How to manage your babysitting co-op, with one hand tied behind your back (or just holding a latte).
Guest ContributorSteve Ingkavet, creator of the uSit iSit Babysitting Co-op Swap app
The benefits of a babysitting co-op are wonderful, but let’s bring up the possible problems of exchanging sits — and how to fix them!
Complications and Concerns of a Babysitting Swap:
• How do I easily contact everyone in my group when I need sitting (and skip the chit-chat when I’m really busy)?
• How do we track the points/credits exchanged as the currency of the group?
• How do we keep track of sitting schedules?
• Do we need to schedule and attend regular meetings? And are these fun or too much of a hassle?
• How do we add to the membership? Referrals, applications, votes? And should we limit the number of members?
• What about dues and fees? And how do we collect them or pay them?
• What if I don’t even know or trust the other parents?
For these reasons, I created uSit iSit, the first and only app for babysitting swaps. (For a 90 second video demo, visit http://usitisit.com )
Now, with just a tap you can send an automated request to your whole group, letting them know you need a sitter. They respond with a tap too, sending a message back to you, accepting or declining your request.
After the sit, you simply transfer the appropriate number of points to your friend, in exchange for her sitting service, right from your app, on the spot. She instantly receives them in her app.
So now, the hassles of point tracking, scheduling and communications are all automated, all out of your way. But the story gets better…
The biggest innovation isn’t a technological one
In the highly flexible uSit iSit system, each user essentially has her own, personal co-op. She’s the center of her own circle of trusted friends that she invited in. She only swaps with these friends.
Now, these friends don’t necessarily even know about each other. Because, each friend, in turn, has her own distinct circle of trusted friends with whom she exchanges sitting. Two friends’ circles may overlap completely, or barely at all, with the two friends being the only members in common.
What this means is that a uSit iSit parent doesn’t need to join or start an “organized” co-op, let alone apply for membership. She can just start swapping with one friend! And the app tracks everything. No meetings, no administration. Just friends sharing sitting duties, kept fair and square.
But this also means…
No swapping with strangers in your co-op!
For many parents, this can be a major concern with a traditional babysitting co-op. But with uSit iSit, there’s never the risk of swapping with a family she doesn’t know, like or trust, because she would never invite them into her circle in the first place. It is her personal co-op, after all.
How traditional co-ops could also benefit
uSit iSit can also work for organized, neighborhood-based co-ops. All members would just have the exact same people in their uSit iSit circles, and not invite in any outsiders until the co-op accepts a new member. All established rules can still remain in effect.
But instead of using Excel spreadsheets or some other web-based record-keeping service, they could enjoy the greater convenience of mobility, simplicity and usability.
So there you have it. An innovative reinvention of a time-honored system, updated for mobile mom. Modern life just got a little bit more manageable.
And all this with just one hand.
Steve Ingkavet is an “appreneur,” a freelance advertising creative director, and the creator of uSit iSit. uSit iSit Babysitting Co-op Swap is available FREE for iPhone, and soon for all smartphones as a mobile web-app. (Sign up to be notified.)