How to Set Up a Babysitting Cooperative

We want to support single mamas and save you time!
Huge thanks to The Pittsburgh Foundation for funding the Single Mom Defined’s Babysitting Cooperative and empowering single mothers to address childcare concerns.

After having a baby when she lived overseas in Ghana, Single Mom Defined Steering Committee Member Yvette Shipman lived out the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Nearby mothers circled her, singing lullabies to her baby, cooking meals for her family and cleaning her home. When she returned to the U.S., she recreated this experience and set up a babysitting co-op with single moms she met. Using a co-op calendar projected out three to four months, they took turns babysitting each others’ children, which allowed moms to commit to future appointments and resulted in lifelong friendships for both the parents and the children. recently, Yvette helped Single Mom Defined set up babysitting cooperatives in four communities. The co-ops provided mothers temporary relief to address personal needs, such as sleep and medical treatment.  Members received codes of conduct agreements,  swap schedules, and CPR and first aid certification.

If you are interested in starting a babysitting co-operative with your circle of friends, download our free templates to get started! By downloading the forms, you agree that your co-op is not affiliated with Single Mom Defined. You can replace our name and logo with your group’s information. We want to support single mamas and save you time!

Step 1: Send Interest Form
Reach out to moms interested in forming a babysitting cooperative.


Step Two: Interview Potential Babysitting Cooperative Members
Determine who is a good fit to join the co-op using these interview questions.


Step Three: Host a Co-op Meet Up
Get to know each other! It takes time to build trust. Be sure to spend time together. You can attend free community events, picnic at the park or host a game night. You want to ensure the moms and the children get along. No one is a perfect parent, however, you may notice red flags. You also may decide that you prefer pairing up with only one mom instead of an entire group.

Step Four: Create Babysitting Cooperative Agreement
Once the members are selected, determine the rules your co-op will follow.


Step Five: Collect Contacts and Clearances
Download this spreadsheet to keep a contact list. You can also keep a record of any clearances members must obtain. Be sure to discuss medical information that you want members to share. For instance, you may want moms to dispense medicine before dropping their children off at the babysitter’s house, or you may want to create swap schedules only with children who received the COVID-19 vaccination.


Step Six: Write Job Descriptions
To be successful, members must be active and engaged. Download this job description for ideas on what moms should commit to doing.


Step Seven: Make a Swap Schedule
Determine how you will set up swap schedules. Some co-ops may opt to create weekly swap schedules, while others may utilize an online platform, such as Or perhaps you will create a point system. Members should decide what works best.

Step Eight: Celebrate Motherhood
Celebrate the fact that single moms will make a way out of no way! No matter what life throws your way, you overcome obstacles. You support other women, build friendships and create safe spaces where children can grow, learn and thrive. We would love to hear about your experiences! Send your babysitting cooperative stories and photos to