Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Babysitting Co-op

Some girls in our ward have formed a babysitting co-op, and it has been my salvation for the past year or so. Many of us don't have family around, and those that do hate mooching off of them for constant kid-watching. In addition, several of us (myself included) have a hard time asking for favors, so even though we have friends that wouldn't mind watching our kids, it's difficult to ask. The co-op has solved all of those problems! Here's how it works:

1. Each person chooses a shift during the week. We have divided the week up into 10 shifts that are 3 hours each. This means that you never have to watch kids more than once a week, and only for a few hours at a time. Some weeks no one will call and then you're off the hook, although if you're like me, you'll use the co-op so often that you'll be hoping you'll have kids to watch!

2. A predetermined amount of "tickets" is distributed to each member when the co-op begins. Tickets are in units of time: 1/2 hour or 1 hour. This is your currency. If someone were to watch one of my kids for an hour and a half, I'd give them an hour and a half worth of tickets. If they were to watch 2 of my kids for an hour and a half, I'd give them 3 hours worth of tickets (2 kids x 1.5 hours = 3 hours).

3. Rules for the group need to be established in advance. For example, we have limits on how many total kids a person can watch, how many infants, and how far in advance people need to call to ask for babysitting. Contact information, including cell phones, also needs to be provided for everyone participating.

4. Drop off your kids and go! The most important part is that everyone uses the co-op to keep tickets in circulation. People may think that they're being ever so kind by watching and never having their kids watched, but they really mess things up. Pretty soon all the people who use it run out of tickets and the whole group comes to a standstill. This has happened to our group, and people had to be (kindly) asked to participate more or leave.

I can't tell you how many times this group has saved my life. When Averi had a fetal arrhythmia, I had to go to the doctor twice a week for non-stress tests. Fortunately, I had enough coupons that I only had to take Katie and Paul with me to the doctor twice the entire time. I didn't feel like I was imposing on people, since I was essentially paying them for watching my kids. It's also been a lifesaver for times when I needed to just get something done around the house. I would never feel comfortable calling someone and asking them to watch my kids while I cleaned, but I have no problem dropping them off with the co-op. And my kids LOVE it! Most of the kids in the group are similar ages, so it's a chance for them to play with their friends. I often get more done when I have other kids at our house, since they play so well together and don't need me to entertain! The other major bonus is that I have grown to be really good friends with the other girls in the group. They are all fabulous mothers and I trust my kids with them completely.

For anyone in our ward who is reading this post, we have a few shifts open. Let me know if you're interested in joining; we'd love to have you!!

Our friend Amy is in the co-op, and she has a little boy just a little older than Katie. They are such good friends! Today he came over, and they decided that they wanted to play dress-up with our Halloween costumes. They were just too cute, so I had to take pictures of them:

And for those wondering, Paul is a cow, not a dalmatian. That's a costume I wore when I was about 9, so it's HUGE on him. He looks like a monk, with the sleeves falling over his hands and the bottom dragging on the floor:


The Lee Family said...

Chelsey- I think I would like to do this. E-mail me at and let me know what times are available. This is just what I need, since I too have a hard time asking for help once in a while!