Last Sunday, Andrew and I made the decision to go to the beach for a few days. That is the benefit of having older teenagers! While I often mourn the loss of having young kids, the bonus of being leaving teenagers at home alone for a quick trip any time of the year is definitely growing on me.
We are fortunate to have a family condo we can visit in Myrtle Beach almost anytime we choose. It’s a perfect spontaneous getaway at any time of the year. Located right on the beach, we have a balcony with great views while the ambiance of waves can relax even the most stressed.
This year we have been lucky enough to have a built-in babysitter (or teenaged sitter) and dog sitter with Ian being 18 and a maturity level we can trust. He graduated high school last year and is still living at home before going into the air force in the next few months.
Ian seems to do a pretty good job of taking care of our 3 goldens and his 16 yr old sister, Ariana.
Leaving your child at home alone for the first few times can be stressful. There are a few things we do in preparation for being left home alone for a few days.
How to successfully Leave a teen home alone overnight
- Start slow, baby steps. After Ian turned 18, we took a short overnight trip or two to test the waters.
- Have general guidelines in place. There are standard, consistent rules the kids need to follow whenever we aren’t home. Such as:
- No friends over.
- Only a few things can be cooked and must be overseen or done by Ian.
- Keep the dogs on their eating and bathroom schedule.
- And of course the obvious ones such as keeping the doors locked, clean up after yourselves.
- Communication. We call or text a few times a day to check-in and remind them to let the dogs out.
- Amble food. We make sure they have enough food by either reimbursing Ian for grocery shopping or (usually) ordering groceries online and having Ian pick them up.
- Have an emergency contact within a few minutes away. My 24 yr old daughter and her family live only a few minutes away from our house in the event of an emergency came up. A neighbor or close friend could also be your “on-call” person.
- Leave a written schedule as needed. Having a plan written out can help your teen with organizing his/her time as well as deliver clear expectations.
- Have drop-in check-ins by a friend or family member. I like to have Madison, my daughter drop by randomly while we are gone to put eyes on the house and kids. A next-door neighbor can also be a good one to stay in touch with to alert you of unrecognized vehicles or visitors.
Of course, you will need to use your own judgment to determine when your child is ready for the responsibility to stay home alone overnight.
During our spontaneous vacay, we did a whole lotta nothing, which was exactly what we needed. Well, we geeked out by getting a lot of computer work done from the balcony, and at some really great food. We tried to make sure to go for a nice long walk on the beach daily and thankfully the weather was beautiful.
How do you feel about leaving teenagers at home alone? What additional tips would be helpful?