How old to stay home alone, and to babysit younger sib? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How old is considered the right age for a girl to stay home either by herself, or to stay home and watch her younger (5 y.o.) brother? I realize this has to do with maturity and not just age, but I'm wondering what moms with preteens and teens think is the right age.

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#2 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 06:28 PM
 
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I've left my 10 yo alone for brief periods of time (20 minutes or less). She doesn't have any younger sibs so that won't be an issue. Here kids can stay by themselves at 10 but they can't babysit until they are 12.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 06:56 PM
 
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Hi--I haven't posted in this forum before, but I'm not new to mdc!

My ds started staying home alone for short periods of time when he was almost 10. It was his idea. He's now 13 and has watched our youngest (4 yrs old.) He's really, really good with his younger brother. I know other 13 y/o's that I wouldn't leave with a houseplant though, so it's definately an individual thing. Our dd is now 9 but she doesn't stay home alone yet--not because she isn't responsible (she is) but because she'd be scared.

Some states do have laws regarding how old one needs to be to stay home alone and to babysit, so you'd probably want to check that out too.

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#4 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to both of you! I just checked with our county and they said there is no hard and fast rule in this county about age, but asked me to run the situation by her. I did - it's my 11 year old dd babysitting my 5yo ds. She said it sounded like a good situation since it would be during the day, dh and I both have cell phones, the kids get along well, I'd be at work less than a mile away, and we have neighbors and other friends who she could call if needed. We're also going to have her take a babysitting class and cpr/first aid.

Still very interested in others experiences too!
thanks.
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#5 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 09:31 PM
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Yeah, 11 is the minimum for the red cross class. Rain (11) was asked if she would babysit some of the 3 and 4 yr olds in pre-ballet at her dance studio, because they all fell in love with her during the recital. I think she'd be good at it...

How long are you talking about, though? I think that matters too. Will you be working fulltime, 8 hours a day 5 days a week? That sounds like too much... but 3 hours a day twice a week would seem fine, for my kid anyway.

Rain started stayong home alone around 7 for a few minutes at a time, and it's stretched to 8 hour days now, when I sub. Of course, she's only awake for about 3 of those hours....

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#6 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks Dar, it would be for about 4 hours a day, monday thru friday. but he would be asleep for the first hour or so. And I'm thinking my Mom might be able to watch him one day a week so she would only have to do it 4 days a week. And this is only for about 4 or 5 weeks because then she's off to camp, we go on vacation, etc.
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#7 of 18 Old 06-10-2004, 11:51 PM
 
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my stepson is 12,and we let him stay by himself for up to 2 hrs.(more or less) he's also watched dd(1yr) for no more than an hour at a time. Girls tend to be a little more trust wrothy,I think .I was a total latch-key kid,so I was home by myself every day,for 5 hours, starting age 10.
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#8 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 03:31 AM
 
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The police in my state don't look favorably on the under 12s left alone at home, any trouble and that child calls 911 and you will be in the hot seat as a parent. for that reason I would not use a sitter under age 16 for my younger dd & ds'.

We would not leave my 10 yr old ever at home alone. BTW my 15 1/2 yr old is 200 pounds, has a beard , and wears size 13 mens shoes - he is allowed to be home alone LOL but uses the ADT.
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#9 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 04:30 AM
 
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at 10 my dd was allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time. Her sister was born when she was just shy of 11. At 12yo she was allowed to stay home for brief periods of time babysitting her 18mo old sister. brief periods tho. store run, post office run etc.
At 13yo she was babysitting her sister for evenings out for mom/dad. At 14.5 she babysits her sister and her 10.5mo old brother once in a while so i can go to the store alone or dad nd i can go to a movie. She babysits other ppl's children regularly as well.
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#10 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 10:32 AM
 
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Hi, this is my first post in preteens and teens. I've been trying very hard to forget that my older children are 10, 11 and 13 .

My oldest, now 13, is a boy. His sister is 18 months younger than him and is now 11. The youngest, also a girl, is 18 months younger than the middle child and is now 10. The first two are above average bright (75th percentile composite on standardized tests) and the younger is extrememly bright and in gifted classes (95th + percentile). We live in a small (12K) town in rural nebraska. My husband parents and my parents live here as well.

Ok, enough background. Because of developmental differences, my kids all seemed to be "ready" to be left home alone for short periods of time, at about the same time, say, 15-18 months ago. Last summer, I let them get themselves ready for daycare and walk there by 10 am, rather than dragging them out of bed for me to take them at 6:30. Last fall (ages 9, almost 11 and 12), I was hugely pregnant and planning on quitting in November, baby time, I let them come home alone after school. They were home alone about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Now, I have no problem with leaving any of them home alone for up to 4-6 hours INFREQUENTLY, like if I have to take one of the children up to a nearby larger town for a dr, orthodontist, etc, appt. The youngest, at 10, isn't left home alone much though, one of her older siblings is also almost always home, maybe always in fact.

The baby. Now 6 months. My kids are all EXTREMELY great with the baby. I've left him home alone (yes, I know.. GASP now) with all of them, any of them, for 15-30 minutes for things like picking up other children at pool, grabbing a prescription, and getting 5 or less things from the grocery store. I always have my cell phone and have never had a problem doing it. I wouldn't yet leave any of them for more than that, simply because that's a lot of responsibility, I'm still nursing, and baby eats very frequently and is a fussy butt. They all pick him up and carry him around frequently. They know how to get him in and out of the stroller, carseat, highchair. The two girls have changed diapers with no trouble, mostly the 11.5 year old though.

I really did KNOW when my kids were ready. It was nervewracking, yes. I'm so glad the new baby is allowing me some more time home with my preteens, though, because I'd really hate to think of them home alone this summer or afterschoool everyday for years yet. I'll be going back to work in a year or so, but I'm glad I was here for this rough transition of not still a kid, not yet a teen.

Sorry for the book
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#11 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 11:13 AM
 
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I've left DD (11) home for short periods of time (when I had to pick her brother up from school and she was already home, quick run to the store, etc.) but I've never left her watching her brothers. I think DS (8) is more emotionally mature than she is, and they fight continuously when I'm here, they'd probably kill each other if I wasn't!
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#12 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for sharing all this great perspective and experiences...

Vanna's mom what is "ADT"?
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#13 of 18 Old 06-11-2004, 11:44 PM
 
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ADT is a home security system.

I began babysitting alone for other families when I was 12. I had no siblings but had many years before that taking care of children with adults present. I agree with the others that it depends on maturity. I was an extremely mature child.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#14 of 18 Old 06-12-2004, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, home security system, good idea.

My dd is very mature and has always been excellent with taking care of her brother and other kids. She has always been around younger kids and helped take care of them. She makes flyers "advertising" her babysitting services and posts them all over the house! She has been babysitting her brother with one of us present for two years. She is an extremely responsible kid. (annoyingly so sometimes! she tells her dad what the speed limit is if he's speeding)

But, I do feel a little torn. Dh's feeling is that she could handle it, but not five mornings a week. I guess I agree. But I am a little concerned because of what gethane said below about how she definitely KNEW when her kids were ready. I don't have that feeling like I know she's ready; I feel like she is, then two hours later I feel like she isn't. I think the main thing is I am really trying to give ds the freedom of being at home this summer, and I may have to work in the mornings from 8-12. But I would be less than a mile from home, and I have a neighbor who is a good friend of mine and stay at home mom. So, I'm still undecided and am looking at other options too.
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#15 of 18 Old 06-12-2004, 04:24 AM
 
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my kids are mature and more responsible then most other kids we meet their age

our choice not to have them be alone at that age is based on my own experience babysitting other children at age 10-11 and knowing the 911 response here can be up to 10 full minutes, we also have 2 registered sex offenders in our brand new nice tract housing have you looked in your neighborhood to check it out???
in our extended family have a cop and a cps worker, i know firsthand that 12 yr old left alone that gets into trouble, even not by his mistake - parent will be held accountable, no matter what his test scores are in school
i am in so cal
your choice to make, but IME don't look at just how mature your kids are- look at their environment around them
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#16 of 18 Old 06-12-2004, 02:42 PM
 
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I started letting my 11 year old stay home from the time she got off the bus until I got home. About an hour. Then she started watching her 3 year old brother for a few hours a week when we wanted to do quick trips. These are our rules. Lock and pad lock front and back doors. Do not open even if you know the person. Let the recorder get all calls. Do not play outside. Keep neighbors phone numbers posted and we always take the cell phone with us. I agree the environment has as much to do with it then the childs maturity. In that regards we are blessed with an awesome community and close neighbors. I don't think I would allow her to if we lived somewhere we didn't know who our neighbors were. Or where it took more than a minute to get 911 to our house. We live one mile from the fire department (direct number also posted). So my opinion is consider all the pros and cons.
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#17 of 18 Old 06-12-2004, 02:44 PM
 
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one more....

I also test her occassionally so she doesn't let her guard down. I knock instead of using my key to see if she answers the door. Or I call and see if she answers the phone......always a good idea
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#18 of 18 Old 06-12-2004, 06:34 PM
 
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We used to do that with the don't answer the phone let the machine get it, but it is not practical for us when I call home to check on them and they do not answer KWIM??? We have a wonderful neighborhood with very friendly nice neighbors too where we know everyone, that is why we know about the RSO

Ever week I am helping a neighbor kid that was home alone or that came home crying from school and was locked out or is babysitting. Every day we have after school kids coming over, not to play but because they need something. Our neighbors toilet overflowed and I'm the one over there turning off the water till the parents get home. The water heater started shaking in another neighbors house and the kids come over here panicked and crying. stuff like that, happens all the time, worse is the kids that are alone till 8pm around here cause their parents commute.
it is my pet peeve that those parents all think it is fine to leave their kids alone or responsible for another child. Even though they are suppsoed to stay in- I have had the door opened for me friday returning the dog that ran away, dug under the fence etc.. also delivering mail that came to our house instead of the right one, this is from last week. and their mom would post here that her kids were very responsible which they are, but thankfully I am not a perv. or worse KWIM??? a new friend and I have a huge ongoing fight about this cause she thinks her kids obey the 'rules' , I sent my dh over when she was sitting in her car so she could see for herself the kids open the door for my hubby- who they don't really know and trust. but have seen a couple times around

I am sorry to keep on posting on this, but to me when kids get hurt and their is no adult there to help It sticks in my heart, this has happened too many times over the last 20 years for me seeing kids that were not ready to care for younger siblings much less themselves be at home and have something happen. Because I am a homeschooling sahm, i think our phone number and house is one that the kids know someone will usually be there to help or talk to.
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