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by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

  Babysitting clubs are a great way to get out of the house without having to spend a fortune or worry about who is with your children. But what if there isnít one near your home?

Well, why not set one up yourself?

All you really need is a great of like-minded parents and a system to work on.

How does it work?

       Each member earns points or tokens when they babysit, and spends points/tokens when they have their children babysat.

       Due to the use of points or tokens, there is no need for reciprocal arrangements between families. So Mary babysits Johnís children but John may never care for Maryís children as long as he babysits for somebody in the club.

       Some clubs allow members to buy extra points/tokens in some circumstances

       If tokens are used, parents can give these to each other as appropriate; if a point system is used, there will need to be a record kept for the club to see how many points each family has

       A value system needs to be determined. For example, it will cost one point or token per child per half hour babysitting, or one token per family per hour. As long as the rules are the same for everyone, it doesnít really matter what the points are valued at.

       Members usually arrange babysitting between themselves. This can be at either home as suits the circumstances, and be a regular booking or a one-off.

How do I start one?

       Find interested parents Ė a group of at least six members is necessary for it to really work. More can be added later.

       Set some rules, such as the value system, administrative fees, negative balances, starting balances and member qualifications.

       Advertise the club at local venues parents frequent. For instance, community noticeboards in shopping centres, libraries, MCHC centres, kinders, schools, medical centres and neighbourhood houses.

       Have a meeting to establish the group. This could be a public meeting to gather interest and members, or a private meeting with interested parties. This meeting is important to confirm the rules and establish contact points and lists.

       Produce a list of membersí names and contact details. Addresses and childrenís details may be left off the list for security, especially in larger groups.

       Start babysitting!

What rules do we need to set?

Each club can set itís own rules, and vary them according to needs. However, some base points to consider are listed here:

1.      Who are we?

       What name will you use?

       As a small support group, you may not have to register your name officially, but check with your state's consumer affairs department to be sure. Note that coops need to be registered with the Justice Department.

2.      How do members qualify?

       Some clubs insist on police checks for members. Checks are national and cost $25.40 per person, or $12.70 for volunteers

       Will new members have to be referred by existing members only? Or interviewed by a set number of current members?

       Is there a geographical boundary for members?

       How many members are allowed? And how few members will cause us to close down?

3.      How will we operate?

       If using tokens, administration will be limited to membership forms and lists.

       If a point system is used, someone will have to record points earned and spent. This can be done by a club secretary and will probably require an administrative fee for members (to cover paper, postage etc) OR this duty could be rotated amongst the members each month to share the load.

       Will each family organize the babysitting, or will it need to be arranged centrally, through the secretary?

4.      What is our value system?

       Will one point or token equal half an hour or one hour or one night? Will be it per child or per family?

       If points/tokens are set per child, will subsequent children be at a reduced rate or the standard rate? (eg 1 child is 4 tokens for the session, will the sibling be another 4 tokens or only 2?)

       Will the system change for overnight or weekend stays?

       What will we use for tokens? It needs to be something distinctive so members donít confuse tokens with everyday items in the house! Coloured clothes pegs used to be a common token, but now days many houses use these on the clothes line so the tokens are not distinctive enough.

       Will we name our points/tokens something? What?

5.      Do balances have to remain positive?

       Will new members be given a certain amount of points/tokens to start with? How many?

       Being a barter system, rather than real money, families can actually go into negative babysitting time. Will the club allow this?

              If yes,

       Will a family with a negative balance be able to book a babysitter?

       Will a family with a low balance be able to use a greater amount of babysitting? That is, they have points for part of the time they need, but still have a babysitter for the whole time needed?

       What is the maximum negative balance allowed?

       How will negatives be accepted in a token system?

** Note, if negative balances are not allowed, each member must be given a starting balance or the system wonít work. The starting balance should thus be enough for at least two sits to get things going. **

6.      How will the club deal with any parents not showing up for their arranged babysitting turns? Or parents using the service and not babysitting in return?

7.      What are the standards when babysitting?

       Will the group have guidelines, or will it be entirely up to the parents to specify any rules regarding their own children?

       It may be worth having a form for each family to leave with the babysitter. The form can include details of childrenís names, birth dates and medical information, parent contact details, address & phone details of the house (useful in an emergency) and maybe other contacts (eg poisons info, local doctor & hospital, neighboursí numbers)

8.      Some other points to consider are:

       Can tokens be given as gifts to members?

       Who will be the member? The family, the parents or one parent only?

       Can other family members babysit? Must a parent carry out the babysitting, or are older siblings allowed to babysit?

       Will you have a waiting list? Will its size be limited?

       Do members have to use the club regularly to remain a member? If so, how regularly? This will be of importance if a waiting list develops.


Tash Hughes is the owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses in preparing all written documentation and web site content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for inclusion in newsletter and web sites.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.


© 2004, Tash Hughes