Ask your friends for a referral for a pediatrician, a realtor, or a mechanic and you’re bound to get a slew of recommendations. Ask friends for the number of a great Saturday night babysitter and the only thing you’re likely to hear is the sound of crickets. In my decade of parenting, it seems that finding a good sitter is equivalent to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack…and when you do find one, people hold on to him or her at all costs.
We’ve been pretty lucky with babysitters; when my son was an infant and I went back to work, we had a family friend who happened to be looking for part-time work. That worked out for a few years, until he went to pre-school and our need for a sitter was reduced to the occasional date-night with the hubs. Fortunately, we had a few teenagers in our neighborhood who were eager to earn a little pocket-money, but little by little, those teens went off to college and we were once again in need of an occasional sitter. I figured that I would ask around…first my neighbors, then some of the other moms at school – certainly there had to be someone with a niece or cousin that would want to babysit an easygoing, only child that went to bed by 8pm? Nothing….
Puzzled that not one person could refer any sitters, I asked an acquaintance if she was having trouble finding babysitters too. And then she let me in on the dirty little secret…no one likes to share sitters.
“What if I gave you my sitter’s number and you booked her for the night and then I needed her?” she told me. “I’d be annoyed that you booked her and then I’d have to find someone else.”
Well, that was an eye opener.
Then I asked how she found her babysitter – “Oh, she was a nanny for another family. Suzie* used to have playdates there and we started talking and she told me that she does some babysitting on the side,” she confided. (*name changed to protect the innocent)
I understood immediately. She thought that I would poach her sitter – and I was shocked. Isn’t it all supposed to be about sisterhood and “it takes a village…” and all that? Apparently, not when it comes to babysitters – then the gloves are off.
Knowing that I would probably not get too much help from the mom squad, I asked some of my son’s teachers if they knew anyone – turns out, one had three daughters ranging from middle school through high school…and they LOVED babysitting. The trio of girls was a life saver – if one had plans, another sister was there for back-up. But now, they too are growing up and busy with school and friends and all that comes with teenage life…so now I’m on the hunt for a new babysitter…got any recommendations?
Do you have trouble finding reliable babysitters? Do you share your sitters with friends? Are you concerned that someone will poach your sitter? Let me know in the comments!