Raising children and supporting parents is a community job. A babysitting co-op is a group of parents who babysit for each other. It helps the children to socialize, and it gives the parents the peace of mind of knowing the person who is watching their child. It helps to build the community that is so important in raising a child.
1. Start small. Ask around in your group of friends, your place of work, your place of worship, or your child’s school to see who would be interested in participating in a co-op. Start with only two or three families, and then you can grow.
2. Choose a format. Co-ops usually work one of two ways:
- The parents choose a time, day, and house, and everyone can drop her or his kids off at that time at that house. They rotate houses. Next time and date, it’ll be at another person’s house.
- The parents call one another as the need arises. If that is the format chosen, it is best to keep track of hours on some kind of shared document, like Google Docs, so that everyone knows who is owed time and who owes time.
3. Set the rules. Discuss and write down all expectations. For example:
- How many hours of babysitting can a person use compared to how many hours she or he babysits?
- What is the maximum amount of babysitting time?
- Is the person babysitting expected to provide food?
- How many children is each parent allowed to bring?
- Once the rules are set, make sure each family gets two copies. They must sign and return one copy.
4. Put it on social media, such as Facebook. Get everyone in a group to make communications easier.
5. Be polite. Always be kind to one another and patient as everyone is figuring this new arrangement out. Always give people plenty of notice when you need a babysitter. Just follow the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
6. Once you are comfortable, you can scale up. Only add families that you trust.
By Bethanie Ryan