In decades gone by, if you wanted to find a babysitter, it was as simple as checking out who had a teenager in the neighborhood. No longer.
Between college “resume-builders” like competitive sports, AP classes, and charitable activities, it’s rare to find teens who babysit anymore. That’s dramatically raised the cost of care and made it trickier for parents to find a babysitter for even an occasional night out. If you need regular after-school care, it can be even tougher.
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Find a babysitter
Notably, dozens of sites aim to connect sitters with parents who need them. But there are only a relative handful that consistently deliver. There are some differences between the sites, too, that suggest that some are better for casual nights out
The best place to find a babysitter?
With more than 32 million members, Care is the industry giant. That provides families with the best chance of finding a good caregiver for children, disabled or elderly adults. However, the site charges everyone who uses it — caregivers and clients — a membership fee.
The cost varies based on whether you buy a monthly, quarterly or annual membership. Monthly memberships are a fairly pricey $39. But the annual membership is cheaper — about $11 a month, which is a bargain if you use it regularly.
(You can sign up for Care here.)
Notably, unlike other sites that charge commissions to caregivers or clients, this is the only fee you pay to find a babysitter on Care.
The site does have a free option. However, it doesn’t allow you to freely communicate with caregivers with the “free membership.” You can post a job. But, only babysitters who’ve paid Care’s sitter fees can respond. So there’s really no point in the free membership.
Is the membership worth the cost? It probably depends on why you’re looking.
If you just need an occasional sitter to cover a night out, you may be better off using a service like Bambino, which charges a modest ($2-$3) connection fee whenever you book a sitter through them.
You may also have luck posting your need for a sitter on a neighborhood website, such as Nextdoor. Nextdoor is officially a social media site, where neighbors talk to neighbors about crime, lost dogs, local ordinances and the like. However, it has also become a great place to find a builder, handyman or other skilled tradesperson and to find local tutors and sitters.
If you haven’t signed up, you should. It’s free.
However, if you’re looking for a regular sitter — someone who can cover work days, holidays and school vacations, the time and trouble you save by buying a membership with Care is well worth the cost.
The site connects caregivers of all stripes with consumers needing everything from babysitting to companionship to skilled eldercare. Caregivers say it has no equal when it comes to finding work. It also appears to have no equal when looking for help.
I personally subscribed to the one-month plan to try it out when my parents needed some assistance. In one day, I received messages from about a dozen eligible caregivers in my area. I chose one, who had several good references, and set up an interview. She was as impressive in person as she’d been in her profile. So, we hired her to come in a few days a week and help my mom with shopping, errands and light housekeeping.
She’s been a godsend — smart, flexible, easy-going and just right for my Mom’s modest need for help.
I continued to receive messages from willing caregivers, with great credentials for the entire month I was signed up for the service. But my caregiver need was already satisfied, so I cancelled the membership before I got charged again. Cancellation was easy.
If I needed someone able to provide daily care — or round-the-clock help — I think I would have bought the annual membership, though. That’s simply because I’d want back-up caregivers for sick days and holidays. And, the more care you need, the more chance that someone you’ve hired won’t work out.
Overall, it was a great experience and the $39 I spent seems like a pittance for the time I saved looking.