Sleepovers. Kids love them, some moms dread them.
Is there harmony?
When I was growing up, we used to do many sleepovers in high school. I used to either sleep over at my friend’s house or she at mine. Mostly hers. I can remember riding with my bicycle from the old part of town to the new part of town to her house, as if it was how it should be. There was no other choice. If we wanted to be somewhere else, we had to take our bicycles or we walked.
No phones on the road from our house to her house. We were out playing and only went home when the street lights went on.
So much have changed. Living in a city now with kids of my own makes me stand in awe for mom and dad being able to have so much trust that we were safe.
Was it careless and living with faith back then? Thinking about the complete differences there are now with something like sleepovers.
When I was a kid sleeping over (and you might nod or say “yip” with me):
• We had to get there by ourselves.
• We knew everyone around us, almost like the community was one big circle of friends.
• We went to school from preschool and only split up after school.
• There were no mobile phones to constantly check-up en-route, or the before and after getting there.
• We spent all the time talking and connecting face to face.
• Gossip was innocent and stayed between 4 walls.
• We ate what the mom made, home food. There was only a café making the most divine chips and russians, but that was for special occasions.
Versus saying yes/no to sleepovers with the kids now (you’ll probably nod a couple of times again):
• We must drive them up and down.
• The school friend’s mom is not necessarily our friends, we have to get to know them.
• Chances are that classes change frequently, kids come and go. Old friends are often replaced by new friends.
• Phones, mobile phone. Checking up. Hovering. Freaking out when we can’t get hold of the kids. Instantly! Urgh!
• Do the kids really spend in meaningful conversation?
• With culture differences and different upbringings, does that mom do the same I do in my house?
• Social media… do I need to say more?
• Take-a-ways or made at home. How do I know if they have the same nutritious food I would give them?
With so many variables, how do we say yes or no?
Most importantly, how do you answer without having an upset teenager all weekend, resenting you for a decision you make with your heart and not your head?
Well, before we go on, let’s explore a couple of pointers -
Boundaries are sets of rules to build trust and respect. They ensure safety, security and stability. Kids thrive under them and they give us as parents peace of mind (and heart), despite how hard they are for both parties to follow.
Thinking of SLEEPover, it is really a misnomer – there is very little sleeping going on. Pair it with Social Media, you might set her up for peer disaster. No logical ideas will sprout from the sleepover if there are no rules/boundaries laid. It is a 50/50 chance that they will either have great fun or walk out the next morning as foes.
Yet, sleepovers are great social connection builders, when they are done in a controlled environment. It can be a mini vaca for one set of parents and especially with teen girls, it helps them feel “in”.
Perhaps if you set rules for yourself, the decision to make is easier. Rules can include asking questions to the parents hosting the sleepover, like what their agenda looks like, what are their family rules with bedtimes, bathroom routines, lights out, etc.
Or try a couple of casual “play dates” where you get to know the parents first and see if you are on the same page in family rhythm.
Create a safe word or phrase that she can use to indicate she wants to go home. Something like: “my tummy hurts” which won’t make her feel bad or out of place because she actually wants to go home.
When you host the sleepover, make sure to convey all the rules and plans you have to the parents.
Remember: An informed parent is a happy confident parent and it only takes that once!
Say you are a parent (like me in a way) that does not really like sleepovers unless it is close family or friends that are like family - consider a breakfast bash or something called a sleep-under (so cute, I adopted this). Kids can socialise until 11am, up until pjs, hot chocolate and the lot and then you pick them up to get a good night rest in their own bed or they come for an early breakfast, in their pjs with a toothbrush, change of clothes to spend the morning with planned activities.