Tips for setting up a money saving child care co-op!
I am so excited to share exactly how to start a babysitting co-op to help you save money on childcare!
Let’s be real here, being a stay at home mom is hard! It’s late nights, crying babies, fighting kids, zero alone time, and so so many messes. And….it’s 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It is a long, tiring and lonely job.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being a stay at home mom, but it isn’t easy at all. Which is why I think it’s SO important for moms to have regular time away from the kids. We need those stress free moments to run errands, go to doctors appointments, meet up with a friend for lunch, or just to have some peace and quiet to recoup.
The only problem is that it can get really expensive to pay for child care for each of these outings. And that’s where a neighborhood babysitting co-op can come in.
Years ago my friends organized a child care co-op for our neighborhood and it was such a blessing for each of us stay at home moms. I’m so excited to share the details with each of you today so you can start your own!
What Is A Babysitting Co-Op?
A babysitting co-op is a group of parents who take turns watching each others kids. A co-op uses tickets to pay each other, instead of money. The more you babysit, the more tickets you earn! Use those hard earned tickets to pay someone else in the co-op to watch your own kids. It’s really a beautiful system!
Why Form A Babysitting Co-Op?
I loved being apart of a babysitting co-op. It helped me and my family in so many ways, and I think it can help you:
- Save money on childcare
- Help your kids make new friends and develop social skills
- Give you alone time to run errands or get things done around the home
- Helps you get to know the neighborhood kids better
It is truly a win-win for everyone!
How To Start a Babysitting Co-op
You can start your very own babysitting co-op, it is really easy and I’m here to walk you through every step!
1. Find Members
If you want a co-op, you’re going to need a few more members! Take a few minutes and brainstorm who you would like to invite to your babysitting group. It will work best to invite those that you are already close to, such as friends, family members, neighbors or moms from your church. Being able to trust each other to watch your kids is so important!
Personally, I wouldn’t want to bring a group of random strangers met over the internet together for a child care group. Try to brainstorm a group of like minded parents that are all familiar with each other. Aim for 8-16 families; to few means not enough babysitters and to many can get confusing.
2. Set The Rules
The babysitting co-op rules will be different based on your groups needs and preferences, but here are a few you might want to consider:
- Sick Children: Children who are sick should not be dropped off at a babysitters home, and a babysitter should not babysit when they have sick children at home.
- Be On Time: All group members will be expected to respect each others time by picking up their kids right when the shift ends. If you are late picking up your child you will have to pay double tickets.
- Call Ahead: Everyone will need to call ahead before dropping their kids off. If nobody calls by the time your shift starts, you will have the day off from babysitting!
- BYOD: Parents must provide a few clean diapers and wipes when dropping off unpotty trained kids.
- Switch Shifts: If you are unable to complete your scheduled shift you will need to find another co-op member to cover for you and then let all group members know of the change.
- Discipline: Decide as a group if there will be discipline allowed while babysitting and what forms are acceptable.
- Kid Limit: You might want to make a limit of how many kids can be dropped off at each babysitter at a time. Somewhere between 5-7 kids per parent is a good rule of thumb, depending on ages.
3. Make a Schedule
Next, set up the babysitting schedule shifts. Shifts will vary depending on what works best for your group. My group was mostly stay at home moms wanting childcare to run errands during the afternoon, so all of our shifts were on weekdays. But, other groups could have weekend and evening shifts available if that is what they need. Do what works best for you!
Here are an example of what the daily shifts could look like in your group, remember it’s okay to adjust them in whichever way will be best for you!
Monday: 9-12 and 1-4 and 5-8
Tuesday: 9-12 and 1-4 and 5-8
Wednesday: 9-12 and 1-4 and 5-8
Thursday: 9-12 and 1-4 and 5-8
Friday: 9-12 and 1-4 and 5-8
Saturday: 12-3 and 5-8
Have each person in the group sign up for one or two shifts each week. For example, I might have the Wednesday 9-12 shift. So, every Wednesday I will set aside my morning to babysit any kids that need to be watched at that time.
Feel free to use my provided babysitting co-op schedule here to set up a calendar of each shift and who will be babysitting when. Make sure everyone has a copy of the calendar so they know who is available and when.
4. Ticket System
Now for the fun part, setting up the ticket system! To keep the babysitting fair and track babysitting hours, I suggest using tickets as payment. Each family will begin with 10 1-hour tickets and 10 1/2-hour tickets. These tickets are good for one kid at a time. So, when you ask someone to babysit for 2 hours for 2 kids, you will need to pay them 4 1-hour tickets. The babysitter can then use those tickets to ask someone to watch their kids for them. The more you babysit, the more you tickets you’ll earn!
I have included Sitter Buck tickets in my free babysitting co-op printables here! Make sure to print the Sitter Bucks onto cardstock and laminate each ticket. These will be passed around to many hands, so the more durable you can make them, the better!
5. The System
You are just about ready to start your first babysitting co-op, I’m so excited for you! The system is simple really.
First, have everyone choose their shifts, fill out their contact info provided in my babysitting co-op freebies, and handout tickets (10 1-hour tickets and 10 1/2-hour tickets for each family). Make sure everyone has a copy of the contact info and schedule.
Then, if you need a babysitter for your kids, just look at who has a shift that day, call them up and ask if they can watch your kids. Now all you have to do is drop your kids off during their shift and enjoy a few hours of kid free time!
When you pick up your kids, pay the babysitter with your tickets. Easy Peasy!
You got this!
Feeling intimidated about starting a babysitting co-op??? Because you shouldn’t! Grab my free babysitting co-op printables here, grab a few friends and get started!