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Can My 13 year old take care of my 5 yr old daughter?

(29 Posts)
gsarmist Mon 24-Sep-12 14:46:55

Hi I will be moving to London very soon from outside UK. being new I need advise on childcare. My 13 year old daughter can take good care of my 5yr old and can manage herself quite independently. My daughter lived in london along with us when our younder one born and then we left UK for a gap of 3 years. Hence it is not that the environment is quite new for my older daughter. My question If I feel confident on my daughter's ability can I leagally keep my 5 year old under her care at home after her school for 2 hours. I may still need go for a child minder for my younger one for an hour or so till my older one comes from school to take her. Both myself and my husband cannot come from work before 7.00 pm.

Need good advise from experienced mums.


NoComparison Mon 24-Sep-12 14:58:16

There is no legal age when children are deemed old enough to babysit, so it is up to you.

But, you remain responsible, so if something happened that suggested your elder daughter wasn't sensible enough to be in charge of a younger child, you could be found negligent

nannynick Mon 24-Sep-12 15:59:41

One possible problem is that school may not release your 5yr old to someone under age 16. So I think you will need to check with the school concerned to see if you can put your 13yr old down as someone authorised to collect your 5yelr old.

Rubirosa Mon 24-Sep-12 16:04:25

Legally it's up to your discretion, though the NSPCC recommend not leaving a child under 14 to babysit for younger children.

It would probably be quite unusual to have a 13 year old providing regular afterschool care for a 5 year old like this and neighbours/the school might raise concerns.

As nannynick says, the school will likely not want to release the 5 year old to anyone other than an adult, and you might also find childminders unwilling to release a 5 year old into the care of a 13 year old, incase they were held responsible if anything happened.

annh Mon 24-Sep-12 16:17:04

Your five year old will be finishing school at 3 or 3.15 surely? So if you can't get home before seven, it's more like 3.5 hours that your 13 year old will be looking after your daughter? I think it would be fine occasionally and 13 year old might like the responsibility but if she is expected to do it every day the novelty will wear off very easily. Would you expect her to make dinner for your younger daughter, supervise her homework? What happens if she wants to hang out with her friends or has an after-school activity? Is she going to resent always having to be available for childminding?

Also, if you are coming from abroad, the UK seems to have much stricter ideas about what is acceptable in terms of childcare and risk so what may be quite normal where you come from, may well be frowned on here.

NoComparison Mon 24-Sep-12 20:25:11

annh, the UK has much stricter ideas than all of "abroad" confused Sorry, but that did make me lol

Goldmandra Mon 24-Sep-12 20:53:36

I think the childminder could be seen as negligent if they release a five year old into the care of a 13 year old. They may be held responsible if something untoward happened.

I think it would be better to find a childminder wha can take your younger child until 7. It should not be too difficult.

chloeb2002 Mon 24-Sep-12 21:52:38

I guess its subjective and as some one who lives abroad... i would still not be able to leave younger siblings with dd. Like anything it is ok if you don't have a problem. I guess i would leave younger children if dd was 15 for a short ( like 30mins) and a bit longer as she got older. As previous poster says then I am sure that DD would want to do after school activities etc. We have a au pair that can drive, collect from school , take dd to after school stuff if i have to be at work etc.

thebody Mon 24-Sep-12 21:59:39

Doesn't your 13 year old deserve a bit of a life? As a cm I wouldn't have dreamed of relinquishing a 5 year old to a 13 year old. I think the school would be horrified and not cooperate.

Not these days.

dikkertjedap Mon 24-Sep-12 22:36:54

I think it is way too much to expect from a 13 year old. If it was just for one day a week, well maybe. But for every day from school pick up to 19.00h (or longer if you get stuck in public transport etc.) is unreasonable to ask from such a young child.

Also, I agree with other posters, at our school we would not be willing to release a five year old in the care of a 13 year old. If parents were to insist they would be in all likelihood reported to social services.

SandStorm Mon 24-Sep-12 22:41:11

Round here most secondary schools finish after the primary schools and with the travel to get to her sister's school it's unlikely she'll be there on time anyway.

Plus I think you're being unfair to your 13 year old. This is the age when she'll be making great friendships and should be hanging out with her mates, not rushing home to take care of a 5 year old.

HolyAutumnGoldBatman Mon 24-Sep-12 22:50:22

You're unlikey to find a childminder who will only charge for 1 hour i.e. 3pm-4pm. Most will charge for the 'after-school session' i.e. school pick-up time until 6pm/6:30pm/maybe 7pm. If you're paying for a full session you may as well use a full session.

If you can't find a childminder to work until 7pm (I think most finish before this?) then you could ask your older DD to pick the little one up at 6pm and just look after her for an hour. That way your older DD can still get her homework done/go out with friends/go to an activity. The problem then is 1) getting the childminder to release your DD to a 13 year old and 2) making sure your older DD is reliable enough to always be there at 6pm (I've never met a 13 year old I'd trust to do this everyday, just too likely to get distracted with friends!)

nannyof3 Tue 25-Sep-12 16:38:46

I would not do this..

Its way to much to ask from the 13 year old.. She would have to rush home from school, couldn't stand around with her friends having a chat, or going shopping with them.. And surely ur 13 yr old will have homework??

I dont think this is very fair

lechatnoir Tue 25-Sep-12 19:06:53

As a CM I would not release a child in my care to a 13 year old or in fact anyone under 16 and wouldn't agree to take on a child if this was the parent's stipulation. Sorry but I too think this is too much to expect of your 13 yr old on a regular basis.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 25-Sep-12 20:56:25

In a word no

Not safe nor fair to your 13 to have sole charge care of her younger sister for 3.5hrs a day every day

As others have said most schools will not allow a 5yr to go with someone under 16 some schools say must be a responsible adult collecting so 18

My advice is to get a cm

Flisspaps Tue 25-Sep-12 21:24:34

I wouldn't. However responsible or trustworthy your 13yo is, it is too much to expect her to look after a 5yo every night for 3.5 hours.

At around the same age I had to walk into town to meet my brother and sister from the school bus (they were 7 and 9), walk them home and then look after them until about 5.30pm and really, that was far too much responsibility for a child. I couldn't do after school clubs, or go to friend's houses.

Your DD would not only be missing out on that, but also I'm guessing that she'll have to provide your younger DD and herself with tea every night, and she won't have any time to herself to do homework as she'll be looking after her little sister.

As a childminder, I wouldn't be happy to let a 13yo pick up and take responsibility for a 5yo.

cory Thu 27-Sep-12 08:46:37

I come from an "abroad" where this would be considered perfectly acceptable once in a while but where teens would also expect to have time to themselves to hang out with friends. And I think even in the UK (apart from the greater concerns with safety here) this is a vital point: all her friends will be able to stay behind for a chat, go out to the shops or to each other's houses in the afternoon; if she is the only one who can't do that she will become socially isolated and start feeling hard done by.

I wouldn't be at all worried about one of my children cooking a meal at the age of 13, as I know they are very competent and would deal with any emergencies as well as I could do myself- but I would be worried if they were the only ones missing out socially and possibly storing resentment.

You would also need to have a plan for what would happen to your 5yo if your elder dd got detention: some schools dish out afternoon detentions quite regularly for fairly minor misdemeanours. That would leave the 5yo well and truly stranded.

I think you need to bite the bullet and pay for childcare for your youngest.

DameEnidsOrange Thu 27-Sep-12 09:02:20

DS (14) has been meeting DD (8) from school for the last two years, if I am delayed, and only for 10 minutes max.

There are other secondary pupils who also come to the primary school to collect younger siblings and walk them home. So you may find that not all schools have a problem with it.

But til 7pm? That is ever such a long time and is too much responsibility to put on your elder DD who deserves the chance to hang with friends / crack on with homework / go to after school activities (of which there are a lot IME) etc. Not fair IMO.

thekidsrule Thu 27-Sep-12 21:52:14

my son 13yrs old has picked my 5yr old up from school,no ??? asked

Mum2Luke Thu 27-Sep-12 23:24:17

NO NO NO, sorry I would NEVER leave a 13 year old with a 5 year old even if its her sibling shock

I have two older children (well they are 22 and 19 actually but still my children lol) and a 10 year old. I think the eldest was 16 before I left him and that was for about two hours while he was asleep and I was on a childminding course I had to go to. He had our neighbours to help in case of any problem and of course myself or his dad when he returned home from work.

As a cm I would not let a 5 yr old go with a 13 year old, its just too young and I wuld feel responsible if any harm came to them.

Northernlurker Thu 27-Sep-12 23:29:16

Dd1 is a very sensible and capable 14. This year I have started leaving her in charge of dd3 (5) on occasion, for a few hours. She likes that but she would bitterly resent it if I asked her to do it every day. Op - by all means have you older dd keep an eye on the little one every now and then but it's not fair or indeed safe to have her do all the after school care. She will need to spend time with her friends, chill out etc.

BlackandGold Sat 29-Sep-12 23:01:05

And what happens to them both in the school holidays?

5madthings Sat 29-Sep-12 23:13:35

On occassion this would be fine and my 13yr old looks after his younger siblings and has picked them up from school.

But i think everyday uts a bit much tbh, what if sge wants to do after school clubs etc? My ds1 does a computer club, a cookery club and also a science course all after school on different days and sometimes he goes to town with friends etc.

The.primary school is happy to let him pick his siblings up after school, thet are 10, 7 and 4 yrs old and he has done this occassionally since he was 11yrs old, i just let the primary know he would be collecting them and it has never been an issue. thet know him as it was his primary and he us very sensible.

Some schools may have dufferent rules?

Maybe let your dd do this one day a week? But five days is too much imo.

5madthings Sat 29-Sep-12 23:15:36

mum2luke did you really not leave your son on his own until he was 16?!

Flisspaps Sun 30-Sep-12 08:01:45

Mum2Luke I think not leaving a child alone until they're 16 is a bit too far in the other direction!

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