Occasional babysitter woes -- could use advice and maybe the BSC
Dear fellow Berkeley-area parents,
I'm feeling pretty frustrated right now and could use some advice. I'm the parent of a 7-old-old and an 11-month-old. The 7-year-old had a wonderful, amazing part-time babysitter from age 2-6, approximately. At that point she left to pursue a full time journalism job. We're still in touch and think of her like extended family. We miss her terribly! In the past we used Urban Sitter to find people to fill in at times when she wasn't available.
Well, fast forward through the pandemic and having another child. Now that we're vaccinated and hoping to maybe leave the house again, I'm back on Urban Sitter and remembering just how frustrated I've been with it, and with trying to find decent occasional sitters in general. It's not that there aren't good sitters on the platform. There are, and we've even had some of them sit for us. But inevitably as soon as we think we've found a great one that sitter either gets a full time nanny gig and stops doing part time sitting, or leaves the area, or is just constantly booked because other parents realize what they've found. And we've had a lot of sketchy experiences, too. Lately I have felt like bay area babysitting rates are SO high and the demand is SO high that a lot of these people don't have to try very hard -- and don't.
And lest you think I'm just stingy and don't want to pay a fair wage, let me assure you that is not the case. I was a babysitter as a teen and a nanny all through college. Not to mention I'm now a mom -- I KNOW it's hard work! For someone whom my kids love and that I trust implicitly? Highest bay area sitter rate, no problem. But I haven't found that. Instead I'm paying very high rates for people that aren't awesome, out of desperation.
I'm starting to think it would be better to hire someone with much less experience, like a teenager. Because I'm absolutely willing to train someone, and a lot of my child care needs these days are for help when I'm going to be nearby either working remotely or working on home projects. Back when I was a teenage babysitter I worked for my neighbors. Well, I have no immediate teenage neighbors. Nor do I know anyone with teenage kids. Is there a local chapter of "The Babysitter's Club" I should know about? How does one find the babysitters who are just starting out?
A second approach I've thought of is to commit to a certain amount of hours a week, find someone to fill that role and hope that that makes them more amenable to taking on more hours occasionally when stuff comes up. Obviously I couldn't expect that person to always be free. The hope would be just that they'd be more likely to say yes given that they'd know the kids and their routines rather than being at the other end of the Urban Sitter connection reading a profile.
Any of you going through something similar? Or do you have a list of awesome sitters you rotate through? Tell me your secrets, please!