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What Is Babysitter Poaching?

Tiffany Smith
July 24, 2017

Do you remember when you were a child and you had that favorite teddy bear that no one else could touch? You constantly held it. You kept an eye on it. You didn't share it with your siblings because you were afraid they would keep it from you? 

Parents are just as protective of their best babysitters.  Think about it-a family finds Wonder Woman: she's respectful and reliable; she loves kids and the kids love her; she's creative, kind, and calm in emergency situations. Basically, she is the babysitter who does it all. The family raves about her-so much so that a neighbor offers her a sitting job, pays her more, and books her solid for the next three months. She's been poached!

This situation is a lot more common than you may think.  Great babysitters are like diamonds-extremely rare and even more valuable. As a sitter, you should be aware of potential poaching. Talk to the family you sit for ahead of time about protocol.  If you really enjoy working for them, you can let them know not to give out your number to other families.  This way, the family can be honest when they say, "She isn't looking for other babysitting jobs right now and has asked us not to share her contact information."  You can also provide the number of a friend looking for work in case another family comes knocking. With your stamp of approval, the new family may hire her instead of trying to poach you.

That being said, if there is no conflict, babysitting for multiple families can be a good thing. You will get to know more families in the neighborhood and can rest assured you'll always have work.  It may be wise to schedule with each family in advance. For example, the first Saturday of every month, you sit for family #1; the second Saturday of every month, you sit for family #2, and so on. Sure, there will be events (birthday parties, work functions, etc.) that won't fall on "their" Saturday and those occasions will have to be worked out on an event-by-event basis. If all families are open to it, you can help find a backup sitter if you are expected to be in two places at once.  

>>Have more babysitting questions? Return to the main Babysitting FAQs.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter @tiffanyiswrite.

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