One Thursday morning my husband and I found ourselves gifted with a reservation to the hottest restaurant in town – not just any dining establishment but the number one restaurant in America at the time. We should have been high fiving one another but instead we were on a desperate quest for a sitter; all our regulars were booked and the clock was ticking! Luckily for us, I had discovered Urbansitter from a Facebook friend.
For those that don’t know, Urbansitter is the holy grail for moms and dads who yearn to hold on to their pre-kid social life. It’s an online network and booking system connecting sitters with parents. The beauty of the network is that it’s based on your Facebook social graph. Until my Urbansitter discovery, my husband and I had only used a handful of sitters. If none of them were available, we were out of luck and staying home. The genius of Urbansitter for us is twofold – first, the ability to vet sitters automatically through your friends and second, the option to post a last minute job.
To elaborate on the first feature, I typically shy away from sites where the only option for account creation is through Facebook. Urbansitter is one of the exceptions as it truly benefits me to sign in this way. After logging on, I can automatically see which of my friends have already used certain sitters and which of my acquaintances from different mom’s groups. It gives me great peace of mind knowing that a sitter comes recommended from a friend. If one of my regular sitters is booked, I can also see if that sitter has any friends who are available. Beyond the social graph, I can search by criteria like infant CPR certification, which was especially important to me when my second son was a baby.
We have found some incredible sitters through Urbansitter. Surprisingly, some of our best sitters were found via a last minute posting. Our first last minute post generated an aspiring doctor who had just been accepted to Stanford Medical School and lived blocks away from our house. With our second last minute post, we ended up with a sitter who is an athletics director at one of the top girls’ schools in the city. Overall, we’ve been very happy with the quality of sitters we have found through Urbansitter. The one thing to note is that the experience of sitters definitely varies with the pay grade but we’ve found some phenomenal sitters at date night friendly prices.
I recommend posting jobs to the entire network even if it’s not a last minute request. By posting the job to the entire urbansitter network, you’re only receiving responses from sitters who are available so it saves time and really works. Each time I’ve posted a last minute request, I have received over 10 responses within an hour of posting. This avoids contacting multiple sitters and waiting for them to get back to you.
Another feature I love is the ability to pay sitters by credit card. If you’re anything like me, I never seem to have enough cash on hand. With the credit card feature, I’ve been able to skip last minute trips to the ATM or wonder whether my tip calculation at the end of the night was correct.
Urbansitter offers two service levels – Pay as You Go and Premium. In the pay as you go model, there is a $14.95 fee for each sitter introduction. However, you can book that sitter as many times as you like moving forward and won’t incur any additional charges. The Premium membership allows for unlimited sitter introductions and online credit card payments. You can either pay a $99.95 yearly fee or if you prefer a shorter commitment, the first month is $24.95 and each additional month is $9.95.
All in all, Urbansitter has come to our rescue on many an occasion and has brought back our social life! We tell all of our new parent friends to sign up.