When summer rolls around–and your kids reach a certain age–there comes a time when you’re able to leave them home alone while you’re at work. This can be really helpful, but it can also be really stressful. You’re depending on your child to be responsible for themselves, and possibly their younger siblings. So what should you do when your kids are old enough to be home alone but you still have concerns for their safety? These tips will help put your mind at ease while you’re away.
First, establish rules. This is extremely important. Don’t allow them to have friends over. Depending on their age, don’t allow them to use the stove. This way you don’t run the risk of them accidentally starting a fire. If they plan to go to the park or over to a friend’s house, they must call you before they go and when they arrive there. This way you know where they are at all times.
Second, have your parents or neighbors check in. If grandma and grandpa live in the neighborhood, ask them to stop by every once and a while. But make sure it’s not too often. You want to be sure your kids know that you trust them to be alone, but that grandma and grandpa are there to help with anything they need. If you’re close with your neighbors, ask them to keep an eye on the house. Are the kids coming and going when they’re not supposed to be? Are they having friends over when they aren’t supposed to? Also, let your children know that the neighbors are always available in the event of an emergency.
Third, give them chores to keep them busy. There are plenty of little things they can do around the house that don’t require adult supervision. They can fold laundry, put away the dishes or take the dog for a walk. This will prevent them from sitting around and playing video games all day and it will also help take a little bit of work off of your plate.
Fourth, enroll them in camp. This will get them out of the house and even allow them to make new friends. This way you know they have structure and supervision without hiring a sitter to be at the house with them.
Fifth, send them to the local park or swimming pool. The community that I live in has buses that pick kids up and take them to the pool every hour during the week in the summer. Your kids can walk or ride their bikes to the bus stop and it will take them to the park. This way they can meet up with friends and can be active and play outside. Check for offerings in your area. Also, find what is within safe walking distance.
Sixth, use technology to your advantage. We live in the age of smartphones and GPS trackers. Make sure all of the tracking apps are active on your child’s cell phone or tablet. If your kids don’t have a phone yet you can pick up a GPS tracker at your local electronics store.
Leaving your kids home alone for the first time can be really stressful. Hopefully these tips will help make it a little easier for you.
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