A mum locked her two children in their home in Leeds and abandoned them to go on drink and drug-fuelled binges.
A court heard heartbreaking details of how a nine-year-old girl had to care for her baby brother after their mum repeatedly left them home alone.
On one occasion the girl had to climb out of a window with the two-year-old boy and go to a neighbour to ask for help.
Leeds Crown Court heard the mum continued to leave the children on their own despite being arrested on suspicion of child neglect.
The woman cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the identities of her children.
The distraught child also left notes begging her mum to come home and look after them.
One read: “We have been crying for you all night and I am really worried”
The youngster also told police: “My mummy went to Tesco on Friday night and hasn’t come home. I want my mummy.”
Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said the woman had been a "devoted mother" until the breakdown of the relationship with the children's father 18 months before the offences.
Describing the offences, Mr Ahmed said the mum told her daughter she was going to "test her" on November 2 last year.
He said: "She left the children locked in the house with no means of communicating with them.
"There was no landline in the house, no mobile phone. She was not there when the children woke up."
Mr Ahmed said the girl showed "great maturity" in looking after her little brother by changing his nappy, feeding him and playing with him.
At some point the youngster wrote a note saying: "I have gone upstairs to bed because I can't keep my eyes open.
"Me and (her brother) love you. We miss you very much.
"Can you wake us up when you are back.
"We have been crying for you all night and I am really worried."
The prosecutor said the girl ran out of paper and continued writing the note on the kitchen table in lipstick.
The letter added: "Please come upstairs to bed with us."
The mum had still not returned home two days later.
The girl climbed out of a window with her brother to alert a neighbour.
Police were called and found the house in "a mess". The girl told officers she was scared when they went to the property.
Mr Ahmed said: "In the bedroom it was difficult to see the floor for the mess."
Police started looking for the mum and she was arrested at a house about three miles away.
She claimed to have arranged for a babysitter but did not have any credit on her phone to be able to check on the children.
The children were taken away from the mum but returned to her on November 23.
Mr Ahmed said: "Despite the intervention of social services things did not improve. That night she went out to party."
She left the children alone again on December 22 to go out drinking and taking drugs with friends.
The girl wrote another note which read: "Mum where are you? I miss you. I was crying and I'm upset. Wake me up when you are back. Thank you Mummy."
She then left another note saying she had taken her brother to their aunt's house.
The girl had flea bites and both children had high temperatures when they were found by relatives.
The RSPCA were also called to the property because cats were found in a neglected state.
The mum was arrested again and claimed she had gone out to the chemist but "got chatting to people in the street."
She tested positive for cocaine.
The woman pleaded guilty to four offences of child neglect.
Mark Foley, mitigating, said the children remained with their mother and they would continue to suffer if she was jailed.
She was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to take part in a 20-day programme to address her offending.
Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "You have been sitting in the dock looking sorry for yourself.
"I am not sure whether you have any idea what your actions have caused to those two little children.
"As a mother I do not doubt that you love (the children). They are your flesh and blood.
"But they are hugely vulnerable and the one person in the world who they look to for comfort is you.
The judge added: "How could you do it to them?
"You have got to live with the consequences and you have also got to live with the knowledge that you should be going to prison for a very long time."
Imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Bayliss said: "I am not doing it for your sake because, quite honestly, you do not deserve any sympathy from this court.
"I am doing it for the sake of those two little people."