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.

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!

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...)

bollywoodfan Thu 17-Jan-13 22:02:33

Isn't it illegal to pay someone who isn't a registered childminder? I thought you couldn't even pay GPs for regular childcare.

bollywoodfan Thu 17-Jan-13 22:03:51

Isn't it illegal to pay someone who isn't a registered childminder? I thought you couldn't even pay GPs for regular childcare.

littleducks Thu 17-Jan-13 22:06:31

I used to love time at home alone at that age, I would hate to not have any space.

My mum worked 10 minutes walk away to, she used to phone me (pre caller id days) and let it ring twice then hang up and call again to signal it was her, otherwise i didnt answer the phone. I was never allowed to open the door.

tittytittyhanghang Thu 17-Jan-13 22:38:56

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?

If I thought like this Id wrap all my children up in bubble wrap and never leave their sides. When my 9 year old (now 12) went/goes out to play (himself or with his friends) I certainly dont think i cant let him out, what if he decides to run across the road without looking , what if a knife weilding maniac is in the vicinity, etc etc. It all depends on the child but surely by the age of 9 children know not to stick knives into toasters or be careful enough not to smash glass or can clean up it up with a brush and shovel if needs be?

Crikeyblimey Thu 17-Jan-13 23:04:00

Since I went back to full time work after Christmas (instead of finishing each day at 3pm), ds who is 10 on Saturday, has been given a key (fastened inside his school bag on a lift pass thing so he doesn't have to "release" it). 2 nights a week he comes home on the school bus, crosses the road (20 mph limit village road) walks home and let's himself in. Dh finishes work early on these nights so ds is only home alone for 30 - 45 mins. We gave him a mobile phone amd he sends us both a text when he is home. I leave a snack and glass out for him along with the rules list. He locks himself in and unlocks the back door in case he needs to get out. He isn't allowed to make a hot drink or any other food. He texted me the other evening to ask if he could make a sandwich smile. He loves it. He is a very sensible boy and really enjoys the independence.

I would think a couple of hours maybe too much as it can seem very lonely to be by yourself for that long when you're not used to it.

I'm sure if you feel your ds is sensible enough and would freak then go for it but could you perhaps arrange to finish work early so he isn't alone as long?

Crikeyblimey Thu 17-Jan-13 23:05:58

Wouldn't freak - not would.

Crikeyblimey Thu 17-Jan-13 23:09:01

Sorry - just read that he would only be alone for up to 1 hour.

I'd have a few practice runs with him being alone for 10 mins or so, just to hone your plan before you actually need it. I'm sure it will be just fine. He will be very proud of his independence.

And whoever up there said you'd have school welfare and SS on your back for this - I have their grip here.

larks35 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:15:10

I think this would be ok. Me and sis were the first to get home from school when my mum took full-time hours. I was about 8 and sis about 10. We regularly lost our keys even when we had them on a piece of string around our necks. Our neighbour was great at helping up break in (dodgy bathroom window above a flat roof at the back). The main rules we had were to do our homework and not touch the TV! Well, I can't say we always stuck to that rule but we never came to harm.

Mine would be fine on his own for an hour

If the toast got stuck he'd turn the toaster off
If he dropped a glass he'd clean it up with a dustpan and brush
If we had a power cut he'd read a book

So I'd say it depends on the child.

Bakingnovice Thu 17-Jan-13 23:20:29

To be honest I couldn't do it. Especially in winter when it's dark at 4pm. He wouldn't feel happy and I wouldn't want him to even though I used to let myself in and get tea started at 9. I think for my ds it would be stressful as he is quite a serious child and wouldn't be ready for it. As a latchkey kid myself I know how lonely and sometimes scared I used to feel letting myself into an empty house. But I am impressed but that so many of you have such independent kids.

foreverondiet Thu 17-Jan-13 23:25:07

I leave for 20 mins eg taking other kids to v local activities would not leave longer.

Yfronts Fri 18-Jan-13 01:13:33

I wouldn't. What about using an older sibling (14 yrs +) of someone at your school?

Yfronts Fri 18-Jan-13 01:16:03

Or pay a neighbor/friend

LilyBolero Fri 18-Jan-13 01:21:07

Those who say they wouldn't; at age 11 my D's has to get himself to the other side of the city on a public bus, including a 3/4 mile walk through the city centre, every day, on his own, for school. In preparation for that I think 9yo is perfectly ok to be on your own for an hour at home!

madwomanintheattic Fri 18-Jan-13 01:29:37

My 9yo is home on her own for 20-30 minutes every day after school, until her sister (12) and brother(11) get home. I get home an hour after that.

She has cerebral palsy as well. Bite me. grin

An earlier poster mentioned the babysitting situation in Canada - my 12 yo has taken her red cross babysitting course, and has also taken the Red Cross emergency first aid course.

The 9yo isn't allowed to eat when she is home alone (in actual fact I don't like her eating when there are no adults present) as her disability means I am uncomfortable about the choking risk. If anything has happened at school, or she needs me to be home early, I come back and make up the time the next day. I work 30 mins away.

I wasn't intending for her to start fending for herself at 9, but the elementary school finishes earlier than the rest of the schools here, and no adult wants to work for thirty minutes a day. grin

I also leave fifteen minutes before she does in the morning.


She is jolly sensible though. I would never in a million years have left ds1 on his tod at 9. Never.

piprabbit Fri 18-Jan-13 01:34:17

Is there anyway you could negotiate with your work to leave slightly early on the days you don't have cover for your DS. Maybe only take a half hour for lunch, leave half an hour earlier and then your DS is only on his own for half an hour. Or do some extra hours once DH is back?

piprabbit Fri 18-Jan-13 01:36:53

And may be do some practice sessions before your DHs trip to build your DS's confidence, just the odd day when your DH sits round the corner for 20 mins gets home a little later than usual and your DS can practice going into the house alone.

florry88 Fri 18-Jan-13 11:10:44

I must say UIm really shocked at home many parents do this.

My thoughts are that every 9 year old does not always do exactly as they are told?

Imagine the reaction if you read in the newspaper about a 9 year old left home alone and there was e.g a gas expolsion.

Flossiechops Fri 18-Jan-13 11:21:53

I have a just turned 9 dd and wouldn't even contemplate leaving her home alone. It's just too young imho!

VerlaineChasedRimbauds Fri 18-Jan-13 11:25:37

If there were a gas explosion florry88 it wouldn't matter how many responsible people were in the house, would it?

VerlaineChasedRimbauds Fri 18-Jan-13 11:27:35

I think that, as a neighbour will be there and available that it is likely to be ok, providing he knows all the rules for the time he is home alone.

jellybeans Fri 18-Jan-13 11:32:53

I would never do it. Secondary age be OK but not 9 unless the odd time nipping up the road etc.

Jins Fri 18-Jan-13 11:38:11

We had a plan just in case when DS1 was 9 but in fact we didn't have to use it until he was 10. Depending on the maturity of the child it could be ok or it could be disasterous.

We left DS1 at home for the duration of DS2s party when he was 10 as he refused to go. It was too long really but an hour would have been fine

YellowFlyingPineapple Fri 18-Jan-13 11:59:29

Well.....I have a DS aged 9.5 years and once a week he is at home for 30 minutes on his own whilst I take the other children to activities, he loves it.

We have the list of do and don'ts - do not open the door to anybody at all, do not answer the phone at all, if the house catches fire go out through the back door or the french doors in the dining room and down to the bottom of the very large garden, so far away from the theoretical fire and sit in the playhouse, torch is by the back door if needed, key left in the back door always. List of contacts and numbers is stuck to inside of the larder.

What I did do was sit down with DS and get him to show me what he would do to call my mobile or DH's mobile. Happy that he can do that so he enjoys his little bit of being in complete control of the TV, gets himself a snack etc.

Can the neighbour go in with him to put some lights on, fire up the TV and check the heating is on, settle him in almost and then make sure front door locked and let him enjoy some independence?

I would explore paying neighbour if DS was in the least bit worried about being home on his own.

Boggler Fri 18-Jan-13 13:48:53

florry you are so right about newspaper headlines. My mother always said if not sure about something think what the headlines would be. So how about:

'home alone boy (9) found crying scared in house with no electricity due to power cut - parents were out working'

'Primary school pupil (9) abandoned by working parents'

'hungry home alone child badly burned trying to make tea'

I'm concerned that so many people n here are under the impression that it's ok to leave a 9 year old, as long as they have a list of do and donts. But what about the unexpected things that can happen how are they supposed to know what to do?

Kiriwawa Fri 18-Jan-13 13:54:41

OFGS - don't be so hysterical Boggler! This is one hour on probably a maximum of 10 days.

I would do it if you know your DS is sensible OP.

Boggler Fri 18-Jan-13 14:02:44

I'm not being hysterical just pointing out that children of that age not equipped to be able to handle things out of the ordinary and it doesn't matter if it's 15 minutes or 5 hours they are being left alone unsupervised and IMO that is irresponsible.

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:04:57

Good Lord - the papers wouldn't even run a headline like that because it is such a non issue with a sensible child hmm

They wouldn't say 'home alone child' anyway, they would say 'latch key kid.' get it right! [winnk]

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:06:08

How do you think children become equipped to deal with the unexpected if they are never allowed to try? Age does not equal maturity.

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:07:04

boggler do you think a 9 year old walking to and from school by themselves, which takes 20 mins each way is irresponsible?

YellowFlyingPineapple Fri 18-Jan-13 14:11:36

well said valiumredhead only when children are given the chance to demonstrate their level of maturity can we know how mature they actually are.

boggler many thanks you are making me feel I am quite chilled as a mother!

Chandon Fri 18-Jan-13 14:11:43

Aside from the risks, if you decide to take them, I think it is sad for a 9 year old to be all alone every day after school, feeling nobody cares.

As an occasional remedy, fine, I would leave my 9 yr old for 20-30minutes.

However, valiumredhead, I do not think it is necessary to teach a child independence by leaving thek on their own for an hour every day.

You should really ask yourself: what is best for the child in this situation? The answer is probably to have a caring adult looking after him, or to be with other kids.

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:15:02

I think it is sad for a 9 year old to be all alone every day after school, feeling nobody cares

But that isn't what the OP is thinking about, and yes that WOULD be irresponsible and neglectful at ANY age to think no one cares about you.

This is an hour after school with mum a ten min walk away - so 3 mins in the car. I think some perspective is needed here!

madwomanintheattic Fri 18-Jan-13 14:16:41

'All alone every day feeling no one cares'

Ah, no bias there, then? grin you could equally say 'feeling proud and responsible as he knows his parents trust him, and content that he can approach a nearby adult or call his mum at any point' grin. Same kid. grin

boodles Fri 18-Jan-13 14:17:46

Well why not leave them alone from birth, after all they have to learn independence, don't they. [hmmm]

Why do they bother with after school clubs eh.

Or you pay the neighbour to provide child care to cover that time. I have three children of various stages, one the sameish age as the op. My eldest is 19. I would never have let them come home to an empty house and be alone when they were 9, still a very young child. My eldest is very independent, she lives on her own, paying bills and all the other stuff that entails, I didn't need to start leaving her home alone as a very young child to achieve that. It is hard work but you have kids you need to take full responsibility for them and that includes finding appropriate child care when they are still very young.

why would he feel sad, and feel as if no one cares?

as for having a caring adult looking after him, I dont think the op was asking her son to move and fend for himself was she?
She is talking about a couple of days over a 3 week period for an hour. Please get a grip.

boodles Fri 18-Jan-13 14:19:15

Madwoman, talk about editing a post to suit your needs. Are you a daily fail journalist?

boodles you do realise that we dont all have to parent the same way as you?

And whilst you may consider yourself to be absolutey right, it doesnt mean you actually are?

wisemanscamel Fri 18-Jan-13 14:23:17

I think 9 is too young. Sorry. Could you lean a bit on your friends and tell them that this is really unusual but could they help you out for this period. I have done this before and found that people were happy to help knowing that I would do the same for them at weekends etc.

Or, leave work an hour earlier and make up the time somewhere?

Alternatively - no business trip without childcare?

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:26:13

Why do they bother with after school clubs?

Because some kids can't walk home by themselves as home is too far from school and parents don't get back until much later. Again, we are talking about ONE hour probably less with mum less than ten mins walk away, and not every day.

9 is NOT 'very young' in most cases, 9 is the age when children should be given some responsibility and be able to rise to the occasion and feel proud of themselves. If 9 were very young then schools would not allow children to walk to and from them by themselves.

boodles Fri 18-Jan-13 14:29:01

Where did I say to do what i do, I just said what I did. This is a thread on a discussion forum, therefore I am joining in with the discussion with my opinion. So while you may think anything you say is exactly right, it isn't.

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:29:27

Ds was just being allowed to go to the corner shop at 7 ( one very quiet road to cross) he LOVED it and felt so grown up. By the time he got to 9 and had to walk to school he was more than capable.

MrsMeow Fri 18-Jan-13 14:34:04

Just parroting other posters really but I wouldn't leave DS (9 next month) home alone. I'm quite laid back in my parenting style (much to the horror of my total opposite DH!) but I really think 9 is too young.

You'll probably find that your friends/neighbours really wouldn't mind having him if you asked. It's when people take advantage that others moods change!

Hope you manage to sort it out with no problems. I do empathise, I'm trying to juggle 2 DC and nurse training whilst my husband works away all week every week. It's bloody hard!

boodles you are making statements like "you have to...."it looks like an order not an opinion.

valiumredhead Fri 18-Jan-13 14:37:38

It completely depends on the child, some of ds's mates couldn't cope with anything if left alone and they are 11/12 BUT they are the ones that have never been left or are allowed to go anywhere by themselves.

LilyBolero Fri 18-Jan-13 14:48:36

Those of you who think it is too are you planning to prepare your children for the journey to and from secondary?

We started off small - leaving them alone for short times from 8/9, then walking home from school alone at 9/10, then at just 11 it was Y7, getting a PUBLIC bus (ie not a dedicated school bus), getting off in the city centre, and then walking through the centre to school, about 3/4 mile.

I don't think we do kids any favours by wrapping them in cotton wool, and really, a 9 yo should be fine at home for an hour, with mum a short phone call away.

HazleNutt Fri 18-Jan-13 15:13:01

Out of interest, I was reading some Swedish parenting boards about the same topic and most people think it's fine to leave a 6-7 year old home alone for a few hours. I haven't heard that there are significantly more accidents with kids in Sweden. So I guess British homes must be simply a lot more dangerous?

LilyBolero Fri 18-Jan-13 15:29:41

When I was 9, I did a Saturday orchestra. In the lunchtime, the staff went off to the pub for lunch, we just wandered round town on our own. Things aren't more dangerous now, just we cosset children so much.

It worries me that children are growing up with NO IDEA of how to cope with problems. If a child has never been left on their own, how on earth are they going to cope with;
a bus not turning up when it is supposed to
a bus driver not letting them on the bus
a bus stopping early and kicking them out at an unfamiliar stop

- all things that happened to ds1 in his first week at secondary

ClaraOswinOswald Fri 18-Jan-13 15:50:21

Round here, 9 year olds go to Middle School and catch the bus on their own. DD1 had a key from Y5 and let herself in. She would then lock the door behind her, phone me and watch tv until I got home (up to an hour and a half later).

Totally depends on the child though, DD2 wouldn't have been able to do this, she would have been scared.

PrettyPirate Fri 18-Jan-13 15:51:37

HazleNutt - you are right. I'm from Scandinavian country and when kids start school at age 6-7 they usually get home all by themselves after school (school bus, public transport or walk) and parents get home after work. Usually kids have tons of homework to do every day anyway, so no time to misbehavewink.
Not all kids are home alone that age but most of them.

I started my school in another town at age 6, had to take two buses. Get home from school at 2-3pm, parents got home at 6. Now most of my friends' kids do them same who live in that town. Nothing unusual.

Kiriwawa Fri 18-Jan-13 16:14:03

PrettyPirate - I wonder if that goes some way to explaining why our childcare costs are so much higher in the UK?

Cherriesarelovely Fri 18-Jan-13 16:19:39

Lily I completely agree with you. I was walking 2.5 miles to school a day when I was 7. Admittedly I did so with a friend but later I would go and do grocery shopping for my mum. The posts about feeling as if no one cares strike me as very overdramatic given the situation the OP is talking about.

LaQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 16:20:36

I think 9 is too young, especially for an hour.

In theory, it would probably be fine (assuming your DS is sensible etc). But, like others have said, it's when the unexpected happens...what happens then?

DD1 is nearly 10, and quite sensible and probably wouldn't move from the sofa...but I wouldn't leave her. I'm not confident how she would respond if someone knocked on the door, or if there was a power-cut (happens often in our village), or if I got stuck in a traffic jam etc.

9 is too young for them to be responsible for themselves in this situation.

This thread is hilarious. Honestly, some of you...

lljkk Fri 18-Jan-13 16:23:52

And it's only for 3 weeks, it's not ideal but it's not the end of the world.
By the time they were 10yo DC loved the idea of house to themselves.

LaQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 16:24:58

Just to add I really am not a preciously protective parent - but I think a sense of independence and self reliance can be slowly encouraged and fostered in a more controlled/concerned way than just suddenly leaving a 9 year old alone for an hour in the house.

lljkk Fri 18-Jan-13 16:26:13

I love reading the Cat in the Hat. A bit of 1960s reality check. How old do those children look? 8 & 6yo maybe? And look! Anything could happen, after all, when your mother is out for the day, a strange cat could come to the door after all:

Or the trouble they got up to,
the mess that they made
Oh their mother, what would she say?!

PrettyPirate Fri 18-Jan-13 16:29:27

I don't really know anyone back home who could afford any after school carehmm
State nurseries are up to age 6, full time and very cheap, so not a problem for 2 working parents to send child there. As soon as they start school it's a different story - you have to pay for after school activities and even then they are about 1hr, not really helping re childcare.
So children are raised already quite independent - it's normal for 5 year old get his/her own breakfast in the morning without waking the parents, going to the corner shop to pick up bread/milk, playing outside, that sort of thing.

Supervised independence should start early I think. We all worry about our kids but if we teach them early on what to do and how to behave in certain situations, then leaving a 9 year old home alone for an hour might not be big deal after allwink

Cherriesarelovely Fri 18-Jan-13 16:30:11

I think you have to talk to them about those possibilities though ie, do not answer the door, do not use the kettle (or whatever). These are the numbers of people you can call if you are worried. I started leaving Dd for about 10 mins when she was about 8 .5 so I do agree that I wouldn't just go from nothing to an hour but I think given proper guidance, practise and a means to contact someone close by if there is a problem it is completely ok. We're all different though.

whois Fri 18-Jan-13 16:43:11

I think the level of over protectiveness is high ok this thread. Depends on the child, but if you think he is sensible and will lik being left then go for it.

I would be concerned if a nine year old couldn't work the phone to can a neighbour/mum.

I don't think talking the idea through, having a 'dry run' where OH hides in a cafe round the corner or something before he goes away and then doing this would be bad. I actually think it would be good. I LOVED having the house to myself for an hour or two at that age; I could eat two kittcats if there were quite a lot on the cupboard rather than one as my after school snack.

LaQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 17:17:30

whois I think most 9 year olds should/would be able to use the phone in normal circumstances.

But what if the line is engaged? Would the child react calmly, or would they then panic? What if there was a power-cut and the house alarm went off (as our's does, very loudly) would the child be able to still calmly use the phone then?

Some comments on this thread make me think some parents are not teaching their children how to react to unexpected situations or events, or what to do if they are alone.

If a child has had plenty of practice, has been through drills with the parents, has run through scenarios with parents and discussed what to do, then they won't be phased by things like the telephone ringing or the doorbell going, they will know what to have if they are hungry, they will know how to use the phone and have numberes memorised to call if they need to (my DS knew my mobile number off by heart from the age of 4, and has used it too, when he got lost in town aged 8 he found two policemen and told them my number and they called me)

Children are far more capable than a lot of parents give them credit for.

As for not feeling cared for, what a load of complete rubbish. As if.

LeQueen it is up to you to teach your child what to do if the line is busy, or the power goes off, or the alarm goes off. A child of 9 or up can reasonably be tought to react the right way to these situations. I get my DS to make phone calls for me when I'm there, so using thew phone is a routine thing for him. He knows where the torches are kept if there was a power cut, he knows that if the fire alarm goes off and he's alone in the house to leave the building, just like he is taught to do at school.

Most situations that a child has a vague chance of encountering you can actually prepare them for. And if they are prepared they are less likely to panic.

Children can be slowly and carefully trained over a number of years to get to the point where they are quite safe left alone for an hour or two.

usualsuspect Fri 18-Jan-13 17:43:01

Hang on a minute,I wouldn't do this and I managed to bring up 3 Children to be independent adults.So stop with the wrapping them up in cotton wool and they need to learn how to be independent comments.

piprabbit Fri 18-Jan-13 17:43:40

It's the little, daft, unexpected things that can trip a child up and leave them feeling really upset. For example, the cold weather has made our lock a bit stiffer to turn, which means that DD no longer has the physical strength to open the door. Cold fingers can also make turning keys in locks trickier. It really isn't a problem, but ti would be enough to knock DD's confidence and leave her worrying that she would be locked out again the next time.

So things like house alarms, or a thunderstorm, or a short power could all have a big impact - that's why it needs to be worked on gradually to build confidence until the child feels able to cope with the unexpected.

Startail Fri 18-Jan-13 17:52:59

DD1 I might have done, DD2 was a bit less confident. She was liable to panic if things didn't go exactly to plan.

LaQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 18:02:43

over yes, it is up to me to train them...but I wouldn't train an 8/9 year old how to react in the house, if they were home alone and the alarms went off...for the simple fact that any 8/9 year old in my care wouldn't be left alone in a house. Simple as that.

I think 8/9/10 is simply too young for them to master these skills, and they shouldn't need to master them. And even if they could master them...why put them to the test? Why test to see how a 9 year old reacts when left alone for an hour and there's a power-cut and then they (perhaps) get a nose-bleed, or whatever.

Plenty of time for them to learn these skills when they are genuinely old enough for them to warrant needing them.

tulip27 Fri 18-Jan-13 18:21:41

Just throwing this in - what happens if your in an accident and can't get home or god forbid too injured to tell anyone you have a child alone at home ?

I'm not over reacting , when I worked in a&e we did see this kind of thing . Also when it was discovered you had left a 9 yr old alone at home it WOULD be questioned as a child protection issue. I'm not saying this is right but unfortunately this is what would happen.

HazleNutt Fri 18-Jan-13 18:31:25

If a parent does not come home, I would guess a 9-year old who can use the phone would call dad, grandparents or friends or go to some neighbour's place? As OP says, neighbours would be informed that DS is alone and her DS then probably also instructed to go ring their doorbells in an emergency.

tulip in my case, if I don't come home DP also comes home, around 5pm, and DS knows his number and would call him if he couldn't reach me if I didn't get home when expected.

And plenty of other people know DS is alone in the house, in the unlikely event that both myself and his dad get into accidents on the same day and don't come home, our phones both have ICE numbers on them, the people who would answer those ICE calls from emergency services know DS is home alone and would come to his rescue (and yes, they live locally and have spare keys)

It's up to each parent, if you don't want to leave your kid then it's fine not to train them for unlikely events, but for those of us who do, we're not doing anything wrong, we have assessed the risks, trained our children and know our children could handle most unexpected events, and made the decision to let them be at home alone sometimes for short periods.

I guess I'm not in the majority when I think DS can handle a few low level knocks and difficult situations, and personally I tihnk it will make him stronger and more confident.

I also let him cycle, knowing all the risks involved.

Rainbowinthesky Fri 18-Jan-13 18:51:50

Not read thread, sorry but I wouldn't do it and dd is 9 and sensible. That said, I was coming home to empty house at this age and it was all fine (except when my brother set fire to the back sheds - he wasn't sensible though).

zoeymlucas Fri 18-Jan-13 19:32:53

Well it's actually against the law for him o be in the house alone so I think that answers the question- it shouldn't happen

mellen Fri 18-Jan-13 19:34:49

There is no specific age defined in law for this.

zoeymlucas Fri 18-Jan-13 19:54:25

Well my mum is a social worker and they deem the age as 12 before that they social services would get involved if they found out- my son is 10 and I think it disgusting you even feel the need to ask they are still children and should never be left home alone at this age

LaQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 19:58:24

I'm all for children slowly gaining independence and using their noggins a bit...but, I really think that 8/9/10 is simply too young.

Training your child in different procedures, notifying others they're alone, putting others on stand-by, handing out spare-keys...etc. It all seems too complicated - surely it's far better to just not leave them alone for any amount of time, until such time as they are genuinely self sufficient - rather than fooling yourself of their pseudo independence that could just tumble down around their ears like a House of Cards, so very easily.

oopsadaisymaisy Fri 18-Jan-13 20:07:57

If I knew someone left their child at home alone at 9 I would probably inform social services. I have a nearly 11 year old and I might be in a position to leave him on his own but I wouldn't because I don't think its fair that he should be left n a position to fend for himself at such a young age. That's my child and my view. I was left as a child around 10 and sincerely view myself as neglected but must stress the circumstances were very specific to me and don't mean that a well cared for child being given independence is the same. I wouldnt do it by then I'm very cautious.

TheCarefulLaundress Sat 19-Jan-13 00:00:59

go one, oopsadaisy, ring SS and tell them you know of a child of 9, safely ensconced in their own warm home. Watching telly, having a snack, playing on their DS for an hour after school til their mum gets home. It'll give the social workers a good chuckle grin

Clary Sat 19-Jan-13 01:14:58

as ever, I am astounded that some people on MN apparently think a child of primary age should not be left alone, ever.

I wonder why? Oh yes, the unexpected might happen. Yes, and so it might to am 11yo or a 13yo - at what age will the unexpected never happen then? So that you can then leave them at home in their house watching the TV???

I am not saying OP should do this - tbh my 9yo who is a very gregarious boy (no 3 child) actually isn;t keen - he's at home with his siblings (11.5 and 13.5) and no adult for 30-40 mins 3 evenings a week (call SS someone!) but on the one occasion when by chance he was actually on his own for about 20 mins he was not happy. But your child may well be different in which case you have my vote.

TheCatInTheHairnet Sat 19-Jan-13 02:10:38

Well, I just asked my 9 yo and she thought it was an awesome idea, and could I start leaving her please?!!

I think I could do it with her, but my 8 yo Ds is MILES away from that level of independence.

To prevent the whole knife in a toaster and broken glass worry on here, could you make sure you leave a decent snack and a juice box/ bottle of water in the fridge for him? Does he have a phone or an iPod with a texting app? Because then he could text you with any worries.

Chandon Sat 19-Jan-13 09:17:20

I think it is emergency parenting, dressed up as an independence exercise.

Are you saying, that even if it was not necessary for work, you would on purpose come home an hour later as you believe it teaches your DC a valuable lesson? Every day? honestly???

Fair enough if you cannot do it any other way, and the child is sensible etc.

If you must, you must.

But do not pretend you designed this set up to do the child a favour. Is so false. Occasionally leaving a child alone at this age is fine, clearly. Helping children acquire independence is great an necessary. But that is not what this is about!

Chandon no one is dressing it up as an independence excersise, people are just saying that by the age of 9 some children are independent enough to be left at home alone.

In my case it is not emergency parenting, it is just life. We work, he goes to school, he is old enough to get to school and back again on his own. Sometimes he arrives home first, sometimes one of his parents arrives home first. It's just day to day living. I'm not giving up work just so I can guarantee I am home before him. That wouldn't benefit any of us.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 10:16:14

It is extraordinary and alarming that people genuinely believe that kids of 9/10/11 should not be left.

Let me tell you about ds1's journey home from school a couple of weeks back; he walked 1/2 mile, got on the bus. The bus then unexpectedly terminated, and he had to get off. He was the only one on that bus. He didn't know where he was, but he figured he would retrace the bus' route till he was on familiar territory. (the next bus on that route was not for an hour but he knew he could get a different bus on a different route). He got himself back to the city centre, and then walked up the hill to the route of the other bus, got on it and got home.

He is 11. That to my mind is FAR riskier than leaving a 9/10/11 yo at home, but it is the reality of travelling to secondary. We live in a major city, but he is fine getting himself across it.

And for those saying it would put a child at risk; do you ever drive your child anywhere? Because that is by FAR the riskiest thing people generally do with their children.

I agree Lilyboo.

financialwizard Sat 19-Jan-13 11:17:48

Completely agree with Lilyboo.

Fgs it is an hour and the mother is ten minutes away by foot.

My 11 year old spends 2.5hrs on his own after school Monday-Friday because of my work and all he manages is in the door, bag down, ps3 on. Vilify me now.

What the op is proposing is entirely normal for most families as long as she teaches him to down tools and go to one of the designated next door neighbours in an emergency.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 11:39:15

"If I knew someone left their child at home alone at 9 I would probably inform social services."

oh seriously, ffs. I mean, honestly, go for it, give them a laugh.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience of this yourself. I didn't-I walked home alone each day, over the bloody North Circular, from the age of 8. A good mile. And I was then home alone for around two hours. Every day, unless I was going to a friend's house.

Not all 9 year olds are mature enough to do this, no. But many are, and I'd say that that is the norm, in the same way that most nine year olds are able to read fluently, but a few will still be struggling.

I think we do far more harm overprotecting our kids and giving them the impression that they cannot cope for one frigging hour in their own home, than by trying to anticipate every little danger. Its probably far more dangerous, I dunno, for him to get in the car with a friend to drive to their house than be alone in the house for that time.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 11:42:48

the mother is ten minutes away by foot ???

oh my christ people, move along, nothing to see.

seriously, nine is not a baby. If a nine year old can't cope in those situations-I'm not saying anything is amiss, just that, maybe this is an area that they might need to work on. Like I say, same as with reading, kids mature at different rates but by 9 a kids should, IMO, have the life skills to cope for one bloody hour in their own house with their mum perhaps a mile away.


usualsuspect Sat 19-Jan-13 11:54:14

OPs DS is 9 not 11.

I would be ok with an 11 year old being left, just not a 9 year old.

These threads drive me nuts! Everytime this comes up people start talking about it being illegal etc - there is NO law on this stuff - it's up to you! Even the age of the babysitter! You can be prosecuted if it's negligent. And breathe.

TheSnowFairy Sat 19-Jan-13 12:12:29

I think it totally depends on the child. TBH, I'd feel better about my 8 yr old staying by himself than his elder brother grin

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 12:16:11

I have to agree with Chandon.

I think saying that leaving your 8/9 year old alone for upwards of an hour, or so is beneficial for the child because it teaches them independence/self reliance is just making a smug sounding virtue out of what is in fact a rather sad necessity.

At 8/9 I think a lot of children may be able to present the veneer of being able to cope alone at home alone, and even deal with a few surprises. But, personally I think it rather sad that they should need to develop these skills at still such a relatively young age - and when their ability to applyreason/apply logic/rationalise is still quite fuzzy.

Yes - perhaps most 8/9 year old children could cope with being alone...but, I don't think they should have to.

I do think it's too young. As it's only for a limited amount of time, I'd call in favours, ask neighbours etc. Come home extra early one day (I realise you're already coming back earlier than usual)? Maybe a couple of days leave?

However I do think some people are being a bit hysterical! Look after your child, he deserves it hmm

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 12:23:59

As for the Mum being only a mile away...that's meaningless.

7 years ago DH and I rented a cottage. We settled the DDs in their cots at bedtime, went back downstairs and debated whether to sit outside in the cottage's own courtyard and enjoy a glass of wine.

Thank God we didn't sad

Unbeknownst to us, the extractor fan in the bathroom had caught fire, and set alight the bathroom curtains and some towels. The fire alarm failed to activate. The first we knew was the huge thump when the fan fell out of the ceiling - we nipped upstairs at the noise, and the upstairs was already thick with smoke. We had to grab the DDs out of their cots by touch because we couldn't see them - we ran outisde, called fire-brigade, and all was well.

However...if we had decided to have a drink outside in the courtyard, all of 20 feet from our DDs, we'd have sat drinking wine as they suffocated - the fire officer said the first we would have known of the fire would probably have been when the windows blew out, and it would have been far too late for the DDs.

conorsrockers Sat 19-Jan-13 12:30:52

I am always a bit blush at these threads. Personally, I would do it, and I do. But then I know 9 year olds that cry if Mums not waiting outside the school gates on time, can't shower themselves or make a drink without help.
My DS1 now 10 stays at home regularly alone, rather than getting dragged out to his younger brothers football matches or come to the shops (and has done since about 8). He has to take a flight alone soon and didn't bat an eyelid when we discussed the logistics.
If you've brought your kids up to be independent and sensible then I don't see a problem. At all.
... and the fact you have neighbours is great, he can go to them if there's a problem ... our nearest neighbour is over a mile away!

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 12:31:55

errr...bit of a difference LaQueen. You're talking about babies, I presume.

I really hate to say it, but that's a situation that could easily have happened, presumably, with you in the house but asleep. It could have happened in your room. Any number of possibilities. And there are basic, obvious things that I am sure that the OP will have done. Made sure the fire alarm is working (its the first thing we check on entering a rental property). Made sure her son knew what to do if the house was, god forbid, on fire.

I agree that if a nine year old is unable to notice that the house is on fire then it would be unwise to leave him alone. In that situation, however, I suggest it might be beneficial too work on his skills.

I hate to say this, but any one of our kids could actually end up left alone in the house at any age. For years, I had three very small kids in the house with me, sometimes for days when my partner worked away. Noone who necessarily would check up. If I'd fallen down the stairs or keeled over, god only knows what would have happened. I did teach them quite early to use the phone and so on, but you know, these skills are important. Yes its unlikely anything could happen but probably less unlikely than a freak incident when in your home for an hour playing on the wii.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 12:34:24

"But then I know 9 year olds that cry if Mums not waiting outside the school gates on time, can't shower themselves or make a drink without help. "

See to me, assuming its coming about because the parents didn't bother to teach them, (I know some kids are just resistant to learning self reliance, that's different!) that is closer to neglect that teaching a kid to be self reliant enough to cope for an hour in the house with his mum running distance away.

usualsuspect Sat 19-Jan-13 12:34:34

I'm sure my children at 9 could have coped alone for an hour, I just didn't want them to have to.

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 12:36:24

Not really yydg if the DDs had been older they would still have been asleep, and would have probably suffocated in their sleep.

I admit what happened to us was incredibly rare. But it just highlights that all this talk about 'Oh I'm only a mile away...Oh it's only for an hour...' is actually totally meaningless and irrelevent.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 12:40:12

To the poster who said 'the child is 9, not 11'; that is true. I was simply showing the level of independence they need at 11, and to attain that, they probably need to be having some independence such as being at home alone from 9 onwards.

Fwiw, don't imagine the kids are necessarily 'safe' just because you are in the house with them. A fire could still harm them. I knew someone who was home with his 3yo. A burglar broke in, killed the parent. The 3yo was there with his body for 3 days. sad

And as I said earlier, driving is about the biggest risk we take with children, but we don't think twice about it.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 12:43:45

well no, I disagree, laqueen

its a matter of degree. Clearly being a mile away for an hour is not the same as being in the same house for that hour. Clearly scary things CAN happen, I don't think there's any debate there. The debate is over whether the infintessimally small chance of something he can't cope with coming up is enough to outweigh the benefits of having the experience of staying home alone.

The incident you described is awful, please don't get me wrong. But it just is not the same as the situation the OP describes in terms of risk.

a. The OP's kid is 9. If anything happened, assuming he's a reasonably sorted kid which he sounds to be, he'd be able to call his mum for advice, call on a neighbour or just get himself out of his house.

b. In the worst case scenario, a mile is no distance for a nine year old to walk (or get a taxi-I presume the OP will leave emergency money and so on) and get to his mum's work.

c. He will not be asleep. He will be awake and doing low risk activities. I assume he will not be cooking or anything.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 12:50:34

Actually I just thought; our state primary gives Y4/5 as the age when it is appropriate for kids to walk home alone, do I don't believe for a second that social services would be worried about a 9yo at home for an hour with phone numbers, and neighbours on hand.

It does worry me that society has lost sight of what is a 'real' risk and what is just hysteria.

5madthings Sat 19-Jan-13 12:59:48

Ultimately we only know our own children, some would be fine with this.

My ds1 (now 13) would have been.

Ds2 is 10 and I would let him do it now but maybe not a year ago.

Ds3 is 8 and I think he could be fine with this in the next year.

All children and all situations are variable, its up to us as parents to make the call for our own child.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 13:07:24

The only thing I'd say is that if the OP's child does not want to stay at home alone...on the Wii...then that is something different. I don't believe a child this age should be forced into this situation before they are ready because it could be downright scary.

I'm assuming that the kid is enthusiastic however and if so I think its a really safe way to ease into a bit of independence. As another poster said, depending on your situation, it really can be all change at age 11.

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 14:25:26

yggd I do see your point.

But, as a parent I don't ever want to put my 9 year old DD in the situation where she is alone and concerned about something, and yet can only tell me about it over the phone.

At 9, I just think that is wrong.

A 8/9 year old's perception and ability to rationalise and reason is still fuzzy, and not as well defined as a 11/12 year old. Psychological tests have demonstrated that the ability of primary age children to judge things like speed of cars, relative passage of time etc is still quite impared - compared to a 11/12 year old.

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 14:27:48

ygg yes, I do agree with you on that. How many 8/9/10 year old children are left alone at home, feeling uneasy, but their parents have made them feel that they don't really have a choice in the matter - and that if the child raises an objection, then they're perhaps being baby-ish and 'need to grow up a bit.'

That would be very sad, indeed.

twentyten Sat 19-Jan-13 14:30:51

Could you get a local 6th former to come in and babysit?

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 14:50:07

Well fwiw my kids (and their friends) LOVE being left on their own, and beg me to leave them when the others have activities on. So I really don't think the 'not daring to say' is an issue for them, or their friends.

My DS turned 9 last Sept & I am happy to leave him for up to an hour.
He is v responsible though,
He has contact numbers in case he needs/wants to talk to someone.
I think you know your own child.

DS will go to middle school in Sept 2013 and will walk to & from school himself (good 20 min walk) and I want him to feel confident & he knows the trust i have in him

I agree that no child should be left on their own if they don't want to, and are uneasy or sad or scared about it.

But if the child is eager, and the parent thinks the child is mature enough, and all the other things discussed here have been set out and done then it is just a matter of choice and there is nothing wrong with the parents and child deciding it is something they can do.

There is no right or wrong here. It's up to each family.

I personally don't think it will do my DS any long term (or short term) damage to have to call me for help rather than have me there.

He came to my work after school one day as we had pre-arranged. It was the first time he had been there and the plan was that he calls me when he is outside and I let him in. As it was he forgot his phone so couldn't call me, so he thought on his feet, assessed the situation, walked around the building and found a way in and then searched for the right department and asked someone if they knew which room was mine. He found me, he was fine, he wasn't even phased by this in the least, just rather proud of himself for finding me by himself. Tha'ts how I know he is mature enough to be left, because he acts like that in unexpected situations. Another child might not act like that, and then I probably wouldn't leave them in situations where they might not cope.

Each to their own and all that. There is no right or wrong answer here. Personally I tihnk most kids could handle it by Year 5 (not so sure about Year 4s though).

oopsadaisymaisy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:48:25

Well social services might laugh, its still my view and I would never leave my child alone for a long period unless I was reasonably nearby. I know a lot of people with children around this age and not one of them would even consider leaving heir children on their own. Maybe when they get to secondary but not before. Its my view, I don't expect everyone to agree. I work with social workers and my sister is a children and families sw. Some social workers would be concerned. I can guarantee it.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 19:01:54

The point is though, that even if you say 'it's ok once they get to secondary', imo going from a position where a child is never left on their own, straight to the situation where they not only are on their own, but are not in the safety of their homes, but travelling across a busy city, crossing busy roads, negotiating public transport, and with lots of contact with strangers, is highly irresponsible and places the child at much higher risk.

A child who has had some experience of looking after themselves, within a safe environment, will be far better equipped to deal with problems out of the house, where the environment is far more unpredictable.

madwomanintheattic Sat 19-Jan-13 20:22:36

Oopsa, it's about context.

The context where social workers and your sis get involved is a far cry from normal developmental stages in stable situations.

And your friends may well be quite happy doing it with their 9yos, but not telling you for fear you'd report them to ss. grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now