Commentary | COVID disrupted a Piedmont tradition. Let’s bring it back.

If you’re a Piedmont parent with kids around ages 5 to 12, this article is for you. It’s about the Piedmont Babysitting Co-op. The Babysitting Co-op is one of those great Piedmont traditions that makes this town so special and family-friendly.

The basic idea is simple: when a family joins the Co-op, the parents receive a stack of orange tickets. Each ticket is good for a half-hour of babysitting (no matter the number of children). When others babysit for you, you give them tickets. When you babysit, you receive tickets for future use. There’s an online calendar where parents sign up to host. If you want a night of babysitting, you simply check the calendar and let the hosts know.

A typical evening consists of some playtime, maybe with an organized activity; dinner and dessert; and a movie. For the hosts, it is a fun handful … and it’s a celebratory feeling when the last children are picked up and you count the stack of orange tickets you have for future use.

The tickets themselves are proof of the Co-op’s proud history.  They look to be printed on a late 80s Mac printer. That means for decades the tickets have been exchanged between Piedmont parents for hosting one another’s children.

In some important ways, the Co-op was much better than hiring a babysitter.

  • You don’t have to find a babysitter
  • It builds community: you meet other families, and your kids connect with other kids, especially from elementary schools not their own
  • For the kids, it’s more fun and social than having a babysitter
  • You don’t just get a babysitter, you get your house to yourself for an evening

The Co-op had a natural continuity: as kids aged out, new families would join. COVID stopped all that. Even though our kids are now too old for Co-op, we would like to help the Co-op get going again. If you are a parent in Piedmont with kids in about kindergarten to 6th grade, and the Co-op sounds intriguing to you, please reach out to us (email addresses below). We’d be happy to support you in re-starting the Co-op.

It’s hard to put into words how special the Co-op is and how much it meant to our families. It’s a wonderful Piedmont tradition. It’s great for parents and kids. We’d love to see it spring back to life.

Jonathan Becker ( and his wife Virginia Watkins have an 8th grader at PMS and an 11th grader at PHS. Jen Ferguson ( and her husband David Ferguson have a 9th grader and an 11th grader at PHS. All four kids went to Wildwood and loved the babysitting co-op.

3 thoughts on “Commentary | COVID disrupted a Piedmont tradition. Let’s bring it back.

  1. For sure co-op was one of the best parts of Piedmont, for our kids and for us parents. I hope that it can return to serve more families and build community! The co-op kids forged relationships that were across ages, schools, social groups and interests. These friendships also helped them as they moved into middle school and already knew kids from other schools.

  2. A wonderful experience. So happy it will come back for others. One of the best parts about having little kids in Piedmont.

  3. This was a wonderful community building structure, thanks for trying to get it started again! My kids, who are all in college now, still remember their coop events fondly. As do we.

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