Leaving children alone when you can’t afford a babysitter: The Saturday Weekend Review #81

The Saturday Weekend Review Orange Lily Babysitter editionDECISIONS PARENTS FACE…


I’m not going to talk about the movie Home Alone today, don’t fret. What I want to discuss is what parents do when they can’t afford a babysitter?

Later in this post you will read about one parent in the USA who was recently jailed for dropping her child off at the park while she worked.

If you have the money in your budget you can easily hire a nanny who might also double as your housekeeper, gardener etc. She/He takes care of the children and the home when you are gone to work or are out on business.

If you can’t afford having the live-in or out nanny status you would likely hire a family member to babysit, a friend or search out a babysitter to take care of your child (ren).

When your child is a baby or toddler you either stay home and don’t work or you send them off to a babysitter or daycare facility.

Most parents these days complain they can’t get their children out of the house because they are glued to the computer, TV or video games. Back in the day we were always outside playing but my mum was a stay at home mum.

I never had to worry that she wouldn’t be home but I also went out with my mates riding bikes and to the park from a young age (I don’t remember how old I was). I didn’t have a cell phone in the 80’s either.

My wife on the other hand her parents didn’t let the children outside when they were not home. They went to a babysitter until she was old enough to babysit her siblings. Her mother was more relaxed where she didn’t mind if the kids went to the park around the corner where the father said, no.

He was very concerned for their safety where some might call it overprotective but that was the way he was brought up. Her parents allowed her to go the park which was across the street from the family home growing up.

Parenting really can be tough especially when two parents can’t agree. Overprotective can take on many boundaries and I’m sure parents will have plenty to say about that topic.


Leaving children home alone


In Canada the Children’s Aid Society says that age alone is not a sufficient safeguard for the supervision of children. I suppose that means that not all children are at the same maturity level at the same age.

What the act does state is…. and if you don’t know this and you are a parent you should read it.

The Act says that a person who has charge of a child less than 16 years of age cannot leave the child without making provision for his/her care or supervision that is reasonable under the circumstances.  Anyone who contravenes this provision is guilty of a provincial offence and if convicted is liable to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to a year.

In addition, the Criminal Code of Canada includes the offence of abandoning a child.  Everyone who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of 10 years, so that its life is or is likely to be endangered, or its health is or is likely to be permanently injured is guilty of an offence that carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than two years.

In the UK it’s a bit different but very similar……

The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk.

Now, here is the part of the UK law where it ties in with my story today and mother, Debra Harrell of South Carolina was arrested on July 1 for dropping her 9-year-old daughter off at the park with a cell phone to play while she worked her shift at McDonald’s.

Many young children play outdoors with other children without supervision, most people would agree that this is an important part of growing up. To leave children outdoors for a considerable length of time though, or to allow them to wander off without knowing where they are going, would be unacceptable.

Now, the above law is for the UK but Debra a single mother obviously felt her daughter was mature enough to stay at the park and to walk to McDonald’s if she needed her mom or to call on the cell phone. The park was filled with kids and included an adult supervised breakfast and lunch. It doesn’t say how long the adults were supervising but it seems as if there were plenty of people around.

When one mother asked the 9-year-old child where her parents were she told her that her mom was at work. The parent called the police and Harrell was arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child. In the US this is considered a felony of up to 10 years in prison.

Typically the child would stay at McDonald’s while her mother worked and used the free Wi-Fi available and played on the computer.

I wonder if McDonald’s is ok with parents bringing their children to work. It would mean less seats for paying customers especially if it becomes a babysitting scene. Who knows maybe McDonald’s will consider having daycare available at all stores for those parents who want to work but can’t afford a babysitter?

Apparently her computer was stolen by burglars (no pun intended) and it was the child that asked the mother if she could get dropped off at the park to play.

This was the third day the child was dropped off but not unusual for the child to go to the park on her own as she would go with her friends. She was a 6 minute walk from home if she needed to go home or for bathroom breaks which I didn’t note if they were available at the park.

Harrell was released on $5000 bail but the child is still with the Social Services.

Common sense is not always so common and some parents when they don’t have the money to pay for a babysitter are left with decisions they would rather not make but they do. I’m not saying what she did was right or wrong but I’m pretty sure I would not let my child hang out alone at a park all day while we were off to work at the age of 9.

I know this topic has been very controversial since it broke in the news with some parents finding it not a big deal and others saying there is no way they would leave their child alone all day.


Hire a babysitter


In Canada we see “babysitter wanted” ads all the time online and if you are between the ages of 11-14 you can attend the YMCA babysitting course or the Red Cross babysitting course for a small fee. If you are a member at the YMCA the cost is only $18.25 and for non-members it’s $61.00. The Red Cross even has this nifty babysitter’s checklist that the babysitter can take along with them so they are prepared in case of emergency or the parent can fill it out.

How much does it cost in Canada to hire a babysitter?

Good question and since we have no kids I asked my CBB fans and the going rate that a couple of the fans paid was $10 per hour. My wife remembers when she used to babysit and was paid just $3.00 per hour. My how times have changed although she never did have a babysitter certification course under her belt at age 14 nor in her 20’s when she was still babysitting.

Many parents who do hire a babysitter have a strict babysitter job description in place when hiring especially if they have children with special needs. These days we read so much about what happens to children when they are left with babysitters with no lifesaving skills but at the same time parents leave children with their parents who might not have CPR/First Aid through a babysitter’s course. If it boils down to cost paying for a certified babysitter might benefit your child over the free babysitter. That’s your call as a parent though.

The parents might believe since their own parents took care of them as a child and nothing happened then it should be fine. There is also a difference between a 14 year old and adult babysitting with or without CPR/First Aid. Life skills do count for something because we grow through experience. I think it’s up to the parent of the child to decide what really is important to them when it comes to hiring a babysitter.

I don’t know how much it costs in the US for a babysitter but clearly Harrell could not afford to pay for one to watch over her child while she worked at McDonald’s. If minimum wage in Canada is $11.00 an hour and you pay your babysitter $10.00 an hour cash (tax free) is it really worth if for the parent to go to work? I also don’t know if there is a subsidy program for parents in Canada who can’t afford child care but either way when you are faced with making a decision of leaving your child it can’t be easy.

Know your rights as a parent and make sure you aren’t breaking the law and putting your child in harm’s way. You never know what can happen and even then it may be too late to turn back time.

Would you drop your child off at the park unsupervised while you went to work and no one was at home if they went home? Do you think it was right that Debra was arrested? Read the full story so you get more details first.


CBB at home and the blog


The Garden 2014 fig basil and lime


As you can see the garden seems to be coming along well. I had to put a circle around the small fig growing on the tree because they are still tiny. We thought we lost our fig tree this year but it came back to life so it seems it’s a bit behind. We are fine with this though as long as it’s not dead. We counted about 18 figs on the tree this summer so we look forward to dining on these lovely treats.

The lime tree is going nuts in the back garden and has limes all over it. We both can’t get over the size of the lime tree and the limes considering we just bought the lime plant last summer at Home Depot for around $20. I do have some trimming of the plant to do and it seems the ants love it so I’m going to do a bit of research into that.

Our basil is doing very well considering we had to buy new packets of basil seeds later in the season because not all of the first packets of basil seeds popped up. Now, we have what looks like too much basil but you can never eat too much basil in our eyes. We’ll be trimming the basil this week and starting to make our basil cubes for the winter storage in the freezer.

Other than that, the lilies are coming out in full force as you can tell from the beautiful orange lily at the top. We also have pink and purple coloured lilies. Our roses are doing well as are the rest of the shrubs we put in the past couple of months. We are trying our best to keep up this year but it seems that so many other tasks are getting in the way.

Next year I think I will concentrate on putting the weed barrier down as well as a good dumping of mulch to finish off the back garden once and for all. For now the bathroom needs my immediate attention. I think we’ve spent a good chunk of change this week on the shower alone. I’ll have the update in our budget update at the end of the month. I have about 4 weeks to get this bathroom done so cross your fingers I can pull this off. I’m so meticulous my wife is skeptical but with the planning I’ve been doing the only things that would set me back are unforeseen circumstances.

The blog…

A huge thank you to J. Money at Rock Star Finance (BAM… is right!) for sharing my blog post about “Young Adult Teaches Us About Being House Poor in 15 Minutes“. It was also picked up by Lifehacker Australia and Lifehacker.com. It was one of the busiest days ever at Canadian Budget Binder and it hasn’t stopped. I know it may not be a viral post in the millions but when a post gets seen by thousands in less than one day that puts me over the moon. Big thanks to Life Hacker for the share with their millions of fans around the world. 🙂

In other blog news…

I’m still working on getting the blog up to speed and making sure everything is working like a charm. I’m also developing a page called “Our Budgeting Series” which will be a landing page for the fans to find all of the blog posts related to budgeting that I’ve created. I’m hoping it will give fans a head start on learning about what we did and how we became debt free simply by using a budget and spending less than we earn.

I’ve also been unsubscribing to the blogs that I re-subscribed to until I found out my old blog had somehow stopped sending me blog posts from those blogs I subscribed to. Now, I’m getting double posts so I have to sort that out. If you are a blogger and reading this and you notice I unsubscribe now you know why. 🙂

Other than that… life goes on.

Have a lovely week CBB’ers and I’ll catch up with you soon!



Guest posts wanted


If you are a Personal Finance Blogger I’m looking to book High Quality Guest Posts for the months of September and October to help me get through a very busy period. It’s a great way to share your thoughts and the way you write with my fans.

If you are interested please contact me today as spots are filling up.



Weekly CBB posts


If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


Fan deals and inspirations


Jens garage sale finds

Submit your Brag or Inspiration If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] or fill out my contact form by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post.

This week Jen once again hit the pavement early morning Saturday to find some garage sale deals to share with us.

Hi Mr.CBB and Fans!!

There wasn’t much out there today that we were looking for, but here is what we did come home with:

  • Set of 4 children’s paints – Free
  • Set of 4 table cloth clips (to hold it down when it’s windy) – $.50 (I bought these for my mom as she needed them on Canada Day and didn’t have them)
  • Jingle bells – $1 (this was bought just because they seemed to make Adam so happy lol)

Total spent $1.50


Making a difference


The joy of simple

If you know a personal finance blogger that is making a difference and want to nominate them please send me an email canadianbudgetbinder (@) yahoo.ca so I can reach out to them for a feature story.

Note: If you are a blogger who gives back and would like to be featured by all means get in touch with me as I am filling spots up for the rest of 2014 and they are going quickly.

I’d like to welcome my friend Canadian blogger from Montreal, Quebec Lyle who blogs at The Joy of Simple. I hope you get a chance to check out his blog and read his amazing story!
Hello fellow readers of Canadian Budget Binder.

My name is Lyle Robinson and I am a guitar teacher, performer, writer, web designer and blogger who has, for the past twenty years, lived in a state of Voluntary Simplicity.

Voluntary Simplicity, for me, is simply the ideal of living one’s life free of outside influences by allowing one to live intentionally, with a greater control over their existence.

I no longer am bound to the primary socialization model of school, job, marriage, house or an age specific retirement. Nor am I bound by the consuming commercialized culture of life. In essence, I make my own rules and govern my actions according to my own beliefs.

Is how I live easy? Nope! But for me, it is the only way that I can live free and true to how I’ve felt all my life.

That being said, I still go to Hollywood blockbusters – Avengers anyone – I watch TV, I surf the Web, I buy CD’s, DVD’s and books – less than I used to though – and I pay taxes while contributing to my local community and small business shops.

So, how do I give back? How do I try and make a difference?

I do so by writing on my blog The Joy of Simple. By living by example – and writing about it – I hope to show those who read my blog that there are alternative lifestyles out there than can provide freedom, peace, contentment and life satisfaction not through the purchase of consumable goods or someone else’s dream, but through a strong sense of self.

A sense of self that is built on personal reflection and inner awareness. A sense of self that understands the need to live freely within a group without having to mimic the lifestyles and behaviors of the surrounding culture. I find the old adage of “Live and Let Live” works nicely in this regard!

I believe strongly in living a simple life, and while that concept may have a different meaning for a variety of folk, it is my hope that what I write on my blog can be used to incite a little more self-reflection and personal honesty.

After all, living simply works for me, which means that it just might work for someone else as well. I highly recommend it!

Thank you Mr. CBB for having me here today 🙂



What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me “what is a blog carnival?” so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans.

A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web. Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed.

If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.


Carnival glory


If you don’t see your blog it’s likely because I don’t know that you shared my post so send me an email to let me know.

Thanks to those bloggers who take the time to share my posts with their fans.

Your kindness is always remembered. ~Mr.CBB




Google search terms


Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. Keep in mind any spelling errors below are because I share with you the exact way they typed their search engine query to land on my blog.

  • Canadian Budget Binder App– You never know, maybe one day.
  • Does Save on Foods keep track of how much money a cashier sells at their till- If not they will now, lol.
  • Being anorexic saves money on grocery bills- Then it puts a strain on your healthcare costs, let alone your life.
  • Forged signature on passport photo- Oh, that is smart…not!
  • How does Kijiji make money- Advertising and promoting ads costs $$.


Thanks for joining me for this edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #81. Join me here again for more crazy stories from around the web and at home!


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  1. Well it’s just so sad that parents are not able to make good decisions to see their way to supporting their own children they bring into the world and that includes paying for child care when they are working! It’s that simple. If you can’t afford it, don’t have kids! I would desperately love to get a dog since ours passed away last year. But realistically, we can’t afford it ATM since we are aggressively paying off our debt so we can retire. And it’s only a dog which is a lot less expensive than a kid, plus I have a 6 figure income. Some one could say to me that it’s about choices, and yes, I can work longer, but eventually I will run out of rope. I have to make hard choices now, even though it’s not what I would like to do. We have created a society of irresponsibility and I drank the koolaid. Now I am paying it all back and becoming financially fit and hope to inspire others not to drink that koolaid because it’s not worth it!

    Congratulations on your post being featured in a big way! Totally cool! 😀

    1. We are like this with cats. We are only home for about 4 months a year, but we miss having a pet. We have been foster parents for the SPCA for the past 3 years, and we love it. We care for momma cats and her kittens until they are old enough to be put up for adoption. Sometimes we are given just the orphaned kittens, if there isn’t a momma cat. The SPCA provide all the litter, food, vet check ups etc…all we need to provide is the interaction, socialization and love 🙂
      They may have similar programs with dogs/puppies, but we signed up for cats.

      When our kids were young, I took in children to care for. This would be a better solution than leaving them at the park.

        1. We were worried about that at first too. I think the difference is, we knew at the beginning what our role is. We are there to socialize them, to give them the best chance,for when they get to their ‘forever’ home. We still spoil them rotten while they are with us…and even though they encourage us to name them..we don’t.
          I think we’d do it, even if we had to pay them 🙂

  2. I see some mighty arrogant comments here, made on the basis of some huge assumptions.

    The assumptions lead me to make some assumptions of my own, like this one: Clearly people who blame poor people for being poor, who urge the revocation of welfare, who state that all families should have two parents, have never been poor or alone themselves.

    Everyone is fighting a hard battle. We have no idea of the backstory that led to Debra’s situation nor have we any right to make judgements from a distance about her decision. Wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of compassion? Wouldn’t it be more productive to work toward providing safe, affordable childcare for people in need? And to campaign for all workers to earn a living wage?

  3. Because we live in the snow belt and close to where hubby worked there were times in the winter I drove him to work, and then picked him up. He was working an afternoon shift at this time so the older two kids were in school when I drive him in and I just took the younger boy in the car with me. When it was time to pick him up the kids were all sleeping and the oldest was 12. I locked the door and went to the plant. Had the kids been younger I would not have left them alone for those few minutes. The plant is only a couple of kilometres away so if hubby was ready to leave as I got there I could be home again in 10 minutes. The kids knew I was doing this and were fine with it.
    My kids went to visit their friends from home but I knew where they were going and they were told when to be back. Of the three our daughter was the only one to take a babysitting course when she was 12.
    I babysat as a teen but it would be for a neighbour or a friend of the family. I babysat the daughter of a woman my Mom worked with for a fair while and would get a ride home after. Other than that I was within sight of home so I walked home by myself. The people I was sitting for usually stood on the front lawn to watch I got home safe. These days I do look after the grandson and have since he was a baby. I get paid in little boy hugs and kisses!!!

  4. Was it right that Debra was arrested? Well…yes. Child neglect and endangerment is serious. The biggest problem is the breakdown of the family. Where is the father or extended family?
    It always comes back to welfare for single mothers (for me). Unless you are in a stable relationship, with a house,(preferably paid off) you have no business having children.

    Welfare encourages single parents..and this situation becomes more prevalent.
    If welfare was stopped, it would take 12 years to fix this problem, as all the existing children would be old enough to stay home for a few hours each day, while a parent worked.

    It’s not hard..to not get pregnant. There is reliable birth control. Making it free, would be cheaper than welfare.
    What options did this woman have? She could have offered free room and board in exchange for child care. Send the child to the grandparents or father’s home.

    We need to return back to having two parents caring for the children..not just one.
    This could take many forms.

  5. Let’s be honest, it probably costs more for a babysitter than the mom is making at McDonalds. For low income parents without a social support group it’s hard to find affordable care so you can work. Instead of arresting these parents, the US needs to create a system that supports working families.

  6. If you can’t childcare and there’s no way child can assist you wherever you’re going you DON’T GO. Honestly. Congrats on the viral post 🙂

    1. Thanks Catherine… it was a nice surprise. It was like logging into your bank account to see thousands of dollars that came out of nowhere haha!

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