Who's looking after the children?

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mother, baby, family

There was a very successful concert at the Community Centre on Saturday (April 23rd) with plenty of great comments about the quality of the performance by Sarah McQuaid. But one comment got me thinking, the one about the lack of younger people in the audience. By younger the person did not mean youngsters, but people in their 30's and 40's, with families.

It could be, of course, that the type of music on offer did not appeal. It has to be said that most of the people who make the decisions about what entertainment goes on at the Community Centre are at least a generation older, so maybe are more out of touch with current trends. Though ticket prices are pitched as keenly as possible, perhaps that older group has forgotten just how tight family budgets can be. But I did wonder if part of the problem was down to the lack of babysitters.

When I arrived in Tarvin in the early 1980's with small children it wasn't long before I was asked if I would like to join a Babysitting Circle. There must have been about 30 in the group and the currency was curtain rings. The charge was one ring per hour before midnight and one ring per half hour afterwards. There used to be a joke that you could tell the really sociable ones by the fact that their curtains were hanging on a couple of rings only! I got to know a lot of people and also got to know some of their children rather better than I expected. It was not unusual to sit for children that you didn't know very well at all.

I understand that this sort of arrangement is unusual now. Could it be that parents have got rather more risk averse and unwilling to trust just acquaintances with their children? Having a small child you didn't know wake up unexpectedly was a bit of a challenge to your parenting skills, but I don't think any permanent harm was done.
Perhaps I am just nostalgic for an imagined 'better time' and that parents today have a much more realistic idea of what is possible and sensible. But I do think the old Babysitting Circle was a great way to let younger parents enjoy a social life at very little expense. I would love to hear your comments.

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