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How Do You Find a Babysitter?

Finding child care is a challenge that every parent will ultimately face.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting issues.

This week’s Moms Talk topic relates to finding child care:

Families are getting more and more spread out these days. Mom doesn’t live around the corner. She moved several states away. Both parents are working and Uncle Johnny doesn’t live close enough to watch the kids when the unexpected out-of-town conference comes up. Whether in desperate need of a date night or a daycare, every parent eventually faces the challenge of hiring a child care provider. New businesses like sittercity.com and other online services have even popped up to help with and profit from that quest. No matter how you go about it, it’s not easy.

Share your thoughts:

How do you find a babysitter?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Philipsburg, N.J.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

About this column: Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

Lynn Faust January 15, 2012 at 07:40 PM
How To find a Baby Sitter! Hi! My name is Lynn Faust. I grew up in Emmaus (the home where I now live). I am a Child Care Provider and at the moment I have an opening. I am Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Margaret's Nursery School in Emmaus. Many of the children I care for are /or have been students at SMNS. I am a former nurse,I have the Criminal Record Clearance check as well as the Child Abuse History Clearance. I recently completed the "Safeguarding God's Children Course. E-mail me @neversummerallthetime@yahoo.com for more info and references.
Beth January 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM
We don't have family in the area so it does create a challenge when we want to go on a date or both can't be home for one reason or another. We have been fortunate to have had folks from our childrens' day care baby sit when we need them to (which so far has been maybe 4 times). We are also very lucky to have great neighbors (Lynn Faust (above) being one of them) and know that in a pinch or an emergency, we could count on them to safely care for our children.
Jennifer Elston January 16, 2012 at 01:04 AM
We always try to use family first. If family can't do it, we ask a friend we trust. If a friend can't do it we ask a friend to recommend someone reliable. So we have used our friend's niece, who we trust completely. We once used a friend of a friend and that didn't go as well as planned. It also depends on the time frame we need a sitter. If we are shooting a wedding, which is usually a 9-10 hour day, we definitely ask family.
Lisa Amey January 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
We also don't have family in the area, and this has always been difficult for us. When the kids were very little, we had to rely on trusted longtime local friends. Then I was lucky enough to join some moms groups, and met other moms who I befriended and swapped time with. It was through one of these groups that someone gave me a list of their trusted caregivers from their church. We went through a few before we were blessed with finding a great fit for our family and am thankful for every day. If she's not available, then we fall back on the trusted friends.
Lisa Merk January 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM
We don't have any family in the area either, and we as a couple did not go out when they were little. My situation overwhemled me at times, so I knew one teenager couldn't handle it - and we couldn't afford 2, plus a night out. So, we just stayed at home. I did have friends that would watch them during the day if I had a doctor appointment or a funtion at school for the the older one to go to, but I tried very hard not to take advantage of that. Now that they are a little older it's much easier, but I still chose not to really leave them with a sitter.
Sue Jarrell January 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I would like to join this group, because I am child care provider from the Easton area. Right now I sit for two families when they need me. The one family lives in Nazareth with two children, a boy, 4 years old and a girl, 11 years old. The parents both work for the same company and sometimes work the 3-11 PM shift. I go to their house to wait for the daughter get off the bus, then we come to my house so I can make my husband dinner and feed them. We go back to their house a few hours later so I can put them to bed and then I stay to wait for the parents to come home. These children are my best friend's grandchildren and I have been watching them for two and a half years. There were times I had to take them to church with me, when the parents worked on Sundays and from doing that is how I got the second sitting job. The girl that provides childcare for our nursery is a substitute school teacher and just had a baby. Her mother is our church's secretary and she recommended me to her daughter because she saw how good I was with the other children. Her baby was 8 months old when I started watching him at their house and now he is 22 months old. The parents of him allow me to have my other kids I watch to come there when I'm sitting for her and I have to sit for them too. I love taking care of God's children.
Jennifer Marangos (Editor) January 16, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Seems like most of us are in the same boat...has anyone out there used a site like sitter city.com or any other service to find child care?
Sue Jarrell January 16, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I haven't tried it, but I was on their site to see what it was. I get referred by friends and the families I sit for. I also have sat for another family that works at the same place of the 2 children I watch, when they are in need of my services at the same time.
Patricia Ziegler-Boccadoro January 16, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I was rather fortunate in finding someone to watch my son. Long story short I really don't have any family in the area and stay away from centers so I went to Craigslist. I saw an ad from a Mom who happened to live just a few houses away from me (she posted the street she lived on). I met with her a few times and it was like we had known each other for years. I talked to other moms of children she watched while I was there and my son got along wonderfully with her children. Now she's more of a friend than just a sitter.
Diane Bobzin January 16, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I am a retired Registered Nurse and would love to start babysitting. I am cleared by the criminal record check when I worked for the schools. I also worked in the Nursery at the hospital where I was employed. Send me a e mail at Dianerncob@aol.com if you need a sitter. Thank you
Mary Anne Looby January 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
My days of needing a sitter are long gone, however, when my two youngest kids were maybe 6 and 8 I had been reading about a local service in the paper and decided to try it. The two woman that ran it were nice, but they certainly did not screen their applicants thoroughly. Fortunately my daughter knew how to reach us and called from an upstairs bedroom. We were not far, just out for a quick bite. The girl and invited a friend over (oposite sex) and he was going through our things. Thank heavens nothing worse happened. They closed up shop shortly after. When my kids were older (middle school) I contacted a local University, with whom we had a relationship. I ended up with 4 college kids, 3 girls and 1 guy, all great. My kids were introduced to the good side of college life, and the sitters were grateful to have a car to use, a private room and bath and fridge full of food. They took the kids sking on the weekends, movies, helped with school work, drove to school and provided a really wonderful experience. We still hear from them from time to time and I know my kids are still in touch with them. Call a local college (I used DeSales Univ), contact the office for student affairs and start there. Once you get a name, write a letter outlining your needs to the person in charge. It really was a marvelous experience for our family.
Elizabeth Rich January 16, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Like many of you, I also have no family in the area. I've used sittercity.com the last two years, and I have to say it's been amazing! I meet 4-5 potential sitters in a coffee shop, talk to them, and then call the ones I like back. I like the background check too. The two main sitters I've used have been indispensable. I couldn't do my job properly without them.
Kelli Castagnetti January 16, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I am a childcare provider and have a profile on sittercity.com and care.com. I have met some nice families on both sites. I am currently looking for a childcare job in the easton/phillipsburg area's if anyone is looking. Please feel free to contact me about my experience and references @ kcastagnetti@aol.com
Jonathan Gerard January 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM
This babysitting service has been written up favorably in The Wall Street Journal more than once. You locate a sitter near you by typing your zip code into the search window: https://www.sittercafe.com/index.asp
Candi January 17, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Choosing a babysitter can be difficult. With all of the babysitters out there, it can seem like an overwhelming task to try and narrow down the pool until you find that one, perfect caregiver. So what makes a great babysitter? It is important, for the sake of consistency for your children, that your babysitter be able to commit to your family for at least a year from the interview date. Within that year, there may be dates on which you need a babysitter and she is not be available: however, she ideally will be able to be your babysitter most of the times you are in need... http://tinyurl.com/29fz255

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