The babysitting co-op = awesome!

I have had a few people ask about our local babysitting co-op.  It’s such a brilliant way to share babysitting around without struggling with hefty costs or the mother guilt that comes when you feel like you’re taking advantage of someone to look after your children (we all get it, right? Mother guilt?).  It can be quite tough when you’re working to pay for childcare or sometimes you just need a night out with your significant other without the extra cost of a babysitter.

It all started out as a group of about 10 local women, and we had 30 ‘points’ each to start with. We’ve actually now grown to double that number and it is working beautifully.

When someone requires a babysitter they email the co-op members that they would like to look after their children.  I don’t always email all members, just the ones I know the kids are comfortable with.  Each hour of babysitting for each child is worth one point.  So for example I looked after three girls on Friday night for 5.5hrs so gained 16.5 points.   The mother of the three girls effectively treaded her 16.5 points to me.

Whether you go to someone’s house to care for their children or the child comes to you depends on the situation.  When we’re doing night time sitting, we generally go to the house where the children live.  Daytime is usually at the babysitter’s house.

There is a different member in charge of the diary each month, and we just email them when we’ve exchanged any points.  It’s also a good idea to cc the ‘babysitter’ in on the email so everyone knows the points have been allocated.  The person in charge of the diary emails all members of the co-op each Sunday night with updated points.

It works so well because no one is being taken advantage of, and everyone has access to free child minding! We are very careful to keep this as organised as possible, so there are no misunderstandings and everyone is happy and comfortable with the arrangement.  It’s proving to be a wonderful service for people who don’t have family living close by to step in and watch the children (not everyone lives down the road from a doting Grandma!) while you get work done or have a night out.

Try it out with your local mums.  Don’t just restrict it to your circle of friends either, as you’ll often all need someone at the same time. J Start with a message in your local newspaper, or online at a parenting forum (looking for Mums in your area) or even on your blog or Facebook.

Give it a try. You might be surprised to find how many other Mums would LOVE the opportunity to be involved in an arrangement like this. And again, there’s nothing better than women (especially fellow mothers and business women) helping each other out. It gets us back to a sense of community and who knows – you may meet some new customers or better still – some new girlfriends!

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