By Lynn Perkins - CEO & Co-Founder, UrbanSitter - Huffington Post

If you haven’t yet tried a “mitter,” a.k.a. a male babysitter, you might be missing out on valuable childcare and a refreshing change of pace for your kids. Although babysitting has come to be viewed as a female-dominated domain, there’s no reason to think that women will take better care of your kids than men. Whether you’ve never given it much thought or need some convincing, it’s worth letting go of any bias you may have for female sitters and consider the compelling reasons to hire a man to care for your kids:

#1: It brings diversity to your child’s life and allows you to do your part to break down gender biases.
It’s wonderful to bring your kids new perspectives. Hiring only female sitters implicitly tells children that it’s women who are nurturing. Hiring a male sitter helps to show your kids that it’s not just women who take care of children. Kids need to see men as loving, capable and responsible care givers as often as possible.

“When I first started babysitting, I personally felt a bit different being a male and wondering how parents would respond to that,” said Günter Ryan Lugo, age 21, a pre-med student and a popular sitter on UrbanSitter. “There shouldn’t be any stigma attached to being a male babysitter. As long as you look clean and professional, provide quality care, safety and loads of fun for their kids, parents won’t have any doubts when they leave for their day or night out. There is nothing a female can do that I can’t do.”

#2: They bring a different style of play.
Yes, it can sound sexist, but men tend to bring a different kind of play to the job. Of course, many female babysitters are comfortable rough housing, playing in the dirt and assisting with batting practice, but a man relates to these activities in a way that is often different from women. Many families who have hired male sitters, especially those with little boys, say their kids enjoy the active and outdoor play that male sitters often provide.

“After establishing myself as a babysitter in San Francisco, parents in the community quickly came to find out that their little son would prefer a ‘big brother’ figure any day over a female sitter,” said Gunter. “I can flatter a girl’s world by playing prince/princess or entertain a little boy by wrestling for hours.”

#3: It’s an opportunity to provide your kids with a valuable male role model.
It’s often thought that single moms are the ones seeking mitters and mannies (male nannies), but it’s not just kids from single-parent homes who benefit from spending time with a male sitter. What kid couldn’t use a fun-loving, warm, responsible male to look up to? Can you they ever have too many solid role models?

I predict that hiring male sitters will become more common as parents start to see the value they bring to their families and more men become interested in babysitting. At UrbanSitter, we have seen an increase in the number of male sitter profiles in the last few years. Many of them are students looking to support their education and with the cost of college continuing to rise, we’re likely to see more men turning to babysitting jobs for extra income.

Regardless of whether you choose a male or female sitter, finding the right caregiver for your family depends on doing your homework. Before hiring anyone to babysit your children, carefully review candidates, check references and interview them to make sure you have a good rapport and sense of trust. It’s just as important that you find someone who your kids like, too.

May 6, 2014

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