The Babysitters Club: Calling All Parents and Sitters

Kristy. Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey. They were the originals. Then came Dawn, Mallory, Jessi, Abby, Logan, and Shannon.

Do these names sound familiar? Say hello to the members of The Babysitters Club.

Ann M Martin’s popular series captured the life of adolescent babysitters and their adventures along the way.

Growing up, I idolized Stacey’s style. I longed for Claudia’s artistic ability. I understood Kristy’s control issues. I swooned over Logan. I empathized with Mary Ann’s softer side. These girls, in their awkward antics, epitomized much of my own experiences on the babysitting circuit. In general, their endeavors, while a tad more dramatic, were in sync with the typical life of a suburban teenager.

I always wanted to be a member of the club. It felt genius on many levels and seemed to offer steady employment within an often stale and lackluster teen job scene.

I chose to babysit because it offered flexibility within a jam-packed extra-curricular schedule. So when I had my own children I assumed the stream of babysitters would be constant and overflowing. I was wrong on so many levels.

To begin, I never imagined living away from my parents and family. Like so many young adults, I had a plan for my future but I didn’t factor in all of the twists and turns that life offers or unexpectedly provides. When I got married it dawned on me that my husband and I would probably be on our own when it came to childcare, which was fine, but I also felt a pang of guilt and pain about losing out on the chance to randomly call up my mom for lunch and a baby cuddle. And let's be honest, I also thought about the ease of surrendering my child to a family member rather than a stranger.

I also underestimated the stay-at-home mom gig. My job allowed me to work from home and go part time with asynchronous hours, so I assumed I’d be able to plan and plot with ease. I’m here to tell you that I’ve been humbled tenfold. I often say that I'm the conductor of the hot mess express. I feel like I'm on a train that never stops, slows down, and offers sub-par service. In essence, I realize that children turn life upside down.

So when I started to go places with two in tow, I hoped to find a babysitter for the occasional relief or date night. My expectations were simple: I wanted to be comfortable and not get too crazy about hiring someone to help out with my precious but often precocious entourage.

Guys, it's hard to find a sitter. It's a competitve market, the options are endless, and the technology has added a twist. Case in point, while online services match me with potential candidates, it means I'm often linked to someone virtually first. An English instructor by trade, I struggle with letting go of good grammar. If you email me and can't spell children or don't take the time to proofread, I get judgy. <--I get it, this might be extreme. But, aren't first impressions, virtually or in person, what we preach to the future workers of the world?

Also, let's talk about the fact that I can cop to being nervous. Again, I don't have family nearby, which means that I need to entrust a stranger to watch my children. Obviously, I get to know the babysitters. But, I won't deny that my heart hurts when I leave home for the first time. It's a big deal and deep responsibility to be a babysitter. As a teenager, I'm not sure I understood the brevity of the role. As a mother, I covet it.

I'm still newish to Madison. I've utilized the Madison Area Parents and Community facebook page for finding the right sitter. And to date, it's been successful. But, our teenagers are busy and their schedules ever evolving. There's a need to connect and collaborate on the sitter scene. When I first moved here I heard tales of the infamous Drew University babysitting list. It's now been streamlined into something different and not as user-friendly or beneficial. So, there's a gap. There's a desire. There's room for something more.

What if A Madison Mom formed their own babysitters club of sorts? What if we brought moms in need of babysitters together, and offered our babysitters the chance to showcase their schedule, their talents, and their experience?

We're on the cusp of creating this type of opportunity, but we need more insight and advice. So, what would help you find and trust the right babysitter? If you're a babysitter, what would help you establish a consistent source of income and experience? Comment on this post or message us with your feedback.

They say it takes a village. Let's foster one for the parents and sitters of Madison.