I have to confess that when I first agreed to join my Sitster group, I had some reservations. The benefit of having my friends babysit for me for free while I got a night out with my husband was a no-brainer, but what about when it was my turn to return the favour? Much as I love my friends’ kids, the idea of having a night off from my own, only to spend the time herding someone else’s into bed was not exactly enticing.

So, when our first Sitster date came up, I asked my husband to do it. And he did which I thought was REALLY nice of him. He was quite smiley when he got home but he said that he didn’t have much to report. “I’ll do it”, he said when the next Sitster notification pinged a few weeks later and off he went again, quite smiley.

It only took him expressing enthusiasm for a third time for me to begin to wonder if I might be missing something. So I said I’d do it. He didn’t give up without a fight – it took a pretty flukey scissor, paper, stone victory to secure the right to take his place. As I dashed out of the house, leaving him surrounded by dirty plates and semi-constructed lego, and bellowing at the children to brush their teeth, I felt a quiet sense of triumph.

When I got to Sarah’s house, the penny dropped. She’d tidied up, her children were in bed. She’d even lit some candles for me in the sitting room and left a magazine on the coffee table next to a glass of wine and some popcorn. When she told me to call her if I needed her and said that she wouldn’t be home late, I have to say, I wasn’t really concentrating. The next couple of hours were bliss. I watched a bit of telly, browsed Twitter, supped my wine and, other than nipping upstairs to check that sleeping heads were still on pillows, I didn’t move. Most miraculously, because I was technically doing my friend a favour, this inertia was completely guilt free. Often, when I’m at home, I’m too distracted by clutter or unwashed dinner plates, or fixated by that patch on the wall that desperately needs painting to truly relax. At Sarah’s house that evening, none of those things mattered. It felt like a treat. And it felt pretty good when Sarah came home and told me what an awesome friend I am.

Next morning, I googled “how to win at scissor, paper, stone”. “Best of three?” I said to my husband, when Sitster next pinged. And I felt quite smiley.

Liz, a Sitster app user.

Sitster is a mobile app to help friends organise a babysitting circle. Sitster makes it quick and easy to arrange babysitting amongst a group of your trusted friends, using a points system so it’s completely free and fair.