I'm a big fan of date nights but between dinner and a movie and then paying a babysitter, they can be a killer on the budget. Not to mention, how many times can you really hit up your mom to watch the kids...Here's the solution. Free babysitting or really a babysitting co-op.
When our oldest was all new and snugly, we set up a system with a group of our friends who were in the same boat. We traded babysitting and to keep it fair we
Here's how to set up your own group...
1. Find like minded friends who are also looking for babysitting. You can include as many families as you'd like to but you really only need 2 families to pull it off.
2. Set up the payment plan. We decided that 1 Popsicle stick was good for 1 child per hour. That way if you have 2 kids and your friends have 4, it's still fair. So, for an example, if a family with 3 kids needs babysitting for 4 hours, they owe 12 sticks.
3. Make the sticks (i just used a permanent marker on craft sticks) and start out with an equal amount. We passed out 6 sticks per family to start.
4. Use them. The system fails when only one family is really using the sticks. Make sure that you call your friends for free babysitting and when you're getting low on sticks that you invite friends to take advantage of your babysitting. Also, if you and your spouse are already babysitting for one family why not call and ask another to join in on the fun and earn more sticks!
Of course, you can still use a driving babysitter for those late night dates but this is a great way to pad the calendar with dates!