The word ‘babysitting’ should be banned – by Tom Kuhrt (aged 8)

No BabysittingWhen both my parents go out in the evening another adult always comes over to look after us.  But why is this called babysitting?  Its a rubbish word.

There are at least 3 big problems with the name ‘babysitter’:

One, it scares little children. My friend Zac is only 4 and when someone came to look after him who said they were a ‘babysitter’ he said ‘Do you really sit on babies?’  He was very worried to have someone looking after him who regularly sits on babies.

Two, it’s unaccurate. I am not a baby. I am eight, so why should looking after me be called babysitting? We are told at school to use the good describing words. As a word babysitting is rubbish.

Three, it’s embarrassing.  Babies are cute, little and funny but they wear nappies and can’t do anything much. I am not like that – I am big and tough and good at football – I don’t want people to think I am a baby and wear nappies.

So we need a better word to replace ‘babysitting’. Looking after me is fun – I never give much hassle – I go to sleep when I am told, I am not a baby and I certainly don’t need sitting on.

So what do babysitters actually do?  As far as I can see, they come round, hog the TV and eat all your best snacks (except for my favourite Matthew Graham who lets us play on the Wii for ages).

When I complained to someone who was looking after me about the name babysitting, she agreed with me. We thought it would be better described as ‘coming round to watch TV and do knitting’. The problem with that is that it’s a bit long and not all babysitters knit (Matthew Graham never knits).

I can think of some far better names to replace babysitting like child carer, night watcher or Snack Attacker.  But I think the word babysitting should be banned for anyone over 2 years old – what about you?

And if you have any ideas about a new name, please leave a comment below.

Are you with me? We can change this!

Tom lives in south London and is in Year 3 at school.  He loves Cub Scouts, his friends and Everton Football Club.

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12 Responses to The word ‘babysitting’ should be banned – by Tom Kuhrt (aged 8)

  1. Emma Tomlinson says:

    Great work Tom. As a “babysitter” I totally agree. I don’t want to scare or patronise big and tough children like you. But it does need a special name that’s different from just “looking after kids” which might be for free, or “child carer” which is something a bit professional and you need to start getting qualifications for.

    Also, obviously you are angelic and go to bed when asked nicely, and say please and thank you etc… but I think from my experience you should add to the baby-sitter’s usual experience of snack eating, knitting and watching TV, “being terrorised by cheeky children who escape sleep and keep waking up the baby!”

  2. Jon Chilvers says:

    Hi Tom,
    What about Kidswatch? – as in ‘I’m on Kids’ watch’ tonight. Sounds a bit exciting like it could be a cop TV show, but kinda describes what they have to do without anyone thinking that babies are going to get hurt.

  3. When I was a child the person who came round (a Danish lady called Mrs Bunsen) was always called a ‘sitter-in’.

  4. You are growing up fast Tom. These are very sensible and logical thoughts. It all comes down to responsibility. Emma’s comments about some of the children she babysits show that all are not as grown up as you are. Perhaps you are at the age now when what is needed is a “house sitter” (though Zac would perhaps have an image of a roof sitter), someone to be about to cover any problems that might arise with the house while your parents are out.

  5. John Bav says:

    Wow, Tom – Excellent writing! I wonder… if the most important thing someone can do when they come around is to play against you on the Wii, then what you really need in the evenings when your parents aren’t there is an “opponent”. This word might also cover situations where the child doesn’t always do as the adult says.

  6. Debbie Brace says:

    Hi Tom
    baby sitting is a rubbish word I agree although I do find that,when taken seriously and literally, it becomes a good way to eat chocolate and hog the tv with v little interruption from children over 2 yrs!. It does however hurt your bottom after a while and should not be encouraged with actual babies!!!
    hope you are well? I look forward to your next blog and in the meantime I will ponder over a word to replace baby sitting for those who prefer a less literal and more humane approach.
    Debbie x

  7. ianchisnall says:

    Well done Tom, I am delighted that another Evertonian is blogging. I would have thought that at 8 and as a supporter of a team that is destined to let you down in future seasons (I have been at it a long time being 53) that you were already wise enough to set the conditions and prepare job descriptions. It won’t be that long and you will be asking for people to come and look after your parents while you watch the Toffees get beaten.

    • I quite agree Tom, it doesn’t do much for your street-cred to be labled as a baby when you are 8 years old. You could call it adult sitting, then it’s you looking after them, and that’s very grown-up isn’t it?Ha-Ha.

  8. Natasha Sephton says:

    Elsie (6) prefers child-sitter (still not 100% there but that’s what she likes us to call it!

  9. Alan Bolchover says:

    Tom – at last a post I can get my teeth in to. Now where did the word first arrive? One normally would expect the agent noun babysitter with its -er suffix to come from the verb baby-sit, as “diver” comes from dive, but in fact babysitter is first recorded in 1937, ten years earlier than the first appearance of baby-sit. Thus the verb was derived from the agent noun rather than the other way around, and represents a good example of back-formation. The use of the word “sit” to abbreviate to refer to a baby-sitter is recorded from 1800. The term may have originated from the action of the caretaker “sitting on” the baby in one room, while the parents were entertaining or busy in another.

    In other words Tom – you are right. Its an old word that needs changing.

    One thing did bother me though. You claim to go to sleep when you are told. Can you truly stand up to this claim or are you prone to exaggeration, like your main male role model?

  10. Harry Kuhrt says:

    my dad thinks that they should be called U.N. peacekeepers and I agree with him

    from your cousin Harry Kuhrt

  11. Pingback: What is your response to the word ‘evangelical’? | Resistance & Renewal

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