Many parents eagerly look forward to the day where they no longer have to find a sitter every time they go out, run errands, or go to work. When kids are old enough to be left alone, parents can save time and money.
So how long do you need to hire a babysitter? When can your kids finally watch themselves? The answers to these questions vary from family to family and depend on a number of things.
The laws vary from state to state and even city to city, so check and make sure. As a general rule, most laws will say that the youngest a child can be left alone is eight. If there are children under the age of eight, then a supervisor or babysitter over a certain age (as young as twelve in some states and as old as fourteen in others) must be present. Check your state laws to see.
Number and Ages of Kids
If you have an infant, a five-year-old, and a ten-year old, you can’t very well leave them all alone; in fact, you can’t legally even leave the ten year old to watch the five year old. Take into consideration the number and ages of all of your children before you leave them home alone, even if it’s just for a minute. In a situation such as this, you would need to hire a babysitter to keep an eye on the two younger children, even if the ten year old is capable of looking after himself.
Knowledge of What to Do in an Emergency
You shouldn’t even consider leaving your child alone unless you are certain he knows certain information and what to do in the event of an emergency. They should be able to tell their address as well as directions to your house, their parents’ names and workplaces (or where they’ll be), as well as their own name.
In addition, kids should always know who to call in case someone is hurt or injured, as well as what to do if there is a fire, if someone is trying to break into the house, and so forth.
Just because your child is old enough to stay home alone doesn’t mean he or she should. Emotional maturity and the ability to stay out of trouble are crucial for staying home alone. So if you are constantly catching your ten year old trying to jump off the roof or start fires, even though legally he is old enough to stay home alone, he probably shouldn’t. The same is true for siblings who fight a lot, or whose fights tend to get physical. On the other hand, if you can trust your child to entertain himself and stay out of trouble, and if he is reasonably responsible, he would probably be fine staying home alone.
If you think your child or children can stay home alone and handle themselves in certain situations, check your local laws to make sure they are legally old enough, then give it a try. It’s best to start small and see how your child does while you take a trip to the store or run other errands, then gradually begin leaving him alone for longer periods of time.