Now that school is out, many working parents are having to wrestle with deciding whether kids are ready to stay home alone for the summer! The answer to the question is different for every family! Ideally, you have a great daycare or family/friend option to help with watching children. But if you are considering, whether it’s time to leave your child home alone this summer, then here are some questions to address with your kids & help you decide:
- How old is your child? AND are they responsible enough to stay home alone? Age is not the magical number– maturity & responsibility of a child is an important factor.
- How long would they be home alone?
- If older siblings are watching kids home alone– How old are they? How responsible are they? How many younger kids can they watch comfortably/capably?
- Is their access to a phone for communication?
- Do they know how to respond in an emergency?
- Can they handle meals?
- Are family, friends, or neighbors easily available if needed?
This can be tough decision– especially for kids in a ‘tween’ stage. Be sure to review the questions above with your kids & maybe test them out in small increments before deciding to leave them alone all day. In the end you want them to be safe, responsible, & stay out of trouble too!
For older kids that are considering doing some babysitting for extra money or just need some more tips for watching younger siblings, then try some of our “SuperSitter” tips below!
We also suggest using our SUPERSITTER CHECKLIST when you go to your next babysitting job, to be sure and ask all your babysitting questions, address safety concerns, and have contact information if needed!
Babysitting- Am I Ready?
- Are my parents Ok with me babysitting?
- How many kids?
- What ages? Babies?
- What hours and days am I available? Nights, school, activities…
- Do I know the family?
- Do I know how to handle an emergency?
- Can I handle meals?
- Do I know what’s expected of me? feeding, bathing, diapers, homework…
- Do I feel comfortable disciplining?
- Am I patient?
- It’s OK to say No
Discipline Tips: You’re in Charge- but how do you handle those difficult situations? Here are some of the top issues you will encounter.
- Scared Kids…try to reassure, comfort, or distract them as ways to help them overcome their fears of parents leaving.
- Trouble going to bed…set a timetable and give them plenty of warnings leading up to bedtime. Follow their usual routine (brush teeth, bath, etc.) and then share a bedtime story with them before it’s lights out!
- Squabbles…Try a timeout or separation to give kids time to cool-off. You can also try talking out the situation with them and give them your attention.
- Kids are Taking Control…Offer substitutes and give them choices, but consider their safety and enforce any household rules. Make an agreement to hold them to and above all stay calm when negotiating.
Activities: We suggest checking out some kid friendly websites, before a babysitting job, to print out lots of FREE coloring or activity sheets to take with you. The kids will love it! The busier kids are- the better! But consider the following when planning…
- Age and mix of kids
- Time of day/night
- Length of time watching
- Ask permission for messy activities
- Ask permission to leave
- Be creative!
- Indoor & Outdoor Activity Ideas
- Read books
- Coloring Contest, Playdough, Stamp or Sticker Fun
- Play board games
- Build a blanket fort
- Make up a dance, sing songs, dress-up
- Help with homework
- Build with legos, blocks
- Watch kids movie, TV, or video game- get parent permissions
- Sports- hoops, frisbee, soccer, croquet, play tag, relay races
- Have a picnic
- Take pictures
- Blow bubbles
- Sidewalk chalk murals or hopscotch
- Look for bugs- bug jar
- Scavenger Hunt
- Seasonal fun- sandbox, sprinklers, snowman
- Go to the Park or Library- get parent permission!
Meals & Snacks: Consider the following when cooking…
- Food Allergies or Restrictions!
- Limit pop and sugar
- Provide healthy options
- Cut food into small pieces to prevent choking!
- Check food temperatures
- Eat at the table
- Use cooking safety- pot handles in, careful with knives, stoves, etc.
- Don’t leave out leftovers
- Have fun and involve kids with easy preparations
- Meal & Snack Ideas:
- Easy Mac & Cheese or Ramen Noodles
- Chef Boyardee or Canned Soups
- Microwave Dinners
- Chicken Nuggets
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Cheese & Crackers
- Granola Bars
- Jell-O or Yogurt
- Pretzels or Chips
- Roll-up Wraps
- Fresh Fruit or Veggies & Dip
- Popsicles, Ice Cream
- Slice of Bread with fave topping…