Your home is so much more than just your shelter. It can be your sanctuary, your escape, your workplace, or even your go-to relaxation spot. We’re all most comfortable in our own homes, and it can be easy to forget that for your kids, this home is all of these things to them as well. That’s why, as they grow, they may want to stay home while you cart little sister to her ballet lesson, or even while you and your partner head to dinner, rather than hanging with friends or at a babysitter’s.
Is your child ready to stay home alone? This is a question that plagues most parents minds with worry the first time they pull from the driveway with their young one inside, but establishing safety rules will help set your mind at ease AND help your child build their confidence on the path to independence (which, after all, we all want our kids to grow into strong young adults, right?).
Do not open the door for ANY reason.
This goes for answering the door, peeping out the peep hole, leaving the house (even just to check the mail!) If your child is home alone, this should be rule number one. Door stays locked and closed at all times. Children should also know that if they’re ever concerned about someone at the door, they should call you immediately, or 911 if they feel as if they’re in danger, but never to open the door to investigate.
If you’re not home when your child arrives after school, their first step should be calling you to let them know they’re safe. Establish a routine, so that they never forget to give you the word on how they’re doing. After that, even text messages will do. Remind them that you may check in periodically before you head home yourself, so to keep their phone in reach. You don’t have to bombard them with text message alerts, but if you’re going to stick around the office a little late, a simple “later than usual, you doing alright?” with a quick response on their end will help set your mind at ease, while still giving them their independence.
Create an Emergency Plan
This may seem tedious, but remember to set the alarm off for your child so that they may hear what it sounds like. Then let them know what to do if it goes off. If it’s an error, or they forgot to turn it off as they entered the home, they may do so now. If it is not an error, they may need to get out of the home and to a trusted neighbor to call 911 and you. While this is a rare and unlikely scenario, it’s always best to help your child feel best prepared, so that in the event that something happens, they will be able to think clearly and calmly as they get to safety. That being said, be sure your child memorizes yours and any other important phone numbers! Before cell phones, we all knew at least 10-20 numbers by heart, your child can definitely do it.
Following these rules will help both your child and you feel safe while leaving them home alone. They’ll enjoy their newfound time to rest and fly solo, and you’ll save costs on child-care and teach your child valuable lessons on independence and self-care. We wish you luck!
Do you have any tips for parents leaving their kids home alone? Let us know in the comments below!