Some parents dread it, while others are anxiously awaiting it…the decision to leave your child home alone for the first time. How do you determine if your child is ready to stay home alone? Only a few states have laws that specify the age when a child can be left home alone, including Maryland (age 8) and Illinois (age 14). In Kansas and Missouri, state laws do not specify the age at which a child can be left home alone.
Most states have guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services or other child protective agencies that test a child’s ability to be left home alone. According to the Child Welfare Reform Information Gateway, here are some questions to consider before leaving your child home alone:
- Does your child feel comfortable being home alone?
- Does your child obey rules and make good decisions?
- Is your child physically and mentally able to care for himself?
- How does your child respond to stressful situations?
- How long will your child be left home alone?
- What time of day will your child be left alone?
- What routines well your child be responsible for? (i.e. Will your child need to fix a meal?)
- Is your home safe and free of hazards?
- How safe is your neighborhood?
- Are there adults nearby that you trust and you are home and can offer mediate systems if there’s an emergency or if your child get scared?
- Does your child know what to do if a visitor comes to the door?
- Does your family have a safety plan for emergencies? Can your child follow this plan?
- Does your child no his or her full name, address, and phone number?
- Does your child know where you are and how to contact you at all times?
- Does your child know who to contact if you cannot be reached?
Once you have determined that your child is ready to stay home alone, the following tips may help prepare your child to feel more comfortable about staying home alone:
- Communicate. Encourage your child to share his feelings with you about staying home alone. Have this conversation before leaving and when you return.
- Establish rules. Make sure your child knows what is (and is not allowed) when you’re not home. Set clear limits. Some experts suggest making a list of chores or other tasks to keep children busy while you are gone.
- Have a trial period. Leave your child home alone for a short time while walking the dog around the block or running a quick errand to the grocery store. This is a good way to see how your child will manage on their own.
- Role-play. Act out possible scenarios to help your child learn what to do if a visitor comes to the door and how to answer phone calls in a way that doesn’t reveal that a parent is not at home.
- Discuss emergencies. Talk about what your child considers an emergency and what you consider an emergency. Create a form with the plan and contact numbers in the event of an emergency.
- Prepare. Spend time with your child before you leave preparing simple snacks and meals, making sure doors are locked, reviewing house rules and expectations for behavior. This is a great opportunity to fill your child’s bucket and let them know how much you care about them and their safety.
- Check in. Call your child while you are away to see how everything is going. If you are not able to check in, ask a trusted neighbor or friend to do this for you.
- Don’t overdo it. Even a mature responsible child needs interaction with their peers and adults. Consider other options such as programs offered by schools, community centers, youth organizations or faith-based organizations.
If you determine your child is not ready to be left home alone consider these options for childcare:
Smiles are contagious.
Every time you smile, you start a feel-good party in your brain. Your brain starts throwing out neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin like confetti. When other people sense your smile party, they want to join in too. Before you know it, your infectious smile has spread. People all around you have contracted your contagious smile. Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile makes you appear more attractive to others. It lifts your mood as well as the moods of those around you, and it can even lengthen your life. So slap a smile on that face of yours. Who knows who you will spread your case of the smiles to?!?!
How to play:
- Smile at someone, anyone. It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
- See if they smile back.
- If they do, hooray! You get one point.
- If they don’t, boo hoo. You lose one point.
- The goal is to get 10 points.
- This can be a contest between multiple people to see who gets to 10 points first or a race to see how quickly you can get to 10-points on your own.
My family has a blast playing this at the grocery store, at home with each other, at school…any where.
Have fun and may the smiling odds ever be in your favor!
I love this time of year. The beginning of a new year. New goals. New aspirations. Excitement. Optimism. The start of something new brings the hope of something great! We set goals to eat healthy, exercise more, lose weight, quit bad habits, be more productive…
Why do we set these goals?
Is it because it’s the “right” thing to do, what we think we “should” do? Or, is it because doing these things will make us happy?
I challenge you, this year, to stop “shoulding” yourself and set your New Years resolutions based upon your soul’s deepest desire: HAPPINESS.
Take a moment to reflect on your life. What moments do you remember with a smile? Is it busting your butt on the treadmill at 5am or is it that afternoon that you hiked through Tooth Fairy Forest with your family?
This year, instead of setting goals for things you SHOULD do, write a list of all the things that will make you HAPPY. Then, resolve to spend more time doing those things.
Resolve to choose happiness above all “shoulds”.
I’m definitely not saying go hogwild on the fried chicken at Country Kitchen buffet or spend the year sitting on your couch laughing at reruns of Seinfeld. Those activities might make you happy in the moment, but when December 31, 2016 rolls around are those the moments that you will remember?
Resolve to create moments worth remembering.
I am certain this resolution will lead you to your HAPPIEST year yet!
What are your resolutions to create happiness? I’d love to read them!
A few of my resolutions to create happiness:
- Having FUN makes me happy…Spend more time playing, laughing and being silly.
- BALANCE in my life makes me happy…balance my time between work, play, relaxation, relationships, me-time, charity.
- SUCCESS and accomplishment makes me happy…Take daily action towards my life goals.
- Spending QUALITY TIME with my loved ones and friends makes me happy…have parties, celebrate everything, host more happy hours, lunch dates, put down my phone and Be present with people, snuggle my family and puppy.
- TRAVELING makes me happy…plan vacations, take road trips.
- Feeling HEALTHY makes me happy…walk the dog, walk with friends, do yoga, plan healthy meals, cook with my family, meditate.
- MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION makes me happy…spend time daily talking with my kids about topics beyond “how was your day”.
- INSPIRING others makes me happy…write inspiring blogs, public speaking, write inspirational book, practice affirmations.
- Being KIND and HELPFUL makes me happy…continue working as a pediatric OT, volunteer at kids’ school, volunteer on HOA board, do lots of random acts of kindness.
- Being CREATIVE makes me happy…write some more books (maybe with my kids), launch the Comfy Cup.
- Having FREEDOM and FREE TIME makes me happy…So I vow to practice saying “no thanks” to thongs and things that don’t make me happy! (haha, typo that I decided to leave in–because thongs don’t make me happy…I much prefer a cozy booty-covering underpant). No thanks to thongs that ride up my crack! Also, no thanks to any THING doesn’t create FUN or FREE TIME or HAPPY AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS.
Each year, I choose a “word for the year”. Several people have asked what my word is this year.
This year, my word is HAPPINESS.
What is yours?
Although the high temp in Lenexa is 56 degrees today. (Woo Hoo!) It’s officially winter. Yes, winter is here and spring is just around the corner. From now on, the days will gradually lengthen. I love this time of year. It’s a time for reflecting on everything you have. All the things, people, and experiences you are grateful for. This is the time to look forward to a new beginning. It’s the time for setting goals and intentions for the new year.
Amidst the buzz of the holidays, take some time to quiet your mind and do these five things to prepare yourself for the new year:
1. Make a list of all the things you love.
2. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.
3. Answer these questions and set your intentions for 2015.
-When are you the happiest?
-What is something that you can share with others to improve their lives?
-Where do you see yourself one year from now?
-What is your personal mission statement?
-What are your values?
4. Make a vision board.
5. Take time to play. Be silly and have fun.
The greatest gift you have is the gift of creation. You were born to create. You are constantly creating and you probably don’t even realize it. You create thoughts, love, kindness.
You create your own future…what will you create in 2016?
Any parent will tell you that parenting is the hardest job in the world. A day spent at home with my kids is more mentally and physically challenging than any day at work. Why? I believe it is my strong emotional connection to my kids. After all, it is my responsibility to fill them with love and help them grow into the best human beings they can be. As parents, it is our nature to give our children unconditional love and kindness. The challenge arises when delineating between loving-kindness and enabling.
“Moooom, WHERE ARE MY SHOES?”
“Moooom, I’m hungry!”
“Moooom, is it time to go yet?”
“Mom? Did you hear me?”
I know I am not the only mother that is exhausted by the end of the day. The constant need for guidance and assistance and attention can be draining. Sometimes, it just seems easier to do things for them rather than teach them to do things for themselves. But is that the loving thing to do? Isn’t empowering more loving than enabling?
Like all parents I love my kids to the moon and back. I want the world for them and I want them to HAVE, DO, and BE everything their soul desires. I realize that I don’t have to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.
So, where is that fine line between acts of love and enabling (which really is disabling) your child to depend upon you to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.
There comes a time when you have to choose between giving your children the means to depend upon you or giving them the authority to explore the world independently.
On a picture of my children at the beach, the caption reads: Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.
Now, when I hear, “Mooom….”, I take a moment to ask myself, “Is this request something they can do for themselves?”
If it is something I know they are capable of doing, I do this– I call it Empowerful Parenting:
You are smart and strong I believe that is something you can do for yourself.
2. Then, I challenge them to find a solution.
Hmmm…what ideas do you have to solve this problem?
3. If they tried. I mean really tried. Then I offer choices as suggestions to guide them in their problem-solving.
Have you tried___ or ___?
4. Finally, I offer to help complete the task together. Not FOR them, WITH them.
I am proud of you for trying…let’s see if we can do it together.
If you think about it, when we are recognizing our children’s abilities and supporting and believing in the fact that they can do it for themselves. We are empowering them. That is ultimately loving them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still “MOOOOM” moments that require my attention. (i.e. I puked in my bed or I want a hug.)
And, if I am being completely honest, I still revert back to the “I’ll do it for you” on occasion. Hey, nobody is perfect, right?
Overall, I am consciously making an effort to EMPOWER my children to trust in themselves and their own abilities, not to depend upon me to magically meet their needs and solve all their challenges.
Presently–and even after my kids are grown-up and moved out of the house–I know there will be those “MOOOOM MOMENTS”. Those moments when my children really do need ME.
In those moments I will follow the advice of my own mother, and “appreciate being needed“.
Snooze’s Kansas City Treasure Hunt…It’s a beautiful day for a treasure hunt!
As a parent in a busy household, one of the wishes I have each day is for just a few moments of peace and quiet and solitude. As a mama also aspiring for enlightenment– a few moments of meditation would be equally awesome. But, let’s be honest. Finding peace and quiet is a rare commodity in a busy household–unless you wake up at the crack-of-dawn and disappear to the solitude of the basement before those little feet pitter-patter down the hall squealing, “I’m hungry”.
5. Do not attend to any knocking, hollering, barking, ringing for 5-minutes. Imagine that your body is not a solid mass, but instead that it is made up of millions of tiny atoms (because it actually is). Feel the space between the atoms expanding and filling the room (kind of like a fart).
We have so much to celebrate. Every day of the year should be a holiday. Which is why last year, I created a new holiday which is a day dedicated to the Gas we Pass: February 22nd (2/22), “Tootie Toot-Toot Day”.
On my blog, spreadlovingkindness, I am embarking on a mission to spread love and kindness and encourage others to do the same. Passing gas can be a hilarious means of spreading kindness. What!?!? Did she just say, spread love through farts? Yep. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that farting is always a means of spreading kindness. Let’s be honest, sometimes a “Dutch oven”can be downright mean.
But, really, who doesn’t chuckle when they hear a rip-roaring toot?
We can all use a good laugh every now and then. So, why not break the ice by breaking a little wind? And see if you can get someone else to “crack” a smile while you are at it.
Check out this video where a hilarious farting family spreads laughter with a little gas passing prank.
Happy Tootie Toot-Toot Day!