Creative Childcare Solutions for Life in the Time of Coronavirus

babysitter with toddler

Due to the large numbers of parents of all income levels in need emergency childcare during the coronavirus epidemic, as of March 16th, the Mommybites team has opened its babysitter boards for FREE during this unprecedented and uncertain time.

If it takes a whole village to raise one child, then thank goodness we live in New York City. There are certain characteristics of NYC life that work in moms’ and dads’ favor when it comes to childcare. This has never been more true than right now, when many schools and daycares are closing due to the rising confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the NY area. Here’s how and where to find last-minute childcare so you can get to work (office or virtual) while your kids are stuck at home.

Love Your Neighborhood

Take advantage of high population density. Look for a sitter in your local neighborhood so her punctuality isn’t at the mercy of traffic or transit delays. If you can’t find someone nearby, prioritize childcare givers who live near a reliable subway. The jackpot is finding childcare help in your own apartment building. Ask your doorman for leads.

Since many area universities and colleges are cancelling in-person classes – including NYU, Fordham, Rutgers, and Columbia – college students may be more readily available for reliable babysitting.

Use a Nanny Board

In an emergency or last-minute situation, it can be stressful to find a nanny or babysitter you can trust with your child’s care. A great, reliable option is to go with a trusted, established nanny board. The Mommybites Nanny Board is full of nannies and babysitters who come recommended by current or former employers who love them.

Invest in Future Babysitters

Hire a pre-teen as a mother’s helper (who may now be learning via cyberschool). With NYC transit options aplenty, she won’t need a parent to drop her off. She will love the early babysitting experience, your kids will love the helper’s youth and energy, and your wallet will thank you for finding a $5-$10/hour option.

Share a Nanny

While you need a short-term solution, share one nanny’s time with another family. Think strategically about her hours. Nannies can work mornings for one family and afternoons for another or switch off days to fit with a parent’s work schedule. A quality nanny can also watch children from two families simultaneously. Interested in starting a nanny share? View available nanny shares in NYC.

Read Next | Nannies and Nanny Shares

Put Your Friendships Into Action

Take turns with family friends picking up or watching each other’s kids, depending on your schedules. When swapping childcare hours with friends, money doesn’t change hands.

Search Your Social Connections

Ready to hire a sitter but need more recommendations? Spread the word to your social circle. If someone isn’t available, their friends may be. Ask:

  • Your child’s teacher
  • Your regular sitter’s roommates
  • Sunday school volunteers
  • Childcare workers at your gym
  • Alumni from your college
  • College babysitting groups
  • Local chapter of your sorority
  • Co-workers
  • Unemployed friends
  • Babysitters you meet at school pick-up
  • Neighborhood moms groups

Read Next | How to Re-Enter the Workforce After Kids Are in School

Your Faith Group Can Help You Find a Babysitter

These groups often know of good babysitters and nannies from other parents within their communities.

Try a Nanny or Babysitting Agency

A big consideration for using a childcare agency is that they typically peform background checks on potential nannies and babysitters before placing them.

Celebrate Your Solutions

As your childcare needs and sitter availability shift through the seasons (and pandemics!), cycle back through the search process. At least now you won’t be starting from scratch! Press on until you find the right childcare solutions for your family –  your new favorite babysitter maybe just a couple conversations or a few blocks away.

toddler and au pair
Read Next | There Are a Lot of Great Nannies Available in NYC Now


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Kristin Van de Water is a former journalist and teacher who relies on humor, faith, and her mom crew to get her through the day. Raising four kids in a two-bedroom NYC apartment, Kristin is always on the lookout for life hacks to save time, space, money, and her sanity. Check out her blog, Pinterest, and Facebook!
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