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I am a stay at home mom (here are my tips to stay home on one income) working one morning a week as a play therapist, so affording a babysitter can be tough.   When do you find that you need a babysitter? Maybe for date night or to run errands?  I find that I need them for a doctor or dentist appointment or even to go on a field trip with an older child.  Whatever the case, we need a babysitter sometimes.  I find that they are really expensive- it just isn’t worth it for me to pay a sitter ($80 for four kids), plus pay for dinner out ($35) plus buying the kids pizza or whatever to make it easier on the sitter ($10).  Our date-night has just become really expensive.

Here are 8 alternatives to paying for a babysitter: 

can't afford a babysitter? How one family makes it work

  1. Mothers Morning Out – Our local YMCA offers a Mothers Morning Out program for $5 and the workers at our local YMCA are so wonderful!   My friend and I take our kids there.  They are sweet and so loving there.  They love seeing our kids come through that door!  Plus, they take the kids to the playground, the gymnastics room (to do the balance beam, trampoline, etc…), they do crafts (usually painting), and they have a snack.  It is for four hours in the mornings, so for $20,  you can’t beat it!  Plus, it is an open-door policy, so you can just go without making an appointment.
  2. Create your own Mother’s Morning Out.   Get a group of friends with kids together, find a common place (a church works well) or swap houses.  Each week, one or two parents watches the kids while the rest of us have three hours to run errands or do whatever we need to do.  I participated in a group like this for two years.
  3. Friends- offer to swap with your friends.  I have done this before and will continue to do this.   I will watch my friend’s children for a few hours and then the next week or month, she will watch our kids.  It works out perfectly and it gives our kids an extra play date!
  4. Family- My Mom is so great about helping us with our kids.  She watches our kids for us one day a week already (and she watches my brother’s kids on a different day) while I work as a Play Therapist.   She and my Dad will watch the kids for us if we go out, too.  My in-laws will also watch them when they come to visit, so that we can go out on a date.  My brother and I will swap kids, too.
  5. Churches “parents night out” – I know a lot of local churches that will offer a 3 hour “night out”.  You donate the amount that you feel would be helpful for them (normally they are raising money for a cause).   You can find these by asking around, for the most part.
  6. Your Gym- Our gym has a free two-hour childcare.  I normally just stay for an hour, but it is worth it.  If I have to do reports for work (I have to write up reports for play therapy) or if i want to just run around the track or work out & then take a kid-free shower, I will use this child-care.  Our kids don’t love it, but I take them swimming for 30 minutes afterwards (they have an indoor pool) and they don’t complain about going anymore.  My husband works late, so he doesn’t go to the gym with me, but if he did, I would consider this to be a date.  Walking around the track or playing racket ball or whatever just having time with the two of us is a date.
  7. Put your kids to bed early.  Our kids are in bed by 7:30 almost every night. This allows my husband and I to have time to ourselves every night for 4 hours before we go to sleep.   We can order take-out, play a game, watch a movie, read, catch up on our DVR’d shows, etc…
    ps- check out how I have taught our kids to sleep in later.
  8. Ikea or somewhere similar- Find places that have child-watch.  My husband and I like to go to Ikea because our kids LOVE the play area and we can shop with just our little ones, while the big kids play.  We just walk around, talk and hang out, while we shop.   We can all grab a bite to eat, too.   Our kids literally ask us every week if we can go to Ikea to “play in the kid area and get an ice cream cone”.   (We go every few months because it is still a 40 minute drive).I hope that these ideas gave you a few alternatives to finding a sitter.Ps- are you looking for fun activities for your kids that takes a minute to set up but gives them hours of play time?  Try these!ps- Speaking of being able to afford things, here is my list of great kid FREEBIES!Oh! and here is how I can afford to be a stay at home mom. 

can't afford a babysitter-8 alternative ideas.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. These are great ideas Becky! I sometimes join the YMCA for just a month at a time to give my daughter a new environment to play in and to exercise myself. I never thought of doing a bit of work on the side.
    Thanks for the ideas!

    1. I joined when I was a teacher (about 10 years ago) so I got it for $30 a month! They don’t give out that price anymore, but I was ‘grandfathered in’. 🙂

  2. What about a single parent that is working over 40 hours on 2nd shift or 3rd shift that does have family to watch a child?

  3. Yes I would like to know the same as cat 23 I work and would like to know how do I make it work and have to work with two kids and I work mid shift

  4. Hello my daughter has two kids a one year old son and a two month old daughter whom was born 10 weeks early she works full time job I watch the kids along with my two year old step daughter the hours are long and alot for me but she can’t afford to pay two hundred dollars just for Saturday and Sundays which would be the two days that she would need it’s 20 hours and it’s alot for me as this takes away from my family things any suggestions ideas would be appreciated