(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for boston.com)
If finding a soulmate is hard, finding the perfect babysitter might be nearly impossible, but that doesn’t mean sitter searchers can’t use the same tactics as the lovelorn when looking for that once in a lifetime match.
While wining and dining might not do the trick, at least one company is turning to the tactics of speed dating to connect parents and babysitters looking for work.
UrbanSitter, a website that connects parents and caregivers, brought its matchmaking services offline and to the South End last month when 10 sitters and 20 parents gathered at baby boutique Coco Baby to meet face-to-face--if only for three minutes at a time.
“It’s worked well for people in other areas, so why not,” said Charlestown parent Lindsay Devin before joining a long table of parents and sitters at the company’s first Boston speed dating style meet-up.
Each parent, armed with a short profile of each sitter, sat across their potential new hire and at the ring of a cowbell, the sound fast-paced conversations flooded the room as parents covered the basics and sitters made their cases.
“Do you have experience with infants?”
“When they make a mess I usually have them help me clean up.”
“I babysat a lot of kids in my neighborhood.”
“Do you have a car?”
After three minutes, the cowbell rang again and the parents shifted to the seat on their right to begin an interview with a new sitter--a process they completed again, again, and again.
“It breaks the ice,” said Ursula Stahl, a South End resident and UrbanSitter parent representative, who had never speed dated, but hoped the mini-interviews would help her find a reliable sitter that her two-year-old son would enjoy spending time with.
“It would be nice just to have a go-to sitter,” said Stahl, recalling Saturday afternoon scrambles to find one.
“You can’t get the full picture, but you can get a good sense of common ground,” said Devin before the three minute interviews in which she planned to ask about sitters’ past experience and try to “gauge if we see eye to eye.”
The sitters, too, said giving parents an opportunity to meet them face-to-face would
complement their UrbanSitter online profiles that the parents would later click through.
“For a lot of people, because it’s online, it’s nice when you’ve seen the person in person before seeing their profile,” said Sarah Winn, a 19 year-old Harvard University student who has babysitting for seven years and hopes to become a teacher.
“I think just getting to talk to someone you can get a grasp of their experience,” said Winn.