I bet you'd already discovered it. Well, I only got there now: using Skype as a babysitter. Or rather, using the grandparents - who live outside of Italy - as babysitters via Skype video.
At the end of our ritual Sunday chat - in which our daughter recounts her adventures at this playground or that birthday party, and I start figuring out what to make for dinner - I had a brainwave. "Grandma, why don't you read Paddington Bear to your grand-daughter while I prepare dinner?"
Well, what do you know ... I managed to whip up virtually the entire meal (ok, it wasn't five courses, but it was nevertheless most respectable!) undisturbed. As I rinsed and chopped vegetables, I could hear the story of the curious little British bear, with his penchant for marmalade sandwiches, loud and clear...
Every now and then, I'd cast an eye next door and see the toddler sitting before the computer, chuckling wildly as her (notoriously technophobic) Swiss grandmother made valiant attempts at showing her the illustrations from Michael Bond's storybook. The more she tipped and twisted the page, the more it went out of focus and showed a giant swirly white blur!
"But I'm in Rome, Grandma, I can't see Paddington," the little one was trying to explain.
Then, when she'd finally had enough of being Skypesat, she hugged the computer screen, sent it kisses and clambered into her highchair ready for dinner. As it were all perfectly normal.
Sure it's not normal for a kid (or anyone else for that matter) to interact with a computer screen. And, sure it's not a replacement for the warmth of a grandparent's physical presence.
But what a find! And no babysitting fee.