I remember as a kid loving the idea of a sleep over. I would beg and plead with my parents to let me go to sleepovers. The irony is, as a kid, firstly, I did not separate easily from my parents so more often than not, I’d land up really really anxious and wanting to go home half way through the sleep over and secondly, as a kid, being completely unaware of the dangers and pitfalls of sleep overs.
Now, as an adult and a parent, I am more aware than ever, I have read the horror stories of what can happen and it’s a REALLY big deal for me to allow my children to sleep over anywhere.
The list of people I trust with my kids is minute. My parents and my friend Kate, who emigrated at the end of last year. Those are the only people I have ever allowed my children to sleep over with. But Ava is at an age where she wants to have sleepovers. And she’s a confident child that separates easily from us. So I am not worried about getting a midnight call, asking for us to come and fetch her.
On Saturday, it was her best friends birthday party, which turned into a braai that landed up going on for much longer than I think any of us anticipated. And then Ava asked if she could sleep over with her bestie (a boy). And there were so many things I had to consider and quickly. We’ve known the boys parents for two years now, he has had sleepovers at our house, Ava often goes to their house for play dates and honestly, we have become really good friends with his parents, often socializing together. So I trust them and so I agreed.
It was easier to agree to because we were there at their home until almost 9pm and by the time we left to go home, the kids were pretty much already passed out. The two couches pushed together to make a big bed and they were only barely awake.
But still, it’s a big deal to entrust someone with my most precious gifts, my children.
And it got me thinking…. what are the rules and etiquette surrounding sleepovers?
Here is what I’ve discovered through my own experience:
- The age at which I allow a sleep over differs from child to child and is dependent on the child themselves. I *think* we will wait longer with Hannah, because she is a much more emotionally needy child than Ava is.
- I prefer to host the sleepover, rather than have my child sleep out. I’ll gladly take on the responsibility of caring for someone’s child, before I’ll entrust my child with someone.
- I need to really know and trust the parents before I’ll allow a sleepover. As I said, Ava has only ever slept over with my parents, my friend Kate and now her bestie.
- I have rules about sleepovers, for example, if I agree to let my child sleepover with you, you are not allowed to take her anywhere, without discussing with me first. You may not leave her in the care of anyone else, even if you’re just popping to the shop for bread and milk, I am trusting you and only you with her care.
- She is never to be left unsupervised. EVER!
- If my child is upset for any reason, let me know, irrespective of the time, I will rather come and fetch her in the middle of the night than have her feeling upset or insecure for any reason.
- House rules apply to my child too, so explain and know the rules. This applies to both letting her sleepover and hosting a sleepover, my house, my rules. And vice versa for hosting a sleepover in my home, my home, my rules or you can go home.
- Sleepovers are limited. This is not an event I’m going to allow every weekend or regularly. Ava has been besties with her friend for two years, we have been close with his parents for two years, he has slept over at our house before, the only reason I allowed her to sleepover this weekend was because it was his birthday. In other words, a special occasion and not just because.
Guys, it’s a scary world out there, entrusting your precious child to someone else is really really tough, you need to have ground rules in place and even then, you cannot ensure your child’s safety.
And then of course, there’s this story which has gone viral and a reminder to us all that baddies walk among us, that we can’t actually ever trust anyone, even the people we assume we can!
How do you cope with the sleepover rule? And at what age are you comfortable with letting your child sleepover somewhere else?
Feature Image Credit: Life Made Delicious