Have you ever found yourself desperate for a babysitter, keen for a night out, or with a meeting you have to attend and the kids don’t want to go along? Have you wondered at what age or stage you could leave them home alone? Here are the answers to some of these questions!
Different Rules for Different Places
If you’re in the UK it’s a really difficult question to answer – there is actually no minimum age and the law simply states that it is an offence to “leave a child alone if it places them at risk”.
As Working Mother notes, three US states currently have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a kiddo home alone: they are Illinois, Maryland and Oregon. Illinois is considered to have the toughest rules for teens left alone who are 14 years old or younger, whereas in Maryland no one under the age of 8 should be alone, and in Oregon kids have to be 10 or older. So really, unless you live in Illinois and your child is 14 or younger, it is legally acceptable to leave teenagers home by themselves.
Maturity Level Is Also a Factor
Of course, as a parent, you know that age does not always dictate maturity level. You probably know some 16-year-olds who act more like tweens and some younger children who are quite level-headed. This is why, when deciding whether or not to leave your teenagers alone, it’s wise to look at their decision-making skills and other factors. For instance, Money Crashers says to be able to stay home alone, teens should be able to use good judgment when making decisions — for example, what to do when someone they don’t know is ringing the doorbell. They should know basic first aid skills, what to do if someone is choking or if there is a fire and know who the emergency contacts are and how to reach them. My children also have a designated meeting point outside the home should they for any reason have to leave the house (i.e a fire). Again, UK law is vague here, but they suggest that a child under 12 is rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time and children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight.
Make Safety a Priority
If you decide that your teens can handle the above situations and are ready to be home alone, you can also take steps to boost the safety of your abode. This will not only help to keep your teens safe, it can put your mind at ease. A great place to start is with installing a home security camera system. For instance, Lorex offers a number of easy-to-install and state-of-the-art security camera systems that are capable of capturing crystal-clear footage both outside and inside of the home. And by using their app, you can look at the activity right from the palm of your hand from wherever you are.
If it’s been some time since you updated your door and window locks, it might be a good idea to do so, choosing locks that are super strong and easy to open and close. Having an updated first aid kit, fire extinguishers and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will also help you feel better about leaving your teens alone.
They’ve Got This! And You Do, Too
Any milestone can be challenging for parents, and letting your teens stay home alone is no exception. By taking your child’s maturity level into account and then doing what you can to make your home as safe as possible, you and your teens can get through the “home alone for the first time” milestone with flying colors.