Summers here, school is out! Finding child-care as a working parent during the summer months can be difficult and costly. As a parent, you may decide that it is a better option to keep your child home during the day. Leaving a child at home alone can be a nerve-wracking experience for parents but it doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience. Along with following state laws and guidelines, below are some tips for parents to follow when a child is left at home during the work day.
Here are some tips to follow to give yourself a peace of mind:
Prepare in advance. Make sure your kid knows how to dial 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency. In addition, it is essential that your child knows their full name, home address, and important phone numbers. It would be a good idea to create a list of phone numbers and names for family members and/or friends your children can reach out to for help while you are away at work. It would be a good idea to schedule a consistent time you will be calling to check in on them.
Create a safety plan. CHILD-PROOF your home! Lock away alcohol, cleaning supplies, medications, car keys, lighters, matches, weapons, or anything else that could cause harm to your precious children. Test your security alarm and smoke detectors a week prior to the trial run. You want to make sure that the devices put in place to keep your family safe are working properly.
Your safety plan should include a demonstration of your expectations for how you expect your kids to respond to different scenarios. Staying home alone can be a liberating experience for children, however, they need to be made aware of the dangers that may arise. An example of this could be roleplaying how they should respond in an emergency situation (i.e. fire, medical emergencies). Another good scenario to bring to your children’s attention is how to react if a stranger knocks on the door. Compile a list of the situations your child may face while being home alone, roleplay the situation (it can be a fun family activity!), and then ask follow up questions.
Establish ground-rules. Talk with your kids about your expectations while you are away. This could involve creating a chore list, restrictions on screen-time, whether or not your kids can leave the house or invite anyone over, who they are allowed to answer the door for, and other issues. Keep the rules simple and straight to the point. Once your family has established rules, put the rules somewhere visible for your children to refer back to.
Do a practice run. Leave your children home alone for a short period of time before you plan on leaving them home during the work day. Before you walk out the door, go over the ground-rules and safety plan you have in place. When you return home, observe how well your children handled the time alone. This will be a good indicator if your children are mature enough to handle being home alone for 8+ hours. If they handled it well, give them praise. Increase the time you are away during each practice run until you feel as though your children are ready to be alone an entire work day.
Leaving children home alone all day does not have to be an anxiety-ridden experience. Follow these four tips to prepare your children and yourself what lies ahead!