How I Found 20 Babysitters in a Week (My 4 Step Process)

Kayla & JohnHow often have you run into the dilemma of not being able to find a babysitter or nanny? When this situation arises it can cause desperate decision-making and panic. The fact is most parents have found themselves without backup childcare options at one time or another.

I have spoken about my strategies for sourcing and interviewing nannies and babysitters on my blog. This post is more of an in depth look at the strategy behind my results — covering the most important aspects of building nanny and babysitter contacts. Using my 4 step process, I grew my nanny and babysitter contact list from 4 to over 20 in just one week. And, you can do the same.

How I Found 20 Babysitters in a Week (My 4 Step Process)

Like you, I have had plenty of experience losing babysitters and nannies over the years. Once, after a beloved nanny left for another job, I had the most horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. How would we ever replace her? As she gave her two-week notice, I realized that I needed to get more control over this area in my life. It was time to take charge, find new options for help, and make sure I wasn’t in a similar situation in the future.
What I’m about to share with you is a simple and straightforward way to find babysitters and nannies. The key is to follow through on the steps until you’ve built a list you are comfortable with – 20 contacts is not a magic number. However, I would encourage you to plan to find twice the number of babysitters or nannies you think you need so that you are not caught short for important events.

One last thing to keep in mind — once you know the steps of my strategy, you can have friends and family help you.  Take it to the next level, ask your social media contacts to join in the search. By learning the process and then leveraging others to help, you will yield even greater results.

Step 1: Always be looking

Let’s assume that you already have a fabulous nanny or babysitter. That’s great. But, the odds are it won’t last forever. Unfortunately, when they leave, you probably won’t get much more than two weeks notice (if that). When the time finally comes to say goodbye, many parents just freeze.  Ironically, this puts them in an even greater bind.

Always is a reminder to always be looking for nannies and babysitters; even when you think you don’t have a need. If you hear about a lead, any lead, contact them. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. At the very least, save their information for when you need it. And, when you contact them, find out if they would be able to help you out on an on-call basis.

As you read this, you are probably aware of other people who need childcare help; friends, neighbors, family members. We’ve all pulled together to find help for others. My point is to be as good to yourself as you are to others. Keep your eyes open for new leads when they present themselves whether you need them or not.  And, for goodness sake, get their contact information.


Step 2: Build your team

We’ve heard the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket“.   Yet, when it comes to babysitters or nannies, that is exactly what we tend to do. People tend to see childcare need as one big need. We incorrectly assume it is easier to only have one solution for childcare for our family. One is simple…right? WRONG.  When it comes to childcare, I would strongly encourage you to break your childcare needs into pieces. Consider my current needs and how I have broken them up:

  1. Driving:  I need someone to drive the boys to their evening basketball practices so I can continue to help the other kids with their homework and help them stick to their bedtime routines.
  2. Date Night: I need someone who has either a Friday night or Saturday night free so that Phil and I can go on our regular date night.
  3. Special Events: I need someone for the special events we have this month.  Work gatherings, weddings, Mom’s Night Out, Book Club, etc.
  4. Travel Coverage: I need someone to help me get the kids to their activities when Phil is traveling
  5. Errands: I need someone to help me take kids on errands.  New shoes, school supplies, socks & underwear, etc.  (Incidentally, this is a great way to maximize daytime babysitting help).

From my current example, you can see that I have 5 different needs meaning I have 5 different helpers to meet my needs.  You should get into the habit of regularly scheduling a team of people to meet your childcare needs.

There are many benefits to building a team of nannies and babysitters. When you have multiple options for help, you stay in control. And, I’ll tell you a little secret side effect,  the babysitters and nannies perform better when they know they are part of a team. The great characteristics or performance of one babysitter can be a benchmark for the next.

Without team effect, it’s easy to have power dynamics shift from you to the nanny. When you rely on one person to meet all your childcare needs, eventually you may find yourself playing the role of a desperate parent at the mercy of your only nanny’s schedule. This slippery slope can lead to all kinds of settling I won’t go into in this post.  Bottom line: the best approach to child care is (in my opinion) a team approach.

Further Reading

Step 3: Leverage your current babysitters

Here’s a tongue twister: Every lead leads to more leads. Whew. Who better to know of good babysitters than another good babysitter? This is my favorite way to find new babysitters and nannies.  You cannot undervalue the time a good babysitter is in your home.  Before you let them walk out the door, make sure you leverage your current babysitter.
Let me give you a couple of examples of how I leverage my leads.
At the beginning of the night, I will directly ask for more leads:
“I never like to rely on just one person for all my babysitting needs.  By the end of the night, could you share with me two or three people you know who you think would enjoy helping us out?”
I always go through my calendar with the babysitter at the end of the evening.  This way, I can be strategic about when and how frequently I plan to use them. If there is a date that is difficult to fill (athletic events, prom, etc.), I’ll ask:
“Who do you know that won’t go to the school prom this year?  I really need help that night”.

By asking directly for the help that I need up front, I can end the night with an additional 3-5 names for future contact. Being so direct may seem uncomfortable but it really doesn’t have to be a big deal. Most babysitters have smart phones and they will have additional contact information ready on demand.  Why let those good leads walk away?  I probably ask directly for additional help from my current pool of babysitters at least once a week.  If you do this regularly, rather than just when you have run out of options, you will always have a steady, vouched for, pool of babysitters and nannies to call upon.

Step 4: When you have no leads, look everywhere

Where can you find babysitters and nannies? Everywhere. By now you should be able to look at your child care needs with fresh eyes.  You are ready to look for new leads on babysitters or nannies literally everywhere.  At the coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants, library,etc.  Anytime you are with another person, they can be a potential source for leads. Here are some of the places I have found babysitters or nannies (outside of referrals).
  • coffee shops
  • church child care area
  • high school basketball games
  • piano teachers
  • summer camps
  • restaurants
  • hair salons

We are hardwired to help us problem solve. If I share that I am looking for childcare help at the library, on the golf course, or at a restaurant, the odds are good I’ll end up with some kind of referral.

Further Reading:

Repeat as necessary

That’s my 4 step strategy for finding babysitters and nannies it’s how I found 20 babysitters in one week. You should now be set to find those contacts and build a team.  If you have any questions about sourcing or hiring good babysitters and nannies, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below.

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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  1. Michele Bergh on February 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I could have used this when my kids were younger 🙂 I’ll have to share with my daughter, now that she is a new mom, it may come in handy…of course, I’m hoping I’ll always get “first right of refusal” for those play dates {as I prefer to call them}.

  2. 6ftmama on February 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Michele –
    You’d better get refusal rights! Heck, I’d let you play with mine except I think you’d need to bring some pretty cool technology or Timberwolves tix to keep their attention.

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