Madison East Side Babysitting Coop

February 5, 2012


People do without money in many different ways – from simple bartering to using bitcoin on-line. In 2005, a group of parents in Madison did it by creating a babysitting coop.

It’s simple.  Colored popsicle sticks are traded per hour of babysitting.  All families start with a limited number of sticks. So, once you’re out of popsicle sticks, you have to babysit to get more. Families are added to the group and problems are discussed at potlucks every 4 months. And it’s all organized on-line. Since 2005, the group has traded some 1,250 hours of babysitting worth more than 15,000 dollars.

Want to start your own babysitting COOP? Here are their guidelines.

Madison Eastside Babysitting COOP

Elllen Carlson, Erika Monroe-Kane and Amanda Jovaag



As i passed by the radio this AM, i heard this Interview. I stopped in my tracks and listened to the whole thing, mainly because I too, 2 decades ago, was in a BBSitting Coop in my n'hood. And I totally agree, it pretty much made parenting (single for me) way easier. And 20some years later, i am still good friends with some of those coop parents, and our kids are still friends, too. Here is the clincher : my 'hood at the time was the east side of Madison, Wi.

We started to do two things: 1) make managing coops easier by writing software to take care of the hassles (create member lists, request sits, transfer and track points, etc) and 2) to evangelize for the coop model of babysitting.

If you're going to start a coop, I'd highly recommend managing it online -- there are a dozen little things that you have to get right to manage a coop effectively; software can make sure those happen every time while reducing the hours you spend on administrative work to nearly zero

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.