We can’t all be there every day or every moment with or kids. Some of us are single parents while others live in areas that require both parents to work. It is a constant challenge and moral challenge to both maintain your child’s quality of living and living safely.
You’ll never stop worrying about your kids. Here are some ways to make sure your latchkey kid is safe after school and while you’re away from the house.
1. Make, State and Explain the Rules
You’re going to need to spell it out to kids. Write down your rules and post them. Simple things like “Never use the gas stove” and “When inside the house the door is always locked” are some good suggestions. “No friends” and “No answering the doors to strangers” are others. If there’s ever any question, then make sure that your child knows to call or text you or another trusted and appointed person.
2. Discuss, Preach and Quiz on Safety
You might think it’s a no-brainer but does your kid actually know how to get a hold of emergency services? Oh, and make sure kids keep themselves out of trouble. Being at home on social media and declaring to the world that they are home is not too safe. Alas, homework and video games are pretty safe bets. Ask the questions though and give good, sound safety guidance on everything that you can think of. Call often or track their location (to make sure they ARE home) with a Kids GPS Watch.
3. Check-in by Phone
Check in as many times per hour (or per 5 minutes) as you feel comfortable doing. Maybe later on you can lighten up…but just a bit. This isn’t just for your peace of mind but for your child’s as well. They may not admit it (Heck, they may not even know it) but just hearing your voice makes them feel safe.
4. Use a Support Network of Neighbors and Friends
Knowing that there is someone nearby who is willing to step in and take action if your child needs help is a great safety measure of at-home alone kids. Make sure your child has those pre-approved people’s contacts, too. In this case an upstairs or next door neighbor would work great as well as family and friends who are close by.
5. Don’t Just Jump into Latch Key-ness
Lengthen that leash gradually. Start off by feeling comfortable with the fact that your child is aware and knows the basics of being alone safety. Then start off by allowing them to be home alone while you run errands. Then quiz and review how it went when you get home. Next, choose a longer time that you’ll be away and repeat. Don’t be afraid to throw in a test or two, either. Call them and say something like, “If there were someone at the door right now what would you do” or, “What would you do if there was a fire in the basement?”
Keep this in mind as we sum up here: Don’t feel guilty about having to leave your child alone for a bit after school. As long as you adequately give them the proper guidance and training then everything will be fine.