I want to go out!

Actually I go out a lot by day – with my girls. But sometimes it would be great to pretend to be an adult again and go out in unsuitable clothes of an evening, and without a handbag of dried fruit, rice cakes, water etc. And I bet you think so too. This post is by Nicola Baird from ideas adapted in her new book Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children.

The obvious solution is to use your network of friends and family to share looking after each other’s children. Both Pete and I each have a sister living in the same city as us – neither of whom have ever babysat(!). When the girls were little my mum was very ill dealing with cancer and horrible cancer treatments, and their other grandparents were really too old to manage. So what did we do? Well, we found a way to go out which helped other families but didn’t even involve seeing their children. 

How? Let me introduce you to the babysitting circle.  This is a informal group of local families who swap contact details once joined up as a babysitting circle. Then if they want to go out they pay for the time someone else babysits in their house (often on a comfy sofa, in a warm room that no one expects you to tidy!) earning tokens that can be swapped for the times you want to go out.

Your float
In our group we use laminated, hand-drawn tokens. Everyone starts with 18. And a typical night of babysitting – say three hours on a thursday night will earn you six tokens. So you start with three free evenings of babysitting. Of course you do have to rely on the good will of its members being prepared to “sit” for about the same number of evenings as you need a “sitter”. For us that’s one night a fortnight babysitting, and one night a fortnight out on the town.

Money or your life?
Recently I’ve had to take on the coordinating of our babysitting circle and in order to relaunch it have had to deal with what I think of as huge economic questions. For instance – should everyone be given a “grant” of extra tokens so those who want to can stay out for longer? Should the members be CRB checked? Should I print more money (that’s quantitive easing!) so we can bring in some extra new members? I really like the for way a simple bit of babysitting introduces you to fascinating life lessons.

If you want to set up your own do have a look at Homemade Kids on page 185 (actually it’s useful from p 181). But also if you’ve got any tips, troubleshooting, or other canny ways to help mums and dads go out sometimes pls share them here in the comments section.Thank you. Nicola

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