Join or Start a Babysitting Coop at SittingAround and Reclaim Date Night

Kids are expensive.  Food, clothes, toys, books, education, activities – it adds up quickly.  As a parent, going out to dinner, the movies, or a concert ends up costing a small fortune.  You pay for what you do, and you pay for the babysitter.  Here in DC, that pretty much doubles the cost of dinner at a nice restaurant, even with a good bottle of wine and valet parking.

Boston-based startup SittingAround is tackling that problem head on by making it easy to find and coordinate high-quality childcare.  Their platform allows you to join or start a babysitting cooperative, or coop.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, coops are groups of families in a community who trade care with each other, gratis.  Coops make sure everything nets out equitably by tracking points, so you get points when you sit for someone else, and you spend points when others are sitting for you.

Because this is very much a community-based platform, you might not always know the people in the coop you join, nor will you always know the people who join your coop. It pretty much goes without saying that it is very important that you meet other parents before allowing them to join your group.  As the SittingAround site’s suggests, you could hold a monthly play date to meet prospective new members, or just schedule interviews, which you would do with a prospective paid babysitter anyway.

SittingAround’s founder and CEO, Erica Zidel, has really differentiated her company from the competition.  Sittercity only focuses on the 9-5 nanny problem, while is “everything to everyone,” as it says on their site.  One direct competitor, Babysitter Exchange, has limited features and charges high membership fees.  SittingAround, on the other hand, is free – or only $15/year if you want to avoid ads.

If you are going to Tech Cocktail Boston tonight, be sure to say hi to Erica and her team (which would be her husband Ted Tieken), as they are a featured startup and will be demoing there.  And here’s a wild guess, but I am betting a member of their coop will be watching their son.

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen
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