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Finding the perfect babysitter New service offers chance to meet, greet

"It's like speed dating . . . only it's for parents and babysitters."

When Calderwood, a stay-at-home mom to four kids ranging in age from five to 17, read about Lullaby League in a mommy newsletter, she was intrigued and excited by the babysitting meeting service.

But when she went online to sign up for a mixer in Calgary, she realized the service was only available in Vancouver.

Not anymore.

Calderwood and her friend Christina Buhler brought Lullaby League to Calgary and area in the summer. The duo host monthly events called mixers, at "Mommy spots" around the city. Ten parents and 10 babysitters attend each event.

"We run it speed dating style," Buhler says.

After babysitters introduce themselves in an "American Idol shout out," parents pair up with a babysitter for a four-to five-minute mini-interview. A bell is rung and throughout the hour-long event parents rotate through all 10 babysitters.

Parents go home with a "Lullaby list," a bound booklet with the babysitter's names, references and phone numbers.

The monthly events are an opportunity for parents to find occasional babysitters, who are typically college-aged.

"They're a little bit more mature but still young enough to have fun and have the energy to spend quality time with the kids," says Calderwood. Older babysitters, including grandmas, have also attended past mixers.

Calderwood says most babysitters charge upwards of $10 an hour and the League is a great way for babysitters to make extra money on a casual basis. Babysitters can apply online and Buhler and Calderwood check references and choose the best 10 to come to the mixers.

Babysitter Amanda Wilson heard about the events through a friend and has been to four mixers. The 28-year-old is working on a degree in behavioural sciences and regularly babysits for eight families she met through Lullaby League.

Wilson says the mixers are a fun way to find out if babysitters and families click.

"Having somebody come in and look after your kids is a big deal," she says, "What they're doing is giving you the opportunity to connect and get a feel for people."

Both Calderwood and Buhler know firsthand how difficult it can be to find a good babysitter.

When Calderwood told Buhler about Lullaby League, she knew it would be a useful service.

"Not only would it be a good business venture, but it would help us find babysitters for ourselves," says Buhler with a laugh.

Buhler has four kids ranging in age from two to 10 and moved to Calgary, from Texas, 11 years ago.

"Even if you have one or two babysitters that you really love, depending on the time of the year, if both of them are busy then you're stuck," Buhler says.

While mixers are typically kid-free events, for the first time, children will be allowed at the next mixer, which takes place Feb. 29th at 7 p.m. at Coffee & S'Cream.


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