A few years ago, I slipped on a brand new red dress, put on my makeup, curled my hair and doused myself in perfume for my big night out with my husband on Valentine's Day.
And then my phone rang. It was the babysitter, calling to say she couldn't make it. Ugh!
Tonight, my husband and I plan to slip out for a romantic Valentine's dinner. Fortunately, my kids are finally old enough that I have built in babysitters. But for years, going out on a holiday meant scrambling to find a babysitter, (maybe paying a bonus) or staying home.
My guest today is Rachel Charlupski. Her really cool business, The Babysitting Company, matches reliable and energetic babysitters to parents’ needs. It prides itself on being available 24/7 and being able to accommodate last minute and special requests. In the U.S., her company offers babysitting services in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, New York City, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, LA, San Francisco
Rachel says business grew from her passion for babysitting, which began during her early teens. She says she began to understand the benefits of her services: the peace of mind a good babysitter provides to parents.
After her schedule became inundated by babysitting jobs, Rachel, 18 years old at the time, founded The Babysitting Company. "I wanted to accommodate my network of clients with babysitters who are educated (for homework help), fun (so that kids can't wait to have them back), responsible (so Mom and Dad feel comfortable), energetic and available for travel (so that even on vacation or a business trip, Mom and Dad can have peace of mind)."
Tens years later, Rachel is still running her successful business and has great advice to share with parents:
Me: Should working parents feel guilty about going out without kids for Valentine's Day?
Rachel: For parents, celebrating their love is important and kids look up to that. Kids thrive when parents show love to each other. However, you should do something for your kids before you leave...maybe leave a note on mirror for when they brush their teeth or candy on their bed. Valentine's Day is about being romantic but also about love and your kids kids should feel that love, too.
Me: Is it too late to get a babysitter on the day of a holiday?
Rachel: I can arrange babysitters on up to an hour notice. I know that sounds crazy but it is possible. New Year's Eve is more difficult, but not impossible. I did send a babysitter out this year on New Year's Eve on just a few hours notice. My sitters are amazing.
Me: How should babysitters gain trust of family?
Rachel: My sitters go through 10 hours of training before going to an assignment. Seeing how much someone puts into their profession should make parents more comfortable. When a babysitter enters the house, look at how that person greets you, how comfortable they make you feel and how they interact with your kids. Your intuition is the best thing. Kids have the best intuition besides mothers.
Me: Is a referral from a friend enough of a reference?
Rachel: No one should come in without two professional references and you have to call the references.
Me: What should you expect to pay on a holiday such as Valentine's Day?
Rachel: Definitely expect to pay more. Tonight start at $25 an hour, and my babysitters at hotels get up to $50 an hour. We only take credit cards so that makes it easy when you come home. Our sitter have a receipt for parents to sign and we follow with a credit card receipt.
Me: What's the ideal amount of time needed to secure a babysitter?
Rachel: 24 hours notice is best. If a child is sick or something comes up, we usually can find someone last minute.