Free childcare is a precious thing. I am far too embarrassed to tell you how much money we spend on childcare (beyond preschool) every weekend.
If you are willing to put in some time watching other kids, then swapping babies is a great way to get some childcare. Also known as a babysitting coop, these arrangements can run the gamut from casual to highly organized. This picture was taken when Whitney watched my little guy (strapped in) as hers crawled away.
Here are some approaches if you don’t have Whitney for a BFF:
1) Regular “playdates” — With one trusted friend and similar-aged child, select a few hours on one day of the week where you take the kids and then a few hours where she takes the kids.
2) Host a “kid party” — With babies, toddlers, or preschoolers at your place for a Saturday night, several parents can go out for a real dates, and then get a date night in return. Read more details on the Adoptive Families website. The more the merrier, if you’re brave. The time really does pass quickly when you get outnumbered so it’s anything but boring.
3) Make new friends — HiveMoms.com, who sponsored this post, promises that life gets easier when you share childcare. The website allows you to identify existing babysitting co-ops in your area, or to set up playdates if you’re not ready for the full shebang. You can even read testimonials from other parents about parents with whom they’ve interacted. Think of it like Match.com for parents and kids. The website also keeps track of who watched the kids (and for how long) so that everyone can benefit equally. [There are some useful tips for getting started and staying active]
Now, go on a date already!