A Mom Explains The Childcare Swap She Does With Her Friend And It’s Genius
They also clean each other’s houses after the kids are in bed.
Being a stay-at-home mom of little kids and not getting a regular break can be absolutely relentless. Even with a helpful and attentive partner, days can be long and you never really get to leave the “office.” One solution that might need to happen more for all parents? Childcare swaps with friends.
Here to sell it to us is Jessica Secrest, a mom and content creator on TikTok from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has an amazing thing going with her best friend Emily. They “childcare swap” once a month to get a free break and a date night — and there are just zero downsides.
“It’s childcare swap night, which means that I’m at my friend Emily’s house,” she explained to the camera. “I fed her kids dinner, put them to bed, and now I’m waiting for her and her husband to get home from their date. And I told them stay out as late as possible please, because last time they didn’t. We made them reservations at a tiki bar downtown and then they’re going to the movies.”
The logistics are simpler than you might think.
“We do this once a month,” she continued. “So, I come over and watch her kids put them to bed and do all the bedtime routines. My husband stays home with my kids, and then in the future, she’ll do the same to me.”
And that’s not all. After the kids are in bed, they pick up each other’s houses — because it always feels better and is more fun to clean a friend’s house than your own.
“While we do this try to pick up each other’s house and just leave it better than we found it,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a break if you don’t come home to a cleaner home.”
The duo is so close that they even help each other with issues like potty training.
“I have to pat myself on the back because we are on day 4 of potty training her daughter. And yay, she peed on the potty and we threw a big dance and we have been struggling today. It was a win.”
“If you have friends with kids, you need to childcare swap,” she concludes.
“It’s so nice to reconnect with your spouse and be something other than just a mom. Because I am a stay-at-home mom and sometimes it feels like all I am is waiting on kids, cleaning butts and wiping noses. And I never get to be with my spouse at all. Doing this once a month really helps.”
How did Jessica and Emily come up with the childcare swap? Scary Mommy spoke to her about the origin story.
“My best friend Emily brought it up first and when my husband and I were struggling and we reached out to our son’s therapist for advice and she suggested this as well,” she explains. “So we started planning our first childcare swap that same week. We now do this monthly!”
It’s not the only way they share the load of parenting at home, now.
“We basically co-parent our kids together,” she continues. “They are being raised more like siblings than friends. We spend most days together doing park play dates, zoo trips, or just hanging out at each other’s house tag teaming house work and watching the kids. When we potty train our kids we do it as a team. The more hands and eyes on the kids, the easier parenthood is!”
And not only is parenting easier, but the childcare swaps have helped their romantic relationships as well.
“Both of our marriages have benefitted from having time to reconnect one on one without the kids,” she says. “I don’t think we truly realized how much we needed it until we started doing the childcare swap.”
Down in the comments, parents were excited by the idea of regular childcare swaps with friends — although some of the top comments were from moms who shared that they didn’t have close friends like that to swap with. Secrest followed up with a video about how she and Emily found each other two years ago, along with her best advice for finding friends.
“My best piece of advice is to push through the awkwardness of making new friends and ask a mom you get along with for her number,” she tells Scary Mommy. “Most moms find themself in this really lonely season of motherhood when their kids are small where you don’t have a village to help you when you are struggling. And many of us run into moms at the park and think ‘Man, I wish I could have a friend like HER!’ Well… you can. But you have to get out of your comfort zone and ask.”
“That is how Emily and I were before we found one another,” she says. “I approached her at the park we were at and asked for her number, and I’m so glad I did! We hit it off and have been inseparable ever since. Motherhood would feel impossible without her. I am not sure either of us would be as good of a mom or as patient as we are if we didn’t have each other there to help on those hard days.”