Babysitting Co-operatives

babysitting co-operative babysitter feeding baby

Babysitting Co-operative

How to Get Child Care Without Spending a Dime!

What other options do you have if you are either having a hard time finding a qualified sitter, you can’t afford an agency, or maybe the cost of a sitter in your area is so much that you don’t go out very often?  Have you ever heard of a Babysitting Co-operative?  If there isn’t already a babysitting co-op in your area, then maybe you should consider starting one!  You may soon find many people like yourself who are very interested in becoming part of the group.  It’s easy and doesn’t cost a thing!  All you need is to be organized enough to keep an accurate record of the hours.

Babysitting coops work like this:

  • You and a small group of other parents interested in trading child care with each other form a group.
  • Next, the group decides who will be the secretary first.  The secretary holds this position for one to two months or as long as the group decides, and then it rotates to the next parent or couple. The group could also decide that the position will be permanent.  The secretary’s job is to keep track of each family’s points. The secretary may also earn points for his or her term of service.
  • Points are earned by taking care of another member of the babysitting co-operative’s children.  You could be very informal about the whole thing and just trade hour for hour, but, if you have four children under the age of six and another family only has one eight-year-old, they may feel cheated and possibly drop out of the group.

A point system makes it fair for everyone involved regardless of the number of children you have or their ages.  Most babysitting co-operatives start with four points for the first child per hour, plus two points per hour for each additional child.  Also, the parent who is the secretary should earn points for their term of service.

Decide in the beginning if more points should be earned for hours of babysitting after midnight, for feeding children a meal, or for children under the age of two.

A babysitting co-operative is a great way to have people you know and trust care for your children.  Often times it isn’t even like work if your children are close in age and/or friends with the children you are caring for.  It’s like a play date that is earning you a free babysitter!

If you do set up a formal babysitting co-op, just be sure to set up all the necessary rules in the beginning to avoid confusion or hard feelings later.  For example, if a member in the group has a negative number of points, they should have to bring their account up to zero before dropping out of the co-op.

Negative points are points owed by a family who has had other families babysit their children but who have not taken care of another family’s children in the babysitting cooperative to earn points.  Most will start out this way but everyone should soon have earned points in their account.

When developing a list of rules, consider the following questions:  Will overnight baby-sitting be allowed?  What will your “sick child” policy be?  What will the criteria be for a new family who would like to join? For more details, ideas, and forms try one of these Babysitting Co-operative Guide Books. They cover every detail so you can have your babysitting co-operative up and running in no time!