‘A godsend’ – my experience of the Sitters website, by Karen

When a friend recommended the Sitters site to me a few years ago I was curious – but wary. I loved the idea that experienced childcare professionals could be on-hand whenever I might need them – but did I trust a stranger with my son? And frankly, did I trust my son with a stranger, given what our bedtime routines could sometimes be like…

I mulled it over, interrogated my friend about her own experiences (they were all good), read a lot of online reviews and eventually decided to give it a try. As a single parent with limited childcare options, the notion that I could go out without asking favours of friends was too tempting not to explore, so I booked my first professional babysitter. And I’m SO glad I did...

Reassurance for parents

From the off, the Sitters booking process was simple – I registered our details, browsed the profiles of local babysitters, entered my first booking requirements then sat back to wait. Two hours later, I had a babysitter.

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The site provided much-needed reassurance every step of the way too. I did my homework and discovered that all babysitters at Sitters have at least two years’ professional childcare experience, and go through a comprehensive process of checks and interviews before they can be registered.

Each babysitter comes with real reviews from parents, so you can read what others have to say before you go ahead, and the site has recently added photos to each childcarer’s profile, so your babysitter will be a familiar face when they arrive at your door.

My first Sitters experience

Our very first Sitters babysitter was a calm, capable primary school teacher – and boy, did we need calm and capable that night. My then four-year-old son was mid-meltdown when she arrived, I’d just burnt dinner, my going-out frock hadn’t even made it out of the wardrobe and I was close to calling the whole evening off.

Andrea breezed into the chaos like a modern day Mary Poppins – she smiled, chatted and instantly put everyone at ease. My son warmed to her straight away – so much so that I was able to let her take over whilst I made a second attempt at dinner and hastily got ready. An hour later, after a quick run down of house rules and some strict instructions to my son about how many Netflix cartoons he should make her endure, I left, thoroughly reassured that he was in good hands.

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Like every Sitters childcarer I’ve used since, Andrea asked exactly how much contact I wanted from her during the evening, and we agreed on a text once my son was settled and asleep, unless there were any major problems before that. She did exactly as promised, even telling me in her text how good he’d been at bedtime, meaning I was able to fully relax and enjoy my night out.

Trusted childcare professionals

Four years on from our first booking with Lovely Andrea (as my son named her) we are now regular Sitters customers. I have a list of three sitters who we know well. One is a teacher, one a school nurse, one is a professional nanny – and they’re all fabulous.

Typically, I use the site when I’m heading out for the evening, but I’ve also booked babysitters during school holidays if I’ve needed to attend an event in the day. Being naturally pretty disorganised, I frequently need to arrange a sitter at short notice too, and I’ve never yet had a situation when they couldn’t get someone to my door to help.

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For nervous first-timers, I’d recommend spending a little time looking through the childcarers’ profiles to find someone who’s a good fit for you. My son is a child who loves an audience (especially a new person who hasn’t heard his knock-knock jokes or 10-minute monologues about Minecraft) but if you have little ones who might be nervous around new people, take a look at their profile together. The babysitter will always phone ahead to confirm the booking too, so you can even put them on the phone if that helps.

Professional babysitters are usually super-skilled at putting children at ease quickly but it’s also a great idea to ask kids to think about what they’d like to do once the babysitter arrives, so they’re prepared and even excited about it all.

A sense of independence

For me, knowing that I have childcare options available to me when I need them, and that my son is in safe hands, has made a huge difference to my life as a single parent.

I’m no longer reliant on friends or family if I want to escape the house – they still want to help of course, but I have a sense of independence that I didn’t have before.

And my son has had such positive experiences of babysitters that he’s delighted when I tell him mum’s going out for a bit of grown-up time. He practically pushed me out of the door last time Fiona – our most regularly used sitter – came over, so that he could have her all to himself!

Sitters is, quite simply, a godsend!

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