Thursday, January 22, 2009

Leaving Kids Alone

The sign at the library says not to leave kids under age 7 alone but it happens all the time. That’s okay if you are 5 feet away, but across the entire huge library? If I can’t see my kids, I’m in panic mode. Call me overprotective or call me a good mom. I don’t care. It’s just who I am.

Often the parents are at a computer playing video games while their kid runs wild or bugs the librarian. Hey, if you’re gonna use the library as a babysitter, why don’t you drop your kid off, go work a part-time job and buy your very own LAPTOP to play games on!!!!!

I was 11 when my parents left me home alone in the summer, but that was because I got kicked out of the babysitting situation I was in. I was kind of a smartass, apparently, and the woman who was babysitting was kind of a jerk (Sharon Harter, thanks for nothing). And my mom was about 2 miles away AND called all the time AND was only gone a few hours a day.

These days I hear about kids as young as 8 or 9 being left at home all day in the summer or even for a few hours after school AND taking care of younger siblings. Dear God! Back in my day that would warrant a call to Child Protective Services, but apparently these days nobody gives a crap. I realize it’s not grounds for taking a child out of the home, and I wouldn’t want that anyway for a family, but can’t some alternate situation be found so kids aren’t potentially burning down the house or inviting pedophiles over?

At what age did you start leaving your kids home alone? If you aren’t quite there yet, what age do you plan to start? I’m thinking age 25 will work for my kids.


  1. I think I was 11 or 12 when my parents would leave me home for a few hours after school but I did have an older brother as well.

  2. I think it depends on your child.

    Abriana was 11 when I started leaving her and it started with 30 minutes and gradually worked it's way up to a couple of hours. Andrew was 9 1/2 but he was just left long enough to run his sister up to the gym for team practice which is 5 minutes away so I was only gone 15 minutes total, and he was working on homework so that when I got back I could run him to basketball practice. However, his level of being reponsible was much different than his sisters at the same age (more responsible). They've graduated to slightly longer times as they're a bit older and both show the level of responsibility to be left for short periods of time, but I check in often via phone. I think the longest they've been home together is 2 1/2 hours, but it's rare I leave them. I usually encourage them to go run errands with me so I can stay up on all the current dirt from school.

    When they are left both know the rules and they're biggies that we're sticklers for and big penalties are institued for failure to abide by:
    1. Do not answer the door under any circumstances, not even for friends, grandparents are the exception, but then again, they have a key to the house.
    2. No cooking with electricity. I have lots of food that does not require cooking or cutting that they can snack on if they can't wait.
    3. Do not answer the phone, unless you check caller id and see that it's either me, dad or one of the grandparents.
    4. They can't go outside to play. There's pleanty of things inside they can occupy their time with, books, chores, board games, etc

    Neither kids have a good poker face so when I ask questions about rules the few times they've broken them they fessed up and took the consequences.

  3. My son is 11 and we still don't leave him home alone. My husband is afraid if I run down to grab Wendy's (about a 4 mile roundtrip jaunt), that if I were to be in a car accident, he would be left for longer than "just a few moments". Then again, my husband is very paranoid. I think we'll get started on brief times alone this summer.

  4. If they're big enough to kick your ass, they're big enough to kick a stranger's ass.

    When they're old enough to work a phone and have taken a self-defense class. And have seen "Home Alone" at least 30 times so they can internalize kiddie MacGyver ass-whoopin' skillzzz.


  5. I am so different from my mother! I was alone after school everyday for 30 minutes beginning in 3rd grade-some days a few hours! I was babysitting other children by age 10 and a newborn at age 12. I am not at all prepared to leave my kids alone in the near future-granted my oldest is only 7 1/2 but still I could not imagine it being before they are 12.


  6. I was 9 when I was by myself after school for about 2 hours a day. I was 11 when I started babysitting (2 yr old twins and their 4 yr old brother).
    My kids are now 7 and 3. I cannot imagine leaving my son (7) alone in two years, but my daughter, even though she's only 3 now, I can see being able to leave her alone for an hour or so when she's 9. I think it solely depends on the mental maturaty (forgive the spelling) of each child.
    I cannot imagine leaving my kids with a sitter any younger than 12 though. Even my nieces and nephews.


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