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