If you are a working parent, you know the stress that comes with every weekday during the early afternoon: “I hope my kids are home and safe!”
No matter how old your child gets, this fear never seems to go away. Luckily, we live in an age of technology, and there are plenty of options to make sure that your kids make it home safely and stay safe in your home, from phone apps that text you when your children go in or out of your home, to state-of-the-art home security systems. Of course, latchkey kids have been around since before all of this “smart” technology, so there are some old-school tricks that you can use in addition to the technology to try to relieve a bit of that stress that occurs at the end of every school day.
- Lay Down the Law
While latchkey kids have quite a bit of freedom, it is important that they understand their boundaries. Make sure they know and understand what they can and cannot do. Write the rules down so that your children can not say that they “forgot.” Include anything on your list of rules that will help you feel more comfortable with leaving them home, and post the list of rules in a place where they cannot avoid seeing them. Included in the list of rules should be some safety guidelines. You may want to include locking the door after coming home as part of the rules. At the bottom of the list, include any important contact phone numbers, including yours and those of your neighbours. Discuss what activities may be done before you come home (homework and television, for example) and which activities must be avoided (cooking on the stove, leaving the house.)
- Video Calling
Thank goodness for technology. You can schedule the time to Skype or FaceTime with your child so that you can confirm that they are, in fact, at home, and not out getting into trouble. Make sure that they understand the consequences of not answering a video call.
- Smart Home Technology
There are so many things on the market today that can keep your home and your child safe, including smart security technology. There are devices that you can add to your doors so that they lock automatically (great for your forgetful child.) Check out doorbell reviews and find one that will show your child visually who is knocking at the door. This way, they can answer the door for family members, and ignore the door (or following your preferred protocol) when a stranger comes around. There are also small video cameras that you can install in your home that will feed you a constant stream of what is going on in your home or on your property. You can also answer remotely when the door rings to give the illusion that you are inside and home when you are away.
- Keep Them Busy
The independence afforded by allowing your child to stay home alone after school will help them to develop into mature, responsible adults, but only if it is done right. They need to be kept busy during their time alone. Unless you know that they have very responsible friends, keep them inside the house and away from their peers. This will help to keep them out of trouble. Make their time alone in the house productive; this is an ideal time for your child to get their homework and chores done.
- Smart Kid Technology
Just as there are watches that help you track your fitness, there are watches for children that can help you to track their location. Some of them are very simple, offering only a time functionality in addition to GPS tracking, while others include features that will have your children begging to keep it on, such as a step tracker, or games. You can use these watches to make sure that your children truly are staying in your home while you are gone.
Keeping your children safe is stressful. No parent wants to be responsible for putting their child in harm’s way. This fear often leads to parents refraining from leaving their children home alone for as long as possible. Between the old-fashioned tricks for keeping your latchkey kid safe and modern technological advancements, it may be time to let your child experience the increased level of responsibility that comes with being left home alone after school.