Making the decision to move abroad as an expat, the moving itself and finally the settling in a foreign community can be a daunting experience. Moreover, if you’re an expat with children, having a family to take care of makes it even harder. Eventually you will need a babysitter.
Facebook and parent groups for finding babysitters
Whom to trust with your children when your family lives far away? Emma Lawrence lives in Ghent and is originally from the U.K. She has three children with her Belgian partner and works in the Irish pub Celtic Towers.
“In the beginning we used babysitters recommended by other expats in Ghent. We used Facebook to find organisations in Ghent that supply babysitting services. The Facebook group for parents in Ghent Gentse Spruiten has a dedicated thread to babysitting services in Ghent”, she says. “It’s also possible to get a list of babysitting services and child welfare services via your insurance company”, she continues.
Once Emma’s children were old enough to go to the crèche the Lawrence family could ask for babysitters there. Students studying child care were often working in the crèche.
Emma is part of a messenger group to help with babysitting duties together with other parents to help each other finding before- and after-school care for school-aged children.
Try-out play date
Emma suggests babysitter try-outs before actually hiring someone. “As a family we always organise a play date with sitters before the first time we use them on a longer shift. Just for an hour so the kids got to know them and we can see how they interact with our children. We normally stay for 10 minutes and then leave” she says. The children provide her brutally honest feedback after the try-out session. If this is successful Emma feels comfortable using the sitter for future jobs.
Babysitting app Bsit
A young start-up based in Brussels is trying to help with childcare matching with a new collaborative babysitting application called Bsit. It gathered more than 100 000 users in Benelux and France in just over one year.
The app allows you to search and find trustworthy babysitters nearby. These sitters are recommended by either peers or can be found in “circles of trust” communities which can also be managed externally.
Emma has used Bsit a few times. She says the app is great and very easy to use: you enter date, time, address, and information about your family. You also insert preferred age, driving capabilities, payments and language of the sitter. Once this data is completed, a list comes up of babysitters available in your area. All sitters have a rating guide from previous jobs. It’s a bit like Tripadvisor for babysitters, Emma says.
For a small fee you can add a chat feature and insurance. You can pay the sitter through the app or with cash but you must choose this option when booking. The sitter can be cancelled free of charge anytime. There is also a block function where you can hire for several days at a time; for instance every day after school. You can also allocate what activities will be required like giving a snack or help with homework.
Other info about babysitting in Ghent
Do you have more tips about childcare and babysitting in Ghent for expats? Let us know in the comments or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!