Boston Moms Speak Out on Finding a Sitter
It's not easy to leave your first-born with a stranger. But we've got some suggestions that will have the kids sleeping soundly -- while you stay out.
Q. "What's the best way to find a reliable babysitter that I can trust with my six-year-old? None of my friends have kids and I'm a little leery of Craigslist."
A. Two different approaches to looking for a sitter would both require a membership; one free, one not. If you can pay a fee and want a lot of choices, Sittercity.com can yield dozens of responses from potential sitters. You'll have access to detailed info online before interviewing candidates. Be very specific about your needs (your location, etc.) and you'll be more likely to hold down the number of applications you'll need to weed through.
On GardenMoms, an online forum started by South End moms that has grown metrowide, you can post a request for a sitter recommendation. The online community can be very helpful and responsive, and again, being specific will increase your chances of finding someone well suited to your family.
- Angela Wang, Back Bay
A. That’s what friends are for… But, if your friends aren’t willing to share contact info on their “best babysitter ever”, or (as it sounds in your case) they don’t have kids, there are great ways to find babysitters on your own:
- Visit your local stores where you shop for your child and ask associates if they ever babysit. Chances are that if they are in that industry, they love kids and have great references to back that up.
- Join local area groups like Gardenmoms (started here in the South End) and post. People have nannies working for them that could use side jobs and people are happy to refer them.
- Head to the park (I know it is snowy, but you still need to get your little one some fresh air!) and strike up a conversation. When I find a great resource as a mom, I am dying to share it with another mom.
And if all else fails and time is of the essence, consider the local experts! I used personallypaired.com and their custom search option to find my nanny. They also have more causal parties where you can find babysitters.
- Brooke Fine, South End
A. You might frequent the local playground and see "nannies in action." A number of my friends and I have found sitters (and nannies) by watching the way caregivers interact with their charges and striking up conversations with those whose skills we admire. You might also ask some of those friends without kids if they'd be interested in babysitting themselves. We have several friends in our neighborhood who genuinely want to spend time with our kids and are happy to babysit occasionally to give us a night out or cover when we find we need help.
- Kaja Fickes, Back Bay
A. We moved to Boston a year ago and turned to Craigslist. We invited over for dinner a few candidates - we get to see how it all works in our home environment - and settled for a wonderful grad student. When she left Boston she recommended two other fabulous fellow students we still work with. Grad students are a fabulous resource and once you find someone you like ask her/him for back up ideas, she/he will likely recommend other sitters of the same caliber. We've also had great luck hiring teachers from our daughter's schools/daycare. If you ask the school they likely have a list of staff who are looking to pick up extra hours and you know they will be great with your kids.
- Cecile Braun-Jones, Back Bay
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