However, we did something really great last week and I wanted to
So last week, we sat down for a Family Home Evening (if you aren't Mormon, that's like a weekly family meeting) on being home alone.
Inspired by an article at BonBon Break, I wrote 6 categories (doorbells & phones, who to call for help, first aid, emergencies, friends & playing outside, and appliances & devices ) on slips of paper. We talked about each one as the kids pulled them out of a jar one at a time.
|Yeah, it was super-fancy. Follow me on Pinterest.|
1. Doorbells & Phones
I told my kids to ignore the doorbell ringing. Let them think there's nobody home. I don't think anyone has rung our doorbell except the FedEx guy for the last 3 weeks anyway and he just ding-dong-ditches, so the point is kind of moot.
If the phone rings, I want them to answer it (after all, it could be me calling and I don't want to have a heart attack if no one answers.) But we role played phone conversations (yes, I forced them to make a "phone" with their thumb and pinky and talk to me like I'm a stranger) and how to say "Mom/Dad can't talk right now, can I take a message?" I made sure that they said "can't talk," not "isn't here."
2. Who to Call for Help
I have a Post-it note taped to the base of the phone with mine and Phillip's phone numbers, but I also need to add two of our close-by friends who they can also call if they can't reach us. That was my homework from this Family Home Evening.
3. First Aid
Most cuts or scrapes will be fine if the kids wash them off with water and stick a Band-Aid on them.
If something just won't stop bleeding, we showed them how to grab some paper towels and press and hold the wound. If it still doesn't stop, we told them to call Phillip or I to ask what to do. (With our kids' personalities, we know they'd be prone to freaking out and calling 911 at the sight of blood so we thought calling us to ask first would be a good idea for our family. Your mileage may vary.)
If they can't get a hold of us and they're really worried that the person needs to go to the hospital, they can call 911. Which brings me to the next category.
We talked about a variety of emergencies, none of them extremely likely but all good to know.
- 911: Solely for emergencies that require the police, a fire truck, or an ambulance coming to the house. Not for sibling fights, homework help, or the toilet backing up. (The kids loved learning that someone had called for getting the wrong cheeseburger at Burger King.)
- Fire: Yell to everyone to get out of the house, go to the neighbors (name a few specific neighbors,) and tell them what's going on. They'll either be able to put it out or call 911.
- Toilet/sink/bathtub overflowing: We took the kids to the bathroom, showed them the plunger, and had each of them physically try it (I know, I know, this is sounding like a rocking Family Home Evening in the Evans house right now.) If that doesn't work, we took them to the basement and showed them how to shut off the water, then told them to call us.
5. Friends & Playing Outside
It depends on where you live, but I personally feel okay about the kids playing outside while I'm gone, as long as they stay in our yard. No riding bikes on the street, going to a friend's house to play, or wandering around in the woods.
If a friend comes over, they need to tell them they can't play until an adult comes home. (I did tell them it was okay to tell a neighbor friend I'm not there, just not a stranger on the phone.)
6. Appliances & Devices
I'm fine with the kids using the toaster and microwave without supervision, but not the oven or stove. We stressed not putting anything metal or metal-colored in the microwave, and if anything starts making sparks they should open the door right away.
They can use the computer or iPad to visit homework-related websites, type stories on their Google Docs accounts, or play games on specific apps and websites they commonly use and we approve of. But no Googling when we aren't home! They should type the URL of a website instead of doing a search for it.
It probably won't be the most fun-filled Family Home Evening ever written on the fleshy tablets of the kids' minds, but if you end it with ice cream they probably won't revolt. Maybe they will even have learned something.
At the very least, I have a lot more peace of mind now knowing that we formally sat down and covered all the rules together.