Date Night–for anyone whose been married longer than about 5 minutes, its something you hear constantly. “You should have a date night.” Sure, time alone with your sweetie to rekindle those romantic feelings sound amazing, but…what about the kids? With an average babysitting tab running between $50-100 for a typical movie-and-dinner-date, its an expense most of us just can’t afford, especially when times are tough and we are stretching each dollar to the fullest. Have no fear…here are some sure fire tips to save your hard earned money on babysitting–without ripping off the babysitter.
1. Go out in the afternoon. If you have school-aged kids, or even if you work full time and have kids in daycare, consider taking an afternoon off work and hitting an early matinee or grabbing lunch at your favorite bistro. Your kids will still be in school/daycare, so no need to make extra arrangements. Bonus–a matinee and lunch is way cheaper than an evening movie and dinner.
2. Barter. Consider trading goods or services for babysitting. Can you cut hair, repair an engine, organize a kitchen cupboard, or even tutor a child? These are all services that your neighbors or friends might be very willing to trade you babysitting for. Alternately, put that stockpile to use. Consider trading a set amount of goods from your stockpile for babysitting. That extra laundry detergent and toothpaste wont be missed (since you’ll be able to grab some for free or cheap next Sunday anyway being the coupon maven that you are), and you’ll score some alone time with a much needed friend or spouse.
3. Join a babysitting co-op, or create your own. Have a group of friends with children? Offer to watch each others kids on a night when you don’t have anything planned. Having 4 or 5 kids over isn’t as stressful as it would seem–Netflix, a bowl of popcorn and sleeping bags are a mom’s best friends during a babysitting “slumber party.” Bonus–this allows for all-night retreats for your honey and yourself, so you could get away for an evening out of town or even just stay home and snuggle up sans-kiddos.
4. Stay in! Put the kids to bed a little early and set up a romantic (and frugal) date night at home. A bottle of wine, some candles for ambience…you get the idea Or, spread a blanket on the living room floor and have a mini-picnic of your favorite desserts.
5. You do dinner, I do dessert….Switch off with a couple that also wants to do a date night on the same night. One couple can take the kiddos while the first couple goes out to dinner and a movie, and that couple can then watch the kiddos while the second couple grabs drinks and dessert. By combining an early-evening date and a late-night suare, both couples are able to have their kids attended to without the stress of finding a sitter.
6. Group Date? No Problem! Shuffle all the kids over to one house (this works best if there are 3 to 4 families) for a slumber party and hire 1-2 really reputable sitters to watch the entire group of kids. You can then split the cost of paying the sitters 4 ways, which makes it much more affordable for each couple.
7. Put the Daddy’s on duty. Need a ladies night out? Have the Dads take the kids to one house for an evening of xbox and pizza. They’ll get their “man-time” in and you’ll get your “girl’s time” in, and everyone walks away happy at the end of the night!
Regardless of how you choose to frugalize your date nights and ladies nights out, babysitting will always be an expense. These are just a few ideas for how you can cut that expense while still paying the babysitter a fair price. What are your suggestions for saving money on babysitting?