Can I get your baby sitter’s phone number? Well, uhm, uhm, you say, while thinking this: No way. Sorry, Charlie. Women give much, but when it comes to sharing their baby sitters, it’s another story. What if someone else wants your sitter the night you need her or him?
Can I have a bite of that dessert on your plate, your friend asks. Sure, you say.
Can I stay with you for a few days while my bathrooms are being renovated? No problem; happy to help, you say.
Can I get your baby sitter’s phone number? Well, uhm, uhm, you say, while thinking this: No way. Sorry, Charlie.
Women give much, but when it comes to sharing their baby sitters, it’s another story. What if someone else wants your sitter the night you need her or him?
Christina Elbers of Rockford found herself in a dilemma. Elbers, who formerly worked as a photojournalist for the Register Star, is a married mother of two young children. “I have so many friends who said, ‘Can I borrow your sitter?’ I said, ‘No. I don’t want to give her away.’ When you find a sitter, you hold on for dear life.”
But then Elbers decided it would be better to broaden her pool of baby sitters, partly because her sitters are getting older and will move on to other jobs. She decided to let others in on her expansion, too. And why not solve the dilemma with a novel approach that lets busy parents make good use of their time?
Her answer: Speedy Sitter Search, a business she’s developed that links parents and baby sitters in a speed-dating-type format. It is similar to other groups forming nationwide, such as Social Sitters in California.
The first Speedy Sitter Search event will be Sunday at Meg’s Daily Grind in Rockford. Others will be the first Sunday of the month as well.
It works like this:
Parents interview a prospective sitter face-to-face for seven minutes, a bell rings, and all the sitters rotate to the next parent. Parents have the potential to meet up to 12 sitters during the 90-minute event. If parents meet a sitter who might be a good fit, they contact him or her for a more in-depth interview later.
There is no cost to attend the Speedy Sitter Search event, but you do pay $20 for the Speedy Sitter Search book filled with the names of dozens of potential sitters.
The book contains copies of questionnaires filled out by potential sitters that give information on their work history, baby-sitting experience, references, whether they’ve taken CPR and first-aid training classes, whether they drive, contact information and how much they charge per hour, per day, per child. Elbers said sitters typically charge between $5 and $15 an hour. But in rural areas, it may be a little less.
The book will be updated periodically — maybe monthly — at no extra cost. Boys, as well as girls, will be on the list. The sitters’ addresses are not included, but phone numbers are.
Where does Elbers find the baby sitters to include in the Speedy Sitter Search book? By word-of-mouth from friends, from day-care providers with college-age workers, by posting on bulletin boards at colleges and high schools. There are no age requirements for sitters to be included in the book.
Elbers does not conduct a background check of the potential baby sitters, but she does further checking if something doesn’t seem right. And she also asks parents and baby sitters to report any problems to her so she can check into any issues.
Georgette Braun can be reached at (815) 987-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.