Help offered to harried moms and dads

Twin businesses help ease for parents' getting-a-babysitter worries

Ever rushed madly around getting ready for that much-needed date night with hubby and actually managed to tell the sitter everything — including the name of the kids’ favourite bedtime book, the location of the spray-bottle filled with lavender water that must be sprayed right after story time, and the vital importance of the contents of said spray-bottle being referred to only as “happy dreams fairy mist”?


An Armour Heights businesswoman is putting the final touches on a resource that could help parents — and babysitters — with those myriad of childcare details.

Robyn Zeldin calls her book, The In A Pinch Back Up Plan, a tool for parents that will help them prepare for the babysitting experience.

The self-published tome, which will be selling through Zeldin’s website and in select local boutiques, is a fillable book that allows parents to enter information into it, everything from junior’s OHIP number to special needs details and allergies.

A reference guide of sorts for babysitters, it eliminates the need for scribbled notes stuck on fridges or taped by the phone.

“It’s not a substitution for communication,” says Zeldin. “(But) sometimes people forget.”

The idea has been in her head for over a year, she says, and has grown out of her twin businesses that provide long and short-term caregiver placements.

The idea for a nanny-placement agency began while Zeldin was on maternity leave 15 years ago and looking for a childcare provider. She put an ad in a local paper and says she was astounded at the results.

“I think I received 50 phone calls.”

The business, Wee Care Placement Agency, literally began over night. Zeldin had talked with so many nannies in response to her ad that she says she just started setting friends up with care providers.

Business was more than brisk in her first month of operations.

“There was such a need,” she says. Her tag line at the time —“Frustrated by trying to find a suitable nanny?” — obviously resonated with people as she says she received many calls from people telling her they were, indeed, frustrated by their quest.

The temporary care arm of the business was so successful it became its own business entity in 2002, called In a Pinch.

Today Zeldin’s In A Pinch services don’t just include babysitting. She also works with professionals who provide temporary elder care,cleaning, and sometimes even dog walking and dog sitting services.

Having recently opened an office in Ottawa, the agency is now the sole babysitter provider for the prestigious Chateau Laurier hotel there. Zeldin recalls one night where she staffed 11 babysitters for a wedding. She even provided a sitter for a person whose dog needed to be walked and played with.

Working from her Bathurst and Lawrence office, Zeldin draws from a database of thousands of caregivers and typically fields 40 or so calls a day from people looking for work. She conducts 10 or 15 interviews a day and says she gets to know the people she places.

She plans to market the book, which will sell for under $10, not just to clients looking for babysitting services but also as part of a gift package for harried parents.

Many people call and order gift certificates to be redeemed for sitting services, she says.

“Sometimes parents need a night out.”

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Nov 1 2010 12:25 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto