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Should we allow my partner's 84 year old grandmother to babysit our 3 and 5 year old boys?

(17 Posts)
alex4 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:17:01

My partner's grandmother is 84. She lives on her own and is fairly independent. She walks slowly with a stick and whilst she can climb stairs if she has to, she has some difficulty so prefers not to. She visits regularly and gets on well with our boys of 3 and 5 and they respond well to her. We sometimes like to go out for a meal in the evening and can be out of the house for around two and a half hours. We cancelled a dinner recently because our regular babysitter let us down at the last minute. What is people's view on the maximum age that a babysitter can be without it being considered negligent? We did have her sit-in with the boys for a short period recently when our neighbours were available and so she could call them if she needed assistance. Would it be acceptable to let her babysit at this age? or if uncertain, would it be acceptable if, as was previously the case, she had a phone handy to call the next-door neighbours who had offered to pop round should she needed some assistance for whatever reason.

Twinklestarstwinklestars Mon 22-Apr-13 14:18:28

Do you think she could cope in an emergency? If she lost her stick or something could she get to a phone if she needed to?

bakingaddict Mon 22-Apr-13 14:24:04

I wouldn't burden her with the responsibility of looking after 2 children. Let her enjoy seeing her great-grandchildren without the stress of needing to care for them

Sure she might be really active for her age and have all her wits about her but if she took ill, had a fall, was unable to get to the phone to alert somebody if needed the children would effectively be unattended. It's a risk too far for me and personally I wouldn't put her in that position

StealthOfficialCrispTester Mon 22-Apr-13 14:27:34

No, if they were older, fine, but at the ages they are at they need active care IMO, and it sounds as though it would be a struggle for her. I'm sure she'd manage but it wouldn't be pleasant.
If it was an emergency, I'd say definitely though. Our NDNs are in their late 80s/early 90s and are very independent. They have offered to look after my two (now 6 and 3, but probably a couple of years ago when hey offered). I've never taken them up on it (mainly because all our neighbours are fantastic) but it's lovely to know that in an emergency, the offer is there.

DefiniteMaybe Mon 22-Apr-13 14:30:10

I think if your dc sleep through and are in bed then it wouldn't hurt to have her keep an ear out for them.

LemonEmmaP Mon 22-Apr-13 14:36:05

My mum is 82, and regularly babysits my two while we pop out for a meal. The boys are 6 and 10, so a little older, although she has done this for several years. My mum lives with us, so perhaps its different as she is very familiar with their routines, but we still try to make sure the 6 year old is in bed before we go out, and leave the 10 year old instructions to go to bed by a certain time (although he does like to sit and chat to Nan so it doesn't always happen...). Your question was at what age does it become negligent, but I would have to say that it really depends on the individuals involved, but I certainly wouldn't consider it negligent based on ages alone.

BackforGood Mon 22-Apr-13 14:50:07

I think this is a tricky age(of children) too.
If they were 9 / 10 ish, then fair enough - they could probably help her if she needed it, and they would still have an adult there. If it were very probable they would both be asleep when you left and almost always stayed asleep, then again, that would be fine, but would that be the case ?
Also, does she nod off in fromt of TV in the evenings as a lot of older people do ? Would she then hear them if they called ?
I'm pretty laid back generally, but don't think I would.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 22-Apr-13 15:44:43

If your dc sleep 99% of the time then I don't see the harm in it once they are in bed and asleep

SkinnyLove Mon 22-Apr-13 15:49:14

Depends on the kids and relationship with the grandmother but dont think I would burden somebody incapacitated with toddlers...i know how hard it was at times to deal with our toddler when I was only way!

alex4 Mon 22-Apr-13 16:52:50

Thanks for the quick responses everyone, I really appreciate the views offered. It is such a tricky decision.

In theory if the children are sound asleep and nothing untoward happens then no problem, and the boys once asleep are usually out for the count.

As commented above, yes granny will sometimes doze off in the armchair and may not hear them, although that in itself wouldn't be a problem as they'd just come down and shake her!

However, as one of you mentioned, the issue is how well could she cope in an emergency situation.... I'd say 'reasonably' well..... although what could also be a potential concern thinking about it is if she fell over and hurt herself - in which case I know my 5 year old would do a good job of looking after her but I suppose that's not the point! :-)

I'm getting the feeling from reading all the views is that whilst it wouldn't be illegal or negligent as such, we should really avoid leaving her with them if at all possible, even if neighbours are on hand. The only exception I suppose being if there was emergency situation.

If anyone else has any thoughts please keep posting as I'm really keen to get as many views on this as possible!

ReetPetit Mon 22-Apr-13 17:05:47

god no, i wouldn't! I think that would be a terribly selfish thing to do to an old person. Has she actually offered?

I really can't see the point. Would you not be a nervous wreck the whole time you are out? Kids of that age are a handful - let her enjoy coming round for tea and cake and with you waiting on her - not the other way round, sorry....

DreamsTurnToGoldDust Mon 22-Apr-13 17:06:37

I have a relative of 87 and would gladly leave mine with her, I really depends on the relative and what you think they can handle, all people even the older ones are different, to balance out I have another relative of sixtyish and I`m not so sure on that one, shes not quite so able.

Not helpful, sorry grin

magimedi Mon 22-Apr-13 17:11:19

I think if they were older it would be fine. But a 3 year old might need picking up, if he fell out of bed etc.

I also think the fact that you are asking on here is your answer!

I don't think you'd relax enough to enjoy your evening out.

mrsthomsontobe Mon 22-Apr-13 17:49:24

I think it depends on the child as much as the grandparent, I would of left my oldest at age 3 (now 6) with a relative as she was a very good girl not hyperactive, very chatty never ever expected a bad report when anyone was asked to watch her and even now at 6 she's the same so would happily leave her. However my youngest 18 months has a different, wild nature very hyper and loud energetic so although not 3 yet I can just imagine her still being the same so probably wouldn't leave her. Saying tht my grandparents are in the 70s and they watch both my children and manage fine. Children often respond differentlt to older/ grandparent figures. If there in there bed I don't see a problen

OutragedFromLeeds Mon 22-Apr-13 19:12:47

For me the key is 'she walks slowly with a stick and whilst she can climb stairs if she has to, she has some difficulty so prefers not to'. I think her age is completely irrelevant, I wouldn't leave my kids with someone like this if the person was 21.

You only need a babysitter for emergencies. If you could be sure they would both sleep through and there would be no emergency then we could all go out without babysitters. The whole point of a babysitter is to deal with emergencies.

If there was a fire would she be able to get them out? If one of them was sick would she be able to clean up them/the bed and comfort them? If one of them was choking on something would she be able to get upstairs and help them? If one of them had a fall/hit their head could she get down and do first aid?

If the answer is no then I would only ask her to babysit if you are literally next door or opposite the house (or she has the neighbours to call on). If you (or someone else) could get back within 60 seconds then yes. If you couldn't then no.

minderjinx Tue 23-Apr-13 09:22:26

I can't help thinking that whether it would be "considered negligent" or "regarded as acceptable" is the wrong way of looking at things. I would think a) could my children come to harm? b) is it fair to put this responsibility on my grandmother, given her physical frailty? You are only talking about going out for the evening here, not an emergency situation by any stretch. Surely if the babysitter lets you down you can just go another night or have a nice night in instead?

TimothyClaypoleLover Fri 26-Apr-13 13:45:23

I don't think I would TBH. You say she finds using the stairs difficult. Even if your boys are asleep in bed 99% of the time, if she cannot climb the stairs to check on them I would be wary of asking her to babysit.

By all means let her see the kids as much as possible but I don't think she would make an ideal babysitter.

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