You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis
Aim for short-term savings goals
Make a goal such as setting aside $20 a week or month, rather than a long term savings goal. People save more successfully when they keep short-term goals in sight.
Leaving children home alone
Many parents wonder about leaving children home alone: when is it OK? You can start by thinking about your family circumstances and the age and maturity of your child.
Deciding if your child is ready to be left at home alone
You’re the best judge of when your child is ready to be left at home alone. It’s not just about your child’s age – her maturity is also important. You might feel confident leaving a 12-year-old who’s very responsible, but quite worried about a 15-year-old who takes a lot of risks.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide about leaving your child home alone:
- Does my child usually make sensible decisions?
- Can my child stay alone for a while without being frightened?
- Would my child be able to cope in an emergency, such as a fire or a break-in?
- Does my child know how to use the telephone?
- How safe are our home and neighborhood?
- Does my child know important information such as phone numbers?
- Can my child follow the house rules, whether I’m there or not?
- Does my child feel confident about being left alone?
- How long will I be away?
- How often would my child be at home alone?
If you’re not sure your child is ready, trust your judgment and wait until he’s a bit older.
If your child is unsure or feels frightened about staying home alone, be patient and reassure her that she’ll feel ready as she gets older. There’s no need to rush into it if she’s not ready.
Preparing for leaving children home alone
If you’ve decided that your child is ready to be left at home alone, it’s a good idea to do some preparation.
The first thing is building up gradually. For example, you might start by leaving your child for a few minutes while you pop to the shop and build up to leaving him for an hour or so after school. Leaving your child for a whole day requires a lot more independence than leaving him for an hour or two, so it’s a good idea to take it gradually and think about whether your child is ready.
Draw up a list of things your child can do when she’s at home alone – for example, playing in her room, drawing or reading. You might also want to have a list of things she can’t do without an adult in the house, such as having friends over, having a bath, using the internet or cooking.
Other good rules are for your child to phone you when he gets in from school, and for you to phone if you’re going to be late.
It might also be helpful to talk about whether it’s OK for her to answer the door and who she’s allowed to let into the house.
Clear rules about who’s in charge will help if your child is babysitting younger siblings. You could also come up with an action plan of what your older child can do if the younger ones won’t do as they’re asked or they have a big argument.
Your child needs to know how everything works – for example, the phone and the locks on the doors.
Children can feel bored or lonely at home on their own. It can help to leave your child with some tasks or a routine to follow – for example, do homework, set the table for dinner and then have free time.
If you’re leaving your child for the whole day, you could arrange for an adult to pop in during the day, or you could phone to touch base at various points. Your child could also spend part of the day visiting friends.
Before leaving your child home alone, do a safety check of your house. Inspect things like door and window locks, smoke alarms and lighting.
Agree on what to do if the phone rings or someone knocks on the door. You might agree that your child doesn’t answer the phone or the door. You can arrange a code for when you call so that your child knows that it’s you calling and it’s OK to answer. For example, you might let the phone ring three times, hang up, then call again.
Make sure your child knows who to call for help. Write down phone numbers in case your child needs help while you’re out.