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13 Stress-Free Ways to Find Reliable Child Care

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13 Stress-Free Ways to Find Reliable Child Care

 

Girl, when was the last time you went out? I’m not just talking about the store! Whether you’re a working mom looking for daycare or a stay-at-home mom craving a date-night with hubby, you’re probably wondering how to find reliable child care.

We’ve all heard the horror stories and we all have those nagging little worries.

What if I hire a psychopath?
Is this chic really qualified to take care of my baby?
Can I trust a stranger in my house?

Maybe it’s just me, but these questions have certainly stopped me in my tracks. When you don’t have family members or close friends to watch your kid, trusting a stranger to do it can be downright scary. Luckily, we live in an age where it can be easy to find reliable child care. Sit back and relax, Mama. I’m going to share 13 stress-free ways to help you land the perfect sitter!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. I only recommend what I trust.

What To Look For in a Child Care Professional

 

If you’re like me and new to the sitter gig, you probably have two basic questions are probably rolling around in your head: cost and safety. Let’s deal with the cost of of child care first, since we are going to naturally eliminate the safety aspect by using great methods to find a sitter.

Babysitting rates range quite a bit, but the minimum you can expect to pay is $10 an hour (obviously, this changes based on your region. I live in the ‘burbs of Seattle). A babysitter with quite a bit of experience can easily charge $20 an hour.

In this post, I’ve listed out the best babysitting sites. Even if you don’t use these sites to hire a babysitter, you can at least get an idea of the local babysitting rates by browsing their professionals and using their babysitting rates quick calculator.

Daycares run a little differently. Typically you pay weekly, but the average parent spends anywhere between $700-1600 a month. Why the range? There are so many variables. If you live in a rural area and take your child to a daycare that operates in someone’s home, chances are you’ll pay a lot less than a facility in a large city.

Before hiring a child care professional, there are several aspects you should take into consideration:

• Availability—Yours and hers.
• Duties—Such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, bathing the kids, etc.
• Experience
• Certifications- (Infant CPR, Driver’s License, etc.)
• References
• Policies—Many of the best daycares have a waiting list, however, don’t let that stop you from asking the important questions. Pry into their discipline, payment, and activity guidelines.
• The “Vibe”

Don’t Forget the Interview

It goes without saying that a thorough interview is incredibly important before hiring a sitter. Even if your sitter checks off all the boxes, you’ll never be able to gauge who she really is until you meet her and see her interact with your kids.

If you’re starting to stress about the interview process, don’t. Take it from the lady that would rather do just about anything than interrogate another human being. That’s why I created my sitter interview cheat sheet. BAM! All the research, all the important info needed for your first sitter interview is right there.

So, now that we have the basics of child care covered, let’s get right to how you can find reliable child care.

 

13 Stress-Free Ways to Find Child Care

First things, first. Babysitting Websites: Are They Legit?

I think it’s important to at least touch on babysitting websites. Aside from word of mouth, this is the most common way to find a babysitter. At first, I shied away from even the best babysitting websites. It felt kind of like online dating…the profile might look nice, but just who am I meeting anyway?

If you’re having the same reservations, then you’re not alone. Nothing can beat word of mouth. However, like other internet services, such as Uber, Amazon, or PayPal, the process has become very refined, convenient, and invaluable.

If you’re not familiar with online babysitting services, here are a few of the main benefits:

• You can post your own job or browse through sitters individually
• The website does most of the work for you, such as performing enhanced background checks (at an additional cost), user reviews, and finding a sitter with special qualifications (such as the ability to drive, infant CPR-trained, cleaning skills, ability to work with special needs, etc.)
• Most online babysitting services require at least basic background checks
• The best babysitting websites do require a subscription, however, you can cancel at any time and browsing is free.
• Many babysitters can be paid via credit card through the websites. Alternatively, you could pay cash.
• After you and a child care provider connect, you can conduct a thorough interview—no strings attached!

There are a ton of babysitting websites available, but since we’re going to go over quite a few ways to find reliable child care, I’m only going to bring up three: Sittercity, Care.com, and UrbanSitter.

 

1: Online:UrbanSitter.com

Sittercity and Urbansitter are both fantastic babysitting websites. However, Urbansitter has one seriously awesome feature that sets it apart from everyone else: the option to find reliable child care by social group. For example, in my area, I can narrow down my search results to display only sitters that have been hired by moms from my social circles, such as the local church’s MOPS group (Moms of Preschoolers), the YMCA, a local dance studio, etc.

Urbansitter allows you to find babysitters that moms in your social groups approve of.

It’s like asking for a referral from a friend that you haven’t even met yet. This feature alone made UrbanSitter my favorite among the best babysitting websites.

If you’re interested in trying Urbansitter out, they are running a fantastic deal50% off your first membership. So far, this is the best promotion I could find with the online babysitting sites and I’m not quite sure when it will end.

Other UrbanSitter features include:
• Facebook signup
50% off membership fees for your first membership, and the referral program, where you and a friend can receive a $35 credit after they book a sitter.
• Advanced search tool: search by social group feature, including schools, libraries, mom groups, church groups, and more.
• Offers a basic background check (It’s up to you to do the enhanced background check)
• Browse basic babysitter profile without a subscription

 

2 Online: Care.com

Care.com is a pretty cool service, though it’s more marketed as a Jack-of-all-Trades. It focuses on finding care for everyone—your pet, your baby, your house, your Great-Aunt Deirdre… So, the interface isn’t quite as parent-friendly as Sittercity. However, if you see your needs expanding beyond babysitting, you may want to invest in this service instead.

Here’s the main benefits:

• Currently running a 20% off promotion
• Facebook sign up
• Offers a basic background check (It’s up to you to do the enhanced background check)
• The number of families a sitter has provided for is displayed right on the search results.
• Care for everyone
• Browse basic babysitter profile without a subscription

 

3 Online:

Sittercity

First off is Sittercity. Believe it or not, Sittercity has been around for a long time—ever since 2001. I love that Sittercity offers a crisp, easy interface built for parents.

Sittercity has several cool features that put this service at the top of my list:
Currently running a free month promotion
• Facebook signup
• Offers a basic background check (It’s up to you to do the enhanced background check)
• Super simple interface—I love the customizable search settings
• When you create an ad, it gives you the option to make it “urgent”
• It’s specialized for finding child care
• Offers a Military Care Providers option—If you’re a military family stationed at a base, you can optimize the search for only child care providers with military affiliations and base-access.
• Browse basic sitter profiles without subscription

 

Picture of a girl playing with a baby

4: Talk to Your Mom Friends

Asking for referrals from your mom friends is the go-to source to find reliable child care. Moms will always be happy to recommend a great sitter—or give you the scoop on a sitter that sucks.

Don’t have any mom friends yet? Talk to your neighbors. Even if you don’t know them very well, moms understand how scary finding a new sitter can be, and 9 times out of 10, they’ll be willing to help you out.

Psst! Running out of time? Pin this post for later!

5: Consider a Babysitting Co-Op

On that note, consider using, or even creating, a babysitting co-op. Babysitting co-ops are the cheapest form of reliable child care outside of using your own mama.

So, what the heck is a babysitting co-op?

Babysitting co-ops run on a quid-pro-quo system where a group of moms agree to watch each other’s children. The good babysitting co-ops are highly structured, implement a point or ticket system, and require applications from any new member. To keep the co-op contained to like-minded mommies, they are often very tight-knit groups, such as neighborhoods, church groups, or fitness groups.

The best part about babysitting co-ops? They are usually completely free. That’s right. F.R.E.E. The only currency is time. If you don’t have a babysitting co-op near you, I would seriously consider setting one up.

Get connected to a local babysitting co-op by:

• Word-of-Mouth
• Facebook Groups (more on the awesomeness of Facebook groups in a minute)
• Some co-ops post ads at local community buildings
The Babysitter Exchange

 

6: Join Facebook Groups

If you’re not part of a mommy Facebook group, you are missing out on a huge resource for you and your children. It took me three months to discover Facebook groups. Three months of searching aimlessly on community forums and random google posts. Now I’m a member of 4 mommy Facebook groups. If I have a question about how a Babywise mom should introduce solids to her 6 month old, I don’t type it into Google and pray that the Google gods will give me results. No, I just ask my huge community of Babywise moms what they’ve done. It’s amazing.

A mommy Facebook group can quickly help you set up play dates, coffee dates, and, best of all, find reliable child care in your area. When you search for a Facebook group to find reliable child care providers, try looking up these types:

• Your Local La Leche Group
• (Insert State or City) Moms
• (Insert Your County or City) Babysitters/Babysitting
• (Insert Your County or City) Babies and Kids Classifieds
• (Insert Your County or City) Working Moms
• Your Child’s School Group
• Your Neighborhood

 

 

9: Call a Local Daycare

If you already have found an awesome daycare but are looking for the occasional date-night sitter, you already have a valuable resource in your pocket! Many daycare workers watch children independently or can at least hook you up with someone their clients use.

 

10: Google/Yelp

More and more daycare facilities (and sometimes sitters) are signing up with Google and Yelp. These sites are a huge driver of business for child care providers! So, why didn’t I post this at the top of the article?

Because you shouldn’t just rely on Google to find reliable child care.

Unless daycares have a ton of views (I’d say at least 20), Google and Yelp isn’t a reliable gauge of quality child care.

This is kind of a controversial statement, so let me explain myself. There are two reasons for this:
1. People tend to review either when they’ve had a terrible experience or an awesome experience. Almost nobody writes a review for a business that they’ve been using for years.

2. Some shady businesses use fake profiles or employees to create fake shining reviews. So, if you see a business with maybe 5 or 6 shining reviews, be wary.

Having said that, don’t discount the use of Google and Yelp. It’s a valuable resource to find reliable child care in your area and can be used to double-check the recommendation of a friend. Google and yelp can also provide a snippet of the facility condition, connect you to their website, and provide basic information.

 

11: Make an Ad

If you live in a small town and none of these methods are available to you, there’s still the old-fashioned method of using the classifieds. Believe it or not, people still read these. Case in point, my Great Aunt. Every day. Many older child care providers shy away from websites and technology in general.

On the other side of the spectrum, you can also use newspaper ads to find college students. Many colleges allow you to post babysitter wanted ads.

 

12: Community Center

Check out your town hall, courthouse, or community activity center for the listings board. This is a great way to hook up with the local youth looking for a babysitting gig over the summer. Community boards are super chill and laid back, so it’s still important to uphold your qualifications standards. References, interviews, and background checks can save your child’s life. If the poster baulks at the idea of going through an official interview process and background check, you probably don’t want to waste your time.

 

13: Craigstlist

Yes, Craigslist still exists, and no, not everybody using it is crazy. Once again, this would be a viable option if you’re in a small town with old-school child care providers or limited mommy resources. Like the babysitting websites, you can choose to create your own ad or respond to a child care provider’s ad. If you do decide to hire a babysitter from craigslist, keep in mind these tips:

• Do a thorough background check before the interview.
• Meet at a public location for your safety and the sitter’s.
• It isn’t entirely necessary to have multiple interviews, but I would. I would conduct a phone interview, one in-person interview to judge the sitter’s vibe, then a separate interview to see how your child interacts with the person.
• Always call references.

13 Stress-Free Ways to Find Reliable Child Care

 

Are you ready for a night off?

 

Child care is supposed to take away your stress, not add to it. There are so many ways that you can find reliable child care.

If you’re a skimmer like me, here they are once again:

1. Use a reliable babysitting site
2. Ask any mom friends you can find
3. Join or create a babysitting co-op
4. Join a Facebook Group
5. Join the YMCA
6. Get connected with local mom groups
7. Ask for recommendations from a Daycare
8. Use Google or Yelp
9. Make an old-fashioned newspaper ad
10. Check out the community center’s board
11. Use Craigslist

Just remember, if you’re going to hire a stranger, the screening and interview process is critical. This is no time for Miss Nice Girl. If you’re cringing at the thought of being the bad cop or don’t even know where to start, check out my babysitter interview cheatsheet.

So that’s it! Now you know everything there is to know about where to find reliable child care. My charge to you is to investigate at least 3 of these resources and join a mommy Facebook group. Let’s get that ball rolling!

Let us know how it went in the comments below!

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One Comment

  1. That’s a good idea to look online. I would think that would be a good place to find a lot of opinions on a certain childcare provider. I’ll have to do that if both me and my wife keep working after having a baby.

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