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5 Ways to Find a Free Babysitter

Updated on April 23, 2013
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Most parents with small children know that when it comes time to planning a date the first question that pops to mind is, “who’s going to watch the kids?” And, in close second, “how much will it cost?” From my experience the way you answer these questions can either make or break date night.

According to Urbansitter, the average rate for a babysitter is $12.50 per hour, and that’s probably conservative, especially if you live in a big city, or if you’re a family with two or more kids because babysitting rates can increase incrementally per child. Say you use a babysitter for 4 hours, you’re paying approximately $50-$70 on childcare for a single night. Now, top that off with a movie, dinner, dessert and drinks and you’re looking at upwards of $125 for a date, and an easy recipe for a broken Piggy bank!

With so many people trying to scale back and budget wisely date nights and other, much needed, time to recharge get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Well, fortunately there are ways to have that special time with your spouse, or your friends, and not have to fork out extra money for a sitter.

Below are 5 babysitting ideas for parent’s that are completely free.

1. Couple’s Babysitting Exchange

You know how the saying goes, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”? Well, this is the ideal scenario to put that quote to use. Find a reliable couple with kids and agree that once a month, or whatever the frequency you decide, you will babysit their kids if they will babysit yours. This is the perfect way to get free childcare when you’re planning a date night. One week you’ll watch your friend’s little angels and the next week they’ll watch yours. Provided you find a couple you trust, you can’t lose with this exchange.

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2. Bartering

What skill do you have that you can offer up, pro bono, in exchange for a free babysitter? Maybe you can offer to clean your friend's house for a few hours if they will watch your kids for the same amount of time. Maybe you can agree to cook the next couple of dinners for someone who could benefit from some home cooked meals. Or, perhaps you’re good at preparing taxes or setting up corporate accounts, and can suggest this service to a friend. Think of some skill that you possess that could be put to use, in trade for a complimentary babysitter.

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3. Faithful Family

Some people might cringe at the thought of family members watching their children, but if you have family close by then generally they are the perfect free babysitters. What a great way for the kids to spend time with grandma and grandpa, or their cousins. And, although family will generally babysit for free it’s a nice gesture to pay them back with some special dessert or a nice card as a gesture of gratitude for watching your babies, because, chances are you’ll be utilizing their services again.

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4. The Local Church

Many family-focused churches offer free “date night” babysitting for couples, so they can enjoy a fun night out. It sounds too good to be true, but there are many places of worship that realize the value in couples spending quality time together, so they encourage this by offering to take care of the kids for free. Just Google, “free babysitting at local church” and you’ll be surprised at what pops up.

5. Neighborhood Kid

Find a dependable young person and solicit their services. You might be thinking that a youngster wants to get paid, and most do, but if you have something that they may want, like your old computer, or that bike that’s sitting in your garage collecting dust, then you can offer those items in exchange for babysitting services. What adolescent wouldn’t want a “new” iPod or skateboard, especially if they don’t already have one? Use your imagination. Perhaps you can offer tutoring sessions or piano lessons, or, maybe you have access to concert tickets. If someone gave me “New Kids on the Block” tickets when I was a teenager I’d offer up free babysitting for a year.

Babysitting fees should no longer prevent you from having a much-needed break from the pressures of life. It is possible to enjoy a date night, or hang out with friends and not have to worry about spending money on childcare. Be creative; be inventive, be resourceful, and remember, sometimes the best things in life are free.

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    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 4 years ago from Mumbai

      Great hub careermommy, Couple's Babysitting Exchange works for me :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great suggestions CareerMommy! I love it!

      It was hard for my husband and I, to find babysitters in the beginning because we were in a new country (with a new language for me) and no family around when our kids were young... so those things take time to establish.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've been out of the market for quite some time now. I didn't know babysitters got $12,50 per hour....that's a heck of a lot better than it once was.

      Good suggestions my friend...I would have never thought of the church as a resource.

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 4 years ago from United States

      Great list! We use family when we go out and that is reserved for must-attend events. I would love to start a couple's exchange with the neighbors so hubby and I can go out "just because". :)

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Toytasting, thank you for your comments. I was hoping they'd be practical enough to work. Glad to know that is the case (-:

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Billy, actually babysitters in our area get $15-$18 per hour. The $12.50 was just the national average. And it's probably going up! Thanks for reading, my friend. You never know you might need a dog-sitter and can use one of these ideas. (-:

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Stephanie, it must be nice to have family close. To me, that is the ideal scenario. Thank you for reading!

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Kidscrafts, I can imagine that being extremely difficult, being in a different country. And, with a new language? Wow. Thank you for your kind comments.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Some great suggestions here and will definitely share, as parents deserve some 'couple time'. The church is one I had not heard about, but is a good idea to help relationships to work.

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you Brett. I agree, couples do definitely deserve "couple time." I appreciate you sharing this hub!

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 4 years ago from New Delhi India

      Carrermommy, good thing about India is we mostly have join families espcially if the girl is unmarried or widow ( ie on her own), so looking for babysitter is not required and if she lives with husband then chances are the mother in law and father in law would look after them. But surely if you live alone then it is big responsibility and you just can not leave your children in any unknown person custody. Very well written hub.. voting up and useful.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 4 years ago from Central United States

      We have been supplying free babysitting for those who have used our services since 2010. When they move on, many times paying for a babysitter while they have alone time is something they have trouble coming up with money for.

      Even single women need time away from their children. We have found a resource which provides daycare without cost while they are working. What this means for us is we never know from day to day what our population is going to be.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Indian Chef, how fortunate for families living in India. I wish we had family nearby, however my husband's family and mine do not live close, so family babysitting is not an option for us. Thank you you for your comments and for your vote up!

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      wheelinallover, that is great that you provide free childcare for those in need. I think this service would benefit so many women, whether married or single. I agree all moms need time away to have that time for themselves, or with a date or with friends. Thank you for your comments.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      Very useful tips! My husband and I are glad we have family nearby. So our children are in good hands.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      janetwrites, that's great. I think family is the best option, if you have access to them, of course. Thank you for commenting.

    • profile image

      anndango 4 years ago

      Hi Careermommy. Gosh, reading this brings back memories finding babysitting for my two boys. I can't call them 'boys' anymore. They are young adults so I don't have to worry about babysitting. But, back in the day I belonged to a babysitting exchange. There were five of us and we'd call on each other for babysitting. It worked well - we kept records of how many hours we babysat to make sure one person wasn't overburdened.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi anndango, what a great idea with the group babysitting exchange. I wish we had more couple friends in our area with kids so we can try this out, but excellent tip!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      We always exchanged babysitting with our friends. We had my husband's parents around and they would babysit. We did get teens to sit until we found out one teen had taken our kids to the river something I told her to never do. That did it for us from that moment on we used friends or family. Very good hub lots of good information. Voted up and shared.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi moonlake, thanks for your personal comments. Finding a trustworthy and responsible teen can be a a challenge, but I'm sure there are some out there. Since our kids are still so young I definitely would not hire a teen to watch our kiddies. Unfortunately, our family is not around so the exchange is a good option for us if we want free. Thanks also for the vote up and share.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      We used to have our own little group of friends who would take turns babysitting each others children. It was a lifesaver. I can't believe how expensive babysitting has gotten. Great tips and advice. Up and very interesting.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      KoffeeKlatch Gals, that must have been very nice. Babysitting fees are becoming increasingly expensive and we've got to keep our options open. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Melanie 2 years ago

      Amy,If you found someone that neeedd it to complete a bed you might get as much as fifty dollars. No dealer that I am aware of would bother putting it in stock owing to the extremely limited market. You should go to Google Images and search “Simmons bed spring”. One or more might turn up and might have some dollar information connected. The spring is probably 60-80 years old and made so well that it is still useful. You can put a zippered cover over it for cleanliness and use it as a box spring.Good Luck,Marshall

    • profile image

      Nur 2 years ago

      the day. Bre looked stnnuing and DJ brought his ‘A’ game as well. Bre and DJ’s rainy engagement session was and is one of my favorites! I have enjoyed working with these two over the past year and

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