Babysitting Coops Already Saving Families Over $100,000 Per Year

We opened to the public less than a month ago, and already families using our site are saving over $100,000 a year.

There are over 500 families participating in over 100 coops on today. Based on the use we’ve seen so far, families who are participating in coops will save between $100 and $500 per year, with an average savings of around $250 per year. Multiply $250 by 500 families and we get an annual savings of $125,000 per year!

While we’re very happy with the growth of coops so far, we’re just getting started. We want to bring coops to as many families across the globe as possible and change the way families think about childcare. Our goal is to have 100,000 families and 10,000 cooperatives by the end of 2012.

Coops save families money by eliminating the need for paid babysitters. Instead, families receive free babysitting from other parents in exchange for returning the favor. While coops have existed for many years, until recently they have been difficult to coordinate and manage. SittingAround makes coops easy and, in doing so, helps families across the world save on the cost of childcare.

Paid Parental Leave: Is Having a Baby a Luxury?

How much time did you take off when your kids were born?

For me, it was four weeks. Two weeks paid by my employer and another two weeks that was comprised of every possible vacation/sick day I had. By American standards, that’s not too bad. By most other standards, though, it is.

First, those paid weeks that I took are not guaranteed to me under any federal law. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), new moms may take up to 12 weeks off, but that time is unpaid. Employers are not mandated to pay for any maternity leave, they simply have to allow new moms to take it. While I appreciate the FMLA, I don’t think it goes far enough. For most families, a 12-week unpaid leave is a luxury they can’t easily afford.

Compare this with our neighbors to the north and the south. Canadians enjoy a notoriously generous parental leave policy, receiving an entire year at 55% of their salary. Mexicans are guaranteed a lesser 12 weeks off but at a full 100% pay. And, should you venture to Europe, you’d find that many countries there offer a year — or more! — for new parents to care for their children.

As both a mother and a professional, the American parental leave laws are near and dear to my heart. By having such stringent policies, we are, in effect, forcing women to choose between spending critical months with their babies and furthering their careers. For many, financial considerations don’t even allow women to choose — it’s work or you can’t pay the bills.

I think the FMLA could use an overhaul. Thankfully, so do a lot of other people as well. If you’re interested in getting involved in this and other issues affecting families, check out Mom’s Rising, an advocacy group working to build a more family-friendly America.

SittingAround is Open (and Free Before 6/30!)

I’m happy to announce that SittingAround is now open to everyone! We opened the site up earlier this month (we had been invitation-only for a while) and are so excited to have so many new coops using our service! To celebrate our launch, all accounts created before June 30, 2011 will be free for life!

Here’s our recent press release:

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2011 Launches Innovative Babysitting Site

SEATTLE, WA — June 2, 2011 —, an innovative new option for childcare, launched to the public on Wednesday, June 1st. By making a well-run babysitting cooperative accessible to anyone with an internet connection, SittingAround will dramatically improve the way Americans consume childcare and save the average family $500 per year.

To celebrate its launch, SittingAround is waiving its $15 annual subscription fee for everyone who signs up prior to June 30th and giving those users free site access for the life of their account.

What’s A Coop?
Babysitting coops (pronounced co-ops) are small groups of parents in a neighborhood who trade babysitting, taking turns watching each other’s children. Often, coops are comprised of parents whose children go to the same daycare or school. Because each coop chooses who may join, parents only trade sitting with other parents they know and trust.

“For most parents, this is a brand-new concept,” says Erica Zidel, Founder and CEO. “Less than a quarter of parents are familiar with coops, 1 but when you tell them that there is a way to get free, easy to coordinate, high quality babysitting, their eyes light up. We want to tell as many parents as possible that coops are a great option for childcare.”

A Website that Make Coops Easy
While the basic concept of coops is simple, there is a lot of administrative work required to run a coop successfully: tracking points, scheduling sits and meetings, vetting new members,
maintaining current member contact info, etc. “When you manage a coop on, our software automates the administrative tasks for you,” says Zidel. “Our site lets parents enjoy the benefits of a well-run cooperative without the hassle.” makes it easy to start, manage, and grow babysitting cooperatives.