The Capitol Hill Babysitting Co-op has been working for 50 years.
During the Kennedy years, we lived in Washington, D.C., just behind the capitol dome, an area of old row houses, some restored and known as Capitol Hill. Scattered about were young eager professionals in the new Administration, and someone began a baby sitting co-op which is now famous.
This is how it worked:
People joining the co-op were friends of those already in it. No money was exchanged. Instead we used theater thickets (script), each one representing 15 minutes. So for a six hour evening, you left with 24 tickets, giving you 6 hours worth of sitting from someone else in the co-op. There was a phone list and when you wanted a sitter, you began calling. Within months the group of parents grew into two groups, four by the end of the year.
Returning to Portland and living near our beloved Reed College, I began the co-op. Sometimes the dad would be the sitter, sometimes the mom. I remember every one of the houses. How lovely to sit in a different house, listening to their music, quiet hours of reading. occasionally new friendships were made but most often the social exchange was business-like and polite.
Would you worry about becoming stuck with children who won’t go to bed? Take your copy of the PACIFE Music to Calm CD. They will fall asleep. Quickly.
Rules of the co-op can be expanded to taking your children to someone elses house during the day. This probably needs a bonus such as double or triple scripts depending on the number of children.
Add another twist. Include grandmotherly types who can exchange their script for some garden help for example. Or for cat sitting.
Co-ops need a set of rules, a board and one person for oversight. All paid by script.