I Like To Gamble, So I’d Totally Trust An Internet Babysitter With My Children’s Lives

shutterstock_113455042Most of us parents have been there before—totally screwed and desperately in need of childcare to make it to work, an appointment, or a special event on time. I feel fortunate in that we have family close by, but my in-laws keep themselves very busy and see our kids a maximum of once a month.

Because of that, we’ve had to make relationships with a few good babysitters in our local area. These relationships came primarily through word-of-mouth, starting with the super sweet, early-twenties teacher of my son’s Mother’s Day Out Class. So, we have a few babysitters in our rotation, and that usually works out for date night or in the case of an emergency.

But I will confess that I have dabbled on websites like Care.com before. Even though I love all of our babysitters to death, we had an issue with flaky teenagers a few months back. We just wanted to get out of the house, and we couldn’t get a sitter to stick for the life of us!

It was getting to the point where I wanted to drastically lower my standards. I was thinking, If you don’t have a criminal record or any visible jailhouse tattoos, I would LOVE for you to hang out with my kids for a few hours. Even if you have one leg in a cast and can only catch them with a net while you recline on the couch and grimace in pain, I really don’t care. I just want to go out in public!

All of the sitters on specialty babysitting websites have official profiles and references, but I never pulled the trigger and set up an interview. I’m not opposed to booking a babysitter directly from a website. I even had my eye on a little old lady that looked like she was sweet and boring with tons of time on her hands.

In the present moment, our young lady babysitters are still working out for us. Our latest top choice is absolutely amazing and hasn’t flaked out yet—knock on wood. Though I’ve heard through the grapevine that it makes some parents uncomfortable to book a sitter or nanny online, just like ordering off Amazon, I’d do it in a heartbeat, as long as I could get out of the house.

(Image: Andrey Arkusha/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • Sarah

      I’ll admit, I did have a care.com profile (as a sitter). I’m really good with kids and love doing it, have amazing references and 11 years of experience. Still, no one hired me. All of those who interviewed me chose to go with someone they already knew. I think there is still apprehension there (even with a background check) on both sides. I was wary of going into a home not knowing what exactly I’d find (my dad also imagined me walking into some SVU type rape dungeon) and I’m sure the couples I met were wary of me with their children. All in all, it was a huge waste of time for everyone.

      • Bethany Ramos

        That is so interesting! I can’t believe that you never got hired. I would also agree that the entire thing might be even more risky for a babysitter; I didn’t really consider that. A babysitter that gets hired doesn’t have much information about the family.

      • Véronique Houde

        This reminds me of when I worked on cruise ships as a child care worker and we would offer babysitting services until 3am… In the playroom! And some parents would get all worked up because they would prefer to set it up for us to go to their room and babysit the kids there. Um… no. I don’t wanna get raped on a cruise ship. I know that some cruise companies set this up, and I think it’s totally stupid and irresponsible for management to send staff by themselves to a room to watch “kids”.

      • CMP414

        You bring up an excellent point about your own safety as a childcare provider. I think most of us just wonder what can happen to children when left with babysitters but I guess parents, etc can be potentially dangerous too.

      • DatNanny

        Same here. Great babysitter, degrees relating to children, fabulous references, steady experience, never been hired through care. The closest I’ve come is a couple that creeped me out, and I had to decline.

      • Sarah

        It’s nice to hear that someone had a similar experience. I did get soooo many interviews, but not a one hired me. And it’s expensive when you have no job, are living off graduation money, and have to drive all over the county for interviews you don’t even get.

    • LadyClodia

      I’m am totally clueless about babysitters. I’ve never had one for our boys that wasn’t family or a close friend. We’re fortunate that we live right next door to my mom now, and usually she’s happy to watch them when we need it. But I also feel guilty about abusing the favors, especially when she already works a lot. We didn’t live near any family when our first son was born, and we didn’t know anyone in the area at first. Even when we did meet people I knew more people willing to watch our cats than our son. Eventually, I became friends with the wife of one of my husband’s coworkers, and we would take turns babysitting for each other. But that was mostly during the day, so we didn’t go out at nights much. I had no idea how to find a babysitter, and we didn’t know any teenagers. I still have no idea and still don’t know many people where we live now. I’ve thought about something like care.com, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable using the service.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Seriously, call a church, even if you don’t go! We don’t really go, we just used their childcare program.

      • drinkpepsi

        Because the church has such a great track record when it comes to molesting kids??

      • Bethany Ramos

        I can only speak to this specific church’s childcare program. Just like any other daycare center, you have to check it out for yourself. I recommended a church because there are many, many teens interested in babysitting, in my experience.

      • drinkpepsi

        Hate to burst your bubble, but pedophiles are often charming individuals. They know how to win the trust of parents. That’s their MO.

        They are not scary looking people hiding in bushes. They are teachers, daycare workers, coaches, Boy Scout leaders, etc.

        They almost always seek out jobs that will give them easy access to children.

      • Larkin

        So, basically, you think no one should ever let anyone watch their kids ever and parents should stay with their kids constantly until they’re old enough to be left alone, because it’s possible they might be a child molester? Cuz that’s what I’m getting from your posts.

      • LadyClodia

        All of the programs that work with children at the Catholic church where my son goes to preschool require background checks and you have to attend a hey-don’t-molest-kids workshop. Of course that’s no guarantee, but they are trying. Even the preschool parents had to do the same things if we volunteer for class parties or field trips.

      • drinkpepsi

        The typical pedophile will molest 200-400 children before ever getting caught. So yes, they will have a “clean” police check for years and years.

        The fact is, many children remain silent for years, sometimes decades.

        Even when a child does tell someone, too often the parent or adult doesn’t listen, or brushes it off and does not contact police.

      • LadyClodia

        Yes, I know, I had to watch the hey-don’t-molest-kids movie. If I can’t even pretend to trust the safeguards then how could I trust anyone else ever with my kids?

      • LadyClodia

        My son does go to the local Catholic preschool, but yeah I hadn’t considered asking them about childcare.

      • Rachel Sea

        High schools usually have job boards to connect students with people who want to hire them.

    • Kay_Sue

      I order everything else off of Amazon. Why not a babysitter too?

      • Crusty Socks

        Does Amazon sell Groupon Dildos?

      • Kay_Sue

        They should.

      • Bethany Ramos

        LOL!! #groupondildo

    • Lee

      I found a nanny job back in the early days of Sittercity.com about 2 weeks after I signed up. I was with the family nearly two years.
      I signed up for care.com for a sitter for my son a while back and actually ended up using a daycare provider I found on Craigslist. Honestly most of the people I was considering on care also had Craigslist postings. I wish I would have saved my money and gone straight there. You can always ask them directly for a background check.

    • Kenny

      So….can I ask….what’s up with the Mr. Roger’s GIF? What’s….going on there?

      • evilstepmom

        From snopes.com: Images of Fred Rogers posing with one or both middle fingers extended have long been circulated on the Internet with captions claiming they captured the children’s show host disdainfully “flipping off” his audience during the taping of the final Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episode. Although the pictures may appear puzzling out of context, they’re actually screen captures from a harmless moment in 1967 when Fred Rogers led some youngsters through the familiar children’s song “Where Is Thumbkin?,” which is traditionally accompanied by participants’ holding up the corresponding fingers as they are each named in the song.

      • Kenny

        My first thought was, “Where is Thumpkin,” but I wanted to be sure. Thanks for the info!

      • LiteBrite

        Thank you! I was a little taken aback by that too, but I told myself that there had to be another context. :)

    • natalie

      I had/have a care.com account as a sitter. I ALWAYS meet the family before actually doing the job. I’ve actually turned down some jobs because the family itself made me uncomfortable (as in, “Jesus the ultimate punisher so we don’t disipline our kids so it’s ok that he’s biting you and hitting you and screaming at you for entering the house” type families). I would never sit for someone I didn’t meet before hand and I always offer in my application/message to the families. I totally get how sketch online sites could be so I want the parents to be at ease! I think that helps a lot in these situations! Sometimes I just meet them at starbucks or a store while the kids are in daycare.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        yup, had the Born-Again family.
        I was recommended to them by three other families I regularly did childminding for after school.

        They took one look at me in my school uniform with two nose rings, a folder full of references and kicked me out.
        I literally didn’t even get to see the kids.

        Cos apparently having nose rings means I’m going to make soup of your children.

    • Jenni

      As a former online babysitter, I found some of the parents to be scarier than the babysitters. I finally got off after one “single dad” wanted me to come over for an interview on Saturday night when his kids were out of the house. As an SVU enthusiast and general paranoid person, I suggested that we meet at a nearby coffee shop.He suggested more firmly that it would be best to meet at his place. I decided it was probably not in my best interests to go.

      • SA

        Uh, yikes.

      • DatNanny

        I wanted to comment the same. As a babysitter, you do everything you can to have a transparent profile, have all the checklist done, lots of photos, good, varied references… then you’re supposed to meet up with a couple who don’t have a profile picture, and have only written a few quick lines about their alleged kids. It gets dodgy very fast.

      • Itpainsmetosay

        There was this one person my sister told me about that wanted a baby sitter for a parrot that sometimes would bleed from its skin randomly.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        wooah that’s beyond creepy…

    • CMP414

      We have a wonderful private babysitter for my 2 year old the 3 days a week that i work but she is not an evening/weekend sitter. I don’t always have family to watch my little girl so I have thought about Care.com. The commercials look great but I can never bring myself to call. I know they have background checks but all that means is that a person never has been caught or charged not that they dont commit crimes. So usually, I see my friends alone and my husband stays home and vice versa. When we go out together we go as a family of three.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      It really is tempting to use a care.com babysitter but I think as long as you’re able to meet in person, know the person is a member of your community and check references you should be OK. I haven’t used one yet because I can’t afford to pay a sitter AND go out but I would if need be,

    • Crusty Socks

      9 out of 8 people on Craigslist aren’t serial killers

    • Rachel Sea

      I’d find a babysitter online. The people most likely to do something terrible are the people already close to you, so, statistically, strangers are the safest people to entrust with a child.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I love your attitude. (NOT sarcastic. :))

      • Rachel Sea

        When I was a teenager my regulars were people that were friends of friends of friends of my great uncle, and their friends and siblings with kids. Or in other words: total strangers. I quite preferred that to sitting for people I knew, because everything was business, not personal.

    • oywiththepoodlesalready

      We found a sitter off care.com. Triple love her. We did meet prior to her actually coming to our house. She had tons of references and a background check. Just also happened that she works at the Y we use. With no family near and just moving here, we didn’t feel bad at all going this route.

      • MerlePerle

        Best. Screen Name. Ever!

    • tk88

      I found the family I babysit for on care.com and I have for others too. I don’t know why you’d think it would be worse to find someone online than just a friend recommendation. Friends don’t give you criminal histories or ratings from other people that might not have a personal investment in the “sitter” who might be a family member or someone they have a personal relationship with.

    • auntiea

      I’m a care.com sitter. I found my first job in college, and now live with that family (while still caring for their kids/attending grad school)-they’ve become my “foster” family of sorts-I always forget that’s how we met. They were looking for someone who could watch their daughter overnight while they were at work and I didn’t think anything strange of it. Six years later I wouldn’t give a job like that a second glance. Also, I currently work for a family I met on care.com, and couldn’t love it more. It helped that I knew/was related to someone the mother works for, but that’s just small world type stuff there! That being said, I think you have to have just as much caution as with any other sitter.

    • Angela

      When I was working part-time I wasn’t able to find any daycare centers that had part-time openings for when I needed them. I tried asking around people I knew and came up blank for anyone who would be willing to watch my kids while I worked. I went online because I literally didn’t have any other options. It was completely nerve-wracking and I actually had to go through the process twice because the first person I found had to quit after a few months. Both times I met with the person beforehand, checked references and requested background checks and both times I managed to find wonderful providers who took excellent care of my kids.

    • SA

      The title just cracks me up. I went on a friend’s recommendation for our full-time sitter when I started back to work. It was the worst experience of my life and I am fully convinced that a child is going to either get lost or hurt in this woman’s care. I didn’t have a good feeling when I met the woman, but went for it because she came recommended. I think now that I have learned to trust my instincts and know what questions I would ask and the responses I would want, I would totally hire someone off the internet. You are just as likely to have a crappy experience doing it anyway you look at it.

    • Jo

      Online can be way better!! I think many of us are not as great at judging character as we think we are, so sometimes it is a lot better to see the facts in black and white. Btw, your in-laws sound sooooo generous….lol

      • Bethany Ramos

        Don’t even get me started… ;)

    • tSubh Dearg

      I’m actually listed on an Irish babysitting site and have gotten quite a few jobs through them. I was quite happy to pass on references to anyone who wanted them and often I only met the parents and kids the night that they wanted me to babysit. Some of them even turned into long term clients.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        lol small country syndrome, so true!

        Or if you come from a certain area- “O you must be related to the Murphy’s in Tipperary!”
        Lady, Have you ANY idea how many people named Murphy are in the country?!

        But yes, recommendations in such a small country can be brilliant.
        I started out minding a neighbours kids two days after school when I was 12.
        Then from there, to minding five kids three days a week.
        Then a regular overnight babysitting job every Saturday for a family with twins.

        When I think back on it, I made more money childminding, as a young teenager, than I do now!

      • tSubh Dearg

        I have an usual, obviously not Irish surname which makes me even easier to be found to be the sister of the friend of the aunt’s first cousin by marriage.

        And I get “oh is that the Cork [unusual surnames] or the Donegal [unusual surnames]” as a joke a lot but occasionally somebody actually is from the little town my grandparents lived in and it is quite amusing, especially as they tend to remember my grandfather by the type of cows he had!

        I made so much money as a teenager from babysitting, right up to being in college. I still pick up a couple of jobs here and there and certainly wouldn’t object to having a couple of regular families again for a little fun money.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        LOL NEARLY DIED AT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S COWS LOL!!!
        I apologise for shouting, didn’t realise caps was on. =P

        I tend to get a lot of slagging for my name, it’s spelled real traditional Irish, complete with fada on the i.

        A woman in the bank actually asked me- What did you do to piss off your parents? LOL she’s hilarious, always cracking jokes about the spelling.

    • Itpainsmetosay

      My sister is a Care.com sitter, shes pretty qualified because she worked at an older nursing home and ond for special needs babys and children. I don’t really see how its a gamble.

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