How to Find a Babysitter & Create a Group of Sitters You Can Count On
What’s in this post
If you’re like most of the Crushing Motherhood readers, you have no time to leisurely read this article. So I like to get to the point! In this article, you will find:
- A quick story about my experience with babysitters coming and going in waves. Or, is it that babysitters have a short shelf life in our house of 3 crazy boys?
- 10 Sources to Find Babysitters (some you might not have considered before. See #10)
- Think Outside the Box – Alternatives to Babysitters
- Extra Tips – Babysitter Etiquette, a Babysitter Management tool, Quick Background check option and a tool to check local babysitter rates
Have you noticed this trend with babysitters?
I work really hard to create a stable of babysitters and then they all seem to move on around the same time and I have to start over. They seem to go to college, graduate from college, get married, etc….and it all seems to happen so fast. In reality, they’re changes over 3-4 years but it seems much faster!
It might be the result of living in a college town, or it might be due to an observation my mom made:
“I’ve noticed babysitters only agree to watch the boys once or twice and then don’t come back.”
She denies it, but I think she might have been telling me that this circus is too much to handle and we burn through sitters quickly…. lol.
Maybe I was ghosted?
And, this summer has been more of a challenge because I didn’t sign the boys up for as many camps, and my part-time job is busier. I’ve had to get really creative to find a babysitter, and rebuild my pool of sitters.
Since this is a challenge many of us face, I thought I’d share some unique sources I’ve found, for myself and options that other moms in the Crushing Motherhood tribe recommend:
Babysitters Wanted – How to Find a Babysitter
These ideas apply to daytime sitters like I’m using right now, and also evening sitters.
1. Preschool/Daycare Teachers
The first source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is Preschool /Daycare teachers. Ask your daycare/preschool teachers if they ever babysit on off-days or evenings.
This is a common source of babysitters, that many moms recommend and I’ve had luck with too.
I have run into a snag before at one of our preschools, where they had a policy that teachers weren’t allowed to babysit for school families. In that case, I asked the teacher to pass on the names of any friend babysitters she trusted.
2. Pool Lifeguards
The second source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is lifeguards. Pool lifeguards make great babysitters! They are CPR certified and safety-conscious!
I recently asked the director of our pool swimming program if any of her swim teachers would want a babysitting job. She thought through the lifeguards who work for her and determined which of them could handle 3 boys, and introduced me to two amazing babysitters!
An added bonus: the two sitters are pre-screened for the crazy boy babysitting duty and I am so grateful!
Ask your sitters for their friend referrals.
3. Gym Daycare
The third source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is the gym daycare.
Ask the babysitters who are engaged with the kids and seem responsible. Skip the ones that look like they’re just there to collect a paycheck (obviously). We have a new sitter at our gym and she was laying in a recliner with her feet in the air, glued to her phone. What??? Definitely not asking her and have no idea how she gets away with that in a childcare setting. But, that’s another story.
See the Alternative Options section below for another idea on Gym Daycare. It’s my secret survival tip!
4. Ask Teachers for Referrals
The fourth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is asking for referrals from your kid’s elementary school teachers.
I’ve found that the elementary school teachers have so many teacher colleagues with older kids who want babysitting jobs.
Also, sometimes a teacher might be looking for a part-time job in the summer, and might be willing to babysit for you.
Networking with those teachers is a great way to find a babysitter referral.
5. Babysitter Websites
The fifth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is posting on babysitter websites.
I personally haven’t needed to use these (because the other sources to ‘find a babysitter’ have been great for me), but I’ve heard really positive reviews for both of these.
Note: there are some other babysitter finder type websites but I haven’t included those, as I haven’t had anyone recommend them to me.
- www.care.com – This website is a frequent go-to from many of my friends and readers. They have a background check option, which is great when hiring someone who wasn’t referred.
- www.collegesitters.com – I’m bummed because this site is only available in certain cities and mine isn’t one of them. I’ve heard it’s great!
6. Nearby Colleges
The sixth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is nearby colleges.
I do live by 2 colleges and it’s a great source of babysitters!
For this summer, I found a couple of great sitters by posting a ‘job’ on the college job board. Now, this isn’t a traditional job with regular hours but I just specified on my posting that I needed periodic babysitting – day and evening – and was able to meet a few awesome new sitters.
PROTIP: Post at the beginning of a semester if you can, or at least before the end of a semester. I posted later in May when many of the sitters already had plans (or left) for the summer. I still had a few applicants but I think I would’ve had more had I posted before their semester was over.
We don’t have sororities at the colleges near my house (or at least that I know of), but this is a great tip from other moms.
Meet a college student in a sorority and then tap into her network. For example, you can check in with your sorority alma mater, to start the connection. Or, post on their FB page. Get creative with this one. Putting in a little detective work could tap you into an endless supply of sitters!
7. Neighborhood Boards
The seventh source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is neighborhood boards.
I like the Nextdoor app and also local buy/sell boards for finding sitters. I do take extra precautions though with background checks (see the ‘Extra Tips’ section below for ideas on how to background check a sitter).
When I find a sitter this way, I like to ask around to see if anyone knows the person responding. Usually, I’m able to find a reference from neighbors, so that’s a great way to confirm the sitter is legit.
8. School Auctions
The eighth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is school auctions.
This might sound a bit strange? Hang with me for a second, and let me explain.
There have been packages that included babysitting included in the fundraiser auctions for our elementary and preschools.
I always bid on those items that include babysitting. Not only is it for a good cause, but it’s a great way to meet babysitters you wouldn’t otherwise. Then, after they babysit in return for the package I bought at the auction, I keep in touch with them and they become part of my babysitter list.
9. Family Members
The ninth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is family members.
I personally use this option sparingly, and as a last resort. It depends on your situation and how close your family lives.
I reserve asking family members to babysit when I need an overnight babysitter or coverage for a business trip.
10. Ask friends who are moving for their babysitter contact list
The tenth source on my ‘find a babysitter’ list is ask friends who are moving.
This happened to me once and I’ve never forgotten it. When we lived in Hawaii, our neighbor was moving. On the day we were saying our goodbyes, she handed me a piece of paper. I opened it, and on there was the name of her 5 babysitters. GOLD! That was one of the most amazing presents I’ve ever received, and I’m not exaggerating. She gave me that gift 6 years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. When we moved, I did the same thing to pay it forward.
If you have any friends who are moving, ask them for their sitter list. They might not think to hand it over to you, but I’m sure will be happy to give it to you if you ask. So simple, no conflict of interest for them and a babysitter list on a platter for you!
Think Outside the Box – Do You Even Need to Find a Babysitter?
Alternative #1. Take them to gym childcare
This is my absolute FAVORITE way to carve out childcare coverage. I will admit, I go to the gym and drop off the kids just for the childcare. I spend the entire 2 hours included for free in our membership, and usually I never work out. .
Now, I don’t recommend the going to gym and not working out part for everyone. But, for me, it’s 2 full hours without distraction to work and have meetings without kids yelling in the background.
Alternative #2. Hire a Mother’s Helper
Instead of a full-blown babysitter, think about hiring a younger pre-teen as a mother’s helper.
Usually, these mother-helpers stay at your house to play with the kids while you’re still at home.
The mother’s helper can free you up to o power through your to-list, while the kids are entertained by something other than TV.
Plus, there’s less chance of the kids interrupting you when you’re trying to make a phone call or just go to the bathroom in peace.
And, finally, here are extra tips related to the topic of how to find a babysitter.
Babysitter etiquette – How do you negotiate the situation where a friend “loans” you a babysitter?
- Do you contact the babysitter in the future to ask her to come over again?
- Do you just the sitter for that one time and not contact her?
- Do you ask your friend how she wants you to handle asking the sitter in the future?
I always go with C – Ask the friend who introduced me to the sitter to see if she wants to to check with her first before calling the sitter
How about you?
Organizing summer sitters – My part-time job is super busy this summer and I need some rotating coverage. To manage all of the dates/times/various sitters, I created a shared Google Sheet. I know this is a little dorky but IT’S WORKING! I have all the dates and times I need on the sheet and then invited all 7 of my sitters to the sheet. They sign up for shifts on there. It’s been super easy!
Background checks – I typically rely on referrals and meeting the babysitters to interview them before having them babysit. But, if you would like the extra comfort of background checks, friends have recommended using either care.com or checking the state Bureau of Investigation website. For example, I live in Colorado and we have a records check option. It only checks in-state so if they have a record from out of state, it wouldn’t appear. But, it might give another layer of protection.
What do you do for background checks?
How much to pay the sitters? – I usually ask friends what they pay and there’s typically a common theme. I also round up, generally, as a tip. I haven’t done that this summer since it’s a regular schedule. But, when sitters come in the evening, I do.
And, for your reference, here’s another source of babysitting rates across the US.
Did You Know?
I help other working moms to create and execute the plans and routines that are required for them to reach their business and personal goals.
If you want to create your own mini action plan, here’s the link to book 30 minutes on my calendar.
We’ll work together to build a plan for you and identify your next steps. Then, we’ll talk for a few minutes at the end about what I do and if we might be good working together. I’m not a salesperson so don’t expect a sales call. I only accept clients who are a good fit.
This is time focused on you and your goals, and how to get to the next level.