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babysitter dilemma

(17 Posts)
Squashedbuthappy Sat 22-Jun-13 14:24:18

We have two children (5 and 8) and regularly use a 15 year old girl to babysit for us. She has been great so far, paying lots of attention to the kids and being pretty confident in managing them when they wake up/get upset while we're out etc. We are the first family she ever babysat for, and I think she was trying to show us how reliable she would be. However, recently, I have noticed that she seems more interested in the TV than the kids when she arrives. The last time we went out my youngest got a little upset when we left and the babysitter wouldn't even get up from the sofa to comfort him (continuing to watch TV instead). My feeling is that she is in the midst of adolescence and developing a bit of an 'attitude'. Something reflected by a comment my my older child made about the babysitter seeming 'different' and like a character from an 'American TV show' recently.

We pay her a generous amount, give her a lift home and have also arranged for her to babysit for other families (prior to the apparent personality change). So I feel that there is no reason for her to lose interest in this job.

Under different circumstances I would simply not use her anymore and get someone else in to look after the kids. However, my dilemma is twofold: a) the girl is the daughter of close family friends and b) there is a severe shortage of babysitters around here. She has been great in the past, but something is definitely changing. I'm worried that if I bring this up with her, she and her mother may end up feeling offended. What would you do?

nannynick Sat 22-Jun-13 14:28:25

Could you go out once children are in bed or very near bedtime?

MaryPoppinsBag Sat 22-Jun-13 14:41:42

Just ask her to turn the TV off and look after the children.
She's fifteen it's your house.
I doubt she would say anything to her parents as she might be embarrassed to have to asked and she obviously isn't doing what she's paid for if she just watches TV. At her age I'd wouldn't have wanted anyone to know I was slacking. (Not that I did that in my babysitting job)
And I got paid a fiver! (Back in 94/95).

Nannyowl Sat 22-Jun-13 14:45:31

Fifteen is still legally a child. When you go out you are still the adult with the responsibility. I would say, unless her parents are close by for her to call on in an emergency, or you stay very local, she is too young. Has she done a first aid course? I would be diplomatic and still use her,if its a short time, maybe meeting at school that type of thing but also find an adult to babysit. To me babysitting mean the children are tucked up in bed otherwise childcare.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Sat 22-Jun-13 14:52:50

I would also be very reluctant to use someone so young. Actually, I would not even consider it. Sorry not to be of any help!

Squashedbuthappy Sat 22-Jun-13 17:02:48

Thank you for your replies. It's really helpful to get another perspective. We had started off with the kids being asleep and her just 'babysitting''. I guess, as things were going well she was gradually given more responsibility. Maybe too much too soon. Will have a word with her and also make sure kids are asleep when we leave from now on.

vanillavelvet Sat 22-Jun-13 17:10:15

Just thought I would add that where I grew up (Northern Ireland) it was/ is very common to have 14/ 15 year old babysitters (I babysat from the age of 14 myself).

I agree that you should have a word with her next time, and also agree that she probably won't mention it to her parents. Good luck.

Nannyowl Sat 22-Jun-13 18:11:21

Hi Vanilla you are right, I think it is still very common for 14/15 year old to babysit. I am not saying it is wrong; teenagers mature at different rates. The NCPCC have a section re babysitting, which is helpful. My own mother left school and was working full time at 15.
But I think a lot of parents don't realise they are still in a legal sense responsible. There is no UK law about leaving children alone but you can be prosecuted for not providing appropriate care. For example in the case of an accident occurring and the children being left in care of a under 18.
OPs children are not toddlers/babies so it may be ok to leave them for a short while if another adult is nearby. When my own Dd babysat I would be on standby so to speak incase she needed me for advice or help. It's a shame UK law wasn't clearer I think.
I find with teenagers best to tell them straight, what you require. The babysitter may not realise you wanted her to deal with the upset child because you were still there OP. And as others have said I wouldn't tell her parents unless she did something very unsafe. If it is regular babysitting could you find someone at a local preschool or nursery who babysits?

FannyMcNally Sat 22-Jun-13 18:28:42

Agree with nanny. I'm an adult and still not sure whether to let the parent deal with a child when they are still there or to sort it out myself. It's tricky as I'm obviously getting paid as soon as I walk through the door but at the same time if the child is upset he or she would maybe think it odd that their own parent is not comforting them!

RikeBider Sat 22-Jun-13 22:16:50

She's only a kid herself - she is just there to be able to call 999 in an emergency etc rather than actually do childcare. I would have the children in bed before she gets there.

ReetPetit Sat 22-Jun-13 22:49:17

why don't you just get an adult babysitter rather than a child? hmm

crazy to be prepared to take that kind of risk with your kids - and to then moan about her - she's just a kid herself - pay someone to do the job properly....

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 22-Jun-13 23:38:58

Personally I wouldn't have a 15yr as a babysitter

But if you want to carry on using her then make sure tv is off and ask her to play /spend time with kids when awake

jay55 Sun 23-Jun-13 08:40:12

Its exam time, shes probably exhausted.

thistlelicker Sun 23-Jun-13 08:45:14

I was babysitting at 13 ..... 16 years ago! My mum was two doors down!

ReetPetit Sun 23-Jun-13 08:58:43

Having just re read the last bit of your post, it sounds to me like having been initally ok and maybe even enjoying babysitting - now as she's growing up she would rather be doing other things. I would think a 15 yr old would find kids your dc age rather annoying - particularly if she is being constantly scrutinised and expected to entertain them by you. Its one thing to leave sleeping children - quite another to actually expect full on entertainment/interaction from a 15 yr old.
Could it be that as mum is a family fruend, she is making her dd do it even though she no longer wants to - possibly for fear of offending you?
I would ask your friend if her dd is still enjoying it and if she would prefer to kids to be in bed if she does want to carry on. You don't have to say you 'have noticed a change' simply as shes getting older would she rather be out with friebds etc?

How much are you paying her? Perhaps increading it without being asked/prompted might help....

Squashedbuthappy Sun 23-Jun-13 16:01:01

Just to clarify - the babysitter was at no point expected to entertain the kids. Both children are normally in their pyjamas, ready for bed. All they need is a story and someone to tuck them in. Nevertheless, I will either make sure the kids are asleep by the time we leave, or get an adult to babysit from now on. At the end of the day, I wouldn't have posted here, if I felt comfortable with the situation. And that in itself should be reason enough to change it. So now, it's more of a question of how I manage that tactfully with the girl and her mother/my friend. (They have both on numerous occasions asked if I needed her again, as she is saving money towards a trip. Also live down the road from us.). But I guess that's another story... I've really appreciated all your comments. So, thanks again for all your replies.

DIYapprentice Tue 25-Jun-13 10:12:19

If you want to be diplomatic about it (and I understand why you would) you could always ask her to babysit on a day you know she is unavailable - either babysitting elsewhere or has some sort of a function - and when she is unable to you then find the other babysitter. Having used someone else once, it is easier to use them again.

One of the rules I have for using 15 and 16 year old babysitters - we need to be out locally, and the DSs need to be in bed or almost in bed.

If the babysitting needs to start earlier, or we are further away, then it needs to be a grown up.

It's a pretty acceptable rule for most people, and one we're comfortable with.

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