I know it sounds cliché already, but it’s true that some good things are coming out of the Corona crisis. For one, I’ve gotten to know Galit Bauer, one of two Israeli founders (the other being Ela Slutski) of a babysitting booking service called “Holiday Sitters,” which I learned about from a “Mommy Café” near my house that books her sitters. I had no idea that the founders were Israeli until I booked a babysitter for the first time in Berlin (because my “regular” got sick—before Corona hit). I got a “Whatsapp” from Galit letting me know that the babysitter I chose wasn’t available but that she’d send someone else.
I admit, knowing the founder was Israeli and talking Hebrew added to my trust of this service. Galit now lives in Amsterdam, where she started the business, with her husband and two children. Since then she’s expanded to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, the Hague, Rotterdam, Dublin, and Vienna. From the moment she called me, we’ve been in touch because, as a single mom, I need some TLC, which she was happy to provide, She said she doesn’t think there is anything particularly Israeli about the business, but her improvisation skills, dedication, and out-of-the-box thinking are typical for Israeli start-ups.
Then Corona hit, and we started crying together. I couldn’t manage all day alone with my adorable 8-month-old daughter and stay sane. Also, I still had work, fortunately, writing about Corona in Europe. Galit was there to personally set me up with babysitters (with her special Corona discount). Talk about customer service!
I said I needed help in the kitchen, and she sent Gem, who made a killer pasta bolognese. Malen, who had to leave Berlin for her homeland Argentina because the restaurant where she worked closed down, took loving care of Hanna while I worked. And then, of course, there is the multi-talented Nana, a film student who contributed her camera skills to my Corona Blues music video. A cameraperson and babysitter in one? Galit will find them!
Hopefully this “Corona Blues” music video captures what we moms are going through when schools are closed, when we’re alone in the house. It’s not easy. In fact, this situation is not tenable, and it would be much less tenable without Holiday Sitters. I hope our leaders find a way to turn this around—and fast. Otherwise, the Corona Blues will kill us….
Here’s a short interview I conducted with Galit. Contact her via the e-mail on the website. She’ll get back to you right away!
How and why did you start your business? What’s “Israeli” about it?
Holiday Sitters idea was born on the beach in Mexico as my simple request for some adult time which wasn’t possible due to the lack of the proper child care. It ignited the idea of what will be the perfect solution, and that’s how Holiday Sitters was born.
How have you adjusted your business in these Corona times? How do you normally vet sitters and what special precautions are you taking?
We’ve adjusted our business by adding an another level of safety and security to the process we already have in place. Our normal vetting process is very thorough. We starts with online application, check references and finally have a personal interview. Only then to we upload them to the platform. They also all hold a First-Aid certificate.
As for Corona, we made sure, as much as possible, that they are healthy and have absolutely no symptoms of any illness. We have also checked that they have not travelled in the last two weeks and practice the general guidelines for social distancing.
What is some advice you can give to mothers who are forced to now be stay-at-home moms?
Our advice is: Get help! There’s nothing more frustrating than the feeling that you need to do it all alone. It’s understandable that people might be cautious about letting people into the house right now, but the babysitter can also take kids outside, while parents can catch up on work or rest or anything else. That’s why we are still open and offering this much needed help while making sure that all the regulations are kept.
Did you see a spike in bookings?
No, we don’t see a spike in bookings. I think the situation is still very new and unstable; people need to get used to it and trust it before they will do anything else.
What extra services do we cover during the Corona crises?
We are now busy creating live video workshops for kids, offered by our talented sitters, which will be offered in coming days. These include a juggling workshop, a puppet show, a ballet class, and a music workshop– all done in a fun and entertaining way.
We want to be extra flexible for the parents as well.
Why don’t you offer this in Israel, too, and only in Europe?
We don’t rule out Israel, but right now we are focusing on Europe simply because we live in Europe and there are many options for us here. Israel is very close to our hearts and I am sure we will open Holiday Sitters there in the near future.