Deciding when to start leaving your children home alone is no easy task, and many parents rely on advice and intuition for making the right call for their kids. Some children immediately take to being left home alone and prefer it, especially if they have activities that they enjoy doing in their own time, while others feel separation anxiety or boredom being home alone. A privilege and not a right, staying home is something children must be taught to do responsibly.
For those times when you’re just unsure, Mique, the genius super-mom of three active kids and creator of Thirty Handmade Days, designed this handy chart that defines, broadly, the ages appropriate for staying home alone and how long.
When crafting this chart, Mique checked two sources: FindLaw’s “When Can You Leave a Child Home?” and Latchkey Kids’ “Legal Age Restrictions for Latchkey Kids.” She follows up her chart with excellent information that all parents should read, found here.
Before you leave your children home alone for any amount of time, you should always make sure that they know where you’re going, how to easily reach you (and two other select emergency contacts that live nearby), how long you’ll be gone, and the items that are off-limits while you’re away.
In the end, leaving your kids home alone is a huge step toward their independence, and teaching them how to responsibly handle their time alone won’t just benefit them in the near-term, but will shape how they will develop their time-management skills when they venture out in the real world. It might seem silly to relate staying home alone to building independence, but it truly does connect.