Patch: How old do your kids need to be before you feel comfortable enough to leave them home alone?
Christie Arias: My kids at 3 and 5 are a long way off from being left without a babysitter. I am thinking that it depends on the child. Some are more responsible than others. I also think that taking baby steps and getting them used to being in charge is a good idea.
For example, a quick run to the market is a good place to start. Maybe even having a slightly older neighbor come by to hang out for a bit. I think somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12, they are responsible enough to be alone for a while. In general, I think girls are more responsible.
Stacy Blom: I still feel uncomfortable leaving my 14 year old home alone! I know that's odd but it's just the way I am. She does stay home by herself but if I can find something else for her to do or a friend to come over to be together, I would much prefer that situation than her being completely by herself.
She's fine with it either way but as a mom, I like the security of knowing she's with someone else. I think we started leaving the girls home by themselves when they were 13!
Patch: What are your rules and guidelines to having them stay home alone?
Christie: I will make sure that my kids know what to do in case of an emergency. I wouldn't want them cooking or in the kitchen when I wasn't home. They wouldn't be allowed to open the door for anyone or have friends over.
Stacy: Blinds are closed so no one can see in or out, no answering the telephone unless the person is identifiable and absolutely NO ANWERING THE DOOR! If you go outside, you must check in with me and I need to know where you are going and for how long!
Patch: Who do you usually ask to babysit?
Christie: My mom and my sister are my favorite babysitters. I still haven't found a "hired" babysitter in five years. It's really hard to find someone that you trust with your kids.
Stacy: Our first choice was always my parents, who live very close. If they couldn't, we would hire neighborhood kids to come watch them or we just wouldn't go out!
As I've mentioned a million times, our kids have always been our top priority and if we couldn't find a sitter, we just didn't go! We enjoy a lot more time out now that the girls are older! When they were younger and we lived on a single income, it made for a very expensive evening to go out and pay for a sitter!