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By Contributing Mama Karen Palmer Bland

First off… keep this to yourself. Apparently babysitters do NOT realize that they hold the keys to the castle. That moms are out there desperate to find and connect with total strangers to watch our precious kids. When we moved to St. Louis last summer, my first order of business was finding babysitters. I mean, come on, house hunting and school visits can wait. But bikini waxes and Bikram yoga classes are a priority people.

How do I find these amazing sitters that you hear people talking about? My first thought….Washington University, a sizable school full of the elite East Coasters, was right in my own backyard. How could I penetrate this academic palace and score the sitters??? The answer? PLAY THE SORORITY CARD.

While I wasn’t much of a greek-er in college, I did pledge. And while I hadn’t really thought about Pi Phi much since 1990, the time was now. I googled away and emailed the chapter contacts at Wash U. I quickly identified myself as their “ older sister with kids” and asked if they would post a “babysitters wanted” note up at the house.

Now, I don’t know about you all, but when I was a college student at Tulane University, NO ONE WORKED and NO ONE MISSED OUT ON A NIGHT OF CHEAP DRINKS, like dollar Corona night, free drinks for ladies night and 2-for-1 Thursdays. I mean, how could we possibly justify working when we needed to hightail it to the bars to save money?

Well apparently at Wash U, there are girls who do more than drink. Within 15 minutes of my email, I had 8 emails and 6 phone calls from my long lost little Pi Phi sisters looking to babysit. Everyone from the rush chairman to the president was answering my ad. I didn’t understand it. Soon resumes were flying into my inbox. (Again, when I was in college, we couldn’t even spell the word resume.)

When my husband, Jeffrey, and I started looking through these 3-page resumes, we were stunned. They were filled with solid material – not filler crap like “Proficient in Word” and “Member of Who’s Who in High School” but really impressive positions like “Intern for Lou Dobbs at CNN” and “Participant in the Massachusetts Legislative Program.” What was up with these girls?

And then came the pre-med students – #1 in their class of 500, perfect SAT scores, science honor students, full scholarships, CPR certified and proficient in 3 languages. It was quickly apparent that these girls were more qualified than I to be home with kids! Eesh – are these girls nerds? Maybe they have social issues (i.e. no friends) and they want to babysit just to have some interaction with humans instead of fruit flies? I had two immediate thoughts. One, there is no way I could get into college today. Two, could I afford these geeks?

Turns out I was wrong (about the nerd part anyway). These girls were not nerds – they were all beautiful, East Coast 20-year old, mature, well-balanced, smarties, with boyfriends and lots of friends. They would show up to babysit in their SUVs, with their Louis Vuitton bags, their Uggs (in August), their $200 jeans – and to top it off, they couldn’t be nicer to my 3 kids under age 3.

And did they want to watch TV when the kids were asleep? No, they preferred to study for a midterm that was 10 weeks away. These girls were too good to be true.

And I enjoyed their company. We started gabbing about boys and formals and dresses and rush, and suddenly I was back in college mode. I mean, we were pretty close in age and all. They introduced me to Facebook. They told me they liked my clothes. These were my new buddies. I was on cloud 9 with my new sisters.

That is, until one day, when Jeffrey pulled back the curtain. “Do you realize that these girls are closer in age to our 3-year old, than they are to you?” he said. Eesh…was he right? Does he even know math? Did HE get a perfect SAT score?

Hmm… I am good at math, and he is right. Wow. Thanks, honey. I guess that means I’m not going to Pi Phi formal after all. All for the best really. I wouldn’t be able to find a sitter.

Midwest mama Karen Palmer Bland lives in St. Louis, Missouri – with her husband and three kids, Rory, Sawyer and Georgia. She’s a big city girl (not to be confused with a large girl who lives in a city), but right now she is “doing the right thing” and living in the middle of the country, to provide her birdies a nice backyard with their very own expensive swing set. Karen is a Tulane graduate who earned her MBA at Washington University. She is a recovering advertising agency executive, now serving the toughest clients of her life – her three kids.

10 Responses to my secret to finding the perfect babysitter

  • Jordana says:

    May I be the first to welcome you to the wonderful world of contributing mama(birds). Really enjoyed your post! And thanks for bringing me down ( : – I teach high school seniors and I never realized it but they are closer to my daughter’s age than mine. Oy!

  • Robyn says:

    Though we haven’t entrusted our 2 year old to anyone’s care who isn’t blood-related and legally obligated to love him, I live only a few miles from my alma matter and was planning on doing the SAME thing! Glad to hear it worked out — I will definitely be playing the sorority card!

  • Cathy says:

    Hiring baby sitters is a great way to make you feel old! You can relate to what’s going on in their lives, but you’re at least 10 years older, and NOTHING can change that.

  • Kelcey says:

    I was laughing so hard over “not filler crap like “Proficient in Word” and “Member of Who’s Who in High School”

    I seriously remember both of those being on my resume!!

  • This is a fabulous idea! I can’t believe that in 12 years of hiring babysitters, this never once occurred to me. You get the prize, sister! (Even though I did pledge a different sorority.)

    Welcome to mamabird diaries. Look forward to reading more.

  • Diane says:

    Fantastic idea! Should be in some of these over-priced parenting mags. With 4 kids and no family in town, I’m always looking for source of sitters. Mind if I co-op yours? We’ve got UT Austin just down the road ……

  • Daphne says:

    Wonderful Karen! I too have looked at a sitter and realized not only were they hardly born when we started college, but they are much more qualified to manage my children. It’s what keeps us humble, right?

  • Tully's Mama says:

    Karen – I am a faithful mamabird reader and thought this piece was hilarious. The resume content was right on the mark. I look forward to future contributions! Your humor is right up my alley.

kelcey kintner