Let me first address the importance of having a babysitter you can call. If you’re a military family and your husband is gone a lot, it’s imperative to have a little help from time to time. On deployment, it is absolutely crucial you take some time to yourself, whether that be once a month or twice a week. You’re on your own and a babysitter is going to be the help you need to get out of the house for a few hours and do whatever it is you need to do, so that you can be 100% Mom again. Your kids need you and if you’re pulling your hair out constantly, a babysitter may be just the answer. If you’re husband is not deployed, you still need a babysitter! Hello Datenight.
Finding a babysitter can be quite the daunting task if you’re new in town. You hardly know anyone here, let alone trust anyone well enough to watch your kiddos. If you’re a new mom, finding someone to leave your child with for the first time can feel like a terrifying task. I have a few suggestions on how to find a great babysitter in Jacksonville.
Word of Mouth
The best way to find a babysitter is through a personal recommendation. To get one of these, I would recommend asking all of your local friends. Some people are hesitant to give up their babysitters; however, if you explain the time frame you’re looking for, such as, “Mondays 9a-12p,” they open up a lot more and give you their favorite numbers. If you don’t have any local friends yet, try the Facebook groups for your military installation. They are a great resource.
Hire a Babysitting Service
Sunny Sitters: is a service in Jacksonville that opened in February 2014. All of the sitters are CPR/First Aid certified, have been background checked, and have at least 3 years of childcare experience. The majority of the sitters are in their early 20’s and attend college. Sunny Sitters offers part time sitters as well as the occasional babysitting (when mom needs to run errands, appointments, date nights, etc). The occasional babysitting jobs can be booked online through their website. All requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Their hourly rate for 1-2 children is $15 and for 3-4 it is $16. Each job has a 3 hour minimum. There is a one-time only, up-front fee of $45 to start using the services. (You get 10% off the up-front fee if you are military).
SeekingSitters.com is a service in Jacksonville that will find a sitter for you. These sitters are all Infant CPR trained, they have a minimum of 4 years experience, background checks, and their sitters will stay engaged (games and/or crafts) with your children. If the thought of finding someone online stresses you out, try this service! There is a one time fee of $59.99 and the hourly rate is $13.75 for 1 child; $14.50 for 2, $15.50 for 3 and so on. They offer $30.00 off the sign-up fee for any military families. They have approximately 100 locations that family members can use while traveling in the US. Hourly rates have been reduced for the month on June and July.
Most of the serious babysitters in town have a profile on these two websites. These sites are great to find qualified sitters. I personally prefer SitterCity.com because it is free for military. If you are a USAA member, you can save 30% on a Premium Membership for Care.com. In my experience, many of the same exact sitters can be found on both sites. It’s important to note that the Department of Defense will NOT be renewing their partnership with SitterCity this year. Since 2010, the DOD has been subsiding the memberships but will be ending that program July 31, 2015.
Here’s how I found a great sitter on SitterCity:
2) Click “Post a New Job” and fill out their form.
3) In you’re posting, be sure to include your babysitter requirements. My posting looked liked this:
Title: Wednesday Sitter Needed for 1 Year Old
Description: Hi, I am looking for a sitter for my one year old son. Mondays 9a-12pm. CPR, First Aid and experience with toddlers preferred. Thanks!
Helpful Tips: I keep my posting short and sweet. I am looking for qualified people, I am not writing an ad for my family. I don’t like to give out too much information. However, once you start the interview process, it’s important to let them know the ins and outs of your household, your children, and your expectations. The going rate in Jacksonville is about $10 per hour for 1 child; however, feel free to put in the rate you can afford. Just know that most babysitters will come back to you with their particular rate. If you have multiple children, the rate could be higher.
4) Within the next few days, you will receive applications. Each applicant will send you a message and you will be able to look at his or her profile. You will have to decide whom sounds like a good fit for your family. How to decide? Each applicant has a profile/resume you can review. Many of the applicants may have already approved background checks. If they don’t, you may request one at an additional charge. Once you narrow down your choices, you can then set up a time to call or meet the applicants. I met one applicant at the coffee shop, and another I felt comfortable enough with them coming to our home. The applicant was the daughter of another Navy family. It turned out she was absolutely fabulous and watched our son for an entire year. My lifesaver on deployment!
Trade Services with Another Mom
If you can find another mom around town, the two of you can set a schedule where you watch her children for a few hours and she then watches yours. This is definitely the most cost effective way to hire a babysitter.
Find a Co-Op
A babysitting co-op is essentially where a group of parents get together and trade free babysitting. Some groups have a specific time each week, such as, Thursdays 9a-12p. Every other month or so, depending on how many people are in the co-op, it will be your turn to watch the children during that time. NAS JAX has a co-op specifically for military families. (NS Mayport families welcome too). Click here for info. Here are two sites to find other babysitting co-ops in your area:
Military Families-Utilize the CDC on Base
Both NS Mayport and NAS JAX have Child Development Centers that are available for ages 6 weeks to 5 years, 6am-6pm. They have drop in rates at $4 per hour, but a reservation must be made in advance. They take reservations up to 30 days ahead. This is a full time care center so drop-ins are accommodated on a space-available basis. NS Mayport CDC Number: 904-247-7740. NAS JAX CDC Number: 904-542-5529.
Good luck! I hope you enjoyed The Navy Mom’s Guide to Finding a Babysitter in Jacksonville and I hope you find a wonderful babysitter for your family!
Do you have any other helpful hints on finding a great babysitter? Let us know.
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