Monday, April 14, 2014

McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op

The McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op in Washington, D.C., has been operating for more than 10 years. Based on Gary Myers' Smart Mom's Baby-sitting Co-op Handbook, this co-op usually has about 10 to 15 families at any given time. Parents in the co-op have graciously shared some details about how the co-op works to help people who are thinking about starting their own co-ops.


The McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op works on a point system, and a secretary handles all transactions. If you want to find a sitter, you call or e-mail the secretary who arranges a sit for you by sending out an email to everyone to see who's available. After the sit is over, the sitter contacts the secretary to report the amount of time that should be deducted and added to each parent's total.

As parents come into the co-op, they start with a zero point balance. They earn points by babysitting, but they can "go into debt" and have a negative point balance as well. When people leave the co-op, they're supposed to pay an hourly fee to the co-op for any points below zero.


The parents in the McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op have set up a Yahoo groups e-mail distribution list, which they use for setting up sits as well as communicating about monthly meetings. They also keep a database of points on paper that gets passed from secretary to secretary.


There are several roles that have to filled at all times for this type of co-op to function: Leader, Secretary, Treasurer, and List Serve Manager. The Secretary role rotates monthly among the members, and the Treasurer and List Serve Managers rotate quarterly:
  • Leader. The leader makes sure the co-op runs smoothly, settles any issues, and organizes monthly meetings. This role rotates quarterly.
  • Secretary. As you probably noticed from the description above, the Secretary is a busy person. That's why this job switches monthly. Taking requests and finding sitters can be time-consuming, but the Secretary is compensated with extra points. The secretary receives 2 points from each person in the co-op during his or her month in office.
  • Treasurer. The treasurer keeps track of the money for the co-op. The McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op collects $20 per family per year. The Treasurer is compensated with 1 point per quarter per family, and the job rotates monthly.
  • List Serve Manager. The List Serve Manager maintains and operates the List Serve and earns 1 point per quarter from each family. List Serve Managers serve for one quarter at a time.


Members of the McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op enjoy many benefits, including the following:

  • Great community. Most of the co-op members live within walking distance of one another. They're very supportive of each other. If one parent is late getting back from a doctor appointment, she know she can send out a text and have somebody else pick her kids up from school.
  • Hand-me-downs. This co-op doesn't just help each other with child care; they also pass around gently used clothing.
  • Social gatherings. Co-op members get together bi-monthly for social gatherings where they can get to know new members and enjoy each other's company.
If you're in the D.C. area and want to know more about the McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op, you can email them at

This co-op is a great example of what a babysitting co-op can do for you. It's structured differently than the co-ops you can learn about in Babysitting Co-op 101, which don't rely on a secretary or require fees, but the principles of cooperation and mutual benefit are the same. Again, we thank the members of McLean Gardens Babysitting Co-op for sharing their expertise and experiences with us.

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