Leaving Children Home Alone--- How Young is "too young"?

I am a single mom to a 6-year-old starting a new job with strictly 17 days of PTO a yr and no paid holidays. While I have NOT left him home alone before, he has been increasingly requesting to be left home alone (i.e. when I am running to store, to pick someone up, to run the trash to the dump, etc.). Of course,... show more I am a single mom to a 6-year-old starting a new job with strictly 17 days of PTO a yr and no paid holidays. While I have NOT left him home alone before, he has been increasingly requesting to be left home alone (i.e. when I am running to store, to pick someone up, to run the trash to the dump, etc.). Of course, I have always said no, however, I have been heavily considering conditioning him to stay home for 15-30 minutes by himself.

Up until this point, he has had significant time left alone within our 4 walls, while I am home. I have worked many overnight shifts, occasionally he is left to fend for himself while I sleep for 3-4 hours. He knows how to use Netflix and I always make him a big plate of snacks. He also plays outside in the backyard for 30 minutes at a time.

Ideally, it would be convenient to leave him home alone under dire circumstances, like can't find a sitter on a holiday, Friday's when the free summer program isn't in session, etc.

I would like to start conditioning him now, by leaving him alone here and there for 15-20 minutes while just driving around the block or running to the grocery store a quarter mile away. I would teach him how to use the phone, contact emergency services, and lay down ground rules. While I feel like this is reasonable, so many people are against it and I fear CPS will be called even though I would consider myself and active and loving parent.

What age did you begin leaving your kids alone for short periods of time?
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