Nothing in life is certain, but with good preparation, most kids that stay home as mom and dad travel can be as safe as they would if their parents were with them.
Whatever their ages, the kids must be able to handle the parents' absence emotionally and physically. Children are individuals; parents must make informed judgments.
Parents should prepare children for their absence by talking with them about where they are going, why and for how long. They should make sure the kids understand the rules of the home. They should talk about basic safety precautions such as what to do if there's a fire or medical emergency, and how to call 911.
Choosing a caregiver is crucial. Younger children are usually better off with a person they're used to, maybe a close relative or regular babysitter. Before the parents leave, older children should at least meet the caregiver and understand that he or she will be in charge.
Toddlers and young children may be better off dealing with a caregiver in their family home. Older teenagers may want to stay at home, and they may balk at having any supervision at all. Most parents will want to have a close neighbor, relative or other responsible adult at least checking on teens regularly, especially at night.
Letting children attend sleepaway camp while the parents travel can work well. Most reputable camps know how to deal with homesick kids, but if you have any doubts, you might not want to go far away the first time your child heads to camp.
If the kids will be staying in the home, make sure it's well-stocked with first-aid supplies, over-the-counter medications, flashlights, batteries and other essentials. Let the caretaker know about any quirks with appliances, alarm systems and the like.
Making sure the caregiver has everything he or she needs is crucial. Parents should arrange to check in by phone -- daily if possible.
Traveling without the kids can be scary. It requires a lot of preparation, but the rewards can be great. To find out more, keep reading.