Do you let your teenager 'look after' younger ones if you need to pop out?

(21 Posts)
Janus Tue 19-Mar-13 21:29:19

Hello, I have 4 children, the oldest is 3 months away from being 13. On the very odd occasion i wonder if it would be appropriate to leave her in charge of my (in two week's time) 2 year old boy and/or very nearly 5 year old girl (the next oldest is very nearly 10 and I have left the nearly 10 year old and nearly 13 year old on their own while I do a close pick up, taking the younger one/s)? I am thinking if I need to pop to the shops for milk or picking up another from an activity, say about 10-15 mins. She is a very responsible, lovely girl but I worry about the unexpected happening, eg car breaks down. We both have mobiles so can contact one another. I think I am worried if, legally, this is incorrect to do? I am married but husband works away in the week so he cannot be my back up. What do you think/feel is right?

Not sure. 14 year old dd minds 5 year old and 7yr old sometimes, for up to an hour. I make sure they are fed, clothed, washed etc so it is really a sitting watching tv together task. Don't leave second ds (asd) with her, way too much to deal with.
Really not sure. My instinct is no, because I didn't until recently so they were a bit older.

Janus Tue 19-Mar-13 21:45:45

Thank you, for some reason, even though she is totally trustworthy and lovely, I feel it is too much to ask her too. My husband seems to think it would be OK so we have opposite views, which is rare!! In my head i seem to have it that legally she would have to be 14 which maybe makes more sense.
Thanks.

There's no legal requirement, just nspcc guidelines.
Hmm. 12 and a lot, 9, 4 and 2. If the older ones get on, you could leave them? And, tbh, depending on your dcs, I might leave the older one and the two little ones, IF she knew to stay with them, and no food, cooking, water, going outside etc was involved. I think you need to avoid leaving ones that bicker.

5madthings Tue 19-Mar-13 21:55:11

I leave my 13 yr old with the 10 and 8 yr old if I nip to the shops and I will leave my just 5 yr old with the eldest but I wouldn't leave all four together.

My youngest is 26mths and I won't leave her with ds1 unless she is asleep is nap time.

Just recently I have been letting him babysit in the evenings. I put the youner four to bed and ds1will stay up whilst I go out for a run for 40-50mins.

It depends on how well they get on and the personalities of the children.

weblette Tue 19-Mar-13 22:03:10

I do leave dd (13) to look after her younger brothers (11, 9, 5) but only if I know our next door neighbours will be in. She is very responsible and they know to behave, they also know not to use the cooker/kettle/run baths if I'm away.

AnyFucker Tue 19-Mar-13 22:06:47

your dd is 12, not a teenager

and 3 younger children is a lot for a 12 yo to be responsible for

so no, I wouldn't in your particular scenario

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 22:09:06

Yes, for a short time during the day.

BrawToken Tue 19-Mar-13 22:15:01

Prob not yet, maybe next year, right now it would not be fair to do that to your eldest if there was an emergency.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 19-Mar-13 22:17:01

The older two, sure. I would be happy to leave the 12 year old and the 4/5 year old, I should think, but I think looking after a toddler might be a bit much.

Janus Tue 19-Mar-13 22:51:31

Sorry, I should have really made myself clear and given a proper example. This is the scenario that has recently occurred.
On a Friday evening the 10 year old (in two weeks) does tag rugby, meant to finish at 4.45pm always runs late. My nearly 5 year old has a swimming lessons at 5.00. Husband is at home so he collects nearly 10 year old at the same time that I then need to leave to get to swimming, 4.50. So, I have sat in the driveway with car running and as soon as he texts he is leaving I have left so 2 year old (in two weeks, same week as other child!) is with the nearly teenager and he is home at 4.55/5.00. Total time nearly teenager in charge of only the 2 year old is around 5-10 mins. We have done this twice but both times I wondered if this was the right thing to do. Husband texts me as soon as he is home, 2 year old is sitting on daughter's lap watching Something Special and in heaven!
I have never had a scenario yet where I have thought to leave nearly teenager with the nearly 5 year old and actually I think I should have asked when did people start doing this. I think I am more wistfully wondering when I can do something like parents evening without taking the whole tribe! I am not at the point yet where I can ask oldest to look after the rest but wondered how long it would be (but, of course, every family is different).
Thanks again!

AnyFucker Tue 19-Mar-13 22:55:35

Gosh, that is a very different scenario than the one I was envisioning

12 yo waiting for dad with 2yo for no more than 10 minutes

that sounds ok to me

BackforGood Tue 19-Mar-13 23:05:08

In the scenario in your 2nd post - yes, no problem.
I would agree with the others that leaving a 12, or 13 yr old with 3 younger siblings to look after for an hour is probably not a good idea.
Generally, I would be more comfortable leaving the oldest with the 5 yr old than the 2 yr old, but it does depend a lot on their personalities, and I think we all tend to think of our own child(ren) and answer with them in mind.
When my eldest was just turning 13, "responsible" was not a word you'd use in the same sentence as his name, however, my middle one would have been quite competent doing this at 11. there is no 'legal age' and you can only judge knowing the situation each time.

BadRoly Tue 19-Mar-13 23:09:43

I leave dc1(11, yr7) at home with dc4 (3) if dc4 is asleep while I collect dc2&3 from a club one night a week. I am gone 10-15 mins. I won't leave them if dc4 is awake. Dh works away here too and it is a pita.

duchesse Tue 19-Mar-13 23:17:50

There is 16, 14, and 12 years between my older children and their now 3.5 yo little sister. I have felt able to leave DD3 with DD1 since she was born, with DD2 since she was a few months old and am still a bit hmm about leaving her with now 19 yo DS. If I have to, it's with a huge and exhaustive list of instructions. It's not about expectations on him, it's about different personalities. The two girls are far more mature than their brother- even now when he's legally an adult and DD2 is still 15. So I think it entirely depends on personality of the children involved.

Movingtimes Tue 19-Mar-13 23:22:21

I would definitely leave my just turned 13 year old in charge of one small child for up to an hour. She is very sensible and good with children. Probably not two small children though as multi tasking is a lot to ask. I happily leave her in charge of the 10 year old for an hour or two if the oldest who is 15 is not about.

Ponders Tue 19-Mar-13 23:23:26

DD1 was just 11 when DS2 was born, so was 13 when he was 2 (DD2 was then 10 & DS1 6)

I used to leave them all at home occasionally while I nipped out to the supermarket, or would leave 2 of the 3 older ones with the toddler while I took the 3rd one to an activity

when the eldest child is a girl it's probably a bit more reassuring, but does depend entirely on the personalities involved IMO

FridgePervert Tue 19-Mar-13 23:43:29

Ds 1 (11) sometimes watches ds2 (2) for 10 minutes while I drop dd at a club. Ds 2 tired at this time anyway so he goes in his buggy and watches Thomas Tank.
So I'd say it's fine in the situation you described.

breadandbutterfly Wed 20-Mar-13 08:44:38

Sounds fine to me. I leave my dd (13) in charge of her 2 younger siblings (10 and 6) for 20 mins or so on odd occasions - she is v sensible.

By that age, I was being paid to babysit other people's children - and there were no mobiles then!

Janus Wed 20-Mar-13 19:22:08

Thank you for all the replies. I think I will stick to the odd occasion when I know husband is on his way home and daughter would just be 10 mins max with the little one. It's probably some time yet before I inflict the rest of them on her!!

pinkyponk67 Wed 20-Mar-13 20:27:26

I have similar large age gap, DS1 is 13 and DD is 2. To be honest it would have been safer to leave them alone when DS was 11 and she was a baby and stayed happily on her playmat! The danger is that the young teen gets distracted while the toddler gets into mischief, eg she can drag a chair across the kitchen and climb up on the work top. I would leave them for no more than 5-10 mins in front of tv as OP describes, but that's all!

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