Craigslist is a popular online marketplace where anyone can advertise for (and find) products and services. There are Craigslist gardeners, house painters, tutors, video gamers, real estate agents, and yes, you can even find a Craigslist babysitter. The question is, are Craigslist babysitters a good option for last-minute childcare? The short answer is no, you don’t have the time
Drawbacks of Using Craigslist Babysitter Ads
According to Craigslist itself, more than 60 million people in the US alone use Craigslist each month. It’s a community- moderated site. That means it’s a busy marketplace with a lot of people and very little policing. You can find just about anything on Craigslist, which is terribly convenient if you’re searching for, say, a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages to complete your Harry Potter collection. But when it comes to finding last-minute babysitters, Craigslist just takes too much time. And time is the precious commodity that you don’t have if you need someone last minute. And of course, Craigslist doesn’t provide any assurance that the person you’ve found is safe. Or frankly, even a person. And that’s a big problem. Using Craigslist babysitters for last-minute child care is taking too big of a risk.
Imagine: you suddenly realize you have to stay later than usual at work that day. Your daycare can’t keep your child late, and your usual babysitters aren’t available. This might be the time that you decide to start searching for a Craigslist babysitter in your area. It may seem convenient, but actually, it’s the exact opposite.
First, you have to wade through the plethora of ads, choosing a handful of sitters’ ads based on location and availability, doing your best to judge the advertisers’ qualities by a short few sentences listed under a title. Are they genuine? Are they smart? Will they be reliable? Do they really do all of the things they say they do? Already, this can seem like an overwhelming task.
While searching Craigslist babysitter ads can take a significant amount of time, calling each one takes even longer. These are cold calls, meaning you’ve never met this person, so you have to spend time interviewing each candidate. Hopefully, the potential sitter will be in a quiet room, waiting for you to call. Chances are, however, they are in a noisy area, will lose reception in the underground, or won’t even pick up their phone. At this point, you can only hope that one of these sitters is a good candidate, but obviously there’s no guarantee.
Is Craigslist Reliable and Safe?
And here’s the biggest issue of all. Maybe you finally find a sitter on Craigslist, manage to call them, and set up all the logistics of the sitter’s first session. How do you know the sitter isn’t lying about what they’ve said? Or perhaps they are the kindest person in the world but lack basic knowledge of childcare. You can’t know, because you haven’t had the time to have “Occasional-Babysitter-Available-NOW $25/hr (Manhattan)” background-checked, or had the opportunity to spend time with them to see if they seem competent, nor had the opportunity to check their references, because the nature of your request is last minute.
So even if you manage to find, interview, and hire a babysitter in a short amount of time, it’ll be next to impossible to spend the time needed to make sure that the person you’re leaving your child with is trustworthy and competent. Finding a babysitter through Craigslist when you have the time to do your homework seems like a great way to start a long, established relationship, but a Craigslist babysitter just isn’t a great solution for last-minute child care.
If you’re looking for last-minute babysitters, why not try a sitter service instead?
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