Tuesday, February 26, 2008

COOPeration

I normally would save my tips or good ideas for WFMW, but I got a special request via email yesterday which required sharing today.

Honestly, I had to read the email several times. Then I had to go check out BeCentsAble where I discovered some really great stuff!

Then I had to keep looking back over my shoulder in a "Who me?" kinda fashion because surely they had the wrong person.

But all that being said, I am so glad to have found some great new resources for saving time and money. I am honored to add my two cents!

And just for today, I will even give it to you for half-price!!

Do you coop?

Your food, your services, your kids?

We do the latter and it has been such a wonderful experience from the very beginning. Shamefully, I can't even remember how long I have been doing it. I know we have done it at least two years, but I want to say we are rounding into our third year.

Baby-sitting coops can come in all forms and sizes. My friends Jennifer and Heather and I decided to keep ours small. Although our numbers have grown a tad recently, all together we have 6 kids between the 3 families. Each month, each couple will keep all the kids for one Saturday and drop their own off for two Saturdays. As best we can, we stick to a schedule of each couple hosting the same Saturday each month. The great thing about keeping it small is that we can adjust if we need to.

It is a great deal! 5 hours with kids once a month in return for 10 hours without kids a month. We have set our hours on Saturday from 4-9 pm. Those hours leave time for things like dinner, movie, shopping, running errands, or even going back home to do much needed stuff around the house without extra helpers!

Our arrangement came easy because our families go to church together, the girls were already my friends, and we have kids similar ages. It has been so special to see how the kids have grown and changed together over these past few years!

I have loved my Saturday coop so much that I worked in another mini-coop on Wednesday mornings with another friend. Our kids are the same ages and go to the same school. We switch on Wednesday mornings and enjoy 2.5 hours of alone time when our turn arrives. True, since we live in neighboring neighborhoods, most times I simply run back home to do laundry or clean!

Baby-sitting coops can be a wonderful thing in terms of being frugal! If you are considering one, here are some things to think about:

* Start small. Begin with 2-3 families at the most and be mindful of the number of kids involved, as well as their ages. This is true whether you are doing a daytime coop or an evening coop to incorporate your husbands.

* Start close. And I don't mean distance. I think my experience has been enjoyable because I started out doing this with friends. It is not a requirement, but it may make working out any kinks easier along the way. Certainly, if you don't have friends close by, consider starting one with some parents of your children's friends from the school or neighborhood.

* Set the stage. We know that keeping the kids means feeding them, entertaining them, getting them in their pjs, and yes, I have even bathed them all after fun sweaty times in the backyard! Decide ahead of time what you want to do.

* Be flexible. Things happen, so be willing to make adjustments. Some months may require switching days or losing time altogether because of circumstances out of your control.

* Think outside the box. On your nights out, don't feel pressured to go out and spend lots of money. We have been to many $1 movies, window shopped, or simply returned home to watch rented movies or catch up with household chores.

It really is a valuable experience in so many ways!

Here is the proof~


Part of our Saturday crew with the newest member!


A little baby love!


Our big boy trio on Saturday nights!


Wednesday buddies!


Wednesday pals!

For more Tipster Tuesday contributions and lots of other great things, be sure to head over to BeCentsAble

Stacey

6 comments:

Jenna said...

I would love to start a babysitting coop but I worry that people will not want to since we have more than the average amount of kids. I think it is a great idea.

Love the picture of L in the lion suit! It is such a fun costume. I will be so sad when Nate outgrows it.

Jennifer said...

great idea!!

Kristin said...

I want to do this! My 2 yr old son has separation anxiety so I'm not sure but we should try it! Thanks for the tips and for the nice remarks! We are so glad you participated this week!

The Happy Housewife said...

Great ideas, we food coop and we used to child coop but now we have a built in babysitter with our oldest.
BTW- I also had the "who me" feeling when I the read the email....I'm glad I'm not the only one!
The Happy Housewife
http://happyhousewife.wordpress.com

chrissy said...

Great Idea-we will have to try this with our girls!

The Wooden Porch said...

That's great! I used to swap babysitting with a friend a few years ago and I've been wanting to start it back up again.