It's a whole new level of freedom as a parent when you don't have to either bring your kids with you everywhere or arrange childcare for them when you leave the house. Aden is fairly trustworthy, and when she turned 8 we started letting her opt to stay home by herself if the rest of us ran out on an errand. I'm less comfortable with Mona on her own even at 9 because I have trouble picturing her keeping a calm head in an emergency. Quinn is about as responsible as you could ask a 6 year old to be, but he's still only 6. As long as Aden is in the house I'm comfortable with leaving the kids on their own from time to time.
The rules for when they are on their own are as follows:
No using the oven or the stove. No activities that require running lots of water. No telling anyone on the phone that their parents aren't there. No opening the door for anyone who does not already have a key. If you can't get along go to different rooms. If there is a fire, leave. They know which neighbors to contact if they have a problem. They know how to dial 911.
We started with short stretches of unsupervised time while we did things like run to the store, and have been able to extend that to include whole Saturdays where I'm at work and Ian has Army drill. On those days I call to check in periodically and remind them to walk the dog, and we make sure they are well stocked with food that doesn't require any cooking. So far so good. For Ian's birthday the two of us even went out to a movie and left them in charge of putting themselves to bed. It still makes me nervous, but I'm glad it's an option.
I'm proud of my kids when they can do things on their own. It's hard to let go and leave them to themselves, but I remind myself that ultimately that's my job. I tell my violin students all the time that my goal is to teach them enough to make myself obsolete. On some level my kids will always need me, but eventually not to do things for them.
Aden and Mona recently had a violin recital. They played well and I was proud of them, but I may have been more proud of the fact that the morning of the concert my kids decided to make cookies to bring to the reception afterward, and did it all on their own. Aden and Quinn made the dough without any adults around. They didn't need me to run the mixer, find the ingredients, or read the recipe. I did help put the cookie sheets in the oven, but Aden could have done that. I left the kitchen entirely when it was time for all three kids to decorate their treats.
This is what my kids can do unsupervised: