One of the first blogs I wrote on the DD/MD site was about how difficult it is to deal with a deployment during the holidays. When I wrote it, Craig was actually deployed, and it was the first Christmas with the baby. It was hard: being at home with family should help, but sometimes it only makes you realize how you’re not at your home with your family. On the other hand, when you are at your home with your (incomplete) family, you’re wishing that you had the support of trusted family members, and good friends that really know you.
To say that I am a worrisome parent would be an understatement, but I’ve also made a conscious effort to not project fear onto my daughter. I hate that she will run full-force towards a staircase, but I love that she’s not afraid of them, even though she hasn’t mastered going down stairs yet.
Going hand-in-hand with being a worrisome parent is, sometimes, being too terrified to leave your child with someone, a babysitter, when you live away from family. There are two people here that I trust to leave my daughter with. Two. And when they’re both unavailable to help out, oftentimes I’m left without a sitter, and staying home from a squadron event that I would have liked to have gone to. If the event is child-friendly then that’s great, but with the holiday season coming up, most parties are adults only (for reasons I completely understand), and it’s hard to feel like you’re constantly missing out.
Enter Sittercity’s partnership with the DOD. If you don’t know about Sittercity, check them out here: https://www.sittercity.com/dod. I have known about Sittercity for awhile: friends back home in Chicago talk about how amazing the service is, and how convenient it is to find a well-respected person to care for your child. One of my good friends here recently moved to Hawaii. She was the type, when you met for coffee, who knew at least three people in the room at any given time. Before she left, she sent me her “little black book” of gold for mommies: her babysitter recommendations, in ranked order, with brief descriptions accompanying each. I kept that file in my purse, attached to my person at all times. I remember thinking how great it would be if there was an online world where this existed for us, out in the rural area of Eastern North Carolina.
When I was at the AUSA convention, I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren T., the woman in charge of Sittercity’s military program. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to get to know her better, and find out more about what Sittercity offered the military. Lauren was, without a doubt, the friendliest person I met at the convention. Even though several people around us were vying for her attention as well, she stayed completely engaged in our conversation, answering all of my questions with knowledge, and a knowing smile. The knowing smile later surprised me when I learned that Lauren is not directly tied to the military; but she is so dedicated to her job, and to helping military families, that she gets “it.” I quickly moved her business card to the top of my stack to ensure that I followed up with her as soon as possible after the convention was over.
When I returned home, I began looking into Sittercity’s military program further, but not too optimistically, as I assumed they didn’t exist where we live. I signed up for it, because it’s free for military members, and was shocked! This program is EVERYWHERE, and I mean everywhere. The list of sitters in my area was plentiful, and I scrolled through the list excitedly. The cherry on top, for me, was seeing Kristi on the list of care providers. Kristi was number one in the list of sitters that my friend left me before she moved to Hawaii. Kristi is the one who, my friend says, loved her child and raised him as though he was her own when my friend returned to work. I knew a little about her, but now, with Sittercity, I was able to see her background, know where she is from, and how long she’s been a mother/care provider/etc. I couldn’t have been happier.
Here’s what’s awesome: Sittercity is free for us because they have a partnership with the DOD. We sign up online, they verify that we’re military, and then the DOD pays them for our memberships. And they’re not cheap folks: we’re talking $140+ PER MEMBERSHIP. And it’s not just for babysitting; you can also find references for nannies (full and part time), pet sitters, housekeepers, PCS help…the list goes on and on. Make sure you check them out, and register: https://www.sittercity.com/dod. If you have any questions, reach out to Lauren through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Sittercity.DoD
Oh, and don’t forget to enter to win a free copy of DD/MD! They’re giving away a book a day this month!