Local business adapting to the times by offering virtual babysitting

BOSTON — Parents who are working from home, many also now homeschooling their children, say they at times need a break.

Mom Juliana Sylvia told Boston25 News she is among them.

“This is week six of quarantine for us we have three young boys ages 10, 8 ad 6 and it’s a bit crazy, I’m not going to lie,” Sylvia said.

Stephanie Africk of Boston agreed.

“Parents are working taking phone calls and they just need a moment to breathe too,” Africk said.

Social distancing means calling over the normal sitter isn’t an option, so Africk decided to provide virtual caretakers for children through a company called Sitter Stream.

She explained, “As soon as someone needs some help, whether it’s 30 or 60 minutes they send us a request.”

She said unlike a normal babysitter, someone does have to be in the home.

“Our policy is all caretakers, parents, whoever you’re in the house with has to be in the house with the child at all times. Can you take a work call? Yes, that’s what we want you to do. Can you step away and prep dinner? Yes. Can you go exercise in the room next door? Yes," said Africk.

The idea for the service came before the pandemic but they knew it was time to get it going now and have clients already around the world.

They do background checks on all their sitters and they also come from all over, from college students to professionals.

“So many people that now have jobs – it’s been amazing to see because they can’t leave the house so we’re putting jobs into their hands by letting them work directly from their home,” Africk said.

For Juliana Syvia, who lives in Minnesota, it’s allowing her to keep her fitness business afloat, but giving her time to work at home without distractions.

"Anything I could do to get my boys to sit for a little bit and work with someone and interact with someone via this new normal," she said.

Sylvia, who is known as “stringbeanmommy” on Instagram, is hosting a spin class on May 2 and teaming up with Sitter Stream to offer free childcare. They say it’s a good example of moms finding a way to work together in strange times.

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