Cheapest Babysitters on the Planet

Site lets parents trade babysitting services and save big bucks

At 2 years old, Birch is a joy, but with his 2 month old sister Willow in the picture, mom and dad need a break.

Karen Connell, their mother, says she uses babysitting "just to get a few hours of a nap."

Their neighbor Amanda has two kids of her own.  Both moms are in a babysitting co-op, a net work of families in their Carroll Gargend neighborhood who have agreed to watch each other's children for free.

At one point, fifteen families were participating. Suddenly finding a sitter became cheap and easy.  Especially for Amanda Wiss. 

"If it's a Saturday night and people just wanna go out, you just need someone there and it's so nice to know that it's a parent in the neighborhood who you like and you trust.  And you've managed to have a really lovely evening without spending 75 or 100 dollars plus cab fare," Wiss explained.

The site works on a point system. Every fifteen minutes you watch another person's child, you earn one point per child -- then you get to cash in.

Connell says, "It's all done through a website called babysitterexchange, which basically keeps a tally for everybody, sends out the mass email who needs babysitting when, for how many children, will the children be asleep, will one be awake -- that kind of information."

The group pays the website 75 dollars a year, but the families say they save an average of $200 a month.

Wiss says parents did get together with other parents in the group to set some basic ground rules, but she says now she knows her kids are in good hands when she needs a night off.  "There's a really strong sense of trust and respect among the members of this group." 

And there's an added bonus -- not only are the children in the group better friends, but the parents are better friends too. 

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