Your Tween Is
Almost Ready to Stay Home Alone
It’s time to prepare!
Your tween is able to manage themselves when they have help managing the structure of their time. Checklists are their best friend and help keep them on track.
While you still have to remind them to do their homework, they’re usually pretty good about getting to it – even when they don’t feel like it. But, to be fair – if you’re anything like me – you sometimes have trouble doing things when you just don’t feel like it too. The struggle is real!
Here’s the thing though, without some structured help building skills for independence, your tween will struggle longer than they need to – and you’ll continue to need to find after-school care for them.
So set some time aside to help your tween develop the skills they need to stretch their wings and finally be able to say they can stay home alone. Trust me, your kids will thank you in the long term.
At what age can my tween stay home alone?
It depends. (I hate it when people tell me ‘it depends,’ but in this case it really does!)
Different states and provinces have different laws and guidelines. You’ll need to confirm the law for where you live… BUT often the guidelines are not just about your tween’s age.
They also talk about maturity, and preparation – both yours and your tweens.
Equipping your tween with skills to handle the practical and emotional sides of being home alone are key.
Don’t worry – I’ve got your back!
How to prepare your tween to stay home alone….
1. Teach your tweens tasks
At first, teaching your tweens how to complete household chores, might seem like a lot of work, but it’ll save you hours in the long run. On top of that, it’ll help build up their confidence and self-reliance. Sounds like a sweet deal, right?
Start with small, easy to do tasks like unloading the dishwasher, making their school lunch, or doing their own laundry.
2. Set routines
Helping your tween set some morning and evening routines will go a long way to helping them develop the skills they need to care for themselves when you’re away.
Break it down a larger morning routine into micro-routines. Let them take ownership of one micro-routine at a time. This will create some easy wins, increase their confidence, lower everyone’s stress level, and build their responsibility muscle. They’ll be able to stack those micro-routines until they’re managing larger routines like a pro.
3. Practice routines when you’re home
You’ve created routines together, you’ve taught your tween what’s expected for each part of a routine (micro-routines) – you’ve set them up for success.
Get your tween to create their own checklist for each micro-routine… even if it’s ugly, the check boxes are crooked, and the handwriting is barely legible.
Then, let them practice those micro-routines when you’re home – no nagging required. (If you’re like me you’ll have to bite your tongue quite a bit when they don’t do things exactly the way you would. But, a bit of tongue biting is worth the results. Soon, having them complete micro-routines independently will be the norm and you can spend that tongue biting energy elsewhere.)
Common Transitioning Traps
Leaving your tween home alone without preparation
Tweens love to feel like they’re finally growing up. Staying home alone is a big next step on that journey. But responsibilities without preparation could mean disaster.
Start by making a plan for your child to stay home alone for an hour.
With that goal in mind, help them develop the skills they’ll need to manage that hour.
Not clarifying your expectations
It’s hard to hit the mark if the target is unclear.
Instead of pages of rules – clarify your expectations by having a few principles. They’re easier to remember, and they’ll help your tween make better decisions when they’re home alone.
It’s tempting to leave your tween with a long list of chores. After all – they can’t get into trouble if they’re busy. Right?!
No! Over scheduling will lead to frustration for both you and your tween.They’ll feel like they’re disappointing you for not getting things done. And you’ll be upset because they didn’t make it through the list.
Save your relationship. Come up with a reasonable home alone routine together.
Here’s What to Do Instead
Home Alone After School Club TM
The virtual after school program that helps your tween build the skills and confidence they need to stay home alone – safely. And gives you peace of mind so you can focus on your work at work. All without dealing with school closure schedules, after school program fees, and extra commuting.
Registrations open April 15th for the May session.
Hold up — let me introduce myself!
Hey there, I’m Marina Gabor. . . 👋 I’m the mother of three teenagers. We’ve spent a lot of time together as we’ve homeschooled the past 9 years. And I learned a few things as we navigated the tween years. Also, as a certified Red Cross Youth Leader I’ve taught hundred of students over the years. Without fail, I notice that the kids that are ready to stay home alone have certain characteristics. It looks like your tween has some of those characteristics.
Looking for a few more resources?
1. Follow me on Facebook and stay in the loop about upcoming Stay Safe! home alone and executive function skills classes.
2. The Red Cross Stay Safe! Home Alone course (available for Canadian students) covers practical situations tweens may need to deal with when home alone. They’ll also learn some basic first aid skills. You can find out more about the Stay Safe! program here: oakfieldsafety.com/home-alone
P.S. Expect to see me in your inbox every two weeks with some encouragement and suggestions for helping you help your child on their journey to greater independence – safely. 🙌