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.

5 thoughts on “Sleepovers”

  1. We do sleepovers with families we know and trust – but even then, there have been some dubious movie choices! So I am onside with you here. Except one thing…I'm not sure you should cut off at 10! Older sleepovers seem to me to have an even greater risk of inappropriate movies and conversation, especially if more than 2 children are present (gossip, meanness, talk about sex). If I'd known some of these things in advance, I would have taken a stricter line on sleepovers with my 11-14 year old – and I think she would have been happier with this too. So I'd take things very cautiously even with older kids. Just a thought…

  2. I totally agree Jean. The strict rules and vetting of family, home and activities still apply. I sometimes seem like such a tyrant with questions about screens, technology, films, social media etc. We have tried to encourage our older kids to have their friends at our home and organise movie night with them. But it is such a huge can of worms, friends, even without the sleepover bit!

  3. Yeah, we are not big fans of sleepovers. I've told my kids no sleepovers until at least Year 5. And even then, it will be on a case-by-case basis. I just framed it by saying, “We are really happy for you to go over to a friend's house to play, but you need to come home to sleep.” It would be different if the sleepover was for a purpose – Mum and Dad away at a conference etc. But just to sleepover? Nope. Kids often overestimate how well they will get along with the other person for hours on end and also overestimate how well they will cope alone in a different house. And then there's the supervision/access to inappropriate stuff issues….

  4. Deb I think you are spot on. Sleepovers mean hours and hours and hours away from home. Most children don't really understand what this means or know how they will really cope. I like your : “We are really happy for you to go over to a friend's house to play, but you need to come home to sleep.” In fact this motto could apply to small, big and bigger kids.

  5. I'm always late to comment on your posts, but I think it is still ok to say something.
    My boys are very young, so I haven't really dealt with sleep over invites , except once.
    I politely explained that they were too young and that I thought we should get to know our kids better, spend more time together until we felt very comfortable with each other.She agreed with me, and that's what we've been doing since then.I don't know if I will ever think there is a good age for sleep overs.I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to bed time routine, eating habits, I love to be in control and know what my boys are doing.So I guess for my boys to go to a family's house to have a sleep over I would need to find a family with similar habits.I think they will have so many years in their lives of freedom and late nights…so while I can control that, I will, without feeling guilty.I agree with you that knowing the families and spending time together is a good thing, I will try to do this with my boys' friends.I love the idea of taking their close friends on holidays with us, even having them over for a sleep over.When I feel they are ready, they are not yet.They went on a school camp trip last week, for one night.Both enjoyed it a lot, but came home exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience.Yesterday Gabe hugged my husband and said he didn't enjoy it so much because he missed us TOO much.How good is that??xx

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