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smiley-kid.jpgToday’s guest post is from someone who spent time in my hometown, Yellowknife! It’s a belated post (mea culpa) but with fall routine really settling in, the timing is perfect for a post on how a babysitting coop can work, saving you money, and creating a very warm environment for your kids.
It’s June 8, which means my daughter turns 24 today. It’s made me
a bit nostalgic, and I’ve been wallowing in some memories of her
childhood. She was born when I was living in Yellowknife, NWT, far from
family, and although Yellowknife was a small and isolated “city” (pop.
8,500 in those days), we worked together in a caring way, with lots of
laughter and regular pot luck dinners and cross-country ski weekend
events. One of the Yellowknife gifts that came into my life during
Emily’s first year was a babysitting co-op. It was started by a woman who
wanted to ensure her child was left in a safe and caring environment
whenever she needed childcare. It worked so well that I wanted to share
it with your website readers.

It’s a simple idea: a group of parents get together and work out a system
of childcare that is free. Now it’s been more than 23 years since I was a
member but here’s what I remember about the main guidelines.

Our group in Yellowknife had 20 families in it, brought together by
several women who each contacted several friends and then we had
an early evening gathering of all the interested mothers and their
children. (It was all mothers in those days, though not all of them were
stay-at-home moms; we also felt it was important that everyone got a
chance to meet the children too as they were as much a part of the
babysitting mix as the mothers.)

We worked out the specifics during that first meeting: 1 point for each 30
minutes of babysitting, which meant you were always in either a credit or
debit situation; we’d meet once a month just to visit and not only get to
know each other better but to also let our children know all the adults in
a relaxed social setting (not just when their mother was leaving them),
and to check in with each other for a point overview to make sure no-one
was in either credit or debt overload. We put together a master list of
each woman’s availability, for example some women only wanted to babysit
during the daytime, others only on weekends, some only specific week
nights. (Email wasn’t an option in those days but now it would be easy to
have an email contact list.) We also talked about what would happen when
someone moved away or left the group – should they have to “clear” their
babysitting debt before they went? We put together a contact list, made
copies, and proceeded to have a very positive experience.

There are some great reference websites (just Google “babysitting co-ops”
and you’ll suddenly have about 34,000 sites to work your way through)
along with a variety of books, including Julee Huy’s “Smart Mom’s
Baby-Sitting Co-op Handbook,” which I haven’t read but which gets great
reviews. (editor’s note: it’s available at Abebooks.com
for about $7)

If you’re part of a babysitting co-op, your children will feel like they
are going over to a friend’s house to play, or that friends are coming
over to play with them. And as a parent, you can leave your child(ren)
with family’s you and they know and trust. It’s a win-win situation for

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

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