When can they stay home alone?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm looking ahead to fall babysitting schedules--yuck. My dd, who is 9--10 in Oct., wants to stay home afterschool instead of going to the much hated babysitter's. It's an hour to an hour and a half 2-3 days a week.

Is there a legal age limit to when kids can stay home alone?

I am considering having her 5 yo brother ride the bus home with her. We live in a small town and have plenty of neighbors/family around. And I may talk to my 16yo cousin to see if she would check on them before I get home. Most of the time I'll be driving home and available by cell phone.

I know by the time I was 10 I was babysitting for other people!

Other's thoughts???
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#2 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:18 PM
 
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Where I live there isn't a minimum age to stay home alone but there IS a minimum age for babysitting, even a sibling. That age is 12. My dd has been staying home alone since she turned 10, but no more than an hour at a time. Usually it's only about 15min while I run to the store for milk or something.

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#3 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:21 PM
 
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I don't let my almost 13 yo stay home alone, let alone with his 5 yo brother, but he does have Asperger's and is prone to distraction.

If your daughter does not like babysitting per se, is there a before and after school program for her? Some of the local churches have them here, very inexpensive programs that are a lot of fun for the kids. If I needed to WOH, I would send my kids there.

Hope that helps.
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#4 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:30 PM
 
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Age is just one of many factors in this decision. I think 10yo is a common age to start leaving a child home for short periods of time (like 1-2 hours) a long as the yhave someone to reach out too if needed. We do 15 minutes when needed, like, if I have to be picked up from work (1 mile away ). But I won't leave 5yo DS with her. He is a monster at times, won't listen, etc. My sister and I were 10yo and 7yo when left home. All we did was fight. At 12yo/13yo I was home alone each day after school. It was fine except when my one teen cousin DID come over with his friends. NO, never hurt me or even try too, but they were no good in general, at the time my Mom was blind to it. I was better off alone!

Base it on your child and her maturity. If a teen cousin can come by, it really should be fine.
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#5 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:44 PM
 
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There is no minimum age in California. That said I let my 10 year old stay home for brief periods of time, for example when I run to the video store down the street, quick trips to store, when I take a walk around the neighborhood ususally she stays when she doesn't want to come with us. She is however very mature for her age and she also know that the first time she acts irresponsibly her privilage to stay home will be revoked. I would be confortable wih her staying home for an hour or so by herself as long as we had talked and she understood all the rules, what to do if she has an emergency ect. I don't know if I'd be comfortable with her watching a 5 year old but that's me.
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#6 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 11:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2kds View Post
I know by the time I was 10 I was babysitting for other people!
But the key is that it was for OTHER people. Babysitting a little sibling is a whole different thing. I have three older brothers (2, 6, and 8 years older than me) and it never worked out to have one of the two oldest try to babysit me and my closest brother. We just wouldn't listen to them and there always ended up being a big fight or some issue.

I would either send your 5 yo to the babysitter or maybe see if your cousin would be interested in babysitting them at your home.

Or you could look into an after school program at the Y or somewhere that they could both go to that was more interesting than the babysitter.
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#7 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2kds View Post
My dd, who is 9--10 in Oct., wants to stay home afterschool instead of going to the much hated babysitter's.
I would not feel comfortable leaving any of my kids with a "much-hated babysitter".

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#8 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 01:28 AM
 
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The legal age in our state is 12. I'm sure there are many kids younger than that coming home after school. I don't think there is any one age, but I wouldn't be comfortable with a 9 and 5 year old alone in the house. I don't leave mine at that age. Too many things can happen. I would have never babysat at 10 and I can't image anyone using a 10 yo unless it's as a "mother's helper" type thing.

I would have to send the 5 yo to daycare and then see if there are any activities like Scouts which she could participate at least once a week. You didn't state why she hates the babysitter. Is it really the babysitter, or just the idea of going to one. At 10, I would rather she be with an adult I trust.
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#9 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 08:23 AM
 
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As far as legalities, check out this web site: http://www.nccic.org/poptopics/homealone.htm. It varies state to state.

I started leaving my son (10) for up to an hour just in the past few months. Usually after school, like you are considering, while I am driving home from work. He's doing fine.

I would not consider leaving him in charge of his younger brother though. They would argue, fight, and be generally miserable the situation.

Growing up, I was left in charge of younger brothers and sister often. Very often, in fact. It definately damaged my relationship with them to be put in a role like that so frequently. We all resented it.
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#10 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 03:02 PM
 
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I leave my 11 yo ds home alone for short periods of time, usually less than an hour, and have been for about a year (since he was 10), and it only happens once every couple of weeks, if that. We have grandparents who live less than 2 miles away, and many neighbors who would help out any time. I would not leave my younger children with him. My ds is extremely responsible for his age, but I know my older sister babysat me after school when we were around that age, and it was not a good thing at all. In addition, I swore that my kids would never be home alone after school. When I WOH, I made sure he was involved in an after school program all the time. There were a few through churches in our area, but we went with a YMCA program that was around $230/month for care before and after school. I know that I got into all sorts of mischief after school, even only being home for an hour or two. Good luck!
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#11 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 06:08 PM
 
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I did not let my kids stay home alone or babysit until they had passed the Red Cross babysitting course, which they can't take till they're 11. The oldest was in an after school care till he was 13 (he couldn't go after he turned 13). Once he was 13, the next youngest was 11 and the two of them both had the course, so they walked the youngest home, who was 9. Till the youngest turned 11 and had the course, she had to be babysat by one of her brothers or be with me.
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#12 of 18 Old 07-07-2007, 05:08 AM
 
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I have left my 10yo home alone several times. But she's trustworthy and knows what to do in case of emergencies. We also sat down and made a list of rules for when she's alone together. I feel comfortable leaving her alone for 2-3 hours at a time, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with her babysitting yet. I'm pretty sure she could do it, but I would want her to take some kind of babysitter's course first.

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#13 of 18 Old 07-07-2007, 06:04 AM
 
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Many kids are going to be ready at 10. I was left alone at 10. I would think less sibling pairs would be ready at those ages, but it's up to the kids. In my state I do think you have to be 12 to be in charge of younger children legally.
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#14 of 18 Old 07-08-2007, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think we'll try it and see. My mom teaches 4th grade and says it is common for kids that age to stay home afterschool. And it is only a couple of days a week. She is pretty responsible and we have a retired couple close by that my kids absolutely adore and I know they would help if there was ever a problem.

There are NO after school problems in our community at all! I really wish someone would start one.

My 5yo son is actually not a problem for her--which I know is highly unusual! But I am really not worried about fighting/sibling problems--they generally just do that when I am around!
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#15 of 18 Old 07-09-2007, 02:19 AM
 
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Please make sure you check with your local Department of Human/Social Services for a "legal" age and remember that teachers and social workers are required to report underage kids at home if they find out.

I'm a social worker and am dealing with this situ right now with dd1's bf who is about to be ten and left at home alone with her eight and six year old sisters.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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#16 of 18 Old 07-09-2007, 08:39 AM
 
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I agree with ktmama. Ten is very young to "babysit," which is what she will be doing. Check the guidelines -- the usual age is 13.

Why not give her some time to adjust to looking after just herself first?
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#17 of 18 Old 07-09-2007, 10:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post
But the key is that it was for OTHER people. Babysitting a little sibling is a whole different thing. I have three older brothers (2, 6, and 8 years older than me) and it never worked out to have one of the two oldest try to babysit me and my closest brother. We just wouldn't listen to them and there always ended up being a big fight or some issue.

.


This is very true. Also, I was always so much more responsible babysitting for other families than watching after my own siblings. And my brother who is close in age to me and I would fight like cats and dogs.
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#18 of 18 Old 07-10-2007, 08:24 PM
 
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Another thought...is there another older kid who rides the bus and could come home with them till you get there? Just wondering because I did this for a family down the street when I was in 7th grade (12.5), and the girls I watched were in 2nd and 4th grades (7 and 9). We all went to the same school (Catholic school with grades 1-8). I just stayed at their house with them and would feed them a snack, play with them or do homework with them till their mom got home. I did this a couple days a week, and at that age, it was an awesome way to get some extra cash. Plus, my mom was home too, so if we had needed anything, she could have stepped in to help out.

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