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Our children are 3 and 10 months, and we're thinking about finding a regular babysitter so that we can get out of the house a little more often.

In the past we've relied on nearby family, a high school aged neighbor, and another couple in our neighborhood that we're good friends with. Unfortunately, though we know a lot of people, most of whom are happy to take our kids, not many of them are geographically close to our home.

But these days...

  • Our nearby family is less and less of an option as they appear to be starting their own baseball team ;)
  • The high school aged neighbor is no longer trustworthy (He was house-sitting for other friends in the neighborhood and decided to take their car for a joy ride... when he was 13! His dad's response? "But he's a good driver!")
  • The couple we would sort of trade babysitting with work opposite schedules and have limited time to see each other, let alone take our kids. We feel bad asking, and have a hard time scheduling even when we do ask...

So I'm hoping there's like an eHarmony for finding babysitters. There's got to be - I've seen one for dog walkers! Somewhere that parents can leave comments/referrals, etc.

I'm leery of using something like Craigslist because of the prevalence of scams/etc. We've asked our daycare provider for a few references but we're still waiting to hear back from her.

We're a good 20+ minute drive from the nearest university. Is that too far to ask a college student to drive? (Come to think of it, maybe not? I regularly drove longer for a $7/hour job when I was in college...)

Has anyone heard of anything like this?

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Sittercity.com includes background checks if you wish. You can then interview, get references and do all the checking you need before actually committing to any one sitter. Meet and interview at the play place at your nearest mall (so you aren't giving out your address) and then use caution. The background check part is nice. There is a fee. I think care.com is similar. –  balanced mama Nov 18 '12 at 23:49
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Frankly, I wouldn't trust a web site -- it can show you people who want to babysit, but no reliable enough (for my risk tolerance) information on their trustworthiness.

Your best bet is to get recommendations locally -- use your support network. For us, it was asking our Sensei -- he works with many families, and a dojo like ours is a great place to find responsible young people. If you belong to a religious institution, your religious leader(s) will probably know young people who share your values. If you are new to the area and don't have that kind of social support network yet, you might try inquiring at the local high school, or check with the Red Cross (who teach babysitting classes including things like infant CPR, child safety, etc and tend to attract teens who are really into babysitting, and of the more responsible ilk that would bother to take a class).

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I think this is probably the most correct of them all. Internet + references is nice in a pinch, but word of mouth provides the most reassurance and comfort. –  Adam Tuttle Nov 18 '11 at 0:38
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Some of your daycare workers might babysit for parents on the side. I know I did!

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We found a good sitter through care.com. the screening process and feedback from other members helps you be more confident about who to interview. I've hard good things about sittercty as well.

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Austria

http://www.kinderbetreuung.at covers all of Austria.

Disclaimer: I have no experience with using this service (i.e. it might be crap or it might be gold). It was simply the only online resource I could find for Austria. I have asked for alternatives/recommendations/experiences in an Austrian parenting forum and will report back if anything useful comes of it.

I know the asker is in the USA, but the question is universally useful and it would be great to have answers for as many countries as possible!

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To increase the universal use, it might be good to explain what makes your recommended site a good website, so non-Austrians can look for these properties in their local sites, too. –  Konerak Nov 15 '11 at 12:16
    
@Konerak: Good point! I will have to add that later. For now, I only listed this because it appears to be the only site for the Austrian region... and that's not much of a qualification! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 15 '11 at 14:05
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SitterCity.com is a good site to find sitters. My niece just recently posted a profile and it is actively used in my parenting circles. There is a short term free membership as well as a paid membership. I know my niece had a background check, had to supply references, and much more.

The other place that I have found success is at a local church. I was able to get a list of sitters from the nursery. Most of these were high school students who volunteer in the church.

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I forgot to mention that we do not attend church, though I had heard of that as a good place to look. I'll take a look at sittercity, thanks! –  Adam Tuttle Nov 14 '11 at 23:56
    
Wow, this is something that should be started in lots of countries! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 15 '11 at 8:37
    
I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this yet, but I thought it worth reporting. I signed up for the free trial, and posted a job. Now that someone has applied for the job, I got an email saying "upgrade (to a paid account) to see the application". I'm a little put off by it, since I'm still within my free trial, but as I said, ultimately I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. Is it worth $35 to find out I don't like my 1 applicant? –  Adam Tuttle Nov 16 '11 at 20:43
    
@AdamTuttle: we were put off by sittercity as well. We paid for a month. We are also trying care.com at the same time and for where we live (Virginia, USA), care.com produced a bigger pool of applicants. –  Jay Nov 17 '11 at 0:21
    
@AdamTuttle: forgot to mention that we were searching for a full-time nanny, for long term (+1year), so that's a bit different than baby sitter for the occasional night out. –  Jay Nov 17 '11 at 0:22
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