We’re trying something so old, its new. And kind of hippie for Texas. My friend Christi has started a babysitting cooperative in our neighborhood and we are charter members. Christi basically invited a diverse group of her friends who all live within a 3 mile radius, and we have added a few more of our friends and voila we have ourselves a network. Today was our first group social so we could all meet each other (moms, dads, and kiddos), start to create our own relationships, and get comfortable with the folks we now have to call upon to help with childcare.
The plan is really simple. We have monopoly like money which we will trade in half hour increments to watch each others kids. Before 6pm, kids get dropped off at the babysitters house. In the evenings, the babysitter will come to the kids house, so little ones get to sleep in their own bed. Its half play date, half budget savior ($10/hour minimum adds up for even the smallest of outings).
We do have the option of getting background checks, though honestly, I kind of hope we don’t go that far. I say that in part because a good number of us have already been checked as teachers, foster parents, or adoptive parents. But really because I just don’t like the idea of viewing every person I meet, especially those who come through the introduction of a trusted friend and fellow mom, as a possible predator/sociopath/criminal. I know I’ll probably catch a lot of heat for writing that but I really don’t want to buy the hype being sold today about how the world is a mix of fear and danger at every corner – and this is how I fight back against that notion.
It is also why we are having social events at each others homes every few weeks for the next several months…so we can actually get to know each other and grow comfortable with each other. You know, so we can be neighborly. And have the opportunity to make our owned informed decisions.
Secretly, between the co-op and the fire, I kind of feel like we may actually achieve what I was eyeing when we picked our house. Living in an “old school” neighborhood where we know our neighbors, our kids play in the yard and run freely between homes, where James can walk to his elementary school, etc. You know, that place where I stand on the patio at 6 o’clock and yell “James its dinner time” and he comes running, sweaty and out of breath from an afternoon of adventure. That would be nice.