Okay for Kids, 9 & 12, To Stay Alone in Hotel Room for an Evening?

Amazing the range of opinions regarding this question on Let Grow’s Raising Independent Kids Facebook group. A mom named Michelle asks:

Question about leaving kids alone at a hotel. My family lives in Texas and my husband and I were invited to his cousins wedding in Colorado, we really want to go, and we want to use it as an excuse to have a family vacation for a week or so before the wedding. Only problem is it’s a child-free wedding. We tossed around our options and the kids said they’d love to stay at the hotel and binge pizza and TV while we attend the wedding. They are 12 and 9 years old, and the venue is 4.4 miles from the hotel. It seems like a weird age to hire a babysitter, but also a weird age to leave them in new surroundings for 4 hours. Any opinions?

Update to answer some questions: They have been left at home for about 4ish hours while my husband and I have gone out, and my older child stays home almost every week when I do grocery shopping. They’ve definitely proven they are responsible enough and would not be destructive or disruptive to other guests. My husband feels like it’s perfectly fine, and I mostly agree, I’m just prone to second-guessing myself, especially since my husband’s mom and sister were horrified at the idea.

SO: Readers, here’s a sampling of the responses. Love to hear yours, too — as a comment below, or over at the FB group! A lively place to be! And the headlines are ours, not the commenters’:


Not to worry!

I think you’re fine. They’re safer than staying at home alone. Talk them through fire alarm exit procedures and other than that they don’t leave the room or make enough noise to disturb other guests. Leave them a phone and tell them you’ll call once or twice and speak to them both briefly. Any unlikely emergency, like choking, and hotel staff are right there and you’re there in 10 minutes.



No way in hell I’m going anywhere without my kids. 12 and 9 should not be left alone without an adult no matter how “mature” you think they are. Someone needs to be over 18 and at least have a driver’s license in case of an emergency, accidents do happen.

You can always send a gift to the bride and groom. ‍♀️


Feed ’em and leave ’em!

If the kids are comfortable with it and they have a cell phone to reach you then I would load them up with snacks and screens and enjoy your night.


Wait — don’t!

I was babysitting at ten so their ages don’t bother me. It is a different city for them and it is a hotel. I would very much stress keep the door locked from the inside and not to answer the hotel phone. No they can’t go to the ice machine or vending machine.

Normally I don’t have a huge “stranger danger” mentality but it is a hotel so my nerves get the better of me too.

Start inventing NEW worries.

Is there a pool? I’d stay where there isn’t one just to ensure safety while they’re unsupervised.


So long as you self-flagellate they’ll be fine.

My kids would be in heaven; I think I’d let them, but I’d also check in all the dang time, and maybe leave the party early.

Starting inventing NEW new worries.

No judgment but I think they are too young to stay in hotel only because if fire alarm goes off they would have to evacuate room and if they somehow got locked out they would have to go to front desk for key. Maybe an older relative, cousin that’s also not attending could stay with them.


Geez, relax!

This seems fine to me. You know your kids best.


As a good parent, your job is to go ALL THE WAY to the wedding, and then leave before you have any fun.

I would go to the wedding but skip the reception.


The thoughts of Let Grow — the nonprofit that grew out of Free-Range Kids:

Our opinion: Giving kids that age a few hours on their own, knowing that they are pretty responsible, seems very safe. SUPER safe. But of course, nothing is ever totally safe: There can be an earthquake at the hotel. OR at the wedding! But kids 9 and 12 are not babies. They are young people. And coming up with worries about strangers and fire alarms and ice machine maniacs doesn’t make anyone safer. Nor does going all the way to a wedding and then skipping the reception just to rush back to oversee the pizza-eating and movie-watching.

Being a good parent doesn’t involve imagining every single worst case scenario. It involves teaching your kids the basics of safety — including that they are free to go and get help, even from people they don’t know, if they find themselves in some tough situation. If you’ve already seen that your kids can be mature and trustworthy, let them prove this some more in a new city while you Y-M-C-A your heart out!

And readers: We want to hear YOUR thoughts, too!


5 Responses to Okay for Kids, 9 & 12, To Stay Alone in Hotel Room for an Evening?

  1. Paul Klaassen February 14, 2024 at 2:18 pm #

    Since when did hotels become the next big scary thing? Has there been a new horror/disaster film about hotels? This discussion is silly. A hotel is multiple times safer than almost any other environment. They are full of staff and human beings ready to provide assistance to anyone in need. I can’t imagine a safer environment. Likely safer than the wedding reception and frankly safer than being alone at home.

    The scariest thing about this question is the fact that so many people think a hotel is a scary place for kids!

    I’m afraid the Free Range Movement has lots more work to do. Good luck!

  2. fred schueler February 14, 2024 at 3:00 pm #

    Can’t imagine anything creepier than a “child-free wedding,” even if the participants are planning a child-free marriage.

  3. Tony Christopher February 14, 2024 at 3:24 pm #

    Totally agree that kids 9 and 12 will be fine in hotel room by themselves. LOL at the headlines Lenore wrote, love this one in particular, “your job is to go ALL THE WAY to the wedding, and then leave before you have any fun.”

  4. Ellen E Wilson February 15, 2024 at 9:19 am #

    Just keep treating them as if they are stupid and incompetent and they’ll be living in your basement when they’re 40.

  5. John Stafford February 15, 2024 at 4:08 pm #

    My kids that age preferred to stay alone if my wife and I wanted a fancy dinner (boring to them). Good dessert, a fresh movie, everyone’s happy. 100%. And this is why you help kids work up to it by staying alone at home, coming home from school alone, etc.