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).

I'm not sure. DS1 is a similar age and I don't think I would want him left for an hour every evening for a couple of weeks. I am happy for him to go to the shops on his own and sometimes use public transport by himself. It really does depend on the child.

PrettyPirate Thu 17-Jan-13 18:01:37

I would, 9 is old enough in my eyes. If he's happy to be alone, that is.

My 6 year old wanted to be home alone (about half year ago) when I was collecting DS from nursery at lunch time (school hols time), I was gone for 15-20mins. Now she's nearly 7 and doesn't want to stay alone and I'm not making her.

sookiesucksvamps Thu 17-Jan-13 18:10:45

you know your ds better than anyone i have 4 dcs age over 9 and have left all of them at home from 9 never any probs if he is alone i would be happier than leaving 2 of them to argue/disagree/fight etc

My 9 year old wouldn't be happy to be left. Only you know your child.

redskyatnight Thu 17-Jan-13 19:04:03

Thanks for all the comments. The varying opinions somewhat reflect my own unsure state!! But some good points I'd not thought about - thank you.

To provide some more information. I work very close to home - a 10 minute cycle ride or 15 minute walk so could both be home quickly and be reasonably sure that nothing unexpected would delay me.

We wouldn't do this every day that DH was away- we would still aim to ask favours of as many friends as possible so it would only be for a few days.

Someone (sorry can't remember who) made the point that if they were the neighbour they would offer to take DS in anyway. My neighbour is lovely and I think there is a very real chance that she would do just that but then I'd feel guilty that she'd felt obliged to help.

I wouldn't expect a single neighbour to be on standby (realise that this is unfair). We are on good terms with a few neighbours so it would be more a case of if something happened DS would have a range of people he could ring/go to see.

We would definitely leave strict instructions as to what he was allowed/not allowed to do and what to do "if"? DS is very rule oriented and tends to follow instructions like this to the letter so wouldn't worry he would do something stupid. Actually I am 99% sure he would get home, turn on the TV and become so engrossed that he wouldn't even notice when I got back!

Still pondering over it ...

Varya Thu 17-Jan-13 19:08:42

Husband bailed out. Had to re-skill. Felt guilty about twins aged just nine making their way home across busy road before lollipop man was around. Then they had to let themselves in and await my return. Ascribe all the fault to husband rushing off to live with and marry the mistress.

maddening Thu 17-Jan-13 19:14:08

Offer to pay the nwighnour?

lljkk Thu 17-Jan-13 19:20:27

I think in your situation I'd have no qualms about it with most DC but NOT DS2. DS2 is pretty extreme in immaturity, without having an actual SN diagnosis. So in principle fine, but depends on the child.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Jan-13 19:23:21

It depends on your DS - if he is happy enough to do it and you think he's sensible enough then do it. My friend has a 9yo DD and a 7 yo DS. I'd sooner leave the 7yo DS alone than the 9yo DD!! Age isn't really the deciding factor IMO

On the other hand, if I was your neighbour or a friend, I'd happily have him every night while your DH is away, for me it's not a big deal and I wouldn't feel imposed on. I would be more upset at you worrying about this and NOT asking!

TartyMcTart Thu 17-Jan-13 19:29:41

I think I'm quite laid back but there's no way I'd leave a just 9 yr old on there own for an hour. Like others have said, it's the letting themselves into an empty dark house that I don't like.

Would your son actually want to do this? My 8.5 yr old would think he'd love it but in reality would hate it, especially at having to do it for 2-3 wks.

Oblomov Thu 17-Jan-13 19:34:25

I have a 9 year old who is in some ways is very mature, and like overmydeadbody's ds will get a snack, watch tv, as, never do anything so silly as run a bath or make toast.
May not be happy doing it every day for 3 weeks, but if offered as would adore the responsibility. He keeps begging to walk to school, but I have said next year.

cheeseandbiscuitsplease Thu 17-Jan-13 20:12:45

I can't believe so many people think that it's ok to leave a 9 year old alone? Seriously?
No. Year 4?
Honestly can't believe it. Sorry, absolutely not.

SoldeInvierno Thu 17-Jan-13 20:25:01

I can't see any problems with this, providing there's a neighbour nearby who is aware of it and can help in an emergency. After all, it is only for about 1 hour per day. My DS is 9 and I would trust him to do this.

sukysue Thu 17-Jan-13 20:41:38

No don't do it , anything could happen and you will be in an awful state while you are trying your best to get home. Traffic could be awful it could snow your car could break down etc etc .Take the time off work and look after your child. He deserves it.

5madthings Thu 17-Jan-13 20:48:01

The op works a fifteen minute walk from home.

Mother2many Thu 17-Jan-13 21:22:10

Nice to see this post, as I often wondered that too.

Depends on the child. You have obviously gone through the basic list of what to do if, and if he is comfortable with it, then I don't see why not.

In Canada the legal age to babysit is 12....So, I'm surprised that some won't let their child that age be alone....however, I guess it depends on the child.

If I'm out working in the garden/cleaning the camper, etc.etc. do I drag my child to sit with me? No. My garden/storage space is 20 mobile homes away. If an emergency happened when I was there, going next door is quicker and easier than running to get me.

JMHO... if you feel comfortable, and trust him...go ahead...

"Take time off work and look after your child, he deserves it"?

Oh please. If you think it's a bad idea then say so. But I don't think there's any need for a comment like that. It's a pretty horrible thing to say.

tittytittyhanghang Thu 17-Jan-13 21:41:18

Totally depends on the child. Certainly my ds1 would have had no qualms about this by the time he was 9.

ArseyKwa Thu 17-Jan-13 21:45:04

Is it an option for him to come to your work some of the time?
Agree, if I was the the neighbour I'd probably offer to have him, wouldn't feel imposed on.

I think it's fine OP. I started coming home after school by myself when I was 9.5, and not just for one hour but several.

In the eight following years in which I did this, I never once had a dodgy stranger at the door, a housefire, aliens invading or any other emergency. Yes I was probably lucky but it was also because I was happy to sit and watch TV and read and not get into trouble. If you think your DS would be like this too, I wouldn't worry.

It's really key you have neighbours he can go to, that's a big help. Definitely leave a spare key with the neighbour who walks him home.

florry88 Thu 17-Jan-13 21:48:11

no, I have a just turned nine year old and although she wouldnt do anything silly, its major no, no. Its illegal, is it not?

5madthings Thu 17-Jan-13 21:51:58

No its not illegal.

WorraLiberty Thu 17-Jan-13 21:55:14

I'm a very laid back parent and my youngest 2 DS's are very sensible (they must take after their Dad!)

But even I wouldn't be happy to leave a just turned 9yr old in the situation you describe.

As someone else said, it is a bit different if you're popping out for an hour and leaving them settled/fed/comfortable...but this is a bit different.

Boggler Thu 17-Jan-13 21:55:51

Absolutely no way should you leave a 9 year old alone in the house it's totally wrong. What if he fancies something to eat and gets toast stuck in the toaster? Would he try and get it out with a knife or his finger! What if he drops a glass or bottle and it breaks? What if there's a power cut? The list is endless of problems that could befall him and all because you couldn't or wouldn't get proper childcare. If his school got wind of the fact that he's being left alone you'll have a visit from the welfare officer and possibly social services - do you want that? Besides this it's illegal.

dayshiftdoris Thu 17-Jan-13 21:56:19

It's not illegal - there is no minimum age tho can not be responsible for a younger child until 14yrs

Can I just ask you consider that this will be a huge responsibility for your son which may end up being too much should even something minor go wrong (spills a drink, drops something...)

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