Home Alone

Lindsay - posted on 07/07/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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In this day and age, everyone seems to be so fearful of the big bad world (myself included). It got me wondering....

At what age would you be comfortable leaving a child home alone for short periods of time (generally speaking)?

At what age would/did you allow your child(ren) to play outside without you physically out there?

What age would you let them out in public alone?? ie a movie, mall, park, etc.


and finally, why these ages and not earlier/later?

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My 8 year olds have been playing outside 'alone' since they were 2. From 2-4 they had a locked back porch to play on... right where I could see and hear everything. From 4-6... an isolated farm. From 6-now... apartments w/ lots of safe grassy areas outside. No clue when my 2 year old will be able to play outside alone though.

Not sure on the staying home alone... My girls may have to when they are 10 depending on how their school time (will be in 6th grade) and my work time meshes.

Public alone? No clue yet and I won't hazard a guess. ;)

LaCi - posted on 07/09/2010

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I will probably treat this about the same as my parents did. I think I was allowed to stay home alone when I was 11/12 for short periods of time, i was allowed to play ouside on my own when I was 5(ish? maybe i was 6) but around that age I was walking to my friends houses, one block away on either side. When I was 13 I was finally allowed to go to the mall by myself, and became a mallrat, although that mall is gone now and our new mall is completely lame so he may have to hit the city malls and i might demand he be a bit older, 14 maybe.



It would be different if I lived somewhere else. As it is though, I live in a town of 20,000, virtually no crime in my area minus some thefts and other nonviolent or minor offenses, I live on a tiny dead end street in which one can not be stealthy lol I know when a car drives down my street, the connecting street, the neighboring street, you can hear it all. I live next to 4 schools, a day care, and 2 churches, and a boyscout meeting place, there are ALWAYS adults and children around doing things. My neighbors, whom I like and trust (one of which is a cop, which I love since the police car is always sitting right there) are usually outside.



Anyway, there are a lot of reasons I feel safe where I am, some of which are listed above, and when I feel as though he knows the rules of being unattended he can be.



I would probably have the same rule my parents had as well, be home before the street lights come on, don't go past this designated boundary which becomes negotiable when you feel you are at an age at which you should be able to go farther, call if you'll be late, heck in every couple hours, blah blah blah.

Andrea - posted on 07/09/2010

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I don't think I would leave them alone for a few hours till 12 or 13 but will figure that out when it's time. My kids are 10,9,7,and 10 months. My boyfriends parents live next door so sometimes I will grab the baby and leave the others here by them selves to run next door really fast but no more than 5 minutes plus they know were I am and can get to me quickly if they need to. I let them play in the yard by them selves but they have to be a pair one can't go out with another coming with. They are aloud to ride their bike to one end off the block to the other, again in a pair. Most days my window and doors are open so with them being in the yard or riding there bikes I can hear and see them playing. The have a lot of friends in the neighborhood that play in our yard. Their friends are the same age and are aloud to come the next block down(and go to park). There is a park caddy corner from my house they do not go with out adult. My boyfriend thinks I'm being over protective as far the park is goes he thinks as long as all three are together it would be fine. I trust them I think they would do great playing over at the park, but I don't trust other people. I am over protective at times because of the fear they will get abucted We are in walking distance of the school but I prefer to drive them.



I must add I also know the stuff me and my two brother and sister did when we were left home together even as teenagers. So this makes me a little worried to ever leave them by them selves, together any way. I know that I have to at some point for there own good but still a little scary.

ME - posted on 07/08/2010

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I was baby sitting for other children by the age of 13...I think it depends on the maturity level of the child...my kids are still babies, so I don't really know...

Meghan - posted on 07/08/2010

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LOL, maybe when my son stops getting distracted by shiny things or the birds WAAAY over there...or hmmm I wonder if there is another rock 50 feet away even though I have 3,000 right infront of me he can be alone in the yard

Rosie - posted on 07/08/2010

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so my oldest is 10, and i have left him at home for short to a little longer time periods (hour-2 hours) since he was 9. he started walking home from school this year towards the end of the year, and i let him go across a semi-busy street 4 blocks away to see his best friend.
i let my 5 year old go down our block by himself. only on the side that our house is on, and he cannot go past the last house on each side of the block. we had a scare this year when he started learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. he couldn't stop and ran right out into the road causing a car to brake and swerve. freaked me the fuck out. so he can't ride his bike past the second to last house on each side of the block. he's usually with grant (my oldest) anyway.
i do not let my 3 year old go anywhere by himself yet. he does not understand the whole staying in the yard thing yet. he hasn't ever tried to go in the street, but there is an alley in our back yard that is connected to parking lots for apartments behind and beside us. he's wondered back there too many times for me to feel comfortable letting him be by himself. the little shit has even figured out how to open the gate!! lol!!

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2010

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I am in Australia, in a smaller city (population around 350,000), but I have allowed my kids out in the backyard (secured) on their own from around age 2, as long as I could see them when I glanced outside. My son was around 9 when I allowed him to start walking home from school, or riding his bike to and from school, or catching the school bus (his choice). This was about the same age where I allowed him to stay home on his own from small amounts of time while I raced out for bread and milk or something small.



He is now almost 13, and for the last 18 months or so, he has been allowed to go to the movies with his friends (no adult), ride his bik around the neighbourhood with friends, I've even sent him with a backpack and a list to do shopping for me!! The way I see it is that in about 3 years, he will be allowed behind the wheel of a car.....we have to gradually release the tether....



My daughter is only 5, she hasn't reached this stage yet, but I have briefly left her home with her brother to go out for small amounts of time during the day if I have a few errands to run.



I do think these decisions also depend on the individual child. Some kids are just more mature, or more sensible, than others.

Meghan - posted on 07/08/2010

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I haven't really thought about this...but do you all think that there would be a difference in Single mother's or only children?

I hear a lot of stories about mom's who can't afford daycare and have responsible kids who at 7/8 stay home for an hour or so by themselves. I don't think I personally would do that....

I leave J in the tub by himself..HUGE no no, but the way our house is set up I can see/here him from the livingroom while I clean..plus he just sits there and doesn't move.

I live in a small town 5,500 people...and I always see 7-10 year old girls walking around by themselves..it bother's me but usually my first thought is how come they don't have a jacket on?? We got left home alone when I was around 12...because that was the legal age to babysit. But my older sister would allow me to watch her kids alone when I was 10 (I guess she really trusted me cause there is no way in hell I would do that)

Charlene - posted on 07/08/2010

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I live in a tiny province with a tiny population.
Roughly 140 000 people in total. Our biggest city, really a large town, holds roughly half of the entire population.
Like all places, some neighbourhoods are safer than others, but even the 'dangerous' parts aren't overly bad.

I walked to school alone everyday starting in grade one. And at around the same age, there was a park at the end of our street and we went down to it all the time.. only sometimes with the older kids.

We were allowed to go to the corner stores close by and when we hit 10-11, we were allowed to ride our bikes pretty much anywhere, within reason.

All the kids in our neighbourhood were friends and our days were spent playing four-square, jump rope, soccer, ball hockey... all in the middle of our street. There was rarely a parent to be seen. Most of them were working parents and weren't home until supper time.

It's a little different now... but I will still probably let my daughter have quite a bit of freedom.
I'm not sure on the specifics.. but I'll probably be somewhat lenient.

Becky - posted on 07/07/2010

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My oldest son is 2 1/2. We live in a big city, but in a quiet, well-developed neighbourhood on a quiet, very family friendly cul-de-sac. I would let him play outside alone now, in the backyard, except that we don't have good gates to keep him in there. As soon as my husband fixes those, I'll be okay with him playing outside for a bit, if I'm in the kitchen or living room where I can watch him out the window. My 10 month old can't, because we have a small pond and he is fascinated with water. (he's always trying to stick his hands in the toilet! Gross!)
I'd let him ride his bike around the cul-de-sac once he's probably 5 or 6, and go to the playground that's just around the corner at maybe 7 or 8, if he was going with a friend or sibling. Not all by himself. (it's no fun playing all by yourself anyways!)
I probably wouldn't leave him home alone until he's between 10-12, unless it was an emergency and I somehow had no choice, and then I'd be asking the neighbors to keep an eye on the house.
My parents, on the other hand, left me home alone at night when I was 4! We lived in a very small town, and knew the neighbors. My baby brother had just been born and my mom was still in the hospital with him. My sister fell out of bed and cut her eye and had to be taken into the hospital for stitches. I didn't want to go - it was the middle of the night - so my dad called the neighbors, told them what had happened and asked them to keep an eye on the house, and left me! Nowadays, I would never do that with my 4 year old! but, back then, well, I was fine!
As far as my kids going outside of the community - other than to school - probably not until they are teens. And going downtown alone - not until they're 18! :) Okay, maybe when they can drive...

Jenny - posted on 07/07/2010

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I live smack dab in the downtown of my city of 100K. I let my 4 year old play in the front yard unsupervised since she was 4. She is now 7.5 and I let my 2.5 out with her but have a lock in the front gate so he can't run out into traffic. I do peek out the front window from time to time and can hear them easily.

As far as leaving them alone I can't say as we haven't reached that point. With the 2 year old it will be alot longer than his sister though, he's an animal.

[deleted account]

My daughter is 2. I leave the backdoor open while I'm in the kitchen, and she comes and goes as she pleases. But I can easily see and hear her. For the rest of that, we'll wait and see. But in the particular neighborhood I live in, it's not uncommon to see 7-8 year olds riding bikes alone.

Sharon - posted on 07/07/2010

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lol well you guys know I live out in the boonies so its different for me.. but...

I let my oldest take the bus home at 7 yrs old to be home alone for 5 - 15 minutes while I was on my way home from work/daycare.

He was allowed to stay home alone at 12 for an hour or two while I ran to town for milk/short errands.

Those were the ages & time frames i could trust him to not set himself or the house on fire.

Going outside to play - out here? Virtually any age.

In town? Hell - when i was 14 two 13 yr olds were abucted after leaving chess camp. One died. one got away. I don't trust anyone. BUT at 14 I do allow my oldest to walk to the store my mothers house (in a small city) to a store, provided he stays in touch via his cell phone.

I will allow him to go to a mall with friends provided he has cash to spend and as long as he stays IN THE MALL. our mall is a single aisle and you'd be hard pressed to find a secluded spot to cause trouble or get into trouble.

I NEVER let him go to the skate/bike park alone. To many wanna be gangbangers. Mostly I drop him & his friends off and I sit in the truck reading. If trouble starts, there is an adult there to help out. So far, someone has tried to steal his bike from him twice and once there was a shooting. Oh and his friends' bike was stolen but when I showed up after calling 911 and the park cops showed up - the guy said "I just borrowed it." after I lied and claimed it had been stamped.

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