A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Do a Google News search for “child left home alone” and you’ll soon be disturbed by a mom who left her infant home while she went to a bar, a mom who left her preschooler at a park while getting a tattoo, and a mom who left her middle schoolers home while she went on a European vacation.


You’ll also be saddened by parents who find themselves in the impossible situation of choosing between their work and their kids and have had to risk danger to their children in order to make ends meet.

What you won’t find are accounts of kids who were left home alone and then, in non-newsworthy fashion, were found completely fine or even improved after the experience.

In most reporting, “home alone” is a negative term, a sign of neglectful or forgetful parenting, so much so that parents may now feel guilty about any situation in which their kids are home alone.

The negative connotation associated with “home alone” is not representative of most cases, but it colors parents’ decision-making process. Leaving the kids home alone becomes a risk-reward calculation where the risk isn’t something bad happening to the child, but rather a parent getting arrested or publicly shamed.

FEATURED VIDEO

What if staying home alone was viewed as a milestone that kids develop depending on their experience and maturity? What if “home alone” was imagined not as something parents do to kids (“leave them home alone”), but as something kids do for themselves (“stay home alone”)?

Defining “home alone” as a developmental milestone

The Child Welfare Information Gateway asserts that staying home alone “can be a positive experience for a child who is mature and well prepared. It can boost the child’s confidence and promote independence and responsibility.”

One of the main determinants of that readiness is age, which is perhaps why some states have legal minimum ages for being left home alone. In Maryland, it’s age eight. In Oregon, it’s a more conservative age 10. In Illinois, it’s 14, a surprising choice considering that the Red Cross offers babysitting courses to children three years younger than that.

Some states issue guidelines about when it is appropriate to leave a child home alone, from six years (Kansas) to 12 years (Colorado and Delaware).

In states without minimum ages for staying home alone, parents can still be arrested for leaving children home alone at an age that neighbors and/or law enforcement determine is too young.

That was the case with Maryland mother Susan Terrillion, who left her eight- and nine-year-old daughters at their vacation rental in Delaware while she drove to pick up dinner, only to be arrested upon her return for leaving them home alone. Fortunately, the charges against Terrillion were later dropped, but her experience demonstrates the wide range of interpretations about children’s ability to stay home alone.

It’s certainly possible that kids in Kansas are more mature than the rest of the nation’s six-year-olds. But it’s more likely that this range of ages suggests that “home alone,” like all milestones, takes place on a spectrum.

Does walking to the mail room on the first floor of an apartment building count as leaving a child home alone? What about walking to a cluster of mailboxes down the street? What about leaving them in a locked hotel room while you retrieve a package from the front desk?

All of these situations are different from grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, date nights, and business trips, suggesting that proximity can help you determine whether or not it’s appropriate to leave a child home alone.

Quiz: Is your child ready to stay home alone?

Social worker Ruthie Arbit outlines four main determinants in an interview for the Washington Post, which include:

Safety – Is your child prepared to handle emergencies?

Responsibility – Can your child complete basic household and self-care tasks without reminders?

Cognitive readiness – Can your child stay clear and focused even when things go wrong?

Emotional readiness – Can you leave the house without your child collapsing into tears?

These four factors are a useful way to gauge your child’s readiness to stay home alone. Of course, it’s important to have conversations about safety, and even run “what if?” scenarios to help prepare your child to stay home alone.

But all of this preparation may not be as useful as a single question that you can ask each time you want to let your children stay home alone: How would you react to the headline if you read about yourself in the news?

“Area mom arrested for leaving her three-year-old home alone while she returned the neighbor’s snowblower.” That’s ridiculous. Return away.

“Man arrested for leaving 10-year-old home alone while buying milk.” Also ridiculous. That child deserves to test his independence and responsibility.

“Vacationing mom arrested for leaving seven-year-old home alone while she went to the bar.” That’s not great. Even if the child is nearly ready to be home alone, it sounds like the person benefiting from the home alone time is the parent, not the child.

“Dad arrested for leaving baby in crib while he went to work.” That’s criminal.

Bonus Quiz: What should you do when someone else’s kids are home alone?

When we see other kids left alone, we jump right to click-bait headlines and assume the worst of parents. Instead of leaping to judgment, we should do the same careful thinking about developmental milestones that we do with our own children.

Again, consider the headlines:

“Dad arrested after neighbor notices baby left alone overnight.” By all means, call. Even better, offer help before things get to that point.

“Mom arrested after neighbor sees eight-year-old playing alone in the street.” That’s legal in most states. Just keep an eye or an ear on the house.

The same goes for a kid you see alone in a car. Hot car deaths do indeed happen, but not nearly so frequently as we think, and rarely after a couple of minutes. Before you start calling police or smashing windows to rescue an eight-year-old on an iPad, consider just watching for a few minutes.

How’s the kid doing? Is she in distress? Might she even be enjoying the responsibility she is practicing? If you were her parent, would you be scared for her? Would you be proud of her?

In short, instead of looking at children left alone as their parents’ moral failing, consider viewing those children as growing people reaching an important milestone.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you.

From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Sun's out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

1. Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98

SHOP

2. Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218

SHOP

3. ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)

SHOP

4. Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98

SHOP

5. H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99

SHOP

6. Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00

SHOP

7. H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)

SHOP

8. A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00

SHOP

9. Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00

SHOP

Bikini bottom price: $45.00

SHOP

10. Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00

SHOP

11. Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)

SHOP

12. Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)

SHOP

13. Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00

SHOP

14. Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00

SHOP

15. PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00

SHOP

Shop

Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.

FEATURED VIDEO

While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

You might also like:

News

I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.

FEATURED VIDEO

The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

You might also like:

Life

If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."


If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.


These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.