By Heather O.
My husband’s work schedule has changed, so I am no longer able to run in the morning with my running group. Losing this precious girl/me time has been difficult, but I’m managing. I joined the Y to try to get extra work-outs in, and as I have no immediate plans for a race, I’m okay not being on top of my game, running wise.
I was talking to a friend about DH’s schedule, and she said, “Wait, does this mean you can’t go running anymore? I have a double stroller you can have, if you want it.”
I told her that 8 year olds don’t exactly fit into double joggers.
She laughed, and then said, “But why don’t you just leave your kids home by themselves, then?”
My children are (almost) 8 and 2 1/2 years old. I will admit to leaving the 7 year old home alone for short periods of time (no longer than a half an hour), when I have to run over to a neighbor’s, or when I have had to drop something off to somebody, and he’s engrossed in a book or a game or something. However, I don’t leave my 2 year old home with him, because while I trust him to get himself out of the house if there is a fire, I have little faith that he’d remember his sister. And leaving them alone in the mornings for over an hour while I run (without a cell phone, I might add) is something I would never ever consider.
My friend was surprised that I was uncomfortable with her suggestion. Her oldest daughter is 6 months older than my son, and her youngest is 6 months older than my daughter, and 2 children in between. She says that her 3 year old is “predictable”, which is why she’s comfortable leaving her 8 year old in charge of 3 other siblings. I don’t think she leaves them alone for too long, but still, I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving an 8 year old in charge of a 3 year old for any length of time.
Am I alone in this? Do I feel differently because I haven’t been blessed with 4 children, as my friend has, so I’m a more overprotective parent? I know my brother, who has twins, doesn’t supervise his children as closely as I supervise mine, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just the nature of having lots of kids—you can’t be everywhere at once.
What do the rest of you think? Do you leave your kids alone? When is an appropriate age to let them be in charge of siblings? And, here’s another question—do you pay your older kids to babysit?
In the meantime, I am going to do what’s comfortable to me. And right now, that means less running, more time at the Y. Besides, they have cooler toys there than at my house.
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