Last weekend we headed down to DC with the kids for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. The thirteen-year-old’s parents, who normally go to bed at 9PM, scheduled the party to begin at 9:30PM, to comply with the Shabbat regulations. Their scheduling left me with two choices: skip the party and stay in my hotel room with my kids or hire a babysitter.I called the Marriott to ask them for assistance in securing a babysitter but was informed that they stopped doing that four years ago after an unfortunate incident. Those words alone were enough to send shudders of fear coursing through me, so I decided to take matters into my own hand.
Here at home, I am a devote Sittercity user. I have a rolodex filled with arts and crafts loving local college girls that my kids adore and I found them all by placing ads on Sittercity. My ads get dozens of responses in a few days. I review their profiles and reviews on Sittercity and only contact for phone interviews the candidates that seem appropriate. (Generally, in my experience, about 20% of the applicants) When I connect with someone on the phone, I obtain their references, and schedule them for an in person interview. You can choose between two Sittercity payment plans, a yearly fee of $95.88 or a monthly plan of $39.98 for the first month and $9.99 thereafter.I contacted the Sittercity PR department to see if they had an option to find babysitters in zipcodes other than the listed hometown zipcode. I learned that each Sittercity subscriber is allowed a secondary zipcode that can be changed once every six months. I promptly added the hotel zipcode to my profile, and posted a job request for last Saturday night. By that evening, I had over a dozen applications and they continued to roll in the next day. I interviewed a few on the phone, found a GW student I liked and hired her after checking her references. Babysitter found, checked that task off the to do list.On Friday afternoon, a few hours before we were scheduled to start driving down, I received a text from my sitter. “sorry, no longer can babysit.”I panicked, cursed a little, and logged back on to Sittercity to email other promising applicants. Within the hour, I had spoken to one, gotten her references, and booked her for Saturday night. She showed up on time, armed with age-appropriate board games, coloring books, and crayons. Within minutes, my two year old had hoisted herself onto her lap. She hung out with our extended family as we took pictures and then marched the kids off to bed. We danced the night away and celebrated my niece’s big day without worrying about cranky kids.Unfortunately Sittercity can’t help you find a dream sitter in the Carribbean or Europe, but if you’re traveling within the US, the odds are good that they’ll be able to help you truly relax on vacation.This is an original Traveling Mom blog post. When not dancing around with thirteen year olds, Vanessa Druckman blogs about cooking and parenting at Chefdruck Musings.