Ground Rules for Babysitting Exchanges

In yesterday’s post, I promised to introduce you to Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents.

smc-headshot Official


Stacy is a young mother of 2, living in Virginia who is famous for her healthy crock pot recipes. She has published several books and is currently working on a new cook book with nothing but creative oatmeal recipes. They are living a debt free lifestyle and appeared on the Dave Ramsey show with their debt free scream in 2011.  I love her blog because of her great sense of humor and it’s practical information.  Here’s Stacy’s mission:

We aim to teach families to live on less than they make, live free from the bondage of debt, live well while eating well, and have fun while doing it – all for the glory of God.

Stacy has posted today about her creative Scavenger Hunt date with her husband, Barry.  You can read all about it here.

ground rules

Yesterday, we also talked about getting free babysitting for your date night by trading babysitting with another family (or forming a babysitting coop.)  In order for this to go smoothly, the parents need to sit down ahead of time and set up some ground rules. It’s way easier to talk about these things before incidents happen then to find an awkward situation where you have to confront someone.

Here are my recommended rules/things to discuss:

a.  The babysitting mother cooks for all the children on date night.  Every mother needs a night off from the kitchen once in a while.

b.  Decide on a starting and end time for the date and make it the same every time.  Then stick to it.

c.  Decide ahead of time what will happen if a child disobeys.  What kind of discipline is acceptable?  At what point should the babysitting family call and interrupt the date? How should you handle a picky eater?  A fussy baby?  A homesick child?

d.  What is pick up procedure?  If the date ends at the same time every time and the ending time is respected, make sure the children have their shoes on and things by the door, so the parents aren’t delayed longer than necessary to get them home and into bed.

How to Choose a Coop Family:

Not every family with children makes a good babysitting partner.  I wouldn’t be able to trade with a mother who:

Was brutally honest (no tact) and obviously had a bias towards her own children.  I know my children aren’t angels all the time, but I’ve been with families who had children who could do no wrong so any conflict was obviously my child’s fault.  I definitely want to know if my child has been a problem, but there’s always a gentler way to say it.

Had no idea how to handle children.  I don’t want her to call me for every little thing….just the emergencies.  Like if an ambulance is on the way, or someone died.

Is a yeller/screamer.  My children need it firm and consistent, but they will cry and stay awake all night  if terrorized.

Also, it would frustrate me to agitation if I picked up my children from a date night, and they weren’t offered any dinner.  (Totally different if they were served dinner and refused to eat it.)

Another bad match is a family with values so different from ours that I would worry about what my children would be exposed to.  Unsupervised access to the internet or cable TV would be a problem for us.

It takes a special family to even consider trading with us.  We have 6 kids, and that can be overwhelming if they aren’t used to it.

Prepare Your Children for The Trade

Tell them to use their manners * Say, “Yes Ma’am, yes Sir” *  To not beg for food (or juice, or soda…) * To be content and never say the word “bored.” * To keep a stiff upper lip since Mama will be back at 9:00 * Help the younger ones * Clean up after yourself *  Say, “I’m sorry.” * Keep your stuff by the door. * Don’t beg to play with special toys (the ones the owner REALLY cherishes.) * Don’t tattle unless someone is being bullied/about to be hurt. * Own up to your fault in a conflict. * Be quick to forgive. * Share, but don’t cause a scene if someone isn’t sharing with you (the stuff all belongs to them any way.) * Don’t bring anything that will make you sad if it gets lost or broken. * If they are watching something you know you aren’t allowed to watch, find something to do in another room. * If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. * Eat what you are served * Remember you are mine * Have a good time :).

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  1. Renee
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you for these ground rules. I would love to trade babysitting. However, I have a child with a disability. I struggle to find ANYONE that could care for him. As a result, the only people to have babysat for us is grandma and grandpa. I have babysat for a friend (for free) on several occasions, and have yet to be offered to have the favor returned. Just one more reason it would be nice to be in the Centerplace. It certainly would make it easier to find people of like values to trade with.

  2. Angela
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Renee, I feel for you. Having a special needs child does throw a spice into the mix. Your son is so precious (and daughter too.) I wish you could come back here too! Our lives would be better for it. It’s even more important for you and DH to carve out some one-on-one time when there’s an added stressor, but more challenging too.

  3. Renee
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much, Angela, for your kind words and encouragement! Great news: DH & I are going out this afternoon! Grandma and Grandpa are babysitting. You are right: it is very important for parents of special needs children to find the time to nurish their relationship with each other also. Thank you for all you do to encourage others!

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