I was chatting to Daddy G about the kids. We were discussing the fact that Harry is almost 14 and Ellie is almost 13 and what age we should allow them to start looking after their younger siblings and we should allow them to babysit.
When I was a teenager I used to babysit all of the time, I would babysit for my sister, her friends. My mums friends. Work colleagues. In fact as a teenager I made a pretty penny by babysitting.
One new years eve I remember looking after quite a few children and making myself £150 , I wasn’t overly old I think I was around 15. All of the children were in bed apart from maybe 2 of them that were a little older who just sat and watched TV with me. There were no problems and in fact when the parents got home I was possibly the only sensible one left when the parents were drunk.
So what is the correct age?
Daddy G and I had a little debate over when it would be OK to leave them. At the moment Bethie is far too young to even consider leaving in the first place as is Freddie , However I am confident that if I need to nip to the shops Harry and Ellie are sensible enough to watch Annabelle whilst I nip the younger 2 in the car with me to go.
Sitting down and chatting I said to Daddy G how maybe it was just us being extremely over protective. Many siblings help with their younger ones. We have friends whose older children take their younger children downstairs in a morning and give them breakfast for example. But we would never allow that just in case they fell down the stairs whilst holding them. Even typing that out loud sounds a little silly particularly when I remember carrying nieces and nephews downstairs much younger than 13 & 14.
I decided to do a little research on it and found quite an interesting article on the BBC that showed a mother had been prosecuted for leaving a 14-year-old in charge of their 3-year-old sibling despite nothing happening and both children being completely safe.
There are no specific guidelines to say when you are legally allowed to leave your children to care for a sibling, nor are their guidelines to state at what age legally a child is allowed to babysit. What the guidelines do say is that no child under the age of 13 should be allowed to be unattended for long periods of time. Does this then mean that a child under the age of 13 CAN be left for a short period of time? It also says that any child left in the care of another child under the age of 16 would not be legally responsible of any child they would still remain the responsibility of the parent.
It is down to the parents discretion whether or not they believe that their child is mature enough to take care of another child.
I’m really interested to hear other people’s views on when they think its OK to allow children to babysit? Are we being overprotective by saying no and still going to be using babysitters even though our eldest is going to be 14 next month and is extremely sensible?
What age did you babysit for other people?
Do you think by being overly protective these days we are stopping our children from learning key skills when it comes to becoming parents themselves?