Thanks to some friends on Twitter, we've discovered this excellent resource - it's called FindABabysitter.com and allows you to do exactly that. But it's not just babysitters - there are nannies, childminders, cleaners, au pairs, midwives, night nannies, and even tutors. In a few clicks, you can specify your requirements right down to whether your nanny needs to have OFSTED registration, CRB checks, driving licence, etc, or experience with special needs or specific age groups.
It's not an agency - if anything it's like a dating site, with nice little profiles about each of the nannies, sitters and childminders, and the opportunity to get in contact and build a relationship before you actually commit to meeting them. Rather than meeting the man of your dreams*, you get to meet someone who will take the kids out to the park while you work to meet your deadline. Result.
We posted a job to help a friend find a part-time nanny and were thoroughly impressed - within a couple of hours we had over 20 replies from well qualified local child carers - not surprising, as there are about 25,000 of them registered at the moment - and could then send private messages back and forth to discuss experience, see references, arrange intereviews, etc. We couldn't quite believe how easy it was, and how little effort it took to find the right people to interview.
There is a subscription fee, but it's only a one-off £25 for unlimited access for 2 months (there are excellent options for as low as £2.99 too). That's it. They don't take a percentage of your nanny's income, or have any ongoing charges - you pay to use the site for as long as you need it, and from there on in the arrangements you make are between you and your nanny. Given how effective the site has proven to be, we'd say your £25 is money well spent!
Try it out for free -
* presumably many of you have already done that, he got a bit frisky one night, and that is why you need a babysitter in the first place!