In the nearly two decades since the internet became widely available, we have come a long way. What started out as a luxury has become a necessity. Where we once spent a few hours a week in and out of chat rooms, checking the occasional email, and perusing a few basic websites, we now spend hours each day working, shopping, and searching for people, products, and services that will enrich our lives. The world wide web has become the go-to provider of everything from your next pair of shoes to your next delivery meal to your next relationship, and sites like Sittercity.com are making it just as easy and convenient to find your next babysitter. Read on for a step-by-step guide to doing just that.
Step 1 – Answer a few questions.
Like most other caregiver directories, the process at Sittercity begins with a quick questionnaire, where you’ll answer questions about what type of care you need. The first step is to select whether you need care or you want to provide it, so parents and guardians looking for a babysitter just need to click the button that says, “I’m a parent.”
On the next page, you’ll provide your zip code. The following step will ask you whether you need regular care, like that provided by an afternoon sitter or a nanny, or occasional care, like you would use for a doctor’s appointment or date night.
Finally, you’ll need to create an account. Sign up with your Facebook account to automatically import your contact information, or enter it manually by signing up with your email address. Sittercity is free to browse, so don’t worry about entering credit card information at this point in the process.
Step 2 – Get more specific.
In order to connect with sitters who are best-suited for your family’s needs, you’ll need to fill out a brief questionnaire describing your specific care requirements. Once you fill out this information, Sittercity will alert local, qualified sitters. These people can then message you if your opportunity looks like a match for their availability and experience.
Categories of information include:
- When you need care – Do you need occasional, regularly-scheduled, or one-time care? You can enter the first date you need a sitter on the calendar. If you need someone ASAP, there is a special box you can check.
- About your family – Select the number of children for whom you need care, as well as their ages.
- Qualities – Every sitter has a different set of interests and qualifications. If you need someone who is pet friendly, a caregiver with special-needs experience, or a sitter with a car, select those options here.
- Responsibilities – Once again, not all caregivers are qualified or comfortable with all tasks. If your child needs homework help, sick care, potty training, or sleep training, select those here. If you need a caregiver who will also run errands, cook, and take care of household chores, you can select those options as well.
- Location – Enter where you live to see nearby babysitters. This field will auto-populate based on what you entered in the first step, but you can change it at any time.
- Rate – Enter your top hourly rate (or range) here to filter out sitters who charge more (or less).
- Describe your needs – This open-ended section will allow you to elaborate on any specific concerns or requests you may have regarding your children or their care. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to write, think about how you might describe what you’re looking for to a friend. Then, type that here.
Once you have entered all of this information, submit it. Like magic, a list of prospective caregivers will materialize on the next page, where you’ll have the opportunity to refine your search results a little more.
Step 3 – Refine the results.
Depending on where you live and what you’re looking for, you could end up with anywhere from a couple potential babysitters to a couple hundred potential babysitters who match your basic criteria. If you want to further refine your results, look to the left of your screen. There are about a couple dozen categories you can use to filter the list even more, including:
- Provider type
- Zip code
- Location range
- Last login
- Available on short notice
- Comfortable with pets
- Has own transportation
- Will provide sick care
- Background check status
- Military care providers
- Years of experience
- Number of children
- Experience types
- Student status
Step 4 – Pick your candidate.
Once you have refined your results, you will see a list of profiles of candidates who match your preferences. This profile will include basic information, like:
- Paid experience
- Brief bio
- Star rating
At the bottom of each profile, there are five badges. Color icons indicate the person has the following qualifications, while gray badges indicate that the credentials are missing or expired.
- Enhanced background check
- Basic background check
- Motor vehicle records check
- First aid certification
- CPR certification
Based on the basic information you see on the search results page, select the candidates you’d like to know more about by clicking on their profile. You’ll be taken to a page with more detailed information about each prospective sitter, including their full bio, education, references, and additional services they offer.
Step 6 – Pick a package, and pay.
Once you find a few good candidates, it’s time to contact them. Before you can send them a message through Sittercity, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account. Prices vary, and packages are offered in 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month increments. In addition to contacting sitters and posting jobs, a paid account also allows you to purchase background checks.
Step 7 – Start interviewing.
The last and most important step to finding the right care for your child is to interview several prospective caregivers until you find the right fit for your family. Over the phone is fine to start, but you’ll want to meet your sitter in person before you leave them with your child. You should also check their references and verify their credentials. Finally, trust your gut, and trust your kid. If either of you feel uneasy about the person, move along to the next candidate.
In truth, nothing — not even the internet — can replace a parent’s best judgment when it comes to who should care for their child. However, caregiver directories like Sittercity.com can certainly streamline the process and make it both quicker and easier to find, vet, and hire a candidate than it ever was before the days of the world wide web.