Long story short, last August my main source of work dropped the bomb that they wouldn’t have any projects for me for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS *Munch scream*, but it was exactly then that I started a contract position writing articles and listicles and advertorials for one of my very most favorite clients (I love you, CafeMom!) and thereby avoided the dire fate of–OITNB spoiler alert–having to sell my panties on the Internet to make a living. So it is that every week for the past year I churned out somewhere between a couple and a handful of original stories, which is a lot considering I have no formal background in journalism or marketing and I’m also the world’s slowest writer (it sometimes takes me a half hour to come up with a headline that passes modern SEO muster). This I was doing in addition to, starting in January, resuming steady work at my regular job as a book editor, which had not only revived but blossomed into an abundance of projects for an expanded group of clients (*angel choir*) due to my timely realization that networking is kinda sorta actually crucial for a freelancer and not something I could keep hand-tossing away as “oh, not really my thing.”
In the meantime–and here is where I’ve buried my point, despite having promised up there at the top that this would be the short version of a long story–one of the things that fell off my metaphorical cart and was subsequently crushed into bits by a stampede of wild wildebeests was my ability to write here about whatever the
heck fuck I wanted, using naughty words and everything. I’ve missed it, oh how I’ve missed it, and so, yes, this is my version of the standard “gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve blogged / will I even remember how to do it? / is anybody out there?” post, which, as is also standard, I’m using to ease myself back in to what I hope will become regular practice once again.
To catch up for the past year: Wombat sailed through kindergarten (Private School B), Fox survived the terrible twos, Simon is now a drummer in a band, and I…I cut my own bangs. Considering that my idea of living dangerously is peeling a hard-boiled egg directly over the trash can, this is not to be scoffed at.
We are doing well:
And how are you?
Captain Obvious here with some life-changing news! Did you know you could pay someone money to feed your kids dinner and put them to bed while you, yourself, are not even on the premises? While your dear little ones are brushing their teeth and negotiating for an extra bedtime story (or three), you could be halfway across town eating organic beet and farro salad with shaved Parmigiano and enjoying the dulcet tones of no one whining directly into your ear holes. I’ll drink to that.
When I heard about the Clever Girls campaign with UrbanSitter, I pitched myself as the mother of two kids who had never (NEV-ERRR), in six and a half years, hired a stranger to watch my children in my own home. I can’t say whether they felt sorry for me or just wanted to test out their system on a complete newbie, but whichever it was, I’m glad I got the chance to see how the other half lives (or, rather, the other 95 percent) because it was GLORIOUS.
Since I’m guessing most of you are familiar with the concept of *air quotes* babysitting in general, I’ll focus on how UrbanSitter made it super-easy and low-stress, even for a first-timer like me.
The feature I love most is being able to do absolutely everything online. I reviewed profiles, booked the job, communicated with my sitter, and even paid her through my UrbanSitter account. If you’re the type who needs to do face-to-face research, or at least chat on the phone with a prospective child care provider, that’s definitely an option, but for me the digital-everything aspect was downright revelatory. Doing things on my phone without actually having to talk on the phone is my favorite.
The second best thing was that having access to however many dozens or hundreds (or thousands?) of sitters (vetted sitters) meant it wasn’t impossible to find someone on 36-hour’s notice. For a Saturday-night job, I took twenty minutes out of my Friday afternoon to look at a handful of profiles and then sent out one booking request. As soon as I clicked “send,” I got a popup that suggested for a short-notice job like mine was, I might have better luck posting on the job board, and after I did that—it made the basic details of the job visible to all sitters in my area—I was sent email links to the profiles of everyone who was interested and available. Each profile includes personal details, experience/certifications, and rates (everyone’s is different), and it also featured—the most helpful bit for me—a video message. If, in choosing a babysitter, you list “overall vibe” right up there with “clean background check,” the video message is key to finding your perfect match, whether you’re looking for a Kristy, Stacy, Dawn, Mary Anne, Claudia, Jessie, or Mallory. (I haven’t delved deep enough to know if there are any Logans.)
With one click, I chose someone who was about my age, who lives five minutes away (I loved “Hey, we’re neighbors” aspect), and who came across as a smart, competent, nice person my kids would dig. Wombat had veto power, and our sitter, Carolyn, passed his very discerning “must have kind eyes” test, so we were all set. She showed up on time, gave off the just-right vibe we’d hoped for, and immediately got down on the floor with the kids to play.
Depending on your level of neurosis about this sort of thing, you can conduct more in-depth interviews with specific people (I didn’t) and/or connect your account to Facebook (I did) and/or even load your profile with info about your kids’ schools and activities so you can see which sitters have been used by other parents in your community (I will). You can see how many repeat families a sitter has, and you can find a sitter for a full range of needs, from straight-up occasional in-home babysitters to long-term nanny types you can hire to drive your kids around or take them to the park or help you with errands or whatever. (Would it be weird to book someone for an hour to bathe my kids while I go read a book?) You can also rate sitters you’ve used, and of course look at the ratings others have left; if you’ve ever wanted to Yelp a person, here’s your chance.
We had such a good experience, I hope you don’t count on criticism for proof that a reviewer wasn’t paid to say only positive things because (1) I would never sign up for something like that and (2) I have nothing negative to say about our UrbanSitter experience, and that’s the whole truth. We left our kids without a worry, and when we came home, the toys were picked up and put away, the dinner dishes were washed, and the house was calm and quiet, which is more than I can say for the state of things when Simon and I are in charge of the homestead. The kids gave us an enthusiastic report the next morning and asked when Carolyn was coming back. We all hope she liked us as much as we liked her.
Thanks, UrbanSitter and Clever Girls Collective, for getting us out of the house but also bringing us together–the two of us but also the five of us.
To get a free month of membership to UrbanSitter in your area, use code FORFREETRIAL. You won’t be disappointed.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Speaking of losing things, earlier today I stood up at the conclusion of my *ahem* daily constitutional and, while the flush was already in mid-swirl, I caught out of the corner of my eye in the mirror across the hall (pooping with the door open is truly one of the great joys of working from home) the image of a small piece of paper fluttering from my back pocket and into the bowl, where it circled a few times, slunk up into the hole, and then–as I flailed helplessly toward my porcelain adversary–peeked a corner back out, as if it were about to surface, before, alas, it succumbed to the forces of our hearty indoor plumbing, so dearly beloved in every other case but this.
During the paper’s final wave of departure, I leaned in (but not too close; I’ve seen those videos) and tried to make out a word or two but could not. The notes were in my handwriting and probably recorded nothing more critical than a grocery list, and thus I am trying valiantly to not let the not-knowing drive me to madness. Madness, I say!
This concludes the sad tale of the time my best laid plans literally went down the toilet.