We don’t do sleepovers. Well not the regular school buddy kind. It seems that the chapter on “sleepovers” was missing in our parenting manual early on and we learnt the hard way. Being busy, working and juggling small children our oldest did go to the odd sleepover party. And there was little sleep, a random choice of television viewing and various adults present whom we did not know. Mostly he did not have a great time.
Having a small tribe of children now, we have made a blanket rule – no sleepovers. Until 10 years. There are exceptions with family and super close friends, if the occasion demands. But regularly we don’t encourage it and quite frankly the kids are fine with it. They know it is our family rule, so I now have mums ring me to negotiate how our little one can attend the 6 year old party but not stay over. It provides me with an opportunity to explain why we have the rule in place and to admit it is often easier to have all kids under one roof (no extra taxi runs).
Michael Grose has some interesting ideas on the sleepover. It can be good practice for independence and socialisation, but we do have a duty of care. Kids still wake up scared, at home. They have bad dreams, get sick and have unexplained anxieties. There are no hard and fast rules about sleepovers, but I think it is important to know your child and determine what your family culture and philosophy will tolerate.
This family rule has led to conversations about how we, as a family get to know our children’s friends and their families. We want to offer welcome and hospitality to the whole family. Sometimes people are nervous about this, but more often than not an invitation to the entire family is accepted eagerly. So rather than doing sleepovers do family overs, for meals conversation and welcome.