Is it normal that... I left my child alone while I shopped?

I left my son alone while I shopped, but I’m not sure I’d do it again.

Grocery shopping is one of my favourite things to do. Now that I’m working full time, I don’t get to do it for hours like I used to, with a coffee before and lunch after. Now it is a bit rushed and frantic, but enjoyable none-the-less.

Except my 10-year-old son Philip is O-V-E-R it. He hates grocery shopping but because of my work hours we have no choice but to do it after school together. For my six and four-year-old, it’s still fun, so long as they get to choose a treat each.

On Thursday afternoon as we headed to our local shopping centre to do the weekly shopping Philip started grizzling. “I hate shopping Mum. It’s so BORING.”

“I know it’s boring Philip but we still have to do it.”

“But why do I have to come with you? Can’t you drop me off at Aunty Marina’s?”

And on it goes the entire ten minutes it takes us to drive there.

“Would you like to sit on the chair outside the shop,” I offer. There’s a wooden bench just outside our grocery store and he’s ten, after all. He’ll just sit there, glued to his iPod.

“But I’m hungry.”

“How about the food court. Want to sit there?”


So I did it. I left him there while I grocery shopped. He bought himself some sushi, sat down and ate and played his iPod. I have to admit that while I am proud I went against my overly protective instincts and left him there in the first place, it was the most unpleasant grocery shopping experience of my life. I felt sick and my imagination went wild.

Jo and her ten-year-old son Philip

What if a stranger approaches him?

What if he wanders off?

What if the roof falls and hits him on the head?

What if he chokes on his sushi?

I raced through the aisles grabbing things and forgetting things. We raced through the checkout. "Can you hurry up please?" I asked the girl on the register. "My daughter needs to use the toilet."

"No I don't Mummy," she immediately corrected me.

"Yes you do," I laughed, patting her on the head, willing the girl to scan faster, faster, faster.

We power-walked back to the food court. There weren't any ambulance officers or police officers surrounding my prone child, or security personnel. There he was, sitting, playing his iPod. He hadn't moved a muscle.

Is 10 too young to leave kids on their own like that? I'm not sure. I need your advice.

Do you think it was okay that I left my son alone at the shops or is it too risky these days?

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