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If you’re looking for great local childcare, don’t despair – there are some amazing tried and tested options and some innovative new ones nearby

Emergency Care: Mayday Mummy

When Sharon Mitchell was offered a redundancy as manager in the corporate financial sector, she viewed it as a great opportunity to start a much-needed service for mums. Five years on, Mayday Mummy has become a trusted go-to for families requiring urgent care for their children. “You just can’t plan for an emergency,” explains Sharon. “I saw a need for exceptionally reliable, professional and caring helpers for those stressful occasions because, the reality is, kids never check your diary to see if it’s a convenient day to be sick.” The Mayday Mummy team consists of mature-aged, professional women, all of whom have a First Aid Certificate; are Working With Children Certified, are fully insured, have more than 10 years care experience; and have a reliable car with child car restraints that meet Australian Safety Standards. Mayday Mummies charge a flat rate of $50 per hour, Monday-Friday; and $60 per hour on weekends and public holidays (with a minimum 3-hour booking required). They also have an Expectant Mum’s Package where you can have a carer on call for when you go into labour, which costs $150. www.maydaymummy.com.au



The Online Babysitting Platform: Juggle Street

Having just one great babysitter is not always enough. Often they’ll have other commitments, and if they’re really good at what they do, they’ll be in demand from other parents. That’s where Juggle Street comes in. Launched in 2014 by David James, it’s an online platform that allows you to post a job ad for a babysitter, nanny or carer, to which interested candidates can apply if they’re interested – sometimes within minutes! When it comes to how the helpers are vetted, Juggle Street’s Justine Duncan explains: “If a helper provides WWCC information, Juggle Street verifies this information and it will be displayed on the helper’s profile along with the verified icon. If the information provided is not verified, it is not displayed on their profile.” Parents can also check ratings and reviews. “These are written by parents in their neighbourhood, who they may even know. Over time, these reviews paint a picture of the sitters’ overall performance. We also ask parents to do their own due diligence with reference checking. It’s important to remember Juggle Street is an introductory platform, not an agency,” adds Justine. Parents also get to set the rate they’re willing to pay. “You can an offer a rate depending on the age and experience of the sitter you are inviting to apply for the job, so for example, $25 per hour to older, more experienced sitters if you’re going to be out late on a Saturday night, and $15 per hour to teenage sitters for a couple of hours on a weekday afternoon.” https://www.jugglestreet.com/



Clever After-School Care:
Neighbourhood 7

With after-school care waitlists growing longer by the day, mum-of-three Cassie Matheson decided to find a sustainable solution. Launched just last year at Manly West, Neighbourhood 7 actively seeks local parents to become carers and guides them through the necessary processes. The carers then offer a nurturing and attentive service for up to seven children in their family-home setting. “Any parent – mums and dads – can apply to become a carer,” says Cassie. “Neighbourhood 7 assists by supporting them through the approval process, which requires that they hold a current first-aid certificate (including anaphylaxis and asthma management), a Working With Children Check and a national police certificate, as well as experience caring for kids. We also facilitate parent introductions, bookings and payments.” It’s also a very rewarding opportunity for the carers. “Parents wanting to postpone returning to the workforce or to supplement their part-time income can do so while providing a valuable service to their community,” says Cassie. Once they are part of the Neighbourhood 7 network, the carer is responsible for accompanying the children to and from school – on foot or by car, depending on their proximity to the school. An afternoon routine typically includes discussion about the day over afternoon tea, an opportunity to complete homework and free-play from a selection of activities. Carers are now operating at Cammeray, and Neighbourhood 7 is keen to expand to the Willoughby, Chatswood, Middle Harbour and Mosman areas and is inviting any parent needing care or keen to be a carer for those schools to register their interest at www.neighbourhood7.com.au


The Community Connection: Willoughby Living Website

With babysitters wanted and available being two of the most popular posts in the Willoughby Living Facebook Group since it began, it made sense to have a section in the website’s Noticeboard where local babysitters could list and be found quickly by WL parents. Listing is free of charge and babysitters can include their details, rate, availability and even a small image. The page very quickly became one of the most popular on the site with lots of local and highly recommended babysitters having listed their details. Parents are reminded to check for references, WWCC and any other qualifications they require like First Aid, and drivers license. The most recent listings are at the top of the page: https://willoughbyliving.com.au/category/noticeboard/babysitters/ For those looking for daycare, please visit the Willoughby Living website Business Directory where local centres with vacancies have listed: https://willoughbyliving.com.au/directory/directory_category/childcare/


The Global Connection: Other Facebook Groups

Lots of new Facebook Groups are springing up all the time to connect childcarers and families. These work particularly well connecting young travelers who have arrived in Australia hoping to au pair, nanny, babysit or even clean and help with the household. Because Facebook and its Groups are known globally, travelers know to search for and join these types of Groups when they arrive. Host families must do their due diligence with references and check for experience, but overall they’re a great resource – and a great way to introduce other cultures to the family.

Sydney Au Pairs, Babysitters & Mother’s Helpers: “This Facebook Group is a hub for mothers and childcare workers to find work or workers, share ideas, tips and tricks, share learning tools, printables and network with other people.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/sydneyaupairsnpc/

Au Pairs in Australia and New Zealand: “This Group is for au pairs and host families to find each other, au pairs to find friends and general information about the au pair experience.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/aupairsinaustraliaandnewzealand/

Sydney Au Pairs and Host Families: “Sydney Au Pairs and Host Families is a Group and meeting point for au pairs and host families in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia. Please use this group to meet new friends and families whether already in Sydney or planning to come in the future”. https://www.facebook.com/groups/530067860346311/



Perfect for Working Parents: Upswing

Upswing is the brainchild of mum Sally Miles, who came up with the concept while working on a laptop and trying to meet a deadline from a playcentre. “With one eye on the children and one eye on work, I realised I wanted to be part of creating better solutions for working mums,” she says. Upswing now provides pop-up childcare at events and runs community sessions from Gordon. The latter means parents can book a three hour session at The Gordon Centre where they will find a workspace and WIFI, alongside childcare for children six weeks to six years. You can nurse, feed, or check on your children any time while spending a morning distraction-free to get work done. It’s also a space to meet like-minded parents on a regular basis. There is currently a trial offer of two three hour sessions for $66, or membership for $55 per week for one three hour session, or $99 per week for two three hour sessions – which works out at just $16.50 per hour for trusted, regular and secure childcare, plus a workspace. “We invite anyone who is hesitating to bring their child to come and try Upswing using a Starter Pack,” says Sally. “The children all get to know each other and the mums get to network and connect on a personal level. Many parents are exhilarated after the first session by how much work they can achieve in 3 hours distraction-free!” https://upswing.com.au/ https://www.facebook.com/upswingcommunity



Revolutionary After-School Option: Kids Circle

Based in Chatswood, Kids Circle is an after school centre for children aged 5-10 years old with a brilliant new concept – it offers everything you’d love your child to have available to them after school, including extracurricular activities taught by specialised teachers. It was devised by Grace Lazzeri and Carolina Velasquez, two friends who wanted to create a nurturing, caring and productive after school experience for children. “When we started looking into many after school centres we were surprised to find children spending two to three hours together in the same area, doing very little or the same activities every day until their parents arrived to collect them,” says Grace. “We wanted to design the sort of environment we would like for our own children and families.” Kids Circle is exactly that, offering opportunities for children to broaden their abilities and interests during after school hours. “Kids can attend the single class we offer in different subjects every day,” explains Carolina “or attend the 3-6pm daily program, which includes pick-up from schools near Chatswood and surrounding suburbs, healthy snacks, assistance with their homework, the activity – and even short mindfulness sessions when time allows.” Classes currently offered include: Spanish, Visual Arts, Dancing and Karate, with Cooking and Maths/Literacy group tuition available soon. Kids Circle also offers a free trial of any of the classes, and they run a super fun and creative school holiday program. http://www.kidscircle.com.au       https://www.facebook.com/kidscircleaus


The Local Young Entrepreneurs: Big Sisters Babysitters

Childminding is serious business and two local sisters, Amelia and Bella Anderson, treat it as such. They have a dedicated Facebook page with a large local following, and offer a very professional babysitting service covering the Lower North Shore, some parts of Ku-ring-gai and the Sydney CBD. From their little clients’ perspective the name says it all – the girls take the role of ‘big sisters’ offering to bake, read, do craft, sport or games and more. Parents will be thrilled that they can prepare meals, fold laundry and maintain order in the home. They can also do overnight stays or babysit in a hotel if you’re from interstate or “have a date night booked in”. The girls both hold first aid certificates, Working With Children Checks and have their drivers license. Their rates are between $19-30p/h dependent on the number of children, time of day, if overnight is required, and the tasks required. They also accept credit cards. https://www.facebook.com/bigsistersbabysitting/


Recommended Resources: Childcare Tried and Tested by WL members

Members of the WL Facebook Group are always a wealth of local knowledge and constantly come up with great recommendations on local resources. Here are three of their recommendations for finding local childcare:

Findababysitter.com.au: “Australia’s largest online babysitter website, it’s owned by Fairfax Media. All of the babysitters and nannies on the site are aged 18 and over and provide a very detailed profile online. They are asked to have a police check and references available for parents to see.” www.findababysitter.com.au

Mothercraft and Nannies: “Established since 1988, providing quality services in the areas of Mothercraft Nursing, Permanent and Temporary Nanny Services and Babysitting”. http://mothercraft.com.au/

Rock My Baby: “We are an innovative online service and pride ourselves on moving with technology to provide our clients with the most up-to-date and convenient way to book a babysitter or request a nanny. Our clients love that they can go to our website and book a sitter at 11pm without having to talk to someone over the phone. When a sitter accepts, the client receives the babysitter’s profile (brief personal history) before the sitter rings to introduce themselves to the client. https://www.rockmybaby.com.au


The Full Service Agency: Nannies and Helpers

With a local office in Chatswood, Nannies and Helpers has been going strong since 1988. They know what families need and as such supply childcare for every scenario (babysitters, mothercraft nurses, wedding and event nannies), as well as a range of help options, including housekeepers, cooks, butlers, drivers, party help, and carers and companions who specialize in Dementia and Alzheimer’s, respite, post-operative care, and the care of plants and pets. They have a strict selection process and like to follow up on their placements. They insist their candidates offer: a willingness to give you a commitment of 12 months or more if required, a minimum of 3 years’ experience, a current first aid certificate, a Working With Children Check as well as a recent police check. http://nanniesandhelpers.com.au/ https://www.facebook.com/NanniesAndHelpers/


Disclaimer: Willoughby Living provides the above information regarding local childminding options as a helpful resource only. Readers/parents are responsible for doing their own checks in regards to experience, references, referrals and qualifications, including police checks, Working With Children Checks and first aid. If you have any feedback regarding this article or an amazing childcare resource to recommend, please email: naomi@willoughbyliving.com.au