Summer time is vacation time. The kids are taking a break from school and the single mom is finding out that if she didn’t make advance arrangements for childcare, she may be having a hard time finding a good babysitter for her kids with a space available for them.
To complicate matters, daycare providers schedule summer vacations themselves. These vacations aren’t always planned far in advance, so clients are often left in the day care crunch when the babysitter finds a vacation package deal at close to the last minute. Mom may be wondering if it’s a good idea to leave her children home and in the care of an older sibling.
The minimum age recognized in most states for a babysitter is 12, although many states allow a child to be left alone at a younger age. As mom wonders if her family can be left alone as she works or runs errands, there are a few things to consider.
While a 12 year old babysitter may be trustworthy and responsible when left alone, taking care of younger siblings is a different matter. The single mom has to be honest with herself and be sure that the younger children will recognize the authority of the older brother or sister. Your 12 year old may be perfectly capable of babysitting outside of the home, but when it comes to family, tempers flare, resentment grows and problems could arise. Here’s where your babysitter’s qualifications should be examined.
If you decide that your children have reached an age that they don’t need a hired babysitter or daycare every time you leave the house, double check their qualifications and that they know how to react in the following situations:
- Do they know what to do when someone knocks on the door?
- Do they know how to answer the telephone without giving too much information on your whereabouts to strangers?
- Do they know how to recognize an emergency and how to respond?
- Do they know how to get in touch with you and the criteria for trying to reach you?
- Do they know how to recognize illness?
The American Red Cross offers a baby sitting course to youth from 11 to 15. The training course uses hands on skills in addition to activities and video that will give your young child the confidence and knowledge to care for infants and older children.
Basic first aid, rescue breathing and responses to illness and emergencies are taught in the one day classes. The babysitter is also trained to make decisions under pressure. They are given tips on communicating with parents and the need to know and follow the rules of the house.
The care of infants, including how to feed and diaper them is also taught as part of the American Red Cross training course. Hygiene and safety issues are addressed and your child can even learn how to start a babysitting business.
The American Red Cross is listed in the phone book. Call and see if they offer babysitting training courses in your area. Knowing that your child has the best tools available to take care of themselves and their siblings will give the single mom a sense of freedom when she knows that she doesn’t have to take her whole family with her every time she leaves the house or spend money of childcare.