Friday, March 19, 2010

Let your Babysitting worries vanish away!

Picture of our coupons (the date night coupons are red but I'm out so I couldn't take a picture of one--tilt your head and you can read it! =)

Who doesn't ever have to go to the doctor, dentist, hair appointment, volunteer at the Elementary school, go to a craft store, or go on a date with your spouse. We love our kids and love to spend time with them, but there are times when we can't take them with us. For me it seemed like I was always using the same neighbor, or family member and I hated using them especially if they didn't ask me back to return the favor. And if I always hire a sitter for everything, I would go broke!
Here is an idea that may work for you... So I'm all about cooperation and her is an idea that I am loving! My friend Alison told me about her cousin who started a Babysitting Co-op in her neighborhood and she wanted to start one where we live. So we did and it has been great. Let me tell you about it and you may want to start your own of if you live in my neighborhood, you may want to join!
Here is how it works:
1. We will have a group of girls/families that will be a part of the co-op that you can swap babysitting with. You will be given a list of their names with contact information on it.
When you need a babysitter, you simply e-mail or call someone on the list to see if they are available. You can also send a group e-mail out to the whole group and say you need a babysitter at this time and date. Then anyone who is available and willing can get back with you. You may also choose only to ask a few people that you know really well to watch your kids. That is completely up to you.

2. You "pay" your babysitter with co-op coupons. You "earn" coupons by babysitting

3. Everyone gets 10 babysitting coupons to start out with and 1 date night coupon.
Babysitting coupons = 1 hour per child (example: 3 kids & 1 hour = 3 coupons or 2 kids- 2 hours=4 coupons)
Date Night = 4 hours for all your kids so you can go on a date

4. You can be as involved as much or as little as you want or need.

Everyone starts out with 10 regular coupons and 1 date night coupon with a list of those who would like to do. We made these coupons different colors so it would be easy to find them.
We thought we would start out with 15 girls and see how it works. This is not a click or club, we don't want to make people feel excluded.

Side note: There may be somewhere you need to go that you would like to keep private. I think it would be a good idea to have a policy that you don't need to say where your going or what your doing. (what if your pregnant and don't want to share with everyone quite yet, or you just don't want to have to tell everyone you are doing a secret service, whatever it is) Privacy will be respected.

Also with the flu season in full force, please be cautious in sending your kids if they are sick.

So we have been doing this since December and I think it's working very well. I really like that if I need to go somewhere I can send a quick e-mail to the whole group and whoever can and wants to babysit for me replies back to me and says they can. It saves a bunch of time and you don't feel like your asking someone and they really don't want to but they can't say no so they say yes. I also like to make sure I'm watching enough of other people kids so I have coupons for when I need them. If I run out of coupons I know I need to babysit some more. Alison made really cute coupons and then we laminated them so they would last for a while. Let me know if you have any questions about it.
If you want to start a group my first suggestion is to find a friend you really like to help you start it. Then work together to create a list of people who would potentially use the co-op. Then contact each of them by phone or e-mail to explain how the co-op works. Then make enough coupons for the whole group. Pass out the coupons and give each family the list of everyone in the group with their e-mail, phone and address. You may also want to include a list of rules so everyone would remember how it works. One of the rules is if someone decides to not be in the group anymore they simple return their 11 coupons to the group leader. Easy right, well it did take a bit of time at first but now that it's running it is smooth sailing just as long as people use and earn coupons. It just may be the solution to your babysitter worries.