Welcome to part one of the Babysitting Co-op 101 series.
Think of this like one of those fancy 5 cheese potato casserole recipe blogs.
First, I am going to share with you the delicious story of why you need to create a babysitting co-op.
Second, I am going to list the ingredients and steps of how to create a babysitting co-op.
And I promise if you follow my recipe, you’ll get something even better than melted cheese with a crispy crusty top at the end.
WHY create a babysitting co-op?
In 2014, my sons were 1 & 3 years old. I was a stay at home mom. And I was freaking stressed. Honestly, I missed being me. If you have kids, I probably don’t need to explain further than this…
Here are a few things I longed to do:
- Eat at a fancy restaurant with my husband. Only my husband.
- Go to the doctor without fear that my children would break their fancy equipment.
- Dust off my mani-pedi gift card that I got on my first mother’s day.
- Clean my house without the toddler-tornado effect in the next room.
- Work on my side biz without spending my whole pay check on a sitter.
- Not have to ask my mother-in-law for help with the kids…again.
- Take a nap.
- Pee alone.
- And, help my friends get all of the above, too.
I can feel you nodding along with me.
I loved my babies so obsessively I feared I may actually eat them. And I was simultaneously desperate to get even a sliver of my self back. Does anyone else live in that space between being Mom and being [insert your real first name here]? It can be foggy and dark in that space. I started to feel crazy.
So, I asked around to see if my mom friends felt the same way. And I started to feel a little less crazy. Everyone felt the same way but no one knew what to do about it. I love my friends obsessively, too. And although I have never felt the urge to eat them, I wanted to help them. I wanted to be helped.
And then I talked to my friend Amy. She’s the kind of friend that’s like, “Yep. I am in. Now let’s make a list and get this done.” So we set out to fix this for us and our desperate moms club of friends.
LEARNING TO SHARE
We had heard of babysitting cooperatives, co-ops, in fact my mom was part of one when I was a kid. Swapping sits with a trusted circle of mom-friends instead of finding, trusting, and paying a teenager sounded pretty smart. So we researched, wrote by-laws, calculated a point system, created spreadsheets, and invited our trusted circle of friends from church to join.
We had a common goal. We had other people. We had a co-op. Was it successful? You tell me…
And guess what those mamas did with all that free time? All the things I listed in above. Date night. Doc appointments. Pampering. Hustling. And yes, I will personally confess that I took naps sometimes.
Here’s the thing. The benefits go so much deeper than just the hundreds of hours of free time shared and the thousands of dollars saved.
MAMA FRIENDS – Not all those mamas knew each other at first. Over the course of that year we hosted play dates and birthed great love by being the village for each other. I have worn my friends’ babies. Played tag with them. Fed them. Laid them down for naps. Kissed their boo-boos. Is there anything more bonding than caring for someone else’s child?
KIDDO FRIENDS – If you are thinking, “I can’t imagine having MORE kids at my house!” Think again. Having playmates for your kids is magical. They play and you can take a break from make-believing and check some things off your to-do list. And now that my kids are older, I love snuggling a friend’s baby for a couple hours then giving her back.
GUILT BE GONE – I asked a mom if she would ask a friend for help with her kids. She said no way – she’d feel too guilty. Then I asked her if she would help a friend. She said absolutely – she’d love to help. We were made to live in community and that means we should not feel guilty letting people know we need help. The point system encouraged reciprocity and relieved the guilt of the ask.
OH SO CONVENIENT – There was that one time I forgot which day Christmas break ended and I tried to drop my kids off at school when it was still closed. And that one time my Gram was rushed to the hospital and I wanted to rush there to be beside her. In those times, I was so thankful to have an army of friends just a touch away when I post the classic Audrey, “Anyone free right now?”
In an age when most friendships run about as deep as jealously “hearting” each other’s unrealisticly beautiful pics on social media, this tangible, caring village IRL was a touch of heaven on earth.
Since we were living the dream, we decided we shouldn’t keep this amazing parenting life hack to ourselves. How could the world be changed if everyone had a village to swap care with? It would be like Oprah walked in to the PTA meeting and shouted, “You get date night! You get date night! Everyone gets date night!”
That is why Amy and I created Komae. In Greek, it means Village. For parents, it means free free time. We built the app so parents everywhere could experience the free sit euphoria.
And it feels like a giant group hug.