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Start a Date Night Babysitting Co-op
Go on a Date Every Week!
Would you and your sweetheart like to get away from the kids for just a few hours once a week? The idea of having a regular date night every week is something most couples only dream of. Starting a date night babysitting co-op with a few other families is a great way to save money on childcare and still get your much needed time away from the children.
Being part of a babysitting co-op where you get three four-hour dates per month can save you $120 or more. So not only do you get to go on dates, you save a lot of money!
What is a Babysitting Co-op?
In a date night babysitting coop, couples exchange babysitting services for date nights. To start, you’ll need to find some other families to form the co-op with you. Having four families allows each couple to go out three times every four weeks and babysit once every four weeks. A co-op can be done with more than four families, but the babysitting part of the deal can become a bit overwhelming, depending how many children each couple has.
Regardless of how many families get on board, try to connect with families who live close by. You don’t want to drive half an hour out of your way to get to the house with the babysitting. Co-ops work great amongst neighbors and church members who live within five miles of one another. Closeness certainly isn’t a requirement, but it does make things easier on everyone involved.
Fun for Everyone
Babysitting co-ops aren't just for couples. Single parents can equally benefit from a babysitting co-op. The one night a week can be used for dates, errands, or just some peace and quiet. Who wouldn't want some time for themselves once a week?
How Does a Co-op Work?
I’ll explain how everything works using a four family example. Once four families have committed to being part of the co-op, everyone needs to agree which night of the week will be date night. Most likely this will be Friday or Saturday night. It’s best to keep the same night each week, rather than Friday one week, Saturday the next, and so on. Try to keep things simple.
Once the day of the week has been chosen, decide what the hours will be. Four hours allows a couple to go to a movie and dinner, while two hours may allow for dinner and an errand or two. Keep kids' bedtimes in mind too. For my family, 5-8pm might work best, but other couples might not even be home from work by 5pm. So make sure to discuss the time frame with everyone involved and choose hours that accommodate everyone in the group.
Once the day and time are set, make assignments for the month. For example, the Smiths will babysit the first Saturday of the month, the Arnolds will babysit the second Saturday of the month, etc. Assigning days this way keeps things simple and will be easy to remember. In a month with five Saturdays, take the last night off for family time.
If you're dropping a baby off with a family who has older kids, you'll need to bring some baby gear along. Necessary items might include:
- extra clothing
- security items
- baby toys
This will make things easier on the babysitting couple. As with any babysitter, make sure to leave contact information just in case.
Tips for a Successful Co-op
Set guidelines for the group. If you don't want meal prep to be a part of the babysitting time, then require families to feed their children dinner before dropping them off. Make sure people agree to pick their kids up by 9 pm or whatever time you've agreed upon. Respect the other members of the group so that no one feels like they want to quit.
Start with a one month trial run to see how everyone feels about the babysitting co-op. Give everyone the option to opt out at the end of the first month if they aren’t crazy about the arrangement. Some kids might have issues with strangers, other couples might have a hard time leaving their new baby with someone else. Whatever the reason, make sure there are no strings attached.
There will be times when a family can't participate due to illness, vacations, or other commitments. Be flexible and don't get upset if a date night has to be cancelled every once in a while. After all, this is an agreement amongst friends, and it's free. There's really nothing to lose.
That's pretty much all there is to it! The idea of babysitting all those kids for several hours might be overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that you will get three date nights later in the month, and you won’t have to pay a babysitter. Plus, it’s reassuring to know your children are staying with two experienced parents, rather than a teenage sitter.
Don't wait to get started! Forming a date night babysitting co-op will be great for your health and your relationships. We all need a break sometimes, and this is a great way to make that possible. Good luck!