Whether it is a working Saturday, an impromptu meeting or your nanny called in sick, there would surely be one day when you have to leave your kids alone at home. It’s totally normal for you to be worried when your kids are home alone without a guardian and it’s important your prep them for situations that could occur. It is also important to note the amount of time you will be away and the worst-case scenarios.
Things to Consider:
It’s a bit difficult to know which age is right to stay home alone. Obviously, you won’t be leaving your 4year old alone at home.
The first thing to consider is safety; can they cook themselves? Do they have to light up the gas cooker? Do you have sharp objects that can harm them? Is your house fenced for them to play outside? Is your neighbourhood safe? Do you live on a busy street where crime is almost a “norm”? Are your neighbours around or kind enough to watch your kids?
It is also very important to have monitored your child and understand how they handle certain situations.
- Does your child understand safety measures?
- Do they follow rules?
- Have they been taught how to avoid strangers?
- How your child handles urgent situations?
- Can your child tell time?
- Is your child a teenager?
- Can your child recognize danger and when to get help?
- Does your child know how to handle fear, loneliness and boredom?
- Does your child know what gas smells like?
Leaving your kids home alone for the first time can drive you crazy especially when it wasn’t planned. To prepare for the unknown, you need to give them some certain information and make them aware of the following:
- Memorize your phone number so in case the house phone is dead, they can give your contact to a neighbor or police officer.
- Teach them basic first aid measures and make sure the first aid box is accessible
- Teach them to lock all doors and to refuse to open for a stranger
- Ensure they can turn off the gas and they understand the damage fire can cause
- Schedule times to call your kids
- Make them aware of electrical appliances and also keeping water away from electronics
- Show them where the flashlight is in case it gets dark
Well, your first attempt could be successful if you don’t stay away for too long but in case you aren’t satisfied with the measure you’ve put in place,
- Install cameras: this wouldn’t be only useful when they are alone but also when a third party is with them or in case something goes wrong.
- Enforce house rules: ensure your kids would obey your rules if you are away. You would also list out basic things and paste them on the wall for them and ensure they read them out loud before you leave the house.
- Create an emergency plan: basic first aid training is very important. Teach them the exit in case there is a fire, teach them how to clean a wound in case there is an injury, teach them to seek help from a neighbor if the situation goes out of hand.
- Give your kids an alternative phone number: anything can happen, the network might have issues or you even drop your phone in your bag and get into a long meeting. Ensure they have the phone number of your colleague, family member or neighbor as well.
- Childproof your home: if you know your kids are super adventurous, ensure anything that can harm them is kept away. Things like matches, knives, petrol, heater medicines, alcohol and other carpentry tools are locked up.
- Internet safety: our kids are very smart and internet savvy; you don’t want your kids watching something that’s not appropriate. Ensure your kids are not exposed to channels that could influence them negatively.
Ensuring your kids have a small amount of self-responsibility can go a long way in saving lives and also helping you manage your time to do other things. With frequent practice and teachings, you will gradually feel comfortable leaving your kids home.