Babysitters — the good ones, at least — are lifesavers. But finding them — the good ones, at least — can be an arduous process. Here, some creative and productive ways to find quality help in and around Philly.
There are bunch of local listservs targeted at moms, ranging from ones that are citywide (the uber popular PennsyMoms) to ones more neighborhood-focused (Queen Village Kids, The Kids South of Washington, Fairmount Parents). Post what you are looking for and a caretaker or fellow parent might hook you up. I’ve found great sitters and even an awesome nanny this way. Find the listservs on Google or Yahoo Groups. Note: For some, you’ll need to put in a request and be “accepted”, which might take some time.
Similar to listservs, there are some hyperlocal closed Facebook groups you can turn to, like Queen Village/Bella Vista Kids and New Moms of Center City. Do a search for ones in your neighborhood.
The National Websites
People have mixed feelings about national sites like Care.com, Sittercity and UrbanSitter, but I’ve had great luck on Care.com. (It’s where I found two of my best sitters, actually.) You have to pay a membership fee, but it can be worth the cost: Put in your request and you’ll get a flood of interested candidates. You can choose ones that only provide background checks, if that puts you at ease. SittingAround is a national site that works a little differently; it taps you into local babysitting coops (where groups of parents watch each other’s kids for free) or helps you start your own.
Our Favorite Local Agencies
MBR Nanny Network is a trusted local resource. Owner Marissa Rosen helps connect families with full- and part-time nannies, temporary help and babysitters. (Yes, for that last minute emergency, too.) Sitter Select is another Wee Wander favorite. Run by a local mom and her daughters, Sitter Select provide on-demand babysitting and doula services. You pay a yearly membership fee (although your first three sitting jobs don’t require the annual fee), submit a request, and they will find a sitter in their trusted network to take the job. It couldn’t be simpler, although it’s not cheap: Sitters are $17 an hour with a three-hour minimum. Psst — Doulas do more than just help you with your birth. They can be hired after the baby is born for helping around the house, helping with your older child, and of course, tending to baby and mom.
College and Graduate Students
Uloop.com is a giant digital billboard for college students. You can post jobs for $125, but that reaches an enormous network of students at the area’s top schools like Penn, Temple, Drexel, Jefferson Nursing, and more. There is a specific page for babysitting jobs, which brings you to Urbansitter’s site, however, your post is still seen by area college students directly. For Penn Nursing Students, you can email a request to email@example.com and your request will share with their student body.
Many daycares and preschools have policies that clearly state that teachers can’t sit for enrolled families. But ya know what? Everyone does it. (Afterall, it makes sense: They know your kids and you know them.) Just ask on the DL!
Poaching at Playgrounds
Keep your eyes open. I have friends who have met many sitters this way. Here’s one way to do it: When you see sitters or nannies taking care of other kids, you can chat them up and ask if they are accepting new families. The best part is that you get to see them in action.
Asking Friends and Neighbors
This was can be a little taboo, but if you approach it correctly (and are sensitive to the signals) it doesn’t have to be awkward. We think transparency is best, so ask your friends and neighbors have anyone they can share … that sort of takes the pressure off, because they can just say “yes” or “no”. If they say no, trust us, you’ll just want to leave it at that.
Many national sites (like Care.com, Sittercity and UrbanSitter) have transitioned to apps, which makes interacting with sitters easy peasy. And keep your eye on Watotally, a local startup that’s aiming to make childcare more accessible and more affordable. While it’s only in trial stages, parents can sign-up for a spot on the waitlist and you’ll be informed when it’s citywide.
Additional reporting by Sophia Pizzi
Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook.
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