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Leaving a 10 year old at home alone

(73 Posts)
TadDad Mon 25-Feb-13 19:12:08


A little background first. I am a Dad to 2 children living 20 miles away, they live with their mum - we are divorced.
Just this evening I phoned to speak to the children and my youngest (age 10) answered and said he was on his own in the house as his 12 year old sister was at a dance class and his mum had gone to the gym.
When I asked how long he'd been on his own he didnt know, but his mum had said that his sister would be home in 10 mins. I stayed on the phone until his sister got back after 40 minutes.
What I would like to know is is this normal as I wouldnt personally leave him on his own but dont have a say as they live with their mum and for me to bring it up would cause an arguement no doubt.

I just feel that leaving a child of 10 on their own (even for an hour) to go to the gym seems odd, but maybe i am over cautious.

Please let me know what you think on this as i feel bad about the whole situation.

NotGoodNotBad Tue 26-Feb-13 20:22:58

YouBrokeMyShoulder, someone else might run you over while you're walking! (Only joking.) But seriously, who knows what will happen? I've never had a serious accident either walking or driving, nor has someone knocked me out to steal my handbag, but I guess they might. (Touch wood!)

zzzzz Tue 26-Feb-13 19:44:19

I'd be more worried than he was lonely than in danger. Surely 40mins watching telly till his sister gets home isn't going to hurt him?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Tue 26-Feb-13 19:37:40

I think 10 is fine. Though I only walk places when leaving ds on his own for short periods. I wouldnt drive somewhere.

mumblecrumble Tue 26-Feb-13 19:32:09


zzzzz Tue 26-Feb-13 18:08:39

What are you worried will happen?

So long as the child is sensible I can't see an issue.

cory Tue 26-Feb-13 18:01:13

Imo very much a case of knowing the individual child and the individual circumstances.

I did it with my two at that age (though not late at night) and they were always fine.
Otoh my neighbour got a sitter for hers.

I think we both made sensible level-headed decisions based on individual circumstances.

I felt reassured by watching how my two reacted in times of crisis, e.g. the time ds tried to boil milk in the kettle (being foreign, I had failed to explain about kettles) and when it started smelling had the sense to unplug the kettle rather than doing something silly and panicky. Or when ds had an accident and dd calmly started packing his hospital bag.

AGiddyKipperInOneHand Tue 26-Feb-13 13:03:40

Personally, I wouldn't leave my 10 year old at home alone for a regular time/day in case ne'er-do-wells catch on and start noticing that the house is unlocked and vulnerable then. That was one concern when my youngest was 10 (it was very clear whether we were in at the house we lived at then). However, I did leave DCs alone now and then during the day when youngest was 10/Y5. It just felt like it was right to start leaving them alone at home now and then, as they were answering home phone, front door etc by then and we were setting ground rules for this, and good for their confidence building. Examples of why would be: if I needed to take other child to a friend's house or activity to drop off/collect; popping to the shops for something; posting a letter; picking up a parcel. I didn't start regular evenings out until youngest was nearly 13 and even then, it was for work and I was home by 8pm.

Having said all of that, it is hard to be a single parent, and it's important to have some time to de-stress. If their mum de-stresses best at the gym, and isn't able to get to the gym during the day then it is better for them all if she goes and does that and they have a happy home than she feels completely trapped with no life!

I'm not a single parent but my DH has been away for months at a time and I was able to get to the gym during the day - I really needed to do that!

NotGoodNotBad Tue 26-Feb-13 07:49:29

My kids were going to school on their own from about age 8/9. Nearly all 12 year olds go to school on their own, surely? IMO this has more risks and choices/decisions on the part of the child (shall I go straight home or linger with my friends? shall I cross the road here or there? shall I stop at the sweet shop? what will I do if someone tries to talk to me?) than staying in the house on their own, yet so many parents seem happy to send their kids to school and back alone yet not leave them in the house at the same age.

jellybeans Mon 25-Feb-13 22:10:10

I wouldn't leave 10 YO DTs. Mine were about 12 before I left them for short periods at home.

Clary Mon 25-Feb-13 22:08:16

My post makes no sense. What I meant was a) it depends on the child - eg DS2 9yo is not happy alone for very long - and b) an hour or more sounds like a logn time tbh.

I certainly leave DD who is the 11yo in yr 7 on her own for an hour. Tonight, for example, a meeting after work meant I got in at 5pm, Ds1 and DD had been in since 3.45, but Ds2 had only been home from school himself for 10 mins, so I felt it was OK.

Clary Mon 25-Feb-13 22:05:59

I leave my kids home on their own but only all of them together (they are 13, 11 and 9).

The 9yo who is almost 10 is not keen being on his own, he is very gregarious. OTOH the 11yo is very keen and always has been.

I used to leave DS1 when he was about 10 for 20 mins when I took DS2 to Beavers - to save DS1 trolling out with us really. He was happy about it tho and that is crucial.

I don't think I'd do what you describe OP, tho if I thought someone wd be back in 10 mins I might. It must be tricky to get time to yourself if you are on yr own.

Pourquoimoi Mon 25-Feb-13 21:57:16

I wouldn't leave a 10 year old I go to the gym as going to the gym is a choice thing, not a necessity and also is somewhere with low accessibility for phones etc.

I started leaving ds1 alone for ten minutes here and there just before he was 11, then progressively more until at 12 he's left for up to an hour or two.

I left ds2 aged 9 alone this evening when I had to collect ds1, ds2 was in bed and I was out of the house for exactly five minutes.

I leave the two together for up to 15 minutes such as popping to village shop but wouldn't leave them longer for fear or arguments.

KirstyJC Mon 25-Feb-13 21:41:37

I would be happy to leave my eldest year old for an hour, and have in fact left him for about 45 mins a few times so far (he is an extremely sensible 9 year old). Mainly when it has been impractical to take him - when he was ill and on the settee with the duvet, and I needed to go out to drop off then later collect the younger two from nursery. Again for about 30 mins the other day when he didn't want to go to the park as it was too cold, but DH/I and the other 2 wanted to get some fresh air.

He knows what to do, but we still drum it into him each time and don't go until he has repeated our instructions back - don't open the door, or answer the phone, whose house to go to in emergency (opposite) and what number/instance to call the emergency services.

I don't think I would have a problem with this, and as for your DS not knowing when she would be back, I doubt DS1 would remember either - time seems to have different meaning when you are younger - but he always knows it won't be long.

If it really bothers you, maybe you could try and bring it up diplomatically - eg mention you called the other day when she was at the gym, and would it help her out if you had him over for the evening then so she needn't worry about leaving him?

NotGoodNotBad Mon 25-Feb-13 20:54:47

"I wouldn't leave my just 11 year old DD on her own for more than 15 mins.

It depends on the DC, are they happy to be left alone or scared."

My 11 year old used to beg me to leave her alone rather than drag her all over the place to things I needed to go to or take her her sister to. Having been dragged all over as a child rather than left alone as I would have preferred, I listened to her. smile

OverlyYappy Mon 25-Feb-13 20:44:54

Hmm judging by the neighbours it would be well meant I think, if it was his ex and he thinks it was the parents then she was being a bitch I would think.

These things are best sorted out between each other I would think, I don't have this trouble any-more, my ex told SS I was a drug addict, had drug addict friends here all the time staying, my dc were dirty, i was dirty, i was an alcoholic and drove dc around drunk, the one that got to me the most was 'lack of dental hygiene' we are all terrified of the Dentist but had a clean bill of teeth confused 2 months prior, I was delighted to show her my Dental card....

So clearly I cannot sort things out with my ex.... thankfully SS know a show of random fake concern when they see one. and a drug addict and dominating fiend they came back with chocolates and toys for the DC, I am unsure if he expected that reaction (was Xmas) smile

Keep it nice OP express your concern and perhaps she will explain the situation.

OverlyYappy Mon 25-Feb-13 20:36:05

I have thought a lot well my only option with this house is full time employment when I am well again.

No way would I leave mime 2 for 2 hours (after work)

My main worry is not my 12 year old. It's the hyperactive (not ADHD) naughty almost 9 year old. No way would that work, I don't see it being better when one is 12 and the other 15.... eek!

Cooker, toasters, anything tbh! I caught some other 12 year old carrying out a science experiment on my son, spraying deodorant and setting him alight.

I was home alone for this amount of time by 11ish I was fine from what I remember. My brother made me cheesy pasta and we fought a bit, no idea where my other younger brother went, he may have been there too...

LineRunner Mon 25-Feb-13 20:33:33

Overly, was it a malicious complaint, do you think? Or a well meaning fuss on?

OverlyYappy Mon 25-Feb-13 20:31:19

Yes, parents discretion, same as 2 years ago.

Strange the police coming to my brother I must probe him further about that.

LineRunner Mon 25-Feb-13 20:30:27

No, Overly, there's no law.

That's why the Government are able to require lone parents to work full-time - the assumption is that older children can be left after school.

muddyin2013 Mon 25-Feb-13 20:28:14

I wouldn't leave my just 11 year old DD on her own for more than 15 mins.

It depends on the DC, are they happy to be left alone or scared.

I won't/wouldn't leave mine until they reached 12 years, for more than an hour.

OverlyYappy Mon 25-Feb-13 20:28:10

My brother who was a single parent had the police at his door for allowing his DS aged 12 stay at home when he was sent home from school and a neighbour called them.

There is no law in place yet is there? I'm off to google, my thoughts were if the DC were deemed sensible enough by the parent, mine are not.

FreckledLeopard Mon 25-Feb-13 20:19:17

DD used to walk to and from school on her own each day and would be home alone (totally alone) for up to 2 hours after school until au pair got home from collecting her step-brother. She was totally fine, very sensible and happy.

I'd stop panicking and be assured that your children are surely old enough and sensible enough to be home alone for an hour.

MrsEricBana Mon 25-Feb-13 20:18:10

Agree with Fairylea.

MrsEricBana Mon 25-Feb-13 20:17:00

Re children being aware of time - the first time I left ds for any length of time I said I would be 1hr, got caught up and was 70 min and he went to the neighbours in tears and said I had been 2.5hours as he could not remember exactly when I had left, and 70 mins seemed aeons to him.

LineRunner Mon 25-Feb-13 20:15:34

TadDad Sorry I've had a long day as a lone parent and have a had a very long decade to be honest.

I would never ever put my DCs in harms's way or upset them - but they do need to grow up and even mums need a life, and sometimes lone parents do need to be in two places at the same time and have things said by DCs that are a bit vague when they, the mums, have made terribly specific and safe plans.

Sorry if I came across as snippy.

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