5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Babysitting Coop (Instead of Hiring a Babysitter)

It’s a dilemma every parent is familiar with: how to find a good babysitter? Most parents search for babysitters online or through town bulletin boards, hoping to find a sitter they like. But that’s just one part of the problem. Even when you have a go-to sitter, there is the issue of scheduling. And, as all parents know, there are no guarantees that your sitter will be around on any given night.

What most parents don’t know is that there is an alternative to hiring a babysitter: joining a babysitting coop. For a large number of families, babysitting coops solve the childcare problem in ways regular sitters cannot. Because of this, coops are sweeping the country! Is a coop right for you? Read some of the benefits below to find out!

1. Save lots of money. In a babysitting coop, you trade free childcare with other parents. Aside from your membership fee (usually around $25 per year), you never pay a dime for using the coop. Whether you go out once a week or once a year, your babysitting is essentially free.

2. Have a sitter available when needed. If you’re in a babysitting coop with 15 other families, you have 15 potential babysitters. Imagine you need a sitter on a Saturday afternoon. What are the odds someone is available? All but guaranteed. And because your one sit request goes to everyone in your coop, there’s no need to worry about calling or emailing around. Simple.

3. Get higher quality care. Who knows how to look after kids better than another parent? Babysitters can be great, but usually those babysitters are teenagers or twenty-something’s with limited experience – doesn’t compare to someone who already does the job 24 hours a day.

4. Create fun for your kids. My son used to call our coop the “Friends Come Over and Play Club” and with good reason. Whenever we were sitting for another coop family, he treated it like a play date. And when I told him he was having a coop sitter (aka another mom or dad), he clapped with excitement because it meant he got to go to another child’s house to play.

5. Build community. A babysitting coop is an amazing way to get plugged in. You get to know the other families in your coop quite well and in essence, create an extended support network. As new families join your coop, this network continues to grow, providing support and friendship beyond babysitting.

Think a coop is right for you? Browse our SittingAround Coop Directory to find out if there’s a coop in your neighborhood. Or, grab a few friends and start your own!


7 Innovative Ways to Make Parenting Better!

Here at SittingAround, our goal is “to make parents’ lives better.” This goal influences everything we do, from the way we’ve designed our site to how we engage with you, our customers. In addition to making SittingAround everything you want it to be, we’re also always on the lookout for other products and services that will make your life easier, simpler, more rewarding – better.

We’re excited to present six other innovative family products that we think you will love!

  • Company: Swellr
  • Site: http://swellr.com
  • Problem it Solves: School funding
  • Overview: Swellr is an online marketplace to fund education needs by shopping local. A PTA group can raise money for their school by creating a project on Swellr. A project could include school supplies, field trip costs, guest speakers or miscellaneous costs for an end of the year party for students. Each project organizer then asks their friends and family to buy gift certificates from participating businesses on swellr.com, and a percentage of each purchase goes to the project of the consumer’s choice. It’s a great way harness local spending power to boost investment in local business and education.
  • Company: Speedbump
  • Site: http://speedbumpgps.com
  • Problem it Solves: Teen driver safety
  • Overview: an Android app that keeps your teens safe on the road. Unlike other driving safety solutions, the Speedbump application – easily downloaded onto a teen’s Android phone –provides parents with instant alerts about both driving speed and driving patterns. Their unique SpeedSmart™ technology lets users set and detect realistic speed limits on any type of road – residential, secondary and highway. Created by a teen for teens, Speedbump encourages a dialogue between teens and parents about driving safety and protects teen privacy while providing the parents with peace of mind.
  • Company: Casa Couture
  • Site: http://casacoutureinc.com
  • Problem it Solves: Children’s ever-changing shoe size
  • Overview: Casa Couture has developed a patented “Growth Indicator” technology that can be used in the construction of children’s shoes to alert a parent when the child has outgrown his or her shoes. Outgrown shoes are uncomfortable, unhealthy and bad for a child’s feet. This innovative technology is designed with a child’s comfort and healthy foot growth in mind. These shoes will accommodate up to three whole sizes, saving parents from having to replace their kid’s shoes every 2 to 3 months.
  • Company: Lynx
  • Site: http://lynxsportswear.com
  • Problem it Solves: Post-baby breast support
  • Overview:: Lynx Sportswear makes sports bras for larger-breasted women that actually work! The Lynx Sports Bra was created by a large breasted woman, Cynthia Smith, who started running after her son was born as a way to get back into shape. After more than a decade of trying every sports bra on the market without success, she took matters into her own hands and made a sports bra that eliminates bounce without causing any pain or discomfort. Cynthia is passionate about helping other women feel strong and capable, no matter what their breast size!
  • Company: GoGaga
  • Site: http://gogagalife.com
  • Problem it Solves: Toting heavy, uncomfortable diaper bags
  • Overview: At Go GaGa, we create diaper bags and straps that are comfortable no matter what you’re carrying. Our patent pending strap is the secret to our bags’ style and comfort – it’s a wide swath of stretch fabric spreads the weight across your back and shoulders, so there’s nothing cutting into your neck or pulling you to one side. Plus, our diaper bags feature stroller straps, insulated bottle packets, a changing pad and 10 pockets to make it easier and more enjoyable to travel with your little one, whether across town or across the country. To learn more about our products, visit www.gogagalife.com
  • Company: thredUP
  • Site: http://thredup.com
  • Problem it Solves: Children outgrowing clothing
  • Overview: Kids grow fast. By age 17 your child has outgrown 1,360 pieces of clothing. Worse yet, you’ve spent upwards of $20,000 replacing clothes that are practically new. What if you could easily trade all that outgrown clothing for sizes you actually need? thredUP is where moms swap children’s clothing, toys and books online. thredUP connects thousands of moms across America and facilitates simple trades. For the first time, parents can exchange boxes of kids’ outgrown clothing, for boxes of clothes that fit – without ever leaving the house.

And, in case you’re new to SittingAround, a little about us, too:

  • Company: SittingAround
  • Site: http://sittingaround.com
  • Problem it Solves: Childcare
  • Overview: SittingAround is childcare, made better. SittingAround revives the notion that “it takes a village” in a modern way, through babysitting coops. By trading sitting with each other, families who participate in a coop provide each other with not just care but the social support parents today so often lack (yet so desperately need). SittingAround makes it easy for families to start and run their own babysitting coops and transforms the way parents think about childcare.

Babysitting Coops Already Saving Families Over $100,000 Per Year

We opened SittingAround.com to the public less than a month ago, and already families using our site are saving over $100,000 a year.

There are over 500 families participating in over 100 coops on SittingAround.com today. Based on the use we’ve seen so far, families who are participating in coops will save between $100 and $500 per year, with an average savings of around $250 per year. Multiply $250 by 500 families and we get an annual savings of $125,000 per year!

While we’re very happy with the growth of coops so far, we’re just getting started. We want to bring coops to as many families across the globe as possible and change the way families think about childcare. Our goal is to have 100,000 families and 10,000 cooperatives by the end of 2012.

Coops save families money by eliminating the need for paid babysitters. Instead, families receive free babysitting from other parents in exchange for returning the favor. While coops have existed for many years, until recently they have been difficult to coordinate and manage. SittingAround makes coops easy and, in doing so, helps families across the world save on the cost of childcare.

How much does the average family spend on babysitting?

Simple Question.

It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it?

But it’s Not.

If you want the results without a long story on why we did the research ourselves, scroll down to the fourth heading.

In 2010, when we wanted to figure out how much families could save by joining a coop, we went to trusty Google to try to get an answer to this question, fully expecting that it would be a 5 minute exercise and we could move on.

After about an hour of searching, the best answer we could find was a USDA report that lumped all childcare and education together – daycare + babysitting + private schools + college + SAT tutors. I didn’t think that we could justifiably say that joining a coop would reduce the cost of college, so we were at an impasse. We wanted to start a website to save families money on babysitting, but we couldn’t figure out how much families were actually spending.

After another three hours, I could confidently say that, on average, families were spending at least $1 and less than $5,000 per year on babysitters. I’m pretty good at working with bad data, triangulating, being creative to find a reasonable range, but there’s seriously nothing out there to work with. $1 to $5000 just isn’t specific enough to build a business case. I not so quietly gave up hope of finding out how many families are currently using coops, or even how many families were using babysitters.

The babysitter’s club is not doing their job as an industry association. Its like the entire industry is run by teenagers.

Ok, We’ll do the Research

Luckily, my co-founder has a bit of a background in statistical research. She pulled together a user friendly survey, a methodology that makes our results fairly valid given the limited budget ($0) we had to conduct the survey, and took to the mommy blogs to try to get an answer. (It helps that she has a mommy blog herself.)

The Results

What’s that? You wanted information on babysitting, not a long story about market research. You don’t find standard deviations and response biases fascinating? Really? Ok, ok, I’ll get to the results.

It turns out that the average American family spends about $500 per year on babysitters. The actual average in our survey was $462. Given sample size, methodology, sampling biases, etc we should really say that the average family spends about $462 on babysitting. To me that’s close enough to saying “about $500” that I go ahead and round it, but if that’s not your style feel free to mentally replace $462 everywhere I use $500.

The average family spends about $500 on babysitting. Alone, its a pretty interesting number: 5 hundred dollar bills, half of a thousand, more than my son gets in allowance each year. But, lets see if we can put that number into better perspective.

  1. The average family makes about $50,000 per year. That means they’re spending about 1% of their income on sitters. The average family saves 4% of their income each year – 1% isn’t a negligible amount.
  2. The average sitter costs around $10 an hour. So that means the average family consumes about 50 hours of babysitting a year. If the average night out is 4 hours, that means the average family has a night away from the kids about once a month.
  3. The more a family makes, the more they spend on sitters. The lowest income group in our survey reported an average spend of $350, the highest income group reported an average spend of $740.
  4. $500 per year in a college fund would be over $22,000 by the time your kid goes to college. (assumes you save $500 each year stopping when the child is 13, the child goes to college at 18, and an average annual rate of return of 10%)

Survey Release: Trends in Babysitting 2010

We’re so excited to release the results of our first annual “Trends in Babysitting” survey! This survey explores how parents across the United States consume babysitting and what their attitudes are on the topic.

What we learned was fascinating! The average American family spends approximately $462 a year on paid babysitters alone (this doesn’t include preschool, daycare or nannies). Despite shelling out so much each year for paid sitters, the majority of parents we spoke to were much happier with the quality of care they get from free sitters than from paid ones.

Quality of Babysitters

Only a quarter of parents we surveyed knew about babysitting coops; yet over two-thirds said they would like to trade babysitting with other parents. This tells me we have an education problem — coops are great and families would eagerly join them… if only they knew about them. We need to spread the word.

Co-op Familiarity

Feel free to share the survey results with others and use them in your own blog (but please link back to us if you do!). If you do write about the survey findings, let us know! We’ll include a trackback at the bottom of this post.

We’ll be conducting the survey annually, so that we can measure how babysitting habits change over time.

The full Trends in Babysitting 2010 can be downloaded here.

Are you a journalist, researcher, or blogger and want to answer a particular question that isn’t covered in the released data? Contact Us and we’ll see if we can cut the data in a way that answers your question.

Sitting Around in the New York Times

We were honored to be mentioned in a Fashion & Style piece in this Sunday’s New York Times!

Entrepreneurial culture requires a certain level of lackadaisical dress. As the article chides, “You can’t get VC funding if someone isn’t wearing sweat pants.”

Well, ladies and gents, I’ve got the sweat pants covered: Sitting Around in the NYT