How would you handle a babysitter thief?

My wife has a whole cadre of babysitter’s that we use. Some she shares with a couple of close friends. But like any service that is in short supply, trusted babysitters are hard to come by and are a protected commodity.

The mother of one my daughter’s classmates emailed my wife and several other friends begging for a referral of a babysitter for one time use only for a much needed long overdue date night with her husband. My wife reluctantly shared the name of one of our regular babysitters to help her out.

My wife has now found out from talking to the babysitter, that the mother didn’t use our babysitter for the date night, but she still contacted our sitter about babysitting for them on various other nights.

I think the mother of my daughter’s friend behaved in a shady manner, by appealling for babysitting contacts for a one-time use, but will now use these contacts for future nights or times, when we might need them.

So what do you think, and should my wife say anything to the other mother about misusing the sharing of the sitter info.

I realize in the grand scheme of things this is really trivial, but it’s something else to discuss.

Seriously? You think you have some kind of exclusive rights to a list of babysitters? Dumbest thing I’ve heard today…and I have heard a lot of dumb things today. The kid probably needs/wants the work, and what she does when she is not working for you is her own business. The other mother likewise is free to contract for services with anyone she likes. Yeah the lying thing is annoying, but still…just get over it already.

Apparently that’s the Mom code. You don’t poach other people’s regular sitters. Crazy, but it’s how it works in suburbia.

I had to read the OP twice to realize it wasn’t about a babysitter who stole money or other property from you.

I live in suburbia too, and we don’t subscribe to any such code. If the other mother got the sitter to cancel a previous scheduled night with you by offering more money, yes, I could see a problem, but your wife wants to reserve the poor sitter’s entire future to herself? You may want to try talking her down from this position (and yes, I know how delicate that can be) before she finds the sitter’s never available for you anymore.

You’re being a little nutty. I can’t see anything “shady” about what the other mom did. You’re assuming she didn’t really need a sitter that night. But I’d guess what happened is that she got several different referrals, contacted them all, and hired the first one who responded. But since she now has these other referrals, why not use them? Back when I was babysitting, I depended on parents to refer me to others, and I sure would have been pissed off if I found out that someone was trying to keep me all to themselves. Girl needs to get paid, yo!

That said, if you really don’t want to divulge your sitters’ info, don’t. There’s a simple alternative - offer to sit yourselves. Especially if it’s a friend of your daughter’s, just say, “Hey, why don’t you send little Hortense to sleep over here, and you can have your date night, and then we’ll send Gertrude over some other weekend and you can return the favor.” That way, if someone else has the comeuppance to hire “your” sitter when you need her, you have a backup plan.

That way of doing business is denying the sitters potential income and that’s fucked up.

Of course the sitters are free to work for whoever they wish. We probably use a sitter about 3-4 times a week. Some sitters are only available during the day, some only at night, and some only on weekends. We try and pay a bit more than the going rate, so that our sitters are loyal to us. The problems normally comes on traditional holiday times, when everyone and their dogs are using sitters (Valentines Day, New Years Eve, certain Saturdays during football season, etc.) Then finding a sitter becomes very difficult. My wife normally combats that by booking one in advance, but they are people too and things come up and they will cancel from time to time on short notice. That means having your list of regular sitters that you can count on being really important. So sharing your list with others for them to pick from lessens your opportunity having your sitter available. And yes I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping your preferred suppliers away from your competition, that type of thing goes on everyday in the business world.

It’s trivial even in the trivial scheme of things.

Because the mother also knows the mom code, and promised it was for a one time use only.

If its not a friend let it go, she already knows what she did.

I would have just shared the name myself, I dont really agree with the idea of hoarding babysitters either.


It’s not my business to make sure the sitter is fully booked, that’s her job.

“Regular” … but you said in the OP you have “a whole cadre.” Does not compute. Do you ever, I dunno, see your own kids? Work an 80-hour week? I can’t quite make the two pieces fit otherwise.

Please inform your wife that she is doing her cadre, each and every one of them, an enormous disservice. If they knew what she was doing, they would most likely be highly pissed off. Each occasion one of your cadre is sitting, the others are … sitting on their asses making no money. How are they supposed to pay their bills? Put more bluntly: Your wife is being selfish about this.

It is also entirely likely that the woman in question did not lie, as Dorkness pointed out.

Your wife is doing her level best to ensure that she cannot do this.

You must not use sitters on a regular basis.

I don’t see any problem with that scenario. The babysitter is running a business and it’s SOP for a business to break a contract if they can make more money that by honoring it. And it sounds like the OP’s wife is confused about the difference between a babysitter and an au pair or nanny.

:eek: Are you made of money?

But you didn’t keep your preferred suppliers away from the competition. You shared them. Now that you’ve given the information out, you can’t complain that people are using it. Once it’s out there, you don’t have control over it.

Of course the three regular sitters we use, know about each other. Hell our kids talk about them. It would be probably pretty difficult to hide it.

All of our sitters are in college, and have different schedules, so one single one wouldn’t be available every time we use one. They also sit for other people, we are not their only clients. But I hope that if given the choice to sit for us or someone else they would choose to sit for us, simply because we pay more. But that doesn’t always happen, because they are polite young ladies and wouldn’t back out on a client, just because a higher paying client requested them after the fact. Thus, yes, my wife is being selfish, and there’s not really anything wrong with that.

When you go to your butcher to buy your roast for sunday dinner, you hope that he has the cut and size that you want. But if he’s sold out, you’re dissappointed and still wish that he had it for you. Or do you actually say great for the butcher he sold out, I’ll happily go without?

Unless she’s paying the babysitter a full time salary or retainer for exclusive services, the babysitter is free to sit for anyone she likes. I agree that the other mom shouldn’t have promised not to use her more than once if that wasn’t her intent, and now she may have to deal with the consequences of your wife no longer trusting her, but any more than that is ridiculous.

Jeez, any chance you could get her to volunteer at a soup kitchen or something, so she can see what real problems look like? :dubious:

One cannot steal what is not yours in the first place.

I MIGHT see your point if you tried to call your regular sitter for the Saturday following your referral, and the “thief” had already snagged her. But you’re not complaining about that. You’re complaining that she had the audacity to call your sitter at a time beyond the “one night only” scope – even though you didn’t personally need her. Can you not see the unfairness of that?

If you really want this sitter to be at your beck and call, then you should pay her to be on call or negotiate with her to give you right of first refusal (for a fee). Otherwise, it’s unrealistic and unreasonable for you to assume that she will not need, or accept, other jobs. In fact, she may very well have told your neighbor, “I enjoyed watching your children; please call me again.”

BTW, it works both ways. My daughters have given names of their friends to their clients when they were, personally, unable to babysit. Sometimes that friend displaced her as their #1 choice. C’est la vie.

Oh, and a final word. If you really want this sitter to be loyal to you, the best thing that you can do is to parent well-behaved kids on a regular schedule and to pay your sitter well. My daughters definitely favor some families over others. And it always comes down to those two things.

No, but I make a comfortable living. A couple of afternoons a week and one night on the weekend, for a babysitter is not that much.

And yes we see our kids plenty. But we are still a couple and enjoy going out. My wife uses the couple of afternoons a week so she can go to meetings for various charity boards that she serves onl.