There are hundreds of phrases and quotes out there that refer to child rearing. But there are few more accurate than the one that states, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Raising kids is no joke. And whether you have one child or five, there are times when you are guaranteed to feel like you’re outnumbered, understaffed and overwhelmed. Friends and family can be real lifesavers when it comes to helping out with childcare. And if you’re lucky enough to have friends and family close by, they can help to make up your village. But even then, sometimes extra help is needed. If you don’t have a community of childcare help nearby, then having a reliable babysitter or nanny can be essential to your schedule, your livelihood and even your sanity.
Unfortunately, finding childcare isn’t as always easy as it sounds. Even when you access to resources, finding the sitter that’s right for your family requires more than just finding someone who’s available. Your family is unique, therefore, your needs are unique. How you choose your child care will depend on those unique needs.
Whether you’re looking for full-time nannies, part-time nannies, babysitters for date nights and special occasions, or just need a mother’s helper, finding the right sitter will depend mainly on you, your kids, your schedule and any specific needs you might have. To help you get started, we’ve put together a helpful list of considerations regarding needs and schedules, questions to ask potential providers and resources for both temporary and long-term babysitters, nannies and au pairs.
What you should consider before you start your search…
Length of time your sitter will be needed
When considering a babysitter, first consider your needs. Identify what exactly you’re looking for from the sitter in terms of length of care and frequency of use. For example, if you’re just looking for a one-time sitter or an occasional date night sitter, you may be comfortable going to a local college or university to find someone who can come by and provide some much-needed respite from the day-to-day. Chances are, a college student, or perhaps even a responsible high school student, in your neighborhood will be happy to for the opportunity to make some extra spending money.
However, if you’re looking for someone to provide care while you work (part-time or full-time) or if you need someone on a more regular basis, you may want to consider a professional nanny service or agency. Oftentimes, nanny services and agencies will have vetted their resources ahead of time, making sure that they have appropriate certifications, qualifications and/or background checks.
Duties your sitter will need to perform
If you need a regular sitter for ongoing engagements, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you need and, hopefully, you can find someone who provides steady, loving, reliable care. However, there will always be times when you want a night out or need some extra help during the day and your regular sitter may not be available. For example, if you use the high school student down the street for date nights, but suddenly, one day, need someone to pick the kids up from school, you might find yourself in a pinch. Having a few sitters that are available for different situations can make your life much easier. Here are a few things to consider:
- Will you need them to drive?
- Will they need to shop or cook?
- Do any of your children have special needs?
- Will your children need help with homework or special projects?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for in a sitter. And hopefully, you can even find a few people that you can use to meet different needs at different times.
Pay rate for babysitter
One question that many parents ask when searching for a babysitter is: What are the going rates for babysitters? Before we get into the numbers, keep in mind that Richmond has one of the highest babysitter costs in the country. Also, the rates will vary based on experience, number of children, ages of children, date, and your location.
With that in mind, the average rate for a babysitter with some experience watching one child during a non-peak time would be between $9 – $11 an hour in Richmond. For an experienced babysitter, expect to pay closer to $15-$16 an hour. Overall, the average rate is approximately $13.50 an hour for one child in Richmond. Now if you have more than one child, the hourly rate increases $1-$2 per hour for each additional child. What if you need a babysitter during a peak demand time like the holidays? Expect to pay a premium for babysitting services.
What you’ll want to know in terms of qualifications and background checks…
Most of us don’t expect our babysitters to have a Ph.D. in early childhood education. But there are a few things that a good babysitter can do ahead of time to give us peace of mind when we leave our children in their care.
Here are just a few things you might want to make sure your babysitter has, regardless of whether you’re using the high school junior down the street or you’re hiring a professional nanny or sitter:
- CPR and First Aid training. Many YMCA and Red Cross locations offer these courses. Some classes are even tailored to babysitting training and are available to children as young 11 years old. If your sitter will have the kids near water, make sure they have appropriate water safety training, as well.
- Previous childcare experience. If you’re asking the neighborhood kid from down the street to sit, it would be nice to know that they have been around kids before. Maybe they have younger siblings or cousins, or perhaps they volunteer with kids, mentor, tutor or even help out with the nursery at a local church. And certainly, if you’re hiring a professional nanny or au pair, you want to know that they have experience in their field.
- For non-professional babysitter, this might just be the names of some other families they’ve sat for who can tell you whether they are on time, helpful and responsible. For a professional sitter or nanny, it’s nice to have a list of families and/or former employers who can vouch for their skill and reliability.
While this might sound a bit extreme, you can never be too careful when it comes to your kids. Younger sitters (high school and college age) may not need a background check, but if you’re hiring someone who is an adult, it’s worth it to know everything you can about them. Most professional services and agencies will have already done a background check on potential sitters. However, if you’re looking on your own, or the service or agency doesn’t provide background checks, it’s easier than you might think.
Agencies will typically do, at the least, a county and federal criminal check and a sex offender database check. If you want the sitter or nanny to be responsible for driving your kids around, a DMV check is also a good idea. And last but not least, if your sitter will be handling your money or credit cards, you might want a credit check, as well. There are many online resources for these types of checks, but for a one-stop shop, try a site like Criminal Watch Dog. They offer a wide range of checks with pricing options to match.
Now, it’s time to get to know your potential care providers…
Before you leave your kids at a stranger’s mercy (or, in most cases, the other way around), you want to know that your potential sitter has a personality and demeanor that works for your family. First impressions aren’t everything, but they can tell you a great deal about a person. Invite potential sitters over for a meet and greet. This can be a formal interview where you ask questions, a “sample sitting” where you give them a chance to hang out with the kids while you informally observe from a distance, or a combination of both.
Aren’t sure what to ask in an interview? Here are some ideas:
- Ask about their regular schedule and availability.
- Discuss preferred (or expected) pay rates.
- If you haven’t already received their full name, address, phone number and a list of reference, now is a good time to get that information.
- Ask about their past experience (i.e., how long they’ve been babysitting, age ranges they’ve worked with, if there’s an age group they prefer and why, etc.).
- Ask about their discipline methods. Of course, you’ll want to be very clear on your house rules, as well. But ask them to describe difficult situations they’ve had in the past and make sure they’re comfortable enforcing your family’s rules.
- Discuss any safety, CPR or first aid training they have had. Find out if they’ve ever been in an emergency situation and how they handled it.
- Ask about activities they enjoy doing with kids. This could be arts and crafts, physical activity, reading or all of the above.
And last but not least, if everything has been to your liking and you feel that you’ve found someone who works well with your schedule, your needs, and, most importantly, your kids, give them a test run. Set up a time in the near future to try things out for a few hours. If you’re looking for someone to be there for long-term, regularly scheduled care, you might want to set a period of time (a few days, a week, etc.) after which you sit back down and discuss the options moving forward.
This may seem like a lot of steps just to get out of the house for a few hours, but a good babysitter is like gold. And once you’ve found a few sitters to add to your village, you’ll find that life can get a whole lot easier.
If you don’t already have a resource for potential sitters, be sure to check out the following online resources. From nanny agencies to online posting boards, Richmond offers a wide array of care options.
BABYSITTING RESOURCES AND AGENCIES:
A Nanny on the Net
A Nanny on the Net is a national service that has more than 25 years placing professional nannies in homes, both as live-in and live-out nannies. Contact their Richmond Office to learn more about the four levels of care they provide, including:
- Nanny: Qualified caregiver with 3 years experience as a nanny, babysitter or day care provider
- Teacher Nanny: Nanny with 3+ years experience and a teaching degree
- Educated/College Nanny: Nanny with 3+ years experience and college degree
- Nanny Plus: Nanny with 5+ years experience
Toll free: (888) 436-0222
Since 2008, ASAP Sitters has been matching families with carefully screened, highly dependable sitters in the Northern Virginia, DC and Charlottesville areas and they pride themselves on gaining many of their clients through referrals. In 2015, they opened their Richmond regional office in order to provide top quality child care service for the Greater Richmond area.
This online babysitter posting site allows you to view available sitters in your area. Simply type in your zip code for a complete list of sitters that you can then search by availability, location, pay rates, and more. Plus, you can view background checks and clearances, as well as see other users’ reviews. In addition to babysitters, Babysitters Registry also provides listings for nannies, pet sitters, elderly care and tutors.
Bright Star Care – Childcare
Known for their high level of medical and home care for adults and the elderly, Bright Star brings that same level of expertise and professionalism to their childcare services. Choose from flexible sick-day care, child care and sitter services, pediatric homecare or care for children with special needs.
As one of the premiere online babysitter posting sites, Care.com lets you input the type of care you need, including nannies and babysitters, date night care, after school care, special needs care, tutoring or daycare centers. They then match you with local resources and allow you to choose providers based on location, experience, pay rates and more. Care.com even offers HomePay℠, a program that helps with nanny taxes, including everything from automatic payments to preparing tax returns. Other services available on Care.com include pet care, adult and senior care and housekeeping.
College Nannies and Tutors
College Nannies and Tutors focuses on more than just providing childcare. They also strive to provide positive role models who will serve as an extension of your own values and family life. With part-time, full-time, after school and summer care options, their local offices match your family with care providers designed to meet your family’s specific needs. Best of all, they provide ongoing care, support and evaluation to ensure your continued satisfaction and your children’s continued success. Visit their Richmond website to learn more.
Great Au Pair
If you’re looking for an au pair, live-in nanny, or even just a babysitter, Great Au Pair can match you with care providers from all over the world. Featuring a diverse international network, Great Au Pair is ideal for families looking for full-time care, particularly those who might prefer bilingual service. Featuring free US caregiver background checks, a six-month satisfaction guarantee and a constantly updated database of available providers, Great Au Pair is one of the largest international nanny sites in the world. In addition to nanny and au pair services, they also provide matching for babysitters, elderly care, pet care, housekeeping, tutors and personal assistants, as well as additional services like visa assistance and salary calculators.
Nanny Poppinz of Greater Richmond
Nanny Poppinz has been matching families around the country with reliable child care since 1992. Their Richmond agency provides a variety of nanny services, including date night care, newborn/infant care specialists, after-school care, occasional care for days when schools are closed, on-call care for sick days, and, of course, full-time and part-time nannies who are available for live in or live out care. Unlike some agencies, Nanny Poppinz does not charge any up front application or membership fees. Plus, they provide face-to-face interviews for every nanny they refer and ensure that all candidates have at least three years of verified child care experience, as well as thorough background and computer checks before you interview them.
3420 Short Pump Road, #213
Richmond, VA 23233
Richmond Nanny Agency
Richmond Nanny Agency provides a wide array of nannies, all of whom have been carefully screened and vetted before you meet them. In addition to standard live in/ live out nanny services, Richmond Nanny Agency also provides temporary care, overnight care, newborn care, night nannies (nannies who attend to new babies while they are still establishing sleep habits, allowing you and your partner more rest), doulas and other newborn specialists, date night care, fill-in care if your regular care is unavailable, mother’s helpers, travel nannies, hotel and event nannies, emergency/sick child care and senior care. Basically, no matter what you need, they can help you find a solution.
River City Sitters
With a commitment to premium care for your family, River City Sitters only places the most qualified babysitters, ensuring that each sitter they refer has at least two yeas of experience, a criminal background check, a valid driver’s license, a dependable car and more. Even better, many of their sitter are teachers with training for educational assistance, as well as care for children with special needs. In addition to full-time and part-time sitters, River City Sitters also provides care for functions, weddings, hotel events and church nurseries. Unlike other services, River City Sitters also provides an upfront fee structure, including placement fees and pre-set sitter rates. Click here for a complete list of fees and rates.
SeekingSitters Richmond – North
SeekingSitters is a national franchise with local owners that work with you directly to find the ideal sitter or nanny for your needs. Like many other services, they provide stringent background checks and vet all sitters before matching them to your family. However, SeekingSitters operates with a unique membership structure. Once your family is approved through the member verification process (with a one-time activation fee of $59.99), you can select a service plan that suits your needs and begin requesting sitters the same day. Plans range from $15 pay-per-use to low-cost unlimited request monthly options. To get a sitter, simply submit a request, find a match, then pay the set babysitting rate (see Richmond rates here). Membership provides access to your personal online account where you can request sitters, view photos and profiles of sitters available in your area, update your profile, set your preferences and request activation in other SeekingSitters locations so that you can request sitters while traveling.
Sitter City makes it easy to find the right sitter or nanny for part-time or full-time care, occasional needs, date nights, special needs, infant care, before and after school care and much more. But what makes this site truly unique is that instead of searching through countless provider profiles, once you’ve signed up (premium service is free for the first month), you can post your job, then qualified local care providers will contact you. From there, you can read reviews, check profiles, and run background checks before you pick your favorite candidates for face-to-face meetings and interviews.
Uloop – University of Richmond and VCU
All services, agencies and memberships aside, Uloop provides a direct place to post help wanted ads that go directly to local college students, including University of Richmond and VCU students. For many families, university students provide an ideal fit for child care needs with their flexible schedules and pay rates. Likewise, many families like having a care provider that is actively in school as they can often provide specific help with tutoring and/or homework. On Uloop, you can post help wanted ads for anything from date nights, occasional needs, mother’s helpers, pet sitters and more and local university students can view your ad and reply.
Founded by moms for moms, Urban Sitter recognizes the challenges of finding quality childcare. As such, they allow you to select sitter profiles through group affiliations like community organizations, schools, sports, universities and more. This feature lets you link up with sitters that often have referrals and reviews from people that you know or are connected to organizations that you trust. Simply post your job for free (long-term, short-term, occasional or pretty much anything you need), select your preferences, and you’re set! Best of all, you can request, book and pay your sitter all with a simple phone app. You won’t pay anything to Urban Sitter until you contact your sitter, then you can choose from pay-as-you-go membership or monthly rates.
Now that you have some tips, suggestions and resources for Richmond babysitters, nannies and childcare services, we hope that you’ll continue to expand your village. After all, we all need some help sometimes!