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Finding a Babysitter

By Amalah

Oh wise Amalah, I could surely use your advice right about now.

A little history first: My husband and I have a son who is 4 ½ (Sept 30,2005!) and another son on the way, due end of July/beginning of August.

We both essentially work full time (him 40hrs/wk, me 30hrs/wk) and our son is currently enrolled in daycare 5 days/wk.

On paper, it looks as though on eves & weekends, we would probably want to spend every waking moment with our lil guy (soon to be 2 lil guys), who we LOVE to death.

But alas, I feel the marital connection between my husband and I is waning. We need a babysitter/nanny/mommy’s helper!

My mom was our sole “date night” caregiver until she passed away unexpectedly last year. She was the absolute best grandma any kid/parent could hope for. Now, I’m lost!

I won’t bore you with all the little details about why none of our friends or other family members are good candidates (in-laws…TOO OLD, little sisters..TOO IRRESPONSIBLE, friends…HAVE THEIR OWN TOTS, etc). I don’t want to do Mommy Trades (“I’ll watch your kid, then you watch mine”).

Bottom line is I want this to be a business transaction. Someone I can call when the need arises, that will come to our home, and who I can pay for their services appropriately.

And off course I want someone that is loving and fun and caring and PERFECT. Can you help me figure out how to find this person? I would prefer someone that can drive themselves and who does not have little ones of their own. This would mostly be weekends only and I don’t want to dip into the kids’ college fund to pay for it.

PS- Craigslist scares the crap out of me so PLEEEEEZE don’t suggest that. Eeeek!

PPS- My pregnancy anxiety has started to wake me up at 3am every night. Because WHO WILL COME TO OUR HOUSE TO STAY WITH OUR 4YR OLD IF I GO INTO LABOR AT 11PM? OR 1AM? OMG OMG Panic Panic!

Thank you Thank you Thank you,
Wide Awake in Washington State


What’s that site again? SITTERCITY.

To each their own and everything, but I do not know how couples make it through a week — much less multiple weeks, much less multiple YEARS — without a reliable babysitter on speed dial. For us, it’s beyond essential. Date nights are beyond essential, even if it’s just a cheap slice of pizza and a beer together and the sitter is the biggest expense of the night. We need it. I need it, even as my workload inches closer to full-time and our nanny spends more hours here during the week. I absolutely love our time as a family of four. I absolutely love our time as a grown-up couple. You have no reason to feel like you need to justify this to me or anyone any further.

So back to finding a sitter. For ages we generally just sort of lucked out with our sitters. (I found them through my BLOG, fine, okay, that’s weird and I know it but they are two of my favorite people in the world, even now that they’ve MOVED AWAY and got awesome jobs or engaged or WHATEVER, I’m not BITTER ABOUT THAT.) Then we bounced around using friends of theirs and friends of those friends before we ever really found ourselves completely sitter-less and needed to start a search from scratch.

A couple years ago I did hire a summer mother’s helper and used Craigslist, and it was exhausting and annoying and time-consuming and I absolutely refused to do that again this time. (Even though the candidates I actually met were quite lovely — it was just such a pain to sift through the hundreds of sub-par responses in order to find them.)

Enter — a site I know I’ve mentioned here before. And full disclosure: They sent me a free one-year membership right when Ezra was born, but it expired before I ever bothered to use it, so we actually paid for our recent experiences with the site. Searching Sittercity was like a breath of fresh air — so many local, serious candidates! Complete bios and photos and available hours and stated rates! Background checks! CPR certifications! Driving records! From high school and college students to full-time professional nannies searching for evening and weekend work! It. Was. Fantastic. We found our nanny within a month, though I think I paid subscription dues for two months because I forgot to put my membership on hold right away. Still: worth every penny.

(And you can search the site before you commit, just to make sure there’s a decent number of candidates in your area. But you need the membership to actually contact anyone or post a job listing.)

Now, of course, we’re looking for a back-up sitter for evenings and weekends when our nanny isn’t available (she’s always happy to work M-F but understandably protective of her Saturdays and Sundays, given that this is her full-time job between us and two other families). And we’ll likely use someone she recommends (she knows a LOT of nannies, SCORE), since she’s proven to be responsible and professional and loves our children — it’s pretty safe to assume she wouldn’t recommend someone her employers wouldn’t be happy with, you know?

So really, the trick is finding that first person. If they work out, chances are finding future sitters will be much easier and a less stressful undertaking. You mentioned your son attends a daycare — many, MANY people I know simply ask the daycare providers if they’re available for evenings and weekends. And many, MANY of those daycare providers are. So that’s a double bonus, because you already know and trust them. And even if they aren’t available or willing, you should still ask them if they have any recommendations. Then: phone interview, in-person interview, check references, background check, DONE.

Or, you know, SITTERCITY DOT COM. LOVE OF MY LIFE. Besides my husband, but since it makes THAT love life more possible, it still wins.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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