Nicole Sweeney Etter
When Roslindale, Massachusetts, mom Rachel Newton had her first child, she organized a babysitting co-op with three other new moms, swapping full days of childcare. She started the co-op to receive babysitting help, but says she got more than time off in return. “I was really looking for friends, connection, and community, she says. She found it—and so have many other parents who join forces to manage their busy lives and save money. Here are three ways you can harness the power of partnership:
Brandy Oliver lives in Tower City, Pennsylvania, which isn’t very close to many food stores, let alone ones that sell a good variety of gluten-free foods, which she needs for her husband who has celiac disease. There’s a Whole Foods Market about two hours away, but driving there every week or so would take way too much time—and gas. So, she signed up to be a Moms Meet Mom Ambassador, got a group of parents together, and organized everyone to take turns rounding up food orders and driving to the store once a month.
“With the economy and the way the country seems to be struggling, I thought it would be nice to have a group of people who would meet, help each other, and help others in our community,” Oliver says (they also support local charities and people in the community going through rough times). Inspired to start your own group? Visit greenmomsmeet.com to become a Mom Ambassador like Oliver.
Having to rush home to pay the sitter can put a damper on an evening out. Unless the sitter is a mom, home anyway with her kids—and yours. Babysitting exchanges can work informally (you watch my kid Thursday, I’ll watch yours Saturday), with “payment” systems like ice pop sticks you trade for an hour of sitting, or through cooperative centers with set hours. Newtown suggests finding moms who share your parenting philosophy and setting clear expectations.
A group of moms in Prinsburg, Minnesota, has a system: Cook and deliver meals for everyone else one night every week and be rewarded with no-work dinners three other nights. The moms get together every few months to decide on the upcoming entrees, so that everyone knows what they’ll be getting and can plan side dishes. Some nights, families eat old favorites, like tacos; others, they get to try something new. For instance, Christy Groen’s family discovered they loved potato soup, something she’d never made. Depending on the cook of the day’s schedule, meals might be delivered hot at dinnertime or earlier in the day. And the group not only makes the nightly hassle of dinnertime easier: “It’s also a great way to nurture friendships, share what’s happening in our families, and laugh together,” says Groen. “It’s like a mini support group.”