In my last post, I wrote about my four-year-old wanting his own cell phone, and my thoughts on when my children might actually get one.
Everyone is different, but my answer is that the kids don’t need a separate phone until they are old enough to stay home alone. Until then, they use my phone when they need to make a call. This piece sparked quite a discussion among my circles about cell phones, but also about when is the “right” time to leave the kid(s) home alone.
I remember walking home from elementary school with other neighborhood friends, but I’m pretty sure my mother was always home when I got there – and if not, I’d go to another friend’s house until she was. It seems fewer kids walk to/from school now, but judging by the number of minivans at the bus stops, I don’t think even the bus riders are left home alone.
My children are 8 and 4, so for us the issue of staying home alone is not even open for discussion. I’ve been asked why I don’t go out for my runs like many others do, early in the morning, or even at night when the kids are asleep. My answer is that I am not comfortable leaving my children home alone (especially asleep), even if I’m just in the neighborhood. I get my runs in during lunchtime when I can get away from my desk, and I generally make it to the gym one night a week when my mother babysits.
I was personally surprised to hear that some parents leave their 9 and ten year olds home alone – for me that’s still too young.
Every family is different, but I don’t think my oldest would even want to be left home at this point. She’s very bright and very responsible, as far as kids go, but I also know she wouldn’t hesitate to try to cook something if she wanted to, or climb anything available to get something out of reach (at age 2 she got herself a Bandaid from the medicine cabinet by stacking a stool on top of a chair).
No doubt, if I left her in charge of her brother, one of them would be locked in a closet by the time I got home!
So for now, my dining out consists of kid friendly restaurants with the occasional (babysitter hired) date night. If I want to go for a run on the weekend, I take my kids with me on their bikes. This is time well spent together anyway – everyone can use some fresh air and exercise.
I don’t get out a whole lot, but my friends haven’t forgotten me yet – a group of them even surprised me with a babysitter and a night out for my birthday! The rest of the day was spent celebrating with other single parent friends and our children, so I got the best of both worlds.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.