Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2011

Northwood Babysitting Co-op Members Trade Sits

By Jennifer Lauver and Jacquie Bokow

The Northwood Babysitting Cooperative is a group of parents who agree to trade babysitting hours on a point basis.  The co-op is not about full-time childcare.  It is about moms (and dads) helping moms (and dads) to get time to go out.  The co-op creates a network of parents to make finding competent childcare easier (and can save money, too).

How Does It Work?

You can use your Babysitting Co-op as much as you want, or as little as you want.  It’s always a fair trade.  When you request a sitter, you spend points; when you sit for another family, you earn points.  Just call for a sitter whenever you want.  The points will always work out.  Just make one call to the co-op’s “Bookkeeper” any time you want a sit.  The sitter will always be a trusted friend from the neighborhood, someone you would already have met at the group’s monthly meetings.

The Bookkeeper is expected to schedule co-op meetings each month; in exchange, each member pays the Bookkeeper 1 hour per month.

“You get out of it what you put into it,” said one member.  “I’ve even found, when I’m sitting for someone at my house, I can get more done when my girls have a playmate.”

Who Can Join?

It’s called the Northwood Babysitting Co-op, but there are members who live just outside the neighborhood, too.  So they aren’t particularly strict on neighborhood boundaries.

The Northwood Babysitting Co-op was established more than 10 years ago.  It even was mentioned in The Washington Post in November of 2001 (“In Baby-Sitting Co-ops, Talking Mom to Mom,” by Erica Burman).

About the Meetings

The group meets monthly for an hour or two to catch up with each other, get advice on parenting, and share information on the community.  They also look through their calendars to coordinate any sit requests.  The meetings are a good excuse for a night out with friends.

The co-op has a “price list,” but to start:  1 child for 1 hour = 1 hour credit; 2 children for 1 hour = 1.5 hours credit; 3 or more awake children for one hour = 2 hours credit.  The rate for picking up a child from another location (such as nursery school) = 1 hour.

Other Benefits

When younger kids whose parents are in the co-op start school, they may already know a few of their classmates, which can make for an easier transition.  For older children, each sitting session is more like a playdate, which can give the sitter some time to get things done, too.  Even if friendships don’t bloom between parents — although they often do — just knowing some of your neighbors promotes ties to the community.

Date and dine out more often.  Do not wait for your significant other to plan a date; take action!  Request an evening sit.  The secret to dating is to do it on a regular schedule.  The possibilities are endless!

If you have children young enough to need a sitter, consider joining the Northwood Babysitting Co-op.  Their next monthly meeting is 14 October from 8–10 p.m.  Contact Karen Devitt or Jennifer Magalski [contact details redacted].   ■

   © 2011 NFCCA  [Source:]