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Virtual Babysitting Service Takes Off During Coronavirus Pandemic

BROOKLINE (CBS) - For many parents with young children, stay-at-home orders during this coronavirus pandemic have been especially difficult. It can be hard to get a break when you can rarely leave the house, and can't have anybody over to babysit.

A Brookline mother's creation is now helping families in the age of social distancing. Stephanie Africk started Sitterstream. It's a virtual babysitting service that matches families with sitters – in totally different places.

"It just popped in my head," the mom of four said. "We're going to do babysitting on demand, through Facetime and Zoom."

How does it work? You book a 30-minute session for $15 or 60-minute session for $22, tell them a little about your child, and let the company match a sitter to your needs.

"We have a pediatric dental hygienist. We have a bi-lingual occupational therapist. We have college kids. Everyone is 18 plus," Africk said. "You can get a babysitter at any time, up to an hour before."

Because these are virtual sitting sessions, parents obviously have to remain at home. But it provides a break, and a chance to get some things done around the house.

Sitterstream virtual babysitter
Sitterstream connects families with virtual babysitters. (WBZ-TV)

"You're in the house, you can go in the other room," Africk explained. "The babysitter always says hello to the parent and introduces themself."

In just a few weeks the company has really taken off, with clients locally, and from as far away as Kyoto, Japan, and dozens of sitters.

Mom of three Emily Farren Wieczorek said Sitterstream has provided her a much needed opportunity to breathe.

"Take a shower and do my hair, or things that just make you feel normal," she listed. "Or maybe I'm cleaning up the house or throwing in a load of laundry."

"It feels very futuristic to me but it's great and it's a hugely valuable service."

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