Thirty years ago, these area women formed
the Moms Co-Op of Oak Park.
Phyllis Theodos made the first call. She'd read about
babysitting co-ops in Parents magazine. She also had twins, which
may have given her twice the incentive.
It was 1980 and Theodos had been in a Lamaze class at West
Suburban Hospital with Diane Stephenson, Chris Dame, Edie Schaefer
and Alice Goorsky. The fivesome formed the original Moms Co-op of
Evidently, they organized it well because the group just
celebrated its 30th anniversary. Not that they're babysitting for
one another anymore.
The babysitting system was carefully regulated. Half-hour cards
were printed up and handed over for the amount of babysitting time
logged. Theodos used up one and a half cards for each half hour
because it was double duty.
In the era before cell phones and answering machines became
standard equipment, you kept going down the list until you found
someone at home. Calls had to be made at least 24 hours in
Every month, the moms met at a different home for refreshments
and to share stories and ideas. It helped that Dame was a preschool
teacher and Theodos a nurse.
"We didn't have to call the doctors all the time," Schaeffer
says. "This was an important source of support and friendship since
these were the first babies for each of us and most of us did not
have family nearby. We shared information and concerns. It helped
us reinforce our perceptions of what was normal."
The first week of December, the moms still hold a cookie
exchange, followed by a Christmas party (husbands included) on the
second Saturday of December.
Schaeffer strongly recommends the co-op concept to young
"It's wonderful-emotionally supportive for the moms and the
dads. It's been great knowing the same women through all our trials
and tribulations, like having a family."
Schaeffer says the comments in the 30th anniversary party album
speak for themselves: "Thirty years of fun, friendship, cookies,
support and good times-parenting made better because of you all. It
truly does take a village."
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