Letting kids stay home alone

Letting kids stay home alone: What do they need to know? Heather's Handmade Life}

It started out of desperation, when my son was unexpectedly home sick from school. My husband had to take our dog to a vet appointment, while I was already out at a client meeting that was running late. Through a few frantic texts, we decided we only had one solution that made sense.

We left our eight-year-old son home alone.

Even though I was only a few streets away and was going to be home within 20 minutes or so, it felt strange knowing he was completely by himself. Were we horrible parents for making that decision? Should my husband have dragged him along to the vet?

Were we horrible parents for making that decision? Should my husband have dragged him along to the vet?

I thought I’d be more nervous, wondering anxiously if the kitchen might be bursting into flames spontaneously or a daring robber might be attempting a mid-morning heist. But I was oddly calm.

I finished my meeting, drove home and unlocked the front door to find our son lying on the couch watching TV, exactly as he’d been when my husband left.

Since that uneventful Home Alone experience, we’ve left him on his own quite a few times — mostly when one of us has to zoom down the hill to the farmers market to pick up a pre-ordered meal.

But … there are rules. A lot of them!

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

6 Comments on “Letting kids stay home alone

    • Not that I’m aware, but I suppose that’s typically the case? 😉 I suppose you’re not in favour of letting kids stay home alone?


  1. I think it’s great! Start them off with short stints to get them (and you) used to it. Then by the time they’re old enough to stay alone for longer periods, it will be an easy transition for everyone. I love being able to leave my 10 year old home to walk the dog and the baby around the block when he doesn’t want to go – and he thinks its great.


    • Absolutely! And we do VERY short stints — like 10 minutes, max.


  2. Let me start by saying how much I enjoy reading your column. When it comes to leaving children home alone, you should be aware that in Nova Scotia Social Services states it is illegal to leave a child home alone under the age of 12 if they are supervising other children and children under 10 shouldn’t be left at home under the age of 10.


    • Yikes! Didn’t know that. It’s definitely not something we do OFTEN, and when we do it’s only for 5-10 minutes, but that’s good to know. Thanks!


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