One of my regular frustrations is finding a babysitter. In the old days, all you would do is rope in the nearest adolescent and pay them a couple of pounds whilst giving them full reign of your biscuit cupboard.
I remember spending many happy hours babysitting for my parents’ next door neighbours. Whilst their children slumbered upstairs, I would be happily ensconced downstairs accompanied by an extensive pile of magazines and an equally large pile of custard creams.
Today, though, we live in a different climate and parents are much more concerned to find appropriately qualified, professional and capable babysitters.
Easier said than done.
You can bet that when a function arises, your babysitter will be busy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find the number of sitters available generally dwindles down to just the one.
There’s a new answer to babysitter woes for those in the London area (and hopefully, later wider across the country) – Kidsitter.co.uk.
Founded by London Business School and Harvard alumni, KidSitter is a secure and curated online marketplace, with a mission to connect parents with trusted babysitters in London.
KidSitter uses a thorough 5-step vetting process to ensure they work with only the very best babysitters, most of who are nannies, childminders, nurses and teachers and, they say, only 1 in 10 will meet their criteria.
KidSitter babysitters are all DBS checked, paediatric first-aid certified, reference checked and interviewed in-person.
The in-person interview is worth its weight in gold to me. There are a couple of other online babysitting services which operate much like a dating site. You can create a free profile and input a ‘job’ and then wait for the responses to roll in.
But you then have to pay to respond to those messages (currently around £20 per month or £100 per year).
The vetting and interviewing are left to you which means that your chances of finding a babysitter at short notice are slim.
I have also found that the babysitters who use these other sites are not always amenable to meeting you and your kids either.
Often they are as young as 16 and their experience is solely looking after their younger siblings. Sometimes they don’t even live in the same county as you!
Kidsitter launched in Islington in October 2015 and has now increased their service to the whole of London.
They can send you a trusted babysitter in as little as 2 hours at a very reasonable price of £12 per hour with no joining fees, booking fees or added extras.
They also offer a scheduled babysitter service so that if you have a regular exercise class or brunch date (I wish!), help is always on hand.
For mums like me whose partners work away most of the week and who have practically zero access to childcare, this could well give you some of your freedom back!
At the moment, I can’t commit to a regular evening out because I never know where the Husband will be and, since my parents are elderly, I can’t really ask them to sit late in the evenings.
With Kidsitter you can book as much as a month in advance to two hours before you need a sitter, if the booking is made between 9 AM and 6 PM, on all days of the week.
There is a three hour minimum for each booking but if your plans change full refunds are offered for cancellations made from the time of the booking until 24 hours before the sitter is due to arrive.
The other thing I like is that you don’t pay the sitter directly. Usually sorting out payment for our babysitter involves a dash to the cashpoint and, occasionally (don’t tell them!), a riffle through the kids’ money boxes (of course we put it back!).
At the time of booking, you will be asked to provide your credit or debit card details. 24 hours before the booking, KidSitter will charge your card for the amount of the booking. Once a sitter has completed her work successfully, KidSitter will pay them directly.
At the moment I have at least two upcoming events I need a babysitter for and I have a lot of vetting and interviewing I need to do urgently.
So if you need to find a babysitter in London, why not give Kidsitter a try and save yourself a lot of the extra stress of just having a night out?!
I really hope they come to Cardiff soon!