Over the years I’ve found that one of my hardest challenges during the school year is finding babysitters during the day for my younger kids. My regular sitters are, of course, in school themselves and I feel bad always asking my friends to take my kids.
This year, my mom introduced me to a babysitting exchange that she participated in when I was a girl. I’ve tried it this summer and it worked great. I’m looking forward to all the help it can bring during the school year.
Here’s how it works:
Each person starts off with credits. Each credit is worth 15 minutes for 1 kid.
Basically, whenever you need a sitter for any reason, you can call or email anyone you choose to on the list. They can accept or decline. If they accept, you will pay with credits. So, if you leave 2 kids for 45 minutes. You will owe 6 credits (Three 15 minute credits=45 minutes times 2 kids equals 6 credits)
That may sound like a lot, but when someone else has you babysit, you can earn credits. If you watch a family of 2 for 45 minutes, you would earn the 6 credits back. You can save up credits all you want. They never expire.
You can decline or accept as many babysitting opportunities as you want. It’s all up to you. There is no real obligation here. Basically, if you don’t want to babysit, you won’t earn credits and you won’t be able to use the coop. When you do want to babysit, you’ll earn credits and you’ll be able to spend them again.
Now the logistics as to how to make it all happen. First, send out an email with the above info and see who is interested. Second, have everyone fill out a questionnaire like this one: Coop_Questionnaire
Third: Figure out a way to track credits. You can make physical coupons, use coins from the dollar store, or use technology. We opted to use google docs. I set up a doc that lists everyone’s info from the questionnaire, then made a second tab on that doc to list each family and their credits. When a family babysits, they send me an email listing who they babysat for, the date, and the number of credits. I send them and the other family a confirmation email and then change the credits on the google doc.
Fourth: Everyone will need to start with credits in order to get things going. We opted to give each family 8 credits for each of their kids, which boils down to 2 hours of babysitting per kid.
Fifth: Get started. It may start slow at first as people realize they now can go places and have a safe and great place for their kids to go, but don’t worry. It’ll start rolling.
If you’ve got good ideas on how to solve the babysitting crisis, let me know! With six kids under 12, I’m always on the look out for cost-effective solutions!