I was babysitting for the day for children aged 2.5, 5 and 7. The job was from an agency who have since told me that this family have something of a reputation.
We went to the park. The second my back was turned so that I could lift the youngest into a swing, the older two ran away through the playground gates, way off across the park. It was clear that they did this deliberately to wind me up.
I ran after them (which meant having to abandon the youngest crying in the swing). I managed to catch and physically restrain the 5 year-old, then carry him kicking and screaming back to the playground. However I only have one pair of arms and had no choice but to let the 7 year-old go.
Once we were back at the swings, I took out my mobile and called the parents to let them know what had happened (which was not easy with a struggling 5 year-old and a screaming 2.5 year-old, let me tell you). The 5 year-old managed to grab hold of my bag and tip its contents out all over the floor which he thought was hilarious.
The parents did not sound concerned and said the 7 year-old had probably gone to the cafe way over on the other side of the park. They agreed that this wasn't exactly exemplary behaviour but did not seem to see the need for any kind of consequence. in fact on the contrary, they said to go join her there and buy everyone drinks and a snack.
Whilst I was strapping the youngest into the buggy, the 5 year-old ran off again. This time I actually didn't try to restrain him. It seemed rather pointless as I couldn't very well carry him AND push the buggy. The park was unfamiliar to me and I had to keep stopping to ask random people directions. We were however united with the older two who thought what they had done was absolutely hilarious.
Needless to say, I won't be working for this particular family again. Yet I would nonetheless really like to know how others would have handled this?
I don't want to give too much away here but it was one of the major London parks. So the answer is BIG. The cafe was a good 10 mins walk from the playground. The parents had specifically said to the children that morning that we all needed to stick together if we went to the park, so this was deliberate disobedience and testing of boundaries.
I'd just like to know how I could have handled it better, given that I was on my own with all three of them.
oooh,bit different from our little park then. id have said first time it happened that it wasnt exceptable and that it was hometime. as for the parents not being too bothered,they know theyre dc but it wasnt fair on you.they also need to know that its not acceptable.
I'd have taken them straight home too - not just as punishment but because I couldn't guarantee their safety'. I would let the agency know what they did do that future babysitters are alert to the risk of them running off.
I agree, you couldn't of handled him any differently. The fact that the mother thought you should just go and join him there seems kind of strange too. Do they just follow the kids as they run around all the time? Kind of weird parenting.