Is it safe to leave a 10 year old and a 7 year old for 1.5 hours while they are asleep? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My neighbor left her 10 yo and 7 yo home alone from about 10:30 PM to midnight.  They were asleep and did not know that she had left.  I'm freaked out by this, but don't know if I'm overreacting?  Please weigh in with your opinion.

Also, she sometimes leaves them home during the day from 4 up to 9 hours while she is at work.  They have a cell phone and a land line to call her, and I'm often home with my kids.  What do you all think of that?

Thanks for any input.

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#2 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 02:49 PM
 
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For ME, both scenarios make me nervous.


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#3 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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this is going to vary widely on the kids, the developmental levels, what they have been taught, how they react in  situations, how they get along with each other etc.

 

My 10 yr old is fine being home alone, while I dont leave with out telling him, I could gently wake him to let him know I needed to leave for some reason.  I could also leave him while I went to work and I'm actually working up to this.

 

Not all families function the same way.

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#4 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 03:20 PM
 
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I started babysitting when I was 10.  But I was down the street from my parents.  We only leave our 11-year-old alone for short, daytime periods, such as if he's working on homework, his Dad's at a meeting and I have to run to the grocery down the block, for milk.  And he has a cell phone (so I could be back in about 90 seconds, if necessary), plus we have neighbors across the street and next door who are like family.  Even those miniscule stints of staying home alone are few and far between, not the norm.  If I have a big, 1-1/2 hour trip to the market, I'd take him with me.  He was not left at home alone at all, when he was 7.

 

Many places actually have laws about how old kids have to be, to stay home alone.  Seven is definitely under that age and ten might be, as well - depending where you are.  That said, I think what you've described is a scenario that you certainly don't want to MIMIC, with your own kids, but NOT a scenario that should make you call CPS.  

 

Perhaps you can communicate to their Mom about the hours you're home and give her a card with your # on it, so the kids can call if they need something while she's gone.


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#5 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 03:30 PM
 
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I have no issue leaving my 5 and 10 year olds home while they are awake.  Never for 9 hours, but I've never had a reason to.  

 

After seeing some info on how kids do not hear smoke detectors when they are asleep I wouldn't be ok leaving them asleep.  For some reason children don't hear the high pitched screech the same way adults do and according to this report, they rarely wake up for them.  Fire would be my only middle of the night concern (besides waking up scared) so if they might not hear the alarm, I wouldn't leave them.

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#6 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 03:36 PM
 
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7 and 10 year olds might panic upon waking up to find no adults in the house.  They could create all sorts of awful scenarios in their heads and get into a panic.  I would never leave a child alone in the night without their knowing.  However, I also would at MINIMUM leave a note even for older teenagers and my husband if I were leaving while everyone was asleep.  It is just common courtesy to let people in the home know where you are and when you will be back.

 

I babysat my brother full time when I was 11 and he was 6 - 40 hours a week plus overtime when my mom needed to take it.  leaving a 10 and 7 year old home alone, assuming they have the maturity to handle it, wouldn't phase me in the least.

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#7 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 03:46 PM
 
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You know you can do all the house safety stuff and kid prep all you want.. accidents and mishaps can still happen. I would not leave sleeping children alone at night. I might leave a ten year for a couple of hours if absolutly necessary but not in charge of younger sibs. We had a law in Georgia that kids must be 12 to be "in charge" of other kids.
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#8 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 06:38 PM
 
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I would be really upset if my husband left in the the middle of the night while I was asleep without telling me or at least leaving a note.  Never mind little kids.  Sure, they probably won't wake up, but if they do, they would be terrified.    I would never leave my kids home alone while they sleep without letting them know.

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#9 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 06:56 PM
 
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No, it's not safe. She is risking a whole lot by doing that. Where, exactly, does she have to be?

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#10 of 31 Old 05-11-2011, 10:59 PM
 
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** also what people SAY and what people actually DO are 2 completely different things.   Your neighbor could think she bragging to you, could be trying to compare notes to see what you do, could be trying to get some babysitting out of you etc.  You really dont know what goes on in her house.


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#11 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 02:09 AM
 
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I'm in the UK and that would be illegal here so it's moot, i wouldn't do it due to the legality.

 

I think in general it would be hard for a child to be prepared to cope alone if they didn't KNOW they were alone.  I mean, imagine being 7 years old and waking to find your mom is gone, that'd be pretty scary IMO.  WAY different if she told you she would be gone, left you emergency numbers and a time she'd be back and so on.

 

I wouldn't leave them in the day either, both are illegal here, By 11 or so i would leave that child (not in charge of a younger child though) while i ran to the grocery store or something.  But not for hours.

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#12 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 05:26 AM
 
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If I were at a neighbor's house, so really close, and they knew I was going so if they woke up they wouldn't be afraid, I'd be OK with it. Not this situation where the kids don't know though. Also, during the day for short trips I might be OK with at that age, but not for 4 to 9 hours. Maybe a half-hour run to the grocery store or something. Kids that age can use the phone. I wouldn't leave a 10-year-old alone with a 4-year-old, but I would be ok with a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.
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#13 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 08:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

You know you can do all the house safety stuff and kid prep all you want.. accidents and mishaps can still happen. I would not leave sleeping children alone at night. I might leave a ten year for a couple of hours if absolutly necessary but not in charge of younger sibs. We had a law in Georgia that kids must be 12 to be "in charge" of other kids.


Is the law new. Last thing I heard was it was just dcfs guidelines.

Agree, leaving without telling isn't nice for anyone, adult or child.

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#14 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 09:20 AM
 
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I do not think it is a good idea to leave the house unannounced when people are sleeping. Just last year I was sleeping and sometimes DH stays up much later to watch a movie. I got up to the let the cat out (all groggy) and locked the door with the slide lock.

 

What I didn’t know is that DH had left the house to run to Walmart (it’s open 24/7) and I locked him out unintentionally. He had to pound on the door, which scared the crap out me.

 

Leaving the house while your kids are sleeping, without telling them seems mean. What would they think if they got up to and couldn’t find you? And most people are not at their most alert state to handle situations when they’ve  been fast asleep. Is that the best time to trust your kids decision making skills?

 

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#15 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 01:33 PM
 
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It really depends. Law aspect yeah its wrong. however I think it goes more into the maturity of the oldest and such. I was babysitting my brother daily for a few hours starting around 8. Babysitting other people's kids around 9/10. Some lived in town close by others on farms. 

 

 

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#16 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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oh goodness...no, not ever. I have popped to the shop, 2 mins away...walking. i don't even feel comfortable doing that and have done it maybe 3 times. I couldn't imagine. My kids are nowhere near mature enough to handle an emergency or  wake up and find themselves alone. Plus, what if something out of the ordinary happens? Someone knocks the door/ phone rings/home invasion/fire/an accident???? I know unlikely but would prevent me from relaxing or being at peace with that situation.


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#17 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 03:47 PM
 
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Where I live, you have to be 12 or 13 (can't remember exactly) to stay home alone and 13 to babysit, even siblings.  What happened was that some time ago, people were pulling their 10 year olds out of the child care center/family child care homes because the kids could "technically" stay home alone...then when that child turned 11, parents would put them through the babysitting course so they could babysit their siblings.  (Money-saving measure.  I was babysitting my 4-years younger brother at age 10/11 all day so my mom didn't have to pay a sitter.)  I guess a few immature children who could not handle the responsibility got into some trouble, or something tragic happened and the child did not know what to do, and so a policy was adopted that you could not stay home alone prior to age 12/13.  (Sometimes I swear, though, it is to keep $$$ in the daycare center and family child care homes pockets)

 

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#18 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 04:48 PM
 
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Dh and I have left our 10 year old home alone for ~60 minutes, and at this point in time, that's all I feel comfortable doing. And honestly, that's all HE feels comfortable doing. If his little sister is around, then we get a babysitter.

 

I would not feel comfortable in your neighbor's situation, even for the 90 minutes, because I don't think that my 10 year old can handle setting limits for the 7 year old. I wonder too if the kids know that she's going out for that period of time. I think it's one thing to leave your kids alone when they know it, it's something completely different if you're just suddenly gone. Maybe my kids are unusual, but even at 7 and 10 they wake up a lot at night. If we weren't home, they'd be completely panicked. No way would I leave kids that age unsupervised during the day. We had a neighbor last summer who couldn't afford daycare for her 11 year old (she could barely afford it for her 6 year old). So, he stayed home 3 days a week while she worked (she took Mondays as vacation time and they were with their dad on Fridays). That 11 year old spent a lot of time at our house. In that situation, we were happy to help. Partly because we knew the mom's situation and partly because he's a decent kid. He wasn't a pain to have around. It was our summer community service.

 

This website has an interesting list for laws/guidelines on when it's OK to leave a child home alone. http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm Interestingly, most states don't have a law. Our does, and it's 10. I don't know if a 10 year old watching a 7 year old would be considered legal.

 

Appropriate care for kids aged 10-12 is a real issue. Most are OK for a bit of time by themselves, a few are OK for longer periods of time. But the reality is that many will let their desire to fit in socially override their good judgment, most don't have the kind of judgment skills you need to employ in an emergency, and most really don't want to be home for extended periods of time. But if your family is struggling financially, what do you do?

 

 


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#19 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 04:54 PM
 
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Only two states, Illinois and Maryland, have laws regulating the ages that children can be left home alone.

 

http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/homealone.cfm

 

I would never leave my children (9.5 and 7) home alone while they were sleeping. I can't imagine doing that for a very long time. Like late teens. If something were to happen, they may be too groggy or unable to wake up and deal with it. At this point, we will leave them for 30 minutes or less if we want to go for a short walk at our local botanic garden (3 minute drive from our house). In the fall, there may be one evening each week where they get home from school and dh or I won't be home for an hour or so. They are very self-sufficient and rule-oriented. We also live in a great neighborhood where everyone knows one another and looks out for each other.

 

FTR, my mom is a former CPS supervisor who allowed her 9 and 10-year-old daughters to come home from school without a parent home, and stay home alone on snow days. We also stopped having babysitters in the summer at that age. She never left us home at all during the night. Not until we were in college.

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#20 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 07:34 PM
 
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I would only leave a 10 yr old watching a 7 year old alone for an hour so.  No night-time babysitting, no sleeping and no 4-9 hour days.dizzy.gif  

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#21 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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I wouldn't leave my children alone at night until my youngest is at least 10. I will happily leave my 11 or 10 year olds at home alone or together for up to 2 hours, but they call me almost every 20 minutes and know not to answer the door, go to friends, have friends over etc. I have left my 11 yr old (12 in July) with my 6 yr old (7 in August) alone while I drove to the store (40 minutes total) once, and that was last week as a trial to see how well my youngest respected his big brother. I see it as all of them learning responsibility. At 8 I was riding my bike 5 miles to the shops on my own and I was out all day in the summer with my mom not knowing where I was. Maybe I have a different perspective on it.

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#22 of 31 Old 05-12-2011, 08:06 PM
 
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I wouldn't be comfortable with it, but I agree with the pp who said it's not an issue to call CPS over, unless there are other problems that make it worse than what you outlined here.  One thing that would mitigate in your neighbor's favor is if she is aware of your presence and knows her kids could come to you if necessary.  Of course you go out now and then, but if you are usually there and she and the kids know it, that makes a difference, IMO.  My kids have our friendly neighbor's phone number on the fridge in case they need it any time.  (While home alone for short periods, or if something happened to me.) 

 

As for the night thing, I think people are assuming that she didn't leave a note or anything.  We don't know that. If she left a note, then took it down when she got home, they would still "never know she was gone." 

 

Again, neither of these things are things I would do, but if I were in less ideal circumstances, who knows?  An unexpected snow day, and I have to be at work or risk loosing my job?  Yeah, I might do it and pray for the best.  That wouldn't make me a bad mom, it only highlights how disconnected we've become from family and community.  :o/


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#23 of 31 Old 05-13-2011, 02:50 AM
 
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I agree with the poster that talked about fires and children not rousing for a fire alarm.  This happened just a couple of weeks ago with my own 9yo.  I was up early to get some things cooked for a dinner party we were having that weekend.  Our smoke alarm is right across the room from my oven and if I'm baking at a high temp, when I open the oven door, it makes the alarm go off (even if there isn't smoke).  I was right in the middle of dealing with my dish and couldn't get it off for a couple of minutes when it started wailing.  My dd never even stirred.

 

There is nothing that is worth compromising your child's safety.  I'd not leave kids that young alone during the day, let alone at night.  I do think it's neglect.  Just because a state doesn't have a law, it doesn't mean it's not still illegal.  It's just subjective, then.  A 3 year old home alone.  Of course that's neglect.  An 8 year old?  It becomes a gray area, but it still could be considered neglect.  If there was any question in my mind, I'd call.

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#24 of 31 Old 05-13-2011, 03:19 AM
 
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There were 2 or 3 times I let the kids stay home while I shopped. I really did not feel comfortable about doing it.Accidents happen on the road.Any number of strangers could go to the home while I am gone.Never again.

 

Some moms have little choice but to leave the kids alone while they work.Hopefully there are good neighbors who can keep an eye on things. If it were me I would want to hook up with another mom to swap childcare duties.

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#25 of 31 Old 05-13-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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I do agree on the neighbor aspect of it. I think location plays a huge role. When my mom did it and we lived in town my grandparents lived a block away at one point and just across town maybe 5-6 blocks after that. We also had a great relationship with neighbors. My aunt also lived behind us at one point too. So while we were left alone we also had many outlets and people "watching" us. The same was when I was 16 and my mom left to go in the truck with my dad while we didn't have anyone staying with us there were plenty of people around to check in on us. 

 

I get that accident can happen but there is a point I think at least for us that its okay to back off some and teach responsibility. Because there could be an accident that you need to get to and having the piece of mind of knowing your kids can handle themselves till someone can get there or at least able to check in on them. 

 

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#26 of 31 Old 05-13-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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It is always so interesting reading threads like this and seeing the varying opinions.  Since I was babysitting my 5.5ish year old brother full time in the summer including overtime when I was 11, it seems such an odd concept to me that others would find that thought ridiculous.  We never had any problems and it seems funny to even think that 10 could be way too young to be alone for a few hours with a 7 year old.  I'm sure for some kids it is, some just aren't ready, but its interesting that for some people, it is too young across the board haha.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by treeoflife3 View Post

It is always so interesting reading threads like this and seeing the varying opinions.  Since I was babysitting my 5.5ish year old brother full time in the summer including overtime when I was 11, it seems such an odd concept to me that others would find that thought ridiculous.  We never had any problems and it seems funny to even think that 10 could be way too young to be alone for a few hours with a 7 year old.  I'm sure for some kids it is, some just aren't ready, but its interesting that for some people, it is too young across the board haha.


truedat.gif I had a similar experience growing up. I am 6.5 years older than my brother and I used to babysit him a lot. Especially starting around the age of 10. Not for super long or anything, but when my mom went to the grocery store or something like that. I didn't think of it as a big deal and neither did anyone else we knew. I had quite a few friends who grew up babysitting their younger siblings as well. 

 

I completely agree and find threads like these very interesting reads. 

 

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#28 of 31 Old 05-13-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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Not when they are sleeping. As others have noted, kids often sleep through smoke detectors and fire alarms. My son is 12 and up until this year, he was not allowed to use an alarm clock because it would not wake him up. Everyone else in the house, yes (and probably the folks in the apartment downstairs), but he would be sleeping soundly through it.

 

 

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#29 of 31 Old 05-22-2011, 03:52 PM
 
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1 1/2 hours while sleeping, I have done it BUT they've known I was gone too. I wouldn't leave the house without telling my kids I was leaving.

 

9 hours, no.  I do leave my 12, 10 & 9yo by themselves while I'm at work.  Now that I'm in the same school division it rarely happens.  The teachers have gone on a day strike & will be again for 2 days this week coming up but I'm support staff so I still have to go to work even though there are no kids & nothing to do(we did it all a few weeks ago when they went for 1 day,lol).  I'm gone for 7 hours & check in with them once.  Dh also comes home for lunch during that time.

 

 

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#30 of 31 Old 05-22-2011, 04:27 PM
 
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No way! The thing I think about is what if someone broke in, could my child defend themselves at all and would they be able to handle a traumatic experience like that. During the day I might leave my 12+ year old for a couple hours(2-3 at most), but at night my child would have to be much older like 15 years old. I also would never leave a younger sibling alone day or night with anyone under the age of 16 or 17 depending on the older child's personality and level of responsibility. I need to feel comfortable that in an emergency the first person that would be thought of would be the younger child. In a fire would my older child immediately run from the home without their sibling or in a break-in would the older child help the younger one hide etc. I just do not like to think 'that would never happen to me" because it very well could no matter how small the chance.

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