Saturday, November 23, 2013

Babysitters Club

Since Captain E was born we've had friends ask us if we wanted to join a babysitting club ie babysitting coops.  Babysitting coops are a way to save money and get the opportunity to go out for just the price of taking a turn watching everyone else's children.  The most engaged of these groups usually have about four families in them and each weekend one set of parents will take a turn watching all the children while the other three couples go out.  The plus side is you get to go out three out of four weeks a month without paying for a babysitter.  The downside, the last week you have everyone's kids, and depending on who you have in your group, that can be a lot of kids to watch.  I've been hesitant about joining coops.  For one, I started my family a little earlier then many of friends and felt a little bad about trading babysitting for my four kids, to their two kids.  The second main reason, Dr. J's schedule has never been very reliable.  He works plenty of weekends and he often will work much later then the typical 5:30 or 6:00 start time on these things.  Which means that even if I had joined a group there is a good chance that mainly weekends he wouldn't have even been home to go out and on the weekend that it would have been our turn to babysit there is a good chance he'd be gone and I'd have all the kids.  It just made joining unappealing and so instead about four times a year we'd either take advantage of the good graces of visiting family or pay a babysitter to go out.  The benefits are, you can go out when you want or can, and you aren't obligated to anyone besides just paying.  The negatives are family is rarely around and paying for a babysitter is pricey.  Let's say we got to a movie $24 dollars and eat out at a sort of midlevel place not ordering drinks or appetizers $20.  By the time we get home we are probably paying our babysitter somewhere between $30-$40 almost doubling the price of our date.  For cheapskates  frugal people like us, it means we rarely go out.  WE are not devastated by this choice.  When Dr. J has time off we enjoy watching a little Netflix together, reading a book together, working on a home improvement project, taking the whole family out to dinner, or sometimes when he has a day off in the week we'll go out to lunch with just Cheetah and Peach and we feel like we are on vacation.  It is actually very similar to how we dated when we were "dating".  We spent a lot of time at the library, or studying, just hanging out, or eat dinner at his parents.  It was actually one of the things that made me exceptional appealing to Dr. J, the fact that we could be doing absolutely nothing and still enjoy being together.  But as we progress in our marriage and have a little bit more money we've started to want to go out occasionally.

Enter the perfect opportunity to join a babysitter coop.  This last year another resident family moved into our ward.  They have four children as well that almost perfectly match up to ours in age although they are the exact opposite to us in gender.  Their moving in coincided perfectly with my kids getting more aggressive with asking about sleepovers.  We decided years ago sleepovers weren't for us but we also decided that late overs would be fun and we want to have the kind of house that is fun and where kids are welcome.  So recently we started occasionally inviting the kid's friends over on weekend nights to have dinner and watch a movie.  We try to invite the whole family of kids so that the parents have an opportunity to go out if they want and our kids love having the company at dinner.  It perhaps can get a little crazy, but generally a movie keeps the mess from getting to crazy and it is fun to see them have so much fun.  I'd been thinking about this resident family as we had our last late over.  I wondered if maybe she'd be interested in about once a month just trading babysitting.  The pluses for us: our kids would get the fun of a late over, we'd get to go out once a month, and they would be understanding of how flexible this resident scheduling thing is since we rarely know when Dr. J will have a day off until the week of.  I asked her if she was interested, she said yes, and this weekend we did our first trade. 

Friday night their kids came over.  We did pizza with them, watched a short Charlie Brown, and the kids spent the rest of the time playing.  It went pretty well.  The only unhappy camper was their baby.  He cried for quite a while but I just kept holding him and doing my business taking care of everyone and eventually he settled down and only cried in the appropriate times, like when Cheetah would still books or toys from him.  They went out to dinner and a trip to the mall to look for running shoes for the husband, but ended up with boots for the wife :)  Saturday was our turn.  We decided to go to Ender's Game.  When I dropped the kids off they were ecstatic.  When I picked them up, they were disappointed to see us already.  I think we can call this babysitters coop a success and hope that we will be able to continue doing it.  It's funny how I just had to find the perfect people, exactly like us to be ready to jump on board!

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