Finding a weekend babysitter who’s available on short notice is difficult enough. Finding one that’s not only available on short notice but also one you trust with the kiddos—well, that’s even harder.
Personally, I’ve had to cancel many nights out with the girls simply because I couldn’t find a part-time babysitter that was available on short notice. It behoves you to put a system in place after missing out and seeing how much fun your friends had without you on Instagram.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how I find the perfect weekend babysitter.
Have a Babysitting Service on Call
If you are anything like me, you want to be as self-reliant as possible. That’s why this is my first option as opposed to some of the tips that will follow (this is not to say that those tips don’t work, I would just rather go the self-reliant route first).
There are many babysitting services online today. All you have to do is search on Google. However, just because there are many babysitting and childcare services at the click of a mouse doesn’t mean that they all guarantee quality childcare, especially on short notice.
That’s why I like to do my due diligence well in advance. I assume I will need those services someday and vet several options beforehand.
This is what I would advise you to do:
- Research the sites or babysitting service/s you might want to use.
- Go online to see what people say about the services they offer (I often look at my favorite mommy boards instead of the reviews the platform owners post on their sites). The Mommy Boards tend to give real reviews from people who’ve actually used those services.
- Find a few sitters you might like to contact in case you need one (I often “pre-approve” three or four in advance so that I have options).
The best thing about these sites is that they give you a full profile of the weekend babysitter and even run a basic background check. Once you have your three or four pre-approved, you wait for the day you need them and hope that at least one is available.
This beats starting the entire process on Saturday morning when your early dinner date with the hubby is looming. When we are short on time, we tend to make rushed decisions. This is not good.
Yes, you can always rely on family members. This works best if you get along with your in-laws. That way, you have a bigger pool of potential candidates to swindle into cheap labor (insert evil laugh and rubbing of hands together here).
The thing about family members is that you get what you get. Hardly anyone in there will have the necessary expertise to deal with toddlers with special needs, for example. But they are your family, and you probably already have a certain degree of trust in them. Bonus? Your kids already know and are very familiar with them, which can make things easier while you are out.
Family members can also give you reliable references to reliable childcare providers they’ve used before. At the very least, you know you can trust the family member’s word. You just need to hope the references are available when needed.
Organizations You’ve Worked With Before
This is a sneaky little trick I resort to when all is lost. Like most moms, I am part of a wide range of organizations, from my church to my book club, daycare, school, and so on. It is always a good idea to network as a parent. It takes a village, remember?
Many of these organizations often have a sitter on standby whenever we get together. There are several benefits to this trick:
- I know the organization has run a background check on the sitters
- I have seen firsthand how they are with infants or other kids
- I can always leverage my connection to them through the organization to negotiate a more favorable fee or hourly rate.
Your Own Child
If you have an older child as part of your brood, you could simply hire them. I am sure they need the money, and you will be teaching them some responsibility.
The problem with this approach is that you might be putting the animals in charge of the zoo. What I would recommend doing is to give it a test run. Have your older child take charge of the household chores for a week. And I’m talking about everything, including the planning and assignment.
Watch how they manage the rest of the pack. That should give you an idea of their level of responsibility. If you are satisfied, the job should be theirs; if not, it’s an opportunity to teach them more about leadership skills. Win-win!
You can rely on your friends if you strike out on the family side. Say you want a romantic night out with the hubby and a break from the kids; call up one of your friends. Even if they can’t babysit, they might be able to offer the number of their own babysitter. Other parents with young children usually know a babysitter or two with some experience that is available.
Ask Your Pediatrician
Your pediatrician can be an excellent resource when it comes to this kind of thing. If you guys are friendly toward one another, they can easily recommend a babysitter or “Nanny Shares” chatroom, board, or service that they trust.
So, the next time you find yourself scrambling for a weekend babysitter, remember all the tips I provided in this smart mom’s guide and take a deep breath. Help is out there. You just need to know where to start looking!