A mom of a 7 month old and a 22 month old recently posted on a mommy message board I frequent that she was having trouble finding a Saturday night sitter to watch her children.
She was looking for someone to watch her kids from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., so she and her husband could enjoy a long-deserved date night. Unfortunately, the eight sitters she reached out to via sitter-parent matching site UrbanSitter declined her job request, and I have a feeling I know why.
So, just in time for holiday party season, today’s hint is three tips for how the mom above and other parents can increase the odds of finding a date night sitter, via services like UrbanSitter and in general.
I believe this has to do with the fact that we time our nights out so we’re leaving right after putting our 2-year-old daughter to bed. All the sitter essentially has to do is man our house and make sure nothing happens while we’re out.
Since our daughter’s bath time and bedtime routine typically starts around 7:30 p.m. and she’s in bed by 8 p.m., our approach means that we’re out the door by 8 p.m. (we schedule date night dinners out that begin at 8:30 p.m.). We typically have the sitter come around 7:30 p.m., so she can take part in the bedtime routine and wouldn’t be a total stranger if she needed to go into our daughter’s room before we return home.
To be sure, this approach means that our date nights tend to be late nights, and we’re paying people somewhat expensive hourly rates for not doing much more than studying or watching television.
In addition, I recognize that this strategy may be harder with kids who have later bedtimes, or who wake up frequently. It’s also not necessarily a practical strategy if you’re going to a party or celebration that begins before your little one’s bedtime.
Still, the approach has worked for us for the last two years, and we’ve dealt with early evening out situations by moving our daughter’s bedtime routine up half an hour or so.
2. Make it clear you’ll pay for, or give the sitter, a ride home. I generally try to book sitters who have their own car, but if no such sitter is available, I always cover the cost of our babysitter’s taxi or Uber ride home. And if I’m booking a sitter through UrbanSitter, I make sure to check the box letting the sitter know the ride home will be covered.
3. Leverage your network. An easy way to get a free and reliable babysitter is to swap sitting with a friend. In other words, you or your partner babysit your friend’s little ones one evening so your friend and his or her partner can enjoy an evening out. And then, your friend does the same for you and your significant other to return the favor. For more tips on how to make such simple swaps and more elaborate neighborhood swapping systems happen, check out my hint on how to hire a friendly and free babysitter.
Finally, another way to leverage your network is to go for an UrbanSitter sitter already vetted, and recommended, by your Facebook friends and or LinkedIn connections, especially those who have children similar in age to your own. This way, you’re potentially increasing the chances that the sitter you’re reaching out to is not only reliable, but also used to babysitting situations like yours.
What tips did I miss? As holiday party season approaches, what are your tips for finding a date night sitter?