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to leave nine year old son at home while we go grocery shopping?

(131 Posts)
KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 10:35:09

My husband wanted me to ask. He thinks it would be illegal.

We have 3 boys. Together they are a handful. I can't drive with a broken arm. I think oldest can be home alone for an hour. He will just watch e enough to tv, happy to have it to himself. He is clever and sensible enough to call us or 999 if needed. We can put youngest in seat of trolly, and middle is fairly docile without older brother egging him on. Would be less hassle if the two aren't trying to race up and down the aisles.

While I typed this DH googled and saw that it's not illegal. Now we're just interested in opinions.

Hi Katy - I started leaving DS alone in the house when I went shoppping when he was 8. He is mature, he had my mobile number, I made him promise not to cook anything or try an experiment wink

At 9 he has also walked down to the shops with some cash to get me some things.

My DS has to walk through our busy town alone to school, crossing main roads. It's about a 25 minute walk. He has to get used to being independent & to know that i trust him.

It does all depend on the child & where you live!

I don't have a problem with it.

valiumredhead Tue 24-Sep-13 08:05:30

Yes it's fine imo and I used to with ds, he was walking to school by himself by then and going to the park.

SillyTilly123 Tue 24-Sep-13 07:27:05

My very sensible 9 year old dd has been left for short whiles since last year. It started just while I ran dp to work (5 mins) and have built the time up to around 45/50 mins now. If I HAD to I would leave her for about 1.5 hours. She just plays on the computer or watches tv.

I know I could also leave my 5 yr old and she wouldn't budge from the game (little big planet) however I've not tried the theory yet (and wont for a few years)

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 24-Sep-13 04:31:56

MrsStrawberry I started the thread for my husband, who was initially convinced that I would be flamed to a crisp for even asking.

I have no problem leaving ds for short times, myself, and did it a few times when my husband was living in another city.

5madthings Mon 23-Sep-13 21:28:29

Why not at nine of the are ready for it? All children are different but in two years time they will beat highschool, going to and from school in their own, often coming home to an empty house (my elder two get back before I am back from collecting little two) so from just 11(summer bdays) had to be in the house alone. Better to get them used to responsibility in baby steps as they get older.

Ds3(9in Dec) will walk home from school on his own tomorrow as ds4 is going to a friends. He has previously walked home with ds2 (now at high school) he is happy to be trusted, others walk the same route. Again it's him starting to grow up.

We are lucky with where we live, they can play out (quiet cul de sac) have a little shop, library and park nearby so they can start getting bits of freedom like that etc. It all helps prepare them for high school and life, just like they help out at home with cooking, tidying, cleaning etc. Ds3 can make toast, porridge, help prepare dinner and be left for 20mins on hold own and go to the shop etc.

If you don't start letting them do things at 9/10 when would you start?

There is no magic age, its just a gradual transition depending on the child and its not do with making my life easier, I am sahm so actually I am available and it makes no odds to me but its helping prepare them for high school and growing up and allowing the, age appropriate independence which they enjoy.

MrsBennetsEldest Mon 23-Sep-13 20:43:19

5madthings....of course you have to prepare them but not at nine. Mine are grown up now and very independant but I would never have left them at 9 yrs old. People tend to find unacceptable things more acceptable if it fits in with what they want to do.

Turniptwirl Mon 23-Sep-13 20:39:04

I'm sure he will be fine and I think 9 is ok if necessary but I really don't think a supermarket shop with both adults and two kids is necessary. Plan your menu at home, send DH and some or all of the kids.

kiriwawa Mon 23-Sep-13 20:37:47

My DS is 6. I can guarantee that I could leave him alone for 2 hours and he wouldn't leave the living room. He might decide to watch TV rather than play on the wii but he wouldn't 'get bored' and decide to start cooking or anything remotely dangerous.

I wouldn't leave him on his own obviously - he's too young. But at 9, I'd definitely consider it.

MissStrawberry Mon 23-Sep-13 20:32:10

No, I wouldn't leave my 9 year old home alone. We started leaving our 12 year old for very short periods as he was going to be getting himself to school and back each day and would have time alone at home before I was back from school.

No need for the whole family to go shopping. DH goes or you get it delivered and work on your kids winding each other up so you can't get a food shop done without hassle.

I have read all the thread now and even before seeing you did leave him it really came across as you wanted to leave him home on his own so I am curious as to why you asked as you were going to leave him regardless.

5madthings Mon 23-Sep-13 20:25:37

mrsbennet my children are told when we should be back,'if late I will call them/they know to call me and they know who to get in touch with if they can't get hold of us, a friend a few doors up and another friend who lives close by and relatives etc. You have to prepare them.

Moxiegirl Mon 23-Sep-13 20:19:00

But that would apply to an older child too.
My ds walked to school at 8, I certainly left him alone at 9 for an hour or so. I wouldn't leave dd (16 and mentally ill) so age is not so much the issue but are they likely to be safe.

MrsBennetsEldest Mon 23-Sep-13 20:10:44

What would happen if there was an accident involving you and your husband. Your 9 yr old would be alone and not know and the authorities wouldn't know about him.

HicDraconis England Mon 23-Sep-13 20:05:58

Culture here (nz) is far from mollycoddling! It's illegal here to leave a child at home alone until they're 14. Doesn't mean people don't do it, but they're breaking the law when they do. I know it's a done deal and things were fine but as someone up thread said - children get bored and do daft things. Followed by dafter things to try and get out of whatever mess they've created. Because they're, you know, children.

I'll leave mine at home on their own when they're 14 or older, I don't see a need for them to be mature and responsible and grown up at under 10.

drivingmisslazy England Mon 23-Sep-13 07:41:59

DS was about 9 when I started leaving him alone for short periods. He is sensible and had numbers of people to call in case something happened. I started off calling him when I got to the shop, when I finished the shop and when I was about to leave to come home. He was fine and its built up his independence nicely. Now he is a lot older (14) I can leave him for longer and never had any problems.

Morloth Mon 23-Sep-13 07:27:46

I should say we are not in the UK, and the culture here is not as (over)protective.

Morloth Mon 23-Sep-13 07:26:15

I am sometimes deliberately late getting home so that he has to let himself in the back door and do his homework.

Because it is good for him to have these little moments of time where he is in charge and control of himself.

festered Sun 22-Sep-13 22:07:10

Also remember when I was alone at home and my Mum wanted to call me, she'd let the phone ring twice, hang up and then ring again straight away so I knew it was her.

festered Sun 22-Sep-13 22:04:57

I was often home alone from being aged 7-parents were usually both out until 6ish so I was left alone for about 2 and ahalf hours or more.
It's not illegal as long as he's not in danger.

To be honest if he knows what to do in an emergency I think It's okay, but I still don't think I would do it myself-because I'm erratic and would worry (for no reason lol)
Make sure he also knows to not answer the door to anybody or tell anybody he's alone if he answers the phone.

handcream Sun 22-Sep-13 21:04:13

A big bug bear of mine is people wandering around the supermarket man, women and kids. Is it seen as a family outing? They clog up the aisles, the kids are playing up, why do they do it??

PicardyThird Sun 22-Sep-13 20:56:55

This week I considered leaving my 8.4yo at home for 20min while I popped to collect his brother from kindergarten. It was chucking it down.

We had the 'what do you do if...' chat and when it came to talking about what to do if there was a fire I decided it would be unsafe to leave him because he was adamant he would try to rescue the cats. So I told him I couldn't leave him yet, which he accepted.

It really is very individual. I do think independence is best learned introduced gradually, in small and then increasing doses, which means it has to start around 8/9/10 to a degree so you don't end up with an entirely helpless secondary-age child (small exaggeration).

Romann Sun 22-Sep-13 20:46:37

I wouldn't hesitate to leave him given what you've described. It's incredibly unlikely there'll be some kind of emergency while you're at the supermarket. I even leave my 7yo sometimes. Not as a matter of course, but for example he was off school sick (but not very) the other day, dh is working in a different country, and I didn't really know what else to do with him while taking the others to school. He could have come, but the 15-20 min walk from the bus stop is not ideal if you're feeling very tired with a sore throat. He stayed watching TV for an hour and was perfectly happy. I called every 15 minutes. He knows he's not allowed to go in the kitchen if he's alone.

I'd feel much less comfortable leaving my 3 kids "alone" together, as they can get a bit wild. One in front of the telly, or occupied with an ipad is pretty innocuous.

Avondale Sun 22-Sep-13 19:42:14

Depends on your 9 year old. Have you ever left him before? Could you tell a neighbour? Agree with calling him a couple of times. (For your peace of mind, he'll probably be annoyed you are interupting his peace and quiet!)

LondonMan Sun 22-Sep-13 19:30:10

Haven't read the thread, can't miss this opportunity to reminisce...

I think I was 5 the first time I decide to unilaterally visit a friends house, went there direct from school, my vague recollection is that my mother was a little confused about my location for a while.

At 9 I would have been using my bike to visit any friends who lived within a few miles of me, or to go with them to shops, playgrounds etc. My parents wouldn't have know or cared where I was, as long as I was home in time for supper. (If I was too lazy to compete with the coal lorries for the single lane bridge over the railway, I'd just use a hole in the fence to cross the tracks. Sometimes leave a stone on the tracks to see a train run over it.)

It was a small town a long time ago, but I suppose my point is that it's a different world now if a nine-year-old can't be left alone in his own home.

When I was in wife's country I read about a 6-year-old who routinely came home from school and cooked his own lunch on the gas cooker. British children seem a bit molly-coddled and helpless in comparison. Mind you the 6-year-old was in the papers because he'd forgotten about his cooking while he was playing, and had burnt the house down...

GoldenGytha Sun 22-Sep-13 19:14:58

I'm glad it worked out for you Katy,

I've been criticised on here before because I didn't leave mine alone in the house til about 14/15, that's just what was comfortable for the DC and me, and now at 22, 20 and 19 it certainly didn't do them any harm.

Each to their own decisions, but I couldn't leave a 9 year old alone.

Jellybeanz1 Sun 22-Sep-13 18:24:30

Glad it worked out Katy I do this to prevent ds boredom overload.

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