Can grandparents babysit their grandchildren in Scotland during lockdown?

What you need to know about grandparents babysitting their grandkids (Photo: Shutterstock)What you need to know about grandparents babysitting their grandkids (Photo: Shutterstock)
What you need to know about grandparents babysitting their grandkids (Photo: Shutterstock)

As lockdown rules across Scotland begin to ease, grandparents across the country are hopeful they can see their grandkids again soon.

And with workplaces gradually beginning to reopen, parents will be looking for childcare.

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But can grandparents babysit for their grandchildren yet? This is what you need to know.

Can grandparents babysit their grandchildren?

A route map for emerging from lockdown in Scotland was published in May, outlining a four-phase plan for easing restrictions.

Scotland is currently in phase one and the next review cycle for progressing to phase two, will be 18 June.

In phase one, people are allowed to use public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes, and to sit down.

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One household is also allowed to meet up with another household outdoors, in small numbers, including in gardens, but with physical distancing required.

So this means that currently, grandparents are not permitted to babysit their grandchildren as all meetings are only allowed outside and with social distancing guidelines.

The Scottish government states that the public can now travel short distances for outdoor leisure, and exercise, but are advising not to travel further than five miles. So grandparents looking to visit their grandchildren outside can travel five miles to do so.

At a media briefing on Monday 25 May, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Grandparents will not have seen new grandchildren; parents will have struggled with childcare and no access to friends and family to support them; and many people have been denied the opportunity to say a final farewell to loved ones.

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“The sacrifices have been tough - and many people will live with the pain of them for a long time to come.”

She added that “these sacrifices have been for a purpose” as she revealed that the number of deaths from Covid-19 in Scotland has fallen over the past three weeks.

When will grandparents be able to babysit?

Over the next three phases of the lockdown route map, there will slowly be more freedoms for people to go into other peoples homes again.

In phase two of the route map, it explains that people will be able to meet larger groups including family and friends outside with social distancing measures. The phase two section also states that you’ll be able to meet “people from another household indoors with physical distancing and hygiene measures”.

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Phase three states that people will be “able to meet with people from more than one household indoors with physical distancing and hygiene measures”.

Finally, in phase four, there will be a further relaxation on restrictions on gatherings, but with “continued importance of hygiene and public health emphasised”.

So it will be at least phase two before grandparents could begin to babysit their grandchildren again.

Can parents access other childcare?

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

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There has been no specific dates set for when childcare services might 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
  • 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