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

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

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

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

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

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 10:38:52

Sorry about gibberish typos. Typing with left hand.

havingamadmoment Sun 22-Sep-13 10:40:41

I wouldnt leave my 9 year old dd home just because although she knows what to do (calling 999 for example) I am pretty sure that in an emergency she would panic and forget. I know its unlikely to happen but you never know.

thebody Sun 22-Sep-13 10:40:46

send your dh by himself and you stay with the kids!!! rest your broken arm.

MortifiedAdams Sun 22-Sep-13 10:41:23

Get DH to take the eldest with him to do the foodshop and you stay hone with the two littlies.

Or he takes the two littlies and you stay hone with the 9yo.

Why do you both need to go?!

CailinDana Sun 22-Sep-13 10:41:37

What's your dh doing in all this?

MadameJosephine Sun 22-Sep-13 10:43:42

I wouldn't do it. I don't think a nine year old is old enough to cope in an emergency at home plus I would be worried about what would happen if I was involved in an accident while I was out and couldn't get home. God forbid you had a crash and were taken to hospital, who would know he was home alone. Not worth the risk IMO

5madthings Sun 22-Sep-13 10:48:14

depends on the nine year old.but i think.it would be fine.

i have been leaving my.elder ones for short periods from about eight? ds3 is 8 and i can leave him.for short periods and he can play out/go to.local shop etc.

its not.illegal.

best to start with shorter amount of time and build up and its a good idea to start at this age and build up before high school at 11.

stella69x Sun 22-Sep-13 10:48:37

I've done it 9 was when I started leaving my DS alone for short periods. ie to do the shopping you can do it so much quicker without a reluctant dc in tow

almapudden Sun 22-Sep-13 10:48:45

I'd do it. My brother and I were home alone every day from 3.30 until 5 when we were eight and ten, and it was fine (in 1995, not 1975). Just ban him from using the oven/toaster and make sure he has a key and can go to a neighbour's im an emergency.

OneUp Sun 22-Sep-13 10:49:40

I wouldn't leave a nine year old at home for longer than about ten minutes. In my opinion they just aren't old enough to be completely safe and trustworthy without an adult present.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 10:50:03

I want to go. DH goes a lot but we are doing some menu planning, switching to packed lunches, and looking to change our diets. I want to go and see whats there and dh needs to drive. Also he's doing the bulk of cooking now so his input is good. We need to communicate and think more than usual for shopping, and all 3 boys together would make it harder. Not impossibly hard or anything.

I just think ds1 wll be fine. When dh was living away in Scotland, I did it when three on my own seemed too much hassle.

5madthings Sun 22-Sep-13 10:50:34

as long as they know what to do.in an emergency, who to call/go to if you are delayed etc its fine.

teach them.the skills they need to cope!!! dont just say its too risky... they need to learn these life skills and this is a good age to do so!

Xales Sun 22-Sep-13 10:51:02

I would leave him. Give a quick call when you get to the shop and let him know you will call again in 30 minutes and for him to pick up the phone.

5madthings Sun 22-Sep-13 10:52:13

of you think he will be fine and he knows what to do/who to call if need be then fine smile

SpockSmashesScissors Sun 22-Sep-13 10:52:39

I don't think I would, but why doesn't DH go without you, he could take all of them 9 year old to help him pack, steer trolley etc., that's what I get DS to do smile

Make sure to put painkillers and choc cake on the list wink

For an hour, I'd do it. I think DS1 was 9 when we started to leave him for about that long. Just make sure he knows not to answer the door/phone and how he can get hold of you or a neighbour if he needs to.

mrspremise Sun 22-Sep-13 10:55:00

Its not illegal. The law specifies no minimum age for a child to be left alone, only that its an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. Would your 9yo know what to do in an emergency? Is there a neighbour or friend they could go to for help if they needed to. Use your own judgement;, but leaving him alone for a short period is not necessarily, in itself, against the law smile

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 10:55:16

In the event of an accident: we can tell MIL to call us/him and check if she doesnt hear from us by X time. Also, strictly speaking, surely ds would be safer at home sat on couch than in the car crsh.

I will call MIL which will eliminate that concern.She may offer to have kids at hers. I just dont like to ask.

SamInSouthWales Sun 22-Sep-13 10:55:42

Why not look online for what you want to buy, do all your discussing beforehand, then just send DH?

I don't think two adults and two children need to do the weekly shop when the 9 yo needs somebody too.

Sparrowfarts Sun 22-Sep-13 10:57:53

I would leave the 9 year-old, if he's willing and sensible, but it might be easier all round to do an online shop on this occasion, as you want to make changes and see what's available. If you don't usually do it, there may be an offer on your first shop.

snowynight Sun 22-Sep-13 10:58:36

Another vote for the online shop - I wouldn't have left ds in the house alone at that age, but then he wouldn't have felt confident about being on his own.

Methe Sun 22-Sep-13 10:59:43

I would leave a 9 year old for an hour or so.

MrsBazinga Sun 22-Sep-13 11:03:36

I leave my 9 year old occasionally. He's fairly sensible and a stickler for following instructions. Its usually only for 20 mins or so, and with very strict rules. He sits with the home phone next to him, usually watching TV. He has a list of local mums/friends/neighbours phone numbers on the fridge, and if I'm not back within half an hour from when I'd said, and I haven't rung him, he knows to ring someone and explain (friends know about list and are happy, I reciprocate). I'll pop to the local shop, or pick up a parcel at the PO etc. My reasoning is that he's in Y5, and by Y7 he's going to be getting himself to school, and probably coming home to an empty house occasionally. He needs to learn how to be home alone, be happy doing it and be confident in the rules. You've got to start somewhere....

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 11:03:55

I thought of online, but it wouldnt work as well for inspiration. just not how i think. and i can barely operate my laptop. dh doing the browsing would not really work in a way I can't really explain. He scrolls and reads pages different to me and we get crabby whenever we look at things online together. i do think we both need to go together.

MortifiedAdams Sun 22-Sep-13 11:05:14

So then take all your kids.

You want to go shopping,.you want your dh with you, you have three young children.

Take them all.

MortifiedAdams Sun 22-Sep-13 11:05:26

So then take all your kids.

You want to go shopping,.you want your dh with you, you have three young children.

Take them all.

tombliboouun Sun 22-Sep-13 11:05:28

What a melodrama. If you feel your ds is mature enough then do it. But an hour to 2 hours max only.

MortifiedAdams Sun 22-Sep-13 11:05:37

Oops

kilmuir Sun 22-Sep-13 11:05:57

If he is sensible enough to be left for an hour then surely he is sensible enough to walk around a shop ? He would be the easy child to take surely

Lweji Sun 22-Sep-13 11:14:25

I'm not against you leaving him, but would probably try to give him some reaponsibility over the shopping.
My 8 year old is capable of picking up usual stuff at the supermarket.
Maybe promise a treat if they behave?

MissBattleaxe Sun 22-Sep-13 11:15:06

I think your priorities are a bit skewed. You've got a broken arm and you're keen to do the shop in person. You've got three kids, one of whom is nine.

You seem so keen to do the shop that you want to leave him behind.

If you had a prang in the car, four of you would be together and he would be alone. If you were popping to a corner shop I'd probably say yes, but doing a big shop, checking out the new items with two kids in tow etc, is going to be a long involved outing.

It's not just about the old chestnut of whether there's a fire, it's also about- won't he feel a bit left out?

Just do an online shop, much easier. It's only for a short while.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Sun 22-Sep-13 11:25:12

DH goes a lot but we are doing some menu planning, switching to packed lunches, and looking to change our diets.

And this couldn't wait a week or two? You are creating a problem where there isn't one IMHO.

picnicbasketcase Sun 22-Sep-13 11:27:11

9 is a bit young but there's no law on what age children can be left. You know him best, so you know if he can be trusted.

makemineamalibuandpineapple Sun 22-Sep-13 11:27:18

Can't you do an online shop or DH go on his own?

WaitMonkey Sun 22-Sep-13 11:31:48

It's not illegal, but I don't think a 9 year old is responsible enough to be left. You should do online shopping or take all your children. If you think he is responsible enough to be left alone, then he is responsible enough to behave in a supermarket. And yes, I also have 3 young children, so I know it's not always easy. I've a feeling you had already made your mind up before this thread though.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 11:32:50

He will love being alone. Prefer it to coming with. I am stir crazy in house, I admit. I won't be able to go anywhere until next weekend. So I want to go.

I have done online shopping in past. It's sort of ok for getting some basics in. I don't like it for fresh produce or dairy with short shelf life. Seems they always sent stuff on the sell by date. I like to buy the fruit and veg that looks best. AND Even posting here is difficult for me with my left hand.

I think ds will be safe and happy at home.I like the idea of checking in with phone and having MIL checking if she doesn't hear from us. DH is surprised that I'm not being flamed to a crisp and that anyone else is OK with it. He thought the law was 13 years old.

WaitMonkey Sun 22-Sep-13 11:35:42

Sorry, my post may have come across a bit like I was criticizing, I didn't mean it to be, that's the trouble with written down communication.

WaitMonkey Sun 22-Sep-13 11:37:46

How did you break your arm ? I take it your not able to work at the.moment. You must be very fed up. thanks

McNewPants2013 Sun 22-Sep-13 11:38:42

if he cant be trusted to walk around a supermarket with his parents present then IMO he cant be trusted to stay in the house on his own.

CoffeeTea103 Sun 22-Sep-13 11:40:56

It's irresponsible. Yabu

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 11:42:32

Yes.I made up my mind. my husband was curious to see what others thought.

oldest ds on his own is fine in shop. middle ds is ok in shop. together they act differently. i guess vying for attention.I do take all 3 out together by myself frequently. It's hard but I manage. Especially if I need to focus or think. DH gets very flustered. He doesn't like eating out, etc. because he gets so upset by fairly normal behaviour. He would find it very hard to do this shop and be able to focus on the task.

Schnitzel, it can't wait. DH got 40% pay cut the same week I lost my income. We need to do drastic changes in diet/menu.

AaDB Sun 22-Sep-13 11:45:50

I think he will be totally fine and I would leave him for an hour or two. Mil as a backup sounds sensible.

My ds is almost seven and whilst is sensible enough, is a bit to young to be left. I'd hope by age 9 he is able to stay alone for short spells.

balia Sun 22-Sep-13 11:48:05

No, wouldn't do it. Too long for a 9 year old to be alone, too much could go wrong. It's not a question of trust, he's hardly likely to have a house party, but of care - what if he falls, hurts himself, someone bangs on the door and he gets scared... TBH I'm a bit hmm that two adults can't manage 3 small children on a grocery shop, even with a broken arm.

Given the reasons outlined, wouldn't it make more sense for you to take a taxi just this once and leave DH home with all 3?

5madthings Sun 22-Sep-13 11:48:18

He won't feel left out a, lol!

He will enjoy being trusted and thought of as responsible smile

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 11:48:38

monkey, I fell and broke my arm working. At the same time, dh was forced to take a huge pay cut. But the good thing is he is home with us again after being away since Christmas. I got into bad habits doing everything on my own and we're trying to get into a good routine with diets, discipline, chores, etc.

londonmum14 Sun 22-Sep-13 11:54:29

Take him along but leave him "looking after the car" while the rest of you are shopping inside. I think he's too young to stay at home. How much trouble can get into in the car by himself?

It really depends on so many things; where you live; if there are neighbours handy in case of a real emergency; how sensible the child is; how long you are going to be; if there is someone who - like your MIL - in case of mishap when you are out, such a prang in the car/ traffic jam etc. I left my DS3, in this house, at 9, but wouldn't have left my DS1 in our last house. Make your own, educated decision, based on your own real circumstances but don't let your own wishes and preferences affect those. You could tie a shopping trip in with a cinema outing or similar to make it more palatable to a 9 year old, and give you a real outing.

TheAwfulDaughter Sun 22-Sep-13 11:55:28

Make him a sandwich and stick a DVD on.

He will be fine.

Have now seen about the paycut - maybe not the cinema then, but a walk in the park or something

I wouldn't leave my nearly 11 year old for an hour but if he is sensible and you trust him, then do it.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 11:57:14

If dh isnt comfortable then we can bring all three. h
He wanted to drop them off at MIL's, but she does so much already.

I am happy to leave ds home, and I hate how DH gets flutered and grumpy, but maybe he just needs more practice.grin

SoonToBeSix Sun 22-Sep-13 11:58:24

Depends on maturity I left dd1 age 9 she was fine dd2 will probably be at least 12 before I leave her.

youarewinning Sun 22-Sep-13 12:01:36

I wouldn't leave my 9yo for 10 minutes - but then he has SN and takes him 5 minutes to get through a who was where doing what explanation before casually mentioning "oh and X has fallen off their bike and their head is bleeding" grin

Imagine him having to call 999 in an emergency!

I think you know your own DC and their capabilities - but if your having to ask is there something holding you back being 100% confident in your decision? Or is it purely DH was worried about the law?

Doyouthinktheysaurus Sun 22-Sep-13 12:02:13

I'd leave him, if he's sensible. Only you and your DH can make that judgement though.

I leave 9 year old ds2 alone for short periods, ds1 (nearly 11) and ds2 together for longer periods. They are fine, they love it!

It depends so much I the individual child though.

DameDeepRedBetty Sun 22-Sep-13 12:02:23

Off topic Katy I'm really sorry to hear about your arm. Are your clients happy to wait until you're back in working order? It's the worst nightmare of us self-employed people isn't it!

Personally I took my DD's, not because I wouldn't have left them at 9, but because shopping is an essential part of running a household and every member of the family should be able to help.

I think that parents of boys do let them off the hook when it comes to household tasks, more than girls would be.

At 9, unless some SN present ( I have two with AN's), a child should be able to behave and help when shopping. Tough shit if it's boring at times, if we don't shop, we don't eat.

I think that this is why many men think that food planning, queuing and stocking the cupboards is something they don't have to endure.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 12:09:23

Dame it is a nightmare! I was hoping to pick up more clients to make up shortfall in income. Some of my clients will wait. I am on good terms with a competitor who will take over temporarily, no poaching. Clients will pay me and I will pay the cleaner.

Cast comes off in four weeks. dont know how long to get strength and mobility back.

It depends very much on the child.

DS is 9 in a couple of months and I have left him alone to go shopping or to walk the dog. I also let him go in the male changing rooms at the gym much to the horror of some of my friends.

He is incredibly sensible and responsible compared to some of his friends though.

Morloth Sun 22-Sep-13 12:19:04

My 9 year old stays home by himself all the time while I run errands.

He also walks to and from school and plays out with his mates.

He is not a toddler.

laughingeyes2013 Sun 22-Sep-13 12:23:20

This gov website www.eastsussex.gov.uk/childrenandfamilies/childcare/default1.htm says there is not a legal age limit as such, but that the NSPCC set out two age limits: 13 to be left alone and 16 to babysit.

I would feel like I'd have to have a really good excuse to justify going against these age recommendations if something went wrong so can see what your husband is saying re age 13.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 12:29:09

I think 13 is ridiculous, barring sn.

laughingeyes2013 Sun 22-Sep-13 12:30:29

Talk to the NSPCC about that! wink

ll31 Sun 22-Sep-13 12:33:35

Would think 9 is fine depending on child,& from what you say he'd be fine. We do children no favours by treating them as unable to take responsibility..

ll31 Sun 22-Sep-13 12:34:22

13 seems ridiculous tbh

Sparrowfarts Sun 22-Sep-13 12:40:20

13 is crazy; it implies that staying home alone is more dangerous than walking/cycling/taking public transport to school. Does the website also recommend that children are accompanied to school until year 9?

Round here, the rule of thumb is 14 for babysitting, but with the proviso that the sitter's parents are at the end of the phone nearby.

Editededition Sun 22-Sep-13 12:53:19

Sorry your situation is so awkward at the moment, OP.

That said, I think it would be totally unsafe to leave the 9 year old alone - which is why the NSPCC guidelines are as they are.
Its never about whether the child would be safe sitting alone watching the TV for an hour. They probably do it often if you are outside gardening etc.
The issue is with the "what if's".
Not just what if something happens (fire etc) in this house while you are gone, but what if something happens to you while you are out. Car accident is the most likely. Suddenly, its no longer about being left alone for an hour.

There are a lot of "what if's" which can be imagined, and there will be lots of people who say that the chances of those things happening in an hour long time slot, are remote.
That may be true, but there is an inescapable "what if" that is far more likely ..... what if your son gets bored, and decides to do something stupid.
Because children do stupid things - its part of being a child.
And that is why children are not safe to leave!

Editededition Sun 22-Sep-13 12:56:05

I have to ask also.... if your DH is going with you, why can't you manage the three boys between you?

curlew Sun 22-Sep-13 12:58:43

Oh, for goodness sake- what possible trouble could a sensible 9 year old get into left at home for an hour or so?

People are bonkers on this subject!

Hulababy Sun 22-Sep-13 13:00:42

I wouldn't leave a 9yo for that length of time regardless of how sensible you think they are.

And if he is that sensible why can't he be responsible enough to go to the supermarket with you all and not wind his brother(s) up, especially with you and your dh there?

ll31 Sun 22-Sep-13 13:00:46

Children need to be given responsibility if they are to learn to be responsible. You know your child so you decide bbased on that, not following a frankly ridiculous advisory. Most 13 yr olds I know travel, can be left at home, can be trusted to go out and lock up etc, which they've learned to do by starting younger.

liquidstate Sun 22-Sep-13 13:01:01

I think he will be fine. And I completely understand you wanting to go round the supermarket yourself. I hate leaving the shopping to DH and am still recovering from last weeks attempt.

WRT cutting costs, I am currently doing the same. If you are meat eaters a pack of basics cooking bacon will go a long way and is a cheap way of beefing up veg casseroles and pasta dishes. Pork mince just as good as beef, just add more herbs and seasoning.

One 9 year old less in the car will also save on fuel smile.

Rewindtimeplease Sun 22-Sep-13 13:02:02

It this's asking why the OP and DH can't handle three children and shopping, read what the OP is saying! She and oh need to concentrate as they are making some fairly significant changes to their diet.

If it were me, I would leave him In the car with the iPad watching. Film and a snack

Sparrowfarts Sun 22-Sep-13 13:02:05

Car accidents always come up on these threads - surely it's better to be home alone (particularly with relatives nearby in case you don't come home), than in a car crash?

Wolfcub Sun 22-Sep-13 13:02:47

I'm fairly liberal but no way would I leave a nine year old son be while I went to the supermarket

Sparrowfarts Sun 22-Sep-13 13:04:42

OP, why not drop them all at your very helpful-sounding MiL so you and DH can concentrate. You've obviously got a lot on your plate just now - use any help available.

Editededition Sun 22-Sep-13 13:07:58

Well I can tell you of one very sensible ten year old who decided they were hungry, and thought some beans on toast was a good choice.
Very sensibly made, with no issue, but forgot to turn the ring off......and could have set fire to the kitchen because the tea-towel was also left on the hob.
Parents came home just as the towel was going from scorched, to flaming.

Of course some children are very sensible. But no 9 year old has the ability to extrapolate possible consequences as an adult does. They have "good ideas".

TootsFroots Sun 22-Sep-13 13:08:18

I would do it as long as it wasn't for long and he was doing something sensible (reading, watching TV). Do you have a nice neighbour who he could go to if he needed to?

I have to say that my 15 yo would have been left at 9 with far less worries than now at 15! He was quite a sensible 9 yo, now he gets up to all sorts grin

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 13:10:23

MIL does both school runs, has them all the time. Otherwise I would love to do that!

littlewhitebag Sun 22-Sep-13 13:10:53

OP - it is certainly not illegal to leave a child of 9 at home but you have to remember that you still have a responsibility for your child and if anything should happen while you were away then you would be held accountable.

Personally i think 9 is too young to be left alone but only you know your son and how he would tackle any potential safety issues in your absence.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 13:16:01

Minimizing risk can't be the primary factor. By that logic, we should all stay home as much as possible.

I think our culture takes things to far and it damages our children.

www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/07/02/120702crbo_books_kolbert

Jan49 Sun 22-Sep-13 13:25:22

Get your DH to go alone or maybe take a younger dc if you need him to. He can phone you from the shop and discuss things he sees before buying them. Arrange to go out another time for yourself as you want to get out, maybe a walk to a local shop/park.

Your home is the place where you're more likely to suffer an accident than outdoors, so no, staying at home is not the safest option and an 11 y.o. who goes to school alone isn't necessarily safe alone at home.

OvO Sun 22-Sep-13 13:26:06

I've started leaving my 8 year old home alone. The horror!

I only shop for meals for that day so am only gone half an hour. He's happy, I'm happy, it's all good. wink

He knows the neighbours and who to go to if he needs someone.

calopene Sun 22-Sep-13 13:29:32

There's two of you ! Surely one can 'mind' kids rather than leave the older kid at home ....... He might feel left out. Having said that if he is sensible , has neighbour to go to and your mobile numbers on speed dial you may think it safe. Upto an hour I would say but you know him best.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 22-Sep-13 13:33:12

I would say that yes it would be fine but in a previous post, you said you'd "think" he'd be ok. I wonder if you'd just worry about him the whole time and get distracted.

Akray Sun 22-Sep-13 13:42:51

I think you are making a huge drama out of nothing tbh. Either your husband goes on his own, with the boys or you all go. Who knew shopping could be such an expedition ?!?

MousyMouse Sun 22-Sep-13 13:42:56

I would leave him.
leave him a phone with pre-set numbers (you, mil, 112) and off you go.
have a good shopping trip!

rainbowfeet Sun 22-Sep-13 13:48:31

Dd is 10.5 & I've just started leaving her for short periods of time no longer than an hour or so.. Still feel uneasy with it.. Although I was used to take myself to & from school at that age & stay at home alone until parents came home from school.

It's hard to start the letting go process! hmm

WaitMonkey Sun 22-Sep-13 13:56:51

Having read your threads before, I know how much you enjoy your job. Hope you heal soon and can get back to it quickly.

curlew Sun 22-Sep-13 14:00:51

I'd be pretty ashamed to have brought up a NT 9 year old who couldn't produce beans on toast without setting fire to the kitchen to be honest....

CocacolaMum Sun 22-Sep-13 14:01:22

9 is old enough to be left alone if you have no other choice. You do have another choice so I wouldn't leave him

laughingeyes2013 Sun 22-Sep-13 14:27:17

So, op, you would prefer to model your life choices on an American book website (on the same page advertising a recommended read for "Kate Middleton ruined my life") - over the National Prevention of Cruelty to Children website????!!!

Beastofburden Sun 22-Sep-13 14:36:55

Probably nothing will happen and it will no ok, if the MIL is on tap.

BUT I do feel this is more about you being bored and wanting to get it of the house. I feel that you could perfectly well man up and plan the shopping between you in theory, and then send DH, if you really wanted to.

Sopping s not THAT much fun. Why don't you plan a family outine to give you a break, and go together, but have DH just go and get the same shop done. Let DH do something good enough at the shop, it's only food.

Beastofburden Sun 22-Sep-13 14:37:37

Lol @ terrible typing, i have taken codeine for a headache, can you tell?

monicalewinski Sun 22-Sep-13 14:37:55

9 is old enough if you think he is able, the other option is to let him sit in the café and read a book/play on ds or something.

I got so hacked off shopping with my 8 & 11 yr olds when their dad was away recently, so I often did that. (Obviously I left them with a phone, and they were not allowed to move from the caf).

FredFredGeorge Sun 22-Sep-13 15:01:30

For the people who say 9 is old enough if you have no choice, but not otherwise - what's the difference, why is it not the time to give them the independence of the house to themselves, the knowledge that they can be happy at a time when it's convenient for you to rush home if necessary - get MIL in etc. Rather than waiting until you have no choice when it's not the time to find out he panics and calls you after 5 minutes.

Sounds fine to me if the kid is fine as described.

snailhunter Sun 22-Sep-13 15:12:35

laughingeyes, the NSPCC actually says this:

What the law says

The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk.

How to decide if you can safely leave a child alone

There are many important things to consider before you decide to leave a child alone. These include:

the age of the child
the child's level of maturity and understanding
the place where the child will be left
how long and how often the child will be left alone
whether or not there are any other children with the child.
For example, most parents would think it is okay to leave a 16-year-old alone for the evening. But to leave them for a week would be unacceptable.

Many young children play outdoors with other children without supervision, most people would agree that this is an important part of growing up. To leave children outdoors for a considerable length of time though, or to allow them to wander off without knowing where they are going, would be unacceptable.

You are the best judge of your child's level of maturity and responsibility.

I suggest if you want accurate information from the NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN, you go directly to the NSPCC website rather than that of East Sussex Council. It's here.

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/help-and-advice/for-parents/keeping-your-child-safe/being-home-alone/home-alone_wda96754.html#decide

Incidentally, I leave my seven-year-old for short periods while I go and pick my youngest up. He knows my mobile number off by heart, has never set the house on fire and knows to ring his dad if I don't arrive back within a certain time (so is unlikely to STARVE TO DEATH if a HELICOPTER CRASHES ON MY CAR, or whatever else people think will happen.)

I do this because I know my child and his level of maturing and understanding and because I am capable of evaluating risk.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 15:14:57

laughing I'm American, so I don't see that as a pejorative. The New Yorker magazine is a respectable publication, and I thought the article I linked gave interesting food for thought, not a model for parenting.

And the NSPCC is coming from the POV of preventing child abuse. I don't consider them an authority on how sensible people might best raise children.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sun 22-Sep-13 15:18:58

We're back from the store. DS apparently didn't budge from the sofa. The store was extremely busy and middle son kept us plenty busy (but at least he didn't run around.)

snailhunter Sun 22-Sep-13 15:21:04

Good. And I bet your nine-year-old will have enjoyed being given a bit of responsibility, and being trusted.

mikkii Sun 22-Sep-13 15:26:37

DS (9) was left last week for the first time. He is sensible, was off school sick, so when DH went to collect DD, we agreed it was a good time to start the process.

Having said that, as DH works split shifts he usually sleeps for an hour in the afternoon, also gets up late, so DC are used to daddy being in but asleep.

Really it depends on each child.

FitzgeraldProtagonist Sun 22-Sep-13 15:53:04

A week unacceptable?! I spent 2 weeks alone when I was 16. Though tbf, I took the piss chronically.

DottyDot Sun 22-Sep-13 15:56:38

Blimey. I leave my 9 year old alone (ds2) and left ds1 at home when he was 9 too (although not with ds2 who was then 7!).

Both ds's were walking to school on their own, going to the park and shops on their own and at home for an hour or so on their own at that age.

At the age of 9 my mum let me and my younger sister play with the other kids in the cul de sac for hours on end (I'm talking 4hrs+), no parents watching us just complete freedom. Although we did have to check in if we wanted to go to the park behind the house so my mum knew where to come find us for tea time.

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

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

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

I'm glad it worked out for you Katy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don't have a problem with it.

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