We´ve just moved to a new neighborhood, and it is really family-oriented. For a while we were living in the city, and while there were many kids, there was also a lot of traffic and to do most things-head to the park, ride a bike, play outside-you had to do so by getting into the car and driving.
Now we live about three blocks from a neighborhood park to which my daughter can ride her bike each day. Kids gather on the street every afternoon to play soccer in someone´s yard, to ride bikes, to cruise by on their scooters. My daughter is in kid heaven. She wakes each morning and just sits and listens for the shouts of her friends.
My next-door neighbor, though, is amazing. A mother of three children, she has offered to watch my daughter numerous times in the past two months that we´ve lived here. My daughter will go over and play with her two sons and daughter for an hour here, an hour there, while I get things done around the house or I just relax. This weekend she watched two of the other neighbor´s kids while they went to Vegas on a surprise (by the husband) anniversary trip. Today she had six kids outside, her three, the two of the neighbors, and another that I didn´t recognize. Her husband shrugged and said, " Mrs. Brady here!"
I am writing this article for this purpose: To tell you to think about the other parents in your neighborhood and to offer to watch their children from time to time. How wonderful is it that our neighborhood mothers get together and do this? My neighbor will drop her kids off so she can run to the market. The kids get to play and the mother gets a chance to do something solo.
Here in So Cal, babysitters charge at least $10, if not $12, an hour. Hiring a babysitter to go out for a night is more expensive than paying for the movie and dinner combined. Yet by swapping babysitting with another friend or neighbor reduces that price, and the children get a chance to play with other kids while you are out conversing with adults.
If you are a work at home mom, babysitting swapping can save you a lot of money. If you work out of the home, you can still benefit from this on the weekends or in the early evenings if you need to run errands or have some time to yourself.
Consider the people that live around you, or the friends that you have that also have children that are your children´s age. Now, call one up and offer to watch their kids for a while this week. All you have to do is make the first step toward swapping services, and before you know it you´ll find that everyone benefits from this arrangement.