about $150), create your profile, and start searching for a sitter. You can either post a job (like we did, more on that in a second), or you can search yourself for local help by entering your zip code. And from there you are in touch with a plethora of local ladies (no men so far in my searching) who are looking for part- or full-time childcare work.

So how we did it was to first post a job: Date-night dog-loving sitter for one year old needed! Looking for a fun-loving babysitter that likes to play, sing and do crafts...and loves dogs...to watch our easy-going one year old daughter on the occasional date night. Must have your own transportation and feel comfortable driving with toddler in the car in case of emergency...no axe murderers please...

(Ok, so that last part we didn't actually include :)

Within minutes of putting the ad up, the applicants started pouring in. What the hell was I looking for? Every one of them had tons of experience, most seemed to be in their early 20s...and that was all I could see from their profiles. Some had photos up, and some chose not to - not that it would matter what they looked like, but I tended to look at the ones with photos first, so as not to contact the ones I thought my husband would think were attractive (kidding again of course...kind of :).

I immediately weeded out the ones with spelling errors in their applications, as well as the ones that just posted a resume in their response (what kind of personality does that show?). For some reason I shied away from the older women, which sounds terrible when I write this, as if I ever need a nanny I would totally go for an older woman! I picked approximately 10 people and wrote them back, asking them some personal questions (where are you from? how far away from me do you live? what do you do for a living? etc...). Surprisingly only about half wrote me back, and those are the ones that I asked to meet.

I ended up scheduling meetings with 4 prospects at our house (at different times of course), because I wanted to have them interact with M to see if they got along. More importantly I wanted to see if they actually truly were dog lovers, as some times our dog can be a pain in the balls, and they would most likely be more "dog watching" than "baby sitting" when they were booked, as we would be going out after M was asleep.

I liked all 4, but one I really felt a connection with (sitter A we will call her), and had her booked within the week. She is a teacher by day, which I loved, and had a great resume and her references raved about her. Most important, M loved her to death, and seriously did not want to get out of her arms, so we were good to go. She sat for us a handful of times (and will many more in the future) but the last time we had her booked she had to cancel. She couldn't have been more gracious about it, and did it 2 weeks before the date, and even reached out to her friends to find a back-up. These things happen, and we were totally understandable, but what the hell were we to do???

It had been months since I had interviewed the original group, but I contacted one of them anyway, and she was not free for the date we needed...so I put up another post on Sittercity. I ended up interviewing only one person, and again felt that connection, so now we had Sitter B booked, and in the future have a fabulous back-up in case this ever happens again. And this whole process only took only 24 hours!

Other great things about the Sittercity service...you can do a background check on the candidate through the site itself (for a small fee), you can see reviews from other parents that found the sitter through the site, and you can keep the contact info for all previous applicant as long as you keep your membership up to date.

I still have those butterflies every time we go out and someone other than my parents are watching her, no matter how much I get to know them. I will always have my phone out on the table, or in my hand, and will always be that mom that sends texts checking in throughout the night. But each time we go out, M surprises me by not being upset (AT ALL) that we leave her, and being very well behaved for this stranger that is caring for her.

So if you are in need of a sitter, or a nanny, I cannot recommend the Sittercity service more! Sign up today!

3 comments:

  1. I found my nanny through them as well. It's great! That said, if you ever need a last minute babysitter on the weekends - let me know, I'll give you my nanny's name!

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