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).

Sugarice Thu 17-Jan-13 14:05:38

No I wouldn't have left my 9 year old home alone.

There's always the 'what if' scenario and how he would cope if such a thing happened.

OmgATalkingOnion Thu 17-Jan-13 14:17:53

No I wouldn't at 9. Yes for the odd 15/20 mins to pop round the corner but for longer, or being further away, I'd give it another couple of years personally.

I would probably also feel quite edgy and unsettled until I got back which would probably defeat the purpose of doing it.

I also have memories of being alone an awful lot at home at that age and younger. I was ok I guess, was quite grown up etc. It's just that with hindsight I think my parents were not thinking through the things that could have gone wrong or how I felt. It was terribly quiet and lonely if I'm honestsad

LAlady Thu 17-Jan-13 14:20:19

I have a 9 year old (nearly 10) and I wouldn't leave her on her own at all. With her nearly 13 year old brother, yes, for a short while.

Manictigger Thu 17-Jan-13 14:24:40

No, Valium, my neighbours reply was to the OP not you. Just saying that if a neighbour asked me if I could be an emergency contact for a 9 (just) year old on their own at home I would probably say (especially if I walked them home everyday and knew them well) that they were welcome to come home with me for an hour because I would personally find it less worrying. And I genuinely wouldn't feel put upon if it is a temporary thing and I am at home anyway.

5madthings Thu 17-Jan-13 14:25:13

What Valium said tho it always depends on the child but my ds1 was fine on his own at that age and ds2 is 10 aand I have left him for similar periods of time.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 17-Jan-13 14:31:03

I think I might have done so bearing in mind your neighbour seeing that he gets in ok and that you will be home in around an hour. I would make very firm rules about what he was allowed to do. I was leaving my Dd for about 30 mins at that age while I did a quick dog walk. I would feel apprehensive though, I must admit.

whiteflame Thu 17-Jan-13 15:19:13

depends mostly on how your DS feels, and whether the neighbours are ok with him coming over (and perhaps staying there until you get home) in the event of the unexpected.

what're the alternatives OP? That you have to take annual leave? That your DH can't go?

whiteflame Thu 17-Jan-13 15:20:53

if your DS is bothered, does anyone on your street (or a friend) have a DC at the local high school who would be happy to come and be at your house for an hour or so? For a few pounds of course.

Chandon Thu 17-Jan-13 15:28:25

I think it is much too young.

What if a dubious person rings the door?

What if he tries to make toast and tries to wedge it ut with the knife? Or starts eating vitamins/ medicine.

I am saying this as the mother of an 8 yr old and a 10 yr old. They may seem sensible, but it takes just one silly thing. ( my 8 yr old once ate 4 sleeping tablets to see what would happen, and my friend's very senisible DD set fire to the house, by accident, by draping scarves over the lamps in trying to make it look like a disco)

Most probably your DC would be fine, but I would not feel comfortable with it.

I would have left dd and ds1 at that age. I would not have left ds2. It depends on the child.

Agree it depends on what your DS is like.
My DD was fine to be left for short periods when she was 9.
She loved the freedom and couldn't wait for us to 'nip to the shops' etc... Made her feel very grown up and she was great.
Only you know your son and if he would be fine or not.

diddl Thu 17-Jan-13 15:43:23

An hour every day for 2/3 weeks?

I wouldn´t.

And as previously said, I´d happily have your child rather than think of them on their own.

apostropheuse Thu 17-Jan-13 15:44:25

I definitely wouldn't do it. I think perhaps a couple of years older would be fine, but not at 9.

It's just that little bit too young tbh.

Do you not know a responsible teenager that might like to earn a little pocket money for those days when you can't make other arrangements?

citronella Thu 17-Jan-13 15:49:45

Definitely unreasonable whatever the circumstances. He is too young to be expected to cope in an emergency however unlikely and it could be something he had no control over. Anyway, isn't it illegal at that age?

usualsuspect Thu 17-Jan-13 15:54:40

I wouldn't at 9 and I'm a lax kind of parent as a rule.

valiumredhead Thu 17-Jan-13 15:57:30

What if a dubious person rings the door?

We have a no answering the door rule unless you can see who it is.

Illegal citronella? No it isn't illegal to leave a child at any age interestingly, but you shouldn't put a child at risk. Leaving a 9 yr old happily at home with a list of numbers and neighbours to call on is not putting them at risk.

citronella Thu 17-Jan-13 16:11:23

I am sure lots of 9 yr olds would happily be left home alone but I still don't think it's a responsible thing to do.

valiumredhead Thu 17-Jan-13 16:15:01

Why not?

Whoknowswhocares Thu 17-Jan-13 16:17:41

No at 9 I feel it is too young.
I'd also be pretty miffed if I was your neighbour and you asked me to do this tbh. Selfish maybe, but I wouldn't want to be tied to the house by a set time each night to check he gets back on time. I'd find it the worst of both worlds in a way...... Tied to the timetable, feeling responsible, yet having no idea what he is up to or any potential problems he might be getting into.

I think it is fine if you go through the rules and expectations and what to do in an emergency.

My DS is 9, in Yr 5, and he gets himself home from school most days. He has a key to let himself in. I get home anytime between 4pm and 5:30 and let him know each day. Some days I'm home before him, some days he has time on his own. Three days a week he has after school clubs that don't finish till 5pm.

He reads, draws, plays on his DS. He knows not to have a bath or use the toaster or kettle. He has a mobile, he doesn't answer the door (we're in a secure block of flats, no dubious person would get in anyway) and we have lots of neighbors in the building he can go to (but never has).

He is fine. He also sometimes leaves the house after us if we have to get to work early.

He loves the independence and responsibility and have been so sensible so far, it has really impressed me.

He knows where both of us work and can come to us if he needs to (less than a mile away and he cycles).

As we work so close to home we can get home pretty pronto if he needs us.

I think 9 year olds are quite mature and sensible when they have to be.

citronella of course it's not illegal!

valiumredhead Thu 17-Jan-13 16:24:44

Sounds very sensible over

COCKadoodledooo Thu 17-Jan-13 16:33:02

I wouldn't with mine. I'll leave him while I pop to the shop, but that's never more than 15 mins or so. Yours might be less daffy than mine though!
An hour or so every day for 3 weeks sounds too much to me though, just seems a bit sad to come home to an empty house at that age.

Fairypants Thu 17-Jan-13 17:29:22

As has already been said, it depends on the child. DD1 would walk herself home and let herself in at 9. She is a panicky child and called me to check the smallest things but chose to leave me in the playground with dd2 to go home. Dd2 is 10 and doesn't want to be left. She is a coper and would probably try to deal with emergencies herself rather than calling so I'd worry more. Her friend is often at home alone for a bit til mum gets home and is fine.
See how he feels about it maybe??

I would have said fine with this, but tonight I've nipped to the shop, leaving DD (9 in 3 weeks) by herself. I saw a neighbour there, who started chatting, and ended up being 25 mins rather that 5-10. Come home to lots of tears and a scared little girl. I didn't think she'd even noticed how long I was!

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