Online babysitting giant Care.com recently released the results of their first annual Babysitter Survey, which found that the national average rate for babysitters in 2014 was $13.44 an hour — a whopping 28 percent increase from 2009. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that cost was the number one reason families don’t hire a babysitter; the number 2 reason? Finding the right sitter is a time-consuming, stressful pain in the ass. If you nevertheless regularly cough up that cash (and deal with that stress), then this all amounts to a heaping pile of “duh,” but maybe you didn’t realize is that Care.com is far from the only internet-enabled solution to some of your problems. These 8 apps and services make finding, scheduling, paying, and communicating with the best possible caregiver for your little angels easier than it’s ever been. As for the cost, until someone creates a hard bargain-driving AI to negotiate for you, you’re on your own.
For The One-Stop ShopperUrbanSitter
With 50,000 caregivers in 60 cities and an average response time of 15 minutes or less, UrbanSitter is the Uber of babysitting. (That didn’t take very long now, did it?) One simple interface powers the entire process for parents and nannies. As long as you’re willing to pay the monthly fee, you can search by availability and browse categories like experience, pay rate, and background to find a match; book jobs; make payments; post reviews; and repeat. Or, use the free service and … look at a bunch of headshots.
( iOS) (Android)
Pricing: $14.95 per month or $99.95 per year; Free basic membership available
If You Hate Scrolling Through Search ResultsSittercity
Sittercity has so many caregiver profiles — more than 1 million nationwide providing babysitting, nannying, pet sitting, senior care, tutoring, housesitting, and housekeeping services — that they decided it’d be easier for them to bring the results directly to you. Post a job and you’ll get notifications from sitters matching your criteria (17 within 24 hours on average) who you can vet through the company’s 4-step screening process, which includes references, reviews, interviews, and background checks. Ideal if you’re short on time (or, as your partner might put it, lazy).
( iOS) (Android)
Pricing: $35 for 1 month, $70 for 3 months, or $140 for 12 months; Free basic membership available
If You’re Big On The “It Takes A Village” ThingSittingAround
This site takes aim at both the expense and stress of finding a reliable babysitter by rethinking the whole enterprise. When you create a profile on SittingAround, you’re then able to join “co-ops” of parents in your neighborhood who exchange sitting for sitting rather than cash. Aside from the savings, you get to embrace the whole “it takes a village thing” and actually talk to your neighbors. The service is free to sign up for and use, although for a fee you can access priority support and turn off the ads (hey, somebody’s got to make money here).
( Website Only)
Pricing: $5 per month or $15 annually for priority support and no ads
If You Want To Cut Down On The Vetting ProcessSitter
Sitter assumes you and your friends aren’t among the 16 percent of parents who Care.com says hoard their babysitter’s contact information to keep friends from poaching. The app enables you to create a private network of other parents and trusted sitters, so you can find new sitters quickly, based on your friends’ recommendations. When you need a sitter, send a single request to your trusted network (even ones that don’t use the app) and the first to commit gets the job. Sitter also includes a timekeeper, calculator, and in-app payment functionality, so no more end of the night math, but also no more “Sorry, I don’t have any bigger bills …”
If You Seriously Can’t Get Enough Of Your KidKaroo
Karoo will help you start your kid early on food pics and humblebrags. Caregivers use Karoo to send parents photos, videos, and real-time updates (CareLogs), so you instantly know how that feeding and subsequent spit-up went. The milestone highlight feature ensures you’ll never miss out on key moments, even if you’re not there and, you know, missing it. You can also use the app to keep your family updated without exposing your kid to the Facebook masses — only people you invite can see your timeline.
If You Just Want To Pay Them And Be Done CluckCluck
This app is a tactical combination of task manager, emergency contact list, messenger, and payment system created, unsurprisingly, by two lawyers. About the only cutesy element is the branding: “Check in on your little chicks” (which, admittedly, is adorable). Similar to some of the above-mentioned apps, you can send a single message to multiple trusted sitters to book them. What’s different is you can create a profile for each kid so the babysitter knows to pay special attention to Johnny’s reading or Jenny’s soccer skills and log said attention accordingly. Wonder where the lawyers got that idea?
If You’re A Little Bit ParanoidFamily Locator
If your kids are with a nanny for portions of the day or they walk to school, or if you inherited the “Text me when you get home” gene from your mother, you want Family Locator. You can designate safe and unsafe zones and get instant alerts when the kids enter one, see all your family members’ locations on a map in real time, and tap an SOS button to get your kid’s GPS location instantly if they get lost. Now go text your mom, she’s worried sick about you.
( iOs) (Android)
If You Think 15 Million Other Parents Can’t Be WrongCare.com
This list just wouldn’t be complete without including the guys who basically started thewhole thing, although there’s not much to say other than they’re the largest online provider of caregivers, including babysitters, nannies, special needs caregivers, tutors, senior caregivers, pet sitters, and housekeepers. More than 15.2 million people in 16 countries use Care.com and the site’s companion app to post jobs (a new one every 30 seconds in the U.S.) and find, book, review, and pay the right caregiver for their family — odds are good you’re already one of them.
( iOs) (Google)
Pricing: $39 per month, $26 per month for 3 months, $13 per month for 12 months; Free basic membership available