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5 Types of Child Care Providers Who Can Make Your Life Easier

Erin Darwin
Feb. 26, 2018

Figure out what type of sitter -- or sitters -- you should hire to fit your family's needs.

Raising kids is hard enough! When you need some child care help, there are so many different names and titles for sitters, it can make your head spin. What's the difference between a nanny and a babysitter? What's the difference between a part-time nanny and a full-time nanny? What type of help you really need?

Here's a helpful list of the different types of sitters and what they do. Once you figure out what fits your needs, post a job on Care.com and find your perfect sitter.

  1. Mother's Helper
    You're not going crazy, you just need a quiet cup of coffee and five minutes in the bathroom without that little one screaming through the door that she needs you now. Stay-at-home parents can sometimes feel uneasy about hiring someone to help around the house, but needing a babysitter doesn't mean you lose the "Super Mom" title -- it just means you know when to take a breather from those ever-energetic kids! A mother's helper is usually young -- maybe 12 or 13 depending on maturity levels -- and plays with your child when you're in the house and can supervise. It's like a babysitter-in-training. If having a trusted sitter to relieve you for even a few hours a week means you get some uninterrupted time to get work done, cook dinner or read an actual book, then it's worth it.

  2. Babysitter
    A babysitter is something that every parent should have in their arsenal. Whether you ask one to watch your kids while you run errands or go on a date night with your partner, babysitters make your life run smoothly. Sitters will play with your kids, feed them and even handle bedtime. They're great for a few short hours when you need a break. Lots of families hire teenage babysitters to fill this role. Look for someone with the age and maturity to do the things you need. Will they be making dinner and putting your kids to bed, or will the kids already be asleep and the babysitter just has to sit in the house while you go out for the evening?

  3. Full-Time Nanny
    Nannies can be particularly helpful to working parents. They care for and entertain your child all day while you're gone. Parents who work from home often rely on nannies just to get a full day's work in. While balancing work and kids in the home may sound ideal, anyone who's tried to compose a simple email with kids underfoot knows it can be counterproductive.

    This shouldn't be a source of guilt, though. Nannies are career-child care professionals who can be depended on every day. They often plan activities, and can help teach your child things like table manners. Nannies are different from babysitters because they watch your kids for longer periods of time, and are more involved in their development and education.

  4. Part-Time Nanny
    Sometimes you need someone who is a mix of babysitter and nanny. That's where part-time nannies come up. Maybe you need someone to watch your kids for a few hours every day during the gap between when school lets out and you come home from work. Maybe you need someone to watch your kids all day when they are on school vacation for a week -- but you can't take a week off work. Babysitters aren't the best option because you want someone who is more involved with your kids and is trained in child care. And you don't need a full-time nanny who will watch your kids all day. So post a job for a part-time nanny and get someone who fits what you need.

  5. Backup Sitter
    You're lucky enough to have a go-to, reliable, you-can-always-count-on-me sitter, nanny or day care provider, but what happens when your unfailing caregiver....well, fails? She's only human, which means sometimes your babysitter will get sick, leave for vacation or have a date night of her own when you really need her. And if you're in day care, there's that always-looming chance your child could get a fever -- and have to stay home until it breaks. So it's always a good idea to have someone qualified you can call in case your regular caregiver can't watch the kids for one reason or another.

    Learn how services like Care.com Backup Care can help you find quality backup child care in a pinch. 

Erin Darwin is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her two kids and husband.

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