We spend so many years with our young ones that deciding when to let them stay home by themselves can be an unnerving issue. There’s no one right answer and several factors will play int when you decide you can leave your child home alone for short periods of time.
10 Factors to Consider When Leaving Your Child Home Alone
Here are some things to consider:
- How old is your child?
- Will they be completely by themselves? Or will siblings or dogs be present?
- What is your living situation or neighborhood like?
- Do your children know what to do in case of an emergency?
- Can you trust them to not use appliances like the stove or to use it responsibly without supervision?
- Do family or friends live nearby?
- How long will you leave them at a time?
- How far away will you be from the house?
- Does your state have any age limits or guidelines regarding this?
- Will you have any video monitoring running?
We are home most of the time with our daughter so we didn’t have to explore this topic until she was about 12 years old. We felt that she had to learn how to be home at some point. Plus, the fact that we have a medium-sized dog and live in a secured building helped ease all of us a bit.
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Even then, we started off by only leaving to do a couple of errands that were only a few blocks away. When we walked in the door and she was armed to protect herself (picture Rapuzel with the frying pan in Tangled), then we knew she was not quite up for the task of being home alone yet. It’s so important to talk a lot about this with your kids and gauge their comfort/responsibility level as you go.
Safety Vs Spying
We also set some guidelines, though these are tweaked as needed. She knows to not use the stove or oven, her phone must be near her at all times, no opening or even answering the door, and that it’s a no-no to take a shower when we’re gone. We also use home video monitoring cameras to visually keep an eye on her. She rather likes it and realizes it’s for her safety and not because we’re spying on her.
About those cameras, we’ve had some fun with them too. As a NetGear Ambassador, I received the NetGear VueZone system with two cameras to review. With these on, we had real-time video of what was going on in different sections of our home. We have a really, really small place so the two cameras are plenty to cover the majority of our living space. There is an option of adding more though. The VueZone base connects via wire to your internet modem. How that sends the signal wirelessly to the cams? We have no idea but it does it somehow.
One time, while Frans and I were away at a business meeting, Frans decided to peek at his smartphone to see how Munchkin was doing. She was doing more than fine as we caught her on camera dancing and singing her heart out to some Teen Beach Movie songs. There was no audio but we knew exactly what song she was acting out, Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’, by her over-the-top movements.
Afterwards, we called Munchkin to let her know we were on our way. She was talking kind of funny though. Apparently, she thought we were also seeing her on camera so she was talking into the video cameras and making faces at us. But we weren’t. I wish we could have seen her face when she found that out!
When to Leave Your Child Home Alone is a Personal Decision
Ultimately, you’ll have to do what right for your kids and your family. You’ll want to test the waters and see what works and what doesn’t. Some states have laws regarding age limits and to prevent neglect so it might be a good idea to check those out first.