Steve and I have been saying for months that we really want to find a local babysitter, especially now that Anna is a little older. There are apparently a bunch of high school girls in my neighborhood that babysit but I just feel that's a little young to babysit infants and toddlers. And this is coming from someone that was babysitting a 6 year old and toddler twins all at the age of 12 - I like to think that I actually did a good job with them but looking back on that as a mother, I can't believe that ended well, haha.
Anyways, I finally took the advice of several of my mommy friends and signed up for care.com. I posted a short ad on there and was promptly bombarded with over 40 responses to it. The nice thing about care.com is that you can really take your time and examine profiles and pictures to narrow down your search - once I started looking at profiles I got a good feeling for what was important to me and what kind of criteria I needed to look for. It is also nice that you can access background checks and references.
I got the profiles narrowed down to 3 or 4 favorites, and then Steve looked at them and picked his favorites out of those. And then we got a little frustrated- we set up a time for the favorites to come by the house during the day to meet Anna and chat with us for a little bit. Our top favorite walked in REEKING of smoke, despite her profile's claims that she is a non-smoker. The second girl stood us up, and then the rest of the favorites never responded to my email. Needless to say, I was a little disheartened by the end of that week. I went back to the drawing board and did my own search on care.com, and found some new favorites.
We finally met Lisa, who is a recent transplant here to Atlanta. She has ample experience working with kids, especially kids around Anna's age. And I love how her personality seems similar to mine - she really seemed to let Anna take the lead when they were playing, she is soft-spoken but assertive, and she just seemed really responsible and down-to-earth. So we promptly booked her for our 2 January date nights and we are so happy to finally have a local babysitter!
We did our first date night last weekend - we had dinner at On the Border, and then went to play at Dave & Buster's (which is like a Chuck E. Cheese on steroids, if you don't have one in your area). We came home with an armload of prizes to add to Banana Bean's toy collection, and we loved having a night off to ourselves!
Samoa ice cream is definitely one of the best ways to end an evening :-)
All in all, I do recommend care.com. Just make sure to take your time with it and definitely meet your sitters before leaving them for the night. I also recommend searching for a promo code before putting down your credit card - I was able to find a 20% off code very easily and hey, every little bit helps!