AIBU in thinking that it would be ok to leave son home alone after school ?(55 Posts)
Thinking in advance for September.
Son will be 11 in September - but in year 6. I will be working till 5pm every night (getting home at 6 ish). He HATES after school care so I am considering an alternative....
We live 5 miles from school so walking home is not an option but a school friend drives past my house on their way home.
So 2 questions ...
Would i be taking the piss asking them to drop son off every day (if their child is ill (or whatever) my son could do the after school care.
and ... although not ideal .. is it ok to leave an 11 yr old home alone for 2.5 hours per day? (Son is happy with the idea / calm child / sensible etc - however due to circumstances he has never really been left alone for more then 10 minutes at a time)
I suppose it depends on what sort of child he is. My son is 11 in October and about to go into P7 and he'll be staying at the childminders until he goes to high school in 2014! No choice in the matter. He may hate it but for me it gives me peace of mind that she can have him if the school gets closed early and I'm not relying on anyone else.
My son was only 11 when he started comp, had to get 2 buses alone and walk so far to school. So if they're old enough to do that then yeah I'd say ok to leave alone. Start preparing him now though, leave him for an hour to go shopping etc then increase it. The 5 mile to school would be my only worry.
Think it's a bit much to ask someone
They'll probably feel they should wait til he's inside, or ask him rouge to theirs every night
The 5 mile to school would be my only worry.
Op is going to ask someone to drop him off though
Is there no bus he could take? Could you contribute to their petrol cost?
I would leave him that long if generally sensible, but you will get all sorts of opinions. What will you do in the school holidays? Would be best if he had some trial sessions of being alone for 1-2 hours before, so you can iron out any kinks / identify issues.
Oh, and mine do answer the phone for sure when home alone. How else would I check up on them? Their mobiles won't have credit or charge, that part is for sure.
Yes, I think it would be very cheeky to ask someone to give your ds a lift every day and yes, I think 2.5 hours on his own every day is way too much. I speak as someone with a y7 12 year old dd who I will leave on her own for an hour or so if I have to but I know she prefers it when dh or I are in the house (even if she doesn't particularly communicate with us when she is here!).
Being alone would probably be fine at that age, if he is happy with it, but asking someone else to drop him home might be - I am just thinking of all the previous threads on MN when people have been asked/pressurised ithis'd regular lift arrangement by another parent or a colleague, and they have been desperate to find a way out.
Has the other parent suggested this arrangement? Would you pay them? And can you put your son into the after-school club at the drop of a hat if the lift falls through?
I personally wouldn't do it but know many who would and do. Asking too much of friends to do drop off though. Tough luck for your dc not liking after school care-he will just have to put up with it as many kids do.
DD is 11 in July and going into P7 in August; DH and I have decided today that we're not going to make her go to out of school care next year, in preparation for high school.
She's matured a lot in P6, and can handle the responsibility. I didn't feel that way six months ago, so it depends on the child.
Do you have friendly neighbours? My dc are primary age and I work school hours, but the boy next door is going to secondary next year and will be coming home while his parents are still at work. I will be in pretty much every afternoon so if he has a problem or needs anything he can just pop round here.
I have to admit though, if I was asked to pick another child up every day I'd be a bit reticent and would probably feel obliged to keep inviting them round.
I think its a lot to ask of your friend, but then it depends on the friendship. I would never ask this off a friend though; lifts from friends have a nasy habit of spiraling into seething resentment ime.
Ok I shall try and answer some of the questions..
I would drop him to breakfast club at school every day
I can get after school care as long as i call before 3pm on the same day
The friend wouldnt feel they had to invite him to their house every day (mainly because they live another 10 miles from my house)
Yes I would be very happy to pay towards (or for) the petrol
There is no bus or train he could get.
Holidays I manage with mutual kids swapping with friends and annual leave.
...and sure it is tough luck (and i know many kids attend child care) but he has been doing the whole child care thing since he was 5 months old and I was thinking about alternatives, that's all.
I think it's too big a favour to ask of a friend. I'd be a bit miffed if someone asked me - but I'd probably not feel able to say no.
She may want to take her DC swimming or shopping etc. It's too restricting having to take another child every day, I'd say.
I would be a bit uncomfortable dropping an 11 year old off home knowing he was going to be alone for a couple of hours. I'd feel responsible for him as the adult that left him alone IYSWIM.
My DS is 11 and there's no way I'd leave him on his own after school because he's very irresponsible. I know some of his school friends could manage fine though, so it comes down to the individual child.
I agree that it is too much to ask of a friend. A couple of days a week I would be happy to do, but every day would be too much, particularly as there are in fact other options.
Being home on his own - fine.
Arrangements for getting home - may cause issues/resentment, but if all involved are happy with it then seems fine.
I would be careful not to take friend for granted, to pay something for the petrol, to regularly thank and check still ok to continue arrangement.
I am very good at showing my appreciation towards someone who does me favours - and I would truly appreciate this. However, I take on board your comments and agree that asking if they could do it everyday could put them in a difficult position to say no, and that every day is much too much.
Not sure on the friend giving your child a lift everyday thing. I'm not sure how well that would work. We live near to school and give one of DDs friends a lift home from school once a week but even that is quite a struggle if I want to take DCs anywhere and I know her Mum greatly appreciates this but I would never do it more on a regular basis. Maybe you could do a 'half and half'. So 2/3 days a week at after school care and 2/3 days a week going home with friends. Then he is not alone for 12 hours a week or so. I would agree to this as the person giving the lifts and it means your ds doesn't have to go to after school care that often.
You may find that he (and the friends dc) do after school activities so won't leave at the same time anyway.
If the school is 5 miles away is there not a school bus?
My current year7 boy only leaves school at 4 once a week and does lots of after school clubs.
How will he get home if he doesn't get a lift?
Way too much to ask of anyone, sorry. I would feel very uncomfortable if someone asked me this. I think you need to stick with the after school facility.
I would try and see if there's a compromise with friend-2 days a week and you do something in return eg take them to weekend club/do holiday care. 5 days a week is too big an ask.
I think if he's fine with being at home then it's no problem, but it is quite a long time and he may feel bored/lonely.
I think you may have to introduce this more gradually over the year and find more people to share lifts.
It's too much to ask. I do a lift share with 2 neighbours, we share equally so I get benefit too but there are still plenty of days when I wish I wasn't having to pick their children up as well as mine (they are lovely children, it's not an issue with them). Some days you want to go somewhere other than home, or your children want to do activities after school/go to a friends and it's the whole palaver of organising an alternative. Or, tbh some days you just want to be able to chat to your own DC on the way home and not have another child in tow.
I also think if I was the other parent, I would be sick with worry about something happening to your DC - I'd feel responsible for them, even if you don't expect/want them to be.
2.5 hours at home alone every day seems a lot as well.
I'm not sure I know any children (even older ones) that do this. They either stay late at school or go to friends or parents are not so consistently late back.
Like most people on here I see the transport as more of an issue than the home aloneing. DD1 has been doing this since the last 2 weeks of Yr6, but she and her friend walk home from school. DD2, who is now in Yr5, joins them so there's three of them, and DH gets home half an hour after they do, so a slightly different scenario. I also leave them to make their own way to school in the morning (and they do dishes!)
But with a 5 mile journey and no bus in the mix, I wouldn't be happy.
I think it's too much to ask the friend tbh. What if she wants to nip to the supermarket, visit the grandparents etc and if her dc wants to take part in after school activities, she might feel she can't let him as she has to take your ds home.
I think ask the potential lift giver if she likes the idea at all. And offer to make it up to her in lots of ways, including any she can think of. She may jump at the chance if there is a unique favour that you could do for her in return. Give her the choice.
I think the lift thing might be tricky- and I am a profliate and by mumsnet standards deeply weird lift giver- unless your ds and the other boy have exactly the same interests. My ds is in year 7, and he rarely comes home at the same time two days running- after school sport and matches and so on- this week, for example, he has had two training sessions, two matches and a party. So he has been home at 4.30 twice, 5 once, 6.30 once and he's not home yet today!
I think he will be absolutely fine, and the lift is fine too.
I would make sure you keep expressing your gratitude in whatever way the lift-mum would appreciate. Also, I would make sure you check regularly that there are no bad / awkward feelings between the boys, and make sure your son always thanks her.
I would phone him every day, and I would make sure you keep talking about what he should and shouldn't be doing.
I would make an effort to have his friends over or make a date for him to go to someone's house whenever it is possible.
I wouldn't leave my child alone for that length of time every day and I couldn't ask someone to give my child a lift every day.
Honestly, the lift won't work unless neither of the boys does anything after school.
I personally would feel it was too much if I was asked to drop someone at home every night for reasons mentioned by another poster and would find it too restrictive (what if I want to go off somewhere at short notice in completely the opposite direction? I wouldn't have the freedom to make these last minute decisions). Can he get a bus home? I walked home from school (15 mins) at that age but there were lots of kids who got a bus (admittedly senior school but some wouldn't have been 12 til the summer) although of course there was usually a lot of them - what do the other kids do? How close a friend are you? If you're close then perhaps put it out there as a hypothetical and see he your friend offers - s/he will know what you're angling for and if it's a viable option s/he'll make the offer.
Your son may hate afterschool care but really does that come into it? I'm sure he hates lots of other things but I bet you still make him do them. If you're trying to foster more independence in him then great but I would think carefully about it because there is a big difference between 10 mins and 2.5 hours. He might think he's up to it but he might actually get a bit freaked out after the initial excitement has worn off. In the very least if you plan to leave him you need to start extending his time alone.
You're clearly in two minds so don't rush into anything
My eldest son started getting the bus home from school and looking after himself the term he turned 11. He was summer born and in year 6. He hated after school club as it was a bit young for him but he needed to practice before starting secondary schools anyway. He enjoyed the time by himself and was confident in the house by himself. My younger one has a very different personality and I can't imagine him being happy to do that at the same age.
I think 5 days a week sounds like a big ask from a friend. How about asking two days a week? That way your son isn't home alone every day, he has some respite from after school club and its not too much an ask from a friend.
Maybe start to leave him for increasing amounts of time and to how he gets on. My son was happily being left at the weekend before he started making his own way home from school.
Wow, do all of you have y7s who do lots of at-school immediately after school clubs? DS1 does none & I'm sure DS2 will be the same. I just discovered someone else who does lift shares with 2 or 3 other parents to the same secondary school, they don't find it that tricky.
DD probably will do a club or 2 from y7+ but I have told her that she'll have to limit the days due to transport issues, too.
If he can follow how to behave at home it should be ok. On asking the other parent this is tricky for them to have a commitment but if you say contribute to costs and only if it's no trouble and offer to help her as well
It is asking the mum and her ds to commit to him not doing any activities after school for a whole year: personally, I'd find that a bit much. Fair enough to ask your children to limit their activities because you don't want to drive them, but to ask somebody else's child not to do any activities at all merely because your son doesn't like after school club- I can see my (usually very compliant) children give a robust answer to that one. It's not as if you are stuck and there is no answer, it's just about your son's preferences.
So if your child was asked to represent his school at a sport he'd have to say no?
I wouldn't do it. Too much that can go wrong.
My DS is home for about an hour and a half to two hours after school. He is in year 7, but a late July birthday, so still 11. It's not perfect but it's how it works for us. We did build him up to it gently.
However, he is under his own steam. He gets a bus, or a late minibus if he is staying after school for a club.
Two issues here.
Home alone isn't a problem.
The transport is and that could cause major problems, ill child, after school club, and also it is a big ask for someone to be responsible for getting your child home every single day.
He hates the after school care, is the problem that it's too childish? Is he stuck with much smaller children? If he's 11 in September I can see probably where he's coming from. Is there any other club he could do after school, or somewhere else he could go?
I think you might have to tell him to put up with it unfortunately
2.5 hours ever day is too much. Thats 12.5 hours a week on his own. Can't he do some clubs?
why not pay a friend to have him for a couple of days? He can hang out with mates then?
No it's too much to ask a friend to do and will cause resentment and its too long to leave him at 11. What about winter and dark nights?
I did this when DC1 was 11. Like your DS he hated afterschool club, and was sensible, capable and very happy to be home on his own. I was home at 5.30 so it was 1.45-2 hours rather than 2.5 hrs, but not far off it.
When he went to afterschool we had to get a taxi to collect him from school and take him there as his school had no arrangement with the local afterschool club (don't ask!), so maybe you could see if your friend would be happy to give him a lift a couple of days, use a taxi firm another 2, and send him to afterschool one day?
I think it would only need one thing to go wrong to cause a problem for your friend or your son.
Can he stay in the school library and do his homework?
Have I missed how he would get home from school if he didn't get a lift?
I agree with Redsky on both the lift and the time spent at home alone.
Also, sometimes a child's teacher needs to tell the carer something after school or there are incidents etc. It would be an imposition on your friend to have to do it every day.
I sympathise with your position. I have left a 13 year old alone for an hour or hour and a half, but even that was a long time if it was more than once or twice a week. It didn't work. Kids get lonely and isolated. And what would he do all that time (2.5 hours a day is a large chunk of his day at that age)? If he's anything like my son, he'll be on his computer/phone or watching TV.
Why does your son not like after school club?
Could you get a local student to pick him up from school and take him to your home and stay with him?
Are there any local (to the school) childminders for older children?
Could you go to work earlier and get home earlier/do some work at home in the evenings?
I'm sure you've thought about all of the above, but imo, leaving him for 2.5 hours a day would be the worst option.
I don't think there is anything that says leaving an 11-13yo has to be a disaster; it depends on the child. It worked well for us.
My nephew was perfectly happy practising his violin and composing music, my niece used to cook herself a meal (she was very reliable and mature), ds possibly has been known to spend rather too much time watching inane television programmes but he certainly doesn't get lonely or unhappy. When I was that age, as a member of a lovely but large and noisy family, I used to look forward to afternoons alone as a special treat.
Cory I agree, but if the child is alone, ie not with brothers and sisters?
Too much to ask of another parent imo. Could he cycle home? (Maybe that is a terrible idea! You know your son best.........)
my nephew is an only child- he was fine
My son was OK too, in that nothing horrible happened to him.
But if I had to make that decision again, I would try to find another way.
My SIL otoh would make exactly the same and my nephew would be hoping she did. Which just goes to show that we're all different.
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