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"A dad tried to pick up our sitter right under my nose yesterday!" blurts my friend Leslie the second I pick up the phone. It takes me a minute to understand that the father didn't ask Leslie's babysitter for a date — it was an even greater faux-pas — he tried to hire her away.
"Doesn't he know how bad that is?" I hissed.
The rules around sitter-poaching vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, but typically it's a huge no-no to hire another family's sitter unless you've asked, begged, or somehow bribed them first.
Of course this season — filled with back-to-school nights and holiday parties — can bring out the worst in any parent. And having already asked everyone from grandparents to neighborhood teens to sit, some parents have been known to resort to extreme measures to lock in a reliable sitter.
Like Leslie, I'm not very good at letting someone in on a good sitter for fear of losing them. But I'm always happy to refer people to the source of our best babysitters — www.sittercity.com
Despite having helpful family around, we still encounter sitter shortages. But through Sitter City, I've found some terrific and reliable people. If sittercity.com doesn't service your area, you can place an advertisement to hire a sitter on another national Web site, like www.craigslist.com or www.care.com.
After doing this for a few years, I've come up with a few tips for screening and hiring the right person:
Now the next time someone's eyeing your sitter, you can smile sweetly and deflect their advances by sharing your online resources. It's much nicer than saying, "Get your own!"