Not so long ago,we had our first sleepover experience.
We were not prepared by all means to this experience.
I as a mom, did not prepare my homework properly and that is why i am sharing my thoughts with you.
My son, 7 and a half years old is the eldest of 3 kids. He is an example of matured, independent and self-esteemed child.
We took his decision for granted,when he had asked! We thought he is ready, and perhaps it is time. He asked to sleep at his best friend’s house.
We missed many obvious signs!
Before I list any do’s and Don’t’s; let us walk through a guideline for Sleepovers:
If you are a cautious, protective parent and live by the rules kind of parent (like myself), I propose setting some customized personal Guidelines for sleepovers, i will help suggesting a few:
- when you open the Sleepover door, and from the night it is successful, you should expect for kids to ask for it more often, therefore:
- Set some sleepover rules
- When? (during a long holiday perhaps)
- where? (only at specified friend’s house)
- How? (after fulfilling school duties and responsibilities/ keeping good manners and maintaining house living standards)
- How often? ( defining how often the kid is allowed a sleepover)
- Encourage an open relationship and conversation between You and your child.
- Remember Sleepover is a parental accessory.
- There is no developmental necessity for this experience.
- Grandparents Sleepovers are the Best Ever! (especially with Cousins around)!
That Being said, let’s resume The signs and plans..
First Sleepover Readiness Signs:
- Child asks for permission to sleepover.
- Child has a history of changing beds, sleep places, due to travel, moving,etc…
- Child has slept over without Parents at least once, at their grandparents house or a close relative/cousin.
- Child has spent many hours at a friend house, without asking for you or telling you they missed you once you showed up.
- Child sleeps through the night; they don’t wet the bed anymore, they don’t wake up for water frequently, they don’t have bad dreams.
Making sure all the above points are covered and 100% applicable; you have as a parent to look for deeper signs. The child usually do not understand the concept of a sleepover until the night falls. We, as parents should prepare the child mentally and emotionally for this experience. Whether it is a first time or not, an open and honest conversation should take place and any signs of worry must be detected.
For example, After asking for permission to sleepover, My son was overly excited and prepared his bag the night before for his sleepover the next day! he had ask us if we can drop him over his friend’s first thing in the morning! He slept on time and tightly!
The next day, he came to my bed in the morning to tell me he had changed his mind, and since it was Daddy’s day off, it was not fair for his dad that he leaves the house and moreover sleep outside the house!
I have mistaken this statement for an anxiety towards the experience rather than believing it is a quite an upfront diplomatic decision.
He did not want to say “I AM NOT READY!”
Nevertheless, I “persuaded” him that it is okay; which leads me to the next step.
Signs of Anxiety:
- No matter how close is the friend, it is always about your child;s feelings and decision.
- Ask direct questions, listen carefully to the answers.
- prepare your child emotionally and physically
- Pack a letter, a written note.
- Pack a small teddy bear or any comfort toy, pillow, blanket(or maybe your own scarf).
- Ask for the day’s details and explain to your child.
- Reassure your child and make sure he has the choice to come back home at anytime (Pick him up the first time he asks for it; don’t try to make him stay)
Preparation and Convenience:
If this is the first time your child experience a Sleepover, go through this checklist for flexibility:
- It is better if the friend’s house is close to yours; if there will be a pick-up it wont be a hassle!!
- DO NOT plan a night out! especially if friend’s house is far!
- Make sure you read the signs or actually hear the “Please Pick Me Up” correctly.
- Do not force your child to stay, it is not related to the house he/she is staying at. it is merely a readiness state of mind!
- Run a sleepover Trial: at their grandparents, cousin, pajama night/party at a friend, late pick up of a play date.
Plan A Sleepover Rehearsal:
Role-Playing @ home or Throw him a sleepover party at the comfort of your own house.
- Hang a paper with sleepover rules/plans
- pretend that your house is the friend’s house/rules
- Invite a close friend to sleepover
- Throw a late night (10 pm) pajama party.
- ask questions, or announce the itinerary
- food to be served
- cartoon/movie to be watched
- Announce or ask if there are pets at home
- Sleep time
- Next Morning Routine
- Call home anytime (you can keep a phone with the kid for the night).
It is imperative to remember that no matter how self-confident a child is, night time is a fraught. Kids can’t distinguish dreams and reality, hypersensitive kids often daydream of situations and scenarios in a philosophical and argumentative thinking.
As a parent, we should reassure them that we will pick them up when they need to, that this experience is not a test they have to pass. Teaching your kids to take risks is an important act to do, but what is more important is that we always remember that they are Children and It Is OKAY to change their mind without culpability.
No matter how Close the family and the friend your kid’s will sleepover at, remember always, It is Not about them. It is Purely about your child Readiness!