Parents Home With Kids Getting Help From Virtual Babysitters

NBC Universal, Inc.

Parents looking for a break from their kids are turning to a new solution to find peace during the pandemic — virtual babysitters.

Stephanie Africk of Brookline launched "Sitter Stream" a few weeks ago and now has clients from Massachusetts to Japan. She said the idea came to her before the pandemic after realizing how many parents just need a moment to themselves.

"We all have this mom guilt like we need to be able to do it all, but sometimes, we just need a little help, a mini-moment to ourselves," Africk said.

The service allows parents to book 30- or 60-minute video sessions with babysitters who offer age-appropriate activities. From drawing to puppet-making, the sessions can also be tailored to children's interests.

Africk said all of the sitters undergo a background check and training, and parents must be home while the sessions occur.

"We do not take the place of normal sitters," Africk said. "We built this to be online. We are the Uber of babysitting."

For Miri Gottfried of Brookline, the service has been a lifesaver. The mother of three said she books sessions not just so she can be productive and do things like make dinner, but also to get a break.

"Last week, I had a session, and my newborn was sleeping, so I just sat and had a coffee without anybody saying 'Mom' or 'Mommy,'" Gottfried said. "It was amazing."

With many still working from home, Africk said some companies have inquired about how to pay for memberships for their employees. Sitter Stream is also teaming up with fitness studios to offer babysitting during livestream workouts.

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