May 05, 2017
KIDS AND SLEEPOVERS are a time-tested combination, much like summertime and popsicles. However, sleeping over can be filled with potential problems, from the late-night callback to the child who comes home having been awake all night. Use these tips to prepare your child for a sleepover so that everyone can relax and get some rest.
Kids develop at different rates, which means that some children could be perfectly equipped to go to a sleepover at a friend’s house at age six, while others may need to be closer to age 10 before they can go without a parent’s attention.
When you sense that your child is getting close to the right age, you can start to prepare him for the idea. Invite a close friend or cousin for a sleepover at your house. This will give you the best idea of how your child will react to sleeping over (or not sleeping) with a friend, as well as the problems that might come up when your kid goes to someone else’s home.
It can be really tempting to avoid sending all the things your child usually has for sleep. You don’t want those items getting left behind, after all. However, if your kid has slept with a particular stuffed animal every night since they were two, they may struggle to sleep without it. Include most or all of the items that are a part of their sleep routine, such as:
The sense of home will help your child adjust for sleep more rapidly than she would without these regular parts of her sleep hygiene.
Take an opportunity to check out the space where your child will be sleeping. Air mattresses can be more comfortable than a hard floor, but they may also be difficult to sleep upon if they are unfamiliar. Confirm that there is quick and ready access to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water if your kid needs it, especially if they are on the younger side. If you have any questions about the space, ask the friend’s parents to see it before you leave. It will help you to feel better about the whole situation.
You may remember children sleepovers as an opportunity to get wild and leave rules at the door, but younger children do not really function well in such an environment. At another parent’s house, bedtime standards may be quite different. Ask about the planned bedtime and how they intend to handle any nighttime shenanigans that happen. Talk to your child about following the rules in a different space, and speaking up for their needs. Nobody wants to be a party pooper, but teaching your child to advocate for an appropriate bedtime is a useful skill they will need in order to have a good time.
For the first few times your child sleeps at an unfamiliar home, you should expect that it may not work out. The slight stomachache that your kid had yesterday could turn into a full-blown gastrointestinal bug, requiring you to head back at 11 p.m. Prepare for this possibility by leaving your own plans fairly open. Make sure that your child can easily contact you from the house, and that there will be adequate adult attention to their needs if they are struggling.
Eventually, most kids want to sleep over at a friend’s house. With these tips, you can minimize stress and give your child a better chance at a good night’s rest.