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Is it ok for an 11 y/o to come home to an empty house?

(68 Posts)
IssyGH Wed 07-Feb-18 22:16:54

To summarise,

I have two dd, one currently aged 10, one aged 7. At present they go to the same primary school, a 45 minute drive away from our house (result of us moving house 6 months ago and not being able to get them into a good school near us, so not changing school)

My work is about halfway between their school and our house - we leave the house at 7:45, I drop them off at 8:30, get to my work for 9, work until 5, then drive to the school to pick them up at about 5:30 (school provides paid after school care until 6), usually get home by quarter past six depending on traffic.

(Dh commutes by train to a nearby city, leaves home about 7:30 am, gets home at about 8-9pm - we moved house to be within walking distance of train station for him.)

It’s not ideal as it’s a long day, especially for dd2, but it’s such an amazing primary, and they both love it and wouldn’t want to leave even if we could get them into a good school nearer home.

The issue is, that come September, dd1 will be attending a secondary school about a 20 minute walk away from our house. So, as things stand, she will get home from school just before 4, and then be on her own until after 6pm.

Is this too long for an 11 year old? Is it ok for an 11 y/o to come home to an empty house every day?

I could tell her that she has to stay at school until about half five and work in the library, so that she gets home at the same time as us, but I’m not sure she’d be very happy about that.

Bigpizzalover Wed 07-Feb-18 22:20:28

It’s going back 15/16 years but I was on my own from 11 after school until my mum got in. My dad works away most of the year. I was home from school about 10 to 3 (we finished at 2.35) and my mum finished work at 4.30 so got home around 5.

As long as they are sensible, have an emergency contact number in a place they can easily find and no basic safety they should be okay, but it depends on the child. How about towards the back end of the summer leaving them alone while you run a few errands you could easily drop to go home to see how they cope?

Bigpizzalover Wed 07-Feb-18 22:21:01


Temporaryanonymity Wed 07-Feb-18 22:22:16

My 11 year old does and has done so since year 5. He rings me when he gets in, locks the front door and relishes every moment he is alone!

halcyondays Wed 07-Feb-18 22:22:23

Can they stay at school until 5.30? At dd1's you can't stay after 4.30 and clubs would finish then too. Would she go to any of them?

I'm sure she'd be fine on her on for an hour or two.

surlycurly Wed 07-Feb-18 22:22:38

I think it's too young to be left every day. I think the odd occasion wouldn't matter but five days a week is really full on when you've no idea how smoothly the transition to high school will go.

CaptainApollo Wed 07-Feb-18 22:23:04

Tough one, I totally sympathise! My youngest was 12 when he started Year 7 (September birthday) and managed a bus ride and a mile long walk down a country lane to an empty house, he was fine. He ended up mostly staying at school until I could pick him up at 5.30 though but I put that down to laziness

duckingfisaster Wed 07-Feb-18 22:25:19

Going back 35 years I did this aged 11 - I quite liked the peace & quiet! My eldest has often done the same since he was 11, it is a pretty standard scenario. However I know a few kids who at the same age I wouldn’t have trusted to be safe & have good judgement- depends on the child.

KC225 Wed 07-Feb-18 22:25:23

Yes - depending on the child. If she is going to relax quietly or do homework yes. If she is going to be having all her mates trying out your good make up ..... Have you spoken to her about it? How does she feel?

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 07-Feb-18 22:28:22

DS is in yr 7, he comes home to empty house 2 days a week, other 3 days either me/DH are around after school. He's been walking home on his own and had his own key since last term of yr 6.

I get impression that he wouldn't want to do it every day, but because it's just two days, he likes the time to himself.

IssyGH Wed 07-Feb-18 22:29:08


We've had a brief discussion about it, and she said she would be fine with it, but I worry that she might find the reality very different and quite an adjustment - she's used to being driven everywhere and being either in school or at home with us. She's never really been alone before.

Argeles Wed 07-Feb-18 22:30:00

I used to have to do this on most days from the age of 11.

I used to have to take 2 buses home each day, and the earliest I’d get home would be 4pm (hardly ever). It’d usually be between 4.30 and 4.45.

My Mum was a Teacher who worked 15 minutes away from home, and would get home at variable times each day. The earliest was usually 5pm on Fridays, but the rest of the week, it’d be just before or after 6pm. My Dad used to be home between 6.15 and 6.30 every day.

Some days I just didn’t want to go home to an empty house, so used to travel to my Mum’s school and sit and do homework in her classroom.

I sadly put on a hell of a lot of weight in Year 7, as I’d come home feeling starving hungry and make myself all manner of concoctions to eat, before sitting down for several hours doing homework.

Heartofglass12345 Wed 07-Feb-18 22:39:56

She will probably love it! She'll have the TV to herself, and some peace before her sister comes home. I used to be on my own for a little while quite alot before anyone got home, my mums only rule was that i didnt try and cook anything (until i got a bit older)
You can always give it a try and see how she goes. Is she quite sensible?

Heartofglass12345 Wed 07-Feb-18 22:41:13

Also i used to bring a friend home sometimes but knew not to take the piss and have loads of people there, just one lol

Mousewatch Wed 07-Feb-18 22:43:24

I'd work on it over the holidays, leave her at home whilst you pop out shopping, just to see how she copes.

IssyGH Wed 07-Feb-18 22:43:59


She is usually quite sensible, she just has no experience of being alone!

And yes, I'm hoping that she will sometimes bring friends back so that she's not always alone after school, but she doesn't know anyone going to the same secondary due to us moving, so she'll have to make friends first!

NC4Now Wed 07-Feb-18 22:45:45

My DS lets himself in after school. I prefer him walking home with his friends at the end of the day than walking home alone later, especially in Winter when it gets dark earlier.
He loves the time alone.
Rules: ring me when you get in; lock the door; homework before PlayStation.
In an emergency, run next door (he’s never needed to).

Is there a neighbour who can keep half an eye out?

IssyGH Wed 07-Feb-18 22:51:16


That's a good point about it being better to walk home earlier with other kids than later alone - I hadn't thought of it like that.

We do have some lovely neighbours I could definitely ask.

clary Wed 07-Feb-18 22:51:42

It's fine of course but depending on the child.

Children of working parents do this and have for years.

I would be trialling it a bit first. Does she go to the local shop or play out with mates? Could you leave her for 15mins while you take younger DD to Brownies? I was doing that with my three by the age of 9/10 tbh. Youy need to start small.

W0rriedMum Wed 07-Feb-18 22:59:07

My dd of same age couldn't cope with this at all. She has struggled slightly travelling to and from school on her own indeed.

Some kids will be ready and others not. Could you get an au pair?

SheilaHammond Wed 07-Feb-18 23:05:04

Depends on the child. My ten year old gets dropped off at home after school each day, lets himself in with his own keys and plays on his computer until we get home from work about an hour and a half later. We’ve got great neighbours, live in a rural area and grandparents two minutes walk away. I work 10minutes away and WhatsApp him regularly to check he’s ok. I do feel guilty about it, but it works ok.

halcyondays Wed 07-Feb-18 23:06:34

If she's not been used to being on her own, then work up to it gradually. I don't think I would let her have friends in straight away and even then only ones that I knew.

CurlyhairedAssassin Wed 07-Feb-18 23:07:28

Unavoidable situation for most kids these days.

What will happen during school holidays?? I’m currently term time only and they let themselves in the house till I get in from work after 5 but if I get a job working school holidays I will have to leave mine alone a couple of days a week in school holidays. They are yr 7 & 9. Theyvshould be fine as have been used to being alone after school for a couple of hours

IssyGH Wed 07-Feb-18 23:12:08


I work in a school (though not as a teacher) so school holidays aren't a problem

PrincessMargaret Wed 07-Feb-18 23:12:22

Mine had a key since she started secondary school. She comes home, sometimes remembers to text me, gets a snack and watches tv til I get in. I did <<shock horror>> suggest that she use this quiet time to do her homework, but eyes were rolled. All the time it is done and no bad reports from School, I am am happy to let her manage her time. I am keeping an eye.

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