October 29, 2012
29/31 Question - Part 2 of 3 -Staying home alone
Thank you to all who responded to my request for questions so I could continue to write every day in support of down syndrome awareness. I have never participated in this 31 days of blogging and it is hard to be exciting and engaged every day! This is question 2 of 3.
Question - How did Alex learn how to stay home alone?
When our oldest was 11, Alex 10 and Tommy 8 we started leaving the kids at home for very short periods of time. Courtney has always been very responsible and with our cell phones we felt the kids were safe. As Courtney got older we were comfortable leaving the kids at night to go on "dates" (a much needed break when raising three kids).
This worked well until Courtney decided going out with her friends was more fun than staying home with her two siblings. Having had a small taste of freedom, this was tough for us, so we made Tommy and Alex "babysitters" of each other at a rate of $1.00/hour. The kids were 11 and 13 at the times, and could always reach us by cell phone. This worked quite well and gradually the $1.00/hour rate was reduced to $0/hour.
As Tom got older he also decided going out with friends was more fun than staying home with his sister. Alex was about 14 at this time, and we had a brief moment of panic that our much earned freedom was compromised. After regaining my composure I did what I always try to do when under duress...I asked Alex and learned she was up for the "home alone" challenge.
At 14 years old we left Alex home alone at night. She would eat dinner, often prepared by herself and get to bed at a decent hour. Alex had a cell phone, and would check in with us with any questions. I never worried and she has never had any issues....except for that sneaking food thing...
Today, at 19 Alex can stay home with her 17 year brother overnight. We have left the kids twice for two nights and it was a non-event. Independence from your kids is a life changing event and even if one of those kids has down syndrome it is something this is possible!