Recipe for a great babysitter?

Mary Jenner scoured the lists of babysitters and nannies on Craigslist, but it wasn’t until she ran across the advertisement for MommyMixer that she hit the babysitter version of the jackpot.

MommyMixer, which recently expanded from Texas to the Chicago area, brings together college-age women and parents in an evening similar to speed dating for babysitters.

“You can actually see and talk to the person, and you get their resumes, so (in one night) you meet 20 or 30 babysitters,” says Jenner, a Chicago mom of four."It was so nice to see personalities and see if they mesh with my personality and my kids’ personalities.”

MommyMixer was started in Austin, Texas, in 2003 by Mary Sullivan Cooper. The mom of three decided that bringing together college students looking for babysitting jobs with moms looking for a sitter would be a win-win situation for everyone. And holding the mixers in retail or art venues meant that in addition to finding a sitter, moms could get a much-needed night out.

MommyMixer works by recruiting at local colleges, where potential babysitters are then asked to fill out free online forms about themselves and to attend the mixer. Parents also register online, for a fee of $100, to attend the mixer, meet the sitters and leave with a book of babysitter resumes.

Parents are asked to contact the sitter after the meeting and to perform their own screening and reference check."I don’t want to give parents a false sense of security—I don’t want to say they’ll be screened—I want that to be mom and dad’s job,” Cooper says.

For Jenner, it only took one MommyMixer to find two babysitters. Jenner’s goal was to find time to spend with her older kids, ages 12 and 10, while the sitter watched her 1- and 2-year-olds. Thanks to her sitters, she now has time to take a tap dance class with her 12-year-old"and it’s nice to date my husband once in a while too,” she says with a laugh.

For more information and to find the date of the next scheduled mixer, visit www.mommymixer.com.

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