Starting a Babysitting Co-Op

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The price of babysitting is staggering. When I babysat as a teen (barely a decade ago), I remember earning $4 per hour – sometimes $5 if the family was feeling generous. When I first started searching for a sitter for my son just a few years ago, I made the mistake of asking prospective sitters what their rates were.

“I don’t sit for less than $15 an hour,” a high school sophomore informed me. $15 an hour? For sitting on my couch while my baby slept, eating my food and watching my cable TV?

Finally, I found a reasonable grad student who was okay babysitting Gavin for $10 an hour – the max I felt comfortable paying. While she is great with him, the knowledge that dinner and a movie costs me an extra $60 or so when babysitting is included prevents me from having very many nights out.

Recently, I found myself griping to yet another mother about the prohibitive cost of hiring a babysitter. Her response? “You should join a babysitting co-op.” I had never heard of babysitting co-ops before, but once she explained the concept to me, I couldn’t believe I had spent so long without one.

A babysitting co-op is a group of parents in a community that trade babysitting services with one another. Rather than paying each other in money, co-op members pay each other in points. You earn points by watching your friends’ kids and – when you need a sitter – they earn points by watching yours. The idea of exchanging babysitting services with people you know and trust (and for free!) is beyond appealing to me.

I have just begun researching potential babysitting co-ops in my area, and no leads so far. If I can’t find a co-op in my area, I’m determined to start one myself. Though, I have to say, creating a co-op and managing it myself sounds like a good deal of work…

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3 Replies to “Starting a Babysitting Co-Op”

  1. I stumbled on your blog researching how to start a babysitting co-op in my own neighborhood.
    It’s almost been two months and I’m wondering how it’s going for you?

  2. That is funny to see that those teens expect to be highly paid for doing barely nothing… We would rarely go out because of the cost of the babysitter on top of the outing would sometime be way too high. But the co-op babysitting sounds such a good idea.

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