10 Rules You Were Forced To Follow If Your Parents Left You Home Alone As A Kid

Did the movie Home Alone hit close to home for you? Did your parents often, or at least sometimes, leave you home alone without a babysitter? We can relate.

Kids who grew up in the nineties had it a lot different than the kids of today.

Leaving young kids home alone is frowned upon today but back in the good old days leaving kids at home without a babysitter was considered the norm by many.

A nostalgic tweet shared by Twitter user @MisterOwl9 got people talking about the funny (and not so funny) rules we were forced to follow when staying home alone without a babysitter.

In response to his tweet, people started chiming in with the rules they had to follow when mom and dad left them alone without supervision. Here are 10 of our favorites… 

1. Your older sibling was the designated babysitter

The term “latchkey kids” was coined during WWII.

According to a 2013 census report, about 1 in 9 kids between the ages of 5 and 14 returned home after school to an empty house. In 1997, 1 in 5 children were considered latchkey kids.

In 2011, an estimated 4.5 million children spent around 6.5 hours alone each week.

2. You touch the stove, and you die!


The number of latchkey kids out there has decreased by nearly 40% since 1997. There are several theories as to why less kids spend time alone now.

It relates in part to increased federal aid for after school programs, although there are fears that more kids could return to this independent lifestyle with so many funding cuts taking place.

“The funding keeps getting cut,” said Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, “There’s just no end in sight.”

3. Don’t you dare answer the phone


Changes in parenting norms have played a role too. There is a much greater fear these days surrounding “stranger danger.” After all, did you know that one child goes missing in the US every 40 seconds? There are 460,000 missing children reported each year, and 1,500 of them are kidnapped.

As a result, parents are changing their work schedules so that they can be home when their kids get home.

Today’s parents feel strongly about providing children with enriching activities that are directed by adults. They also feel that unstructured time translates to wasted time.

4. Unless it was your parents calling…

Without caller ID (or cell phones – dun dun dun), parents had to get creative to let you know it was them calling.


Even kids with single parents are less likely to be a latchkey kid nowadays. Between 1997 and 2011, the percentage of latchkey kids with single working parents decreased by 42 percent.

5. It didn’t matter how hungry you were, you better eat cereal or something that required zero cooking.


No matter how you felt about being left home alone as a child, experts say there are pros and cons to it. Children left unsupervised after school hours have shown increased risks of emotional and social problems.

Yet, there are some benefits to spending so much time alone. Latchkey kids have been found to develop a stronger sense of self-reliance at an earlier age. And that’s certainly a good thing in our world filled with over-dependent millennials.

6. Under no circumstances were you permitted to answer that door

If someone rang the doorbell, you and all your siblings ran and hid.


The percentage of kids left unsupervised sky rocketed in the 1970s and 80s, as more mothers entered the workforce. By the year 1995, around 18% of grade-school kids were latchkey kids.

7. Not even if it looked like a nice Jehovah’s Witness on the other side of the door


8. Going outside was 100% off limits



9. Keep all the lights on so that it looks like someone is home

You didn’t want someone thinking the house was empty and an easy break in!


10. The unwritten rule: there will be pop quizzes, be ready for them