Going out after you’ve had a child (or children) is never an easy decision to make. Who do you leave your children with? Your parents? The in-laws? The neighbour perhaps?
But what if those options are closed to you? Who can you trust? Besides the parents, with us it’s typically the nanny. But she can’t do late nights on weekends so on these occasions you may need to hire a professional agency.
Mombabbles catches up with Naomi Groenewald, founder and director of Baby’s First Sitter to find out more about her company and what it has to offer parents that need to hire a professional:
- When did you launch Baby’s First Sitter and how did it start?
The concept was technically birthed in America in 2014. I spent some time in America for three years in my time there, I encountered many families who needed a babysitter. Two families stuck out to me in particular- one, a family with a two year old girl at the time, and another with two boys aged 7 and 12 at the time. Neither families had ever had a babysitter before me, and upon using me as a babysitter, absolutely loved their new found time off! They were using me regularly, and feeling completely peaceful about leaving their children in my care! This got me thinking, “I really can provide a good service here”. Unfortunately my time in the states came to an end and I launched the business in Cape Town in February 2015. I decided that I could provide a professional residential babysitting service, and simultaneously help other young woman such as myself to earn some extra money and while they study, save up for travels, or just gain experience.
2. You say you don’t like it when babysitters think TV is the best entertainment for kids, so what can we expect from your baby sitters?
To me, this is the worst entertainment for children. I’m not a TV fan, but further more, I’ve heard far too many stories of parents who pay money for a sitter, and the sitter just lets the children watch TV. This is neither stimulating, nor fun, and honestly a waste of money. As babysitters who pride ourselves on professionality, we commit to entertain kids in whatever means possible and stay away from the TV!
What you can expect from baby’s first sitters babysitters is a complete range of activities to keep the children entertained as well as happy and active. Our activities range from crafts such as sand art or creating water bottle galaxies, to blind mans bluff, life size X’s and O’s, fort building and other such simple games. However it is, you can expect the sitters have prepared for your specific child. Our sitters even plan age appropriate crafts for toddlers!
The company’s babysitters come prepared to engage and entertain your children with fun games and crafts.
3. Besides your answer to the above, how else do you differentiate your services from all the other companies offering such service?
Our company is different in that we provide a professional family service. There is nothing casual or slack about us, from arrival to goodbyes, we hold a professional standard.
Apart from our craftivities (my name for crafts and activities), our babysitters are skilled with first aid, trained through the company four times a year, and hand picked to make sure they will all uphold the Baby’s First Sitter standard.
4. What are your rates? And what’s the minimum fee?
Our rates are R100 per hour, and we appreciate a three hour minimum where possible.
5. Are there any instances where parents would have to pay extra?
Our rates remain the same past midnight.
Parents pay double on major public holidays, such as Christmas eve/ Christmas, and pay 1.5 times regular rate on regular public holidays, such as day of reconcilliation.
6. Can parents choose their babysitter from your company?
The availability of any given babysitter depends on timing. For this reason, I do the “match-making”, however, clients can request back a previously used babysitter, or specifically request a different sitter to the one previously used.
7. How do you choose the baby sitters that join your company? What skills/credentials must they have?
I interview them thoroughly, and check their references. I also listen to my gut to help guide decision making of who should come on board our team.
Babysitters need to have child care experience, need to have a clear passion/interest in working with children, and should not be reliant on money earned by babysitting (thus keeping the focus on the joy of babysitting, rather than seeing it as a money making activity). Skills that I intently seek after are leadership, intuition, attentiveness, compassion, and creativity.
8. What kind of training do they undergo and how often?
After the interview, our sitters go through an initial training called BFS1 (Baby’s First Sitter level 1). After this training we do multiple other training levels (reaching to BFS4), and cover topics from infant care and stimulation, to a simplified ADHD course, to creative play at all ages. Our training is aimed at equipping our sitters for each babysit, but also used as a tool to equip them for jobs and experiences they take on after working with Baby’s First Sitter.
9. What are your company’s rules about disciplining children if they misbehave?
We have a strict no hitting, spanking, pinching, yelling, hurting or inflicting harm policy. We have a simple time out rule if the parents have not provided clear direction in this regard. We would withhold doing an activity/ put a child in a designated time out zone for a set period of time. We also inform parents of misbehaviour if it was serious.
10. You also offer drivers for school pick ups – tell us a little about that and about the costs involved.
Drivers can be arranged to pick kids up from school and drop off at home, or sports activities, or any driving needs. Rates are the same as babysitting- R100 per hour, and then we charge a petrol fee per km.
Drivers all have licences, and tend to be slightly older, or even mothers themselves. Our drivers use their own cars, have licences, and insurance.
Our driving services are not limited to any area, or amount of children per pick up/ drop off.
11. You offer housesitting too – what does that include?
House sitters can simply water a garden once a day; or can move into your home for the period of time you are gone, water your garden, walk the dog, collect the post, and anything in between. Our rates for house sitting are R250 per day/ night slept over.
12. Are you set to expand your business at all in other areas?
Yes! We originally started serving Cape Town city centre, and Southern Suburbs, but have now branched out to all suburbs in between. We have also branched out to the Northern Suburbs, as well as, most recently, Noordhoek.
13. How do you plan to cope with the inevitable surge in requests for your business during the December holiday season?
We employ new sitters on a monthly basis, so our team is growing all the time. We also have a lot of babysitters who study in Grahamstown, or Eastern Cape etc., and will come down in the holidays for the busy seasons. I am confident we will cope well.
14. What are your tips for first time parents that haven’t hired a babysitter before? How do you reassure first time clients?
I would say, be cautious and wise, because there are crazy people out there. Thankfully you can count on us, as our sitters get police clearances every two years, and their previous employment references are checked. No crazies here!
I would also say, just trust the process. Having alone time, or time with your partner, is so important, and when your children are in good care, and you experience the peace of mine our babysitters provide, you will be wanting more and more of it!
15. Finally, what did you do before you started this company?
I was an au pair. After high school I au paired for five consecutive years for three different families as my full time job. I currently co ordinate the children’s church at The People’s Church Constantia, and run this business. I’ve always said, and it’s so true: For me, it’s kids all day, every day!
Baby’s First Sitter is based in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here for more information.