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to leave (just) 9 year old home alone after school

(187 Posts)
redskyatnight Thu 17-Jan-13 12:31:33

Really in 2 minds about this so seeking some clarity …

DH normally looks after DS after school, however he has a business trip coming up and will be away for 2-3 weeks.

All the childminders/after school clubs that might take DS are full or wouldn’t consider it for a short period.

We can call in various favours from friends but realistically wouldn’t have enough to cover the whole period (friends have other commitments after school and we wouldn’t ask any 1 friend to have him for more than 1 or 2 afternoons anyway in the interests of not imposing).

DS is brought home every day by a neighbour (who is one of the people we could ask to look after him for the odd time or 2).
I can jig my work hours so that I will be home at most an hour after him.
DS has just turned 9.

Both DH and I have memories of letting ourselves in after school and being alone for a similar period at a similar age. So DH has suggested that we give DS a key and ask the neighbour to make sure that he does get in ok (and put her and a couple of other neighbours on standby in case of emergencies). DS would most likely watch TV or play on the Wii for the whole time.

Are we (or would we) BU?

(and for those who mumble about we should have a proper back up plan I should point out it is highly unusual for DH to be away for so long at a time- he normally only goes away for 2 or 3 days which we can cope with).

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 17-Jan-13 12:36:14

It really depends on the child/length of time/distance away from you if an emergency?

Dd1 is 9 and would be fine like this for an hour, but I wouldn't be happy leaving her longer than this and I would leave the key with a neighbour for her to collect in case she lost it and panicked.

MrsMcEnroe Thu 17-Jan-13 12:36:53

I think this would be ok as you've said that your neighbours will be aware that your DS is in the house by himself, ready to check up on him if necessary.

We leave our DS, aged 8.5, in the house by himself for up to an hour during the day - he knows which neighbours to go to if he needs them, we don't go far away (local shops/ errands etc in the vicinity) and there's a list of contact numbers taped next to the phone etc. He rings one of us if he feels uneasy. It's always been fine. Mostly he plays on the Wii or watches TV.

A long as your DS is happy with this, go for it.

JammyDodger1 Thu 17-Jan-13 12:37:43

Is he responsible? and happy to be left on his own?

Seeline Thu 17-Jan-13 12:38:03

The problem is when the unexpected happens - your car breaks down/ the train is cancelled/ an accident causes traffic chaos and it takes you a lot longer to get home.
Would your DS freak if someone knocked at the door/the telephone rang - would he know what to do?
If he did hurt himself/there was a burst pipe/he'd had a bad day at school could he cope?
Does he know how to use the phone/who to phone?
I'm not saying that any of these would happen, or that it is right or wrong to leave your DS. I think you know your DS the best and can assess whether or not it would work, - just some things to think about (which I am sure you have grin )

ComposHat Thu 17-Jan-13 12:39:03

an hour at nine years old seems fine if your son is relatively responsible. good chance for him to have a bit of independent time.

squeakytoy Thu 17-Jan-13 12:39:11

9 sounds a bit young.. could he not just stay with the neighbour?

Flobbadobs Thu 17-Jan-13 12:39:44

Your plan sounds fine. Agree with a spare key just in case though (I too have owned a 9 year old boy.. grin).

donteatthefiggypudding Thu 17-Jan-13 12:40:09

i suppose it depends on your child. i personally wouldn't conside leaving my 9 year old ds alone - but i think he is quite immature in many ways.

I think 9 maybe is a bit young, I leave my 11yo for that length of time now and once when DD1 who is almost 9 was off school I had to leave her for 15 minutes to go and pick up DD2 but I phoned her and stayed on speaker phone the whole way up to the school and back and they are pretty sensible children.

Could you offer your neighbour a few quid for looking after your son so you don't feel like you are imposing?

Manictigger Thu 17-Jan-13 12:45:29

I'm not sure I would tbh. If anything went wrong I'm not convinced that many 9 year olds could deal with it. (But then I'm basing this on the Y4 boys that I see at school....)

bedmonster Thu 17-Jan-13 12:45:32

I would be apprehensive. Although my dd isn't 9 until the summer.
But if I needed to, I'd do it. And it seems like you might need to. In which case, make sure you are contactable at all times once he is home and it would be wise to let a neighbour aware of your plans and what time you will be home.
Presumably he would have access to snacks and a drink without him trying to cook anything, in which case, as you say, he would just watch tv etc until you get home.
Might also be a good idea to get him used to being home alone for short periods before this if you don't already though just to get him used to it.
It's nice when they get to an age where you can trust them to do things like this. Good luck!

imnotmymum Thu 17-Jan-13 12:52:17

It really does depend on child and if he would be happy with this. My DS is 9.5 and would hate letting himself in and being home alone and tbh I would be worried, I have only left when got secondary school age or the eldest in (tonight am leaving 12 year and 9.5 year alone for a couple of hours. Hey as long as he is happy and knows what to do in an a emergency and you are contactable then ... he can have your tea ready smile

DeafLeopard Thu 17-Jan-13 12:55:49

Like a PP has said, it is when something goes wrong that it is a problem.

Do you know any local teens who would like an hours babysitting? Our secondary school finishes 15 mins before the primary, so it is quite usual for secondary pupils to come down to the primary to collect siblings and take them home.

cuteboots Thu 17-Jan-13 12:56:19

I dont think id leave my son (9 this month) on his own. Im not sure hed be happy with this and I know id worry anyway. I think secondary school is about the right age but then thats just my opinion.

valiumredhead Thu 17-Jan-13 12:58:19

I think it's fine and at that age was beginning to leave ds at home - he loved it!

We went through who to call in an emergency - an emergency also being if he wasn't happy and a bit scared for any reason.

Numbers by the phone and a mobile as well in case of a power cut.

I asked neighbours if they would mind if ds called on them in an emergency - all fine with it.

At 9 he was walking to and from school as were most of his mates.

Just remembered the first time I left him he didn't know if he was allowed to go and get a snack so he was hungry when I got back hmm grin

spiritedaway Thu 17-Jan-13 13:07:07

It totally depends on the child. My 12year old does stay home alone for up to an hour after high school but doesn't feel ok doing so. No choice and she has to get used to it. My 9 year old often opts out of ballet runs etc with little sis and stays home alone perfectly happily.

squeakytoy Thu 17-Jan-13 13:10:55

I think the difference is leaving the house when a child is already in it, and is busy doing something which occupies them, or is settled, and a child going into a house on their own, and possibly deciding they are hungry, or will have a bath, or put the fire on, etc etc..

spiritedaway Thu 17-Jan-13 13:11:07

In fact my 9 year old also tells me i should leave her not yet 2year old brother in her care to save me getting him in and out the car, but i don't!

spiritedaway Thu 17-Jan-13 13:17:28

Good point squeakytoy. . I also hesitate to leave the 2 older children home alone together because that's when silliness or arguments break out. At 9 i would say it definitely depends on the child.

Manictigger Thu 17-Jan-13 13:18:50

Actually, (and I'm honestly not being contentious here) if I was the neighbour who you asked to be on standby I think I'd rather have your ds in my house doing his own thing in the corner than be on high alert waiting for a possible emergency call! But I am a bit of a worrier who possibly worries more about my responsibilities towards friends' children than my own children when I am in charge of them. IYSWIM.

Floggingmolly Thu 17-Jan-13 13:19:54

Offer to pay the neighbour who brings him home, then it's not a favour.

Blu Thu 17-Jan-13 13:22:22

I think I would line up as many playdates as possible - and then reciprocate like mad at weekends or when your DH gets back to host them - and then pay the neighbour to keep him for the remaining hours.

valiumredhead Thu 17-Jan-13 13:57:02

manic it was a general ask round, I didn't ever ask a specific neighbour to be in, just a 'can I put your number in ds's phone/on the emergency list please?'

everlong Thu 17-Jan-13 14:01:15

No I wouldn't.

9 is too young to cope with anything unexpected imo.

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