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childcare, childminding, parenting, Pied Piper of Hamelin, adult to child ratio
The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I think this guy took the child-to-adult ratio a little bit too far. Pic credit below.


I want to ask a random question of you guys. What is the ideal adult to child ratio if you wish to; a) have a relaxing time in adult company while b) letting your children play and mingle with friends?

The magic figure I’ve heard is two adults to four children. Aside from the odd request for a drink or shoe lace that requires tying, this should, in theory, leave the grown-ups free to chat while the kids go and play.

I’ve been thinking about this over the Christmas holidays. Like most families, we’ve travelled around a lot visiting friends and family. Some visits have been more relaxing than others. If the hosts have had children roughly the same age as ours, they’ve run off to play with each other while the adults have been free to relax. If the hosts were child free or not used to visiting young children, well, it was a different story.

If I cast my mind back a bit further to the summer holidays, the kids had some amazing opportunities to socialise and I found myself….relaxing. It was the first time this had happened in ages and it took some getting used to.

One of the best days of the summer holidays was a day trip to the beach. My two girls went along with a two-year-old friend of Toddler Adams and her dad plus a six-year-old friend of Helen and her mum. In other words, three adults, four children.

It was amazing! The adult/child ratio enabled us to keep an eye on the kids without hovering over them while also discussing the things that grown-ups do (you know; house prices, body hair, Ofsted inspections). If we hadn’t all been driving we could have bought some wine and beer and had a few drinks too.

As my wife works full-time, she doesn’t tend to host play dates. I think she is of the other mind-set; the fewer children the better.

Not so me. In fact I really like it when Helen has a school friend round to play as the friend keeps her entertained and I get to spend time with Toddler Adams, who has only just reached an age where she is requesting playdates.

That said, I’ve never tested this theory to breaking point. There must be a maximum child-to-adult ratio. I’m not sure I want to find out what it is!

What do you think? Is there an ultimate child-to-adult ratio that enables everyone to relax and have fun? Does it change with age? What are your thoughts and experiences?


Pic credit: National Galleries of Scotland.



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