What to do when you want a reliable, responsible babysitter … but dread the hit or miss process of finding one? Believe it or not, you can call Charly’s Angels! Mary Petiet delivers the scoop on how Charly Cares can come to your rescue.
Divine Intervention – On a Schedule!
Do you have a crazy work schedule and a busy social life? Are you ready for a date night, or maybe just a bit of me time? Every Mama has been there, and we all know a good sitter is hard to find, especially last minute in a new country. But all is not lost. Luckily, there is Charly Cares, a babysitting service with a convenient babysitting app connecting you to their pool of experienced and fully vetted local babysitters known as Charly’s Angels. You could almost call it Divine intervention.
“I tell everybody about Charly Cares. It’s so intense moving to another country with children, and it’s hard if you don’t have any way to go out as a couple. It’s hard to know who to trust,” said Holly Seddon, who moved to Amsterdam from England three years ago with her husband and four children. When she and her family engaged Charly Cares two years ago, they found a permanent solution to their babysitting problems.
Who Is Charly?
Charly Cares is the brainchild of 29-year-old Charly van der Straten, who came from the south of the Netherlands to study marketing and communications at the University of Amsterdam. The idea stemmed from a university assignment. “When I was 20 years old, I had an assignment to help people in the neighborhood with a service. I was babysitting and hearing the mothers talk about the lack of reliable and flexible babysitters. This was in 2009, in the Beethovenstraat neighborhood of Oud Zuid. There were a lot of expat and international families, families with two working parents, and families where one parent had such a busy job that the care of the children fell to the other parent. They needed more support in addition to daycare and school, so I started a babysitting service called Pas Op,” Charly said.
Pas Op, which is Dutch for Look Out, enjoyed two years of success as a student venture and provided the training ground for the current Charly Cares. The venture was well received, but while Charly knew all the sitters because they were her friends and coordinated them by phone, she found it was not enough. “There was a gap between client needs and student needs for scheduling purposes, and I couldn’t completely control it as far as follow up calls. There was no consultation or review system, payroll was hard to track, and some households needed more than one sitter for flexibility,” she said. By 2012, she had graduated from University and accepted a new job at Robert Walters, a headhunting company in the WTC in Amsterdam. She put her client parents and her babysitters in direct contact and stopped the babysitting service to focus on her new job.
Only it wasn’t that simple. Every weekend, Charly’s voicemail box would fill with messages from parents seeking sitters, and at her new job, she was watching her colleagues struggle for childcare as well. “At Robert Walters I was in the middle of a culture of business people talking about how hard it is to find reliable babysitters, needing extra help, and wondering where to find it,” she said.
You have to be very careful with this type of service because you are taking care of someone’s most precious possession …
Clearly, the original demand remained, while a new technology had developed that might work the kinks out of the original business model. “I started looking at apps, such as Uber and Airbnb. What I liked most was you could give the customer more transparency and insight about the service they were booking through reviews and ratings from other customers,” she said. Coordinating through an app instead of via the phone also ensured an automatic banking system with payment possible at the press of a button, and filters to best match client need with an option to review and rate the service afterward. “I thought, there is nothing like this on the babysitting market. You have to be very careful with this type of service because you are taking care of someone’s most precious possession, but other apps showed me that with an app you can have more transparency and safety,” she said.
Charly’s first priority is always child safety, and all of her Angels are screened in person with an emphasis on babysitting experience, background, and motivation.
Charly’s Angels? Wasn’t That a TV Show?
These days Charly is back in the babysitting business full time. Her current venture, Charly Cares, spans eight Dutch cities and employs 6,000 babysitters known as Charly’s Angels. Charly’s first priority is always child safety, and all of her Angels are screened in person with an emphasis on babysitting experience, background, and motivation. Screenings are followed by a thorough reference check, and Angels are required to have a minimum of two years experience with children. Signing up for the App is easy, and while the family profile may seem to have a lot of questions, the information helps match the family to the perfect sitter in their own neighborhood. Clients are also able to schedule and communicate with their sitter through the app, can leave a review of their experience, and read reviews from other parents. “We know parents have doubts and questions, and uncertainties. We will call you after you register to offer more information, and you can meet your Angel beforehand to build a relationship. Eventually, parents build up their Angel pool to ensure they have sitters for every possible situation,” Charly said.
Mamas like Holly Seddon remain delighted with the service. “We go with whomever is available. We have our favorites, but we are comfortable with it. I especially like how you don’t have to pay cash. It’s like Uber for babysitters,” she said. It actually is a bit like that old TV show. While the TV Charlie’s Angels saved the day solving crimes, Charly’s Angels in Amsterdam save the day helping out with the kids.
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Photo Credit: Babysitter with three kids – Charly Cares
Mary Petiet is an author, poet, and freelance writer. Her work is inspired by her native Cape Cod and her experiences in the Netherlands. The author of the recently released Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Difficult Times, Mary is also the founder of Sea Crow Press, a small independent imprint curating creative nonfiction and poetry to give her titles a home.