“The main problem with having kids,” next-eldest sister once said to me when Kitty was about 6 weeks old, “is childcare.”
Once upon a time I would have disagreed. I would have said “no the amount they get ill is the main problem with having kids”. But childcare came in a close second.
And by “childcare” I don’t mean anything specific. I don’t mean “staff”, I just mean childcare. Because you sure as hell are going to struggle if you don’t have any at all. Some people don’t have a choice but to look after their own kids, on their own, 24/7. Others choose to. I know some people who do it – not even half an hour of paid childcare – and it’s hard.
The one are of childcare I couldn’t compromise on has always been evening babysitting. My husband’s job means we have always had to go out for dinner at least once a week. Sure, I could not go with him but that makes him sad and likely to drink and fall to chatting to PR girls.
So to say I am a veteran of babysitting options is an understatement. I have tried family, friends and local teenagers. I liked Sitters.co.uk for a while but they had some absurd text-booking arrangement and were never available on the weekend if you suddenly needed to cancel your sitter.
And then along came Bubble, on the App Store as Bubble Babysitting and on IG as @bubblebabysittingapp – you can find them on the good ol’ internet at https://joinbubble.com. As soon as I downloaded the app that fateful day, I knew this was going to change my life – and it has.
Every local sitter has a profile, a rating (supplied by other users) and little icons showing you how far they are from you, whether they have newborn experience, have a car, have a First Aid certificate and so on.
I post a job and an alert thingy goes out to all local sitters who have said they are available at that time. They all go on to a list and you just pick the one you want and book them. You can message them through the app with any specific details and it’s all cashless, like Uber.
I have used Bubble for about a year, now, with no complaints – most notably they saved my ass one Sunday afternoon when my husband was away and I was in bed with a fever. This wonderful girl showed up, (forewarned that I was ill in bed and she just needed to keep the kids from killing each other/themselves), until teatime.
And now if Giles comes into my room at 2pm and says “I forgot to tell you we’re going to an Asian/Welsh fusion restaurant in Peckham tonight,” I no longer give him a death stare and say “Well, have fun on your own,” I just reach for my phone.
Bubble is not a budget option – most of the sitters work with children in their day jobs and are well-qualified – it tends to be £9ph minimum. But then childcare is an area where you can rarely afford to economise.
I refer to you my sister’s initial statement.
**This is a sponsored post, which frankly is the least Bubble can do, the amount of money I spend on there AND ALSO the amount of free word-of-mouth marketing I do to all my friends (all 3 of them).**