Monday, 28 April 2014

Welcoming a guest from the Babysitting Co-op 101!

In general I don't accept guest blog posts on here. Usually the people who email asking for a gig haven't bothered to research the kind of things I blog about and are proposing something that is completely unrelated to Shoestring life, or they can't string a sentence together in their email which doesn't bode well for an entire blog post.

Rachel Terry's request caught my attention though. Rachel is the author of Babysitting Co-op 101 in the US (athough I'm sure the principles would work in the UK too). 

I've never been a member of a babysitting circle or co-op, and my kids are past the age where I need much babysitting, but it sounds a fantastic money-saving idea. From my understanding, UK babysitting circles are usually for evening childcare only so I like the Co-op 101's model of providing reliable childcare during the day too.

Before I hand over to Rachel, let me thank her for sharing her ideas here. If you have any queries or comments for Rachel I'm sure she'll come back to answer them. And if you want to read the blog post that I wrote for her (on money saving tips for the parents of young children), click here to head over to her blog and check it out! 

Welcome Rachel!

It’s quiz time, everyone. Don’t worry. It’s just one simple question.

1.      When you have young children at home, there is never enough…
a.       Time
b.      Money
c.       Adult Conversation
d.      All of the Above

You got the answer right no matter which answer you chose, but if you chose (D), I’m with you. I’m thrilled to be a guest poster today to help parents learn that there’s a solution to “All of the Above” issues, and that is to form a babysitting co-op.

What is a babysitting co-op?

Simply put, a babysitting co-op is a formalized babysitting program, consisting of parents who know one another. These parents come together to provide their babysitting services for free in a systematic and structured venue. That means that you’re fairly compensated for your time, and you can count on set days and times when babysitting is available to you.

What could you do if you had free babysitting at your disposal? You could avoid spending money on babysitting for one thing. You could go to your doctor’s appointments without begging favors from your friends or bringing your kids along. You could finally have time to pursue a hobby or tackle big household projects. And you could develop stronger relationships with other like-minded parents in your community.

How does it work?

Basically, you organize your co-op around a ticket currency (or app currency if you lose small things). Tickets represent time that is broken up into half-hour and one-hour segments. Co-op parents choose babysitting shifts when they are available to watch other children, and each parent has access to the calendar so they know who is available during certain times.

You call and make your reservation when you need a sitter, and then you compensate the sitter with tickets, which she can then spend on babysitting as well.

Good for Kids, Too

There’s something very comforting to children about knowing that many adults in the community care about their well-being. Through involvement in a babysitting co-op, your kids will make new friends and get to know other adults as well. These relationships can last well past the days when you need the co-op for last-minute babysitting during the day.

For more information about how to start a babysitting co-op in your area, visit our blog, find a copy of our book Babysitting Co-op 101, or contact us. Babysitting co-ops have helped us to save money, find more time, and make friends in our communities, and we hope for the same for you. 


  1. I think this is a great idea but there was an item on our local (Yorkshire/Humberside) news some time ago about two policewomen who did a job share and child care share, looking after each other’s children while the mother was working. They discovered that barmy though it sounds, their arrangement was illegal because it was regular and neither had child minding qualifications to look after children in the carer’s own home. (caring in the child’s home is OK!) As policewomen of course they had to extra careful to stay within the law even though the law is a ass as Mr Bumble said.

    1. That's a really interesting point. I guess they hadn't been OFSTEDed... Crazy!

  2. We belong to a babysitting circle in our village. It's more for when parents go out in the evening although I have sometimes used it during the day. It works with tokens (for every half hour). It's been great for us and saved a lot of money in babysitting, although I still sometimes use local teenagers as I remember how useful I found babysitting as a source of income when I was at school.

    1. Great! I know there is one in Corsham too but we've never needed it - we've either swapped with friends or used the plentiful supply of teenagers amongst our friends and neighbours. I could write a book on the complicated daytime childcare arrangements I had when the kids were smaller!

  3. I used to be in a babysitting coop when my kids were younger. We used the ticket system, but we didn't sign up for certain times we were available. When you needed someone, you just started to call around. They would usually bring their kids to your house, but it could go either way. It worked great and it was a great money saver.

  4. Nice article! I run and our site lets you start or join a coop in your area. Removes the need to have tickets or worry about keeping track of points - our site does it all for you :). If you're in a coop or looking to join one, please check it out.