Remember when finding a reliable babysitter was the only obstacle to you and your spouse leaving the house together? Those days will return, but for the moment, the whole notion of childcare has been turned on its head, with millions of parents doing double-duty as remote workers and homeschoolers, and many childcare workers suddenly struggling to make ends meet.
To bridge that gap, babysitting apps and websites like Sittercity and Care.com have introduced “virtual babysitting” services. Just like before, these babysitting apps and websites help you sort through candidates and find a vetted, experienced babysitter in your price range. The key difference is that rather than coming to your house, they’ll spend a few hours online with your kid, going over homework, making crafts, and playing games. These kinds of services might not replace in-person babysitters, but they can give parents some level of desperately needed relief. In some cases, these services are free for first responders and seniors for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
Virtual or actual, finding the right babysitter introduces a new kind of magic to your life (they’re like unicorns that way). Having some alone time is very necessary, both as an individual and a couple, and if the in-laws aren’t up for daily marathon FaceTime sessions, a babysitter is an absolute must. Today there are lots of nanny websites and apps touting babysitting services, but a few that stand out. Each one of the following babysitting sites makes finding, scheduling, paying, and communicating with potential caregivers easier than it’s ever been. Date night, here you come.
Seeking a babysitter but don’t have time to deal with legwork? 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. Just post babysitting jobs and you’ll get notifications from sitters matching your criteria who you can vet through the company’s four-step screening process. That process includes references, reviews, interviews, and background checks. The company says it connects a family to a nearby sitter every nine seconds.
Pricing: $35 per month; free basic membership available
When it comes to babysitting websites, this one is a behemoth: It’s largest online provider of caregivers (including babysitters, nannies, special needs, tutors, senior caregivers, pet sitters, and housekeepers) — more than 25 million people in 20 countries use the site and its companion Care.com app to find babysitters. Both tools let parents find, review, book, and pay babysitters, and its new streamlined, three-step “Date Night” engine makes it even easier to get out to see your allotted one blockbuster movie a year.
Pricing:$37 per month or $12.25 per month for 12 months; free basic membership available
Sitter assumes you and your friends aren’t among the 16 percent of parents that hoard their babysitter’s contact information to keep friends from poaching, according to Care.com. Whether you’re looking for a teen babysitter, college sitter, or a seasoned nanny, the app enables you to create a private network of other parents and trusted babysitters, 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 user to commit gets the job. Perhaps the best feature is that Sitter also includes a timekeeper, calculator, and in-app payment functionality that prevents end of the night math and “Sorry, I don’t have any bigger bills.” It’s a win-win.
Pricing: $10 per month or $100 per year; free basic membership available (only includes booking and finding sitters through friends)
If you’ve ever thought, “There must be babysitters near me needing work, but how do I find them?” Bambino might be your new BFF. This popular babysitting job app uses your Facebook account to connect you with sitters your friends have used and recommended. It lets parents send a booking request to the sitters you’ve approved, building a list of those who are available and letting you choose the one you want. There are four different rates sitters can earn, from junior sitters (13- to 15-year-olds who are new to babysitting) all the way up to elite sitters (18 or older, lots of experience, background-checked). Timing is automatically tracked and payment takes place directly in the app.
The beauty of the babysitting job app Bubble is that, like Sitter, it connects you to babysitters recommended by your friends ⏤ either by tapping into your phone contacts or your Facebook account. Even better: It’s free. All of the care providers in the system are identity- and background-checked ⏤ although there’s also a feature where you can ask your friend to “vouch” for them, just to play it safe. The secure in-app payment system makes settling up easy.
With 150,000 caregivers in 60 cities and an average response time (to last-minute requests) of three minutes or less, UrbanSitter is the Uber of babysitting websites. 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, and post reviews, all in the app.
Pricing: $35 per month, pay as you go; $20 per month or $100 per year with a subscription; free basic membership available.
In addition to a $30 set-up fee, Seeking Sitters, which offers more than just babysitting services, is different in that involves individual local franchises helping families find “one-time, full-time, part-time, or last-minute babysitting needs.” All you do is submit an online request for a baby, pet, or house-sitter, and Seeking Sitters taps into their local network of certified caretakers and send somebody over. Subscription plans are monthly or pay-per-use, you handle all payments directly with the sitter, and you can also gain access to other Seeking Sitters locations when you travel.
Pricing: $6 per month for unlimited requests; $30 one-time set-up fee
Sometimes what you need isn’t child care but just someone to take your kid where they need to be. Zum is a tech-forward way to arrange transportation for kids, from rides home from school to a carpool with their friends. You can set regular schedules for pick-ups and drop-offs at select schools in California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, and Florida. And if you need it, you can add up to two hours of child care — either babysitting or chaperoning — before, after, or during a ride. Talk about flexibility.
Pricing: Prices start at $8 per kid for one-way carpool rides and $16 for one-way rides alone. Like ridesharing apps, the price you ultimately pay depends on other details, so the best way to get an accurate estimate is by using this fare estimator.
Komae is a free babysitting cooperative app that lets you connect to and swap babysitting with people in your communities. Instead of paying a sitter, you tap into your network and take turns caring for each other’s kids. You might think you don’t need an app for that, but Komae circumvents the resentment that comes when babysitting duties don’t even out by having members earn points for babysitting and spend points for having someone else watch their kids. Points don’t have to be directly reciprocated. You can earn points by watching the Smith kids, but spend them by having the Johnson’s watch your kids. And don’t worry if it doesn’t end up exactly 50/50. If you need more help than you have time to provide you can purchase extra points. And if you’re willing to do more babysitting than you need from others, you can cash out on earned points. Babysitters get extra points for additional children and sitting on the weekends. Parents can also create specific groups so sharing is limited among people they know and trust.
Pricing: Komae is free to download, and babysitting is paid for in points. Each account starts with 20 points, and one point is worth one hour of babysitting. (There’s a flat rate fee of one additional point for any number of additional children and another point for hours on the weekends. ) Additional points run at $5 an hour.
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