Friday, 24 May 2013

Situation Critical

When I was about 12 or 13 I started babysitting.  At first I inherited families to sit for from my older sister, who was going out on dates at Lime Ricky's (or wherever 17 year olds went on dates in 1990).  I also secured some jobs from my next door neighbour after she moved away to go to university, friends when they were busy and referrals from families who passed my name along to their friends.  This is a great way to find a sitter, word of mouth and through current relationships.  When securing a teenage sitter it's best to go through people you know, family, neighbours and friends.  I contacted a few Canadian Babysitting training services to ask some questions about finding sitters and was tactfully told, "You don't want to be that creeper hanging out at the high school asking strangers to look after your children."*

Sometimes I think the minions should be in the zoo, unfortunately this isn't ideal child care.
Here are some other sources for finding a sitter:
The Social Connection
Try contacting coworkers, friends, relatives and neighbours to see if they know any good sitters.  You may want to craft an email explaining what you're looking for in a sitter (pay rate, hours and age).**  When dealing with a sitter who is a minor, go through parents as they'll likely want to talk to you about your expectations of their child and set their own ground rules being parents themselves.  When contacting friends with children, don't push if they don't want to share their sitter or ask their sitter about working for you without their blessing.  If you only have one or two sitters in a shared social group of friends, it's going to make it very hard for you all to go out together without a serious game of rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock, or some competitive arm wrestling.
Think of Other Connections for your Children
Ask your local daycare workers if they know anyone who sits.  Your children are already familiar with them and they might do some babysitting part-time in addition to their day jobs.  Have a favourite worker at the Early Years Centre or Summer Camp? Try asking them if they can sit for you.  You can also ask other parents at your daycare or school if they can recommend anyone.
Local Colleges or Universities with Teaching, Nursing & Early Childhood Education Programs
Find out if schools offer job boards to their students.  People enrolled in educational programs to take care of children as their profession would probably welcome the opportunity to gain more experience through babysitting.
Babysitting/Nannying Job Boards
There are various on line services where you can post to find a nanny or a sitter for your kids.  There are also emergency services where you can get connected to a qualified sitter at the last minute, but I've never tried this.   Because we were looking for people with experience dealing with young infants/twins I went this route.  You often have to pay for a subscription, but in my opinion it was worth it.***  We used Canadian Nanny.

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*That is not a direct quote, it's my interpretation of their response to my foot in the mouth question of, "how would parents contact your course graduates?"  The parents of teenagers probably aren't keen on strangers contacting their 14 year old about a potential "job".
**It's probably not the best idea to ask that co-worker who has a reckless teenager who they're always complaining about.
***If you are posting on a site I recommend going by email only and NEVER post your phone number.  A few eager candidates called my house, at 630AM about a job.  They were not hired.

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