Date night? Um, what’s that again?!  Yes…it’s definitely time for a quality night out with the spouse, but we know it can get a bit expensive not to mention that guilty conscious of leaving your kids at home getting in the way of your fun night out.  But, what if you could go out and enjoy date night guilty free AND not spend a dime on babysitting? (What are the going rates for babysitting these days anyways? We pay about $9 an hour).   Set up a babysitting coop and yes you will finally get to attend that art walk while sipping wine, try that new buzzing eatery, and watch the latest blockbuster movie.  Sound too good to be true? Read on.

What’s a Babysitting Coop?

The idea is simple yet genius.  It’s when a few families get together and take turns watching each other’s kids so that the other couples can go out and enjoy a fun night out.  It’s a wonderful cycle, the cycle of freedom…just for a night.

How to Set Up a Babysitting Coop

  1. Having a coop of 3 families seems to work the best.  Anything more than that seems to become a bit chaotic and harder to manage.  Remember, we want to keep it simple and fun for everyone involved.
  2. Be sure to pick families where all the kids would get along and look forward to hanging out with and where all of the parents know each other well enough to entrust their kids.  Decide what time frame you all want, for example 5:30pm to about 9:30pm seems to be enough time for the kids to enjoy dinner and some activities before winding down for the night.  Four hours is enough time to actually get to your destination and enjoy your date night.
  3. Pull out calendars and see which dates everyone is available to host the kids.   For example Family #1 can host the kids on Saturday 2/2, Family #2 can host 2/16, and Family #3 can host on 3/2.  Try to space out the dates to every other weekend rather than every weekend since this gives enough time for the kids to actually miss each other and look forward to hanging out with each other, and it gives families enough time to get themselves ready to host the kids.
  4. Have one person sync all of the mobile calendars to make sure all dates are accounted for, and it’s just a cooler, simpler way to use to technology to manage everyone’s schedules.
  5. Don’t forget to make dinner reservations during the week for your Saturday date night or you might find yourself wasting 1-2 hours waiting for a table at a popular joint.

So What’s in it for the Kids?

So this where you don’t have to worry about your guilty conscious checking in every 30 minutes wondering if the kids are okay.  Let the kids have their own party with their friends!  Explain to the kids that they will be hosting their friends for a night of food and fun.  Go over with them what a host does to make their guests feel at home.  Let them pick the dinner menu and activities for the night.  They’ll be proud to host and you’ll be surprised at just how good a job they do.

Some fun activities for the kids include:

-Board games such as Pop-O-Matic Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, or Jenga

-Popcorn and a movie

-Have a dance party for the kids via Dance Central 2 for Kinect

-Playing dress-up or tea

-Baking and decorating cookies or cupcakes

Help! Ideas for Date Night

-Check your local paper for buzzing, new restaurants

-Check out critics’ review of the latest movies

-Check to see if there’s a concert, show, or sports event in your area

-Check your local art walks, usually packed with live music and great food

-Golfing range, miniature golf, go-kart racing, or maybe just a couple’s massage

“Like” this story if you want to get your date night back and then leave us a comment below telling us where you and your spouse spent your last date night out sans kids (it’s ok if it wasn’t recent!).

–Sommy Rhee

All photos taken by!