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Teenage babysitters. or The Thread They Forgot to Start.

(48 Posts)
j08 Thu 04-Jul-13 17:35:12

interesting blog

My thirteen year old daughter was perfectly capable of babysitting her nine year year old sister and her baby brother. Would that really be frowned upon now?

Nonu Thu 04-Jul-13 17:43:32

Interesting !

How times change !

Greatnan Thu 04-Jul-13 17:58:21

Looking back, I am amazed at what my sister and I had to do when our mother was working. My sister was expected to walk me home from school and entertain me when she was ten and I was six. She would also light the coal fire and peel the potatoes. At nine, I would get the bus from school to the butcher's to pick up the order (it was the same every week). My oldest sister had a baby when I was ten, and at 11 I would pick her up from the child-minder and look after her until my sister got home from work.
My own daughters would babysit for our next door neighbour when they were about 12 - but they knew they could call for me if they had any problems.
It is very odd that today's children are so precocious in some ways, and yet infantalised in others.

BAnanas Thu 04-Jul-13 18:22:47

We had a lovely teenage baby sitter when our children were young, she lived directly opposite us and her wonderful mum told us she would always be happy to come over if there were any emergencies This girl was a bit of a soft touch though, we came home about midnight one evening and found her out in the garden with the boys, aged about 3 and 7 playing football because they had asked her so nicely she felt she couldn't turn them down!

She went off to university, I bumped into her a while back, she now has three children of her own, I did ask her whether she still played midnight football with them, but she said sadly she was too tired for that now. I told her that the boys missed her a lot when she went away because the next teenage baby sitter we had wasn't quite so amenable!

ninathenana Thu 04-Jul-13 18:28:05

My then neighbour and I would babysit her 3 yr old sister every Friday. We were about 13 at the time. But my mum was next door.
I don't think I would have left mine with an under 16. I was lucky though mum was a 5min drive away.

BAnanas Thu 04-Jul-13 18:28:39

My parents never arranged for babysitters for us, I think we probably had grandparents look after us when we were very little, but once we got to primary school age they generally just went out and left us to it, with the hope that we wouldn't kill each other!

Nonu Thu 04-Jul-13 18:41:32

When mine were small , i was in a babysitting circle with other Mums .

BAnanas Thu 04-Jul-13 18:54:51

My children were lucky they had grown up half siblings who would baby sit for us for the very occasional week-end away.

nanaej Thu 04-Jul-13 19:50:24

When my kids were small I was luck to have my parents nearby and a brother at a local Uni who did school pick up for me!

Greatnan Thu 04-Jul-13 19:57:26

Of course, there are quite a few 15 year old girls looking after their own babies.

annodomini Thu 04-Jul-13 20:50:30

I joined baby sitting circles in two different places. It was a good way to meet other mums and quite a number of us were also in the NHR. There weren't many teenagers around where we lived.

Humbertbear Fri 05-Jul-13 07:03:08

My 12 year old sister babysat us at weekends - aged 6 and 3 - but we lived in a flat so the neighbours would have been alerted if anything was wrong.(my mother thought). My 12 and 9 year old simply ignored the babysitter, very politely, so we decided if we were local they could be left on their own for a few hours.
They were fine and nothing untoward happened . My daughter was only 13/14 when she started babysitting for friends. However I do wonder if people of that age could make the right decisions in an emergency?
15 year olds aren't supposed to be having babies. They are supposed to be at school. Sorry - I'm off on a rant.

inishowen Fri 05-Jul-13 07:46:36

My brother had to take me and my friends out during the summer holidays. We would have been seven, and he was twelve. He would take us on the bus to Belfast to the museum, and make us look at the mummy, which terrified us! I don't think a 12 year old could cope if anything went wrong.

Greatnan Fri 05-Jul-13 08:13:05

I didn't say they should be having babies - just that they are!

Marelli Fri 05-Jul-13 08:44:34

My eldest babysat her younger brother and sister when she was about 14/15. Not into the night, but after school and until I got home from work. There was a neighbour on hand however, should there have been an 'emergency'.
Humbertbear, I was pregnant at 15 - perhaps I wasn't supposed to be having babies then, and it certainly wasn't in my main scheme of things, as I was at school...but hey ho....hmm.

j08 Fri 05-Jul-13 08:48:32

I can remember, as a small child, taking out a neighbour's baby for long walks with a bunch of other kids. The oldest would have been about 12! One of those big old prams. I think it was the pram I enjoyed most. Always had a thing about real prams. I don't remember being interested in the baby.

Of course, the roads would have been very quiet then. The worst I can remember is a couple of runaway horses charging down the street!

Greatnan Fri 05-Jul-13 08:52:20

I was always baby-mad and used to ask any neighbour with a baby if I could take it for a walk. My niece was born the day before my tenth birthday and I worshipped her. I would read her stories in the middle of the night so my sister, who was unmarried (very brave to keep her baby in 1950) could sleep as she had to go to work.

j08 Fri 05-Jul-13 08:55:29

Women often had so many babies in those days that they were glad for anyone (almost) to take them off their hands. [grins]

Greatnan Fri 05-Jul-13 09:02:27

I'll have you know I was a very mature and responsible ten-year old!

dorsetpennt Fri 05-Jul-13 09:09:27

In the States and Canada it's traditional almost to have teenage baby sitters, its how they earn their extra allowance. I was brought in Canada and baby sat for toddlers from the age of fourteen. When I lived in New York I had babysitters of that age and up to sit for my two. I would not have left the children with a young sitter when they were babies of course. I knew the teenager, or they came highly recommended by other parents. Our best was David, whose sister went to school with my son, we are still in contact all these years later. When I lived in London when I just had my son, I relied on friends or a baby sitting group. The latter meant that I would have to sit for them. Quite frankly I preferred to pay a teenager.

milkflake Fri 05-Jul-13 09:31:33

I used to babysit from the age of 14 but only for people in our street so my Mum was close by if anything went wrong, it never did.

My DIL in USA always used very young teenagers to babysit, but the ones I saw were very competent , 2, 13 year olds who fed the boys, bathed them and put them to bed while we all went out for dinner. It was early evening and the parents of the BS were 2 doors away.
DIL said by the time kids were 16/17 years old they were too busy going out to babysit so it was always young teens who got the jobs.

dizzyblonde Fri 05-Jul-13 09:42:47

I used to leave my 13 year old daughter in charge of her brothers aged 12 and 10 whilst I was at work (only eight years ago). The house was ever so slightly untidy but the children were alive.

I wonder if her experience made her choose her career of paediatric nursing. grin

Greatnan Fri 05-Jul-13 10:02:32

I wonder if slightly younger teenagers might be less likely to invite their boy/girl/friend round and get distracted!

Gagagran Fri 05-Jul-13 10:21:59

I had a friend who, aged 7 during the war, used to have the door key round her neck on a length of string. When she came home from school she put a match to the fire which her Mother had pre-laid and then set the table for the meal which her Mother cooked when she got in from work.

She said it was nothing out of the ordinary to do that as it was wartime and needs must. There was never a problem though I expect today the NSPCC would be out in force!

familylikeness Fri 05-Jul-13 12:01:19

I'm really enjoying reading your comments, thanks so much for adding them. Lighting a coal fire as a youngster is impressive! Walking to school is an interesting issue, I walked to school on my own (although with friends so not really alone) from the age of 7. I still remember getting to the top of the hill and in total panic not knowing which way to go...but I soon learned. My daughter wanted to walk to school without me from the age of 9, but no other parent would let their child go with her! Mind you, it's a half an hour walk with really busy London roads to cross. When I lived in Botswana in the 1990s all the children in my extended family gathered wood, made fires, walked miles to standpipes for water, carrying younger siblings with i guess it's all to do with circumstances?