STARTING A BABYSITTING CLUB
by Tash Hughes of
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
Well, why not
set one up yourself?
All you really
need is a great of like-minded parents and a system to
How does it
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
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.
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:
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
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
How will we operate?
If using tokens,
administration will be limited to membership forms and
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?
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
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?
Do balances have to remain positive?
Will new members be
given a certain amount of points/tokens to start with?
Being a barter system,
rather than real money, families can actually go into
negative babysitting time. Will the club allow this?
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. **
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?
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)
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
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.