Flying solo. It’s a terrifying thought for many moms. The thought of our kids home alone with no adult supervision is frightening, but it has to be done at some point. At a certain age, we parents have to put enough trust in our kids to allow them to go it alone for short periods. But when is flying solo an appropriate option?
Flying Solo Requires Responsibility and Trust
Knowing when it’s time to let the kids stay at home a lone is a pure judgement call. It relies on many factors including how responsible your children are, how trustworthy they are, and their ability to follow the rules of the house. Obviously each child matures at different rates, so while one child may be able to stay at home alone at the age of 10, another child might not be ready for that level of independence until they’re older.
My oldest daughter was fine staying home alone with her sister for short periods of time from the time she was 12. I only left them for half an hour periods at that time because my older girl had done her Babysitting Course and I was confident she knew what to do in an emergency.
My youngest girl is not yet ready to stay home alone. She will be 12 soon, but her impulsivity and unique special needs mean that she gets anxious even at the idea of being home alone. So, I know she’s not ready yet. Payton, now 14, started babysitting at 12 and she loved that so she was comfortable with the rules when she was in charge.
Gauging your child’s ability to be responsible is one of the key things in deciding when to leave them home alone. You’re not just deciding if they can feed themselves. You’re deciding if they can be left to their own devices for a given length of time. Does your child do their homework and chores without a fight? Do they regularly do that homework and those chores to the best of their ability? If they have extracurricular activities, are they able to juggle those activities and their school work effectively? If the answer to these questions is yes, then they’re already showing a level of responsibility that lends itself to them flying solo for a couple of hours.
Let’s face it. Kids don’t always tell the truth. We have to teach them the value of honesty. Some kids learn that sooner than other kids. So you’ll need to ask yourself if you can trust your child to be at home alone. If they regularly do crazy things that they know are against the rules or if they lie to get out of trouble, they probably aren’t ready to be left home alone. You may find yourself coming home to a disaster with an equally disastrous story accompanying it.
Following House Rules
This could quite possibly be the most important factor in deciding if flying solo is an option for your child. As parents, we know that house rules are there to avoid anarchy and to keep everyone safe. However, kids don’t always see it that way. Nevertheless, if they follow those rules anyway, you can probably feel good about leaving them alone at home for a while.
Flying Solo is Natural
At some point, flying solo becomes the norm rather than the exception, and that’s okay. It’s a natural part of growing up. The scary part is deciding when it’s appropriate. If your child displays responsibility, trustworthiness, and the ability to follow the rules of the home, you can probably leave them at home alone without a ton of worry.
Generally speaking between the ages of 10 and 13 are a good place to start. Just remember to leave a sheet of the rules (see below) to remind them before they being their first foray into flying solo. Personally, I feel better about leaving my kids alone because I have ability to text them from anywhere as well. My older daughter has her own phone and she can text me easily if she has any issues ever. I also have a Withings Home Monitor in my office which means I can watch the office space while I am away. That lends me a certain level of comfort too.
When your child, or children are ready to stay home alone, you can give them this handy checklist to follow.
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When were your kids flying solo at home?
If you are a parent with older children when did you find it was okay to leave them home alone for short periods of time?