Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Babysitter

Thou-Shalt-Not-Covet-Thy-Neighbor's-Sitter

Our subdivision participates in the Nextdoor website. For those unfamiliar, Nextdoor is self-described as “a private social network for your neighborhood.” Recent posts have included requests for recommendations for a lawn service and a handyman, and photos of patio furniture for sale. And then this post caught my eye last Tuesday:

Anyone have a babysitter they would recommend?

This neighbor is either naive, brazen, or both. As I reread her post, the passive/aggressive voice in my head said, “Well bless your little heart, I hope you find a lovely babysitter. But it won’t be mine (insert evil, maniacal laugh here).”

Back Away From My Contacts

Over the last six years we have hired several sitters/nannies to pick up our girls from school, take them to activities, and stay with them until either my husband or I get home from work. We pay them generously and are flexible with their schedules. We want to keep them happy because their job is to take care of the two most important people in our world.

We once had a stalker neighbor try to poach our sitter by approaching her while she and our girls were walking from the car into our house after school. Our sitter explained that her schedule was full, but even that direct “no” did not deter her. Stalker neighbor rang our doorbell one night after 8pm, explaining that she and her husband desperately needed a night out and asking us to give her our sitter’s number. Prior to this weird visit, our only contact with her was an occasional wave from driveway to driveway. My husband, always my better and more rational half, wrote down her email and told her that we’d pass it along to our sitter (Oops, I think I forgot to do that…).

If you’re still reading, you may be thinking – hey, she’s your sitter, not your indentured servant. True. I’d be a little less manically possessive of our sitters if everyone followed my personal Moms Code (and if everyone followed my personal Moms Code, the whole world would be a better place – but that’s a subject for another blog).

I’m not opposed to helping out a sitter-needing-friend on occasion as long as she’s a close, trusted friend (and not a stranger on the Nextdoor website). I don’t mind asking the high school girls that occasionally sit for us if they are interested in sitting for a friend. But I am understandable protective of my everyday sitter/nanny’s time. She keeps our precariously balanced schedule afloat. We pay our sitter on those rare occasions when we cancel. Her time is valuable and we want to keep her happy!

I’ve heard horror stories about moms who have shared their sitter’s contact information with a “friend” in a jam, only to have that “friend” book the sitter for that night and also for New Year’s Eve (“oh, I had no idea YOU would be going to a party on New Year’s Eve, so sorry!”).

To the mom with the brand new baby reading this and thinking “wow, she’s cold, really cold,” just you wait until you’re burned by that sweet-talking-Starbucks-sipping mom who you met at the playgroup. Just you wait.

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Post Script:  Since it is the season of giving, here are my suggestions on the best ways to find a sitter of your own. Almost all of our sitters (both occasional and full-time) are teachers or day care providers. I’ve had the most success asking my daughters’ daycare and school for suggestions, and by posting a detailed request on Facebook asking friends for leads. It helps that I have a lot of friends who are teachers. I have friends who have had success with local college websites and sitter agencies.

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