With Gemma having just turned 3 years old, the time had come for Simone and I to get a social life again.
Occasionally, we could really on my mother to come over and babysit, but it wasn’t fair on her if it was in the evening and we were coming home after 11pm.
We weren’t keen on looking on Craigslist or some other ad listings site for someone to take care of Gemma, and even with local paper listings we still feel felt a little vulnerable.
In the end I found Care.com and SitterCity online and was impressed by both companies level of transparency and the security measures taken to insure children are only sat by thoroughly checked, reliable, and experienced sitters.
It was a tough toss up between the two, as both work in pretty much the same way. Basically you either post a job and wait to be contacted by sitters, giving you a chance to interview a selection, or search by zip code and find sitters already listed in the database.
At first I tried Care.com. We searched by zip code and viewed the profiles for sitters in our area; we picked two we liked and contacted them for references. Our sitter, Becky, charged $10 per hour, and in truth we could have gone as low as $6, but we opted for experience and paid the extra.
We also carried out a background check, which is available on request and free. The entire process is seamless and very reassuring, particularly in an age where families have to be careful who they let take care of their kids. Like SitterCity, Care.com also provide nannies, au pairs, care for adults, seniors and special needs care.
Although we used Care.com first, we have ended up mainly using the SitterCity service, in part because they have a bigger selection of sitters, and largely because appears they carry out more extensive background checks.
We switched when we had problems getting another through Care.com when Becky couldn’t help out. SitterCity is a more popular service having been around since 2001, and therefore has a bigger database of sitters. I also like the way SitterCity use Family Watchdog for extra security vetting of sitters.
Parents can also use partner Lexus Nexis to conduct further checks, which is very reassuring. Both services are reliable, but Sitter feels more secure. I have analyzed the key benefits of both below.
Care.com Key Benefits
- Secure sitter service but smaller database which can affect more remote towns.
- Background checks and references available
- Instant access to sitter profiles
- Reviews from other parents available onsite
- Free basic membership but $30 monthly premium to hire
- Secure sitter service using national database & registry checks (Family Watchdog)
- Conduct your own background checks using Lexis Nexis
- Instant Access to Sitter Profiles
- On-site reviews available from other parents
- 1 week full access free trial
Sittercity has been somewhat a lifesaver for us, as was Care.com at the start. Both are great services but SitterCity does feel like they go to greater lengths to check sitters, and they offer customers the chance to further check sitters independently.
We are first time parents and a little untrusting and paranoid to say the least. Sittercity gave us the confidence to hire a sitter, and also to actually go out and enjoy ourselves for dinner or a friend’s birthday without constantly worrying all night about the safety of our child.
We still occasionally use Becky from Care.com, but she isn’t always available so now we mostly hire through Sittercity. I have provided links to both sites so you can decide for yourself, but SitterCity is currently our preference.