Interview with Lynn Perkins of UrbanSitter
How did UrbanSitter come to be?
When my twins were about 2 1/2 years old I decided to leave my job. It was the first time since becoming a mom that I hadn’t worked, and I started to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. My friends with children all seemed to be having trouble finding trusted, reliable babysitters. As somebody who loves matchmaking, I was frequently introducing my mom friends to nannies and sitters. I felt that there needed to be a more efficient way for parents to find trusted childcare that would combine the power of a recommendation from a friend with an easy to use booking system. And from that idea, UrbanSitter was born.
How would you say it differs from other sites in the same industry?
Before UrbanSitter, child care sites were either a job posting board or virtual phone book. Parents had to do a lot of work to weed through the options and vet the caregivers, who were complete strangers.
With UrbanSitter, it’s a completely different experience. When you come to our site or app, we ask you for your child’s school, activities, sports teams, and your mom & dad groups, so we can show you the sitters hired and reviewed by a community of parents you know and trust. It’s like asking everyone you know for their favorite sitter and getting that information instantly.
UrbanSitter also streamlines the hiring process, so you really can search, book and pay with a few taps. Parents especially love that our babysitter profiles include a video and detailed statistics about the sitter like how quickly they respond and how many “repeat families” have booked them more than once.
What would you say to a parent who has never left their child alone with a sitter and is thinking about using UrbanSitter? How do you calm their fears?
My advice would be to start with recommendations from friends. On UrbanSitter, you’ll see a list of all of the sitters your friends have hired and reviewed – if you don’t have any friends on the site yet, you can check your schools and parenting groups for more recommendations. Most first-time parents feel a level of comfort in knowing that a friend or someone they know trusts the sitter. Secondly, I’d suggest booking a working interview where you’ll be able to see the sitter interact with your child while you’re at home. You can then work up to leaving for a few hours at a time for a short date night around the corner from home, so you can return sooner if needed. Last piece of advice: trust your intuition. If the first sitter doesn’t seem like a fit, trust your gut.
How do you balance work and family?
Like most working parents, my biggest challenge is not having enough time. My solution: Aim for “excellent,” but let go of “perfect.” Forgo baking the homemade birthday cupcakes that will keep you up until midnight and embrace, or at least wince a bit less, at store-bought ones. Use the time you save to read an extra bedtime story to your child, finish a work project, or relax and recalibrate.
What are your plans for the future for UrbanSitter?
I’d like to continue expanding UrbanSitter into more cities across the US, while innovating on our technology to make finding and managing trusted child care as easy as it can be. It’s my hope that ‘book the babysitter’ will no longer be a daunting task on a parent’s to-do list.
Do you think it’s important for parents to use sitters as a part of their childcare? Why?
I think it’s often a necessity for parents to hire the occasional or part-time babysitter, especially for parents who don’t have extended family in the area. No matter what your day-to-day childcare situation is, we’ve all had those moments where the regular care provider is sick, school is closed on a random Tuesday or a last minute obligation comes up. For me, UrbanSitter has been a lifesaver. I can count on finding a trusted sitter in a matter of minutes and it’s been a relief to have the flexibility. Also, my kids have met sitters who are great at all sorts of things like yoga, the ukulele, and crafts, which aren’t my forte. I love coming home to my chatterboxes and hearing about all the fun they had while I was away.