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Modern Guide to Finding the Right Babysitter

Talking about childcare in the modern age

GREY Journal

Parenting isn’t the same as it used to be. It just isn’t. Family makes-ups and dynamics have changed drastically over the years, along with society’s expectations of parents. In the modern age, both parents are typically employed, single parent families are more common, and adults don’t want to sacrifice their careers and hobbies. All of these factors can make taking care of your kids can be even more difficult than it used to be. I sat down with Sittercity‘s Content Marketing Manager, Alexandria Onion, to talk about all this and more.

Parenting in the Modern Age

Recently the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan fact tank based in Washington D.C., reported that the number of children living in single-parent families had doubled since 1968 (1). Single dads and moms need to work while also making sure they’re kids are supervised and safe. This can be difficult because there are only so many hours in the day and parents need to sleep eventually too.

“How can we provide a childcare solution that allows for parents to do more of what makes them happy? Especially as more millennials become parents, they’re pursuing more personal passions outside of their family life. They’re more concerned with work life balance. Giving them a tool to pursue their lives can really help with that.”

Alexandria Onion

For many parents, this is where a babysitter comes in. Having a proxy you trust around your kids who really makes sure they’re taken care of is quickly becoming integral to modern families.

Found Family

We all remember the babysitters we had as kids, especially the good ones. I remember being babysat by my grandparents as a child and constantly looking forward to their visits. They took me to museums or on nature hikes when we went out, and read and played with me when we stayed in. The memories I have of those days spent together are some of my favorites and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

“The sitter is really going to become a part of your family.”

Alexandria Onion

Alexandria is right, a good babysitter becomes more the just someone taking care of your kids, they become family. I had the advantage of my babysitters actually being family, but the principle still stands. One of my best friends had an au pair who was just as welcomed and respected at her family’s dinner table as any other relative. Even now that my friend has grown up, her family still stays in contact with her ex-au pair because that connection was real.

Jennifer A., a mother and regular user of Sittercity and Chime said:

“There was a recent time when we had a sitter for the first time, and when we came home my daughter had drawn pictures with her ‘new sister!’ She had already invited the sitter over for Christmas, 6 months away!”

Alexandria Onion

What You Didn’t Know Was Missing

The idea of adding someone new to your family can be a little strange. But the benefits can be more than originally anticipated. In 1968, only 13% of U.S. parents were single, in 2017 that number had risen to 32% (1). Single parents who have to not only have to put food on the table but pay for school, clothing, transportation, etc. may really need to put in those long hours. Hiring a trustworthy sitter can be a great answer to these parents.

Even in couples who are already married a sitter can be a real blessing. In 1970 it was determined that 47% of families had the father as the sole breadwinner (2). In comparison, a pole in 2015 found that that number had been lowered to only 27% (2). With the majority of families preferring a dual income model, the amount of time each parent has for their kids is lowered.

It is in situations like these that finding a sitter to add to your family can be hugely beneficial. It gives parents the chance to work the hours they need to and pursue the goals that can’t bear to give up. To live a healthy and balanced life, it’s important for adults to be able to have date nights, hobbies, and interests outside of just parenting all the time.

Sittercity Steps In

Sittercity itself was created to aid modern parents in finding these kinds of babysitters. The concept is deceptively simple, but when you consider the fact that you’re looking for a new family member, things get complex.

Searching for Sitters

The process of vetting and interviewing a babysitter can be hard for parents. First-time parents might not know what questions to ask, working parents may not have the time to really get to know someone, etc. Sittercity steps in on these fronts by making the selection process much less complicated. As Alexandria put it:

“On Sittercity parents can browse local sitter profiles and then reach out for more information. We also provide resources for families throughout their search, like interview tips and guidance on what to pay your nanny.  And we offer trust & safety tools that help our families hire with confidence.”

Alexandria Onion

When asked about Sittercity and Chime, Jessica R., a mother, and owner of a kid’s playspace, said:

“It doesn’t cost much more than hiring a sitter independently, but there is added security in Chime’s hiring process plus access to reviews.”

Alexandria Onion
Ever Evolving

Sittercity itself is 17 years old and is considered the first platform to offer online childcare. But this doesn’t mean they’re content to stop there. Just this year they won a Chicago Innovation Award for their app, Chime. Hopefully, this will go even farther in aiding families with their search for reputable childcare. Alexandria explained it best when she said:

“Our original product is great for long-term care like nannies or after school sitters. But day-to-day management was still a bit of a challenge. Managing the long-term relationship with the sitter like payment, leaving instructions, etc. can be a lot for any parent. We’re looking for ways to make on-demand childcare on the national stage really work.”

Alexandria Onion

Chime seems to be geared towards helping parents find a trustworthy sitter quickly and easily.

“You go in an enter the date and time you need care, browse video profiles, and choose your best match. It really is the quickest way to find a sitter in your area. All these safety measures are in place and let you go in and choose a sitter at the drop of a hat.”

Alexandria Onion
The Little Things Make a Big Difference

When you think about the complications of hiring a babysitter the logistics don’t immediately register as a potential problem. People think that just finding a sitter is the hardest part, but sometimes it’s what comes afterward.

Discussing how much you think is fair payment can be awkward, but an online profile that includes that information makes the process much smoother. Some parents need to leave notes about their kids’ medications, allergies, or even favorite foods. This information can be a lot to dump on a sitter while you’re heading out the door. Sittercity lets you have those conversations before the babysitter even shows up, which can really help parents feel better about taking a night to themselves.

Involving the Whole Family

The fact that Chime also lets you look at video profiles of potential sitters has been really popular with parents. Again, Jennifer A. remarked:

“We love being able to see [sitter profile] videos, and the kids enjoy being able to help pick who will hang out with them.”

Alexandria Onion

Including your kids in the process of finding a sitter is a really great idea for parents. Since you are basically looking for a new member of the family, it makes sense to include your children in that decision.

Wrapping Things Up

A good babysitter is responsible and well-liked, a great babysitter becomes part of the family. Now with Sittercity parents have a higher chance of finding a great babysitter because, in the end, all parents want the same thing.

Quin A., a sitter who regularly uses the Sittercity/Chime services to find her clients had this to say:

“What has been really lovely to see is no matter if I am in a townhouse or a studio apartment, whether the parents are young, old, gay, straight, single, employed, unemployed, tall, or short, every family pretty much wants the same things. There is a strong thread of consistency and I really love how humbling and humanizing it is to see that at the end of the day, we’re all a lot more alike than we think.”

Alexandria Onion

What are your babysitter experiences? Have you used Sittercity? Tell us all about it in the comments or on social media!

Madeleine Hettich
Madeleine Hettich is a graphic designer, writer, illustrator, and comic book artist. After graduating with a BFA degree (with an emphasis in Visual Communications Design) from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer before being hired by GREY. She continues to develop independent illustration and comics projects in her own time. This background gives her a unique perspective when writing about any number of topics.

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