Running a home business can be one of the most rewarding and difficult things you do as a parent. If you're just building your business, you're probably on a tight budget, and cannot afford to spend money on child care, and in any case, that's not why you're working at home. You want time with your children.
There are always times, however, when that is just not possible, but finances won't allow you to send your child away to daycare. What do you do?
One option to consider is starting or joining a babysitting co-op. This is a group of parents who work at home or need child care for other reasons who take care of each others' children as needed. The children get playmates and you get time to get things done.
These really are not terribly difficult to set up, especially if you already know other work at home parents in your area. You will need to work out a system that will work for you. Some are very casual, but most use a points system, possibly organized by a secretary for the group.
A typical points system will pay perhaps 4 points per hour for watching one child, plus 2 points per hour per additional child for each family. You will want to have rules to ensure that no part either earns or owes too many points, to keep things fair to the other families. You may want to have evening, weekend or holiday care be valued higher than daytime care, so that families can get their time together.
Of course, you will want to make sure you know the other families well. It is best if you all take a look at each others' homes, so you know how child safe the home is, if guns are kept, what pets are there, and so forth. Most co-ops, once established, require a member's recommendation for new members to join, and then they must be approved by an additional member. Some have slight fees to pay for basic supplies. You will want to have your rules spelled out to keep members from feeling as though they are being taken advantage of by others.
Often, it works best to have parents with children of similar ages watch each other's children. It is also nice to have group get-togethers, so that all the families know each other well and are comfortable. Once a month is plenty.
Now, this may all sound complicated. Of course, with the internet, things have become simpler. There is a website that can handle these details for you, and it's free. Go take a look at http://www.babysitterexchange.com/. It's a great resource.
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