Pregnancy and Parenting Features

Organizing a Babysitting Co-Op for Your Neighborhood

A babysitting co-op can be an amazingly convenient and useful organization to have. To organize a babysitting co-op, it is important to first understand exactly what one is.

A babysitting co-op refers to a situation in which a number of families, generally in the same community, share babysitting duties amongst themselves. In a babysitting co-op, there is no exchange of money. The members of the babysitting co-op share responsibilities between them. In addition to the babysitting duties, they split up other necessities such as record keeping and using services. In general, babysitting co-ops are designed for occasional, rather than regular or ongoing, childcare.

When you are part of a babysitting co-op and you need babysitting services, you generally contact the secretary of the co-op and ask for a sitter on a certain date and time. The secretary will then call members of the co-op to find a sitter than lives as close as possible to your house. Then, she will call you back to set up the sitting arrangements. Once the babysitting is done, the sitter and you agree on a number of “points” that you used for the babysitting. These points are reported to the secretary. You can then earn points by providing childcare for someone else in the babysitting co-op.

A common points system is as follows:

– 2 points per child per hour

– 1 point per child per meal

– 1 point per child per hour for overnight care (i.e. between 10 PM and 7 AM).

The secretary duties are generally rotated among the members. Sometimes, the secretary is paid in points. The secretary may serve for anywhere from a month to a year. In addition, the babysitting co-op will often have a president or chairperson who will help to arrange meetings and preside over them, and handle any problems that occur between meetings. This duty, also, can be rotated among the members. Many babysitting co-ops have quarterly meetings in which the chairperson and secretary duties are rotated to other members.

To get a babysitting co-op started in your neighborhood, here are some useful tips:

– Talk with other parents to see what level of interest there is in forming a babysitting co-op.

– Get the word out. Pick a date for your first meeting, and then make flyers or visit each home in the neighborhood yourself to invite people to come out.

– At the first meeting, explain how a co-op works. As each member to provide their name, address, phone number, and ages and names of all of their children. These lists will be provided to all of the members.

– Ask the group about group leadership. If necessary, volunteer to take the duties of secretary and chairperson for a short time, perhaps the first three months, while things get going.

– Agree among the group on a points system.

– Agree on specific rules for childcare, such as not sitting for sick children, and how children are to be delivered or picked up.

– Explain that each person can refuse a specific sitter by explaining this to the secretary when she requests a sitter.

IF there is sufficient interest in your neighborhood, your babysitting co-op should be up and running in no time!

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