Bryan and I have participated in a babysitting co-op for date night since our oldest (now age 5) was just two months old. This has been great for our budget, and awesome for our kids, who basically get to have or go to a slumber party every weekend.
We’ve done a co-op with several different families over the years, but we have been doing our current swap with the same family for at least three years. We’ve each added one more baby to the mix since we started, for a total of five kids.
There are many ways to do a co-op – and you can comment below if you want me to send you more ideas – but the way we’ve done it is for the couple going out on a date to drop their kids off with the couple babysitting after or around dinner time. The kids get to play together or watch movies, then everyone gets put to bed. Couple #1 gets a healthy chunk of time alone before coming back to get the kids around ten or eleven.
Bryan and I have gone to concerts, movies, baseball games, parties – there’s a lot you can fit into five or six hours. Often we choose to go out of Friday nights, and I’ll drive up to his office in Seattle to pick him up after dropping the kids off. One evening a co-worker passed by my car in the parking lot while I waited, and stooped down to say hello to the kids. His eyebrows popped up when seeing they weren’t in the car…again… and he said, “You guys are really good with the babysitter thing, aren’t you?!”
Also, it’s just as fun to plan activities for the kids on the nights we babysit. In the winter we watch movies and eat popcorn. Now that the weather’s improving we’ll play outside, walk to the park, or venture down to the cupcake shop. Bryan has also been known to get remote control airplanes “for the kids.”
Our every-other-week date night is not something I take for granted. I’m thankful for it every time we get a chance to go out because I know not every married couple with kids gets out as much as we do. In fact, I often feel spoiled. We don’t have family near enough to keep our kids on a regular basis, so this arrangement has been a life saver for our relationship and for my sanity.
Go set one up now!
For other Works for Me posts, check out the links at Rocks in My Dryer.
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And don’t forget about the drawing for a copy of my latest Muxtape! Contest extended until Thursday at noon.