She Says… Babysitter Blunder

This past weekend Benjamin and I went out to celebrate my upcoming birthday (tomorrow!) with some friends. We thought we had everything figured out. We were planning on putting Owen to bed and then have our tenant, who lives on the 1st floor of our house and is an experienced babysitter, keep the baby monitor and be on baby duty. We have done this once before and it worked out perfectly. Our tenant can stay downstairs in her apartment with the baby monitor, and doesn’t have to give up her night to babysit. And since Owen started sleeping through the night over 2 months ago, he has NEVER woken up before midnight, so we can leave knowing pretty darn well that she isn’t going to need to do a thing while we’re gone.

As I said, we’ve done that scenario once before, but other than that, we really don’t have any experience with non-family babysitters. We just don’t go out very often. But we decided to make an exception and hit the town to celebrate my birthday.

That is, until Friday night, when our tenant/babysitter called to say that she had a funeral to go to in Connecticut and wouldn’t be able to watch Owen.

Obviously we can’t blame her for having to go to a funeral, of all things, and she probably had no idea that we really don’t know any other babysitters. So we were stuck asking ourselves, “How do people FIND babysitters?”. We talked about this some in my mom’s groups, and it sounds like a lot of people around here use websites like sittercity.com and care.com. I’ll be honest; it frustrates me to have to pay a website money in addition to paying the babysitter money. It’s like paying shipping costs when you order something online (another thing I hate) and feels like a waste of money.

When I was young and babysat a lot (sidenote here: I started working in the nursery at my church and babysitting at the ripe old age of 12. Would I let a 12 year old stay home alone with Owen now? Hellz no. Yet still, I think I was an incredibly responsible babysitter then…) I met all of my babysitting families through church. Or my parents. And now that Benjamin and I don’t go to church and ARE the parents, I don’t know where that leaves us.

I [frantically] asked my mom friends for babysitter recs and was surprised to find that many of them were extremely protective of their sitter’s information. “I’ll check with her and get back to you” (aka, “You can’t have her digits”) or “Ummm, yeah… I don’t think my sitter is around this weekend…” (aka, “You can’t have her digits”). Perhaps it’s the fact that most of the moms that I know either have family in the area or their babies are too young to have many sitters available. I don’t know. I still felt a little left in the lurch. Other people MUST go out more than we do. Right? RIGHT?! And it’s my BIRTHDAY.

I’m also in a Yahoo Group/email listserv for moms in Somerville and I remembered seeing some posts from people that said things like “My wonderful babysitter needs more work”, so I trolled through the archives and emailed/called everyone whose contact info I could find that was posted in the last 6 months. We went to bed on Friday disappointed, thinking that Benjamin was going to have to stay home from my birthday party, which would have been a huge bummer.

As it turned out, one of the people whose name I had found (along with a glowing recommendation from a mom who uses her) called me back on Saturday morning and we lined her up. So all was well with the world.

How do you find babysitters? And are you protective of his/her info once you find one?

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20 responses to “She Says… Babysitter Blunder

  1. I’ve never needed a babysitter, but having been a babysitter I think it’s interesting that people wouldn’t give you their babysitter’s number! I always had random people calling me because someone else gave them my number.

  2. I wish I could help, but we also have no baby sitters for our 6 month old other than my mom! She watches the baby 3 days per week as I work part time, so we never ask her to watch her on the weekends. So. . . . we never go out either.

  3. I, too, started babysitting at a young age–11!!–and can’t believe people actually left me with their kids. I know this can be extremely stressful–trust your gut and keep looking!

  4. I have experienced that too! I am lucky I have 2 babysitters on my street that are sisters who are great with JJ and another one who’s mother is my coworker and lives in town and has babysat other people’s kids I know. We live up in Tyngsboro though, no where near you guys. otherwise I would give you their info! My husband and I don’t have family nearby either that can watch our son, so we have always used a babysitter. Having said that its always when I go to work at 2:30pm 2 days a week at the hospital until my husband gets home. But with all these snowstorms it has been a lifesaver…….they just walk across the street in the snow, I don’t have to worry about them getting to and from our house. My husband and I don’t really go out much either, we should do it more. Maybe people at work know someone? Or you could ask the people who work the daycare. I have had friends not give up their babysitting info too. Good luck finding someone! Happy birthday tomorrow……..it happens to be my due date with baby #2, another boy, but I dont think I’ll have him for another week!

  5. I’ve never used a babysitter, but I’m surprised that people wouldn’t help you out!

    When I was a teenager, I took a babysitting course with CPR training. Maybe check and see if a class like that is available and lurk around and snag the fresh faced babysitters before someone else? 🙂

  6. First of all, I too was a babysitter, for many, many years. I remember people being very, very protective of me. They usually only passed me along when they moved away. I remember once a woman I worked for called asking me if another woman had called me. When I said yes, she assured me that the other woman would NOT be bothering me again. People are SUPER protective!

    As for us needing babysitters, we are so lucky to have both sets of grandparents in the area, and one set rarely has anything else to do. We have noticed though, that we tend to go out separately a lot more, because it is just so much easier than asking someone to watch Isa. That is kind of hard to get used to, but it’s the reality of it.

    I’m glad got to go out for your birthday! Happy birthday!

  7. I haven’t had to find one for our own baby yet (still 4 more weeks to cook!) but I would recommend a couple of things…
    1. any neighborhood kids? a plus about this is they can walk to your house and one of their parents may be home when they are sitting for you so is always nice to know they have someone to call with questions before calling you when you are out.
    2. call a local college/university and ask about names, sometimes there is a list OR post an add on a site at one of them
    Hope those ideas help some!

  8. How odd that people get so protective of babysitters! Really, what do they think you’re gonna do, book them every single weekend?
    As for us, we haven’t used a sitter for Lizzie yet. When the day comes, I’ll probably ask a church friend, or fly my mom out (haha, I wish!). Sorry I don’t have better ideas, that’s a tough one.
    Happy birthday tomorrow!

  9. i’m soooo incredibly lucky to have a million family members all living within 10 miles of us so we have babysitters on waiting lists. 😉 they BEG us to babysit so they can have Blaine time. i also know lots of teachers who employ former students / athletes of theirs to babysit (but i wouldnt do that until baby is over 1 yr old).

  10. ps happy birthday!!!!! 29??

  11. I haven’t needed one, yet. Between my parents, my grandparents, my sister, my in-laws, and my in-law grandparents we not only haven’t needed a baby sitter, sometimes they have to make ‘appointments’.

  12. I took a baby sitting class at age 9 and watched my sibling for my mom until age 10 when i started sitting for neighbors…I was left for 8 hours with a colic 2 week old! It is sooo crazy to think about now! However…I would use your daycare as a reference…I worked at one for 3 years in the toddler room and TONS of parents used us as their weekend sitters…it was a win win since their children knew us and some rules…just an idea

  13. Are there any local colleges or universities around? I would recommend being more specific – look into child development, occupational/physical therapy, social work, education departments. Most of these majors are very good with children and every college student is looking for extra money! When I was in undergrad, we would often get emails sent out by the department of families looking for sitters.

  14. I use Sitter City. My parents live kind of close but to be honest it’s nice to go out, come home, pay someone and then they leave. Paying for Sitter City was kind of annoying but I found 2 great babysitters and now I have their contact info and don’t need to go through the website. I would share their info but not with a lot of my Mom friends because I still want the babysitter to be available for me. Maybe that seems weird but I loveour sitters and don’t want to lose them!

  15. I’m super super super lucky to have loads of family nearby. I have four sisters, my mom, my mother in law and three sisters in law….I doubt I will ever need a baby sitter. I hope that you find a couple good and reliable sitters you can count on for the future!

  16. I am a nanny and have been for about 8 years now, the possessiveness is crazy! I worked for one family where there was a second nanny, when the mom’s best friend needed extra help in an emergency I offered to go over and help her out and my boss said no way and sent the other nanny over instead! Playgrounds in certain places become stalking grounds too, I can’t tell you how many times a parent comes running over after they hear one of the kids I care for call me by name instead of mom.

    I second the day care staff option, barring that Craigslist is a semi-decent free option for finding sitters. If you go that route I recommend you place a detailed ad, send the emails to a different email account then usual. After deleting all the “no way in hell” responses send back a list of questions for round two filtering, then set up camp in a Starbucks and schedule interviews during an afternoon. Call references and “hire” two or three so you have some options.

  17. We live hours away from family and were at a loss about babysitters as well. We ended up hiring one of my son’s fabulous teachers from his daycare. She was thrilled that we asked her to babysit and other teachers have also made it clear that they would definitely be available to do the same. So, I recommend checking with your daycare. Our current daycare requires the parent to sign a release form before a teacher is allowed to babysit, but it’s no big deal!

  18. I am lucky to know so many girls at my church who love to babysit!!! Even though you don’t go to church, I know you can find girls that way. I am LDS (aka mormon) and the girls in my ward ask me when they can babysit all the time! If you just find your local church, you can ask the young women leaders to recommend girls, and some will even do it free for service projects, etc.
    I also have a friend who met her babysitter at the gym daycare, that might be easier!
    Good luck!!!

  19. We don’t have any family nearby, and had no idea how to find a sitter, either. And like you, no one seemed to want to give us any recommendations! So we ended up using care.com. It is annoying to have to pay, but I just joined for one month, put up and ad and also sent messages to some sitters that looked good, and ended up with 3 great sitters. What we did was to go out 3 times, and use each one on different nights, so we’re comfortable with all 3 now. And I just cancelled my membership at the end of the month. The nice thing about those sites is that they do background checks and will even check references for you, so you do get something for your money.
    Glad it worked out for you this weekend, and Happy Birthday!!

  20. My 3.5 year old has been babysat 1 time by a worker from his part-time day-care. I have a friend w/ an in home day-care and vicious dog. I’m surprised that all our other friends leave their kiddos w/ her, along w/ her regular families. We don’t have family in state, don’t attend church. I can’t believe it’s legal for “responsible” kids to watch babies! My spouse and I don’t “go out”, ever, really. Once a year at Christmas and once in the summer, when visiting family. It is a huge sacrifice, but also a lot less expensive. We spend a great deal of time together though, in the house, renting Netflix. Someday our lives will resemble pre-baby days…someday!

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