Fredericksburg Parent

December 2017 - January 2018

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30 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • December 2017 & January 2018 You and your spouse finally agree on a movie you want to see. You find a free weekend night on your calendar. You call up your quali- fied, reliable, affordable babysitter. Wait…what? Qualified and reliable and affordable? If you're anything like Lori Huffman, a mother of four, you know "it's hard to find a good, experienced babysitter who's old enough to trust and not too expensive." If, like Lori, the headache of finding a good sitter keeps you from getting out more often, maybe your family could benefit from one of these four types of babysit- ting exchanges. Babysitting Exchanges Your House or Mine? THE FOUR-FAMILY DATE SWAP Kristen O'Quinn, a mother of three boys, borrowed this idea of a four-family babysit- ting exchange from a friend at her church. Once a year, four families sit down togeth- er and schedule one babysitting night a month in their calendars. The families rotate houses, and two couples stay with the children while the other two enjoy their night of free babysitting. The rules are straightforward: the kids have to be fed before they come, and the parents have to be prompt in picking them up. They follow a simple schedule so that the kids (and parents) know what to expect each time: free play, craft, make a snack, and popcorn and a movie. Without relatives in town, Kristen feels the four families in her exchange are especially committed to the project. This swap could easily be adapted for fewer families or for a group of stay-at-home moms who need babysitting but also want to benefit from time with friends. THE ONE-ON-ONE EXCHANGE Trading babysitting with another parent is the simplest type of exchange. You ask a neighbor if your kids can come play while you run to an appointment and then reciprocate when she's in need. Two stay-at-home moms might take turns watching each other's kids on Tuesdays so each gets a morn- ing to herself. Scheduling date nights becomes easy when you switch babysitting with another couple twice a month. Jill Savage, author of No More Perfect Marriages, knows two single moms who trade baby- sitting once a month. One mom keeps the other's kids from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, and the next month she takes her break. With a one-on- one exchange, the options are limitless. Two stay-at-home moms might take turns watching each other's kids on Tuesdays so each gets a morn- WRITTEN BY sanDi haUstEin

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