Save on child care costs with a baby-sitting co-op
Starting a Baby-Sitting Co-Op
TDS Reader Contributors
Starting a Playgroup with Little or No Money
8 Cheap to Free Child Care Options
Child Care and Babysitting
How Do We Start a Babysitting Co-Op?
I am interested in starting a babysitting co-op with my Sunday School class. I have the interest of several moms and we all have kids. Is there anyone that could give me pointers in starting one up. Thanks.
Simple Bookkeeping Method
I was in a neighborhood co-op several years ago. We used tickets (i.e. old-fashioned movie tickets), with one ticket for each hour. We could tear tickets in half. We received about four or five tickets when we joined.
The tickets eliminated any one person having to serve as a bookkeeper all the time. I think someone kept track of the total number of tickets circulating through the co-op, and we reported how many tickets we had at each monthly meeting.
Membership was limited to a certain geographic area. I think it is important to limit membership; not as snobbery but to make sure everyone knows everyone else. Just make sure your membership rules are clear at the outset.
Establishing Some Babysitting Co-Op Rules
I was in a babysitting co-op that had been founded many years before I joined. Some things that were established:
- We had quarterly meetings that at least one member of each family had to attend. This is when we discussed new memberships, our "booty" status, who's on leave, and any upcoming new business. We held annual elections for President, VP, Treasurer and Secretary then, too. Our summertime meetings were held in a local park so everyone (children, too) could come.
- Our money was paper "booty" (like monopoly money, but with a baby in the middle!) that we had in increments of 1 (for 15 minutes) and 4 (for an hour). We traded paper booty for hours. Watching one or two children was 4 booty, three or more children 8 booty an hour. Watching children in their own home was 2 additional booty/hr. Feeding someone else's children (when not eating yourself) was 2 additional booty. A set amount of booty (65?) was given to each new member upon joining. Booty was given by the treasurer to each family for: coming to meetings, hosting a meeting, sitting in office, recruiting new members.
- A membership list was updated quarterly to include everyone's phone numbers and children's names and ages.
- When calling to ask for a babysitter, we were asked not to pressure. A simple "no, I can't do it" would suffice - no reason needed.
- A set drop off/pick up time was established when making sitting arrangements. If late, a 2-booty fee was imposed per 15 minutes. Prompt pick up was requested, no loitering. When you're done sitting, you're done.
- A phone number must be left with sitter to call you in an emergency. Parents must pick up children at once, if requested.
- Emergency training information was available for everyone in an ongoing basis.
- A location perimeter for members was established so no one would be asked to travel an undue amount.
Hopefully, this will give you some things to consider. Enjoy! Our entire family benefited from this co-op, and it was a great way to meet other families with children the same age.
Babysitting Co-Op Allows Freedom for Mom
I joined an established babysitting co-op about 2 years ago, and it has been really worthwhile. It has given me the freedom to attend appointments without my toddler and preschooler and since my older daughter started school, to volunteer in her class regularly. This co-op has a set of very well thought out rules, which I think are well worth the initial effort.
We have our own economy for paying for sits - with poker chips: 2 chips/hour for 1 child, 1 additional chip/hour for each additional child, extra payment for evening sits. Our rules cover everything from safety and childproofing requirements, expectations on both mothers (being prompt, providing contact information, advising about other adults in the home at the time of the sit, etc.), and procedure for leaving and joining the co-op.
All members have a police background check (by becoming members of the community Block Parent program), no one has any firearms in their homes. We're all expected to keep our infant/child CPR training up to date.
New members are sponsored by a current member, and 3 other members visit them to get acquainted (and the children to also get acquainted) and give suggestions where childproofing may need improvement. New members start out with 60 chips.
We have monthly meetings where we discuss any co-op business, but mostly just a ladies night. At that time we update our chip counts, and we make an effort to call on members with low counts. We have small annual dues ($6) which covers any supplies or photocopying for the co-op, and also usually allows us to hold a family party (one year we hired a "science guy" who does shows for kids). These guidelines are revisited from time to time as issues arise, but due to the groundwork up front the expectations are clear, so there are very few problems.
This is a sample of some of the guidelines that work for our babysitting co-op; I hope you are able to set up something, which meets your needs. I should also add that in addition to being a wonderful pool of reliable babysitters, the co-op is also where most of my kids' best friends are, so babysitting is more like playmates in their eyes.
And these ladies have turned out to be some of my best friends too.
Babysitting Co-Op at the Church
We did a baby-sitting coop at church. We had eight couples, and in a 2-month session, each couple went out 6 nights and worked 2 nights.
Six couples went out on a Sat. night and the other two watched the kids. It was more fun "working" with another couple and made the clean-up go faster. The hours were 6:30-9:30. We were fortunate to be able to do this at our church using the Sunday school rooms and nursery.
One couple brought a snack each time for the kids and got there 15 minutes early to open and set up. We asked each family to contribute to an art supply box so we had those available for the children. There were already baby and toddler toys in the nursery we could use.
We had an emergency form with all the information for each child, and a sign -in sheet each time so parents could leave us the specific info for that night. Each family brought a bag with diapers, bottle, pajamas, toothbrush whatever was the necessary equipment for their kids.
At 9:30 when the parents arrived for pick up, the children were in their pjs, and 2+ kids had teeth brushed. This was a great deal for all involved; the parents and kids all loved it.
Check out the Web
I saw a web site just this week she may want to check out concerning the babysitting coop question. www.babysittingcoop.com
Take the Next Step
- It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.