Over the weekend I received a tweet from a mother asking my thoughts/feelings about sleepovers. I intended on answering that sooner than now, but a couple other hot topic blogs came my way and they took precedence. Better late than never I say, so here goes.
As a young girl I was a total fan of sleepovers. I loved going to them, and I loved having them even more. Even though one of the girls I had regular sleepovers with peed the bed every single time, it didn’t deter me from being excited when she asked me to come to her place and spend the night. Then there were the group sleepovers where we ate copious amounts of junk food, watched scary movies, told ghost stories; both of which I sucked at, and would end up having nightmares for literally the rest of my life because of them, but watch and listen to them I did rather than be left out. We played countless games of truth or dare, and the we would practice kissing each other, just to be sure we would be ready when a boy came along. Sleepovers were equal parts a childhood staple of pure kid bliss, and getting up to things that my parents would never know about. It was, for me, the perfect combination of just being a regular kid, and being that little bit naughty.
So, as you can imagine when the time came for my girls to start asking to go to sleepovers I was hyper cautious. I wasn’t that far removed from my own sleepover shenanigans to think that kids had “changed” and wouldn’t get up to things that they ought not to while at somebody else’s house. For crying out loud, in grade seven my best friend and I both lied to our parents about who’s house we were sleeping at so we could stay out extra late and sleep half the night on the roof of an elementary school. Why we did this, I still don’t know. But we did, and that my friends made me a very skeptical mom; combined with sleeping at my high school boyfriend’s house instead of my best friend’s house. So instead of being a completely unrelatable weirdo mother, I decided instead of just saying no to them, ALL THE DAMN TIME, it could all work out if we had some definite rules. So we came up with a few before letting our girls sleepover at anybody’s house, since I had gotten away with too many things to trust our girls blindly. And here they are:
- We were pretty strict, and for the most part, sleepovers took place at our home. This wasn’t up for negotiation. We were 1000% more comfortable with having all the kids at our place instead of sending the girls to other people’s homes.
- If by chance our girls did get to go to somebody’s house it was only if we knew the parents. Not in a casual way like her name is Jane and the dad’s name is Frank. No. We had to KNOW THEM, we had to have had conversations with them, been to their house, maybe even hung out with them over a meal before our girls were allowed to spend the night. The way we looked at it was like this: it only takes two minutes for something to happen that could change our girls’ lives for the rest of their lives. So if we didn’t know the parents enough to know we could trust them, or we didn’t have a good feeling about them, our girls did not get to sleepover. Period. End of story.
- We had a deal with our girls whenever they were at somebody’s house, if they felt uncomfortable for any reason, they were to call us at any hour of the night and we would get in our cars and go pick them up. This happened a few times that we were woken up in the wee hours of the morning to go and collect them, mostly Mikaela from a sleepover.
- As our girls got older we did this thing where if they were sleeping at a friend’s house we always called the parents to make sure that the girls were actually planing to sleep there. That all parents knew whose house they were supposed to be at that night. No playing games, or pulling a fast one on us. Remember, I ended up sleeping on a school roof because neither of our parents checked to make sure we were going to actually be at a house, sleeping. I got up to enough no good that I was ready for anything my girls might think about throwing at me.
Regardless what you’re feelings are about sleepovers they really are a right of passage. Each kid wants to have them, and they rightfully should. Determine your comfort level as a parent and start there; the way we did. We began by hosting every single one, and then as we became closer with their best friends and their families we were able to loosen the rope a little and allow them to have sleepovers in houses of the people we’d come to trust. Just remember, what happens at a sleepover stays at a sleepover so resist the urge to pry too much into their branching out, spreading their wings into independence.
And good luck!