Whether you need a babysitter to watch the kids while you’re at work or out on the town for a date night, finding that perfect candidate isn’t the easiest task – especially for new parents. If you’re wondering how to find babysitters in your area, though, you’ve come to the right place.
Perhaps you’re just starting your search, or maybe you’ve been looking for a while. But no matter how discouraged you may find yourself, know that there are more options than you might think.
And it’s worth the search. After all, when it comes to choosing any sort of child care, experience, trust and connection are all important. You’re entrusting a babysitter with your children. It’s a big deal.
To start, make sure you have a clear idea of what your babysitting-needs schedule looks like, and try to find candidates whose schedules match up.
That’s important, says Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter – a national online babysitting locator that includes metro Detroit babysitters – so you don’t fall in love with someone whose hours don’t match yours, and, worst case, you’re scrambling to find a backup babysitter.
We reached out to Perkins and babysitting experts here in metro Detroit to find out how to find babysitters in your area.
Talk to families in the neighborhood
The families who live around you have most likely gone through this issue before and know the ropes. Many are willing to guide you through it, too, if you ask.
“Go to people in your neighborhood who have slightly older kids and ask if they have any favorite babysitters,” Perkins says.
In these cases, it’s also important to ask if their kids are old enough to babysit your kids, say Michelle and Janel Daboul, sisters and owners of Top Notch Child Care Concierge in West Bloomfield.
And if it’s easier for you, Perkins adds that if your neighborhood has an online mom group, ask around on there.
Go to your child’s school
Often, the people who teach your little ones have babysitting gigs on the side, so it never hurts to ask.
“You might actually be getting a preschool teacher who babysits in their spare time,” Perkins says.
And if you’re not finding any teachers who babysit in their spare time, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they would be willing.
“Head out to daycares and ask the employees and child care assistants if they are seeking extra work hours,” agree the Daboul sisters.
Or try to your child’s extracurricular activities
If you’re still wondering how to find babysitters in your area, don’t limit yourself to one location. “Go to classes geared toward children,” Perkins says.
For example, ask around at that baby swim class or at your kid’s soccer game. Chances are the coaches or instructors could have references for babysitters to give to you.
Put up paper ads
While this might feel a bit outdated in our digital age, you might be surprised at how many people look at these pieces of paper tacked to bulletin boards.
But what is most important is figuring out where to put these ads.
“Look for college students who are getting a degree in education or child psychology,” Perkins says.
Check to see if a college in your area has a posting area, and request approval to put up your babysitter ad. Perkins adds that a nursing school or psychology departments are good contenders.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to colleges, the Daboul sisters add. Starbucks or other local coffee shops could work too.
“The best sitters are there grapping a cup of coffee,” they say, “and they don’t mind bringing you one, either.”
Use a babysitter website
Just because this is last on our list doesn’t mean it’s the least helpful! In fact, there are so many websites out there now that do the searching for you – from UrbanSitter, which has profiles for many babsitters, to Sittercity, where you can post your babysitter ad and babysitting rates, plus find babysitter options.
As you’re focusing on how to find babysitters in your area, these websites can narrow down to the sitters closest to you. Of course, though, proceed with caution to ensure you find a trustworthy babysitter.
“Make sure the sitter is background checked and has references,” Perkins says.
Talk to the sitter’s references too, says Perkins. Ask them for a piece of anonymous advice they would give to the sitter, based on their experience.
That could help boil down the decision making to, “Do I want a sitter who doesn’t do the dishes while watching the kids, or someone who is always on their phone?”
When you secure that perfect babysitter
Once you find “the one” – whether it was by talking with other parents, putting up ads or using a babysitter finder online – it’s key to get them off to a good start.
“Make sure you take the time to walk them through your child’s routine,” Perkins says.
Whether that’s showing them your child’s favorite stuffed animal or telling them how many bedtime stories they need read at night, Perkins says, it’s essential for them to know how you handle routines with your kids.
This post was originally published in 2018 and is updated regularly.