Looking at your child taking stabs at independence, it tugs your heart to realize that the journey out of your protective arms is on in earnest. A sleepover can leave you ecstatic that your little one wishes to try out life without you; for a night. However, you worry whether the timing is right and if your child will be comfortable without you getting frantic calls for a pickup in the dead of night.
When your child gets that invite, even if you know it’s a safe arrangement, consider taking some precautionary measures just to make this a worthwhile experience in your child’s development.
How Well Do You Know The Host Family?
Having other adults who you are not familiar with taking charge of your child could cause jitters over a sleepover. You will worry about their ability and willingness to give your child attention considering nighttime can be dicey. Arrange for a discussion over evening and night activities in the home to see what kind of night your child will have.
In such meets point out some possible trouble zones in which your child requires special attention. These include bedwetting, food or pet allergies, special medications, preferences for nighttime entertainment and any other peeves your child harbors with nightfall.
Establish the structure of the family and any other people living with them. If you have any reservations, go by your gut feeling and exclude your child from the sleepover. Otherwise, insist that your child is allowed to call home anytime she needs to.
Host The Sleepover
Having another child around will help you observe how your child’s social skills. The insight will help you guide your child on how to behave towards others, and to be a gracious host or guest. If you’re preparing for a first sleepover, use this hosting night as a rehearsal for your child to get a feel of what to expect.
If you have several kids in the loop, instead of using a paper journal, you can keep it online by use of an organizing, scheduling and sharing app like Teamup Calendar to assign each parent a sub-calendar where they can add notes about their child or propose hosting opportunity. The calendar could feature other joint activities such as car pools, barbecues and birthday parties you might want to share in future to cultivate warmer relations between the families involved.
When Your Child Prefers Home
There are no firm rules on when a child can start going for sleep parties. Children vary in their thirst for independence and adventure. Situations also vary, and a child who previously enjoyed sleepovers may become reluctant for more.
You should not coerce your child into honoring the invitation. You should only let your child go if she wants to and inform her that she is allowed to change her mind about it anytime. Often, children as young as five years yearn for sleepovers. It could be hard letting her go, but then, parenting is a succession of attempts at releasing your child to the world.
If your family or child is going through some turbulent times such as a divorce, having a new baby, bereavement or moving into a new neighborhood or school, your child might need some time to process this. She might need some extra affection from you and will be unwilling to join in a sleepover.
Review past sleepovers and discuss future ones to address your child’s expectations and fears, especially of your child suddenly changes her mind about the visit. In the end, your child will gain great comfort in knowing on sleepovers there is always the next time, and that you will never mind picking her call or picking her up at 2 a.m. any day.