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Babysitting circles

So, babysitting circles. Does anyone still have them in their area?

What are they, I hear you ask?

When we were kids, we lived on a commuter village housing estate full of families with school age children. It was a really friendly place to live, everyone seemed to know everyone else and there were lots of events in the village that everyone got involved with as an estate…meaning lots of dodgy photos of us from way back, dressing up and decorating floats for the annual school fete.

When it came to parents going out for the night, babysitters were easy to sort out as there was a babysitting circle. This entailed a list of all the mums (it always seemed to be mums, I guess the dads were all busy looking after their own children or weren’t keen to go out as much as the mums were) involved and a divvying up of little plastic tokens (some whole, some halved). When someone needed a babysitter, someone offered, they got given tokens by the parents going out, and so the chain continued with the exchange of tokens according to the time that babysitting took.

Great idea…if you live in a community based area where you know lots of people and are happy to have them babysit your children.

I do remember one night my mum going out, my brother and I had been in bed although it was early as we always had to be in bed when sitters came even if we weren’t asleep. The sitter thought it was too early so persuaded us to come downstairs for a while. My mum wasn’t happy when she found out, and we weren’t really that fussed about being downstairs anyway.

It was a disadvantage as a teenager wanting to earn some pocket money by babysitting though. With most people in the babysitting circle, it meant unless the whole group went out together, there was no need for any teenage babysitters.

But, I think babysitting circles should make a come-back (if they ever really went away).

We find we tend to use family, as do lots of our friends, but there are some occasions where there’s a big farming event going on that we all need to go to and can’t then get babysitters for. But with babysitters costing a lot of money (even teenagers), plus potentially having to drive them home afterwards, it makes sense to try and group up with friends you all trust for some reciprocal babysitting.

I can think of a few people I can try and get involved with my area, so I shall have a think about it and spread the word to see if it would be a goer. Feels a better way than just the same person potentially being called on with no way of returning the favour (although I guess wine or cake might go down well).

What do you do for babysitting? Are there babysitting circles in your area?

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  1. Hi Emma,
    just read your blog.

    I have faced the trouble of finding babysitting often myself. That’s why I set up Day&Night Sitters, an online Babysitting Agency.

    The babysitters have been checked and interviewed, all you have to do as a parent is book a babysitter online.

    I would love to hear your thoughts of it and if you would use such a service?

    Many Thanks,


    1. It’s not usually a service I would use unless on holiday elsewhere. I would ask family, friends, take my son with us if possible, or then ask nursery staff some of whom do babysitting as well.

      I can see how babysitting services work, but I can imagine they tend to get quite expensive.

      1. Hi, I didn’t realize you had replied.

        Well I understand that family and friends are a first option when looking for Babysitting. And yes, Babysitting Services are quite expensive, that’s why we at Day&Night Sitters strive to be an affordable and reliable Babysitting service, allowing a wider scope of parents to benefit from us. We charge £10 per hour, NO booking fee, only require that you book for a minimum of 3 hours. If you sign up as a member you pay £20 per month and only £8 per hour for your Babysitting for up to 2 children. 🙂 Anyway, I know this post is out of date, just thought I would reply 🙂

  2. Pingback: Babysitting circles | CookingPlanet
  3. My fella and I rarely go out together as there is a lack of babysitters for us….His niece who’s about 20 will babysit once in a blue moon but we rarely ask her as she’s always busy on a weekend….Babysitting circles sound such a fab idea!

  4. I know the feeling Emma, we’re the same and tend to use family – but we would like to get out more so on the hunt for babysitters….

    1. Thankfully N now has one of the nursery staff look after him on a Thursday after nursery school, so guess in the future could ask her, but she’d be pricy. And in a few years we could have the oldest 2 nephews potentially doing it, but it is a minefield.

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