February 28, 2013


By Sherie 

So I have four kids, and don’t hate me…. but…my husband and I go out on a date about three times a month. 

 “What?!” you ask incredulously, “Are you made of money?” (Ohhhhh ho ho…. far from). 

“Do you have a babysitter who does nothing but sit at home waiting to act on your every beck and call?” (If you know anyone like this, TELL ME). 

“Do you lock all the doors, tie your kids to the couch, put on the Disney Channel, and throw some cereal on the floor?” (Hadn’t thought of that before..…hmm…). 

 “By “kids” did you mean goats?” (Gross.) 

The answer is, “No no….no no no...that’s probably illegal...and NO.  I’m in a babysitting swap and…. it….is….. AWESOME.” (Cue singing angels.)  And the best part is – it’s free and you can easily set up your own and be just as awesome!! 

So here’s the deal: We have four families in our swap. Almost every Friday, ONE of the families takes ALL of the kids (total: 13) from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. Kids come fed and ready to play. Yes, it’s crazy when it’s our turn – kids are everywhere and my husband and I are constantly moving around checking on everyone and helping when needed. It’s pretty loud and gets messy, but the kids love it. Once it hits around 7:00, we have everyone clean up and put in a kid movie and sometimes bring out a treat or popcorn. Once they finish the movie, it’s 9:00 and parents come pick up. We babysit about once every 5 weeks and get to go out three times in between. It’s FREE, scheduled, and the babysitters are adults I can trust. 

 So – you want in on this sweet deal??  Set one up.  Here are some tips: 

1) Try to keep the number of kids in each family similar – if you have five kids, asking someone with one child might not be worth it to them. In our group the number of kids in each family is 2, 3, 4, and 4. Needs to be worth it for everyone. As far as how many families, it can range from 2 – whatever you can handle. Depends on how many kids, how old the kids are, and what the parents want to handle. 

2) Ask families that have similar standards and set some rules. We agreed to not allow anything but G-rated movies and any time on the internet (games) is to be supervised. You want to feel that your children are in a safe, clean environment and not exposed to anything harmful in any way. Also, share any information such as contact info and any allergies, etc. We also agreed not to bring our kids over or cancel our babysitting time if kids are sick. 

Movie time!

3) As far as a schedule, work it out between your families. We decided to do Friday nights and before putting together a three month schedule, I’ll have everyone e-mail me any Friday nights they can’t babysit and I make up a rotating schedule and e-mail it out for approval. Sometimes we need to switch the order around a little, but we always make sure everyone babysits the same number of Fridays. If someone can’t babysit on their assigned night for whatever reason, we’ve either rescheduled for a later Friday, swapped Fridays with another, or watched on a Saturday to make up. Once again – your group can decide how to handle it. 

4) Consider keeping small babies with parents for a while. When one of us had a baby, we usually kept it with us on our date until he/she was around 6-8 months old. After that, they were able to play, but still needed to be supervised at all times. You can decide as a group how to handle that one based on number of kids and how demanding the group is. 

 5) If you have a group of younger kids (0 – 3) and older kids (4 – 9), consider separating them. Sometimes I’ll keep the older kids busy with a game or monitor as they take turns playing computer / handheld games. My husband will keep the younger kids in another room (block them in with a couch) and they play with books, blocks, train set, etc. 

 6) One family in our swap has a fairly small house, so to accommodate everyone she takes the kids to our church to play in the gym and watch movies.

The older kids playing with hamsters.

One word of caution: With this swap, a problem may arise. You and your husband may find yourselves sitting exhausted on a Thursday night after the kids are finally in bed and glancing at the calendar, see that you have a babysitter the next night for 3 ½ hours. It is then that you have to find SOMETHING to do together. Should we go to a movie? Eat out? Shop for curtains? Go rock-climbing? Hang out with friends? Test drive cars? Remodel the bathroom? Cruise the mall and get smoothies? Sleep? The list is endless…though this may sound daunting, it’s actually an awesome problem. Out of all my problems, this one is definitely my favorite. 

So try it out - let us know how it goes and any genius ideas your group comes up with! Take back your Friday night dates! 

Love this idea?  Pin it and Share it using the buttons below!  Thanks! 


  1. This is such a great idea! This way, no one feels bad about asking a friend to babysit because its planned and free for everyone. I am going to have to try this. This was a really helpful post.

  2. Glad to hear! I seriously love it and my kids do too! Let us know if you have any tips to share from your experience :)

  3. I've done this before, but not on a regular schedule. More like a once a month kind of deal. I think I'll give it a try. 13 kids! Crazy!

  4. We started setting up our swap yesterday! Woo! I'll report back after our first swap! Thanks for the inspiration. Does this mean we can raise our goal of getting in 1 date a month? WOO!

  5. Such a great idea! I will have to remember that for the future!

  6. I had some friends who did this. We weren't at a place to join in at the time. My hubby worked a lot of Fridays. But, I think it's genius!

  7. I've done this before and it's worked out great! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Oh my heck, such a great idea!!


Share your questions, comments, and compliments...we like 'em all! :) Don't be shy: we want to hear from YOU! Plus, you can let this lady know her story was heard--I promise your comment means a lot to her!

Thanks, friends! :)