8 creative ways moms and dads can save time and money all year round by coordinating with other families, from organizing clothing swaps and meal swaps to sharing childcare.
Organize a Swap
Have a ton of items you want to get rid of and a list of things you need? Time for a trade, in which everyone donates clean, gently used goods and picks up free "new" stuff. If there isn't a regular swap in your community, set one up in your home or place of worship. Recruit at least eight friends—more for a wider variety of merchandise—with similar taste to contribute outgrown toys, gear and clothes (and clothing for yourself). Include moms who have kids in a range of ages so you aren't left with a mountain of onesies. Sort and label everything by category and invite participants to take the same number of items they brought. Leftovers? Send the group back for a second round and donate the rest.
Reality Checker Approved: "Around the last weekend in September, my moms club hosts an annual Halloween costume swap at someone's house. We organize the costumes by size and gender on clothing racks and issue tickets that entitle people to take as many things as they came with; if there's a big crowd, we draw numbers to decide who shops first. New costumes are pricey—it's crazy to spend a lot on something kids may wear only once."—Danielle Condon, 35, Nashville