For parents and college-age sitters, Juggle is a game-changer.
By Beth Peterson
If you’re a mom or dad whose kids are finally old enough to be home alone or babysit their siblings, congratulations. You have arrived. Now, do yourself a favor: Turn the page and move along to the next article. This next bit is going to make you pea-green with envy for Raleigh-area moms currently raising younger kids.
Readers with small children, this is for you: The mad scramble for safe, reliable, friend-recommended babysitting could be over for good. New to the Raleigh area, Juggle is one of those rare, new parenting ‘things’ that makes a seasoned mama shake her head and think, “If only that had been around when my kids were small.” Except Juggle is less of a “thing,” and more of an idea. In fact, it is the brilliant idea of four Columbus, Ohio, moms who put their heads together to come up with a better way to handle childcare needs.
It has been called the Uber for babysitting, and it is a game-changer. Like many care web-sites and apps, once you download the Juggle app to your phone, you have access to a slew of babysitters in your area. And like those other websites, you can either post jobs or browse available sitters for the childcare help you need.
But Juggle doesn’t simply connect busy moms to available sitters. The app begins with a core team of sitters who have been recruited on local college campuses—a network of background-checked (primarily college-age, female) babysitters is created in each area. After a comprehensive vetting process, the sitters are hand-selected to become part of the Juggle team, and each must attend a webinar-style training. Once this core team is established, the Juggle network expands by word-of-mouth, so the pool of sitters is always growing. Parents can view sitters’ profiles, read reviews, and see whether any of their friends have employed any given sitter. Furthermore, Juggle employs a local “Mom Boss” to manage relationships between sitters and families. The sitters and the families who hire them are cross-reviewed, meaning families can leave reviews for sitters, and sitters can also review families.
“I was introduced [to Juggle] a year ago,” says Raleigh-area mom, Julie. “It’s been a saving grace. I have a son and a golden retriever, so I needed someone comfortable with children and dogs.” Another busy mom, Allison, says she was a little nervous the first time she used the app, but her fears were relieved upon seeing which sitters were recommended by her own friends. In Allison’s experience, the Juggle sitter she hired not only watched her two active boys, but also taught them to play lacrosse. Both Julie and Allison found sitters through Juggle who became regular, beloved fixtures in the lives of their children. Both moms have the option, when using Juggle, to specify exactly what other type of help they might need—anything from household chores and errands to gift wrapping and assistance with parties.
Ella, a Juggle sitter in her junior year at N.C. State University, was recruited by her freshman-year roommate. Through Juggle, Ella is able to babysit as much or as little as her school schedule allows, and she says, “I have one family that I just love.” On top of the regular hours this family books with her each week, Ella has become a recruiter herself, helping to facilitate Juggle’s expansion into the Winston-Salem area.
When asked what it is about Juggle that sets it apart from other care websites, cofounder Emily Coleman raves about the sitters themselves. The decision to focus recruiting efforts on primarily female college students has resulted in consistently reliable, energetic, and engaged caregivers. Emily also cites the safety for users on both ends of the app—moms and sitters. The fact that families must have a referral code in order to use the app safeguards against false family profiles, thus protecting the sitters, and moms can see which sitters have been hired by people they know and trust.
Emily laughs about the improbability of herself and three other “moms with no tech experience making an app.” But it’s really no surprise to learn that a parenting app as helpful as Juggle was created by moms, for moms.
Editor’s note: Last names have been omitted from sitters and families at their request.