Can grandparents babysit in Scotland? Guidance regarding elderly looking after children explained

With lockdown rules in Scotland changing, grandparents might be confused as to what the guidance is around seeing their grandchildren

What you need to know about grandparents being able to babysit their grandchildren (Photo: Shutterstock)
What you need to know about grandparents being able to babysit their grandchildren (Photo: Shutterstock)

Many grandparents are wondering if they’ll be able to visit and even babysit their grandchildren again.

With workplaces gradually beginning to reopen, parents will also be looking for childcare.

But are grandparents allowed to babysit for their grandchildren yet as the rules continue to change? This is what you need to know.

Can grandparents babysit their grandchildren?

On the Scottish government website, the latest guidance under the “seeing family and friends” section states that you are not allowed to meet inside other peoples household, unless you are in an extended household with them.

However, the Scottish government states that there are some “limited exceptions to this rule”, including informal childcare in the home.

"So, for example, grandparents can continue to look after children,” the Scottish government website explains.

What are extended households?

For households that are each other's “extended household group”, they would be able to go to each others house, indoors, with no physical distancing and would also be able to stay overnight.

Sturgeon said that the introduction of this idea is to ease those who have been affected by loneliness and isolation, “particularly for older people living alone and lone parents”.

Once two households have chosen each other as their “extended household group” they cannot form another group with a different household.

Sturgeon said: “It will, from [Friday 19 June], allow a grandparent who lives on their own to form a group with another household in their family.

“It will allow a non cohabiting couple, where at least one of them lives alone, to be reunited indoors without physical distancing.”

Since grandparents will be able to stay indoors, and even overnight at their children's home, they will be able to undertake childcare duties.

Sturgeon mentioned in her speech that “while it is not the principal motivation for them, extended household groups now may help with informal childcare”.

Can grandparents not in an extended household hug their grandchildren?

For grandparents who are not in an extended household with their grandchildren, the good news is that they will be able to hug their grandchildren still.

In outdoor settings, children aged 11 or under no longer need to physically distance themselves from other children/adults.

In a tweet discussing the rule, Sturgeon wrote: “For those asking, yes that does mean that they can hug gran/grandad (but not if the adult is shielding).”

Adults will need to continue to distance from each other and stick to the rules of social distancing and size of gatherings.

Can parents access other childcare?

Phase one in Scotland allowed for the reopening of child minding services and fully outdoor nursery provisions, according to the route map.

There are no specific dates set for when childcare services will reopen in Scotland as that will be at the discretion of individual businesses.

How can grandparents keep in touch with grandchildren?

Thanks to the internet, there are loads of different options for grandparents to get valuable face to face time with their grandchildren, even if it’s through a screen.

Video calls through the likes of Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and others are an easy way to facilitate video calls from one person to another.

After reporting that “37% of [their] surveyed users said they are concerned about their mental health and are taking steps to keep positive and stay connected to others”, Gransnet recommends the following ways to help the elderly keep in touch with family:

- Family WhatsApp groups to allow for daily check ins

- Video calling through FaceTime, Skype or other video calling services

- Sharing photos on Facebook to keep family members involved

- Virtual pub quiz evenings which can be made kid friendly in order to get grandchildren involved

- Communal family meals on video - start by setting a time for your Sunday lunch and everyone can log in and eat together