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I was hoping I could get more responses; At what age did you start leaving your kids home alone?

I don't know what to do. I've been a SAHM since son was born and now he's 11 years old. Financially we are stuggling and I need to go get another job, I work part-time already when son is in school. There is an opportunity to work during the summer 2-3 hrs. M-F and everyone tells me to leave my son home alone during these hours. I have never left my son alone before. Doing this makes me feel like I would be a bad mother and I'm just being selfish. My DH already works more than 16+ hours a day so him helping me is out of the question. I don't have family around and daycare is out of the questions because I would only be earning minimum wage and that would defeat the purpose. Leaving my son with strangers or neighbors, let's just say, no one likes to work for free. Don't know what to do. How do you do it? I have an only child.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 1:36 PM on Apr. 11, 2010 in General Parenting

Answers (31)
  • It all depends on how mature he is. My mom left us at home when I was 9 (sister was 12). We were both very mature for our age. She needed 2 jobs, and there was no other way. We were informed on how to spend our time (homework, staying in the house/yard, chores), what to do in an emergency, and we did just fine. Go with your gut.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:58 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • My oldest would stay home for about half an hour in the mornings before school when he was 9. I had to leave at 8 am and he didn't need to leave until 8:30. He's now almost 12 and is more than capable of staying home alone for the length of time you'vementioned. Make sure he has emergency numbers and something to keep him occupied for those hours and he should be fine.

    Answer by canadianmom1974 at 1:59 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • My son is ten and a half, and the only times I leave him home alone is if I have to run somewhere really fast (like up the road to let out the neighbor's dog or something) and he knows he is not to go anywhere near the door if someone knocks. (We have a big dog that will go bark like a madman at the door, so that helps people think no one is home but a big dog). He knows all doors are to stay locked and I prefer for him to stay in our bonus room where no one could see him around the house.
    I think that all kids are different, and you have to go with your gut and how you feel about your child's level of maturity and judgement. I think it will be at least a couple more years before I feel comfortable leaving my son home for more than 30 minutes at a time.

    Answer by KTMOM at 2:00 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • It depends on the length of time. My 10 year old I have left home alone for an hour or so, but never more than that. I just can't imagine leaving him at home all day until he's at least like 13 - even then, I know I would worry after a couple of hours! But for 2-3 hours, if he is really mature he might be fine. Have you checked into local programs? I know here in Raleigh NC there is a Send A Kid to Camp program for financially strapped parents to help them pay for daycamp - that way he wouldn't be home alone but I can understand how having to pay for even part of it would cut into the profits, but it's worth checking on.

    Answer by missanc at 2:03 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • 11 yrs old is just fine as long as you go over the rules and if he is in the 5th or 6th grade his school probably offers an after school program .....most schools do this and will run as late as 7 pm...If your not wanting to leave him at home hire a teenager to pick up your son and bring him home for a few hours. There are alot of teens out there that would be willing to do this for a few extra bucks.
    Also some churches offer an after school tutoring type program where kids can go hang out and get homework done.
    At 11, he can stay home as long as he knows to respect the rules you lay down..

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:06 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • It also depends on your neighborhood...is it shady? or is is it safe? is it shady i wouldn't do it but you know what? bottom line is it is safer at 11 to leave him home then 16...after 16 is when they get into trouble when a parent is not at home.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:09 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • In our state it is illegal for a child to be home alone before they are 12. You might want to check with the state laws. Also I think it depends a lot on what he says. If he is scared to be home alone then don't do it. The truth is if you are only making minimum wage for a few hours a week you won't be making much money anyway. There are lots of things you could do from home to make that much money. You could take on another child to babysit from your home during the summer and make much more than that, you could also sell Avon its only $20 to start and you can make money online too, you could make arts and crafts and sell them on Etsy or at crafts fairs. There really are a lot of things you could do from home and your 11 year old could even help you earn money. You guys could walk dogs or house sit for people (put an ad on Craigslist for free) you could pick up a paper route for the local newspaper.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:17 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • We used to do a paper route and we'd be done by 7am every morning and it brought in a few hundred a week. You could drive and your son could throw the papers then you could give him a small cut of the money for helping out (or take him to a movie or something as a thank you) I would say not to leave him home alone just yet especially when you can do so many other things from home to make money. If you have questions on how to get started ask. I've done everything I mentioned and one summer I did ALL of these things at the same time!

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:19 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • not only do you need to worry about how mature the child is, you also need to think about where you live. i know a 12 yr old who was home sick and the mom had to go to work, the grandfather was supposed to be in and out looking after the child throughout the day and some older kids broke in thinking no one was home and ended up killing the child. so you have to be aware of your surroundings as well. there arent any free or cheap summer camps he could go to. i know like 4 H and some county programs will have a free summer camp for a few hours each day

    Answer by secondtyme520 at 2:27 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

  • I agree with Anon 1:17/1:19- When you struggle financially, it's a FAMILY issue, and it would greatly benefit him emotionally, psychologically, and morally to help you bring in this added income. As a son, you are raising him most likely to be the provider for his family, what better time to start giving him skills to do this? This will give him a sense of pride & community, as well as helping the family & keeping you together. Leaving him at home alone, to get more money for more bills & stuff is almost contradictary to "We are doing this FOR you." I think you have a huge opportunity to strengthen the family bond here. "We are family & we all help." If you MUST do this job, do you have a boys & girls club nearby? This would give him something to look forward to as well. They have all sorts of activities & friends. Better than being alone. IMHO. Good luck to you! :)

    Answer by doodlebopfan at 2:36 PM on Apr. 11, 2010

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