I was the first of my local friends to have kids, so once they had babies of their own, they naturally asked me for babysitter recommendations. I was happy to share mine, on one condition. They had to check with me in the future before booking my regular sitters.
I know it sounds like I’m some kind of babysitter pimp, but it’s not that. I don’t “own” any babysitters, and I can’t control whose kids they watch. But, if you’ve ever texted your favorite sitter only to find out that she’s already committed to watching your friend’s kids, then you get where I’m going with this.
It takes effort to arrange a night away and it takes time to find a babysitter with whom you feel comfortable— and one who has flexible hours, who responds quickly to texts, and cleans up the house after the kids go to bed is practically a unicorn. Once you have that phone number saved in your contact list, it’s hard to share it. And when you do, your friends better appreciate just how generous you’re being.
All it takes is a simple text:
Friend: Hey! Are you using Babysitter next Saturday? I want to see if she’s available.
Me: Nope! Have fun!
I have been lucky so far. My girlfriends and I check in with each other on sitters we mutually use, but I have a friend who got so tired of her friends not touching base that she actually asked her babysitter to text her before accepting other babysitting jobs. That way, she always had first dibs on a date.
No Tag Alongs
Here’s another one that I kind of can’t believe I have to write. If your friend books a babysitter, don’t assume that the babysitter can also watch your kid.
I witnessed this happening last summer. We were out of town visiting friends, and they hired a babysitter — a high schooler who lived down the street — to watch our four kids so we adults could go out to dinner alone. Their neighbor popped over before we left to tell my friend that she asked the babysitter to also watch her kid and that he’d be coming over in an hour.
I wasn’t sure of the dynamic between my friend and her neighbor — maybe this is the norm for them — so I kept my mouth shut until she brought it up at dinner. She was irked, too. The neighbor hijacked the babysitter when all she needed to do was send a courteous text:
Friend: Hey! The hubs and I want to grab a happy hour drink. I know you have Babysitter coming over tonight. Do you mind if I drop off my son at your place for an hour so he can play with your kids while we go out? I’ll split the cost of that hour with you.
Me: They’ll love that! Let me double-check with the sitter to make sure she’s ok with it and to find out what her hourly rate will be for +1 child.
I’m not advocating that we all hoard our babysitting contacts. That’s not fair to the babysitters who are trying to earn money, and it’s not fair to each other. Sharing childcare contacts is a simple way to offer each other support, but let’s show respect for the research and vetting we’ve each done to cultivate our shortlist of sitters by being considerate of how we interact with referrals from friends. At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a break.
Have you had any awkward situations sharing babysitters? What guidelines would you add?