You’ve checked all the local rules, talked to your kids and decided they’re old enough to stay home alone. But you’re still a little worried. What if something happens on the way home or they don’t know what to do in an emergency? Ease those fears by establishing a check-in routine
Check in With Neighbors
Neighbors are a great resource when you’re raising kids. If you already know your neighbors and feel comfortable with them, ask them if they can be a check-in point for your kids. If they tend to be around when your kids get home from school, see if they can let the neighbor know. Or if you need to run some errands, ask your neighbors if your kids can contact them if they have any problems or an emergency. Most neighbors and other parents are willing to look out for each other, and it will give you some peace of mind to know that someone is close to your kids if they need help.
Pick up the Phone
When you’re preparing your kids to be home alone, set up a phone call routine. As soon as they walk through the door, they should pick up the phone to let you know they arrived safe and sound. While they may be tempted to text or chat you, insist that they speak to you on the phone so you can hear their voice. Let them know that they can call you if they have any problems or questions. When you’re first starting out, you also may want to give them another call when you’re on your way home from work so they can expect you.
Use Home Security Systems
You now can use your home security system as part of your check-in routine. When your children call you to tell you they’re home from school, use your smartphone to see what’s happening on your security cameras. You can make sure they got in OK and that they don’t leave without your permission. A home automation system like ADT also allows you to arm the system from anywhere. You can even lock and unlock your door through the system in case someone misplaces their keys. You will feel safer knowing that the security system keeps your kids safe and that you can monitor your home even when you’re not physically there.
Monitor Their Activity
Even though your children are well-behaved, you still should have some control over what they’re doing when they’re home alone. Monitor their internet activity by placing parental controls on your home computer and their cellphones. Prevent them from accessing sites that are too mature or inappropriate for their age. You also can set up control to limit how long they play games, so they won’t get distracted from doing their homework or chores.
Give your kids some independence by letting them stay home alone while you’re at work. With a simple check-in routine and a little help from the neighbors and technology, you can feel confident that your kids will be safe and sound, so you can concentrate on your job when you’re in the office.