long-term part-time childcare, does anyone use a web service?

My wife is working again after a 7-year hiatus, which means a lot of the general child care duties have fallen on me. This is great, since I work from home and have incredibly flexible hours. However, my job does require me to travel some, and I’m also an air force reservist. That means I have about 8 weeks a year that I’m not home, sometimes a day or two at a time and sometimes for weeks on end. For the past 3 months this has meant constantly juggling babysitters/parents/friends to watch our kids on the odd days I’m not home.

I’m looking at some of these websites (SitterCity, UrbanSitter, Care.com) and I’m not sure if they’re a good fit for what we’re looking for. We don’t need a date night sitter (well, we could certainly use that service, but right now we’re OK with leveraging the local teenage population), and we don’t want to book a nanny. I like the idea of being able to post the days I’ll be gone online and finding a reputable after school/evening sitter for up to a few weeks at a time, preferably someone who we can easily request in the future if we like them.

Does anyone have any experience using these sites like this?

Have you systematically asked your friends and neighbors for possibilities?

I’ve found one person in my neighborhood in a similar boat; works from home, wife works, etc. He pays a nanny for full-time service even though he only needs her about 5 days a month during the school year (I believe she’s full time in the summer). We’ve talked about doing the nanny-share thing, but most of my time away is also in the summer and she’s not willing to watch 6 kids.

Suffice it to say, I’d rather not pay a nanny full time. Everyone else I know just shells out for a full time nanny or has a stay-at-home parent. In any case, I don’t know a lot of people, which is why I’m systematically asking my fellow dopers for possibilities :slight_smile:

I used this service https://www.collegenanniesandtutors.com/ when I was temporarily working in an area where I didn’t know anyone to ask for referrals, so a relatively short time. It worked perfectly well, their rates are higher than what I would expect to pay for a neighborhood sitter, but it seemed okay reasonable given that I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood and due to my work schedule, the hours were not very regular. It felt like part of the fee was for the convenience for making the sitting arrangements in one interaction and not having to call a bunch of people for referrals for each chunk of time I needed childcare.

One thing I would say though is that the service is built around the idea that they have a bunch of sitters available at different times, so even when I liked a person and requested that person again, maybe they were available but more often I ended up with someone else. That’s how the service is able to accommodate people who need sitters on a more scattered basis – they have A LOT of different sitters.

I’m not sure that you are likely to find what you are looking for, as “8 random weeks of full time work and then a lot of nothing” isn’t a working situation that is viable for most people. Most people either need full time work, or they have a reason why they need to work part time. What you are offering just isn’t really viable employment.

Your best bet is going to be to find a stay at home mom or nanny share who is willing to take on extra kids now and then, or a center that allows for drop-ins. Another option, depending on your price range, could be an au pair- they are a lot less expensive than nannies.