The babysitters who want to look after your sick kids

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 Photo: Getty Images

Hands up if this scenario sounds familiar. Your little one has woken up with a temperature and a nose running for Australia. You and your partner have had the "whose day is busier" conversation, only to realise that neither of you can afford to miss work.

With no family nearby to help out, what on earth are you supposed to do?

Enter Sick Sit, a babysitting service designed for this very purpose - taking care of your sick little ones when they can't go to school and you can't stay home. 

Billed as your "on call family", the aim of Sick Sit, which was founded by mother-of-two and Sunshine Coast breakfast radio announcer Jessie Eva is to ease the pressures faced by modern families who are trying to juggle it all. 

Currently in Maroochydore and launching in Brisbane this week, Ms Eva told Essential Kids that Sick Sit will expand in August to include both Sydney and Melbourne, so more families around the country can benefit from the sorely-needed support.

"It's an overlooked problem in today's society," Ms Eva says. "It's almost like we've evolutionised as a society when it comes to working families, but we haven't evolutionised when it comes to the support."

Having experienced the cycle of illness that comes from having little ones in childcare, it's something Ms Eva can empathise with.

"It's not the parents' fault - they just don't have another option," she says of mums and dads doing the "dose and dump". 

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But she knew there had to be a better solution.

Jessie Eva with son, Fred. Image: Supplied.

So how does Sick Sit work?

"1300 Sick Sit is open up until 9pm the night before and up until 8:30 the morning care is required. " Ms Eva notes, adding, "We will do everything in our power to make sure you get to work on time."

  • Standard service costs $200 per day for a maximum of 8.5 hours - and up to two children. Have more than two kids? It's an additional $20 for up to four little ones.
  • Individual hours cost $32 - for a minimum of one hour.

At this stage, parents are not able to claim any government rebates for the service.

While the carers' priority is looking after your sick kids, they'll also do some light housework - and even cook dinner!

All of the Sick Sit carers on her books have first aid certificates and blue cards, and most are mothers.

But it's not only sick kids who benefit from the service. If you've ever woken up with a pounding head and a runny nose, and wondered how on earth you were going to care for a baby and a toddler, you're not alone. Unfortunately, as we all know, mamas don't get sick days. So Sick Sit caters for unwell parents, too.

"There's nothing worse as a mum than when you're not feeling well and you have to look after the children," Ms Eva says.

The costs are the same ($200 for 8.5 hours or $32 per hour). And it's not just for mums and dads with the sniffles. 

"We had a mum who recently broke her ankle," Ms Eva says. "She has two young children and she just needed a day. She locked herself up in her bedroom and put on Netflix. Our Sick Sit carer brought her up lunch and took care of the kids."

And, having suffered from severe postnatal depression after the birth of her first baby, Ms Eva wants mums suffering from PND and anxiety to be able to reach out, too. "Sometimes you just need that time out," she says. "I could have really used this - I probably started this about 2.5 years too late."

As she expands her service into Sydney or Melbourne, Ms Eva is also on the lookout for "caring, loving mums," to join their tribe. "If you have a blue card and first aid certificate, get in contact," she says.

"If people often say, 'you're an amazing caring wonderful person - we want you.'"

Ms Eva is also hopeful her service will start a broader conversation.

"We'd really like the government to recognise that it is an issue that needs to be addressed in supporting parents going back to work," she says. "Sometimes, it's the difference between a mum - or a dad - taking a day off work and paying the rent at the end of the month."

While the idea of having someone come in to look after your little ones when you have to dash off to a meeting might sound good in theory, if you've ever found yourself trapped on the couch under a clingy toddler not wanting to leave his mama, in practice it might be a little more tricky.

In saying that, however, building our modern "villages", is no easy task and it's good to see more options available for busy mums trying to juggle work, life - and unexpected sniffles.