As a parent, finding time for doctor's appointments, job interviews, or the much-coveted date night out can be challenging enough -- finding someone to watch the kids can be even more difficult. Turning to your virtual village to organize a childcare cooperative is a great, free alternative to costly babysitters or drop-off centers.
A babysitting co-op lets you trade time watching each other's kids for time to do real grown-up things like go to appointments, clean the house, or just take a break. Lots of parents do this informally in a "you get my back this time, I will get your's next time" approach, where the only reckoning of debts owed is karmic. This works great among friends, but tends to involve only a small group of select people. Creating a more formally organized cooperative allows parents to expand their network of willing sitters while accurate tracking keeps things fair and equitable. Here's how to get started: