Need a babysitter? There’s an app for that!

Mom with BabyFinding a babysitter when you want one is always a gamble. Your regular sitter is either ready, willing and able — or has other plans. Your relatives— if you’re fortunate enough to have them nearby — are busy, too. Friends are reserved for emergencies only, and you’re leery of strangers.

Scheduling kid-free daytime appointments for yourself can really be a challenge too.

Then there’s the issue of expense. At today’s going rate for babysitters ($10 per hour or more), a night out could stretch your budget beyond its limits, especially in today’s economy.

A babysitting co-operative or swap might just solve all of these problems. It’s a group of parents who trade babysitting services. You get free babysitting in return for providing free babysitting for others. All it takes is a little organization, scheduling and record-keeping.

And, of course, now there’s an app for that!

Despite the advantages, joining or forming a babysitting co-op still requires work for parents. This is especially true if your co-op extends beyond a trusted group of close friends. Be sure any rules and restrictions you want for your children are part of any agreement, including nap times and eating or feeding schedules. And because your children’s safety comes first, all parties need to be made aware of any allergy or medical conditions and outline a course of action in the event of an emergency.

Do you have any experience with a babysitting co-op?

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