Re: Hire Babysitters?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:49:17 -0800 (PST)
> On Nov 21, 2017, at 11:16 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:
> My question is:  How do other communities liberate parents for meeting 
> participation?  Any details about your version of a babysitting pool?

By 2 years after we moved in we had 5 babies and a few older children. The 
number grew and grew. 

Some of the members who didn’t have children had a hard time listening over 
fussing and giggles and toys dropping on the floor. It was a distraction for 
pretty much everyone. And, I may add, an excuse for being distracted.

We tried having adults rotate but not all were good at handling a group of 
children and it meant they couldn’t attend the meetings. 

There was a concern about liability if the association hired a sitter directly. 
We finally worked out a system where a parent would hire the a sitter and be 
reimbursed. We were quite fortunate to find a professional English nanny, 
Rosie, who taught in a nursery school during the week and was happy to care for 
our children on Sunday’s. She worked during the meeting in the morning and then 
worked for two households who had her watch their children during the afternoon.

For a time we had no small children and it hadn’t worked to bring the older 
children together to play games or whatever. They were better on their own with 
parents checking up on them mid-meeting. Usually one or two will come in to ask 
a parent a question but they aren’t interruptions, usually. Maybe if the answer 
is no.

When we had small children again, the Rosie was no longer available. We’ve 
tried having teenagers sit but that hasn’t worked well. Group care for even 4 
children isn’t easy. And the age range was wide. Parent’s weren’t comfortable 
leaving children under 2 or 3.

In households with 2 caregivers, the tendency was for one or the other too 
attend meetings.

We keep trying to find a regular again but I don’t think it has happened.

On the issue of the community paying, some and I think most believe it is 
important to provide childcare for membership meetings. Others don’t. Others 
think it depends on how many children there are. If it is only one or two, it 
doesn’t seem worth it to them.

For team meetings it works for a neighbor to watch the children. It would be 
hard to coordinate the parents and the sitter for small meetings, and often the 
children don’t show up. We would have paid a sitter for nothing.

We have also hired sitters for the morning of workdays, but again it was a 
problem of the parents or the kids not showing up and forgetting to tell anyone 
things had changed.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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