Oh how I love the Internet. It has, in turns, inspired, delighted, saddened and helped me. It has also enabled me to shop from the comfort of my sofa, which is probably not a good thing.
You can also use the web to find something that can be like gold dust - a babysitter or nanny. Now the children are, shall we say, more lively and Granny is, well, less lively, the time might have come to dip my toes in the water of Childcare. Frankly, this is a little scary.
But I've found a site that might be the one to help me. Not only does it offer sitters in my backwater but it has a section that promises to hold my hand through the murky waters of pay, duties and interviews.
The site, called findababysitter.com was easy for a childcare hunting novice like me to navigate which was a bit of a relief as my head was full thoughts about what I would and wouldn't find acceptable in a carer for my children.
It doesn't only help you find babysitters; child carers of all descriptions are represented from full-time, live-in nannies to au pairs and childminders.
The Frequently Asked Questions section of the site is thorough, with lots of advice about finding your sitter and how to keep yourself safe. It would never have occurred to me to request landline telephone numbers of two or three referees so this part of the site was useful and reassuring.
Now onto the fun bit - would I be able to find a babysitter prepared to come and look after my five children in our village?
I keyed in our location but there were no initial results so had to widen my search to within ten miles and a whole list emerged. However, only one was tagged as "able to drive to...." so I wasn't sure if all the others would be suitable. Did that mean they didn't have their own transport? Or they did but didn't want to travel up to ten miles?
However, I was getting carried away. The whole point was what I was looking for and there's a handy list of requirements which helps to filter out unsuitables at the first hurdle. First aid? Tick. CRB check? Tick. References? Tick. It brought up the girl (and they all seemed to be female) who was prepared to travel.
It listed her name, age, experience and a bit about herself. She came from a big family! Excellent! I always feel some people are daunted by the size of our family but obviously she wouldn't be.
There was also a handy chart showing you when the carer you're interested in could work. Alas, for me, she was not available Saturday evenings which would be when I'd want to employ her. Included in the blurb was vital information such as rates, what posts she could fill, age and number of years experience.
It was easy to change the type of sitter I was searching for, by now I was in the throes of working full-time fantasy, and it brought up quite a few within ten miles.
The site was simple to use, with handy advice and a number of people looking for work. My only gripe was the confusion about who was willing to travel to my village, information that people who don't live in large towns might find useful. Parents should also remember they need to check the CRB and references of any potential carers themselves.
To access the site fully costs £15 for 30 days which also allows you to post your vacancy and which didn't appear too pricey. Now I just have to access a more interesting social life....