The school holidays have finally finished and whilst many parents will be breathing a sigh of relief, there are some who are facing new daily routines. Children too old for before and after school care may be learning to get to and from school on their own, spending a few hours at home by themselves or with siblings while mum or dad are at work. Are they ready to be at home by themselves in the mornings? Can they be trusted to lock the house up properly before letting themselves out of the house as well?
It’s only natural for parents to worry about their children’s wellbeing. There is no singular law in Australia outlining at what age kids can or can’t stay at home by themselves; this decision falls squarely on you. ADT Security has compiled six essential tips to both help children feel more confident about looking after themselves and provide greater peace of mind for parents.
1: Test the waters
If your kids haven’t been left at home alone before, start by leaving them for just 20 minutes whilst you visit the supermarket, to see how they feel. If there are no concerns, gradually extend your absence for longer. Soon they’ll be comfortable by themselves until you return home. At this point, conduct a trial together where they demonstrate how to lock up the home before they leave so you can pick up anything they may forget (writing down a handy checklist for them can also make them feel more at ease).
2: Create a safe environment
Make sure that your kids know how to open and close all the locks and windows in the home and how to use the keys. While they may be old enough to know about general hazards in the home, it’s still a good idea to explain the dangers of everyday activities that can lead to a household accident, such as leaving cooking unattended or drying clothes too close to a heater.
3: Set ground rules
Once they know how everything works and you have made the home as safe as possible, set some ground rules around what they can and can’t touch, use or do. For example, you might want to instruct them not to answer the phone or the door when you’re not home. It may also be a good idea to minimise the use of appliances or sharp cooking utensils, especially if kids are still in their early teens.
4: Establish a plan or routine
Discuss with your children what they will be doing when you’re not there. Map out tasks or a routine to follow – such as homework, followed by half an hour of technology and then set the table for dinner. This will make it less likely they’ll get bored and potentially get up to mischief. It will also give you peace of mind knowing what they’re doing at different times of the morning or afternoon.
5: Prepare them for an emergency
If your children know how everything works and what not to touch, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. However, you will need to make sure that they know exactly what to do in the case of an emergency. Write down all emergency contacts and numbers, including 000, and make sure they know who to call for different circumstances. For example, ask a neighbour for assistance if you can’t find the family pet, rather than calling the police. Also ensure you have a first aid kit at home and that your children know where it is and how to use the basics properly.
6: Check in using surveillance cameras
Preparing your child will go a long way to easing your worries, and the ability to have visual verification that they’re home safe and sound can add an even greater level of confidence. ADT Security can integrate lifestyle cameras as part of an Interactive Security system, allowing parents to check in remotely to view a live feed of the home using a smart device or laptop. So whether you’re at the office, on the bus or collecting a coffee from your favourite barista, you’ll be able to check in on the kids as many times as you like without interrupting them. ADT’s Interactive Security package also allows you to control your alarm system remotely from your phone, so if the kids forget to arm the alarm when they leave for school you can turn it on yourself.
At ADT, we understand that your family’s security is of the utmost importance, so we hope these tips, along with our professionally monitored security systems, help you gain the peace of mind you deserve. Being a parent can be pretty stressful at times but a little preparation, with the help of technology, can make your life that little bit easier.