Date night. Late work nights. Or just a night running errands with both hands free. UrbanSitter can help you find the babysitter or nanny you need to keep all the balls in the air, and our Milk & Cookies Mingle at the Main Line Early Childhood Education Fair is the place to make it happen.


By Dawn Warden
Photo by Carrie Hill
Sponsored by UrbanSitter

Our first Milk & Cookies Mingle is less than 48 hours away, which if you haven’t heard, is your ticket to a whole new pool of baby- (and big kid, too!) sitters. Free and family-friendly, these mingles are just one of the valuable resources you’ll find at this weekend’s Main Line Early Childhood Education Fairs.

If you’re on the other side of the equation and seeking a full-, part-time or weekend childcare position, this is also a great opportunity for you to “mingle” with area families. Especially if you participate in our Sitter Speed Dating hour.

UrbanSitterCo-hosted by UrbanSitter, this fun, relaxed meet-and-greet is similar to Speed Dating. We like to think of it as the sequel to a really great date that led to a wedding and a baby. If you’re not yet familiar with UrbanSitter, this online resource has had moms (and dads) buzzing all over the country. After reading our Q+A with Sarah Peppal, Philadelphia UrbanSitter’s community manager, you’ll catch up quick, and be all set with a thoughtful list of questions for this weekend’s Mingles. For an extended version of this Q+A, visit the “About” section of our Early Education Fair Facebook fan page.

What factors do you think are most important to parents in choosing a sitter? 

Experience: Beyond the number of years a candidate has been babysitting or nannying, it’s important to ask if he/she has experience with children your child’s age. If you have an infant, you’ll need a sitter that is comfortable changing diapers. If you have a toddler, you’ll be on the lookout for active sitters who like to take the kids to the park. If you have multiples, it’s important the sitter has cared for more than one child at once.

Ask your sitter questions to dig deeper into their qualifications—questions you might not think to ask like, “do you speak another language,” “do you know how to cook,” “are you willing to help with errands and household chores.” Also, remember to ask if they have their current child and infant CPR certification and first aid training certification. If you find a great sitter who isn’t CPR trained, you could always offer to pay for a class —or better yet, take one with her.

Be sure to ask the sitter if they will be available on the days and times you’ll need her/him. Some sitters are only looking for occasional work on the weekends, while others may be up for consistent part time work. Set expectations up front, so neither you, nor the sitter is disappointed when a job is declined.

Let’s face it; most babysitters are young adults who are still learning to be responsible. Look for a sitter who responds quickly to your emails or phone calls. It’s a good indication that they will show up to your babysitting job on time. Also, be sure to confirm the sitter’s transportation situation.

Personal Recommendations: 
Beyond your interview with the sitter, you’ll want to ask for personal references to hear first-hand from families they have worked for previously. There’s nothing more comforting to hear than another parent’s personal recommendation. Better yet, ask your friends and parents you know from your child’s school if they can recommend any sitters. By doing your due diligence upfront, you’ll find someone you feel you can really trust.

Parents know what questions to ask sitters, but what should sitters ask them?

During an interview it’s always a good idea to ask questions to determine if you’re a match. Examples are:

  • What are your expectations of me as a babysitter (watching kids, driving kids, errands, laundry)?
  • What should I know about your child?
  • What is your discipline style?
  • Is there anything a sitter has done that really impressed you? Or something you really didn’t like?

And, while you are “on the job,” it is also helpful to know the expectations:

  • What is the kids’ schedule for today/tonight?
  • How often would you like me to check in with you?
  • Do you have an emergency contact list?
  • Can you provide me transportation (or cab fare) if you’ll be home late?

Above all, be sure that you find a connection that just feels right! We hope to see you all this weekend!