In most households, summertime means a change of schedule from the usual routine. When children are involved, this change can get tricky to navigate, because children tend to be creatures of habit.
Here are some suggestions to help make the transition as smooth as possible:
If children will be home alone for a while, discuss your expectations and household rules. Tell children what they can’t do, what they can do, and when they can do it.
Be very specific and try to cover as many contingencies as possible.
Stage a practice run before you leave children alone. Let them rehearse the routine while you’re away but nearby.
They can call you if they run into any snags, and you can show them how the situation should be handled in the future.
Make sure your children know that you trust them, and that letting them stay alone is helping them become even more responsible. But be sure to warn them that if they can’t follow the rules, they will lose the privilege of caring for themselves.
Post the rules on the refrigerator door where they will be easily accessible.
As an example, many families allow snacking but no cooking. Children should not be allowed to have visitors except for those you have approved in advance.
Rules of this sort protect your children’s safety while giving them a sense of importance and responsibility for their own actions. It’s never too early to start on that important road.