Babysitter Poaching: It’s Real

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!


7 thoughts on “Babysitter Poaching: It’s Real

  1. I’ve had great luck with Sitter City and have shared babysitters with friends of mine, although it’s only ever come up when their regular sitter is unavailable. So maybe I felt comfortable doing it b/c it was more of a one-time thing? I think it would mainly depend on the person who’s asking – some people I feel would have no problem poaching a sitter, so I prob wouldn’t share mine, but there are many others who I know would respect the relationship and so I’d want to help them out. Glad you found a solution!


  2. Our babysitter is super popular in town – she’s a preschool teacher and dance teacher – so many families know her and use her. But we mostly go out on Thursday nights so we havent run into too many conflicts. When we need a weekend, we just know to tell her waaaaayyyy in advance. Its worth it to have the piece of mind a great sitter brings.


  3. Would you believe we still haven’t used a babysitter? Yeah, we really suck at getting out and having alone time but we recently vowed to do it more. We are fortunate in that there’s a teenager that lives directly across the street from us so when the time comes, we’ll probably just ask her. Hopefully that won’t upset any other mamas she’s already helping out ;-P


  4. I recently referred a sitter to a friend. I don’t have a problem doing that, but maybe that’s because we rarely get out and rarely use a babysitter – boo 🙂 Maybe this is different as your kids get a little bit older. We also have quite a few babysitters available as several of the daycare teachers can babysit for us.


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