Home, Sweet Home, Alone

Advice for latchkey kids
Author: Leslie Quander Wooldridge

Now that your parents or grandparents are trusting you to stay home alone, you’re growing up! But if you feel a little worried, that’s normal. First: Ask your parents what they expect and what activities you’re allowed to do. When you’re at home, follow the house rules, and call your parents or emergency contact with questions or if there’s a problem. Your emergency contact may be that nice neighbor who lives two doors down, a relative or a friend’s parent. If you prepare yourself, and follow these tips, your time at home alone will be a breeze.

Keep your key in a safe place

Put your house key on a necklace or key chain. If it’s on a key chain, put it in a pocket that you can close or in your backpack, so you don’t lose it. Don’t show the key to anyone or tell anyone you’ll be home alone. If your garage door has a code to open it, memorize it and keep it a secret.

Check out your surroundings

If anything feels strange or looks weird when you get home, like if the door is open or a strange vehicle is parked outside, don’t go inside. Go right to your emergency contact’s home instead. But if everything looks fine, good news. Just lock the door behind you or close the garage door when you get inside.

Call to check in

Even if you just talked to your parents or grandparents after school let out, they still want to make sure you get home safely every day. So give them a quick shout to say you’re home. If you’re feeling any joint pain, or have a nosebleed or another health problem, speak up. They can help—even over the phone.

Have a snack (maybe)

Talk to your parents about what you’re allowed to eat and drink, and how you should prepare it. Don’t use the oven, stove, or microwave because they can be dangerous. Your parents may want you to have snacks that don’t need cooking or heating. Think crackers and cheese, fruit, or veggies and dip. Maybe even a sweet treat if you have permission. (But just one or two!)

Start your routine

You and your parents should agree on what you’re supposed to do every day, including having that snack and starting your homework. If chores are on that list, check them off after they’re done. The point is to follow the routine from your parents. And remember: You’re home alone, but not completely alone. Call your parents—or your emergency contact—if you have questions about anything. Then enjoy your time to yourself.