Finding a babysitter in the Westchester suburbs….​

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Alison Sherwin had worked his way through everything, from navigating the Westchester suburbs to, of course, getting The House. Her next step? Finding The Sitter…

Westchester suburbs navigated, house purchased, stuff unpacked (mostly), toddlers in preschool. It’s time for date night—and that means it’s time to find a babysitter.

Babysitting is different in the suburbs. You’re now looking for someone who can 1) drive to your house and 2) handle an emergency until you can get back home. And your role is different—you may need to provide actual foodfor dinner instead of just logging the sitter into Seamless. One point for the city…

So what tricks and tips have I picked up in my quest to find sitters in the Westchester suburbs?

1. Ask everyone! This is not the moment to be timid! Ask everyone you meet. Everyone. Some nursery school teachers babysit, and many parents are willing to share a sitter’s info—as long as you aren’t trying to steal them. Ask families with nannies if their trusted sitters take on after-hours jobs.

Ask neighbors, moms and dads you meet at the playground—anyone. When you get a recommendation, ask how much they pay per hour, how many children the sitter watches, and (if necessary) whether the sitter is comfortable with infants. The more information you have, the fewer interviews you will need to do.

And don’t be afraid to go down rabbit holes either. In a moment of desperation surrounding an out-of-town family wedding, I found sitters through my dad’s work acquaintance, whose secretary had a friend with a nanny—and that nanny was willing to babysit! She wound up being wonderful.

2. Look online. Sites like Care.com and Sitter City are worth a try! Many people at my daughters’ preschool tell me they’ve had great success scouring online sitter sites. Be very specific about days, times and payment information, and be prepared to get inundated with emails, especially in the beginning. Also, be prepared to nothear back from some great babysitters. It’s frustrating and time consuming, but if you have success with online platforms, it’s likely well worth it.

3. Don’t forget newspaper postings. I had a tough time finding a babysitter for a regular weekday afternoon job. I was looking for someone one day a week for four hours who was willing to be paid on the books. Nothing was working, and in desperation I put an ad in The Hudson Independent. Voila! Several candidates reached out, including one sitter my children now adore.

4. Look for more than one sitter. Some sitters only babysit during the day. Others have full-time jobs and are only available nights and weekends. Once you’ve found people you love, keep them in the rotation. Aside from family, I now have three sitters I can call on—a huge help when something comes up at the last minute.

So what to do once you find The Sitter? Before they watch your kids for the first time, create an emergency phone list. Add your full address plus everyone in the family’s names and known allergies, plus names and numbers of close relatives, doctors’ numbers, the location of your preferred children’s hospital and the number for poison control. Print it out and stick it to the front of the refrigerator, and remember to tell the sitter it’s there. In an emergency, your sitter might not remember the exact address for the house, and now there’s no doorman now to ask for help.

Full disclosure: I had to explore many, many options to finally find babysitters in the Westchester suburbs. It’s frustrating, but the ability to leave the toddlers with a trusted babysitter and meet my husband in the city for dinner (OK, it’s happened once in two years…) is worth it!

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