Before having Hunter, I read of moms who networked together to form a babysitting coop, or a systematic plan to offer parents free and competent baby-sitting in the convenience of their own neighborhoods. A coop is useful for appointments, shopping, and general uninterrupted time. A babysitting coop consists of a number of families in a community who decide to share babysitting among themselves without the exchange of money. Members should be able to leave their children without concern over their children's welfare and without financial restrictions.
Coops can be formed as a part of an existing moms club or separately. In California, I collaborated with 10 other moms to form one outside of two moms clubs in our area. I asked the Moms Club of Long Beach and the Moms Helping Moms of Long Beach if there was any interest, then held a meeting in my home. We decided that forming one outside of our moms group was a good idea so that liability wasn't an issue. In Virginia, I formed one initially by posting announcements on craigslist, or passing out flyers at local churches and doctor's offices, then host informational meetings in my home. Later it made sense to integrate this coop into our local MOMS Club of Portsmouth-Suffolk. If you decide to start one, figure out the needs of your community to decide how you'd like to integrate it into what is already in place. Babysitting coops I have implemented have been featured in the New York Times in July, 2007 and the Roanoke Times in August, 2010.
Here's a list of resources I've created to help our coop function. Please use them if it helps you to create a coop in your area, or improve one that you are already in.