How to Prepare to Leave Your Child Home Alone
By Meg Brunson
After careful consideration, you've decided that your child is ready to stay home alone. Terrific! You and your child will be gaining some valuable independence. But in order to keep the experience as safe and stress-free as possible, we're sharing some suggestions from the Home Alone curriculum to ensure that you're fully prepared. Follow these tips, and you will not only prepare for your child to be home alone, but you'll also be ready for babysitters, emergencies, and more - these preparation tips are ideal for parents with kids of all ages!
Prepare The Basics Around the House
- Post emergency information
- Your home address and phone number (in an emergency your child may be nervous and having this in writing can be helpful)
- Your contact information
- Family and friends who can be called in an emergency
- Your family's doctor and preferred hospital
- Local police and fire
- Allergy or any relevant medical information
- Ensure home safety
- Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Keep working flashlights available in case of a power outage
- Plan escape routes and practice fire safety drills
- Take stock of potentially dangerous materials and whether they need to be child proofed or even "teen proofed," like alcohol, medications, tobacco, firearms/ammunition, or car keys.
- Stock up on essentials
- Make sure you that there are healthy food for snacking and/or prepared meals
- Necessary medications - if your child needs medication, ensure that they know what and when to take it
- Inform trusted adults
- Inform neighbors that your child may be home alone so that they are not caught off-guard to see your child alone.
- If your child's friends are frequent visitors, make sure that their parents no that you are not home and whether or not they're welcome while you're gone
- Set ground rules and expectations
- Are friends allowed in the house when you are not home?
- Are there rooms of the house that are off-limits?
- If necessary, set parental controls on technology
- Set rules regarding kitchen/cooking
- Discuss whether kids should may answer the door or the phone
- Remind kids not to share that they are home alone with strangers or via social media
Teach Your Child These Necessary Skills
- Basic First Aid
- Nose Bleed
- When and How to Call 911
- What information to give the dispatcher
- On a home phone when you dial 911 it will connect immediately, but a cell phone is different and they will need to dial 9-1-1-SEND
- Home Security System (if applicable)
- What to say in case of a false alarm
- How to lock and unlock doors and windows
- How to use the key to get into the house
- How to check to make sure all doors/windows are locked and lock any that are not
- How to use the phone and/or cell phone
- How to charge the cell phone
- Where to locate phone numbers (either on the phone or on a list)
Review A Variety of Situations. What to do...
- If they notice a small fire in the kitchen?
- If the smoke alarm goes off?
- In severe weather?
- If there is a power outage?
- If a stranger comes to the door?
- If a trusted adult, like friends or family, a police officer, or the postal carrier, comes to the door?
- If the Phone Rings
- If someone calls for a parent who is not home
Assemble a Home Alone Folder
This assures that your child always knows where to find the information they need if they are home alone for a planned short period of time, or if they find themselves in an emergency situation and need a reminder of what to do. We recommend including:
- Schedule to follow while you are away - we recommend using the HomeAloneClass.com Home Alone Checklist
- Emergency phone numbers - We recommend the HomeAloneClass.com In Case of Emergency Form
- Bored list - friends they can call or ideas for things that they can do if they get bored
- Consider leaving a surprise - a cute and fun gesture to let your child know you are thinking of them
- Check-in calls - you may request that your child calls when they get home, and/or call them a couple of times to make sure everything is going well. You will also want to let them know if there are any times that you will not be available to take a call, and whom they should reach out to if needed during that timeframe.
Practice Makes Perfect
- Start with a short period of time (30 minutes), and remain nearby and easily reachable so that you could return home within a minute or 2 if necessary.
- Discuss how it went and what should be done differently next time.
- Regularly review a variety of emergency situations (like those identified above).
- Allow your child to ask questions. When addressing their concerns, be careful not to give them too much information to scare them, but ensure that you have an open conversation so that they are comfortable enough to stay home alone. We often remind our children that most people we encounter are good people, but that there are some bad people in the world so we always have to act cautiously.
Consider a Home Alone Class
The Home Alone Class covers much of this material, including a kids' curriculum of Home Alone Class that covers the example situations from above as well as documents like the Home Alone Checklist and Emergency Form. For more information on how the class works, read our KidsOutAndAbout product review.
It's normal to be anxious about leaving your child home alone. Follow these tips and you'll be on your way!
© 2017 Meg Brunson
Meg is a mommy blogger, Facebook marketer, and much more. She is a mom to four kids who live in Peoria, AZ and is the local Editor of KidsOutAndAbout Phoenix - helping parents and caregivers find free and affordable things to do with kids, out and about in Arizona. As a former Facebook employee, Meg remains a Facebook addict and handles KidsOutAndAbout.com's Social Media Marketing in addition to running a digital marketing agency at EIEIOMarketing.com.