To survive the summer, sometimes you just need a good sitter. It’s as simple as that—no apologies necessary.
But before you call or click, first figure out what you’re really looking for:
- An occasional babysitter or a mother’s helper to keep the kids safe around the house and entertained?
- Someone with more experience who can take the kids on excursions via public transit?
- Someone who will travel overnight with you to a cottage/resort?
- Are you looking for half days, a few hours here or there, or a regular full or part-time person throughout the summer?
Toronto-based In a Pinch provides experienced sitters who have been screened, have significant experience and are at least 20 years of age. The agency, run by a former ECE teacher and parent of two, charges a sliding scale finder’s fee and hourly fees, based on the length of time you need the sitter (hours, days, weeks or months).
Nannies on Call prides itself on simulating what you would do as a parent, namely pre-screening any candidate thoroughly and ensuring they are a fit. On call babysitting, short-term (two week) or full-time permanent options are available. Nanny rates for babysitting are $15/hour, in addition to any agency fees.
SOSsitter offers an introduction to already experienced sitters, nannies and mother’s helpers in your area of the city. A membership fee is charged for access to their list of available sitters (found via job placement events at colleges). There is no obligation of minimum hours or wages—that is determined between you and your potential caregiver. Doing your own background check is strongly recommended (help is available on the site).
Yet another reason to wish we lived in Europe (on occasion) is the EU’s excellent au pair system. Canada does not offer a specific au pair travel visa, but families who are interested can support an application once they have found an overseas student who feels like a fit for their family. An au pair lives with you, providing light childcare duties while experiencing life in Toronto (or elsewhere). Application times may take up to eight weeks and there are quotas that fill up quickly.
Looking for someone already on Canadian soil? CanadianNanny.ca has au pairs (typically from Europe and Australia) available in their roster of sitters to select from.
And finally, if you’re up for the barter system, join SitSwap, a free babysitting service that has families caring for each other’s kids when either of you need childcare.
One last piece of advice – make sure the weather is still the hottest part of summer. ‘Nuff said. Tested by Alison R., Toronto