Why 89 Percent of Parents Had to Cancel Plans in the Last Six Months

What's keeping parents from getting a night out? A new survey reveals the multi-faceted reason behind so many missed dinners and date nights.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated April 17, 2023
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Image: Maria Sbytova | Shutterstock

You’ve looked forward to it all week—that weekend wedding celebrating old college friends, date night at your favorite restaurant or just a Friday night out with your girls. And then it happens. The nightmare many parents are all too familiar with, the babysitter cancels, or you can’t even find one in the first place.

According to a recent Babysitter Survey, 89 percent of parents report having to cancel or decline plans within the past six months due to the many challenges of finding a sitter. From missed work obligations to skipped date nights, the survey shows what’s at stake when parents can’t find quality care and what’s making the babysitter search so tricky.

The Babysitter Struggle

For many parents finding a babysitter has become more challenging than ever. While 62 percent say they begin their search at least a week in advance, currently, only a little over half of parents say they get time away from their children at least once a week. A number researchers say would increase to 63 percent if it were easier for them to find a babysitter.

And it’s not for lack of looking. Caregivers surveyed said they searched everywhere for sitters, from their online parenting groups (10 percent) to professional babysitting services (46 percent). More than a third (35 percent) said they had sought referrals from family and friends.

When browsing, parents ranked background checks (26 percent), experience (24 percent), and certifications (23 percent) as the most important credentials for a new sitter.

Babysitter Stealing is a Real Problem

While family and friends might seem like the best resource for finding a trusted babysitter, the survey shows that fears about babysitter theft may keep loved ones from sharing their go-to care providers. Twenty-eight percent of parents say they share their babysitter with family and friends, but more than 36 percent say they keep their sitter a secret.

The survey also found that these fears aren’t unfounded — it happens! Forty-one percent of parents say they’ve had a babysitter stolen from them, and 35 percent report having stolen a babysitter from friends or family.

Sitter Struggles Impact the Whole Family

A quality babysitter is essential for busy families. Not only do they provide vital supervision and care for kids, they also play an important role in parents’ mental health and relationships. Spending day-in and day-out caring for your kids can be a little taxing on your identity and your relationships.

According to the survey, lack of time alone has strained the relationship of 80 percent of parents, while 68 percent say periodic time away from their children improves their relationship with their partner.

What Can Be Done About Babysitter Struggles

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size fits all answer when it comes to solving sitter struggles. For those who find care unaffordable or inaccessible, giving the grandparents a call can often help in a pinch. A recent study shows that grandparents who babysat their grandchildren had mortality rates 37 percent lower than grandparents who did not.

But say family is unavailable, you can’t find a sitter on one of these sites or apps or perhaps your sitter was stolen. has also introduced a new on-demand feature for your last-minute needs. enables parents to book a vetted, experienced and available babysitter in as little as 15 minutes. Simply enter the day, time and zip code you need care for and sources local, background-checked sitters at the ready to instantaneously book; no back and forth.

Now get out there and enjoy your night!

To learn more about your childcare options and ways to help mitigate the rising cost of childcare for your family, check out The Bump’s Childcare Guide.

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