6 Totally Free Babysitting Alternatives
If you're married with young kids, getting out of the house and enjoying a date together can really add up:
- $35.00 for dinner
- $25.00 for a movie and popcorn
- $30 for babysitting
Sometimes when young couples start adding up all the numbers they come to an unfortunate conclusion — they can't afford to go on dates. Sure, you could reduce the cost of dining out by finding a cheaper establishment. You could even skip the movie and go for a walk instead. However, if you want to be able to get out of the house, babysitting is a hard expense to avoid — without a little creativity. (See also: How to Save on Babysitting Without Ending Up on the Local News)
1. Ask the Grandparents
Yes, this is an option that will only apply to a limited number of people who happen to be fortunate enough to live in the same town as their parents. But if you do live in the same town as your parents, then I'm betting your kids already enjoy every chance they have to spend time with grandma and grandpa, and affordable, reliable babysitting isn't really a problem for you.
2. Swap Babysitting With Another Couple
We have some close friends who have young children. Since babysitting is expensive for both of us, we agreed to a biweekly babysitting swap. Not only did we each get a date once a month, but our kids looked forward to date nights because they got to play with friends. When kids have the opportunity to play with other kids their age, they'll welcome the dates with as much anticipation as mom and dad.
3. Join or Create a Baby Sitting Co-Op
Last year our church started a babysitting co-op. Parents could leave their kids at the church while two of the other parents stayed and did the babysitting. Each child brought something to eat for dinner and the babysitters selected a kid friendly movie for the kids to watch. The only rule was that if you left your kids you needed to be sure to take a turn babysitting in the future. If there are six to eight couples on an evening, all but one of them were able to go on a date without an extra expense for babysitting. Again, the kids look forward to their night out as much as parents do.
4. Exchange Services
If you typically have a teenager babysit for you, it's possible that you could help them with something that they would consider more valuable than money. This could include something like tutoring them in school or coaching them in a sport.
5. Double Date With Other Parents
This suggestion may seem like it's breaking the rules, since typically most people think dating is about spending time together as a couple. However, if you're more in the mood for getting out of the house and doing something fun, then consider a double date with another couple that has kids. We've had other couples come over to our house and the kids typically entertain themselves. On other occasions, we've met couples somewhere like Chick-Fil-A with a play area. Usually, the kids play while the adults can hang out and enjoy adult conversation.
6. Be Friends With People Who Don't Have (but Do Like) Kids
A few weeks ago we were shocked when some friends who don't have kids asked if they could babysit for us so we could have a date. We've spent time with the couple on several occasions and they told us how much they enjoy kids — especially how much they enjoy being around our kids. I don't know how you develop a strategy around this, but I guess if people like being around your kids you might have some free babysitting opportunities arise. All this time we thought we were raising well-behaved kids for their own good.
What babysitting options have you tried?