By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse
Like anything else you want to know when moving to a new place, word of mouth and personal recommendations are key. Social media groups, community groups, and new neighbors are full of information that may help you feel settled. But when it comes to someone caring for your children in your absence, I encourage you to take all recommendations with a grain of salt.
Nothing scares me more than seeing someone post on a Facebook group along these lines:
“Hi, I just moved here, and we need a sitter for date night this weekend.”
Immediately a half dozen women are volunteering to watch the child/children in their home or in your home. People they don’t even know! I mean, I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but not when it comes to my children. A trusted reference is critical, as is an interview, at the very least.
Finding a Trusted Babysitter
Sittercity.com offers a military program, designed to make it easier for military families to find qualified and safe childcare providers. Membership is discounted, up to 50% off for the quarterly plan, and 25% for the monthly and annual plan. The membership includes: babysitters, full or part-time nannies, last minute care, pet sitters, housekeepers, and even help during PCS moves.
Care.com also offers a military discount and in May usually gives free membership. The process for setting up an account on both sites is very easy; you post a job and then can contact applicants who view it or meet your criteria. Through the membership, you can request background checks and view references. Both sites also allow and encourage you to pay via their payment center, so there is a record in case discrepancies arise.
Sittercity was recommended to Tiffany while she was stationed at Fort Hood. She started using it while at Joint Base Lewis McCord. “It was really easy to use, and I liked that they offered free service for military service,” she said. While there are always bad apples in the bunch, Tiffany was very pleased with how Sittercity handled a bad experience with a sitter, by removing that sitter’s account from their service.
Tammi used Care.com to find a great sitter during a deployment, and while she was happy with the services, the babysitter stopped responding. Tammi had a hard time getting any response. “We pre-paid from our checking account, so there was nothing the service could do. I was able to leave a review on her site and had we used their payment center; we would have gotten more assistance with that part of the transaction. She was a great babysitter, the kids loved her, she just didn’t come back,” Tammi remembered.
Rachel didn’t have any success on either site. Instead, she relies on word of mouth, “I had better success asking on the wife pages for the new installation,” she said.
Luke is currently using Care.com to find a nanny, “It seems more focused on babysitters than nannies, but we have been happy with it.”
Both good and bad experiences come from everything. Mary had a hard time finding an applicant that was being truthful on their profiles. “I liked that I was able to leave reviews on both sites,” she said. Hopefully others were able to use that information to make better-informed choices.
The moral of the story is, trust your instincts, trust your gut feeling, and make sure you interview extensively. Taking the word of a neighbor or new friend is my preferred way of finding a new babysitter, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone.
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PCSgrades Author: Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com.