We all love our kids, but let’s face it, parents need time away from their kids to run errands, manage appointments, pursue hobbies or have an occasional date-night.
So, time away is a good thing for parents, but what about the high cost of reliable and safe childcare? Babysitters aren’t easily affordable in every family budget. If the expense of childcare seems out of reach for you, maybe it’s time to think outside the box! A babysitting co-op could be a perfect solution that allows you to stay on budget, conduct important business and maintain your sanity while ensuring that your kids are well cared for by people you trust.
The concept of a babysitting co-op is quite simple: A group of parents form relationship with each other and agree to care for each other’s kids, often exchanging points or another type of “currency” with each other that is earned and exchanged within the group. The details (like how to earn points and keep track of activity) are worked out among the group members. Some co-ops keep it simple with a Google spreadsheet to monitor members’ points, and other groups use apps and tools. There are many options available to make it work for your group! The details don’t have to be set in stone either -- as long as you maintain open communication among the group members, it’s easy to adjust the rules as you go, depending on the needs of the group.
If you’re lucky, you already live in a neighborhood with other parents who have kids and forming a babysitting co-op is simple. If not, don’t worry, we’ve got some options to get you started!
Get to Know Other Parents:
Whether at the playground, at your church or during story time at the library, get to know other families that you can include in your co-op. If you don’t know the other parents well, take some time to get to know each other before agreeing to a babysitting co-op. Let the kids get to know each other too. After all, they’re the ones who will end up spending the most time together. A few play dates, including lunch or snack time will give everyone the chance to become better acquainted. You don’t have to be best friends with someone to have a successful babysitting co-op. However, trust is important.
Create Group Guidelines:
It helps to create a set of basic rules about expectations for care. Some items to consider might be whether the kids will take naps, what kinds of activities will take place and how to handle problem behavior. Of course, every child should have their own emergency card with contact numbers, allergies and other important issues noted. Each mom in the co-op receives a set of emergency cards for the kids.
Obviously, you care for your child better than anyone else, but sometimes you have to trust that your way isn’t the only way! Being around other kids and adults helps your child as much as it benefits you. Your child learns how to get along with others, becomes comfortable in different environments and gets a chance to see how other families live.
Consider Group Size:
To boost involvement, a larger group will probably be more successful than a smaller one. There will simply be more options available to accommodate everyone’s needs. However, balance is important too, and if members don’t feel a sense of connection with one another, they might not respond to each other.
A babysitting co-op provides a creative solution for parents to have reliable childcare and accommodate their budget. A babysitting co-op offers a solution any parent can afford. You and your child might even build friendships that last far into the future.
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Tagged: affordable childcare
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