Babysitting on a Budget

By Alexandra Krueger

Hesitant to empty your bank account for traditional daycare, but not interested in employing the nearest pimply teenager to watch your bundles of joy?

We totally get it. Check out these babysitting alternatives that will keep your mind—and wallet—happy.

Friends & Family: Family is your greatest resource, and chances are, they would love to spend quality time with their niece, nephew, or grandchild. Your friends can also be a source of support, especially if they love kids. Promise to take them out to dinner one night or bring them a nice bottle of vino as a thank you!

Baby Sitting Co-Op: A great way to get to know other families, a babysitting co-op is a trade service, meaning you get free babysitting in return for providing free babysitting for others. This works especially well if you and the other parents have opposite schedules. It’s a great way for your kids to socialize and make friends, too!

Sharecare: This one works well if you and other parents in your neighborhood have similar schedules. Most baby sitters charge by the hour, not the number of kids, so if you coordinate with other parents and split the cost, you can share a sitter—drop your kids off at their house when the sitter is present, or vice versa.

Non-Profit Centers: If you’re looking for a cost-effective after school program, inquire at your nearest church or YMCA center. The programs can be either inexpensive or completely cost-free, and can accommodate children from their early years up to their teens.