Every parent needs at least one go-to, in-a-pinch babysitter, whether it’s for a date-night escape or to chase your toddler while you nurse your newborn. But finding part-time childcare can be tough.

“There’s this initial hurdle to find someone who can handle an emergency, a picky eater and all the curveballs your kids throw at you,” says Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor at Care.com, a site that helps families find sitters. “Will this person handle them well enough? Is the stress of it worth me going out to dinner?”

In case you’re ambivalent, know that date night is always worth the effort. Ninety-six percent of Care.com parents say date nights bring them closer to their partner.

“You feel so free once you have one or two names you can reach out to and say, ‘Are you free Friday night?’” says Bugbee. “Once you have those people in your contact list, it’s life-changing.”

Ready to find someone amazing? Here’s how local parents ultimately scored a sitter: 

“I go to parks and playgrounds to find sitters. It’s a good way to see how they are with kids before you ask them to watch yours!”

—Liz, 40, South Orange, 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son

“I went to my pediatrician’s office to see whether any babysitters looking for work had left their contact information. That’s how we found our wonderful weekend sitter.”

—Catherine, 44, Cranford, 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son

“We have called college-age kids of coworkers, daycare teachers and swim lesson instructors.” 

—Lisa, 33, Haddonfield, 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son

“During the three times a year my husband and I are motivated enough to escape the house and stay up past 8 pm, we use a local babysitting co-op. By swapping babysitting shifts with other families in our neighborhood, we’re able to secure a seasoned parent who we trust implicitly to watch our children—for free!” 

—Amanda, 41, Collingswood, 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter

“Whenever we need a babysitter, we talk to teachers and helpers at our daycare. There always seems to be someone who’s available, and you already know they’re great with kids!” 

—Lauren, 31, Mullica Hill, 4-year-old and 2-year-old daughters

“I look for babysitters in my church youth group. Ours works in the nursery at church.” 

—Martha, 28, Oaklyn, 1-year-old daughter

“I had luck with sittercity.com. It was a pain to weed through the people who responded, then go through the interview process, all while caring for a baby—but it worked out in the end!” 

—Jocelyn, 35, Cherry Hill, 3-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son

“We use care.com. Megan is fantastic—she never hesitates to jump in and start helping, but most importantly, my kids love her.” 

—Rachel, 32, Collingswood, 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter

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