If you can’t find a trusted babysitter for your children through other parents, then you quickly start looking for other options. Trying classic posts in the supermarket, asking colleagues or using an online platform for example. Ordering a babysitter online may sound a bit strange, but this sector is growing in the digital world. Jules van Bruggen, founder and CEO of the platform Sitly, knows all about expats and babysitters. Headquartered in Amsterdam and active in nine countries, Sitly is a babysitting platform.
Van Bruggen: “The preferred way of finding a sitter is of course through other parents. Or that a great sitter everyone recommends and who speaks your language lives down the street. That is a trusted method, you know them already or you have an instant reference. Other parents generally give a phone number from a babysitter they trust. Most of the time, you don’t have this option as an expat. You have just moved to the city and your network is still small, let alone know someone who speaks the same language as your children and has the time to watch them. In that case, you must look for a different method and a babysitting site can be a Godsend.”
“Our world is getting more digital. We book taxis via Uber, offer our homes as a lodging option on AirBNB, and order our food online. Why not a babysitter? It really the digital version of hanging the notice in the supermarket.”
Extended Searching and Results
Yet it feels different. Selecting a sitter online sounds like handing your most precious possession to a complete stranger. But the difference really isn’t that big says Van Bruggen, “Compare it to a situation from earlier when you couldn’t find a sitter from within your circle of friends. Maybe it clicked with a girl who lived on your street. Or you hung a short note in the supermarket, and then waited for someone to respond. Maybe there was already a card hanging up where someone was offering their babysitting services, but it didn’t quite click with her. With a babysitter, it always comes down to: if you are lucky, it clicks.”
“These days, we do exactly the same thing online, but more extensively. On a babysitting site, you immediately see the information that is important to you. With the push of a button, you see which sitters are available in your area, what language they speak, if their mother-tongue is the same as yours, how much experience they have and when they are available. Compare such extensive profiles to the notice posted in the supermarket.”
“Only have a little time? If you register yourself on a babysitting platform, include your own wishes in your profile. Which days you need childcare, what language does the sitter need to speak, do you want to see references, and how much experience do you require? Sitters will be suggested based on your criteria. If the initial contact clicks, you can ask for references. Then, have an introductory meeting so you and your child can get to know the sitter better.”
“It was very nice to be able to make a selection of people I wanted to meet first. I was able to look and compare in peace, and at the same time, adjust my wish list. I finally wrote to three sitters, and one of them is now our babysitter. I am very happy with her.” Sarah, mother of Jacob
Van Bruggen sees even more advantages: “You aren’t limited just to your street, you can widen your search to the whole neighborhood or city. Maybe your ideal sitter doesn’t live on the next street, but three streets further away. You decide the distance radius you wish to search in. In large cities you will have a lot of options, so you can be even more critical.”
“The great advantage is that you can compare many sitters against your own criteria in a short time. We did have some wishes in terms of language knowledge, age and experience. It is also nice that you can see where they live, because we wanted someone in the neighborhood that you do not have to bring home yourself. We soon found a few nice girls!” Maria, mother of Zoe and Noah
“Because you have the first interaction with your potential babysitter online, you do not have to meet all candidates in person immediately. If the conversation goes well online, the ice is already somewhat broken. Subjects such as the pick-up rate are sometimes quite awkward when speaking face-to-face for both the parent and the babysitter. It’s easier to do that online.”
The customer has a lot to tell
How do you know if you can trust the sitter you found online?
It seems scary, but it isn’t, Van Bruggen explains: “We sometimes hear that parents initially find it a bit scary to find a babysitter through an online portal. That disappears when they discover it is just people from the neighborhood and that the control remains completely in the hands of the parents. Customers have a lot more say here than at Uber or a meal delivery service. You don’t know who is going to drive or who prepared your meal. A babysitting platform such as Sitly provides services, but it also helps to broaden your network. Whether you accept a babysitter is up to you, and you make that decision only after you have spoken to her personally. We can even contact other families with whom she works, so that you can hear first-hand how she treats the children.”