We’re expanding – Babysitters of London Husbands

Hello everyone

I wanted to share the exciting news of our latest service offering: Babysitters of London Husbands (BOHL). Find out more from our very official press release below. If you would like to book a sitter for your husband, please email Anna: acameron@bokac.co.uk.


BOKAC launches Babysitters of London Husbands

Following the company’s successful expansion to South London (Babysitters of Southwark), Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea have been carefully considering their next move. Taking into account a multitude of requests from clients – BOLH (pronounced Bol) has been born!

For minimum of three hours, a BOLH babysitter will be in charge of supervising your husband. Activities will include gardening, watching sports, cooking (lessons are provided for an additional fee), hunting for ‘lost’ items within eyesight and cleaning.

Founder, Anna Cameron says “The amount of wives and husbands needing time away from their husbands was astonishing. We decided to trial BOLH, not expecting it to be as successful as it was. The immediate feedback was so positive that we have decided to launch it on a long term basis. It may even overtake our traditional babysitting offering.”

Regular parent Kelly Whittles, Kensington, UK was one of the first to trial BOLH:

“The idea sounded a bit peculiar at first, but the thought of being able to go to my French class and gym without thinking of what Tim was up to was a bit of a blessing. Susie, our BOLH babysitter, was incredible. When I returned three hours later Tim was looking refreshed and fed; he even fed the children! We will definitely be using BOLH again.”


Top tips for seamless babysitting

BOKAC babysitters.png
You may have noticed that we have registered quite a few new babysitters this year, 15 to be exact. Not only are new families making use of our service but you are booking babysitters more often which is lovely to see! With this in mind, I thought I would put together my top 5 tips to make booking a babysitter as smooth as possible for you. We do also have an FAQs page and as always, myself or a member of the team will always be on hand to answer your questions. If there are aspects of the service that aren’t clear or if you think we could be doing something better, please do let me know.
Thank you for your support!


1. Timing is everything: Parents are able to book a babysitter up to 5 weeks in advance or with as little as 2 hours notice. For weekday evening appointments, you’ll often have a choice of babysitters within a few hours but for Friday or Saturday nights or day time appointments, we recommend loading a job request as soon as you know you will need a babysitter, since these are our busiest slots. It’s always worth loading a job request, even if it is last minute as availability can change or we sometimes have cancellations from parents.

2. Hedge your bets: We know that you will have your favourites or gravitate towards babysitters your children already know, which is completely understandable. However, to speed up the booking process, I recommend sending your requests out to all or as many babysitters as you feel comfortable with as this will save you having to cancel and re-load the job request if your usual 2-3 babysitters aren’t free. There is never any obligation to book a babysitter who marks themselves as free but this way, you’ll be aware of the options available.

3. Free the inbox: If you are receiving too many notifications, you can adjust your email settings via your website profile so that you only hear from available babysitters.

4. Communicate: We have an internal messing system which can be accessed once a babysitter has been booked. Make use of this by finding the email booking confirmation and clicking the link that says ‘messaging system’. Alternatively, you can log into your website account, click ‘bookings’, find the relevant booking and click ‘manage job’ (blue button) and then ‘message your babysitter’. The internal messages are sent/received via email so you will know when your babysitter has replied and vice versa.

5. Move with the timings: If you book a babysitter you have not yet met and want the opportunity to get to know them or if you realise you would like to leave earlier/later or return earlier/later, you can adjust the start and end times via your website account. Log in, click ‘bookings’ (top right hand corner), find the booking and click ‘manage job’ (blue button), Click ‘need to adjust the times?’ (pink link at the top of the screen). Add/deduct time to adjust the appointment hours. A time change request will be sent to your babysitter and they will respond to say whether they accept/reject the time change, based on their schedule and if they are happy to work for more/less hours.
Please note: You will need to have credit on your account in order to request a time change as if the babysitter accepts, the appointment fee will automatically be adjusted. If you would like to reduce the length of the appointment less than 24 hours before the appointment is due to start, this would be subject to our cancellation policy of charging 50% for changes less than 24 hours before and 100% if cancelled less than 12 hours before. This is only applied to the time you wish to reduce the appointment by and is to protect our babysitters as they often accept appointments based on the hours they will work.

2016 monthly challenges (part 2)

So here we are, 15 days in to 2016 so Happy (sort-of) New Year everyone!

As an update on my monthly challenges part 1, I decided to swop the challenge for January (no TV) with February (write a diary everyday). Partly because I felt keeping a diary was a better challenge to start a new year with and partly (mostly) because there are some films out this month that I really want to see. I appreciate is perhaps not the most disciplined attitude to take but better to be honest!

I am so far enjoying writing and haven’t found it too much of an effort to do so each day, although I was hoping i’d unlock lots of profound thoughts and dreams and it’s mostly stuck to what I’ve been up to and the trivial things that are on my mind. I’m hoping this will evolve as the month goes on and it’s definitely something I would like to continue beyond January (not least because I bought some lovely notebooks that I would like to use!).

BOKAC notebooks

As for the rest of my year, here is what has been fixed so far.

July – Meditate every day for 30 minutes. I’m particularly looking forward to this one as I really struggle to focus for long or even short periods of time and often flit between multiple tasks at once, which is not productive. I would like to feel clearer headed and I think meditation would help. I’ll look into various apps and podcasts – I think the obvious choice is Headspace but if anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears!

August – Get in touch with someone who I haven’t spoken to for a while, everyday. This is another one i’m looking forward to, although I think I might struggle to think of 31 people that I haven’t been in touch with recently who I do want to get back in contact with…some friends from uni, colleagues from previous jobs and friends I made when I lived abroad spring to mind but I’ll have to decide whether I want to scrape the friendship barrel so to speak (and hope they don’t read this!) or perhaps i’ll combine this with another challenge.

September – December are still up in the air for various reasons but I would like part of this time to involve remote working (ideally in California), inspired by Josh who runs Stand4Socks (as a side note, their socks make great presents or just make you feel good about doing something charitable if you want to jazz up your sock collection).

If you have set yourself a challenge(s) for this year, or if you’ve started on some new year’s resolutions, i’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Planning ahead for 2016: monthly challenges (part 1)

Like most, I love the new year and that ‘fresh start’ feeling. I also love making resolutions and challenging myself to something new.

I was part of the 2015 cohort of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (incidentally, the best thing i’ve ever done, applications for the next cohort are now open so apply!) and I have been inspired by some other NEF alumni who have completed a series of 30 day challenges:

Mike: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2534558/Need-resolution-inspiration-This-man-completed-12-month-long-challenges-2013-including-kayaking-work-learning-sing.html

Greg: https://medium.com/the-30-day-challenge

I have therefore decided that 2016 will be the year of month long challenges. I appreciate the importance of moderation and agree that living a life stripped of guilty pleasures somewhat takes away the fun but these will be things that I would like to do less/more of and I think that focusing on each intensely for a month will help me on my way.

January – No TV. I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching TV, it’s one of my favourite ways to relax. This would be fine if I were watching documentaries or old classics but more often than not it’s Gogglebox (which I stand by as an excellent choice), Eastenders (less so) and Coronation Street (ditto). I also spend more time than I would like watching YouTube so in January, TV/cinema/Netflix/YouTube are banned!

February – Write a diary everyday. I was an avid diary writer up until about the age of 21. I still find the process of writing down my thoughts (usually in list form) very therapeutic but i’d love to return to keeping a diary and documenting what’s going on in my life. To me, the small things are the most important and it’s often those small things that I forget!

March – Wake up at 6am. I am a morning person but one of my biggest personal gripes is that I can’t wake up before 7am. Everyday I set my alarm for 6am and everyday I re-set it for an hour later. There is endless research on how waking up early is great for productivity, creativity and general happiness and man oh man do I want those things! This will include weekends which, granted, is a bit mental but i’m sure my readers with young children would find a 6am Sunday start totally normal!

April – No meat. My sister is vegan and while I am not planning on heading that way, I am conscious of how much meat I eat and the effect it’s having on the environment and my body. I do consider myself an animal lover and while I think eating meat is a natural part of being human, I disagree strongly with mass meat production.

May – No alcohol or chocolate. I’m not a big drinker so I thought I would combine this with cutting out one of the great loves of my life – 70% dark chocolate. This is more a test of character since my chocolate intake is also not crazily high but I absolutely love it!

June – 30 day yoga challenge. I have heard great things about Adriene (luckily this will fall on a month where I can watch YouTube) and I also have a friend who is an excellent yoga teacher http://www.sophieyogalondon.com/ so I will be combining the two to complete some (it may be 15mins some days and 1 hour on others) yoga every day.

Stay tuned for part 2 and my challenges from July-December. If you have any suggestions or if you’re keen to do something similar, please let me know!

Life lessons from a 13 year old

I have never underestimated how much us ‘adults’ (I use that term loosely as most of the time I still feel like a child) can learn from children. Their way of viewing the world through uninfluenced eyes is always remarkable and I was reminded of this during a recent babysitting appointment.

I was babysitting for one of BOKAC’s first families who have a 9 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. I was chatting to their son about exams and how he feels about them having recently completed his 13+ and now that GCSE’s weren’t too far away.

I used to HATE exams. To the extent that I would cry myself to sleep before a class test, because I was so worried about it. I was always a hard worker but the format and process of an exam would send me into turmoil. Even now, I count my lucky stars that exams are over and I will (hopefully) never have to take one again.

I obviously didn’t relay this to their son and just said that they were never my strong point. His reply was that actually, he enjoyed exams because it meant there was something tangible to work towards and whatever the outcome, there was always a sense of satisfaction having done it. Even if you didn’t do as well as you hoped, you could still feel proud of the preparation you went through beforehand and know that you had achieved something by completing the task (these were pretty much his exact words, although I wasn’t writing them down!).

I was so impressed by his mature, wise and grounded attitude and it has been on my mind all day. We always focus on the result, without stopping to congratulate ourselves for the work we are putting in to get there or appreciating how much we’re learning on the way.

This lesson is paraphrased in lots of different ways but to hear it from someone relatively young and specifically related to exams, which I had always bookmarked as a topic I had nothing positive to say about (except that they’re over) made me see it with fresh eyes.

This conversation is yet another reason why I love running Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea (and now Babysitters of Southwark too!) so much.

What are some of the life lessons that you’ve learnt from children?

Something a little different: How to interview well

This is something a little different to previous posts which have mostly centred around my experience in running and growing a business. However, it is a topic that I come up against on a weekly basis and relates directly to BOKAC so I thought I would discuss it (plus, you don’t really have a choice over what I write, although now i’ve semi-warned you on the subject you can of course click away!).

The BOKAC registration process has been deliberately designed to make sure we only register babysitters who are experienced, intelligent, reliable and efficient. It isn’t overly complicated but over 40% of applicants fall at the first hurdle by not reading the registration requirements fully and not completing the forms in a timely manner. This lack of attention to detail is a red flag and I am never sorry to thank that 40% politely for their time.

Tip 1: If you’re filling out an application form, read the instructions carefully. If the company requests two references, don’t just send one. If they also ask for your NI number, don’t just send the references.

Tip 2: Also, don’t take more than a week to respond and if something is holding you up, take the time to email/call the company to give them an update. It shows that you care and appreciate their time.

If applicants reach the next stage, we meet to discuss their childcare experience in detail. The meetings are not overly formal but interview situations often make people feel uneasy so I try and create a friendly atmosphere by first explaining the background to BOKAC and then ask if they have taken a look at our website. More times than I would like, the reply is “Actually no, I haven’t” or “I had a quick look when I applied but not really”.

Tip 3: Always do your research on the company you are interviewing with. At a basic level, familiarise yourself with their website but also take a look at any recent articles or their social media channels. It is imperative that you take a genuine interest in the opportunity up for discussion. If you’re not really interested, don’t bother applying!

After I finish telling each applicant a little about BOKAC, I then begin with an easy question “Why do you want to join as a babysitter” or “Why do you enjoy babysitting?”. Now i’m not naive enough to think that childcare is the be all and end all for all of our sitter’s. What often makes them fantastic babysitters is their interests, extra-curricular activities and their growing careers. I know that they are babysitting in order to earn some money in a flexible way but should that be the only reason? No! Unless I hear genuine enthusiasm for spending time in the company of children then there is no way they’re going to make it through. You can tell immediately if an applicant truly enjoys looking after children – their eyes light up and there is always a funny or sweet story to share. They use the names of the children they have looked after and can describe in detail the fun activities they have carried out together and what their roles as a babysitter have entailed.

Tip 4: Don’t apply for a job unless you like the sound of the company and your role within it, as well as the conditions of the job. Your interviewer will want to hear your enthusiasm just as much as your previous experience. It counts for a lot, and is make or break with BOKAC!

Luckily i've never met someone with anything as horrifying as bad table manners...

Luckily i’ve never met someone with anything as horrifying as bad table manners!

So if you have ever wondered why BOKAC has only a limited number of babysitters on the books (most agencies have well over 100, some have thousands whereas we usually have 25-35) – this is why! We only take on babysitters who are experienced, listen to and follow instructions and who have a genuine interest in looking after children as well as an appreciation of BOKAC as a service.

Do you experience similar problems interviewing or perhaps you have had interesting experiences being interviewed yourself? I’d love to hear from you at acameron@bokac.co.uk

Stuck in a parent trap?

Calling all weary Mothers and Fathers! Do you remember what your other half looks like? Do you have to introduce yourself to your friends when you see them? Is sleep the next great adventure?

Children are of course an integral part of families, but it’s become apparent that parenting responsibilities are limiting the equally important one-on-one couple time.

The truth is that your needs tend to take a back seat to the needs of their children. Parents spend time caring for their children, participating in children’s activities, assisting with school work, and playing games to name only a few. While spending time together as a family is crucial, it is equally important to spend time together, alone, with your partner.

But you needn’t live in fear of becoming yet another statistic, all you need do is set aside one evening a week as a couple. This time will boost your relationship which can only have a positive effect on family life overall. We appreciate that some people might find it contrived to pencil in these occasions but the reality is, not doing so will mean the precious time gets taken up elsewhere.

Even the Obama’s recently went public on their date night habit, admitting that they like nothing more than an old-fashioned date. They dress up, they make an effort and they engage with each other. It’s about keeping the romance alive and quite frankly if they are doing it in The White House maybe we should all consider it.

Now we are by no means saying that you should be waltzing into the moonlight or spending evenings reciting your wedding vows. Simply do something you both enjoy – together. Whether it’s a weekend away, going out for a meal, a trip to the theatre, or just going out for coffee, don’t underestimate the importance of spending time away from your children.