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To briefly leave my children unattended?

(60 Posts)
littleducks Wed 23-Jul-08 21:23:59

I live in a massionette block to get to my front door you need to climb four flights of stairs. Directly below my front door and kitchen window is a small childrens playpark with a fence and gate. At times i have trouble getting my children 2 and 4 months up the stairs with my shopping. I have a double buggy which i cannot negotiate the stairs and balcony with. I generally take the kids out fold buggy put it in my small shed at the bottom of the stairs and leave any non perishable stuff in the shed until someone else is home or kids asleep etc.

Today my eldest was feeling a bit peaky after a jab yesterday, i went to the supermarket to get milk, eggs and dishwasher salt etc she fell asleep in the buggy. So i left the buggy parked with both kids in the playpark while i carried the shopping upstairs so not to disturb her with the intention of the sitting in the park after the milk was in the fridge till she woke.

I went upstairs, two community police officers on bikes stopped thinking my children had been abandoned. I called to them that they were my children and the caretaker who i had told i was leaving kids in park to run shopping upstairs then not hearing me explained.

The cpos then proceeded to tell me when i returned that i should be more careful as someone could come and run off with my children. I said i was surprised to hear that from the police as i was trying to avoid bringing my children up ?in a climate of fear? I explained i could see them at all times and had to carry shopping there is no lift etc. That dd was asleep and i didn?t want to wake her as then she would cry and not let me go back downstairs to collect shopping if i left the shopping at the bottom of the stairs. I also pointed out i had informed the caretaker who was clearing rubbish not far away. They did finally agree that as i could see them it wasn?t an unreasonable thing to do but told me to be more careful.

They were nice and polite enough but did leave me feeling judged, even though in hindsight i don?t think is was irresponsible to do. Am i completly wrong on this????

kerryk Wed 23-Jul-08 21:28:20

sounds like you were doing your best in a bad situation.

as long as you could see your dc at all times then i cant see the problem, and by that i mean i would be worried that one of them would have been scared or tried to climb out the buggy and hurt themselves. i dont get to stresses about people lurking round the corner ready to snatch children.

bluewolf Wed 23-Jul-08 21:31:58

my god, you did the only thing that made sense at the time and were much more careful than I have been loads of times. Why aren't these CPO's throwing themselves in front of knives somewhere?

somersetmum Wed 23-Jul-08 21:34:39

I think you should listen to what the cpos told you. Unfortunately, you cannot be too careful anywhere these days. What if your two year-old had woken and managed to get out of the buggy? It is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

I think that, under the circumstances, what you did as a one-off was reasonable, especially if you had alerted the caretaker. However, please don't make a habit of doing it. You may well be able to see them at all times, but that will be a fat lot of good if you are four floors up and someone else approaches them or one of them gets out of the buggy.

WhatsupDoc Wed 23-Jul-08 21:42:37

Littleducks, I was thinking about this today

I am just learning how to 'do' things with 2 DCs (2 yrs & 4 wks) Today we'd run out of milk. I couldn't be arsed with the carry on of getting them both out of the car and into sling/carseat/trolley to go into Sainsbury's or wherever for a couple of pints of milk. So I wondered whether it was acceptable to leave DC in the car, for example, outside a spar shop or similar just so I could pop in and get milk.

In the end I went to a garage to buy it (they'd sold out too smile)

I suppose my answer is - I think what you did is fine and you didn't have much choice, but when I'm in the same situation I do have a nagging feeling that if anything happened I'd never forgive myself.

MsHighwater Wed 23-Jul-08 21:43:24

I agree that it was not unreasonable in the circumstances but that you should try to avoid being in this situation again.

Your home sounds a lot less than ideal for small kids especially if you usually have to manage them alone. I know they won't be in a buggy forever but you are looking at a couple more years of it at least and there's no guarantee that it won't be worse, not better, trying to get them and you and your shopping up and downstairs once they are both walking.

Is moving to somewhere more accessible an option?

daffodill6 Wed 23-Jul-08 21:48:04

IMO you were being practical - and streetwise.

There are not people around all corners looking to steal children... most mothers do what you did - ie ensure their children are in view, as you say yours were, and inform others of what you are doing.

Unfortunately not everybody has practical experience ie cpos, and not eveyone has a good helpful, network behind them to help - even in ordinary circumstances.

lisalisa Wed 23-Jul-08 21:55:13

I probably would have left them outside front door to main block rather than in playpark - would have felt safer - presuming that your block ahs a main door and lobby.

Whe nI lived in a flat I used to put the double buggy in the communal lobby bit and load the lift wiht shopping and then run up to the top floor and call the lift and then unleod shopping and go back down for dcs. A completfe nightmare and yhou have my smpathies.

However when you're gong up the 4 flights of stairs can yhou still see the playpark or is it only visible from yhor flat? IN other words is there a time when you cna't see them - however fleeting ? If so then also by virtue of factg that they're in a public space alone too I would be a bit nervous of that.

LyraSilvertongue Wed 23-Jul-08 22:00:41

YANBU, but in that situation I probably wouldn't have bothered taking the shopping upstairs unless I had frozen stuff defrosting. Milk will be ok out of the fridge for an hour or two.

farfaraway Wed 23-Jul-08 22:26:20

YSNBU..I lived in appartment with 3dd's and understand entirely. You have to get yourself and shopping and children up stairs at some point that day! I have left sleeping children in pushchair to sprint the stairs against a lift full of shopping. Yes there is a miniscule risk..or you could make a bad day a nightmare for not taking one tiny tiny risk. And you had dc in sight and had informed the caretaker. Police do not live your life and are there to help not hinder.

littleducks Wed 23-Jul-08 22:42:00

ok so am feeling better

there is not a lobby, other people leave buggies at bottom of stairs but then there are not in view at all due to way staircase is

playpark in view at all times

somersetmum they didnt actually suggest anything i should do unfortunately except 'be careful'

lyra- i had to take the shopping up at some point, my choice was to take shopping or kids first, usually i leave shopping but left children today as they were asleep, whern they woke i would still need to do two trips and then have to leave children unattended the choice is upstairs (locked/unlicked) in house or downstairs

PinkTulips Wed 23-Jul-08 23:08:32

i used to have a similar situation with a duplex appartment up a flight of stairs and 2 very young children (dd was 18 months when ds was born in that flat and he was just under a year when we moved)

i used to leave the empty buggy at the bottom of the stairs and carry ds up while dd climbed up ahead of me, then gate them into the living room with ds in his playpen while i ran down for the buggy. purely on the basis that they were safer alone for 20 seconds in the house than on the street.

if ds was asleep i'd slowly haul the buggy up backwards with dd climbing up ahead of me. (i never bought a double because of the stairs... dd walked everywhere at that age)

that said, in yoour situation you had asked the caretake rto watch them so can't see much of a problem really... it's not like they were ungaurded and totally alone.

blueskythinker Wed 23-Jul-08 23:14:38

Seems perfectly reasonable. I think there is a bit of national hysteria about child-snatching since poor Madelaine McCann went missing.

I was accosted by a man when I was 8.5 months pregnant, for having left my DD (2yrs) in my locked car, 20 ft away, in my full view whilst I was in a shop for 2 minutes.

As they say - you should be more careful . . . hmm

littleducks Wed 23-Jul-08 23:20:25

I did wonder if they would have noticed/queried if i had left them in car, not a buggy.

I am more cautious of that since dhs car caught fire due to electrical fault while parked on mils driveway (before any one gets totally paranoid we saw smoke, went outside unstrapped car seats removed contents of the boot and put fire out)

TinkerBellesMum Wed 23-Jul-08 23:36:14

I've been thinking of posting something like this.

I live on the top floor of a low riser and have similar problems with shopping. I tend to get the taxi driver to put things by the front door and then move it inside. I take Tink up, put the TV on, latch the door and then bring the shopping up floor at a time (fortunately having the youngest child in the block my neighbours are understanding and will help out if they see me). You can guarantee that she will be behind the door (opens in so she can't open it) crying her eyes out begging "Mummy!" I do have to be hard hearted to it. I have the same problem with taking rubbish out as there is no chute, so two flights of stairs and out the back door.

I don't think YABU, you had someone watching them and you could see them too, it was fair of the CPO's to make sure they were being watched (Mum had to challenge a parent at a school she was dropping one of her kids at who left a year old baby in a car with the windows up this week, the following day they were stood next to the car!) and they did agree with you when you explained - they're not mind readers and you should be glad that they are keeping an eye on things.

sheepgomeep Wed 23-Jul-08 23:51:56

My 14 month old dd2 can actually get out of her pushchair straps, she is escaper extroadinaire.

Its a nightmare, she did in the middle of town last week.

It must be a nightmare for you

popmum Wed 23-Jul-08 23:57:06

would having a small rucksack for bits of shopping like that help you? So you then have your hands free for holding hands/carrying baby? Doesnt have to be used on way home from shops just slung on your back for stairs?

madamez Thu 24-Jul-08 00:02:52

Remember that CPOs are not all-knowing and always right. They are mostly officious little berks with a uniform fetish and may well have no children themselves, let alone never have had to manage small children + stairs + shopping unaided. You didn't do anything wrong.

RambleOn Thu 24-Jul-08 00:32:02

I wouldn't do this tbh. Not saying you were wrong to do it, but it's outside my comfort zone iyswim.

Sounds a logistical nightmare though. I would have either stayed with DCs until awake (at risk of ruining perishables), or taken DCs up first leaving shopping (at risk of losing shopping).

Wouldn't risk losing my DCs though.

HumphreySmallPillow Thu 24-Jul-08 00:56:14

Did the CPOs offer to help you upstairs with the double buggy?

mm22bys Thu 24-Jul-08 08:43:24

Not really an ideal situation. Logically I'd have taken the children upstairs first, then brought the shopping up, but understand DD was sick and that you wanted to spend some nice time in the park. Lucky the caretaker was there.

After DS2 was born, I would always get him out of the carseat / buggy to pick up DS1 even if he was asleep, but I do leave him now to run into a corner shop / pick up DS1. I wouldn't leave him to go to a supermarket though!

Dropdeadfred Thu 24-Jul-08 08:54:22

I wouldn't do this. Can you get shopping delivered? Could the caretaker have not actually stoof WITH your dcs until you got back?
Could you arrange to goshopping with a neighbour or friend (or ask a neighbour if they could pick up some milk for you etc)?

TillyScoutsmum Thu 24-Jul-08 09:03:14

I think you were doing what you could... yes -there's always a chance that someone could have run over and abducted them but what really is the likelihood of that happening with a caretaker nearby and them in full view of you and you presumably being gone for less than 5 minutes ? Not ideal, but I suspect I would have done the same

My mum was a single mum living on the 16th floor of a tower block during the electricity strikes in the late 70's. The lifts were often not working so she used to have to try and get me and shopping up 32 flights of stairs. She said that if she took me and left the shopping until later, it would usually get nicked (rough area), so she used to leave me and take the shopping up because I was apparently too noisy for anyone to want to nick wink

LazyLinePainterJane Thu 24-Jul-08 09:11:50

Well, I don't think that you were being unreasonable, but the CPO's were also doing the right thing in checking on your children. How would you feel if you had fallen on the stairs and your children really were unattended and they just walked past and did nothing?

TinkerBellesMum Thu 24-Jul-08 11:20:04

This is why our HA won't put children under 10 in the maisonette block on my estate. (I've found a man on the ground floor in a 3 bed "house" who wants to move to a flat, so I'm going to try and swap with him. Pregnant, 2 year old and a bad back, I need to get off the top floor)

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