Babysitting: let us think outside the box


two children running in a garden

As schools break up for long Easter holidays, arranging childcare is necessity for most parents. While there are a variety of clubs out there, hiring a teenage weekend babysitter (or a last minute babysitter), in particularly as wrap around care, can be an option worth considering.

According to Sarah-Jane Butler, founder and director of Parental Choice, "ad-hoc holiday childcare is by far the hardest form of childcare to find and can result in parents having to take time off work or paying in excess for camps and external childcare, especially if plans are made at the last minute. Using the skills of older teens to babysit whilst you work or to top and tail other plans that you have made can provide welcome relief for both you and your children, whilst enabling older children to earn money during their own holidays.”

So what is involved in hiring teenagers as childminders? Firstly, the legal considerations. In the UK there is no legal minimum age to babysit, but NSPCC suggests that careful consideration should be given to leaving anyone under 16 in sole charge of a younger child. It is also important to know that if the babysitter is under 16, parents remain legally responsible for the child’s safety.

One of the key things to consider, in our view at MyPocketSkill, for that piece of mind is if the teenager had First Aid or CPR training. So we recommend that you find a babysitter who have taken some basic safety courses. For teens there are plenty of places to acquire those skills. For example, St John’s ambulance runs Essential First Aid courses from the age 12. There are also courses local to St Albans and Harpenden, for example Daisy First Aid can provide classes at home. As an alternative there is also Mini First Aid Hertfordshire . In Brighton & Hove course providers include To Baby and Beyond and Safety Mode.

So what are the benefits to hiring a teenage babysitter? We highlight three:

  1. Positive role model for your kids

From being able to discuss what it is like to study for A-levels, why it is important to study, sharing experiences and favourite hobbies. Teenagers can be very effective role models for younger kids, as they may be able to relate better to each other. So when you think teenage babysitters think good role-models for kids.

  1. Productive childminding: sharing skills and interests

With babysitting it can help to think outside the box. Teenagers often have skills and interest that they can share with your kids. So playing / coaching sports, doing art work or even practising that piano can all be part of the babysitting package and don’t forget maths homework. And the likelihood is that your kids may appreciate and listen to teenagers' advice more than sometimes they do to yours. Plus teenagers have boundless energy - just like your kids - so more likely to do fun active things.

  1. A cost-effective way of uninterrupted work-at-home?

Teenagers can sometimes represent a very cost-effective way of providing stop-gap babysitting and there are plenty of situations which fit perfectly with the lifestyles of modern working parents. For instance, you can be working at home or catching up on admin and paying a babysitter to do something useful with the kids - helping with homework or play football in the garden.

Working from home interruption-free can be a gamble without a babysitter - remember this guy?

MyPocketSkill www.mypocketskill.com connects teenagers with paid and volunteering opportunities. Please check out our listings for offered babysitting skills.

Parental Choice www.parentalchoice.co.uk specialises in finding the right childcare for parents, working with corporates and individuals.

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